Arthur P. Kelley was born in 1876 in Nashua NH to Andrew & Laura Ella (Wells) Kelley. His mother died the following year, and his father remarried. He had two older siblings: a brother Hector, and a sister Laura (who m. Alfred C. Hendrick). Several of his family members are buried on Nashua soil, in Woodlawn cemetery.
Arthur P. Kelley’s family had moved to Nashua by 1876 and the family is found there in the 1880 census, with Arthur shown aged 4. Arthur attended local Nashua schools, including two years of high school [his education is detailed in one of the newspaper notices below.] Although records indicate that Rev. Kelley married, there is no mention of a wife in his obituary notices.
Arthur became an Episcopalian minister, but left his ministry in order to enlist in the United States service during World War I. He was a Sergeant in the 103 Ambulance Company, 101st Sanitary Train, 26th Division. The role of the Sanitary Train was to provide medical care for the entire division through its ambulance and field hospital sections and Camp Infirmaries. It was dangerous work to locate and bring the wounded out of the battlefield and to medical treatment.
Arthur P. Kelley died on 5 July 1918, of wounds apparently received from a German soldier, as detailed later in this story. He is buried in Saint Mihiel American Cemetery in France. There is a cenotaph on his parent’s tombstone in Nashua NH
Arthur P. Kelley’s story has some twists and turns. The early Nashua NH honor roll lists do not mention him, though the American Battle Monuments (official U.S.) site AND the Honor Roll at the NH State House both attribute him to New Hampshire.The Utah Salt Lake Herald newspaper of 22 July 1918 credits him to New Hampshire, although erroneously states he died of disease. Arthur is strangely missing from the NH Adjutant-General’s list, however I have found others missing from that list who rightfully are attributed to New Hampshire.
Arthur P. Kelley was a Nashua son whose family remained in Nashua until after WW1, and who died for his country. He deserves to be claimed by the Gate City of New Hampshire. Newspaper clippings from WWI era tell his story in detail:
Sat, July 20, 1918 Nashua Telegraph. KELLEY, Rev. Arthur P.
Another Nashua boy is dead in France, died doing his duty. This is a striking example of love of country, for this man, a native of Nashua, gave up his pastorate of the Episcopal Church at Westborough, Mass., to enter the service. At the first call for troops at the Mexican border he joined the Massachusetts ambulance corps and went south with Colonel Logan. He was attached as clerk to Major (Doctor) Dudley. He won his way up with hard work to the rank of sergeant. At the outbreak of trouble in Germany he went in as top sergeant to the 2d Ambulance Corps and was attached and went overseas with the 26th Division. The telegram came Friday evening to his father, Andrew Kelley of Crown Hill, telling him of his being killed in the July 2 action. Rev. Arthur C. Kelley was ordained at the Church of the Good Shepherd here [in 1904] and has many friends in this city. Besides his father he has a sister here, Mrs. Alfred P. Hendrick, and a brother, Hector, of Philadelphia. Rev Mr. Kelley was 45 years of age.
The Boston Globe, 21, July 1918. Nashua, N.H., July 20–Rev. Arthur P. Kelley, son of Andrew Kelley of 39 Gillis St. was killed in action at Hemplegio(?) July 5, according to a telegraph from the War Department, made public by his father today.
He was born in this city 39 years ago, attended the High School two years and the St. Stevens Preparatory School and College at Annandale-on-the-Hudson. He was graduated from Trinity College in 1901 and the General Theological Seminar in New York, being ordained a deacon of the Episcopal Church at the Church of the Good Shepard in this city in 1904. Most of his professional life was devoted to teaching at Racine College and the Hallock School for Boys. He went to Nebraska for his health and was there when the trouble with Mexico became acute. Coming to Boston he listed in the 2d Massachusetts Field Ambulance Company and went South as clerk of Capt Dudley. He was promoted to top sergeant. He went abroad with the command which became afterward the 103d Ambulance Company, a part of the 101st Sanitary Train.
He is survived by his parents, a brother, Andrew P. of Trenton, N.J., a sister, Mrs. Alfred C. Hendrick of Nashua, and a brother, Hector W. of Philadelphia.
–3 months later more news, his college pin found on German soldier–
The Lowell Sun Wednesday, October 23, 1918 page 7. FIND KELLY’S PIN ON DEAD GERMAN. Nashua, N.H., Oct. 23.–The family of Rev. Arthur P. Kelley, who was sometime ago reported killed in action in France, received yesterday his college pin, which was found on the shirt of a German by the American soldier who killed him. It is a Phi Beta Gamma emblem with A.P. Kelley, Trinity,” on the back. Kelley was a sergeant in a Massachusetts regiment. The pin was sent to the paper published by the fraternity. Lieut. John A. Rogers, formerly a Nashua physician, now in the service, who writes that Sergt. Kelley was not killed in action, but died in the 325th field hospital of hemorrhage of the head on July 5, three days after being received there. It is assumed that he lost the pin in battle in a struggle with the German from whom it was taken later.
See New Hampshire WWI Military: The Heroes of Nashua for a listing of all military who died from the city of Nashua.
[Editor’s Note: this story is part of an on-going series about heroic New Hampshire men and women of World War I. Look here for the entire listing].