Welcome to the Kennedy Chronicle. The story was written by Sarah Elizabeth Kennedy, daughter of Bernard Shafer Kennedy and Phebe Freeman in 1891, and are copied here verbatim. They contain the story of Samuel Kennedy’s emigration from Scotland to the United States, as well as our history and links to the Earl of Cassillis. The only change that I have made is to divide the monologue into chapters for ease of reading.
The Kennedys of Cassilis in Ayershire, Scotland, first acquired a title, that of Barons of Ailsa, some time during the fourteen century. I do not know what king conferred it or for what cause. Till then the head of the family had been styled the Chieftain of Kennedy, and was, not doubt, as lawless and turbulent as were leaders of other clans in those days. In later Times when the Barons of Ailsa had become the powerful Earls of Cassilis, they seemed to stand in as little awe of King and Church as did the bold Chieftains their forefathers, if we may credit Sir Walter Scott and the author of “The Witch Finder.” In the notes to Ivanhoe where Front de Boeuf roasts the Jew to extort money, Sir Walter relates a story of the savage cruelty of an Earl of Cassilis in the reign of James the Sixth of Scotland and the First of England, that makes the old Norman’s act seem probable. It is strange that such dreadful wrongs should have been possible so late as the sixteenth century, but this lord seemed to be lawless and was so powerful that he was called King of Carrick. But all of the name were not unworthy, for one of his near relatives, the Laird of Barganie, opposed his cruel deed, and with partial success.
Later still in the reign of Charles the First, good Earl John of Cassilis befriended the Covenenters and was to them a tower of strength. Three or four letters of the Reverend Samuel Rutherford are addressed to him.
Grant, in the “Witch Finder” makes the Lord Advocate of Scotland in his complaint to the King, James the Fifth, accuse the Earl of Cassilis and his brother Quentin Kennedy of Colean, of two heinous offenses. One was that they favored the Protestant heretics and their Bible reading, and the other that they protected the learned Buchannan who was hostile to the power of the priesthood. The despotic Stuarts bowed the neck to the churchly yoke. The Kennedys have ever hated priestly oppression.
There is another trait of character that I like to believe my ancestors possessed, and that it still distinguished some of their descendants at least – a strong feeling of personal honor – a regard for their word that made a promise, whether expressed or implied, sacred.
Hume relates that during one of the frequent wars between England and Scotland, that the Scottish King was worsted and was obliged to give as hostages for the performance of his promises, some of his most illustrious subjects. Among others, two of the Kennedys of the House of Cassilis, Robert and Gilbert, were delivered to the keeping of their foes, and were placed in confinement. The King, their master, found it impossible, or inconvenient to redeem his promise and their release was long delayed. At length the prisoners – some of them – planned an escape which was certain to succeed. The Kennedys were at the last moment let into the secret and invited to avail themselves of the opportunity to regain their liberty. They refused, and saw their less scrupulous comrades depart without them.
This story from Sir Walter Scott’s preface to Auchindrane, I shall somewhat abridge.
“John Muir of Auchindrane, for the purpose of raising and extending the grandeur of his own family, had married the daughter of Sir Thomas Kennedy of Barganie, who was, excepting the Earl of Cassilis, the most important person in all Carrick, the district of Ayreshire which he inhabited, and when the name of Kennedy held so great a sway as to give rise to the popular rhyme:
“Twixt Wigton and the town of Air,
Portpatrick and the Cruives of Cree,
No man need think to hide him there,
Unless he court Saint Kennedie.”
Now Muir, who had promised himself high advancement by means of his father-in-law Barganie, saw with envy and resentment, that his influence remained inferior to the House of Cassilis, Chief of all the Kennedys. The Earl was a minor, but his authority was maintained, and his affairs managed by his Uncle, Sir Thomas Kennedy of Cullayne - the same as Collean – the brother of the deceased Earl and tutor and guardian of the present. This worthy gentleman supported his nephew’s dignity and the credit of the house so effectually, that Barganie’s consequence was much thrown into the shade, and the ambitious Auchindrane saw no better remedy than to remove so formidable a rival as Cullayne by violent means.
For this purpose, in the year 1597 he came with a party of followers to Maybole, where Sir Thomas then resided, and lay in ambush in an orchard, through which he knew his destined victim was to pass in returning from a house where he was to take supper. He came unattended, and was suddenly fired upon by Muir and his Company, who having missed their aim, drew their swords to slay him, but he had the goof fortune to hide himself in a ruinous house and thus escaped. Sir Thomas prosecuted Muir for this assault, who finding himself in danger from the law, made a sort of apology and agreement with Cullayne, to whose daughter he united his son, in testimony of the closest friendship in the future. This agreement was sincere on the part of Kennedy, who, after it had been entered into, showed himself Auchindrane’s friend on all occasions. But it was false and treacherous on the part of Auchindrane, who continued his purpose of murdering his new friend and ally on the first occasion.
