"HONEST JOHN" KELLY
After the Tweed Ring exposures and the consequent defeat of its municipal ticket in 1871 Tammany Hall suffered from bad repute and a rapidly declining membership. In the latter part of 1871 Mr. John Kelly, who had been traveling in Europe during the halcyon days of the ring, returned to New York City, wrested control of the Hall from William M. Tweed, and entered upon a rather ambitious project for reviving the power of New York Democracy.
The date of John Kelly's birth hangs in the fire, with three authorities agreeing on April 21, 1821, and two refusing to budge from April 20, 1822.1 In as much as J. Fairfax McLaughlin, an intimate of the family as well as Mr. Kelly's most elaborate biographer, sets the date as April 20, 1822, it seems fully as safe to accept this date as the one of a year earlier. "Honest John" was born in New York City in what is now the Bowery. His father, Hugh Kelly, hailing from County Tyrone, Ireland, had emigrated with his wife, once Sarah Donnelly of County Fermanagh, Ireland, to New York City in the early years of the nineteenth century. Five girls and two boys came to the Kelly home. Of these John ranked as the fourth child but elder son.2
After struggling with a small grocery store on Hester Street for some years, Hugh Kelly died, w hen John was____________________