William D. Kelley K-8

Mrs. Amelia Coleman-Brown

1601 North 28th Street
Philadelphia PA 19121
Phone: 215-684-5071

Kelley, William D

Kelley, William D

Our Mission

The William D. Kelley School seeks to foster a holistic, higher-order, and student centered learning experience for every student such that all students will leave our school with the academic skills needed to develop into strongly engaged world citizens and lifelong learners.  

Our History

 William Darrah Kelley

William Darrah Kelley was born in Northern Liberties Section of Philadelphia on April 12, 1814. He was the youngest son of William and Hannah (Darrah) Kelley, and grandson of Major John Kelley an officer in the Revolutionary War. 


William D. Kelley's father was a leading watchmaker and jeweler. During the crisis following the War of 1812 he was financially ruined. He died in 1816 when William was a mere child of two.


His father's death made William dependent upon his own efforts and abilities for sustenance. He attended the Congregational School of the Second Presbyterian Church until he was eleven. He left school to find employment in a bookstore at a salary of one dollar a week.


Seeking to better his position and to learn a trade he became a jeweler's apprentice at the age of thirteen. His indenture expired in 1834. Since employment was scarce in Philadelphia he obtained a position in Boston, where he worked as a jeweler for four years.


While in Boston his leisure hours were given to study and he gained a wide reputation as a writer and speaker. He returned to Philadelphia in 1839 to begin his study of Law with the Law Office of Colonel James Page. He was admitted to the Bar on April 17, 1841.


Mr. Kelley rapidly attained an honorable and well known law practice. In 1845, he was appointed Prosecutor of the Pleas for Philadelphia. In 1847, he was commissioned Judge of  the Court of Common Pleas, a position he held for ten years. As a judge, he achieved a reputation for sound justice and a genuine interest in public welfare.


Judge Kelley had always opposed slavery, and with the repeal of the Missouri Compromise became one of the founders of the Republican Party. He resigned his judgeship in 1856 to run for Congress and was defeated. He resumed his law practice until 1860 when he again ran for office and was elected to Congress from the Fourth Pennsylvania District. This was the beginning of a long term of service, he being elected to every succeeding Congress until the time of his death. 


Congressman Kelley supported all measures for the extension of suffrage and Military Reconstruction.  He advocated a reduction of internal taxes and the protection of American industries. For over twenty years in speeches, pamphlets, and books he stressed immigrants, opening the West, and developing and diversifying American industry.


He traveled widely in America and Europe, and wrote a number of books based on his travels and legislative experiences. Fiery, humanitarian and honest, apt at repartee, he was considered the best orator in the House of Representatives. He was twice married and had four children. Mr. Kelley died in Washington, D.C. on January 9, 1890 and was interred at Laurel Hills Cemetery in Philadelphia.