Nature's Idea of Home

Open, gently rolling hillsides, and cozy, heavily treed lots make Centennial Park Place Central Illinois' premiere residential community. This luxury development boasts a variety of lots to accommodate single family or multiple family residences, and includes private pond and park access and views. Our broad variety of lots available directly reflects the range of pricing offered. We invite you to visit this unique area in Springfield and make Centennial Park Place your home.


Throughout Centennial Park Place, the names of the streets were thoughtfully selected in recognition of Springfield's first family of settlers and it is our pleasure to honor the Kelley Family for their unparalleled gift to the dawn of Springfield and Curran Township. We hope the history of this extraordinary location and the inspiration behind the names will touch your heart as it has ours.

In the spring of 1817, a lone pioneer left Rutherford Co., N. C. (Rutherford Trek). The hardships he encountered were not documented; but we do know that clad in buckskin (Buckskin Trail), he then embarked on a journey that would change the face of a prairie. Born 13 March 1787, Elisha Kelley (Elisha Trail) crossed through Indian territories and stopped in Macoupin County. At hand he found plentiful fresh water, brilliant black earth beneath his feet and a rich source of food through the sight of his long Kildeer rifle. As far as he could see, the unbounded landscape was filled with trees of soft pink and white, wild crab apples crowned in rosy buds and a carpet of wild violets. Elisha gazed in awe as he had at last found the place to settle - a place where pioneer opportunity was limitless. What Elisha didn't know was that history would record that until that moment, no white man had walked the ground upon which he stood. As weeks stretched into months, Elisha found that being alone and the never ending silence was a burden that was unbearable; and in 1818, he returned to North Carolina where the solution lay in the bosom of his family.

The 31 year old bachelors (Old Bachelor Trail) homecoming was warmly hailed by his parents and siblings and he wasted no time in unfolding the story of the remarkable place he had discovered. Convinced of the promise of opportunity, the family sold their land. With the task complete, they loaded their worldly possessions in wagons (Covered Wagon Trail) and began the arduous journey toward the picturesque prairie.

After wintering in Macoupin County, Elisha's brother John, his wife Mary Whiteside (Whiteside Place) and their five children; Jonathan (Jonathan Place), Sarah, William, Mary and Elizabeth moved northward winding along a small clear stream that emptied into Spring Creek and settled in what we know today as Springfield. With the aide of crude tools, John began the strenuous task of building shelter. Through backbreaking work, the bountiful forest relinquished its precious material and the first log cabin was built on the hill above the creek. The cabin has historically been described as a two story and most likely had walls chinked with mud to keep out the wind. Today, a commemorative stone, marking its location, lies at the entrance of the Willard Ice Building on Jefferson Street.

Imbedded on the bronze tablet is the following inscription: "John Kelley erected the first cabin in Springfield, on this site in March, 1819. The first county commission, April 2, 1821, and the first court April 2, 1821 were held here. Springfield Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Dec. 3, 1927"

Soon afterward, Corporal Henry Kelley (Corporal Place), the patriarch of the family, arrived with his wife Mary. Their daughter Sarah, son George Washington Kelley and son Elijah along with his wife Esther Cook also found their way to the banks of Spring Creek.

In due time, Henry's son William also arrived with his wife Dicie Ann, their six unmarried children and daughter Eleanor, her husband Joseph Reavis and their five children. William built his cabin on what we know today as Third Street and Calhoun Avenue. Finally, William's daughter Zilpha (Zilpah Court) and her husband Andrew Elliott were among the settlers - building their cabin near what is now the entrance to Monument Avenue. This large family was now in place and in these three cabins - all the branches of the Kelley family were housed, but tragedy was on the horizon.

Pioneer women faced overwhelming hardship. Their days were never ending rounds of carding wool for clothes, rendering animal fat into soap, candle making, hauling water from nearby streams, cooking, cleaning, searching for fuel and caring for often large numbers of children. Moreover, it was common for the women to help fell trees and assist their husbands with the plowing and planting. This was the life of John's wife, Mary Whiteside; and no doubt exhaustion and disease took their toll as she died within two years of their arrival. As yet, the small settlement did not have a proper cemetery so Mary was buried on the land. John was no doubt filled with grief but pioneer life did not afford a lot of time to mourn - he had no choice but to gather him self and continue on. Even though John was aided by family members, his responsibilities were now even more overwhelming as there was land to plow and harvest along with the home to maintain and children to care for; and as was customary for pioneers, a welcoming place to board for those who came to the door. Elijah Iles' diary describes his experience... I first boarded with John Kelley, a North Carolinian and a widower. His household consisted of himself and two children, two younger brothers, George and Elisha, his aged father and mother, and myself. The board, to my notion, has never been excelled at any hotel I ever stopped at, either before or since. It consisted in part of the best milk and butter ever set before a man, corn bread (baked on a hoe and called hoe-cake, instead of on a board or in the ashes as in Kentucky, honey, venison, turkey, prairie chicken, quail, squirrel, fish, and occasionally for variety we had pig, together with all the varieties of vegetables raised in this climate. Deer were very plenty. They trailed through the town, up the town branch, halting in a grove where now stands the governor's mansion; and if we wanted fresh venison for breakfast the Kelley boys would go to the grove early and kill a deer"

Although surrounded by loving family, John knew his aged parents and other family members could not continue the added duties surrounding his home and children without sacrificing their own survival. John needed a wife and helpmate, so he returned to North Carolina and on Oct 23, 1821, married Margaret Waldrup. Shortly after their marriage, John and Margaret began the journey back to Illinois - back to his children, the land he had settled and the home he had built by hand.

