Contributed by Jim Faulconer (

See also Kennedy home photo

“One of the most prominent families in Kentucky descends from Thomas Kennedy who helped build Strode’s Fort in 1779.  He was a son of Dr. John Kennedy of Maryland, who as a boy was kidnapped on the shore of Ireland, brought to America and sold into bondage by the ship master.  Having served his term, he studied medicine and became one of the most distinguished men in Maryland.  Another son of Dr. John Kennedy, John, the father of Washington Kennedy of Kentucky, was taken prisoner by the British while serving in the Revolutionary War, and died on one of the infamous British Prison Ships.”  This is the introduction to some Kennedy family history found in Genealogies of Kentucky Families, page 606, by Alma Lackey Wilson.

Several other references corroborate what is said above.  In 1878 Richard Collins published his History of Kentucky.  Volume II, page 71, has this item:

            Thomas Kennedy came to Kentucky in 1776, and first built a cabin on Kennedy’s Creek, which was named after him.  He assisted Michael Stoner--the same who, in  1774, in company with Daniel Boone made the extraordinary trip from Virginia through the wilderness to the Falls of Ohio, by order of Gov. Dunmore, to conduct  into the settlements a party of building  a cabin in 1776, upon Stoner’s fork of Licking, now Stoner Creek.  At that time they lived for three months without either bread or salt--a circumstance which now would seem as remarkable as the manner in which the father of Thomas Kennedy, Dr. John Kennedy, became an American; when a boy of six or seven years, he and several   other boys were kidnapped from the shore of Ireland, brought to the colony of Maryland, and sold for a term of years--which term they faithfuly served out. From a letter of date Feb. 16, 1781, at Bedford county, Virginia, from John Kennedy (grandfather to the present Eli M. Kennedy) to his brother, said Thomas, directed to “Strode’s Fort, on Licking,” during the war of the Revolution, it appears that in August, 1781, a draft for regular soldiers took every fifteenth man, and another draft was then pending (Feb. 1781) for every thirteen man.  Before     that drawing of names took place, a British force was announced as “within a     day’s ride,” and John Kennedy was summoned to join, in less than three hours, the     troops designed to resist the invaders.  He was taken prisoner, shortly after, at Guilford Court House, North Carolina, place “on board a British prison-ship, and  literally starved to death!”

William H. Perrin, another noted historian of Kentucky, published his History of Bourbon, Scott, Harrison and Nicholas Counties, Kentucky in 1882.  Page 84 includes the following:

            The Kennedy family were early settlers, though it is not known that they were the first in the precinct.  Thomas Kennedy was the first of the family to emigrate to Kentucky, and from him Kennedy’s Creek took its name.  From an old manuscript written by his son, Jesse Kennedy, in 1850,...we glean many facts of interest pertaining to the settlement of the family in in Kentucky, and the journey of Mr. Kennedy through the wilderness, from his old home in Maryland.  Thomas Kennedy, the pioneer, made his first trip to Kentucky on a “tour of inspection,” in          1776, intending, if pleased with the country, to secure land for himself and two brothers, John and Joseph.  He arrived at Boonesboro without accident or adventure, and there met with Michael Stoner, afterward an early settler himself in Paris Precinct...In the fall, Mr. Kennedy returned to Virginia, where his family then resided, intending to move out to Kentucky at once, but owing to various difficulties which interferred, he did not make the start until the fall of 1779, when he brought his family hither, consisting at the time of his wife and four  children--three boys and a girl--the eldest being but seven years of age.  He was a   brick-mason and carpenter... (Much more follows).

Fortunately for us, the “Genealogy of the Kennedy Family,” by Jesse Kennedy, alluded to by Perrin, was published by Kathleen W. Jones in The Kentucky Pioneer Genealogy and Records, Vol. 8, 1987.  It is a marvellous document, written in August 1850, and copied below:

            The following is a brief genealogy of the Kennedy family in the United States of America, of which I am a branch, as derived from my father in his lifetime -- according to the best of my recollections.  My grandfather (John Kennedy) was kidnapped on the shores of Ireland in company with several other boys, when about six or seven years old, brought to the colony of Maryland, and sold for a term of years.

            After performing his term of servitude, he married a widow who left him at her   death, two sons:  namely Francis and Daniel.  He afterward married a lady from   Wales by the name of Owen: by whom he had six sons and one daughter.  The names of his sons (beginning with the oldest and coming regularly down) were John, Thomas, James, Butler, Joseph and Hugh.  The daughter’s name was Elizabeth: but whether she was the oldest or came in between some of the boys I do not remember but think she married a man by the name of Haggarty: and that a man by the name of Archibold married her daughter, or a daughter of Uncle James Kennedy - not certain which, and raised a family in the state of Virginia.

            I met with one of the young Archibolds between Lower Sandusky and Camp Meigs (alias Fort Meigs) in February 1813.  He was a sprightly and intelligent young man; belonged to a volunteer militia company called the Virginia Blues and  was one of the artificers.  We recognized each other as cousins then, but have not seen each other since.  Grandfather (John Kennedy) was a heavy set man, low in   stature and inclined to be corpulent; of a kind, benevolent disposition, and being a physician by nature, was skillful among the sick, and excellent nurse, useful in his neighborhood - was of course much beloved by those who knew him.  He died at an age not far beyond the meridian of life while useful in the community in which he lived - greatly lamented by said community.

            Of his oldest son (Francis), I can say little except that he was a very famous fiddler, raised a family in Maryland, removed to the sourthern part of Kentucky in the early times, and was killed by Indians.  One of his sons, (Samuel) was at my father’s house when I was a boy; went to Natchieze (sic) and has long since been dead - as I have understood.

            Daniel Kennedy was also a very renowned musician.  Made his living in early life by teaching musick; was a portly good-looking man, of genteel deportment and popular manners; devoted several of the last years of his life in performing the duties of Sheriff in the county in which he lived in Maryland.  He was a very popular man, much beloved by those who knew him - and died young.

            His wife died previously, and left him with a son and a daughter.  His son (John) was the father of Daniel Kennedy, who was killed by a fall from his horse at Paris when I was a boy.  He was here on a visit and on business.  His daughter was married by Joseph Penn in Maryland, removed to Kentucky and became the mother of the elder part of the Penn family of this county.

