February 27, 2013
George Biddle Kelley
George Biddle Kelley born on August 24, 1884 in Troy, New York to Richard and Mathilda Kelley. Kelley’s father was a veteran of a Civil War regiment from Massachusetts. His father migrated from Virginia as a fugitive slave during the Civil War, and his mother came from a long line of distinguished Hudson River citizens who were established in Newburgh, New York. His grandfather, the late Rev. W.H. Decker, was one of the most cultured and capable preachers and pastors of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in the 19th century. Jewel Kelley’s uncle and godfather, Rev. E. George Biddle of Boston, Massachusetts lived for more than 100 years, and studied at Rayford where he graduated from the Divinity School. These ancestors of Jewel Kelley were pioneers in organized religion and education and were personal friends of Harriet Tubman and other freedom seekers who lived in the North and the Northwestern part of New York State.
As a young man he attended the Troy Military Academy, a military preparatory school. He studied at the Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute before entering the college of Civil Engineering at Cornell University in 1905, where he graduated in 1908. Kelley was described as sometimes conservative, unyielding and adamant. His disposition and emotional response to many situations revealed the uncompromising nature of his personality.
When this band of men began to meet and acquaint themselves with each other, they found their camaraderie delightful. During the days of C.C. Poindexter, Kelley was appointed treasurer of the literary group. He would later create the first ritual along with Jewel Robert Harold Ogle. Together, they planned the first initiation banquet on Tuesday, October 30, 1906 at Odd