As the population grew, the need for the establishment of a county also grew and on January 30, 1821, a legislative act creating the County of Sangamon was approved. At the home of John Kelley, on April 2, 1821, Zacharia Peter, William Drennan (Drennan Court) and Rivers Cormack (Rivers Cormack Drive) were elected.

Whereas, the Act of the General Assembly, entitled An Act, establishing the county of Sangamo, required of the County Commissioners when elected and qualified into office, to fix a temporary seat of justice for said county: Therefore we the undersigned county commissioners for said county do certify that we after full examination of the Situation of the present population of Said county have fixed and designated a certain point in the prairie near John Kelley's field on the water of Spring Creek at a stake marked Z D as the temporary seat of Justice for said county and do further agree that the said county seat be called and known by the name of Springfield. Given under our hand this 10th day of April 1821. Zachariah Peter Wm Drennan."

And establishing the temporary seat of justice was next... "...Article of agreement entered into the 10th day of April, 1821, between John Kelly (sic) of the county of Sangamo, and the undersigned, county commissioners of said county. The said Kelly (sic) agrees with said commissioners to build, for the use of the said county, a court house of the following description, to-wit: the logs to be twenty feet long, the house one story high, plank floor, a good cabin roof, a door and window cut out., the work to be completed by the first day of May, next, for which said commissioners promise, on the part of the county to pay the said Kelly (sic) ¹forty-two dollars and fifty cents. Witness our hands the day and date above. John Kelly (sic), Zachariah Peter, Wm. Drennan."

With the county seat firmly secured, the courthouse built and the now familiar historic families having arrived, the new hamlet had grown substantially; and by July 29, 1823, the amount of taxable property returned to the court was $129,112.50. That year was also pivotal for the Kelley family.

On February 23, 1823 our lone pioneer, Elisha, traded bachelorhood for marriage to Nancy Sims, a young woman, sixteen years his junior, born in Spartanburg, South Carolina (Spartanburg Drive). Their union was blessed with six children - two of whom were: Martha (Martha Desper Drive) and Elmirah (Elmirah Court). Even though joy surrounded Elisha's marriage, tragedy would visit the family in the fall of 1823; when on October 20th, John Kelley, Springfield's first settler suddenly died. As there were still no established cemeteries, John was² buried on the land which he settled - near the grave of his first wife Mary.

John's death brought great turmoil to the family as they mourned the loss of a beloved son, husband and father. They also inherited the responsibility of caring for John's wife and children; and through a court proceeding, Corporal Henry Kelley (John's father) completed the first order of business when he was appointed legal guardian.

"On motion ordered by the court that Henry Kelly (sic) be appointed Guardian of Sarah Kelly, Elizabeth Kelly, William Kelly, and Mary Kelly infant heirs of John Kelly deceased. All under the age of fourteen years and John Taylor, Thomas H. Price and William Lame are received as his security who entered in bond in the full sum of Two Thousand Dollars."

The family's second order of business was the land, as it had only been settled and John had died just nineteen days before land sales opened and the plan to own would have been accomplished.


After Corporal Henry Kelley died, his wife Mary, two sons (William and George) and their families moved to Polk Co., Missouri.

The William Kelley family remained in Polk Co. until 1836 when they moved to Jasper County near Carthage. They remained in their original homestead, located near Sam Butcher's Precious Moments Chapel until 1844 when they died only five days apart. William and Dicie Ann are buried in Fullerton Cemetery.

George Washington Kelley (a blacksmith by trade), his children, wife (Elizabeth Orendorff, daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth (Phillips) Orendorff) and mother were the first to settle at Dry Fork in Jefferson Township (Rondo - 12 miles north of Bolivar, Polk Co.). There, in 1852, they lost all but their lives in a Cyclone. Although they never fully recovered their losses, they resided there until their deaths and are buried on private land in a small secluded seven grave cemetery.

On May 6, 1871, Jonathan Kelley, son of John Kelley and grandson of Corporal Henry Kelley, deeded land to Curran Township school Trustees. Upon this land, Kelley Point School #102 (Kelley Point Drive) was built. It was located in Section 9, T15N R6W, one-half mile east of the intersection of HW 6.75W and HW 2S on the south side of the road. The school remained active until 1948 when it was closed. Today, there are many Springfield residents who not only remember the school, but were students in this small school whose name paid tribute to this pioneering family. Jonathan and his wife, Sarah Cook are buried in the Kelley Family Cemetery.

In 1886, descendent's from Rondo, Polk Co., Missouri returned to Springfield to attend the Orendorff family reunion. True to their heritage, they came the entire distance of 450 miles in a wagon drawn by a mule team, and were fourteen and one-half days on the road.

2005 Today, descendent's of this heroic family can be found in Springfield (Spindell Drive), (Richardson Drive), Edinburg (Greenwalt Drive) and throughout the United States Their ancestors dared to dream and from that vision rose a vibrant and exquisite State Capitol and the home of a beloved 16th President.

Although you will bring a new surname to the land, Giacomini Group, the Kelley family descendants and this author hope that you will cherish the breathtaking charm that encompasses Centennial Park Place (Centennial Drive) and that you will proudly join us in preserving the legacy (Legacy Lane)...for where you live and walk was once the home of a pioneer family to whom we owe so very much.

Katie Spindell

©Copyright 2005