In 1980 Mom Edwards wrote the story of her life as she saw it. Now in 1999 I her youngest son Harry transcribed it to type for the generations to follow;

The Life of Elizabeth Pearl Kelley


I was born in Rockville Center Long Island (New York State) to Charles Kelley and Rose Leonhardt on August 10,1896.

By the time I was 2 1/2 to 3 years old my parents were living in Newcastle Long Island. We had good neighbors, My uncle John, Moms brother, married our neighbors daughter Ellen and I used to go to their
house to play with their son Tommie.

I don't remember my father but did hear he was an alcoholic. My mom had a baby every year, which is why I went to our neighbor (the Gills) to have food to eat. I was the only child that lived in moms family. Our neighbors name was Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Gill. They had one daughter Ellen and a son John. The Gills decided to go on a farm so bought one up in New
Hampshire (Manchester).They adopted me so they could take me along.

Mom worked when she could to survive. I had one sister, Ida Kelley buried in Holy Rode cemetery in Westbury, Long Island, New York. I don't know where the other two are buried (Lena & Josephine Kelley).

The Gills lived on the farm about one or two years, then moved to Wilmont New Hampshire on a fourteen acre farm. These peole were so poor, age 60 or 70s, so we lived on what we could grow in the summer. We had a horse and a cow which really saved our lives. We had the milk and butter from the cow. I tried to make a few biscuits or hard bread. Mrs Gill
took to a chair, seems she couldn't walk much, so I did most of the work. I used to walk miles to school until the weather was too cold on my bare feet, then I had to stay home until April, then back to school. Many times I was late for school, as I had milking to do, wood to bring in before school time. We lived way out in the mountains so had miles to walk on lonely roads. I also walked miles to Danbury New Hampshire to a grocery store to get flour and groceries. Many times I went to the store for a gallon of Kerosene for our lamps. I also went into the woods with Pa Gill to help pull the cross cut saw to get wood in the winter, also in the summer.

We had a few chickens and Ma Gill must have cooked chicken  but I don't remember too much about what she did. I do
remember she had a commode chair and I had to empty the pail. The Gills son John never married, he just sold tea, soap, coffee and shoe laces for a living and wasn't always home. He was good to me, much better than uncle Johns wife Ellen. She was just plain mean, even uncle John couldn't live with her, He went away to the lumber camp in Maine. For a few years
none knew where he was.

Uncle John and Ellen Leonhardt had a son Tommie, daughter May and son John Jr. they called him Jack.

In 1900 my Mom married another man (George Carman) over in Freeport Long Island. This man died in 1907 with TB. In 1908 she decided  to see how I was .That same day she came into Danbury on the train, hired a horse sleigh to get to the Gill home. On the way, I was on the way down to the store to get more flour with my sled and we passed each other on the
road. I didn't know she was my mother and kept on going. About three hours later I got back and she was in the house. Ma Gill introduced me to my own mother. I was 11 1/2 at the time and some how I couldn't figure it out. Any way my mom and Mrs. Gill  had a chance to talk before I got back. Nothing was said to me about going back to Long Island.

In March of 1909 my mother bought shoes, and made clothes for me, a complete outfit and came back by horse sleigh. This time she stayed over night at a neighbors (Mrs.Verbeck). The day before she got a phone call to the sheriffs house to get permission to take me out of the Gill home. So the next AM  I went to the Verbeck house on an errand and there was my
mother and the sheriffs horse and sleigh (so I walked right into their arms. I was dirty, a pair of rubbers on my feet, as lousy as anyone could be. They took me to the sheriffs home ,gave me a bath, cut my hair and had a clean outfit on me. I felt like a dressed up doll.

My mom told me we were going on a train ride to New York. I saw trains down in Danbury but had never been on one. Next day we rode a train all day to New York City. Then out Long Island to Newcastle, to aunt Carries house. That was the first time I met Em, John and Rose Schultz, aunt Carrie's children. I went to school there for a while, my mom worked to
get money to start house keeping for herself and me. We went to Baldwin Long Island on central ave, we had two rooms. I started school again, then in the following year mom married a man, a Coles Carman. He was a good man and he worked in a boat yard in Baldwin. For 1 or 2 days mom took in washing, did house work at 75 cents a day.

Coles died with pleural pneumonia about 1914.After the funeral I went to aunt Carries for a few days. She taught me how to dance by an old Edison cylinder record machine. I went back home by trolley car to moms in Baldwin, but didn't go back to school. I got working papers and went to work for a lady in Freeport cleaning house for 6.00 a month. I stayed there and came home once a month. After awhile I got a housecleaning job near home for 10.00 a month. By this time I started going out with
friends to a party now and then. My girlfriend and I went to a movie and I me the usher (Sylvester Day). Cora and I went to see a movie quite often, which is how I began keeping company  with him. In August we were married in Hempstead Long Island.To this union I had a son James, son Harold, daughter Dorothy and daughter Rose Marie Day. Until Day met the
wrong people who gambled which led him into gambling to. This was our trouble, so about 1920 he disappeared.

From there I went to live with my mother in Roosevelt Long Island. Finally she moved Vermont so nothing for me to do but follow her there. There were many shops for folks to work in, so I put my children in a home in St.Josephs home in Burlington Vermont, so I could work. Mom was already working in one of the shops, We didn't make big pay but enough to keep us going  as some times we only had 3 or 4 days a week work.

I couldn't go on the train to Burlington maybe once in 4 to 6 months as I paid what I could to the home also save carfare up there to see the children.

I had met Bill Edwards before I left Long Island to follow mom to Vermont. After awhile he followed me up there. He got a job in one of the shops too. Later on I obtained a divorce from Day and married Edwards. We got a home together and took the children out of the home in Burlington. I began a second family to this union. I had a son George, a son Harry, a daughter Betty and a daughter June and a daughter Jane (Twins). In all we had 11 in the family, but with a big garden and a
pail of milk at the neighbors barn we got through the depression in 1929-30 and 31. Later developed polio, also George and Jane. Betty had it real bad. All of us had a rough time, seems we can't see what's ahead of us or we would do things different, But God led us through it all.

Edwards Family circa 1950In 1936 Bill and I separated which left it to me to pick up the pieces and go on with my brood. I worked when I could.  In the meantime  Marie started work on Long Island and helped me all she could, sometimes turning her whole pay to help. Jimmie was married in 1936, during depression. Harold stayed at Ems but couldn't find work, so we did the best we could until my children grew up. In 1936 Betty had to stay in hospitals and reconstruction home in West Havasstraw New York-for about 3 years.

Between 1938-39 Bill Edwards and I went back together again and moved to Connecticut. He worked in Bridgeport until he was laid off in about 1940. Then we had to live in a cheaper place so we moved to a small farm in
Gilboa New York.

After the twins finished school and was married Bill and I separated again. This time I left him and found me a job and went to work. About 7 years later he died and was buried in New Jersey. Then I moved back into our home. Here I expected to remain until my Lord calls me home, beyond the sky. I've had an uphill and downhill life, but Jesus had a bad time when he was on this earth so-ooooooooo.


Elizabeth Pearl Kelly
circa 1980


Text written by Elizabeth Pearl Kelly
Transcribed by Harry John Edwards (her son)
Web page created by Richard Alan Edwards (her grandson)
email: richedwards@earthlink.com
Last revised: 8/22/2000