            His son (John Kennedy) died in Ohio many years ago - he may have children yet  living in that state.

            My grandmother was red-headed; large in stature, possessing great muscular powers for a woman; industrious and economical in all the business relations of life.  Having been left poor with seven children to raise called into requistion all the powers of both body and mind to rear them in a manner to make them useful     citizens.  Fortunately however for both of them and her, she married an Englishman (Robert Darr) who was a scholar and a gentleman; a teacher by profession from whom her children received moderate educations, most of which was obtained at such lesson hours at home as could be spared for that purpose - they having to work hard for a living.  He was a good husband to her and a good father to her children.

            Uncle John Kennedy was the oldest of Grandfather’s children by his last wife; and being of a delicate constitution; too weakly to perform much manual labor, consequently got a pretty good education; and owing to his steady habit, and provident deportment it was often said of him, “He had a man’s head on a boy’s            shoulders.”  While still a minor, he commenced and carried on successfully the business of common school keeping, and subsequently connected that of teaching vocal muscik with it - and ultimately devoted all his time to the latter.  Thus figuring for years in the best circles of society he became refined in his manners,             prepossessing in his demeanor and highly intelectual (sic).

            He made no profession of religion, but was strictly moral in his habits; a man of sterling integrity and consequently enjoyed the confidence and esteem of all who knew him.

            He married the daughter of a wealthy Dutchman whose name was Peter Stilly;   who thought him not rich enough to be his son-in-law; consequently the young folk, acting on their own responsibility eloped and were married without his consent, but were permitted to enjoy none of his estate.  Being thrown upon his own resources Uncle bought a farm in Bedford County, Virginia, bought some negroes, employed an overseer and set them to farming while he turned his attention to sheriffing - and prospered finely for a time.  But the Revolutionary    War came on, and being drafted as a militiaman, he was taken prisoner at the battle of Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina, and died on board of a British prison ship - literally starved to death.  By his last will and testament, wrote by himself previous to his departure from home, he made it the duty of his executor to sell his   farm and most of his slaves and personal property for the payment of his debts; and directed that his family should remove to what was then called his wild land in Kentucky - all which was carried out accordingly; and his widow and unmarried children migrated to Kentucky and settled on Kennedy’s Creek where S.N. Clay now resides; where she lived for a number of years, and died at a good old age in October, 1820 - if I mistake not.

            Uncle John left at his death five daughters and two sons; whose names I will now record in order of their birth:  Elizabeth, Rebecah, Julia, Eli, Sophia, Washington,  and Ari.  None of them was married when their father died.  Elizabeth was married   in Virginia by Zachariah Wheat, who was a very industrious farmer; removed to             Kentucky and settled on his wife’s land, where he raised a large and respectable   family of children and died at a moderately old age. Among his sons, who are all heads of families, are farmers, mechanics, merchants; one physician and one lawyer - who is now a judge of the Circuit Court in the judicial district where he resides.              His widow is a very amiable old lady still residing on her own farm where her husband died.

            Rebecah was also married in Virginia by Josiah Ashurst, a very industrious farmer and mechanic - a brickmason.  He also migrated to Kentucky and settled on his   wife’s land when after raising a family of sons and domicile where her husband died.

            Julia was also married in Virginia by Sam Hatcher of whom father used to say if his brother had lived “no such damn rascal would ever have got into his family.”  He migrated to Kentucky and lived on his wife’s land until he spent it all in a life of     profligacy, vice and disapation.  They had but one child (a son) and all of them are         dead long since.  Cousin Julia was a very amiable women, much esteemed by all her acquaintances; made an excellent wife to a worthless husband.

            Sophia came to Kentucky in a state of celibacy with her mother; married Joshua Rollings with whom I was not acquainted.  He died leaving her a young widow with two daughters and a son - Lee Rollings.  After they were all grown and married, she migrated with her son to Clay County, Missouri, where she was still living in a state of widowhood when I last heard from her.

            Ari (the youngest) was married by Nicholas Talbot, a wheelwright by trade, a    good workman and an honest man.  He settled on his wife’s land and became a respectable farmer; filled to great acceptance for a number of years (until his death) the office of justice of the peace, and once represented his county in the lower   branch of the Legislature.  He died in the meridian of life and usefulness; leaving his wife, three daughters and five or six sons to mourn their loss - who have made highly respectable men and women.

            Cousin Eli Kennedy came to Kentucky with his sister Julia and Sam Hatcher when about 17 or 18 years old, the year before his mother came, to aid in making provision for her and the ballance (sic) of the family. He became a brickmason which trade he followed for several years, and afterward became a respectable farmer.  He married Patsy McConnell who at her death, left him two sons and a daughter.  He subsequently married Polly McClanihan by whom he reared four daughters and a son - Eli M. Kennedy; who is intelligent and highly respectable -  his sisters equally so.  Cousin Eli was much esteemed as a citizen and a Christian; was in comfortable circumstances in life, but fell victim to cholera in June 1835   leaving a very interesting widow - at least she became very interesting to me and to my children; for she has been to them one of the best step-mothers, and to me one of the best of wives.  And that is not all; for she has furnished two of my sons with excellent wives also.

            Cousin Washington Kennedy came to Kentucky with his mother when about 15  years old, worked for during his minority, managed and conducted her business during her life, and decently interred her at her death.

            He became a brickmason by trade and subsequently one of the best of Bourbon farmers.  He was a man of steady habit, strict moral integrity - indeed he was one   of the best of men.  Nicholas Talbott and him were two of my best friends; whose loss I felt more truuibly (sic), and more deeply deplored, than that of any friends I          have ever lost - with the exception of the mother of my children.  When I lost my venerable parents their age and infirmities, rendered death a blessing to them, since   their loss could not be rationally so much deplored as the loss of those friends who were called off in the midst of their usefulness; and it is my earnest desire that amity and love shall ever abide between their children and mine.

            After having enjoyed a state of single blessedness (if there by any enjoyment in it) until he had acquired the character of a batchelor (sic), cousin Washington married on the 25th June, 1812, (his birthday) Elizabeth Bedford, of his own vicinity -  eldest daughter of Little Berry Bedford.  By her he had three sons (the oldest of which died young) and four daughters - all of whom are respectable men and  women - all married but his youngest son.

