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History of the

Kieran McKenny Family

1842-1927

 

Kieran McKenny was the second living son and the fourth living child of John and Catherine A. (Guinan) Kenny.
He was born June 25, 1842 in Offaly Co., Ireland. Kieran was baptised in Cloghen, Banagher Catholic Parish, County Offaly, Ireland. His sponsors at baptism were Michael Cusack and Elenn Smollin. At this time we do not know whether these are friends or relatives of the family.

Kieran had two older sisters Bridget and Mary Ellen, an older brother Thomas, and a younger sister Catherine. About 1849, when Kieran was about seven years old, his family decided to move to the United States. The move was probably prompted by the overpopulation, oppression of the Irish Catholics by the English, the famine, and taking of the land by the landlords. About the time the family decided to make the move, the mother Catherine died.

John sought the help of Catherine's sister, Mrs. Charles Carroll to help with the children. The girls and Kieran stayed with their aunt while Thomas and John left for the USA, about March of 1853. Some of the other children may have left for the USA later that same year. However, Kieran sewed brooms in order to earn the fare for he and his little sister. Two years after his father left, when Kieran was 12 years old (1854) he and Catherine, his little sister, sailed for the United States by themselves. The other passengers were very kind to Kieran and Catherine because they were so young and all alone.

When they arrived in the United States, they might have been met by their cousin Mary CARROLL LARKIN who had come to the States about three years before with her husband. They were running a boarding house or hotel in New York. Kieran and Catherine managed to reunite with their family in Ohio near South Charleston where their father had bought some improved farm land about a mile from town.

Kieran received a public education in Ohio. Years later he was said to have "made the most of his opportunities and acquired a good mental training". Kieran learned farming and stock raising from his father. After school, he and his older brother, Thomas, worked for nearby farmers when they were not helping their father.

August 1862, 18 year old Kieran and his brother, Tom, joined the Union Army when Fort Sumter was fired upon. Kieran enlisted at South Charleston Ohio, in Company C, with Captain Smith, the 110th Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry, under the command of Col. J. Warren Keifer. His brother joined the U.S. Army Calvary.

Kieran fought in battles such as Shenandoah Valley, including the famous battle of Cedar Creek. He later was involved in the intensive fighting of the Widerness Campaign and the battles of Richmond, Mine Run, Winchester, d Sheridan's Ride, Chancellorsville, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg.

At Petersburg, Kieran was the first to reach and capture a four gun battery and was commended for his bravery. At the final battle of the war, Appomattox, the 110th Regiment was in the lead with the Sixth Army corps when General Lee surrendered. Because of a bullet in his side, Kieran watched the battle of Gettsburg from a hospital bed.

Kieran spent quite a bit of time in the military hospitals. Besides having the measles during the war, he was shot twice. In the battle at Winchester, Kieran was shot in the thigh. That bullet was never removed. In another battle Kieran was shot in the side. Kieran had been carrying a bedroll and the bullet went through it before it entered his side. His wound, thanks to the bedroll, was not serious and they removed the bullet. Kieran carried the bullet in his pocket the rest of his days.

Kieran accompanied his regiment to the Grand Review at Washington, D. C. and was "mustered out" at Columbus, Ohio, in June of 1865. He was discharded as a corporal of his company and took an active interest in Grand Army matters and was a "popular comrad of Tyler Post at Ford City, Missouri"

Thomas, his brother, also left the army in 1865. Thomas through the parish priest in Ohio, found and bought farming land in Gentry County, Missouri. He didn't have enough money to improve the land, so Kieran and he went to Leavenworth, Kansas to get work. Kieran's older cousins, Michael and Patrick Carrroll, had been in Leavenworth, Kansas since 1859 working as teamsters and wagonmasters. Both Kieran and Thomas found work.

According to family stories and county history sources, Kieran may have worked for the government or may have been a contractor working for the government. It is said that Kieran was a driver or "bullwhacker" on the Oregon Trail when Denver, Fort Collins, Fort Laramie, and Cheyenne were in their infancy. It is possible Kieran worked for the Forde company at Leavenworth, Kansas, running a government train of 25 from Ft. Leavenworth to Salt Lake City, Fort Laramie, etc. Once when the men and wagons were crossing the flooded Platte River in Nebraska, the cable of the ferry-boat broke and several men drown. Kieran swam to some willows and was rescued later.

It is also said he was a wagon quartermaster for this freight company and drove an oxen drawn covered wagon to Mexico and Texas. Yet another source states Kieran went to the Utah Territory in 1866 where he remained for five years until he came to Gentry County in 1871. A family letter states he was in the Cavalry for 5 years at Fort Laramie, Wyoming.

