For a third of a century Dr. Thomas Kelley has engaged in the practice of medicine with excellent success in Santa Clara county, and is one of the pioneer physicians of this part of the state. Maintaining a high standard of professional ethics, ever keeping abreast with the continued progress being made by the medical fraternity, and devoting his efforts untiringly to the important duties which devolve upon him in connection with his chosen calling, he has long maintained a foremost place in the ranks of his professional brethren in San Jose and the surrounding district.

Dr. Kelley is a native of Illinois, his birth having occurred in Logan county, that state, on the 18th of September, 1836. He is a son of Alexander and Lucinda (Anderson) Kelley, the former a native of Kentucky and the latter of Ohio. The Kelley family is of Irish lineage, while the Andersons are of Scotch descent, and both families were established in America at an early period in the settlement of the new world. The doctor's father was a farmer by occupation and at the time of the Civil war responded to his country's call for aid, enlisting in Company K, of the Forty-first Regiment of Illinois Volunteers, of which he became captain, but after a short time he resigned and returned home. He died in Illinois, at the advanced age of seventy-eight years.

Dr. Kelley, one of a family of eight children, was reared on the old home farm in Illinois, early becoming familiar with the duties and labors incident to the development and cultivation of the fields. He pursued his education in the public schools, which he attended until twenty years of age. At the outbreak of the Civil war he enlisted in the Union army, becoming a member of Company K, Forty-first Illinois Infantry, under command of his father as captain and of Colonel Isaac C. Pugh. He joined the army as a private and was mustered out with the rank of first lieutenant. He was for some time with the army under General Grant and in the fall of 1866 received an honorable discharge, returning home a veteran and a victor. He took part in the capture of Fort Donelson, the battle of Pittsburg Landing, siege of Corinth, the battle of Coldwater, Mississippi, battle of Hatchie River, Jackson, Mississippi, went with Sherman to the sea and engaged in the numerous skirmishes and battles of that capaign.

Following his return from the war Dr. Kelley was engaged in farming until he entered Rush Medical College, of Chicago, Illinois, in which he pursued a regular course of study fitting him for the practice of medicine and surgery. He was graduated with the class of 1871, and almost immediately afterward started for California, locating first in Santa Clara, where h entered upon the active practice of his profession, in which he has continued to the present time. In October, 1876, he established his office in San Jose, and has easily maintained a place in the foremost rank of the medical practitioners of this city. He has read and studied extensively and understandingly, and while not quick to discard the old and time-tried remedies whose value has been proved, he is ready to take up any new remedial agency which he believes will promote the work of the physician and surgeon and increase his usefulness in coping with the intricate problems of disease. He is now classed with the pioneer physicians of Santa Clara county, and is regarded with gratitude in many a household of the locality for the effective aid he has rendered in times of serious illness.

Dr. Kelley had been twice married. In 1858 he was joined in wedlock to Miss Alice Leeds, a native of Clermont county, Ohio, and a daughter of John Leeds, a pioneer farmer of Ohio. There is one living son of that marriage, Alfonso M., who is a farmer and fruit-raiser of the Santa Clara valley. In 1864 the doctor was again married, his second union being with Sarah A. Whittle, a native of Ohio and a daughter of Alba Whittle, a pioneer of Illinois, who came from that state to California, where his last days were passed. Three daughters have been born of the second marriage: Lessie, the wife of Charles Leadbetter, a resident of Portland, Oregon; Elizabeth, who is assistant librarian in the public library of San Jose; and Nannie, who is living at home. The second wife died July 5, 1903.

In 1897 Dr. Kelley made a trip to Alaska at the time of the early rush to the gold fields of that part of the country, but soon returned to San Jose and resumed the practice of his profession. He is a Republican in his political affiliation, and in 1889 was appointed postmaster of San Jose by President Harrison. He served in the office for nearly five years. He belongs to John A. Dick Post No. 42, G. A. R. and thus keeps in touch with his old army comrades with whom he faced the enemy and underwent the rigors and hardships of war. In matters of citizenship he is as true and loyal as when he followed the old flag on southern batlefields. His marked individuality, his strong mentality and his devotion to his profession and to all duty are numbered among his salient characteristics.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume I

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

Return to Biographies Index

Return to California AHGP home page

Return to Sacramento County AHGP home page