            Cousin Washington died of fever in August, 1832, leaving his family in affluent    circumstances.  His widow died not long after.

            My father was next in age of grandfather’s children - of whom I shall say more in sequel.

            Uncle James Kennedy was a mechanic that worked in wood, and was thought to be one of the best fiddlers in the world; a fine jolly fellow, beloved by all who knew him, but was too fond of lively company and high spirits for his own good,  and died young leaving a family in Virginia of which I can give no account.

            Uncle Butler comes next in order of time.  I can say nothing of his musical talent.  He married young to what was denominated an old maid, who issued fourth children with great rapidity, and subjected him to a petticoat form of goverment to which he submitted with great alacrity - being naturally kind and industrious.  Under her influence he removed to North Carolina and back, two or three times,  but the last time he got there he died; and his family being unable to get back,  remained - and I can tell nothing more about them except that Cousin Washington told me that he accidently fell in and tarried all night with one of his daughters in North Carolina many years ago - that she was married and doing well.

            Uncle Joseph was a man low of stature, heavy set and inclined to be corpulent   from a child - said to be more like his father in person than of any of Grandfather’s children and at his death (not quite fifty years old) weighed about 300 pounds.  He married the widow King, a Dutch lady in Maryland.  She was the mother of John  King, Esq. of this county.

            Uncle Joseph seemed to be a farmer by nature; turned his attention to it when young, followed it some years in Maryland, removed with his family to Kentucky,  settled on his own land in Bourbon County, and was one of the best Bourbon farmers in his day.  He was a man of strict moral integrity; attended judiciously and         successfully to his own business without officiously meddling with that of others.

            He was a man of peace, and though not a member of any church, gave a regular attendance on the Baptist ministry of which church his wife was a member - in brief he endeavored to deal justly, live mesery (mercifully) and walk humbly before   God.

            He came to his end by taking arsenic he had bought at a store for cream of tartar. Feeling a little unwell in the morning he took it and died in the evening of the same   day and was buried on his farm.  He left a widow, four sons and three daughters to mourn his loss; and to them, who were all in their minority, the loss was irreparable.

            David, the oldest son, died an old batchelor two or three years ago in this          neighborhood.

            Elizabeth, the oldest daughter, married Joseph Hilderth - both of whom are dead, having reared a respectable family of sons and daughters.  Joseph, the next oldest,   yet resides in this county; and Jacob died several years ago in the lower county without a family.

            Sophia married big John Redmond and died several years ago, leaving him a son and daughter - both yet living in this county - the daughter is the wife of Henry  Cronton.

            Rebecah married James Hildreth, and is the mother of a large family in Rush County, Indiana.

            Nathern, the youngest, yet resides in Bourbon.

            Uncle Hugh was the youngest of grandfather’s children.  He was a portly  goodlooking man; of a lively disposition and somewhat corpulent; a tailor by trade     and a Methodist by profession - greatly gifted in exhortation and prayer - and one           of the best singers in the country in which he lived.  He married a widow in good  circumstances and became a farmer in Frederick County, Virginia.  He raised two daughters, the oldest of which (Susan) married John Steele, migrated to Ohio and  died in 1848 - leaving a family of sons and daughters.  John W. and Virginia Steele are two of them.  His older daughter married Bosley Esp. of Baltimore and died soon after.

            Uncle Hugh was murdered and robbed in Virginia.  His watch and some of his moneys were recovered and identified and James Steele (the murderer) convicted of the crime - he was his son-in-law’s brother.

            My father, Thomas Kennedy, was born in Maryland, on the 22nd of January, 1744;was a small lean man, whose standing weight when in the prime of life was 136 pounds.  He fluctuated in weight but little and never weighed over 140 pounds. He had an excellent physical constitution; was energetic and hardy - it being often          said of him that he was as hardy as a pine knot.  He mental abilities were naturally  good, but without polish, his education being very limited.  He was a man of great fortitude in whatever he conceived to be the path of duty.  He might be led but not  drove.

            He was a man of great hospitality, strict moral integrity; it being often said of him that an honester man God never made.  He would voluntarily submit to the loss of dollars himself, rather than wrong, or be thought to wrong others out of cents. The violent evitability of his temper was his greatest infirmity; and caused him more mental agony and contrition than everything else.

            He was married to Ann Locker on the 19th of April, 1772; and in the fall of the year went to North Carolina in search of a home from life, for himself and family. He returned without being sufficiently pleased to induce him to migrate thither; and in the spring of the year 1776, he came to Kentucky on the same business, under a verbal contract with his brothers (John and Joseph) to procure land for them, as well as himself, in case he should like the country well enough to become a citizen thereof; they promising to remunerate him satisfactorily out of land or    otherwise...and to remove to the country and become his neighbors.  He    accordingly came to Boonesborough where he fell in with Michael Stoner, who      invited him to go with him and help him clear a field and plant corn. He accepted            this invitation, helped clear the field and planted corn in what was long after     known as Stoner field.

            The land is now owned by Samuel Clay; adjoined the farm of Mrs. Moran, northward and down Stoner.  I have often heard him say that upon that occasion he lived three months without either bread or salt.

            The country was full of wild game, and they had a variety of fresh meat but  Buffalo furnished their principle food - in the absence of which the country could not have been settled when it was.  In the summer or fall of the same year he returned to Fauquier County, Virginia, where his family then resided, intending to           return with them immediately to Kentucky; but owing to various difficulties that interferred principally growing out of the Revolutionary War, he did not return until the fall and winter of the year 1779 with his family.

            Father was a brickmason and carpenter by trade, could do rough stone work and was also a plasterer.  He started to Kentucky with a train of pack horses well laden with household and kitchen furniture, and such tools as belonged to his business - expecting to have use for them in his adopted country.  Owing, however, to the difficulties of traversing the great extent of Wilderness Country that lay before him, without a road, and without forage, his horses tired and gave out, one after the other, causing him to hide his plunder in the wood at different places until he was disrobed of almost everything and ultimately got to Boonesborough in December 1779 with but one horse beast and a bull on which he packed a bed.

            He then had 3 sons and a daughter; and being reduced to extremities, he made two baskets with out of whiteoak splits, in each of which he placed one of his boys (Jacky and Johny) connecting the baskets with hickory bark or buffalo tugs, swung   one on each side of the mare and placed Thomas on top, who was then about six or seven years old.  Father walked and carried Nancy on his back - she was born in February preceeding.  His wife walked also and carried such articles of clothing as   she could.