“The elder Barganie, Muir’s father-in-law, was dead, but he, Muir, persuaded his son Gilbert to brave the Earl of Cassilis, as one who usurped an undue influence over the rest of the name. Accordingly, this hot-headed youth, at the instigation of Muir, rode past the gate of the Earl of Cassilis, without waiting on his chief, or sending him any message of civility. This led to mutual defiance, being regarded by the Earl, according to the ideas of the time, as a personal insult. Both parties took the field with their followers, at the head of about 250 men on each side. The action that ensued was shorter, and less bloody than might have been expected. Young Barganie, with the rashness of headlong courage, and Auchindrane, fired by deadly enmity to the House of Cassilis, made a precipitate attack on the Earl, whose men were strongly posted and under cover. They were received by a heavy fire. Barganie was slain. Muir was unable to sit his horse because of a severe wound in the thigh, and the leaders thus slain or disabled, their party drew off without continuing the action. It must be particularly observed that Sir Thomas Kennedy of Cullayne remained neuter in this quarrel, considering his connection with Muir too intimate to be broken even by his desire to assist his nephew. For this temperate and honorable conduct he met a vile reward, for Muir, in resentment of the loss of his relative Barganie, and the downfall of his ambitious hopes, continued his practices against the life of Cullayne, though totally innocent of contributing to either. Chance favored his wicked purpose. Sir Thomas, finding himself obliged to go on a particular day to Edinburg, sent a message to Muir to meet him at a certain point in the road, for the purpose of giving him any commission he might have for that city, promising him that he would attend to the business as faithfully as if it were his own.
“This suggested to Muir a diabolical plot. He instigated a brother of the slain Barganie, and a kinsman of his own, to meet the Knight at the place appointed and murder him, which they accomplished.
From the time of Good Earl John, who lived in the first half of the 17th century, till near the middle of the next century, I know nothing from either history of romance, respecting the family. Some time between the years of 1742 and 1746, a young man of the family came to this country and settled in New Jersey. I do not know the exact time of his coming over from Scotland, but as he was already a married man, and a doctor of medicine, though born in the year 1720, it would probably not be earlier than 1742, and as he studied theology after his coming here and was licensed to preach in 1748, it could not have been later than 1746. This man was the Rev.
Samuel Kennedy, afterward through the failure of the direct line, heir to the Earldom of Cassilis. “He had been educated at the University of Edinburgh. His theological studies were pursued in this country under the Presbytery of New Brunswick. He was ordained in 1750 and settled in the church of Baskingridge in 1751 where he continued as Pastor till his death August 31, 1787. According to tradition he kept his medical and ministerial accounts mingled upon the same pages of his daybook. Our late departed friend Dr. S.S. Doty has often told me that during his early life in the family of Judge Southard, his father-in-law, he had seen one of these old manuscript volumes lying about out of which a leaf was now and then torn to wipe a razor! Such a fact should render the perpetrator immortal, and can be pardoned only on the ground that the value of the record was unknown.” The above quotation is from a pamphlet entitled “The Presbyterian Church in Baskingridge, N.Jersey, A Historical Discourse by the Pastor, Rev. John C. Rankin, D.D., August 11th, 1872.”
Continuing to quote from the same source – “Mr. Kennedy was for a considerable time at the head of a Classical School at Baskingridge. Being a highly accomplished scholar and possessing great wisdom and energy as a disciplinarian, his school was extensively patronized, and sent many of its pupils to the College of New Jersey. He was distinguished for the purity and elevation of his Christian character and made it manifest to all by his daily conversation, that he walked with God. For the following incident touching his ministry we are indebted to the Rev. Samuel Kennedy Talmadge, D.D., whose father was an elder of this church at this period, and named his son after his pastor, as a token of his high regard for him.
There had been a season of unusual coldness in the church, and the pastor had become not a little discouraged in view of the apparent fruitlessness of his labors. On a certain Sabbath at the close of public services, he resolved to spend the whole of the following week in earnest and devout study, with a view to prepare a sermon that might rouse the congregation from this spiritual torpor. He fulfilled his purpose, immediately selecting his text for the next Sabbath, and devoting the whole of the intervening week to maturing and arranging his thoughts. When the Sabbath came, he felt strong in the belief that he had produced a sermon that would move his people and confidently expected to witness some special tokens of the Divine Presence. After singing and prayer, he gave out the second hymn and took his Bible to open to the text. But strange to tell he could not call it to his mind – text, chapter, book, even subject had deserted him. The congregation had finished singing, and in a half-bewildered state, he rose and gave out another hymn. He turned over the leaves of the Bible hoping to find some passage on which he could found an extemporaneous discourse, and his eyes lighted repeated on one text, upon which he thought he might say something - if memory serves me it was “The wicked shall be turned into hell and all the nations that forget God.” The singing being again concluded, he rose, overwhelmed with agitation and distress, and preached a sermon which melted down the whole congregation, and was the commencement of a wonderful revival of religion. He said he had never in his life before enjoyed so much freedom or exercised so much power in the pulpit. He went home weeping and rejoicing – saying that God had answered his prayers in a manner fitted at once to humble the unworthy instrument and to exalt the riches of His own grace. Of this revival I find no other record but cannot doubt its reality.
