Joseph C. Kelley, one of the young business men of Malheur county, was born January 3, 1870, at Idaho City, Idaho, his parents being Joseph and Marrgaret (Thompson) Kelley, pioneers of that state. Joseph Kelley, senior, was a native of Farmington, Iowa, and was among those who in the early fifties sought the golden sands of California. After spending several years in California, in the middle sixties, Mr. Kelley again emigrated, going to Idaho and establishing himself in business as a mechanic at Idaho City. Here, in the closing days of 1870, the silver cord was broken and all that was earthly of the departed pioneer was laid at rest. A little while later the family removed to Oregon, settling near Nyssa, in this county, and in 1877, Mr. Kelley having meanwhile become the wife W. K.. Stark, the family again chose a new home, this time on Willow creek, where the subject of this sketch grew to manhood’s estate. The mother passed into the life beyond in August, 1817. Of the immediate family now living there are but two, Joseph and his brother, Melville D. Kelley. a prosperous ranch man residing on Willow creek.
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Mr. Kelley remained at home, engaged in ranching and stock raising, until 1898 when, having learned the saddler’s trade, he came to Vale and opened a small harness and saddle store. From a small beginning the business has grown to one of considerable size. He is the sole saddler and harness dealer at the county seat, and his business occupies new and commodious quarters.
In 1900 Mr. Kelley was nominated for the office of county treasurer by the Republican party and was elected over his opponent. William Plugoff, fusionist, by a majority of one hundred and nineteen votes. He was accorded a renomination this year and was victorious a second time, his majority over H. B. Donahey being two hundred and seventy-one, or nearly double that he received the first time he appeared in the political arena. Mr. Kelley is a member of the strong fraternal organization, the Odd Fellows, belonging to Vale Lodge, No. l00; he is also a Mason, belonging to Arcadia Lodge, No. 118, in Ontario. He is a master Mason and also he has served the Vale Lodge of the I. O. O. F. as noble grand. Mr. Kelley is also as yet, a member of that largest though most noblest of all orders, the Bachelors.