Milton Kelly

Photo of Milton Kelly
Photo courtesy of “An Illustrated History of the State of Idaho” Lewis Publishing Company, 1899

Born September 9, 1818, Onadago County, New York
Died April 9, 1892, Boise, Idaho

Judge Milton Kelly is perhaps best known for the 17 years he was owner and editor of the Idaho Statesman newspaper. He was, however, a man of many interests and talents.

Before coming to Idaho in 1862, Kelly lived in Ohio, where he worked in the mercantile business; Wisconsin, where he studied and practiced law; California and Oregon, he ran a string of pack animals that brought him to the gold mining area of Placerville, Idaho.

After passage of the Organic Act in 1863, creating Idaho Territory, Kelly was elected a member of the first session of the Idaho territorial Legislature. He was instrumental in helping draft a body of general laws for the territory.

In April 1865, President Lincoln, in his last official act before his assassination, appointed Kelly to a four-year term as an associate justice of the Territorial Supreme Court. He was reappointed by President Grant in 1869.

Kelly remained in office until he purchased the Idaho Statesman from James L. Reynolds on January 2, 1872. He was sole proprietor of the newspaper until ill health forced him to sell in 1889.

Many of Kelly's contemporaries described him as temperamental, vindictive and an unlikable man. During his years as editor of The Idaho Statesman he engaged in vitriolic exchanges with irrepressible William J. "Old" Hill, editor of the Silver City Owyhee Avalanche.

During Kelly's many years as lawyer and judge he made many enemies but was reputed to have been fair and often courageous in his rulings.

Kelly married Lois Humphrey in New York in 1843. She preceded in him in death by one month. They were parents of one daughter.

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