In his “Annals of the Presbyterian Pulpit,” Dr. Sprague says “Mr. Kennedy was very diligent in the discharge of his pastoral duties, and his labors among his own people and elsewhere were eminently successful. Several extensive revivals of religion occurred under his ministry, in consequence of which, his church greatly increased in both numbers and strength. His influence was by no means confined to his own congregation, but extended to the whole surrounding region and operated nowhere more powerfully than in the judicatories of the church.”
Living as he did during the turbulent times of the Revolution, it is not uninteresting to remember that one of his parishioners during the whole of his ministry was Lord Stirling, an intimate and trusted friend of Washington’s; and also that while he was here, that self-conceited and much over-estimated man, Gen. Charles Lee, was, on the 13th of December, 1776, captured by the British dragoons.”
The grave of Mr. Kennedy is with us, and also that of his wife, who proceeded him to Heaven, by seven months. These lines are on his tombstone:
“God’s holy law thy mouth proclaimed,
Pure Gospel flowed through every vein
To dying men thy lips proclaimed
The glory of this Savior’s name.
Sleep then beneath this earthly clod,
Thy flesh shall see its Savior – God,
Till the bright morning shall appear,
And thou thy Savior’s image bear.”
Thus far the Reverend Mr. Rankin.
At the risk of repeating something already written, I shall transcribe an account of my great grandfather’s life which my sister Margaret copied several years ago from some history of Basking Ridge, I believe. The account of his birth, education, and preparation for the ministry after coming to this country, and his settlement at Basking Ridge agree with what is already written, but I have never learned from anything I have heard or read of him, the date of his emigration, nor the town or city of his nativity, nor any circumstance of his voyage across the ocean, except that an older sister of my father once told me that her father who was the oldest son, and I think the oldest child of the family, was born either just before his parents left Scotland, or on the voyage to this country. I have not been able to learn the date of my grandfather’s birth, so am unable to determine from that event when the emigration took place. (Inserted in what looks to be Aunt Kate’s writing, birth 1745 – emigration same year – Ada).
This sketch of my great grandfather says – His intellectual powers being naturally strong, his education thorough, his piety sincere and fervent and his attention devoted to retirement and study, so far as was consistent with his active duties and ardent temperament, he accumulated knowledge rapidly, became profound in his profession, conciliated esteem, and inspired respect among all classes in society. And it is not surprising that with such powers, attainments and dispositions that he acquired extensive influence in the church, and rendered himself highly interesting and respectable in the pious circle, in Ecclesiastical Judicatory and in the sacred desk.
A very distinguished clergyman of the City of New York, while residing in the congregation of Lamington to which place he retired for a short time during the American Revolution, became well acquainted with Mr. Kennedy, and in conversation with a pious and intelligent lady, observed that he had before heard much of Mr. Kennedy’s knowledge and excellence, but he could say, as the Queen of Sheba did to Solomon – ‘not the half was told’ him.
Since writing this sketch of grandfather’s life, I have seen a copy of the inscription on his tombstone in the cemetery of the Yellow Frame church:
In Memory of Dr. Samuel Kennedy Esquire Who departed this life July 1st 1804 In the 59th year of his age.
From “A Medical History of the County of Warren, from 1765-1890,” I learn that Dr. Kennedy was a Judge of the Courts of Sussex County, and a member of the Assembly in 1780. As far as known he was the first practicing physician in the County Sussex, afterward Sussex and Warren Counties. There is no doubt but that Dr. Kennedy’s professional reputation was very high. He is described by the very few persons now living, who knew him, as of fine personal appearance, short and stout, rather fleshy.”
I quote from the Medical History. This must have been written some years ago, as no one now living (1891) could remember his appearance.
The same authority states that his son William practiced medicine in Middle Smithfield, Monroe Co., PA., instead of Ohio as I have stated. The History says that Achilles practiced at Hackettstown for a year or two about 1800. (To resume the sketch of his life taken by Aunt Margaret from Basking Ridge History see page 4
– (Ada) “Mr. Kennedy devoted a considerable proportion of his time, at one period, to the instruction and management of a Latin School, established at Basking Ridge. Seminaries of this kind were not numerous at that time. His ability as a scholar and his energy as a disciplinarian, rendered this business both easy and pleasant to him. His school furnished many respectable students for the College of New Jersey, and several gentlemen who received the elements of the education under his care, are still living in respectability and usefulness.