            He never went back to recover any of his provender deposited in the wilderness.  Owing to the lapse of time before the forbidding circumstances would permit to do so he could not expect to find them.  After remaining a short time at Boonesborough, he joined a company (Capt. John Strode at their head) and helped to build and settle Strodes Station where he resided four or five years.

            Somewhere on their journey the nag fell and broke the rider’s leg - not hurting the other children; they bandaged it up as well as they could under the circumstances - put him up again and finished their journey without much lapse of time.  The winter of 1779-1780 was unusually cold, so severe that the corn in the country on         which the buffalo wintered was mostly killed, which caused many of them to die  with poverty, and caused much suffering among the emigrants, for buffalo meat was their principle reliance for food.  There was some bear, plenty of deer,  turkeys, etc. but they were poor also.

            Sometime in the spring of 1780 father’s wife died, leaving him four children - one  of which (Jacky) died the same year.  Father was not a good woodsman - not being expert in the use of a gun but the hunters supplied him and his family with  for the use of his mare on which to pack their game.

            He procured what was called a settlement and prescription of land for himself and each of his brothers (John and Joseph).  He located his claim on Strode’s Creek and his brothers on Kennedy Creek - giving the name to the creek.  He would have  located his own land on this creek also had there been room enough for all of them        without clashing with others who wanted some of the Kennedy Creek land.

            He greatly preferred a location here to one on Strode’s Creek but gave the preference to his brothers to avoid sensuir (sic); concluding that as they would pay him in land for his services (about 200 acres each that would be as much as he would want for his own use; that he and his brothers would live neighbors on Kennedy Creek and he would settle his children on Strode’s Creek when they should want it.  He therefore settled the place whereon I now live for his own residence.

            Sometime after those locations were made, Uncle John Kennedy came to the  country, and being delighted with the location made for him and with the country generally, he employed Capt. James Duncan to clear his land out of the office - as  they called it; which was to have it surveyed, pay office fees, etc...(several pages            about litigations involving his father’s lands are here omitted)...

            (My father) having lost his wife and second son while living in Strode’s Station, he married my mother; then a widow in Boons Station; she having migrated to the country with her husband (David Cook) and one child (Abigal) the same winter that father did - her husband having been killed by the Indian soon after their arrival - Boons Station was on Boons Creek.

            Father raised two sons and a daughter from his first wife.  Thomas, the oldest, was born 24th of March, 1773 and is now an aged and respectable citizen of Crawford County, Illinois.  He has been a Baptist preacher for about fifty years, and is nearlyworn out in the service.  He was successively elected (biannually) for about 20   years in the county where he yet resides, probate judge; and until physical    infirmities caused him to decline a further acceptance of the office.  Owing to a tremulous condition of his hands he is measurably deprived of the use of a gun.  Otherwise enjoys good health for one of his age - and so does his wife.  His wife had 16 children, and about one half of which they raised to be men and women.  His oldest son (Joseph) is in Texas - the balance in Illinois.

            Brother James died in Illinois more than twenty years ago, leaving a family of sons and daughters - most of whom are living near Terrhaute in the State of Indiana.

            Sister Nancy married Ephraim Holland, who died many years ago, in Scott County, Kentucky.  His widow died in Boone County, Kentucky, several years after, leaving a family of sons and daughters.  Sister Nancy was an excellent woman.  Her oldest son, Thomas Kennedy Holland, is a respectable citizen of   Scott County; and Montgomery, another son, and one or two daughters, reside in  Cincinnati, Ohio.  Brother Thomas and Sister Nancy both married young and went  to doing for themselves; brother James went with Thomas but did not marry       young...

            Brother Thomas and James migrated to the Green River country and after living several years in Logan and Christian County, went to Illinois with their families in  1811 - I think.  Father raised no children by my mother but myself and silly brother  (John) who was two years older than me; he was born 27th July, 1785, and died           2nd December 1836.  He was insane from childhood to death.

            My mother’s daughter, Abigail Cook, married John Lyon and became the mother of Daniel C., Eli and John Lyon of Missouri; and Polly, wife of David Penn of this county and Rachel Lyon, who resides with her sister Polly - in an afflicted state of cellibacy.

            I was too young to be consulted by father in relation to his lawsuits; but grew up in  time to bear the burden resulting from his lost lands and paying for some.

            It was a common saying of father’s that Providence had just raised me up in time to save him from utter ruin; being prostrated under a load of debt from which he could never have extricated himself.

            I was born 11th August 1787, and resided with father until December, 1812 without having been forty miles from home more than once.

            In the spring of the year 1812 I got my right hand crippled so as to render it unfit for labor for about 12 months.  In June 1812, war was declared by the United States against England, in consequence of which a demand ensued for pack horses for use of the Government and for men to manage them.

            In consequence of my inability to work (owing to my crippled hand) father consented that I might go into the service if I could get the command of a brigade of packhorses - I got it and went.

            I left home in December 1812 and returned in April, 1813, (after an absence of about a hundred days) very sick with what was then called the camp fever.  I had a hard spell and recovered slowly...

            ...It is probable that no father ever reposed more confidence in a son, than mine did in me from the year 1813 to his demise on the 14th of August 1827 - in the eighty-fourth year of his age.

            Of mother’s genealogy I know but little.  Her father’s name was John Graham -  generally called Jonny.  He learned his trade in Philadelphia.  Her mother was a Jersey woman, her maiden name I do not remember.  They lived in North Carolina, where my mother was raised and married to her first husband, Daniel Cook; with whom she migrated to Kentucky - as heretofore stated.  She had but one brother   and several sisters - one of which (Betty) married John Morgan, a highly   respectable and useful man, in the first settling of this country...(Mother died of   cancer) on the 17th of June 1826.  She was decently interred on the next day in       the place previously selected by herself, by the side of her daughter, Rachel, who had died at about two years old many years before (father was later buried by   them)...

Jesse Kennedy, the author of the above history, was born and died in Bourbon County, Kentucky, August 11, 1787, to April 3, 1863.  He provided an invaluable service in leaving us his family history.

