A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE KENNEDY FAMILY of CARBONEAR, NEWFOUNDLAND

 

     In presenting this documentary it must be understood that I am unable to authenticate or certify as to the accuracy of the statements contained herein.  It is based on here say from persons whom I know to be entirely trustworthy and I have no reason to doubt their stories.

~  William Chester "Louis" A. Kennedy (1897-1988)

                               *********************

Our branch of the Kennedy's had its origin in the County Wexford, the southeast corner of Ireland.  The Kennedy's were fisher folk with a limited  knowledge of  farming.  In the early years of the nineteenth century the fishery in Ireland declined and it was with much difficulty they struggled to gain a livelihood from the sea.  There were reports that the fishery was flourishing in the States and employment in that line was plentiful.

 

Consequently in the month of February 1808  two windjammers with two Kennedy families on board sailed out of Rosslare, a seaport in Wexford, bound for New Bedford, Mass. USA.  February is noted for being the stormiest month of the year on the North Atlantic Ocean.

Our progenitor, Nicholas Kennedy was born in mid-ocean between Ireland and Newfoundland.  The weather was so rough it was decided, for the safety of the newborn and his mother to put in at the nearest port, which was in Newfoundland.  The other boat continued on and landed not at New Bedford but at Newberryport [sic] on Cape Cod.

In due time, Nicholas grew to manhood in Newfoundland married Julia Forestall.  This union produced three sons and a daughter.  Their names were;  John, Terrence, Nicholas and Grace.   I knew all of them.  They were the first of our group to be born in the New World.  Terrence became our grandfather.  I shall try to disclose as much knowledge of these four and their families as I have for  your information.

John, the oldest, married Margaret Hamilton *(this is an error, Capt. John married Margaret Butler his younger brother Nicholas married Margaret Hamilton).  Their descendants consisted  of:  Will-John.  Julia, who was educated at Mount Saint Vincent Academy, New York.  After graduation she returned to Carbonear, married John Dunn.  They had  children:  Ellen, Will, Angela and Valentine.  Uncle John’s other children(referring back to John and Margaret): Stanislaus, (Stan)  Nicholas, Maggie-Jane, Grace. Terrence married Mary Joy.  Always called Aunt Polly by her nephews and nieces.  Their family consisted of :  Nicholas, John, William, Julia, Patrick, Terrence, Elizabeth, Richard, Josephine and Thomas.Nicholas, the youngest of the three brothers had a large family, who were more diversified than the others. Lawrence, the oldest was a tailor, Julia married Tom Malone who had a grocery store, Nicholas was a master of a steamship.  William became a navigator in an Artic expedition with Bob Bartlett an explorer in the North Pole regions.  John, worked in a Cordage Co.  a maker of rope and twine.  Peter , tinsmith who later was proprietor of a junk yard;  Mary who married Tom Malone’s brother Maurice.  They moved to Chicago.  Bridget whom we knew as "Peggy Gaul";  Maude who married Dr. McPherson, and Michael, who died of wounds received in World War I.

Most of our grandfather’s family emigrated to the United States.  John and Nicholas  came to the United States in 1892.  John returned to  Newfoundland in 1896 married and had eleven children; Louis (ME) , the writer of  this documentary, Agatha (died at age 1), Vincent, born New Year’s Day 1900 and died June 8, 1914, Terrence Ted, Agatha, Will died May 24, 1980, Nicholas, Jack, Isabel, Dick, and Rose (twins).  John returned to the United States in 1920.  His family moved to this country in 1921.  I (Lou) arrived in the US Aug. 10, 1916. Nicholas never returned to his homeland.  He married Delia Holleran, from Ireland .  They had three children. Terrence, Mary and Anne.  Their father was killed by falling off a building,  Loew’s 25th Street Theatre in New York.  He fell five stories and lived 12 days.  He died in Roosevelt Hospital.  Is buried in Calvary Cemetery Woodhaven.  His wife returned to Ireland with their three small children.  Leaving the children with her parents in Galway she returned to the US.  She worked and went back to Ireland and brought her children back to New York. They moved to New Jersey City where the children continued in school.  Mary married  Jack  Shannahan, a policeman.  A  great tragedy entered Mary’s life. It was in the restoration period after W.W.I. Lawlessness was rampant.  Robbery and holdups were so frequent that the police, after their regular tour of duty were sent out in plain clothes to try and stem the crime waves.  Mary’s husband had some suspects lined up with their hands against a wall.  Another cop came around the corner and thinking a hold up was  in progress fired at the other cop. Jack, thinking the other cop was a look-out for the ones he had collared fired back.  Each shot took effect – both cops had killed each other.  They had a double funeral in Jersey City. Both cortages moving along the street side by side. Mary later married another policeman.  She died in childbirth with their first child.  Anne also married. Mike Nolan a widower with a son.  The son was killed in World War II.  They lived in Bayonne, N. J.

