“HOME OF J. S. KELLY . . . Moorsville (sic) Morgan County Indiana Taken about 1850. Aunt Abby Married 1852”. Mooresville is located 12 miles southwest of Indianapolis, the state capital. Since there were only three short term daguerreotypists working in the city around 1850, I wonder if the perfect archivally sealed sixth plate architectural view was taken possibly five years later when several more competent operators were active or was a gifted daguerreian traveling through the rural village taking scenic studies? Obviously, Mr. Kelly, who was a prominent merchant in the town, could certainly have afforded most any tariff the man might have charged for the view that has aged to perfection. The shady area in the tree at the right side of the scene looks funky but that was something that occurred during the original process. At first glance, I thought the line above the left chimney was a scratch but seeing the wire running up the exterior brick wall onto the flue led me to the truth. It was a lightening rod. A careful inspection of the second smokestack revealed a similar device.
Mr. Richard Majka, my dear friend, collector of fine daguerreotypes and esteemed researcher sent this information to me: ?J.S. Kelly (James Smith Kelly in full) was a prominent early merchant in Mooresville, Indiana, who married his first wife Eliza Wetzel in 1825. They apparently had four children, but only two daughters, Amanda and Nancy, can be fully traced. After Eliza’s death in 1850, Kelly married again two years later, this time to Abigail Kilgore–the “Aunt Abby” mentioned on the note. It looks like the daguerreotype was inherited by one of her nieces or nephews, and not either one of Kelly’s daughters. What is plain, though, is that this beautiful and significant structure was destroyed in more recent years to make way for some bank. Kelly formed a partnership with Alexander Worth, another early merchant of Mooresville, in 1830. It was said that Samuel Moore, founder of the town, was the leading businessman in the northern part of Morgan County. Kelley was probably next in business activity. Both kept excellent stores during the 1830s and 1840s, often having as high as $15,000 worth of goods, which were purchased in Eastern markets twice a year. Kelley did considerable business in pork packing and shipping. Kelly was another early merchant who operated a tan yard, and also a pottery shop where he made jars and jugs. Mr. Kelly had built the first brick house in Mooresville. It stood where the Mooresville First Federal Building and Loan is presently located. A log tavern stood on the north side between the Kelly house and the corner.? The complete leather case has a weak hinge. The second scan shows the information as it remains attached to the pad. Casey placed an archival sleeve around the paper.