According to the History of Davies and Gentry Counties, Kieran bought his first land in Gentry County in 1869 while he was on furlough from the government. This land would be near where his brother Thomas and sister Bridget and Mary Ellen and their families had settled. Kieran left the government service and used the money he had saved to settle in Gentry County in 1871. He had 160 acres, but eventually built his holding to more than 1,200 acres in Miller and Jackson Townships. At the time he settled, it was said that he"was possessed of a serviceable team of horses and enough cash to purchase the land he needed for a home". This was a time while the inhabitants were still developing the country out of its raw pioneer condition and a team of horses were a must to open the land.

Kieran started his farming operation in the Grand River Valley, this was probably near the lands of Michael FLOOD at Gentryville, Missouri, Mr FLOOD came with his family to the area in about 1860. In 1874, Kieran married Mary Elizabeth "Libby" (Flood), daughter of Michael FLOOD and Sophia BOURETT. Kieran and Libby lived close to Libby's family at first. Her father, who was a wagon maker, made them a bed for their first home. This would seem to show there were no hard feeling held between Michael who fought for the Confederate Army and Kieran who fought for the Union Army.

In 1876, all of the McKenny's of Gentry County were involved in the building of the St. Patrick's Catholic Church on the top of the hill near Ford City. The lumber and carpenters came from Gentryville where Kieran and Libby started their lives together. The shingles and finish pine was from St. Joseph. It had to be carried in by wagon, because the narrow guage railroad did not come until the next year, 1877. Libby's brother, Francis B. "Frank" FLOOD died when he was trying to cross a ditch with a load of logs for the chuch. The wagon tipped and he was killed. He was the first person buried at the St. Patrick's Cemetery.

By 1880, Kieran bought about a quarter section of land three miles northeast of Ford City. This was near his brother and sisters' land. There he built a "good frame house". He also had an orchard, and built a well, so he had plenty of stock water. He was said to have a good grade of horses and cattle. He bred Aberdeen Angus cattle, out of which the next generation bred champion stock. Kieran rode a horse every day. Even into his later life, he would ride his horse into Ford City everyday to get the mail. It is said that Kieran's land had the distinction as "one of the large ranch properties and places for the breeding and feeding of cattle and other livestock".

By this time the railroad had been built through Kieran land. Many times, the ashes from the train engine ignited fires in his hay and land. The railroad was good about reimbursing Kieran for his losses.

Kieran also had commercial and financial enterprises. In ____ Kieran was described as a man "whose wide business relations have brought him into touch with many people, and he is among the best known citizens of the county. " Kieran achieved success because of his good business qualities. He was one of the organizers of the Ford City Bank. He was also the founder and president of the Citizens National Bank at King City until 1927 when he turned the business over to his son, John Francis McKenny.

Kieran was prominent in the Grand Army of the Republic and was one of the influential Republicans of Northwest Missouri. He participated in Party politics. Starting in 1888, he presided for four years as judge of the County Court of Gentry County. He was known as "Judge Kieran McKenny" for the rest of his life. He, like his brother, Thomas, later ran for legislature on the Republican ticket. Thomas served a term, but Kieran was not elected. According to the History of Davies and Gentry County, Kieran proved to be an "invaluable asset to the institution and as an officer of the county, he was loyal and upright. He (is) a man of whom his community (is) proud".

Kieran was also a family man. About 1879, he built a large house for his wife, Libby and nine children near Ford City, Gentry County, Missouri (see pictures). Kieran and Libby lived through the death of five of their children. Thomas A. died at age of 5 years, we do not know the cause. John Francis, Thomas Leo and Anna Laura all contracted diptheria in 1893. John Francis, nineteen years of age at the time, lived, but Thomas Leo, eight years old and Anna Laura, two years old, died one day a part. In 1901, Catherine died one year after her only child was born. The father left for Oklahoma, so Kieran and Libby reared Michael Downey their grandson. He later took the name of Michael Downey McKenny. Veronica Grace who was frail most of her life, died at age 17 in 1912, while she was visiting in Michigan. After Kieran and Libby lost the two small boys named Thomas, they requested that none of their descendents be named Thomas even though it was tradition to pass the name down through the generations.

Kieran and Libby reared four successful children, John Francis, James M., Mary Sophia (Mayme), and Charles Christopher. When these children were grown, Kieran and Libby would go to California each winter. Libby had sister who settled in California, but they also liked the climate. They also frequented the springs at Exelsior Springs, Missouri and Eureka Springs, Arkansas. These visits may have been prompted by Libby's illness. She was invalid for more than 4 years, with intense suffering during that time. She was said to have been of "strong constitution most of her life, but after afflicted, no medical science could relieve her". He niece wrote of Libby in 1922; (Libby) has "gone to the Sanitarium, don't know anyone, cries all the time, and pulls out her hair."

Libby died in 1925. At that time, their son Charles Christopher and his family were living with Kieran and Libby in their home and helping with the care. Kieran lived about a year and a half after Libby died. One friend remembered Kieran as liking new inventions. He would go out of doors when he heard an airplane and say to his children "someday you will fly across the country in one of those".

Kieran and Libby are both buried at the St. Patrick's Catholic Cemetary near Ford City, Gentry County, Missouri.