Thursday, July 7, 2011

Born on July 7 - William Leroy Kelly

William Leroy Kelly
1892 - 1968
My grandfather, William Leroy Kelly was born on July 7, 1891. Or maybe it was 1892.

His tombstone, located in Greenwood Cemetery in Greenwood, Nebraska, gives 1891 as his year of birth. But my research into public records indicate that 1892 is probably the actual year of his birth.

I use this as an example to show that not even tombstones always provide accurate information. At the time of Grandpa Kelly's death in 1968 and when the tombstone was purchased, I'm sure my mother and her siblings listed his birth year as 1891 because he always stated that he was "nine years older than the year it is."

That would have been true - for one half of the year. The second half of the year, he would have been eight years older than the year it was.

I have two pieces of research information that indicate he was born in 1892. The first is his World War I draft registration card. It shows his date of birth as July 1, 1892. He signed the card in June of 1917, the month before his 25th birthday.

The other documentation is the Social Security Death Index which also indicates 1892 as the year of his birth.

This serves as a reminder that you cannot always rely on family lore in determining dates.

One thing for sure, we always knew that Grandpa Kelly was born on July 7. In the 1960s, he seemed to be quite amused that he shared his birthday with Beatles drummer Ringo Starr. Ringo turns 71 years old today, and Grandpa Kelly was born on this day 119 years ago, in 1892.


  1. I'm sure you still picture him as the last time you saw him, and not as somebody who aged to 119 years. Very nice photo of him, in thought.

  2. I don't know why, but so many people act as though tombstone dates were, well, written in stone! As you did, I found all sorts of evidence that a great-grandfather was NOT born on the date given on his tombstone, but many researchers still cling to that date.

  3. Greta - I also have photos of tombstones with the names spelled incorrectly!

  4. Thanks, Barb. This photo is pretty much how I remember Grandpa Kelly. I just came across this one recently. It was taken by one of our neighbors in Greenwood.

  5. I've seen (and photographed) a stone with dates of birth and death reversed. I've often wondered if the family got that one for free...