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Thomas Kennedy of Warren County, Missouri

Extracted from various sources and rearranged.

Thomas Kennedy was born in Bedford County, Virginia on April 3, 1753. His parents John Kennedy and Margaret Rowan were of Irish descent.

In 1776 he enlisted in the Revolutionary Army for two years service. Major Kennedy was a member of the 7th Virginia rgt., which through the base treachery of its commandant was surrendered to the British, soon after the battle of Briar Creek. Major Kennedy was one of the few who escaped the surrender.

Later, having lost his wife, he took his three children and moved to Pendleton District, South Carolina. There, he joined the Army of the Revolutionists and remained in active service to the end of the war.

In 1793, he married Sarah Gibson, born October 11, 1774, daughter of Guyon Gibson and Eleanor Kennedy.

The Kennedys left Nashville, Tennessee in 1807 to acquire new lands. The territory of upper Louisiana had recently been acquired and restless pioneers were eager to get their new land.

The first English settlement in St. Charles County (area now in Warren County), Missouri was made by the renowned Col. Daniel Boone and his son-in-law Flanders Calaway, who established Calaway’s Post near the site of Marthasville, in about 1801. They had located originally about the mouth of the Femme Osage River in St. Charles County in 1795.

Various accounts exist as to the Kennedy’s time of arrival in Warren County, Missouri.

Version 1: On the first day of January 1808, Thomas Kennedy crossed the Mississippi River where Alton, IL is located, and pushed forward to the wilds of Warren county, to which locality he had been attracted by the wonderful tales of settlers who had gone as far west as St. Louis, and returned to the eastern part of the country.

In December 1808, the second distinct settlement in the territory now embraced in the County was made by Major Thomas Kennedy, who arrived with his family, and commenced the erection of a substantial post, which bore his name, at the spot later occupied by the comfortable home of his youngest son, Hon. R. J. Kennedy. Here Major Kennedy reared nine children -- five sons, James, Guyon, Abram, Pleasant and Royal J., and four daughters.

Version 2: The Kennedy family consisted of Thomas Kennedy and his wife Sarah (Gibson) and their five children. Samuel Gibson and wife and their two children and Gayon Gibson, Jr., a young man in his twenties, and James Kennedy, a son of Thomas Kennedy by his first wife - all reached Daniel Boone’s home some time in the summer or fall of 1807.

Version 3: Thomas Kennedy, a soldier of the Revolution, built the Kennedy post and in 1809 settled a mile and a half east of Wright City.

Version 4: In the long list of men who distinguished themselves in those days when fortitude and self-reliance were required to maintain a home in the then wilderness of Warren county, no name is more conspicuous than that of Thomas Kennedy, a soldier of the Revolution, who settled in Hickory Grove township in 1809. He built the post known in history as Kennedy’s Fort, and was one of the foremost men of his day. To Thomas Kennedy the early settlers looked for advice, and upon him they depended when danger threatened them.


Leaving the mothers and children in the home of Daniel Boone, the men traveled over the trackless country in search of desirable locations. The location must contain two necessities, water and salt. To make sure of a never failing water supply, these early pioneers made a settlement near a spring of water rather than considering the value of the land. To secure their supply of salt, early settlers risked their lives on long trips to salt springs. Today the most noted landmark is on the Boone’s Lick Road where these salt licks were located.

Thomas Kennedy selected a tract of some four hundred acres. As soon as time and conditions would allow, the family built a fort and prepared to defend their homes during the Indian Wars. The wars continued for three years; and when peace came at last, the settlers began to make homes for themselves on individual tracts of land.

He was a sensible resolute man, who by his practical good sense and varied experience was able to render important assistance to the pioneers of this region during the war of 1812. His arrival was immediately recognized in the frontier style by the inhabitants in the vicinity of Calaway’s Post, who sent their leader to visit the new neighbor. He immediately took a leading and active part in all their plans for the safety and welfare of the people. After years of mutual daring and adventure, and reciprocal kindnesses ripened between the Calaway and Kennedy families into the warmest friendship.

Guion Gibson, a Tennessean, located in Hickory Grove in 1810. He was a remarkably clear-headed and far-seeing man, raised a large family, and his sons, James, John and Guion, Jr., were members of Callaway’s rangers.

