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Emmett Kelly

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A child of humble beginnings

Born, Emmett Leo Kelly on December 9, 1898, Emmett was born in a house believed to have been owned by the Missouri-Pasific Railroad in the city of Sedan, Kansas. There are indications that his mother, Mollie may have ran the boarding house for the railroad. Emmett's father, Thomas Kelly would return home with the railroad crew, of which he was the section boss, as they returned from their rounds, back to Sedan.
Growing up was hard, but in some ways no different than children of today. Except not having the luxuries we have today which we often take for granted. Dirty, sweaty, hard back breaking work was the environment Emmett would grow up to know.
But now starting a family, Emmettês parents thought it best to settle down in one place and leave the railroad behind, with it's loud whistles and loud clanging noises, the constant rumble and tick-ity, tick-ity, tick-ity of the tracks. Living in the railroad housing along side the tracks with the constant moving from one train stop to another, would just not do. They needed something constant, something they could work for and call their own. Put simply, they wanted a better life for their children. The same goal as parents past, present and future.
A few years after Emmett's birth, around 1905 his parents decided it was time to move to a farm in southern Missouri.
We get a glimps of how Emmett's parents met, how they came to Sedan, a little about his sister Sylvia and insight of Sedan life as well as his later life in the reproduced, "Sedan Honors Favorite Son". This reproduced article from KANSAS, Third Issue 1967 is distributed by permission of Kansas Economic Developement Commission and can be obtained from the Emmett Kelly Museum.
Hope! Dreams! Hope for a new life and dreams of the future. It took great courage to leave your family, your home, property and a way of life. But, life sometimes demands such extremes.
Men, women and children with hope still in their hearts and visions of better things, kept their dreams alive and moved west in search for their future in the unknown.
The unknown, a dark, scary existence filled with uncertainties, doubts and confusion. They chose to face their fears and meet them head on. One could imagine this was the case with Emmettês parents but they persevered and survived.
Opportunity came and their hard work paid off.
As was mentioned earlier, Emmett's parents left Sedan a few years after Emmett was born and moved to Missouri. There Emmett grew up learning the elements of life on the farm. The hard work, the character, and the values in which his parent instilled in him. How to have fun and everything a child learns as they grow into adulthood.
In October of1906, Emmett's father, Thomas Kelly wrote to the Sedan Lance News paper a letter he addressed to the news paper and asked that it be printed for all his friends back here in Sedan. You can read his letter as it appeared and has been transcribed here



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