Dr. William “Albert” Kelly was born on the 26th of June, 1876 in Chatham, Ontario. He was the 2nd of 3 children born to George W. Kelly and the former Matilda Richardson. His parents were farmers in Chatham Twp. and his siblings were; Alice Mary Kelly who was born on the 17th of December, 1870 and Sarah Mabel Foster Kelly who was born on the 8th of February, 1880. Dr. Kelly graduated from Chatham Collegiate Institute prior to attending medical school.
Dr. Kelly entered The University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine in 1895. In his fourth year at the university, Dr. Kelly was unable to write his exams due to poor health. He returned the following year and graduated in 1900. While he was at university he played rugby.
Dr. Kelly started practicing medicine in Florence in 1901 and he purchased the office of Dr. John Alexander Rannie in 1902. On May 26th, 1904 a notice in the Florence Quill appeared from Dr. Kelly. It read, “Lost on Saturday, March 14th, one stethoscope some place on 16th of 21st Sideroad, or on 9th or 10 Concession, Dawn. Finder will please leave it at my office at once. Dr. Kelly.” This gives some idea of the area that the country doctor covered. Dr. Kelly attended to his patients with a horse and buggy up until 1911 when he purchased an automobile.
He married Mary Elizabeth Willson on the 23rd of September, 1903 in Lambton County. She was born on the 3rd of October, 1881 in Dawn Twp (Lambton Co). She was the 3rd of 4 children born to Hiram Willson and the former Elizabeth Herson. Her parents were farmers and her siblings were; Walter Herson Willson, Maud Louisa Willson and Charles Cromwell Willson. Mrs. Kelly’s mother died when she was 6 years old.
In February of 1905, a fire raged through the east side of Main Street in Florence. Part of Dr. Kelly’s office was torn down in a desperate attempt to stop the progression of the fire.
Dr. and Mrs. Kelly had 3 sons born to them, while they lived in Florence. Their first son Gerald Willson Kelly was born on the 10th of July, 1904. Sadly he died in Chatham on the 3rd of September, 1906 of ileocolitis. He was buried at St Matthew’s Anglican Cemetery in Florence. He rests near his maternal grandparents. Their second son, Garnet Willson Kelly was born on the 7th of December, 1907 and a third son, Charles Walter Kelly was born on the 19th of August, 1910.
Dr. Kelly was a member of the Florence Masonic Lodge #390. He served as the District Deputy Grand Master for the Chatham District in 1912.
While he practiced medicine in Florence he routinely saw patients in Chatham-Kent. Dr. Kelly’s name appears on birth and death records in Thamesville and Zone Township.
Dr. and Mrs. Kelly moved to London, Ontario in 1926. He worked up until June of 1943, when he became ill. Dr. Kelly died on the 30th of December, 1943 in London. At the time of his death, he resided at 185 Wharncliff Road. He was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in London.
*Dr. John Alexander Rannie also appears on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.
Note: The Florence Quill was published by H.J. Jerome from July 30th, 1896 until 1918, when it ceased operation.