To review, John Kennedy, Sr., was born in Ireland, was kidnapped as a boy of six or seven, and brought to Maryland.  He was probably born about 1708.  After serving his term as an indentured servant he married a woman unknown to us and had two sons, Francis and Daniel.  Then he married Elizabeth Owen, a woman from Wales.  They had six boys and a girl.

What else do we know? The court records provide additional information.  For example, John Kennedy, Sr., wrote his will in February 1751:

            In the Name of God Amen.  I John Kennedy of Frederick County and province of Maryland being sick and weak of body, but of perfect mind and memory, Blessed be God for the same, do make and appoint this my Last Will and Testament in manner and form following.

            Imprimis.  I give and bequeath my Soul to God who gave it me and my body to be buried in a decent manner at the discretion of my Executrix hereafter to be named.

            Item. I give and bequeath to my well beloved wife Elizabeth one third part of my Estate as the Law directs.

            Item.  I give and bequeath to my son Daniel Kennedy fifty acres of land, part of a tract of same called Dublin, lying near Lukes Cabbie Branch, to him his heirs and assigns forever.

            Item.  I give and bequeath to my son Francis fifty acres out of the land tract lying near the plantation of John Cook to him his heirs and assigns forever.

            Item.  I give and bequeath to my two sons John and Thomas the dwelling plantation whereon I now live being the remainder of the land tract of land called Dublin to be equally divided between them to them and their heirs forever.

            Item.  I bequeath to my four sons James Price Butler Joseph and Hugh all my personal estate to be equally divided among them let (?) the same be more or less. Lastly I constitute and appoint my beloved wife aforesaid to be sole Executrix of this my Last Will and Testament hereby revoking all former or other wills by me             heretofore made.  In witness hereof I Have hereunto set my hand and affixed my Seal this 26th Day of February 1750/51.  Signed and Sealed by the Said John Kennedy as his Last Will                                                           John Kennedy

            and Testament in the presence of

            David Sims                                                      

            Daniel Veers

            William Cahill                                             (Perogative Court Wills 29, page 11)

The above will was proved in court on November 21, 1753.  Jesse Kennedy, in his history, noted that John Kennedy died at an age “not far beyond the meridian of life.”  We assume that he was about 45 years of age.  The will also indicates that his wife was Elizabeth, undoubtedly Elizabeth Owen, the woman from Wales.

Here, then, are the children of John Kennedy, Sr.:

1.  Francis Kennedy was born about 1730, the first child of John Sr. and his first wife.

2.  Daniel Kennedy, also the son of the first marriage, was born by 1732, for he was appointed Constable of the “Potomic Hundred, Upper Part,” in the November Court of 1753.  About 1760 he signed a petition to the Governor and Assembly asking that the parish be divided.  He died by November 1761, for the Judgement Records of the November Court contains an appeal by Francis Kennedy for custody of the “several small children” of his brother, Daniel, deceased.

3. John Kennedy, Jr., was born on October 16, 1742.  More later.

4.  Thomas Kennedy was born on January 22, 1744, in Frederick County, Maryland. He married (1)  Ann Locker on April 19, 1772; and she died at Fort Strode.  Then he married (2) Mrs. Rachel Cook, widow of David Cook, with one child Abigail.  In Scott’s Papers, page 154, it is stated, “Thos. Kennedy, age 74, says on December 9, 1817, in Paris, Ky., that he came to Ky. in 1776 by Old Wilderness Road, returned to Va. and back to Ky. in spring of 1779, and settled at Boonesboro, then back to Vriginia and back to Ky. with my family and settled at Strode’s Sta. till fall of 1779 and there till 1785, when where I live near Paris.”  Thomas got a patent for land, and built the old stone house on Paris- Winchester Road at Cassius M. Clay’s farm, where he is buried.  He died on August 14, 1827.  The children of Thomas and Ann Locker Kennedy were Thomas Jr., James and Nancy.  Children of Thomas Sr. and Rachel Cook Kennedy were John and Jesse.

5.  James Price Kennedy was born in Frederick County, Maryland.  According to Jesse’s history, he died as a young man, leaving a family.

6.  Butler Kennedy married, and died in North Carolina.

7.  Joseph Kennedy was also born in Frederick County, Maryland.  He married Christiana Van der Akers King, widow, according to L.V. Hagan, Jr.  This was on October 3, 1778, in Frederick.  They settled in Bourbon County, and had six known children:  David, Elizabeth, Joseph, Sophia, Rebeccah and Nathern.  Joseph died in 1797 of accidental arsenic poisoning.

8.  Hugh Kennedy married Susanna Fisher on October 26, 1779, in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.  We assume this is the Hugh of this study.  A daughter was also named Susan.  Hugh was murdered in Virginia.

9.  Elizabeth Kennedy was mentioned by Jesse’s history, but was not in her father’s will.  She married a Hagerty.

                                                                 * * *

John Kennedy, Jr., is listed in the D.A.R. Patriots Index as follows:  “John Kennedy, born 10-16-1742, died 6-21-1781, married Esther Stilly.”  John lived in Maryland until he moved to Bedford, County, Virginia, perhaps in the 1770s.  A John Kennedy was a buyer at the estate sale of Charles Ewing there on July 15, 1772.  He was also a buyer at an estate sale of Adam and Elizabeth Beard on March 26, 1778.  He bought land in Bedford County in 1779.  He and his brothers, Thomas and Joseph, had plans to buy land in Kentucky.  This was during the Revolutionary War years, and as seen in Jesse Kennedy’s history, John was called to duty.  Just before he went off to war he wrote the following letter to his brother, Thomas Kennedy in Kentucky.  The letter was published in Virginia Appalachian Notes, Vol. 11, No. 4, 1987:

            Bedford County, Virginia, 16th Day of February 1781

            Dear Brother:

            I have the happiness to write to you by David Crews, who is my particular friend, and who will either, I hope, deliver my letter or send it safely to you.  I send by him a quire of paper for you and Mr. Constant, which you must divide.  I would have sent you a quire apiece, but Mr. Crews has many things of his own to carry.  My family are well.  I had a letter from brother Joseph a little while before Christmas.  He was in health, so was Mother and all the friends there.  I saw a man that lodged at brother Joseph’s, in January, who brings me word that he been to see brother Hugh, who had moved to Shando, near Cunningham’s Mill, in Virginia, and that was he very sick and likely to die, and had, when Joseph left him, not taken any nourishment for fifteen days;  consequently we may expect he is gone to the world of spirits, where we are all hastening.  I expect brother Joseph here in the next month. He is mightly desirous, I learn by his letter, to move to Kentucky, and indeed, I have a great mind to venture in a short time myself, and I wish I knew what was best.  Times are exceedingly troublesome here, our taxes are so high.  But I should not, I think, be worsted, if I had not such a parcel of girls.  When we drafted for regular soldiers in August last, it was every fifteenth man; if it falls to my lot again, it is hard luck indeed.  Col. Morgan has lately taken five or six hundred British prisoners, which are now passing though this country; but notwithstanding this little piece of good luck of ours, you may depend, I have of late, been very much afraid we should become a conquered people.

