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.
George Kennedy, 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 & Ross.
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.
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