In the spring of 1811 the Indians had become quite hostile. Rumors of contemplated raids by the dusky sons of the forest compelled the settlers to provide adequate defense in the case of attack, and in that year a fort and stockade was erected on the Kennedy clearing.

The Kennedy House and Fort were built at the same time; the home was part log and part frame, all weatherboarded. The front yard of the story-and -a-half house ran along the Marthasville wagon road. Today there is no trace left of the Kennedy Fort, except the well. Much of the material from the Fort was used in the construction of a barn and a crib. A building within the Fort was destroyed by fire. The Fort sheltered women and children during the War of 1812.

This fort remained standing for four years, or until after the War of 1812, when it was torn down. It stood exactly where Judge Royal J. Kennedy’s residence was located, on the State road, about one and a half miles east southeast of Wright City. At this time, there were living in the immediate vicinity of Kennedy’s stockade, the following persons, all of whom had come into that section previous to 1810, and who also assisted in erecting the fort : Samuel Gibson, a South Carolinian (probably Sarah Gibson Kennedy’s brother); Daniel McCoy and David Boyd, Kentuckians, and Anthony Keller, a Pennsylvania Dutchman.

In May 1818, Indians killed and scalped three Ramsey children, wounding the parents. Two boys escaped to the home of William Ramsey. This was the signal of a vigorous pursuit, which was participated in by those in and around Calaway’s, Kennedy’s and Loutre Lick Forts, and others from Lincoln Co., and was followed by a series of scouts and engagements with the Indians, in one of which Capt. James Calaway (in honor of whom Calaway Co. was named) fell into the hands of the Indians and was put to death with several comrades near Loutre Fort.

Warren County was separated from Montgomery Co. in 1833.


The First Deed in Warren County

This indenture made and entered into this 25th day of January in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and thirty three, between Guyon Kennedy and Betsy P. Kennedy, his wife, of the county of Lincoln, and the State of Missouri, of the one part, and Sarah Kennedy of the county of Montgomery, and State aforesaid, of the other part, witnesseth: That the said Guyon Kennedy and Betsy P. Kennedy, his wife, for and in consideration of six hundred and forty dollars in hand paid by the said Sarah, the receipt whereof is hereby confessed and acknowledged, have bargained and sold unto the said Sarah Kennedy, a certain tract of land, situate, lying and being in the county of Montgomery, and State aforesaid, being the south-west corner of section 13, range 2 west, and township 47, north, by estimation containing 160 acres, with all appurtenances, to the said Sarah Kennedy and her heirs forever, to have and to hold, use and occupy, possess, peaceably enjoy, all and singular, the said land and premises whereby granted unto to her, fee simple, and lastly the said Guyon Kennedy and Betsy P. Kennedy, his wife, doth by these presents , bind the right and title of the before mentioned tract of land, and premises to the said Sarah Kennedy and her heirs, against the claim of all and every person or persons whatsoever.

In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and attached our seals, the day and the date mentioned.

(Signed.) Guyon Kennedy Betsy P. Kennedy

NOTE : Need to check Lincoln and Montgomery county records for information on Guyon Kennedy and Betsy P. Kennedy, who is probably Elizabeth Pendleton Sitton. This appears to be Guyon Kennedy b 1796, and married Elizabeth Pendleton Sitton (b 1802) in 1822. The only Sarah Kennedy by maiden name and was of age at this time was a d/o Thomas Kennedy and Sarah Gibson, b 1802, and Guyon’s sister.

In January 1836, by vote, Warrenton was chosen as the County seat. Dr. H. C. Wright was the first rep. to the legislature for Warren County. The first warrant drawn on the Treasury was for $6.80 in favor of Absalom Hayes.

The Kennedys were among the best known people of the county. James Kennedy was one of the commissioners who laid out the "Whosau Trace", which was located in 1815, and ran westward from St. Charles, nearly parallel with the famous Boone’s Lick road.

Thomas Kennedy’s youngest son, Judge Royal J. Kennedy, resided on the old family homestead, one and a half miles east of Wright City. In 1860 Mr. Kennedy was a member of the State Legislature, and he was at one time a judge of the county court. He enjoys the distinction of having resided in one Territory, one State and three counties, and yet has always lived in the same place and never changed his domicile.