The labors of Mr. Kennedy among the people of his charge were very extensive and successful. Several glorious awakenings and revivals were experienced there in succession, producing abundant and precious ingathering of souls to Jesus, and additions to the church of such as the fervent pastor hoped would be saved, and appear as seals of his ministry, and crowns of his rejoicing in the day of the Lord. Mr. Kennedy was a remarkable evangelical preacher. He made the doctrines of grace, and salvation through Jesus Christ, the constant theme of his pulpit discourses. And very often too, he spoke of the importance of private, familiar conversation with friends and neighbors. In all his pulpit transactions he appeared the decided friend of vital piety, and he was considered one of the most evangelic men in the church.
The Scotch and Irish clergy, who were quite numerous in the Presbyterian church, from its establishment in the United States, elevated by a consciousness of superiority they derived from their regular and scientific education in the Universities of their native countries were generally included to place too high an estimate on talents and learning as qualifications for the sacred ministry; and in proportion, to undervalue experimental religion. The clerical emigrants from the southern part of Great Britain, and those of New England, differed widely from them in regard to those important subjects. Hence, the church became divided into two great parties; the former were called the old side, and the latter the new side. The former entertained such sentiments and views respecting qualifications for the ministry as are here ascribed to them – the latter ran into opposite, but less dangerous extremes – that of setting a comparatively low value on human sciences while they insisted on the right and propriety of examining candidates for the holy ministry, in regard to personal piety before receiving them on trial; and considered a gracious change in them indispensable necessary. This division had been long in existence. The opposite parties had been maturing and occasionally trying their strength, and the contest had been progressing many years before Mr. Kennedy reached his meridian.
Although not many of the native born Scotch and Irish, and very few of those whose ancestors belonged to those countries, deviated from the views of the old side; and although Mr. Kennedy stood conspicuous among his countrymen in every human accomplishment, the evangelical power of his piety, and judicious independence of his mind, prompted him to espouse the new side, and to enlist himself under the standard of pure vital piety, in opposition to his feelings of national attachment, and to prejudice him against everything American, which was then clearly perceived and sensibly felt.
Mr. Kennedy was one of the eighteen ministers who signed the celebrated letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, in behalf of the Rev. McClenachan, an Episcopal clergyman of Philadelphia; - the following amusing account of which transaction is extracted from Mr. Miller’s interesting life of Rev. John Rogers, D.D., published in New York in 1878.
“In the year 1760, an event occurred which made considerable noise in the ecclesiastical circles of America. There resided in Philadelphia at this time, the Rev. Wn. McClenachan, an Episcopal clergyman, whose preaching was more evangelical than that of the generality of his brethren of that denomination. While this circumstance endeared him to a considerable number of the Episcopalians of Philadelphia, and rendered them desirous of retaining him as their minister, it excited the opposition of a still greater number and threatened to produce his expulsion from the church. During a meeting of the Synod of N.Y. and Philadelphia in May 1760, the character, difficulties and prospects of Mr. McClenachan happening to be the topic of more general conversation than usual, a number of the members of the Synod were so impressed with the excellence of his character, and the probable usefulness of his ministry, and felt so much interested in his continuing to reside in Philadelphia, that they determined to attempt something in his behalf, and accordingly addressed a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, requesting him to exert his official influence in favoring Mr. McClenachan’s wishes, and those of his friends, that he might retain his place.
This indiscreet and undignified interference with the affairs of another denomination was condemned by all impartial persons. Indeed, the authors of the letter themselves had scarcely dispatched it before they became sensible of the impropriety of their conduct, and wished it recalled. The reception it met with was such as might have been expected – no answer was returned. The letter soon found its way into the public prints, accompanied with such comments as were natural, and not wholly unmerited. When the synod convened in Philadelphia the next year, they found the unfortunate letter followed by severe strictures, printed in the form of a pamphlet and circulating very generally among the citizens under the title of “The Eighteen Presbyterian Ministers,” and not infrequently when walking the streets were their ears assailed by the shrill notes of the hawkers crying – ‘Eighteen Presbyterian Ministers, for a groat: The circumstances afforded much merriment, and severe remarks not only on the part of Mr. McClenachan’s opponents, but also on the part of those members of the Synod who had declined having anything to do with the Archbishop.
“Mr. Kennedy was above the ordinary size of men; somewhat corpulent and plethoric, his manners very plain and retaining much of their native Scotch simplicity – sometimes approaching to bluntness. There is no evidence that he ever received the degree of Doctor of Divinity, although this distinction was full merited by his acquirements, his piety and his zeal. He was an M.D. and practiced medicine. He had quite an extensive practice, particularly among the poor of his congregation, whom he doctored gratuitously. He was well acquainted with the science of medicine and skillful in its practice.
