KELLEY, IRAD (24 Oct. 1791-21 Jan. 1875), one of Cleveland's first merchants, postmaster, real-estate investor, and co-owner of Kelleys Island, was born in Middletown, Conn., to Jemima Stow and DANIEL KELLEY. He moved to the Cleveland area ca. 1812, and opened his first store in Cleveland's first brick building (1814). When he became postmaster on 31 Dec. 1817, the post office moved into his store. Annual receipts were $500, of which Kelley got 25% as compensation for rent, fuel, and hiring of a clerk. Kelley replaced his building in 1850 with the brick Kelley Block, with the store on the 1st floor, and Kelley's Hall, where concerts, lectures, and balls were held, on the upper floor. In 1863, the building was renamed Athenaeum after the theater located therein.
Kelley also worked as a sailor, and while commanding the ship the Merchant, became acquainted with the Lake Erie Islands. In 1833, he and his brother Datus began purchasing land on Cunningham's Island at $1.50/acre until they owned the whole island, changing its name to Kelleys Island (1840). They opened stone quarries and made Kelleys Island famous for limestone, red cedar, peach orchards, and vineyards. In 1833, Irad helped establish the CLEVELAND LYCEUM. Kelley ran unsuccessfully against Joshua Giddings for U.S. Congress in 1850. He also wrote about a number of political issues, including women's rights and railroad routes. He produced political songs for the 1840 presidential candidate Wm. Henry Harrison. Kelley married Harriet Pease in 1819 and had 10 children: Gustavas, George, Edwin, Charles, Franklin, Martha, Laura, William Henry, Mary Louisa, and Norman. Kelley was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.
Irad Kelley Papers, WRHS.
Kelley, Irad. "A Sketch of Irad Kelley" (WRHS), 1871.