            I have of late heard from those families who were taken from Martin’s and Ruddle’s station.  Three young men have lately made their escape from Detroit, and bring word they are comfortably settled in that neighborhood, except those    who were butchered by the savages before they reached there.  Col. Bird, they say, is very kind to them, etc.  I have not seen the men, but one of my acquaintances tells me it is a fact.  If you do not live in great fear, I think you live in more satisfaction than we do here. I would be glad to have the lands surveyed and the works made ready for the grants as soon as it may be done with safety; but I am not able to get anymore warrants till brother Joseph comes out with cash;  besides, you may depend, it appears to me to be a great risk at present, whether we can support our independence or not: so that I am unwilling to borrow money if I could get to venture.  Several able people that were to have been joined with me in getting warrants to send to Kentucky, to Mr. Constant, have all fell back.  Some  think they cannot pay their taxes without the money they had intended for that use.         However, if brother Joseph brings cash, I indend to lay it out in warrants, if things don’t get worse. It is expected the seat of the war will be in Virginia next summer.  Mr. Crew tells me that if our warrants are located wrong in the surveyors book, we can locate them over again, provided no other location interferes.  If so perhaps those warrants Duncan located may be altered.  You did not inform me in your letter of the 21st of November, wether you were likely to raise any hogs.  Pray remember me in kindest manner to Mr. Constant and Couchman, and all acquaintances in the Fort.

            Do not let any, except a particular acquaintance, know that I think our country is in a bad way, because it is only my private opinion, and would fain hope I am mistaken.  I wish you many blessings and above all, a constant and grateful sense of God’s almighty goodness..  This is the ardent wish of your affectionate brother.

                                                                                                            John Kennedy

            P.S.  My wife joins me in love to you and the children.  Since writing the above, we are all bodily summoned to meet the English,who are within a day’s ride of us, we learn, with a considerable force.  What the issue will be, time will determine.  In less than three hours I am to leave my family and go in defense of my country.


John never returned from the war.  He was captured by the British at Guilford Court House, North Carolina, on March 5, 1781, and died of starvation aboard the prison ship, Jersey, on June 26.  (Perrin’s History of Fayette County, Kentucky, page 803)

The infamous prison ship, Jersey, was permanently docked on the shore of Long Island during the war.  Ebenezer Fox was a prisoner for a time and later told of his experience in his book, The Revolutionary Adventures of Ebenezer Fox of Roxbury, Massachussets, published in 1838.  Fox recalled his first impressions upon being lowered into the hatch which housed the inmates:

            Here was a motley crew, covered with rags and filth; visages pallid with disease, emaciated with hunger and anxiety, and retaining hardly a trace of their original appearance. Here were men, who had once enjoyed life while riding over the mountain wave or roaming through pleasant fields, full of health and vigor, now   shriveled by a scanty and unwholesome diet, ghastly with inhaling an impure atmosphere, exposed to contagion and disease, and surrounded with the horrors of sickness of death.

The diet on board the Jersey, according to Fox, consisted of moldy bread filled with worms and meat that had been cooked in salt water fouled by human excrement.  Prisoners passed their time by picking at their lice.  Estimates of fatalities on board the ship range in the thousands.  No one knows for sure.  But one we know is John Kennedy.

John’s will was proven in Bedford County, Virginia, on September 24, 1781.  It was written earlier that same year, February 22, 1781, right after he wrote the above letter, and before he went off to war.  Omitting the introduction about his health, etc., here is the text as found in Will Book 1, pages 401-402:

            Whereas in the course of the Winter 1780 while I was in Kentucky I found it likely to be to the united advantage of my brother Joseph Kennedy of Maryland and myself to contract with Mr. James Rucker and Reuben Coward to clear out and  procure the Grants to us for two tracts, being preemptive rights of 1000 acres    each, one of which grants in the name of Joseph Kennedy and the other in my own    name.  After they are obtained Joseph Kennedy and myself, or some person for us,   to take first choice of these two tracts of land, which first choice must in a fair and equal manner be divided - one half to Joseph Kennedy his heirs and assigns and the       other half to my heirs.  I do therefore hereby empower my Executors and I do hereby require them to comply in all respects on my part with the agreement to said Rucker and Coward and also that they or either of them deal by Joseph Kennedy or his heirs according to these instructions and what may appear to be just by referring to the said agreement in writing dated Janurary 1780.  In case the   said Joseph Kennedy or his heirs do ratify and confirm the said agreement with said Rucker and Coward with regard to the tract of land they are to have in case it    be the one whose grant is obtained in his name or divided with my Executors for   the use off my heirs (making rights, etc.) as the case may be according to these instructions and what appears just by the said agreement.  In that case, my will is     that as soon as Grants are obtained for three following Warrants that is to say one of 750 acres and two Warrants of 10000 each all dated the 16th of October 1779, that my Executors lay off unto Joseph Kennedy and his heirs 1000 acres of the lands obtained by the said Warrants and also unto Peter Kelly 750 acres of the said lands to be laid off to each of them in one body or more bodies according to justice   and equity so as to render the lands most valuable to all persons concerned they paying to my heirs Major Daniel Boons charge for locating land surveying the said Warrants.  The remaining part of what property I am possessed of except a negro call Jane, I give and dispose of a follows.

            After paying all my just debts and my wife having her thirds according to Law, to be equally divided among all my children.

            Unto Esther my well beloved wife a negro called Jane during her life and afterwards to all my children.

