Prof. T. B. Kelly, A. M., LL. B., president of Pure Fountain College, Smithville, was born in Columbia, Maury Co., Tenn., in 1852. His parents were Thomas J. and Elizabeth (Hardwicke) Kelly. The father was of Irish descent, born March 9, 1810, in Dickson County, Tenn., where his father, Thomas Kelly located after emigrating from Ireland, about 1800. Thomas J. married in 1838, and about 1844 moved to Columbia, where he established a queens ware store, which he managed successfully until the year of his death, 1861. His first wife was of French extraction, born in 1817, in Buckingham County, Virginia She died in January 1854. There were eleven children, only two of who are living: George M., a farmer of Maury County, and our subject.
Prof. Kelly received his early education in his native county, at Jones’ Academy. In 1837 he entered the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, remaining five months. In the winter of 1873 he began the study of law at Nashville, his preceptor being Hon. F. C. Dannington. He also assisted in the office of the clerk of the Supreme Court. In the fall of 1874 he entered the law department of Cumberland University at Lebanon, graduating the following June. He located in his native town. In September 1876, he commenced teaching in the Lewisburg Institute. For fifteen months he was assistant principal, at the end of which time he entered upon the practice of his profession in Lewisburg. Later he became principal of the institute. In 1881 he was called to serve in same capacity in the high school at Columbia, remaining two years. In 1883 he took charge of the college of which he is now president. The attendance is an average of 150 a year. In June 1886, Cumberland University conferred upon him the degree of A. M. He is one of the most thorough, intelligent and respected instructors in the county. He is highly esteemed by both patrons and pupils.
January 4, 1876, he married Miss Ella Steele, daughter of Prof. P. W. Dodson, the efficient teacher at Dover, Stewart County. Mrs. Kelly was born in 1855 in Williamson County, Tenn., and is the mother of three living children: Pauline, Thomas B. and Inez. Prof. Kelly is a K. of H. and an F. & A. M. He and his wife belong to the Methodist Episcopal Church South. His wife is a lady of superior culture and in considered one of the best pianists in the South.