From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Kelly, Beverly

(born: 1850  -  died: November 11, 1885) In 1882, Mr. Beverly Kelly, a blacksmith, is thought to have been the first African American to become coroner of Christian County, Kentucky, and the first to be elected to an office in Christian County. Kelly's election preceded that of Rev. James L. Allensworth, Sr. who first became coroner in 1894. Beverly Kelly had been the coroner for three years when he became sick with typhoid fever and died on November 11, 1885.

He had helped lead the way for those who followed to become the first African Americans elected to an office in Hopkinsville, KY. He had won his election by 34 votes. Kelly was fairly unknown and in one of the northern precincts, 50 white Republicans had voted the straight ticket, not knowing that candidate Beverly Kelly was an African American. When word got out, the white voters tried to have their votes erased, but the county clerk would not allow it. 

Mr. Beverley Kelly was a member of the United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten. By the organization's order, he was buried in the colored cemetery. He was the husband of Kate Patton, the couple had married January 5, 1871 in Hopkinsville (Ancestry). They are enumerated in the 1880 U.S. Census.

Sources: "Why was it that Beverley Kelly, col., was elected coroner in 1882 by 34 votes?," Semi-weekly South Kentuckian, 07/31/1885, p.2; and "Death of Coroner Kelly," Semi-weekly South Kentuckian, 11/13/1885, p.3.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Christian County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Hopkinsville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Kelly, Beverly,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 25, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-09-05 13:57:55