Kelly Nail and Iron Works

Kelly Family of Lawrence County, Ohio




William Dollarhide “W.D.” Kelly


Obituary in Ironton Register, October 8, 1891:
Another of the old iron men has departed! William D. Kelly died at his home in Ironton last Friday afternoon, the 2nd day of October. . . . About the first of the century, Luke Kelly moved from Russell county, Va., to Ohio. He bought 500 acres of land at what is now known as Union Landing. This tract he divided up among his five sons, Reuben, Joshua, Charles, Joseph and John Kelly, into tracts of 100 acres each running down the river in the order named. Rev. J. M. Kelly was a son of Joshua; the late General Kelly was a son of Charles; Samuel was a son of Reuben; Whitfield was a son of John, and William D., the subject of this sketch, was a son of Joseph. He was born on the farm, next below the well known Gen. Kelly farm, January 13, 1815. (tells of his father selling to Jas. Rodgers and others the tract of land, on which Etna was built in 1832). On the 18th day of September, 1838, Mr. Kelly married Miss Sarah Austin, who lived on the second farm below where he was born . . . Mr. Kelly began his career as an iron man in 1844, when he became a member of the firm of Dempsey, Rodgers & Co., proprietors of Etna Furnace…. In 1880 with is sons, Lindsey and Ironton, he conceived the idea of building the Kelly Nail & Iron works in this city. In 1855, he organized the Exchange Bank. Interment at Kelly cemetery. Laid to rest by the side of a beloved daughter, Mary, who had died many years ago.

WD and Sarah Austin Kelly, buried in Kelly Cemetery, Ironton, OH

Ironton Austin Kelly

Ironton Austin Kelly was the first boy to be born in the newly founded city of Ironton, Ohio.


Ironton Austin Kelly II (in the middle) is the same person wearing the white shirt in the Kelly family picture at the top of the page. And if that’s not cool enough….click HERE to see what the baby in this picture (Ironton Austin Kelly III) went on to do!


Lindsey Kelly


(Pictured with wife, Nannie, and son, Lindsey Jr)

From obituary in Ironton Register, March 19, 1903:
He died at his home on South Sixth street on March 11, death due to pneumonia. He was 61 years of age. He was born in May, 1842, on the Austin farm below Hanging Rock, and came to Ironton with his parents a few years later. He assumed management of Center Furnace in 1863. He married in 1879 to Miss Nannie Honshell, daughter of the late Commodore Wash Honshell of Catlettsburg. One son, Lindsey Kelly, Jr. was born to this union. State Senator in 1877 for four years. Besides the wife and son, he leaves one brother, Ironton A. Kelly, formerly of Ironton, but now of Ashland, Ky. Burial at Woodland Cemetery.

Obituary for Lindsey Kelly, Jr; Ironton Register, February 4, 1904:
Only son of Mrs. Nannie H. Kelly died Wednesday night at Brunton’s Sanitarium in Cincinnati. He had been ill with rheumatism for several years and spent some time in California, Texas and other western states in hope of obtaining relief. Following his attack, came heart trouble. He was about 20 years of age. Interment at Woodland Cemetery.

Nannie Kelly Wright



There was a time when one of the country’s richest women lived in Ironton.

Nannie Kelly Wright, born in 1856, was the world’s only female ironmaster. An Ironton resident, Wright came to own some of the 90 local iron ore furnaces in the area. Iron from the furnaces was used to make cooking utensils, heating stoves and cannons, among other things.

A book published in 2008 by the Lawrence County Historical Society described Wright as a sharp businesswoman, often demanding and always ready to issue orders. She expected efficient service from employees, servants and salespeople and she expected to pay for that service. Wright had a stately, regal bearing.

“She could be brisk and abrupt in speaking and children often were awed or fearful in her presence,” according to authors the late Virginia Bryant and Sharon Kouns. “She was often quoted as saying that her employees did not want or need a union as she was always available to them to solve problems.”

“There was another side to her personality,” the authors said. “She is described as dear and loving and kind in her dealings with friends and family. She remembered birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions. She was generous. She loved roses and lace and diamonds. In her China cabinet, she kept a teacup full of unmounted diamonds. During World War II those stones were scarce and area jewelers often bargained with her.”

Her shoes were custom-made in Cincinnati and some of her dresses were made in Paris. “All her life, she seemed to crave attention,” according to the authors. “She monogrammed everything — napkins, tablecloths, handkerchiefs, hairbrushes, shoe horns, silverware and much more.”

“She crossed the Atlantic 14 times and went around the world three times,” said Kay Rader, a member of the historical society. “She would be gone for months. She went to the Court of St. James in London and met with King Edward VII. The dress she wore is on display at the museum.”

“She was definitely ahead of her time,” Rader said.

Wright was born in Catlettsburg, Ky. Her brother, Gus Honshell, married Clare Stoddard of San Francisco, the niece of Collis P. Huntington, railroad tycoon and founder of Huntington.

 She bought the Center Furnace in Elizabeth Township north of Ironton in 1896. She reportedly had a bowling alley built behind her summer home. She occasionally showed up at the furnace and would go into the mines, wearing men’s pants to work beside the men when there was a problem.

In the early 1940s, Wright lived at the Frederick Hotel in Huntington. She celebrated her 90th birthday at the Marting Hotel in Ironton in 1946 and died later that year.



(December 12, 1946)
Mrs. Wright, who was 90 years old last Sept. 08, died quietly in her room at the Hotel Marting at 8:30 a.m. following a critical illness of several days. With her passing Ironton lost one of its most colorful figures-a woman who was at home in the drawing room with governors and presidents. In furnace offices and furnace casting rooms. With her died a living memory of the old political, torchlight parades of other years of the business opportunities available even in those years when it was generally considered that a woman’s place was in the home…

“With her death today Ironton’s lost a resident who was a link with the “aristocratic” days of other years, a woman whose life was always one of bold adventure. She was the last immediate member of her family but some cousins, including the Davidson family of South Point, survive.”