Clinton Kelly (minister)

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Reverend Clinton Kelly (June 15, 1808 – June 19, 1875) was an early pioneer of what became the U.S. state of Oregon.

Kelly was born on June 15, 1808, in Pulaski County, Kentucky, the son of Samuel and Nancy Kelly.[1][2]

In January, 1827, he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church and became a pastor.[1]

Kelly joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, South after its succession from the main church.[1] After seeing what would come of slavery and the strife surrounding it, however, he and his family, along with his brothers Albert and Thomas, traveled to the Oregon Country in 1847, arriving in late 1848[1][3] (by which time Oregon had become a U.S. territory). They initially stayed in a cabin on James B. Stephens' claim.[2] They later settled in what is now Oregon City, where Kelly purchased his land claim for $50.[4] He died on June 19, 1875, at the age of 67.[1]


In 1827, Kelly married Mary Baston, and together they had five boys: Plympton, Hampton, Archon, Calmet and Benjal.[2] Mary died in 1837. A year later Kelly married Jane Burns. Clinton and Jane had one daughter, Mary Jane, and Jane died shortly afterwards. Kelly married his third wife, Moriah Maldon Crain, on March 11, 1840.[2] Clinton and Moriah had nine children together.[5] Moriah died in January 1864.[2]

The eldest of Clinton and Moriah's children was Sarah Margaret Kelly, who later became the wife of Captain John W. Kern.[2][5] Among Moriah and Clinton's other children was their son Penumbra Kelly, who became a sheriff and later a U.S. Marshal of the district and who also represented Multnomah County in the Oregon State Legislature for four terms.[2][5] Another son, Dr. Richmond Kelly, was a well-known citizen of Portland, Oregon, for whom the Richmond neighborhood was named.[5] Penumbra married Mary E. Marquam, daughter of Judge Philip A. Marquam, in 1875.[6] Three of Clinton and Moriah's children died in childhood.[2]


Clinton Street and Clinton Park in Portland are named after Kelly.[7] Albert Kelly Park in Portland is named after Rev. Albert Kelly, Clinton Kelly's brother.[7]

Kelly's family figures prominently in the history of the Mt. Tabor area of Portland.[4] Kelly's son Plympton may have influenced the naming of Mt. Tabor after Mount Tabor in Palestine.[4]

Kelly Butte was on a portion of Plympton Kelly's land claim.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i History of the Columbia River Valley From The Dalles to the Sea. The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company. 1911. pp. 232–237. 
  3. ^ "Adopted Richmond Neighborhood Plan". Portland, Oregon Bureau of Planning. December 1994. p. B-10. Retrieved 2009-09-01. 
  4. ^ a b c Nelson, Grant. "History: The Early Years of Mt. Tabor". Mount Tabor Neighborhood Association. Retrieved 2009-09-01. 
  5. ^ a b c d Douthit, Mary Osborn, ed. (1905). Souvenir of Western Women. Portland, Oregon. p. 34. 
  6. ^ History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889. 
  7. ^ a b "Clinton Park". Portland Parks & Recreation Department. Retrieved 2009-09-01. 

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