The World's Most Famous Clown
- Weary Willie
A child of humble beginnings
Born, Emmett Leo Kelly on December 9, 1898,
Emmett was born in a house believed to have been owned by the Missouri-Pasific
Railroad in the city of Sedan, Kansas. There are indications that his mother,
Mollie may have ran the boarding house for the railroad. Emmett's father,
Thomas Kelly would return home with the railroad crew, of which he was
the section boss, as they returned from their rounds, back to Sedan.
Growing up was hard, but in some ways no different
than children of today. Except not having the luxuries we have today which
we often take for granted. Dirty, sweaty, hard back breaking work was the
environment Emmett would grow up to know.
But now starting a family, Emmettęs parents
thought it best to settle down in one place and leave the railroad behind,
with it's loud whistles and loud clanging noises, the constant rumble and
tick-ity, tick-ity, tick-ity of the tracks. Living in the railroad
housing along side the tracks with the constant moving from one train stop
to another, would just not do. They needed something constant, something
they could work for and call their own. Put simply, they wanted a better
life for their children. The same goal as parents past, present and future.
A few years after Emmett's birth, around
1905 his parents decided it was time to move to a farm in southern Missouri.
We get a glimps of how Emmett's parents met,
how they came to Sedan, a little about his sister Sylvia and insight
of Sedan life as well as his later life in the reproduced, "Sedan Honors Favorite Son". This reproduced article from KANSAS, Third Issue 1967
is distributed by permission of Kansas Economic Developement Commission
and can be obtained from the Emmett Kelly Museum.
Hope! Dreams! Hope for a new life and dreams
of the future. It took great courage to leave your family, your home, property
and a way of life. But, life sometimes demands such extremes.
Men, women and children with hope still in
their hearts and visions of better things, kept their dreams alive and
moved west in search for their future in the unknown.
The unknown, a dark, scary existence filled
with uncertainties, doubts and confusion. They chose to face their fears
and meet them head on. One could imagine this was the case with Emmettęs
parents but they persevered and survived.
Opportunity came and their hard work paid
As was mentioned earlier, Emmett's parents
left Sedan a few years after Emmett was born and moved to Missouri. There
Emmett grew up learning the elements of life on the farm. The hard work,
the character, and the values in which his parent instilled in him. How
to have fun and everything a child learns as they grow into adulthood.
In October of1906, Emmett's father, Thomas
Kelly wrote to the Sedan Lance News paper a letter he addressed to the
news paper and asked that it be printed for all his friends back here in
Sedan. You can read his letter as it appeared and has been transcribed
Read Letter - Click Here