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Delaware County, Iowa

 Biography Directory


Joseph D. Kennedy





      JOSEPH D. KENNEDY, the subject of this sketch, is a New Englander by birth. He comes of New Eng­land ancestry for several generations and be carries in his general makeup many of the chief characteristics of the people from whom he springs. He was born in Belchertown, Hampshire county, Mass., December 28, 1827. He is a son of Joseph and Henrietta (Warner) Kennedy, the former of whom was a native of Connecticut, but passed most of his life in Massachusetts, dying in Belchertown, November 13, 1835, aged fifty-six, the latter a native of Massachusetts, having been born in Beichertown. The father was a farmer, an industrious, thrifty one, and a useful citizen. The mother passed all her years in her native place and there died February 8, 1831, preceding her husband to the land of rest by four years. She was an intelligent, kind hearted woman, skilled in the economies of the household and greatly devoted to her family. By the early death of his parents the subject of this notice was left an orphan at an age when he most needed the care and counsel of a father and mother. He was taken into the family of an elder sister, Mrs. Lauriston Walker, of Belchertown, and received such attention at her hands as she was prompted to bestow by a sisterly feeling. His early years were passed in the pursuits common to boyhood, his duties as a chore boy and general service hand being varied by his attendance at the local grammar schools. He continued to reside with his sister till he was fourteen years old, when, having overcome his feeling of dependence, he made up his mind to carve his own way in the world, and accordingly started out at that age to do it.  The spirit of inquiry had been awakened in his breast. What education he had received had served to arouse in him a desire for more. He sought various employments and was variously engaged, keeping his mind, however, on one purpose through all his vicissitudes, that purpose being to acquire an education. He attended the academy at Belchertown for two terms, then the Williston Academy at East Hampton two terms, and then Quaboug Academy at Warren two terms. By hard study he thus became a good scholar before he reached his majority. So armed he started West in 1845 in search of a field for his talents. He made his first stop in Kendall county, Ill. That was an early day for that locality and the avenues to wealth and distinction were not numerous. With a diligence, however, that wrung success from the most adverse circumstances, young Kennedy set vigorously to work at whatever his hands found to do. He was variously engaged for several years, and although his life was of necessity of a more or less desultory nature, he managed by industry and economy to save some means from his labors, and with these his first step was to purchase a tract of land consisting of one hundred acres, mostly unimproved. Working on his farm in summer and teaching district school in winter formed the course of his life for the next few years. At each he was successful, not through luck or a combination of favorable circumstances, but through persevering industry and strict application to business. After three years so spent he secured employment as a clerk in a store at Oswego and gave his attention for the next five years to the mercantile business, selling his farm in the mean  time. From the store he went into the office of the sheriff of Kendall county as deputy, which position he held about two years, having almost the entire charge of the business of the office, the sheriff residing some distance from the county seat and giving much of his attention to other matters.


      Mr. Kennedy came to Iowa in 1867 and settled in Manchester about the time the town was incorporated, and here he has resided since. He has had various interests since coming to this place, having made some investments, which have paid him well, and to which in recent years he has chiefly given his attention. He has dealt extensively in Iowa lands, having absolute confidence in the soil of this country and exhibiting that confidence by large outlays of his own means. He has contributed also to the solid prosperity of the country by inducing others to settle here and invest their means. He has done and continues to do a considerable loan business, furnishing to others from his carefully husbanded resources the means with which to develop and improve their purchases. While, therefore, he has never aspired to fill the public eye and is not known as one of Delaware county’s public characters, he has nevertheless, been a strong factor in the growth and development of the county, making a wise use of the means which have come into his hands and contributing his full share of energy to the public good. In the local affairs of Manchester, Mr. Kennedy has manifested an especial interest. He served for nine years on the public school board, and during that time he was zealous in his support of the public school interest of the place, giving to the town, in addition to the energy he was able to throw into his work, an amount of special training and a certain superiority of judgment, the result of his own early labors, which rendered his services all the more valuable. He was also a member of the town council of Manchester for a number of years and served one year as mayor. He made an efficient member of the local board, bringing to the discharge of his duties in that connection the same energy, zeal and discriminating judgment, that he exhibits in his attention to his own affairs.


     In politics Mr. Kennedy is a republican. He is well read in the history of the country and in the history and traditions of the different political organizations. He is a Knights Templar Mason, and a zealous member of that most ancient of all benevolent orders.


     Mr. Kennedy married in the fall of 1867, taking to wife Miss Mary L. Moore, who is a native of Burlington, Vt., and like himself a descendant of New England ancestry. He and his excellent wife are both members of the Congregational church and are liberal contributors to all charitable purposes.

~ source: Biographical souvenir of the counties of Delaware and Buchanan, Iowa; Chicago : F. A. Battey, 1890. Page 335-337; LDS microfilm #985424

~ contributed by Thom Carlson