Kelly, Rev. Thomas John

Kelly, Rev. Thomas John (jack) (1899–1964)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Thomas John Kelly—known as “Jack” Kelly—was born in Wales, Great Britain, on August 3, 1899. In his teens he enlisted as an artilleryman in the British Army. He was discharged at the end of World War I in 1919. Like many Welshmen, Kelly worked as a coal miner and developed black lung disease. He was described as a gentle, analytical, accepting man. He would play checkers for hours, enjoying the mental stimulation without allowing the game to become a bitter duel.

Kelly emigrated from Britain to America. He became a Spiritualist years before leaving Wales and developed into an excellent medium. He settled in Buffalo, New York, and would demonstrate his clairvoyance by driving an automobile down Buffalo’s Main Street while wearing a blindfold. He placed coins placed over his eyes and then three separate blindfolds were wrapped around his head. He finally stopped this publicity stunt when police requested him to do so; they said he was a distraction for other drivers. Kelly also helped police with murder cases. He became Mae West’s favorite medium when she visited Lily Dale Assembly. He was the chief medium there for many years and principal medium at state and national conventions for a large number of years.

On November 22, 1950, Kelly married Estelle Zagora at The Spiritualist Church of Life in Buffalo, New York. This was a second marriage for both of them. Kelly had one son and Estelle had three sons by previous marriages. The sons were all ushers at the wedding. Kelly was the founder and pastor of The Spiritualist Church of Life.

Kelly became an excellent spiritual healer and is best known for healing a woman’s blindness. As reported in the August 3, 1952, issue of The Dunkirk Observer,

Mrs. Donna Ball, of Gulf Avenue, Pittsford, NY, who has been attending the Lily Dale Assembly at Lily Dale, has reported that she has regained the sight of both eyes, which were injured in an auto accident March 14, at Pittsford, and that her right hand, which was paralyzed, has also become strengthened. Mrs. Ball attributes this healing entirely to the spiritual powers of Rev. Thomas J. Kelly of Buffalo … on July 13 she reports that Rev. Kelly gave her a “healing by laying on of hands” in the Lily Dale Auditorium, which was witnessed by approx. 40 persons and that she immediately regained sight in both eyes.

Jack Kelly died in Estaboga, Alabama, on November 18, 1964. His obituary said that he was survived by his “wife and one son, one daughter, three step sons, three sisters, seven grandchildren.”

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