The labors of Mr. Kennedy were terminated by death August 1787, in the thirty-seventh year of his ministry, at Basking Ridge. He deserves to be considered on the Fathers of the Church in the United States. He contributed extensively by his prudent counsels and faithful labors, to the promotion of evangelical piety, and to the establishment of the Church of Christ.”
On page 583 of Snell’s History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, the first mention is made of Mr. Kennedy in the biographical notice of Andrew Kilpatrick, lawyer and jurist, who was graduated at Princeton in 1776, and commenced the study of divinity with the Rev. Mr. Kennedy, “A distinguished theologian.” It is also highly probable that Chief Justice Kilpatrick (born at “Mine Brook” in Bernard township in 1756 – died 1831) prepared for college under the tuition of Rev. Mr. Kennedy, who was his father’s pastor.
Again he is spoken of as one of the medical profession, on page 594, I think. “He, Mr. Kennedy, established a classical school at Baskingridge, which was of a high order, and extensively patronized. In addition to his calling as a pastor and teacher, he was a practicing physician, and acquired reputation in the treatment of disease. He was in consequence call Doctor. He joined the State Medical Society two years after its formation. (Sprague’s Annals.)
On page 746, under the head of Baskingridge Classical School – “The Rev. Samuel Kennedy, M.D. was the founder of a classical school during his pastorate at Baskingridge which under his administration and that of the Rev. Robert Finley, his successor, became somewhat famous. Dr. Kennedy was for a considerable time at the head of this school. Being a highly accomplished scholar, and possessing great wisdom and energy as a disciplinarian, his school was extensively patronized, and sent many of its pupils to the College of New Jersey."
There was a parsonage farm, which was rented for nine pounds, for some years, and afterward for twelve pounds, which swelled the salary to about £120. The last year of my grandfather’s life, the salary was raised to £120, with the “benefit of the parsonage free, the house and land kept in repair, and firewood cut and delivered without any of his expense.”
I have never been able to learn the maiden name of Mr. Kennedy’s wife, nor anything of her character. She was the mother of seven children, one of whom, Allen, died in his youth. Besides him there were two sons, Samuel and Robert. The four daughters married; one – Dr. Jennings, of Maryland, was the mother of two sons, one of whom, Samuel Kennedy Jennings, was President of Asbury College, Md. In 1816. (I have been informed that the Wises of Virginia are related to the family of Jennings.)
One was married to Judge Absalom Martin, of Martinsville, Somerset Co., N.J., who left one son, S. Kennedy martin, who in the year 1855 was a member of the legislature of N.J. and died in 1868, aged 60.
Another one was the wife of a Mr. Miller, of Elizabeth, N.J., and had one son, S. Kennedy Miller.
The remaining daughter was married to a Mr. Henderson, and I imagine did not do as well as her sisters, as her daughter, and as far as I know, her only child, became dependent on her Uncle Samuel while she was still young. She was an orphan probably. She was rather imbecile and married a John Earl, an idle worthless fellow. I remember seeing her at my Grandmother’s when I was a child. Her children inherited all her weakness.
Dr. Samuel Kennedy, Jr., was the oldest son, and it was he, instead of his father, as I have misstated, who, as he and all his family believed, became heir to the Cassilis title and estates, by the will of the last Earl, who died in the 1795. (See Mr. Claney’s latter, dated Dec. 21st, 1872, written at Sharpsburgh, Penn.) While on this subject, I will write all I have to say about it. – Dr. Kennedy, my grandfather, lived about nine years after the death of the Earl, and he declared that he was the rightful heir, and intended that his second son, Samuel, should, when of suitable age, go to Scotland to establish his claim. The reason he gave for not going himself was, I have been told, that he could not leave his patients, as there was no physician in all Sussex County to fill his place. No doubt it was as he said. He had directed the medical studies of several incipient M.D.’s besides two of his three sons, whom he brought up to his profession. But they were all young, and he thought not to be trusted with the care of the health and life of so many persons. His being a fiery Republican in principle, doubtless influenced him somewhat. From what I have heard of him, I think nothing would have induced him to live under Kingly government.
His oldest son Robert, I never heard mentioned in connection with the heirship. I cannot imagine why, unless his opinions prevented him from becoming a British subject, which does not seem very likely, as he was so young, and one would suppose, not se set in his ways as his father was. But these older Kennedys were stirring youths, and thought and acted for themselves at an early age. Robert was a practicing physician, had loved a young girl, whose mother did not favor his suit, as he had not as much money as another aspirant to her daughter’s hand, and consequently forbade his attentions to “Mary.” She, from disappointment, fell into decline, and Robert was recalled, - but too late, though he nursed her for months with all the skill he was possessed of. After her death, he too was smitten with consumption and after lingering a year or two, died at the age of twenty-five. But he outlived by two whole years his younger brother Samuel, who was married before he was nineteen and died before he was twenty-one, thus destroying his father’s hopes that he would some day succeed to the wealth and honors of the family. But the old doctor adopted Samuel’s only surviving child – a son – and regarded him as the future representative of the family. This was before the death of the possessor of the title and estate. On the death of his Grandfather, when the boy was twelve years old (his name was also Samuel) his Mother resumed the charge of him, and took him with her to Canada, where he lived to a good old age, troubled occasionally (is seems by his letters to my father) by word from Scotland – from some agent for securing the rights of those who were kept out of their lawful possessions – as he had reason to believe he was. He once employed a man to go to Scotland to look after his interests, but I think without any success.
