John O. Kennedy, Esq., one of the leading citizens of Staunton, Illinois, for many years a leading educator in Macoupin County, and for the past three years a justice of the peace in this city, was born December 29, 1852, in Dearborn County, Indiana. He is a son of James L. And Emira (Roberts) Kennedy.
James L. Kennedy was born in April, 1825, in Pennsylvania, and was a son of John Kennedy, a native of Ireland, who first settled in Pennsylvania and later removed to Indiana, following the trade of cabinet-making. John Kennedy had six children: William, Samuel, Robert, James, Nancy and Margaret. James L. Kennedy was but a lad when his father moved to Indiana. He passed the greater part of his life as a farmer and carpenter, in the vicinity of Manchester, where he died aged 74 years. He served during the Civil War, enlisting in 1864 in Company C, 7th Reg., Indiana Vol. Cav., under Capt. John Senior. His company was detailed to guard duty and never was sent out of the State. He was a Grand Army man and a stanch Republican. In religious views he was a Presbyterian. He married Emira Roberts, born in Dearborn County, Indiana, deceased, in 1860, aged 33 years, survived by these children: Emily; Lewis T., for 30 years a teacher in Madison County, now principal of the Venice, Illinois, public schools; Amasa, a teacher at Alhambra, Illinois, who died aged 28 years; John O., of this sketch; Charles, a farmer of Coffeyville, Kansas; and Sarah B., who died in 1880, aged 22 years.
Our subject was reared on a farm, mainly in Indiana, attended district schools and spent two years at Moore's Hill (Indiana) College. Mr. Kennedy located in Staunton in 1884 and ever since has been a prominent factor in educational work. He devoted many years to teaching and was one of the leading organizers of the present admirable high school here. In 1903 he took charge of the office of the De Camp Fuel Company, of St. Louis, Missouri, at mine No. I, in Madison County, two and a half miles south of Staunton.
In 1878 he married, at Moore's Hill, Indiana, Martha Ross, who was born in November, 1852, and is a daughter of David and Louise Ross. Five children were born to them: Orville H., Wilbur C., David Arthur, J. Leroy, and Dan W., three of whom are graduates of the Staunton High School, the last named being valedictorian in the class of 1904. They have had the advantage of a father's training and a mother's intelligent companionship. Mrs. Kennedy is a highly cultured lady, a member of the Woman's Club and prominent in musical circles. She is organist of the Christian Church, and Mr. Kennedy the chorister of the same.
Formerly a Republican, Mr. Kennedy has also been active in the Prohibition party. For two years he served in the City Council from the Third Ward, and was chairman of the committees on finance and streets and highways. He was for five years a member of the Board of Education and is actively interested in all that concerns the welfare of the community. In 1901 he was elected a justice of the peace on the Republican ticket and entered 85 cases during his first year, in addition to performing a number of marriage ceremonies and other minor duties of his office. He is an elder in his church and for 12 years has been superintendent of the Sunday-school.