Biography - Geroge Kennedy
SQUIRE GEORGE KENNEDY has since May, 1851, made Ins home in Murphysboro,
and is numbered among its honored pioneers. It is said that the history of a
community is best told in the lives of its citizens, and this is certainly
true of the records of the pioneers. Our subject was born in County Armagh,
Ireland, on the 24th of February 1822. His grandfather, George Kennedy, was
a farmer and linen weaver of that country. The family, however, is of Scotch
descent. George Kennedy, the father of our subject, followed the same
pursuits as the grandfather. He emigrated to America, but on account of ill
health returned to the Emerald Isle, and later went to Scotland, where he
spent his last days. He married Jane, daughter of John Cunningham, who was
also an extensive linen weaver. Mrs. Kennedy emigrated to America, locating
first in Massachusetts, and thence came to this place, making her home with
our subject. She was a faithful member of the Episcopal Church, and died at
the age of eighty-four. The history of the Cunningham family can be traced
back to an early day. The grandfather of the Squire's grandfather
established the first foundry in Belfast, Ireland.
whose name heads this record, is the only survivor in a family of eight
children. He was reared in Ireland and educated in the national schools.
From the age of eleven he lived with an aunt. Her husband was a weaver, and
with him George learned the trade. He became a manufacturer of damask linen
and did very fine work. In 1842 he sailed from Belfast to Liverpool and then
crossed the Atlantic. He made his way from New York City to Boston, and
began working at the bench for an uncle, making shuttles, molds, etc. He
afterwards entered a cabinet shop and subsequently removed to Jersey City.
N. J., thence going to Pittsburg.
In 1851 Mr. Kennedy went down the
Ohio and up the Mississippi Rivers and worked near Rockwood for a short
time, but after a few weeks came to this place. In connection with his
brother he built a house for Dr. Logan, and continued as a builder for some
time. He also erected a cabinet shop, and for a few years engaged in the
manufacture of furniture and coffins. The brothers put up the counters and
shelves for the first store in Carbondale and did considerable work there.
For a long time he carried on a store in Murphysboro, dealing in hardware,
stoves and agricultural implements, but at length he sold out to his son. He
had formerly been associated with M. H. Ross under the firm name of Kennedy
In 1854 Mr. Kennedy was united in marriage with Miss Ellen
Ross, a native of Vermont. She died in 1885. Nine children were born unto
them, six of whom grew to mature years: Amelia, widow of F. Smith; Lizzie,
wife of James H. Martin; Anna, at home; George, who is agent for the Adams
Express Company and is also engaged in the livery business; Leonard, who is
in the employ of the Southern Express Company at Memphis, Tenn.; and John,
who is employed in the County Clerk's office.
Few men are more
familiar with the history of this community than Squire Kennedy. He served
from 1856 until May, 1893, as Justice of the Peace. It was Mr. Kennedy who
bought the first car load of wagons ever sent to this county. He also had
some of the first buggies and farm machinery. He has erected a fine brick
business block, and laid out Kennedy's Addition to the town. His home
occupies a tract of twenty acres, and he also owns eighty acres of highly
improved land in Somerset Township. He is a stockholder and director in the
First National Bank, and was one of the organizers and is a stockholder and
director in the Southern Illinois Mill. He is the only surviving charter
member of Amity Lodge No. 132, 1. O. O. F., and has several times
represented it in the Grand Lodge. He was a charter member of the first
Lutheran Church, and is still serving as Trustee. In politics he has been a
stalwart Republican since the war. Highly respected by all who know him, he
well deserves representation in this volume, for he has been prominently
identified with the history of the county and has ever borne his part in the
work of upbuilding and advancement.
Extracted 28 Aug 2019 by Norma Hass from 1894 Biographical Review of Jackson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 583-584.