The 1906 obituary for my 2nd great-grandfather, David Greacen Kennedy, shed some light on his work over the years. He was born in 1821 at Muddy Creek, Butler County, Pennsylvania. At age 20, he taught school, continuing that for seven years. When he married Elizabeth Rosebaugh at age 27, he changed careers to work as a bookkeeper in the Chess Brothers Tack Factory near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Perhaps school teaching did not pay well enough for a family man.
After ten years at the tack factory, he moved his family in 1861 near Black Jack, Kansas, famous in history as John Brown’s first battlefield. During pre-statehood days, the area was unsettled as Free Staters and those favoring slavery vied for control. Kansas became a state that year, entering as a free state.
“When the war broke out Kennedy enlisted, and although he was never called out of the state, he remained on constant service as a home guard during the memorable troubles of early Kansas.”
David Greacen Kennedy from the collection of a descendant, Joe Kennedy
From their place one mile north of Black Jack, they moved northeast of Baldwin where they lived for forty years. As an early settler, farming was listed as his occupation in the 1870 and 1880 census.
Douglas County map showing Vinland, Baldwin, Black Jack, and Lawrence, Kansas. (map courtesy of Wikipedia)
A local newspaper commented in 1892 that “D. G. Kennedy, of Black Jack, informed us that he was selling a carload of fine hogs that would average 300 pounds. As the market for hogs is over $6 per hundred, the load will net our farmer friend a neat sum, something over one thousand dollars.” Adjusting that for inflation from 1892 to 2019 dollars, it would be $28,215 according to the CPI Inflation Calculator.
In 1895, the newspaper reported, “The finest piece of wheat of thirty acres can be found on the farm of D. G. Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy never does farming in a halfway manner.”
By the 1900 census, he was eighty years old and retired. His sons, Bayard and Walter, with the help of a hired man, kept the farm going.
The Kennedy home in Baldwin, Kansas.
In May 1891, the Baldwin Ledger reported, “ The home of D. G. Kennedy was the scene of a happy family reunion this week, the occasion being the seventieth birthday of Mr. Kennedy. His children were assembled under the parental roof once more and there went forth a blessing for the prolonged life of the parent. Mr. Kennedy was the recipient of many presents; his family giving him an armchair in which to repose in his declining years. The guests also gave numerous presents of kind remembrances of the day.”
House rebuilt Fri, Jan 4, 1901 – 3 · The Baldwin Ledger (Baldwin, Kansas) · Newspapers.com
In 1892, he and his wife Elizabeth moved to the small town of Vinland. It seems from the article above that both Walter and David Sr. and their spouses shared a house at this point. His youngest son, David Greacen Kennedy Jr. owned a “mercantile business” in Vinland and had his own house adjacent to the store.
1974 book on Vinland.
Were David and Elizabeth Kennedy Sr. wealthy? Perhaps prosperous is a better word. It seems they had a good life and a long one.
Here’s a description of his last days,
“He knew the biographies of Grant, Sherman, Lincoln and many others almost by heart. He loved his books and spent the last years of his life surrounded by them. He lived to see both grand and great grandchilren and their presence and prattle was his greatest joy. On Saturday, January 13, 1906, “Uncle David” made a business trip to Baldwin, and although 85 years of age, was able to go unattended and see to his business. Monday afternoon he was taken with pneumonia and in spite of the best medical attention the disease claimed him as its victim.”
The Jeffersonian Gazette added this, “For some time he had been patiently waiting the summons and was willing to depart. On Wednesday evening his voice was very weak, but he knew and recognized his friends and neighbors, asking after the sick in the neighborhood.”
The Baldwin Ledger gave further details, “The funeral was held at the Vinland Presbyterian church, of which church Mr. Kennedy had been an active member for 65 years. And as the mourners slowly made their way over the Big Hill between the two villages. We thought how like the journey of his life which was to begin in a far away city and end in the quiet shade of Oak Hill Cemetry. Besides his wife and six children, two sisters and two brothers survive him.”
Elizabeth Rosebaugh Kennedy, the mother of merchant David G. Kennedy, lived in a house across the street east of the Methodist Church.
Elizabeth Rosebaugh Kennedy lived 12 years longer than her husband. “Mrs. Kennedy remained in Vinland until a short time ago when she came with her son Walter. She was ninety-one years old, yet had a strong mind, at the time of her death.”
Elizabeth Jane Rosebaugh Kennedy – Photo taken in Wellsville, Kansas.
Their family background
Born May 14, 1821, at Muddy Creek, Butler County, Pennsylvania, he was a third-generation American whose grandparents immigrated from Monaghan, Ireland in the late 1700s to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His wife, Elizabeth Jane Rosebaugh, was a third-generation American whose grandparents came from Germany to the Colony of Virginia before the American Revolution.
- Death of D.G. Kennedy, Sr. Lawrence Daily World, Lawrence, Kansas. 24 Jan 1906, Wed • Page 1, Newspapers.com.
- Another Obituary of D.G. Kennedy, Sr. The Jeffersonian Gazette, Lawrence, Kansas.
Wednesday, January 24, 1906, Newspapers.com.
- Another Obituary of D.G. Kennedy, Sr. The Baldwin Ledger, Baldwin, Kansas. 26 Jan 1906, Fri • Page 1, Newspapers.com.
- Death of Elizabeth Rosebaugh Kennedy. The Baldwin Ledger (Kansas) 08 Feb 1918, Fri • Page 1 Newspapers.com.
- The 1890 census was destroyed, so we are dependent on newspaper clippings for that decade.
- Wheat Crop. The Lawrence Gazette, Lawrence, Kansas. 23 Apr 1885, Thu • Page 5 Newspapers.com.
- Hogs. The Baldwin Ledger, Baldwin, Kansas. 09 Dec 1892, Fri • Page 3. Newspapers.com.
- 70th Birthday. The Baldwin Ledger, Baldwin, Kansas. 22 May 1891, Fri • Page 3 Newspapers.com.
- Vinland, Kansas Facebook Page
- D.G. Kennedy Donation of Books to Library. The Baldwin Ledger, Baldwin, Kansas
23 Sep 1887, Fri • Page 3 Newspapers.com.
A photo from the Lawrence Journal in 1910 of the library in Vinland (Coal Creek Library).
(Please let me know if you have further information about the Kennedy family or if you spot any errors in the above account)