The Earl of Cassilis died in 1795, and was succeeded by a Captain Kennedy of New York city, who, our authorities inform us, deposed before his peers that all the descendants of Rev. Samuel Kennedy of America, whom the Earl had declared his heirs, were dead. He himself was of illegitimate birth, but as the true heirs did not appear, he was invested with the titles and estates as the eleventh Earl of Cassilis.
Harper’s Magazine for March 1882 has this little account of himself and the house he built – I believe he built it in New York City.
“The Kennedy House, No. 1 Broadway. There is nothing to mark it as a historic house. There was no plate let into the wall – no marble slab. It has lost the air of a Patrician Mansion. It was called the Washington Hotel, as one of the houses Washington lived in while in New York. It was here that Washington received Col. Patterson, who came to treat with him from Gen. How, with a letter with three etc’s. Sir Harry Clinton succeeded Washington as its occupant. But Washington returned to it after the British evacuation, and from it went to Fraunce’s tavern to take leave of his officers. Putnam had occupied the house as his headquarters April 1 1776. No other interesting old house remains on Broadway but St. Paul’s.
Captain Kennedy tried to serve two masters and was suspected by both sides. He had married the lovely Anna Watts, whose father lived in the next house. On gala days and nights, they were connected by a bridge. He was afterward the eleventh Earl of Cassilis, and his eldest son was the twelfth, also first Marquis of Ailsa.”
After Dr. Kennedy’s death, the executors of the will he left, objected to having anything to do with the affair, as they assured my grandmother (the second wife) that there was no hope of obtaining justice. Her stepsons went west – they were of the same opinion, I suppose, and nothing was done for some years.
In 1815 or 1816, Grandfather’s younger brother, Robert Kennedy, was empowered by the family, and furnished with all the documents in their possession and dispatched to Scotland to prosecute their claim. I do not know how long he was absent, but on his return it was found that he had accomplished nothing. He confirmed what was already understood, that the title and estates were in possession of one who was not the lawful heir. He was very reticent on the subject of what he had seen and heard. Some believed he had been bribed to remain quiet, and others thought he had been frightened away from Scotland by threats of violence. He returned to New Jersey and to the house of my Grandmother, but the proofs to establish the claim she had entrusted to him were not returned to her keeping. Probably they were extorted from him in Scotland.
Since then there have been many attempts to establish the claim by different branches of the family, and one individual wrote me that all that was wanting was sufficient proof that Dr. Samuel was the son of Rev. Samuel. We do not know whether Grandfather was born in Scotland, on the Atlantic, or in this country. The record of his birth cannot be found. About the year 1871, a Mr. Howel, a native of New Jersey, but then residing in Canada, who had been employed by some parties to look after possessions in the old Country, to which they believed themselves entitled, visited my father, to inform him that he was entitled to estates in Scotland, as he had discovered while searching for missing documents in some repository for legal matters in Edinburgh. Howel had some knowledge of Father before he left New Jersey, and I suppose that he was especially the heir. Father was at that time the only surviving son of Dr. Samuel. To return to my Grandfather. Since writing the reasons that he gave for not securing his inheritance during the nine years that intervened between the death of the Earl, and his own decease, I dimly recollect having heard that he did not know that he was more than prospective heir till almost the close of his life. Certainly he did not know of the Earl’s death when it occurred, as the agent sent to America to find the heirs got no further than Captain Kennedy, who stopped him with the information that he was the rightful heir; that the family of the Rev. Samuel Kennedy were all dead. He, Dr. Samuel was married to Miss Elizabeth Beavers, of Greenwich, Warren Co. (as it is now), New Jersey, October 8, 1768. I have spoken of their oldest son Robert and the second son Samuel, whose brief lives were so soon ended. Then followed William, also a physician, (a talented man, but addicted to drinking, and yet standing high in his profession). He died in the eastern part of Ohio. I remember hearing that he was still living when I was a young woman. He must have been an old man when he died, as he was born in the year 1774. The fourth son, Moses Washington, envinced the business turn of the family by marrying before he was twenty years old. He went to Ohio where he died at an advanced age. (Inserted in other handwriting, Born 1776. – Ada)
Achilles was a practicing physician at Hackettstown, Warren Co., N.J. While there he formed a connection with the Methodists – became a member of the church probably. He, as well as others of the family, inherited consumption from his mother. He returned to his Father’s house when no longer able to attend to his business. A Methodist minister called there to visit him in the absence of Grandfather – seeking that opportunity not wishing to encounter the sturdy Scotch Presbyterian elder. The old Doctor was very indignant because of the clandestine manner of the visit, he said, and I can well believe him and sympathize with him too. No doubt with his strong prejudices, and small knowledge of Methodist doctrines and usage’s, he was little pleased to see one of his sons a proselyte to the new sect. He was not entirely unacquainted with Methodism though, for the family of my Mother’s father lived but a few miles from his residence and her Grandfather’s house was a preaching place, and he the oldest, or one of the oldest Methodists in that part of the country. I have heard my Mother tell that after Dr. Kennedy’s second marriage, he accompanied his young wife to a quarterly meeting held at her (my mother’s) grandfather’s and was very angry at being excluded from the love feast which at that time, and long after was a meeting for Methodists only.
