THE MISADVENTURE OF 'CRAZY' KELLYLYNN M. HODGES
Consider a world without steel, not just iron, but the
refined steel. Who discovered the process for making
steel? History books might suggest Bessemer and the
history books might be wrong. Many believe that the
one-step process for making steel was invented by
William ‘Crazy’ Kelly at the furnaces between the
rivers. He called it the ‘air boiling’ process, and if the
stories are true, he made the discovery before
Bessemer, and some even claim that Bessemer stole the
process from Kelly!
The US patent office eventually ruled that Kelly, not
Bessemer, was the first. Kelly’s radical ideas of blowing
cold air into the furnace were contrary to traditional iron
making and seemed to fly in the face of common sense. Even
Kelly’s wife had her doubts and had him medically examined
for insanity, and although ruled not only sane but likely
brilliant, the name Crazy Kelly stuck!
|BALLAD OF CRAZY KELLY
LYNN M. HODGES
When cold air’s blown on liquid iron,
The pig has got to cool.
Ol’ Kelly said it’d burn the hotter,
Poor Kelly, Crazy fool!
Pig iron was the Greenwood’s trade,
An’ makin’ it was a skill,
But folks just laughed at Crazy Kelly’s
Idea of makin’ steel.
The day was bright with Kentucky spring,
When he told his wife his find.
She smiled and locked him in his house,
Told Doc, “He’s lost his mind!”
The doctor spoke to the ‘crazy’ man,
And to his wife’s dismay,
Said William Kelly is perfectly sane,
And to steel would lead the way!
Now pig iron was floated to rolling mills,
To be purified and rolled.
Then transformed to plate and tool,
And throughout the land was sold.
The two step makin’ workable iron,
Meant money spent twice round,
But the man who’d discover a quicker way,
His fortune would be found!
Kelly worked, thought and dreamed,
About the cold-blast air,
An’ knew the process had to work,
Ignored the laughter’s dare.
The Englishman helped to build the things
That Kelly needed most,
An’ watched him as he proved them work
Before the Greenwood hosts.
The day after the day of proof,
Strange news came around.
The Englishman had disappeared from sight,
Was nowhere to be found.
Leaving clothes and pay behind,
Caused Kelly much alarm,
So he followed his trail with bloodhound dogs,
Through river-bottom farms.
The trail was lost near Eddyville,
All strange, yet all true.
The Englishman had gone back home,
A puzzle without a clue.
Kelly and his Greenwood friends,
Took the road back home,
Not knowin’ ‘bout the strange man’s act,
Or the evil seeds he’d sown.
Life returned to just plain livin’,
And Kelly’s life was good.
No more laughin’ or calling names,
Inside those Greenwood woods.
A few years later came world wide news,
From England, victory’s cry,
The English discovered the cold-air way
To steel in just one try.
Now folk between the rivers,
Knew Kelly did it first,
An’ knew it wrong to say he didn’t,
But the Englishman made it worse.
Bessemer was the English hero,
And the world gave him fame,
Yet Kelly knew him as a thief,
And lying was his game.
He had been the Englishman,
So willin’ to lend a hand
To Kelly when the times were hard,
But he stole a dream and ran.
In court Kelly finally won his case,
An’ his process stamped legal then,
But winnin’ cost him all he had,
He won, but didn’t win.
To his father he sold his patent,
For a thousand dollar fee.
But death claimed his father soon,
And set the patent free.
The history books give Bessemer fame
For the wondrous dream of steel,
Yet “Crazy” Kelly was the man who earned it,
And Bessemer…a man of steal.
A crime as black as the pig-iron smoke
Gave a villain fortune and fame,
And left a man from the Greenwood land
Alone with just his name.
But his name will live when justice blind,
Balances her tilted scales,
And all will know of Crazy Kelly,
If only from Greenwood tales.
No part of this book should be copied, reprinted or reposted without permission or consent of Lynn M. Hodges.
(Posted on Between The Rivers.org with Permission)