John Kelly Sr.

John Brendan Kelly Sr. (1889 - 1960)

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John Brendan Kelly Sr.
Born in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in Saint Bridget's Church, 3667 Midvale Ave, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USAmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 31 Dec 2012
This page has been accessed 805 times.

Categories: Global Family Reunion | Rowing | 1920 Summer Olympics, Antwerp | 1924 Summer Olympics, Paris | Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania.

John Kelly Sr. has Irish ancestors.



John Brendan Kelly, * Philadelphia 4.10.1889, + Philadelphia 20.6.1960

oo Philadelphia 30.1.1924 Margaret Maier, * Philadelphia 13.12.1898, + Philadelphia .. Juli 1980

Snubbed by Henley

In England, rowing was a gentlemen's sport. In Philadelphia, there are no gentlemen. Not that kind, at least. Philadelphia was the "Workshop of the World" . Men worked. Boys worked.

At one time, the rules at the Henley Regatta disqualified anyone who did any kind of menial work or any artisans or mechanics for wages. It also disqualified professionals. The 1905 team from the Vesper boat house collected donations to pay their travel expenses to the Regatta. The Regatta Stewards determined that this made them professionals. Vesper was permanently (forever) disqualified from participating in the Regatta, as were the individuals who raced that year.

Jack Kelly was an ambitious young man. At nine he began apprenticing as a brick layer. After World War I, the rules for racing at the Henley Regeatta were supposed to be less restrictive. A member of the Vesper boat club, Jack was not planning on attending the first post war Henley Regatta. Assured of his acceptance by the national rowing commissioner and four Stewards, he contacted personally, he appled to race.

Two days before his trip, he received a telegram saying never mind, stay home. He was denied because he was a member of Vesper. And because he had done menial labor. He was the only American rejected.

His son, Kell did win the Diamond Sculls in 1947 and 1949[1].

The Princess Grace Challenge Cup, a women's race introduced at Henley in 2003, is more of a tribute to her father than to her.

The Olympics and Sweet Revenge

Thinking he was going to England in June, Jack had decided not to participate in the Olympics being held in Belgium that year. Being the son of Irish immigrants, being publicly rejected by an English society probably did not sit well with him. He decided to go to the Olympics so he could beat whoever won the Diamond Sculls race he would have raced. He did, indeed, beat Jack Beresford, the Englishman who had won the Henley. By one second[2]. At the end of the Diamond Sculls race, it was immediately time for the doubles race. He and his cousin Paul Costello won that one. Jack is the only person to win gold medals in both single and double sculls. They won the same race in the 1924 Olympics.

Kelly for Brickwork

In the early 1900's, it was common for people to be finished school at sixth or eighth grade. High school, and maybe college, were dreams they had for their children. And they would work to get them there. I doubt the nine year old Jack Kelly was thinking of future generations. He was just plain ready to be rich. He started working for his brother, Patrickafter school and in summers when he was nine. At twelve, he left school At twelve, he was hiring himself out. He left school, learned to row. His own name in the record books, it was time to settle down. Jack borrowed money from two of his brothers and started his own brickwork company, John B. Kelly, Inc. A supporter of Franklin Roosevelt paid off. WPA projects came his way and contributed to his company's growth. He had contracts as far as New York City, including the Manhattan House[3]where his famous daughter, Princess Grace of Monaco once lived. The company thrives today.

Time for Family

With a plan for his future, Jack married long time long time girlfriend, college graduate, Margaret Majer in 1924[4]. Over the following nine years, they would have four children. The family went to Mass at Saint Bridget's Church[5]. The girls attended The Academy of the Assumption at Ravenhill a Catholic Academy for girls. Ravenhill Mansion was practically in their backyard.

Striving to move upward socially, the girls were sent to the Germantown Stevens School and Jack to Penn Charter.[6].

He never did make any inroads with the Main Line set. He also wanted his daughter away from Hollywood. He did not like the merry-go-round attitude towards marriage in that set of people. When Grace was engaged to Oleg Cassini, he was clear he did not approve because Oleg had been married before.

When Prince Ranier asked to marry Grace, he saw her marrying into royalty, better than being in the Main Line group, his daughter out of Hollywood and best of all, married to a Catholic.

Jack died June 20, 1960.


  • Heinz-Jürgen Mannhardt: Sind die Mannhardts mit der Fürstin Gracia Patricia von Monaco verwandt?. In:Mannhardtscher Familienbrief, Heft 13, 2004 unter Berufung auf C.F. Kaufholz: Die deutschen Ahnen der Fürstin von Monaco, Grace Patricia geb. Kelly. Genealogie 13.Jgg. (Bd. 7), S. 1, (1964); Ahnenliste Helena Linnich, In: Mannhardtscher Familienbrief Nr. 6 (1997), S. 25
  • 1920 census
  • 1910 census
  • WWI draft registration

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No known carriers of John's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests and no close relatives have taken a 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or Family Tree DNA "Family Finder" test.

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On 30 Dec 2017 at 18:43 GMT Vic Watt wrote:

Kelly-3244 and Kelly-5879 appear to represent the same person because: Same. Gleich.

On 12 Nov 2014 at 02:05 GMT Doug Lockwood wrote:

On 12 Nov 2014 at 02:04 GMT Doug Lockwood wrote:

John Kelly Sr. is notable.
Join: Notables Project
Discuss: notables

John is 29 degrees from Robin Helstrom, 32 degrees from Katy Jurado and 12 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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