Achilles was educated at the College of Princeton. Whether his older brothers enjoyed the privileges of that famous school is not known to me. He was a gay youth, full of the spirit of mischief, and was the leader in some mad pranks while at school. An old black woman I knew when young, who had been a slave to Dr. Kennedy during the six last years of his life, used to say that he was not alone among his brothers in his love of fun, and of playing practical jokes. Most of her stories are forgotten. The personation of a ghost, or spook by one of them, gotten up to scare a dishonest hanger-on of the house, seems like a dream. She said that Grandfather had a strange custom of putting out the candles after the Bible reading, but before the prayer at family worship in the evening, and that the enforced quiet of the occasion and the length of prayer, sent the boys to sleep, and that she made it her business to watch for certain known signs that the exercises were about to close, and moved swiftly from one to the other, waking them all, and getting back to her own chair before the candles were relit.
An Aunt, an older sister of my father’s, used to say that she thought some of old Sylvia’s stories were somewhat apocryphal, but Aunt was a little girl when her Father died and could not remember much that happened before that event, and once or twice waking up at prayer time may have seemed to Sylvia’s recollection as of frequent occurrence. One story of hers recurs to me as I write, that seemed to indicate that Achilles was not only careless, but cruel, but a he appears to have been beloved in the family, that could not have been the case. One of the woman slaves, who, it would seem from her oddity to have had a strange kink in her brain, was bending down stirring the clothes in the pounding barrel one washday, when Achilles was passing through the out-kitchen – when, giving her a sudden push, she went in head foremost. “O Massa Achilles” she said, as soon as she could extricate herself, “you shall never have enough of my hair to make you a pair of white silk stockings!” Poor boys! Most of them lived such a brief space that they had little time for either mirth or sorrow.
The date of Achilles death is not given in the family records, but he was born in 1778, and died before his Father did – some time before probably. The next brother, Ebenezer, died in 1799.
“Archibald Stewart Kennedy, their seventh living son, but the eleventh in order of succession, was born on Monday, the 2nd of February, A.D. 1784.” So wrote his Father in the family record. He lived to be married, but not till he was about twenty-eight years old, which must have seemed a great age in the family. He died in middle age. The only daughter by the first wife, came next in order, but lived only eleven years. Then followed a son, Ira Condict, who lived to manhood, was married at nineteen, and died while still young.
The wife of Dr. Kennedy died in 1790, and one year and a month – hardly a month from that time – he married Anna Shafer.
Their oldest daughter, Mary, lived to be twenty-four years old – the second, Katherine, lived but little more than a month, the third, Sarah Axford, lived to the age of seventy-five years.
Bernard Shafer, the oldest son of the marriage, survived all his brothers and sisters, dying when eighty years and seven months old. Eliza lived to be twenty-four. She was for two years the wife of J.W. Snyder, but left no child. Mary and Sarah were unmarried. Thomas Jefferson, the youngest of the family, was sixty-two years old when he died. He left one daughter, who outlived him but a short time. His wife, formerly Isabella Reading, daughter of Montgomery Reading, had died some time before, and all the three were buried in the old Presbyterian Cemetery at Hackettstown.
