Kelly Pool - Origins


According to an article which appeared in the June 29, 1913 edition of the Chicago Tribune, "Kelly pool was invented by Kelly Mulvaney". The quote is attributed in the article to Hugh E. Keough, a well-known Chicago sportswriter of 31 years. Further information is provided in a November 10, 1916 Indianapolis Star obituary for one Calistus Mulvaney, who is listed as having died the preceding day. The obituary, entitled "Originated 'Kelly Pool'", states that: "... for thirty five years was identified with Kelly pool in the loop district ... He was widely known as the father of 'Kelly pool' and better known as Kelly Mulvaney than Calistus. He was born at Fox Lake Wis sixty-five years ago."

In Calistus Mulvaney's entry in the 1910 United States Census (pictured at right), his occupation is listed as "billiard hall emp" and his position there as "keeper". As part of the same household, Mulvaney's brother-in-law's listing appears on the same census page, with his occupation and position identically recorded. The census records Mulvaney's age in 1910 as 56, his birthdate as "about 1854", his birthplace as Wisconsin, his spouse's name as Kate, and his area of residence at that time as Chicago Ward 14, Cook Co., Illinois. Although there is a given-name discrepancy, additional illumination is provided by Simpson M. Ritter in the publication From the Annals of Sports. As Simpson is quoted in the book Sports in the Pulp Magazines by John A. Dinan:

You may not be surprised to learn that Kelly Pool was neither invented by a man named Kelly nor is it of Irish origin. Its inventor, Celestus Mulvaney, was of Irish origin but invented the game in 1893 in Chicago. The first games were played in that city at the Hannah and Hoggs Billiard Hall on Madison St. —Simpson M. Ritter, From the Annals of Sports

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