            My Executors to sell all the lands I have a right to in Bedford County in such manner as they think best.

            Executors: my trusty and well beloved friend Thomas Logwood and Esther my beloved wife.

            Witnesses: Thomas Williams, John Hardwick, John Hardwick, Jr.

John’s estate was inventoried and appraised on January 24, 1782, and among the things of value were “Negroes Beck, Joe, and Jane,” household furnishings, livestock, farm equip- ment and “18 window lights.”  Appraisers were Julius Hatcher, William Miller and John Wheat.

The division of the estate was entered into the court record on April 14, 1791.  It was not completed until September 22, 1794.  (Wills, Inventories & Accounts, pp. 139-140)  The document is of interest, for it lists the heirs.

Perrin’s history of Bourbon County, page 477, gives some biographical sketches of some Kennedy descendants, and includes this comment:  “John Kennedy...entered land upon the Kennedy’s Creek, which bears his name; he never came to Kentucky to live.  He had two sons Eli and Washington, who located on the land.”

As noted above, John Kennedy, Jr., married Esther Stilly, daughter of Peter and Mary Stilly. Mary’s will of September 30, 1784, in Frederick County, Maryland, named “my daughter, Esther Kennedy, wife of John Kennedy (deceased)...”  The Stillys were of
Swedish ancestry.  (See chapter on the Stillys)  According to L.V. Hagan, Jr., Esther was born on January 14, 1745, in Frederick County, Maryland; and died on October 20, 1820, in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Apparently after the death of her husband in 1781, Esther and the children stayed for a time in Bedford County, Virginia, for she is listed on the tax rolls of 1782-1787.  They probably remained until the estate was finally settled in 1794.  Then they moved to Bourbon County to live on land patented to them.  Kentucky Land Grants by W.R. Jilson notes that 400 acres were surveyed on Kennedy Creek for John Kennady on December 27, 1782. 

The Bourbon County Minute Book of 1794-1796 includes these items of interest:

            March 1795.  Infant orphans of John Kennedy, Eli Kennedy and Sophia Kennedy came into court and made choise of Josiah Ashurst as their Guardian, who is to enter bond in the Clerk’s office with Joseph Kennedy, his surety under penalty of L1000 according to Law.

            March 1795.  Guardians to Ary Kennedy and Washington Kennedy, Infants of John Kennedy, dec’d, upon his entry into Bond with Joseph Kennedy and  Penn his sureties in the sum of L500 in the clerk’s office.

            May 1795.  Josiah Ashurst having been chosen Guardian to Eli Kennedy & Sophia Kennedy orphans of John Kennedy.  Alex Brown & Samuel Hatcher Bondsmen. Bond L1200.

            May 1795.  Washington Kennedy and Ary Kennedy orphans of John Kennedy Surety.  Bond L1200.

            August 1795.  On motion of Esther Kennedy, widow of John Kennedy dec’d. to appoint Commissioners to set apart her Dower in the lands whereof the said John Kennedy died seised (sic) to having withdrawn the said motion.  Ordered that James Duncan recover his cost for defending the same including an attorneys fee.

In the October Court of 1799, the heirs of John Kennedy, Jr., divided the land left to them in Bourbon County.  Here is an abstract of that record:

            John Kennedy’s Hrs.  Division of Land.  On motion of Zachariah Wheat and     Nicholas Talbott, ordered that Jno. Boyd and Jas Duncan, commrs., divide between Zachariah Wheat and Elizabeth; Josiah Ashurst and Rebeckah; Samuel Hatcher and Julia; Eli Kennedy; Joshua Rawlings and Sophia; Nicholas Talbott and Ary, and Washington Kennedy, hrs. of John Kennedy, dec’d., two tracts of 1000 a. each patented in name of John Kennedy, so of John Kennedy.  Eli Kennedy apptd. gdn. of Washington Kennedy.  Esther Kennedy, widow of John Kennedy, assigned  her dower.

Here, then, are the children of John Kennedy, Jr. and Esther Stilly Kennedy, in the order given in Jesse Kennedy’s history:

1.  Elizabeth “Betsey” Kennedy was born about 1770 in Frederick County, Maryland.  She married Zachariah Wheat on December 9, 1791, in Bedford County, Virginia.  Samuel Hatcher signed the surety bond, and consent was given by Esther Kennedy, mother of Betsey.  “The Western Citizen” of  August 27, 1852, noted the death of “Mrs Wheat, aged 82 years” on August 20.

2.  Rebecca Kennedy was born about 1771.  She married Josiah Ashurst on July 25, 1793, in Bedford County.  Samuel Hatcher signed the surety bond.  Their children were John Kennedy Ashurst, Patsy Ashurst, Plyny Ashurst and Nancy Ashurst.  “The Western Citizen” of October 12, 1855, noted her death:  “On Sep. 24th last at her residence in this county, Mrs. Rebecca Ashurst aged 84 years.  She was one of the earliest settlers of this county, a daughter of John Kennedy.  She was for 35 years a member of the Baptist church.”

3.  Julia Kennedy.  She married Sam Hatcher on October 26, 1789, in Bedford County.  Peter Forqurean signed the surety and Esther Kennedy, mother of the bride, signed her consent.  She died on June 29, 1835.

4.  Eli M. Kennedy married Patsy McConnell in Bourbon County on March 18, 1805.  Archibald McConnell was bondsman.  He later married Polly McClanahan.  According to Macon A. Smith’s The Kennedy Family, Eli was born on April 25, 1771; and died on June 19, 1835.  He is buried in the Kennedy family cemetery in Bourbon County.

5.  Reuben Kennedy was mentioned in the division of the estate in 1794, but not in subsequent records.  He was of age, and not under a guardian at the time.  We believe he was born about 1773, and died and as a young man.  He was omitted from Jesse Kennedy’s history.

6.  Sophia Kennedy was born about 1775.  She married Joshua Rawlings in Bourbon County on June 19, 1797.

7.  Washington Kennedy was born on June 25, 1779.  He married Elizabeth Bedford on June 25, 1812.  He served in the War of 1812, with rank of Captain.

