Ahira Kelley grave site

Ahira Kelley (1833-1884)

Moving his cod fishing and packing business A. Kelley & Sons from Cape Cod to Old South Wharf in Fairhaven in 1864, Ahira “Hiram” Kelley Jr. founded what became known as D.N. Kelley and Sons Shipyard, one of Fairhaven’s longest operating businesses.

A. Kelley & Sons evolved from a cod fishing business to boat building and ship repair. Kelley bought part interest in the wharf and moved his fishing business there from Cape Cod. Operating a fleet of fishing vessels, Kelley dried and salted cod, packaging it for wholesale distribution until the mid-1930s. Boat repair and building were added in time and Ahira Kelley’s son David N. Kelley incorporated the company as D.N. Kelley & Sons, Inc. and emphasized work on pleasure craft and boat storage. A popular speed boat the “Baby Whale” was made for racing and larger vessels were made for fishing. Once out of the codfish business, though, repair of commercial and recreational boats was the primary business. The boat yard expanded to fill all of Old South Wharf, known more recently as Kelley’s Wharf, as well as taking over the former Center Street Wharf and parts of Union Wharf. In 2000, D.N. Kelley bought the property of Norlantic Diesel on the south side of Union Wharf. The company was run by five generations: Ahira Kelley Jr., David Newcomb Kelley, David Leon Kelley, Frederick Standish Kelley and David Newcomb Kelley II until July 31, 2008, when it was bought by Fairhaven Shipyard.

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