The Kansas State Census for 1865 had listed John A. Kelly as a 39-year-old farmer living with his 28-year-old wife, Martha E. Kelly. At this time the value of his real estate is estimated at $3,000. It is possible that the stone building was built at this time. Though the original date of construction is not known, an inscription on the building gives us a definite clue. This inscription, on the interior of the southernmost wall, was made while the mortar was still wet and displays the date 1874. This would indicate that the building is at least 140 years old.
According to the 1875 census, Kelly (now 50-years-old) owned 160 acres of land under fence. The fence featured a variety of different styles. He had 140 rods of stone fence, 150 rods of split rail fence, and 500 rods of hedge (1 rod = 16.5 feet). However, the value of his farm had decreased to $1,800. The 1885 census lists the same information but values Kelly’s farm at $5,000. His fences have also changed in design and quantity. In 1885 his farm featured 200 rods of stone fence, 70 rods of split rail fence, and 600 rods of hedge. A new fencing type appears in the 1885 census (barbed wire), but Kelly did not have any barbed wire fences yet. By 1895, Martha E. Kelly had passed away; the value of the farm was still estimated at $5,000, and the fencing had changed once again. In 1895 there were 320 rods of stone fence, 600 rods of hedges, and 160 rods of barbed wire.
Kanwaka Township was becoming more of a community by 1895. The population consisted of 794 Caucasians and 57 African-Americans. The township contained four churches and six schoolhouses (none of which are still existing). Kelly sold the farm in 1902, prior to his death on April 12, 1907.*
*information taken from Matthew Miller’s “Stone Building, Kanwaka Township, Douglas County, Kansas,” May 11, 1995