8.  Aria Kennedy was born in 1781.  She married Nicholas Talbott.  More below.

                                                                   * * *

Aria Kennedy, was probably given the name Ariabelle, but called Aria for short.  Also Ari and Ary are in the records.  She was born in 1781 in Bedford County, Virginia, probably in the same year her father died.  She was mentioned in Perrin’s History of Fayette County, Kentucky, page 803:

            (Nicholas Talbott’s) wife’s name was Aria, daughter of John Kennedy, who had emigrated from Ireland and lived in Virginia during the Revolution.  He was taken as a soldier by the draft of “the fifteenth man,” and served his time in the ranks.   Turning out again to repel an English attack, he was captured by the enemy at    Guildford Court House, N.C., on March 5, 1781, and his death, on board a British prison-ship on June 26, is said to have been from starvation.  His daughter     subsequently came to Kentucky, where an uncle, after living in the fort at Strode’s  Station with his wife and family for five years, on account of Indian incursions, had    located, in 1785, on the stream now known as Kennedy’s Creek.

Perrin erred in the above account by not distinguishing between the John Kennedy, Sr., who came from Ireland, and the John Kennedy, Jr., who died on the prison ship.

Aria Kennedy married Nicholas Reagan Talbott on May 19, 1799, in Bourbon County.  They settled on Kennedy Creek, and had fifteen children. One of the children, Courtney Talbot, was featured in a biographical sketch in the History of Montgomery County, Indiana, pages 232-234.  Here is an abstract of Kennedy material:

            Nicholas Talbot...removed to Kentucky while young and married Miss Aria Kennedy, a daughter of John Kennedy, who was captured by the British at the battle of Guilford Court House, in North Carolina, March 15, 1781, and died soon   after on board of a British prison-ship, from the effects of the bad treatment he   received from his captors.  The day before he started on the campaign, which resulted in his capture and death, he wrote a letter from Virginia to his brother  Thomas, then in Kentucky, the original of which, in a beautiful plain hand, is yet preserved, and is now in the possession of Eli M. Kennedy, of Dover, LaFayette County, Missouri.  In this letter he breathes a spirit of the most fervent patriotism and devotion to the cause of the colonies, but expresses some misgivings as to the final result of the contest for independence...

Nicholas Talbott died in Bourbon County on May 1, 1828.  Aria Kennedy Talbott died between January and April 1861.  They are ancestors of this writer.  For more, see the chapter on the Talbotts.

                                                                   * * *

Compiled by James G. Faulconer, 5200 Oakbrooke Drive, Kettering, OH 45440.  (  March 29, 2003.



Copyright Notice: This is a free website and shall remain free.  All files, original documents, photo's etc. remain the property of the submitter and will not be sold.  Nor can they be reproduced in any format or on any other website without written consent from their owner. 

Mrs. Jerry Taylor - County Coordinator

Copyright 2004 - 2007

Bourbon County, KY
Family Records & Histories
Back to Family History Index


Copyright Notice: This is a free website and shall remain free.  All files, original documents, photo's etc. remain the property of the submitter and will not be sold.  Nor can they be reproduced in any format or on any other website without written consent from their owner. 

Crystal Dingler - County Coordinator
Copyright 2007 - 2010

Mrs. Jerry Taylor - Former County Coordinator
Copyright 2004 - 2007
Dr. John Kennedy Family

I believe that Dr. John was the first Kennedy that I know about and I am interested in his children:  Mostly Thomas, James, Joseph, Jesse, Eli, Elizabeth.  I believe that they lived in Bourbon County.  I have the "History of Kentucky" written in 1874 and published by Collins and Co in Covington, KY.  It has told me a lot of stuff but would love to know more.

I am the down line from James that left Kentucky and went to IL and IN.  He died around 1830-40, I believe in either IL or IN.  He was married to Phoebe (I do not know her last name but believe they were married in KY).  They had a daughter Nancy who married Daniel Bain in 1825 in IL.  These are my great great great grandparents.  I know that this family owned a ferry service called Kennedy's Ferry and that they were still living there in Covington or around there in 1810. 

Thos Kennedy and Sons of Residents in 1810 of Covington KY lists Thomas and sons (Samuel, Joseph and Robert) . Joseph also had three sons (Thomas D. Alfred and Davis).  My original Thomas was in the House of Rep in 1799, 1800,1801, 02, 05, 07 1818 and 1824 for Gerrard Co.  John Kennedy was made Justice of the Peace at First Court in Kentucky in 1781.  James Kennedy appointed deputy of surveyors in Jan 1783.  Thomas Kennedy was in the Legislature in 1792 for Madison Co.  Jesse Kennedy wrote the "Kennedy Family Genealogy" in 1850.   He was also a Legislature for 1829, 31, 32, 36, and 41 for Bourbon Co., KY.  John Kennedy was in Capt. Benjamin Logan's Company in 1779.  Thomas Kennedy was a commissioner in 1792 and helped fix Frankfort as the seat of government of the new state.  Thomas and Joseph (brothers) were at the first Convention in Danville as Madison Co. Reps. at the 1792 convention.  Thomas Kennedy was elected a senator for Madison Co in 1792.  I believe that both Joseph and David Kennedy were Revolutionary Soldiers in Madison Co. 

Any help would be appreciated.  Just anything that you find concerning the Kennedy's that came from Fredericks County, Maryland around the 1770's or so.  Thanks for any and all help.

submitted by Peggy at

Kennedy Deaths

Printed by Permission of the Bourbon County Genealogical Society (2003-2010)

VOL 72 #4  DEC 1984

Kennedy, Joseph, age 77, died at the residence of his son P.S. Kennedy, in Danville, Indiana.  He was born in Maryland and emigrated to Bourbon County at the age of 6. ( 27 April 1860)

Kennedy, Mrs. Julia, consort of J. Green Kennedy, died in Giles County, TN, ( 27 April 1849)

Kennedy, Mrs. Malinda, age 43, consort of Eli M. Kennedy and daughter of Captain George McCleod of this county.  ( 16 July 1858)

Kennedy, Marcellus, eldest son of W.W. Kennedy, died at the residence of his father near Pleasant Hill, Mo., He was formerly of this county,  ( July 16, 1858)

Kennedy, Rev. Thomas, age 85 years, died in Crawford County, Ill., at the residence of his son-in-law, Samuel J. Gould.  He was born 24 March 1773 and came with his father Thomas Kennedy, Sr. in 1770  ( November 13, 1857)