Your mother is probably as familiar with the details of Captain Terrence's family.  Nicholas, John, Will, Pat,Terrence, Julia and Lil all immigrated to the U. S., Boston.  Terrence had the best education, having graduated from St. Bonaventure’s College.  He taught school at Torbay,  a suburb of St. John’s.  He obtained a high executive position with the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad.  He lived in New Haven and Aunt Julia was his housekeeper.  He was about to be married when suddenly he was jilted and his fiancée married another.  He took to drink and resigned his excellent position and remained a bachelor.                 

Aunt Julia returned to Newfoundland and married Luke Hayden.  They had five daughters.  Margaret, Mary, Grace, Paula and Betty.  They all came to the U. S. and Canada but returned to Newfoundland.  Grace married Jack Finn.  They had a Store in Carbonear.  And  apparently were doing well.  Grace died suddenly last summer. Paula was born when I was home on a visit after W. W. I.   That was in Dec. 1918.  Betty was born two years later.  I never have seen her.  Pat was a carpenter and a cabinet maker.  He worked mostly in Boston.  On church work, pews, altars and pulpits.  But did work in Detroit,  Baltimore and Washington.  Uncle Will was a Captain in the Coast Guard. He served in Alaska.  In W. W. I he was transferred  to the Panama Canal and retired from there .  He married a girl less than half his age.  Uncle Tom came to the United States in 1922.  He was a master mechanic.  He stayed only a year.  He had lost an eye when  a young man but that did not impair his wonderful skill.

Aunt Josephine married Tim Hogan..  They had six children.  Will is a Monsignor and pastor of the church where my father and mother were married.  St. Patricks’s in Carbonear.  Your grandmother and all the Kennedys including my father, mother and me were all baptized in that church.  Richard married Mary Pumphrey.  They had three children.  Frank, Alice and William.  Alice still lives.  Frank and Will are dead.  Frank was superintendent of schools in Newfoundland, at the time of death.  The Children were 4, 3 and 1 when their mother died.  Their maternal grandmother was along in years and unable to care for them.  So grandpa Kennedy was appointed their guardian.Uncle Dick was so distraught at his wife’s death he joined the Canadian Army.  He died in Wansworth General Hospital in Aldershot in England and is buried there. 

My mother’s maiden name was Sophie Mahaney.  Her father’s father came from Derry in the North of Ireland and her mother’s people came from Liverpool, England.  My mother was called after her mother Sophie Bennett.  The Bennetts were blacksmiths. Although I spent nine years in the merchant marine and worked as a blacksmith for forty years,  I have always considered myself a sailor.   Sometimes when talking to someone about my work  I say facetiously I was a blacksmith on my  mother’s side.Taken for all in all,  there was nothing spectacular or dramatic about any of the Connors or the Kennedys.  They were just plain ordinary honest folks, minding their own business and avoiding trouble.  The type of people the poet Gray must have had in mind when he wrote his immortal "Elegy"

                                               "Far from the maddening  crowd’s ignoble Strife

                                                Their sober wishes never learned to stray

                                                Along the cool sequestered vale of life

                                                They kept the noiseless tenor of their way." 

 

The previous excerpt is a portion of Louis A. Kennedy’s original essay which includes some information pertaining to a Connors line of Harbor Grace that which his Aunt Lillian married into and which I left out here so as not to add confusion regarding our Connors line of Placentia Bay.  The author's sister Agatha Kennedy (my grandmother) married a Connors of Placentia and the author's Aunt Elizabeth "Lillian" married a Connors of Harbor Grace and the original essay discusses the Connors of Harbor Grace and this can be confusing to the descendants of  Agatha Kennedy and Lou Connors. For the entire document see inclusion of Connors in  Kennedy History. Great Grand Uncle Louis A. Kennedy described our Irish Kennedy ancestors as ordinary "fisherfolk,"  and while this in large part is true after a little investigation it is hard to imagine that those who sailed and fished on the Grand Banks in the early days were anything but extraordinary.   They were a hardy group of individuals who captained their own schooners and who were well-respected for their knowledge of the sea.  They were productive members of society and contributed to the betterment of their community .   They advanced themselves through education and hard work and when their families grew and the fishery suffered  from decline many again felt compelled to migrate. Some east out of Carbonear to Bell Island and St. John's, and others to lower Canada, Boston, Massachusetts and Brooklyn, New York.      Transcribed by the authors great grand niece Joanne Connors copyright@2000

    

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