Title: Firefighter
Birthdate: January 1, 1861
Death Date: March 30 1905
Plot Location: Section 109, Lot 194, east line

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James was the only child of James and Eliza Kelly, who arrived in Philadelphia from Ireland in 1850 and were lifelong members of Southwestern Presbyterian Church. He was married in 1884, the same year he began his life’s work as a hoseman with the city’s fire department.

He and Kate lived in his childhood home with his parents at 1908 Kimball Street, where they had one child who died as an infant. The 1900 census shows them at the same address with his widowed mother and a daughter born in 1898.

James became a ladderman in 1896. About a week before Christmas of 1903, just before midnight, he was on his ladder truck heading toward a fire on 8th Street when he hit a pole, injuring him and one other man. Both went to the hospital but James was laid up for over a year until he died from those injuries in March of 1905.

James is one of 12 firefighters from the Engine 1 Ladder 5 fire station who have lost their lives in the line of duty. They are honored on the plaque shown above, which stands outside the station at South Broad and Kenilworth Streets. 

Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

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