Whatever success my great grandfather may have had in governing other people’s children, he had some difficulty in managing his own son Samuel, it would seem from the traditions of those early times. The boy was bent on mischief – mischief on the Sabbath Day, and worst of all in church. The minister, finding that the mother could not keep her child within proper bounds, took him into the pulpit during service. But soon an unseemly spirit of mirth seized the congregation, and even invaded the seats of the venerable Elders and Deacons. Samuel had arrayed himself in a cast-off wig and church vestments of his Father’s, which for some cause were left in the pulpit, and with most comical gestures was grimacing at the people in the pews. The minister reproved them for their levity, but the laughter continuing he told them in his plain Scotch manner that he “thought the devil had got among them.” “He, sir, is behind you in the pulpit” retorted one of the Elders rising to his feet. The minister turned to look, but Samuel had taken warning in time, and was sitting with demure face and grave manner. After this, he was shut up at home while the family went to church. One morning he begged his Mother to let him keep the dog in the room with him for company. She assented, and they were shut up together. Then Samuel proceeded to array the dog in a ruffled shirt of his Father’s, buttoning the wristbands above the dog’s forepaws, and the collar around his neck, and tying the body of the shirt around him. In this trim, he let him through the window, and the poor fellow, not liking his new dress, set off on the track of the family, and rushed through the open door of the church to the minister’s pew. Fortunately, it was prayer time and Mrs. Kennedy succeeded in stripping off the shirt without causing too great a scandal. Samuel was but a wee laddie then, and learned better as he grew older. He must have begun his medical studies when little more than a child, as at the age of sixteen, he by his skill, saved the life of a woman who was in extremity. In those primitive times, medical men were seldom called in such cases, but this one was so dangerous that the husband was dispatched for the Doctor. He was away and not expected home in two days. The man wished the young student to go with him, but the Mother forbade, and he went to his home alone, but quickly returned, and with tears begged her to relent, as his wife, from the extremity of her sufferings, was with swollen, livid features, and protruding tongue, lying in a state of insensibility. The Mother consented that her son should visit the sufferer, on condition that his eyes were bandaged. Blindfolded, he was led into the sick room, but once there, the conviction that human life was too precious to be sacrificed to scruples of delicacy, and confidence in his ability to relieve, made him take the covering from his eyes and exert his utmost skill. His efforts were successful and the sufferer was soon out of danger. It is probable that most of his education was acquired under the instruction of his Father, who was so accomplished a teacher. But the late Doctor John Woodhull of Princeton, told me many years ago, that he studied in the same class with his Father, the Rec. Mr. Woodhull, under the tuition of the Doctor’s Grandfather. Whether in the College of New Jersey, which was removed from Newark to Princeton in 1760, or in a private school, I do not know, but it his highly probable that Mr. Woodhull was a Professor in the College, and that Grandfather, who was then seventeen or eighteen years old, was a student. He was doubtless highly educated in classical learning, as well as in his profession. We have still in the family, a good many of his books – Latin, Greek and even Hebrew, and in the modern languages besides, English, French, German and Dutch – though most of them were scattered at his death.
It is probable that Dr. Kennedy began the practice of medicine in Sussex County, which then included Warren County, before his acquaintance with Miss Beavers, whom he afterward married, as her father resided at such a distance from his home at Baskingridge. Where they began to keep house is unknown to me, but before her death he built a substantial stone house, overlooking a little stream, called Bear Creek, that wound its way through a narrow, swampy hollow below. One would suppose that a Doctor, one so learned as he, would have known better than to make his home in such a miasmatic spot. When a child, it was my delight to discover some errand that would take me – and a sister – to that bright pebbly stream – to get sand with which the kitchen floor was scoured – or to gather rushes to make into boonders, that with their particles of silica, scrubbed the wooden milking pails as white as they could be made. Oh, the perilous delight of wading shoeless and stockingless in that sparkling water, treading on the smooth shining pebbles, between thickets of alder bushes and polished bright-colored poison of sumacs, half expecting and wholly fearing that a frightful snake would dart at me from the marshy edge.
The house, which is still standing, is nearly a mile from the Log Jail, as the village of Johnsonburg was then called, on the road leading from that place to Allamuchy. Behind the house, and at each end, stretched level fields with two apple orchards, and nearer to the buildings were locust trees, and big, branching walnuts. But the orchard and walnut trees are gone and the pretty, but deadly marsh has been cleared and drained, and the shrunken brook ripples through a strip of green meadow. Here my grandfather brought his bride, his second wife, whose age was nearly the same as that of his oldest son, and here all her children were born, and probably most of those of his first wife, and here my oldest sister was born. Dr. Kennedy, his first wife, and many of the children died in this old stone house, but the second wife drew her last breath in the house of my Father – her oldest son – a house that he had builded on the homestead farm, two or three hundred yards nearer the village than the stone house. In this house, and in another one on the same tract of land, or at least, land that had been owned by Grandfather, two-thirds of Father’s fifteen children were born.
Tradition says that the elderly Doctor won his bride with some difficulty from a younger suitor – a Mr. Dermond – whom, it was whispered, she regarded with more favor than her parents did. Mrs. Snyder, a niece of Grandmother’s, told me that Dr. Kennedy’s oldest son actually entered the lists against him, but he beat all rivals by his impetuous and persistent wooing. Perhaps his belief that she was destined to be his, helped him to persevere. He attended her Mother at the time of Anna’s birth, and being a subject of what the Scotch call second sight, on first seeing the baby girl, he became very pale and solemnly announced that she would become his second wife.
As his wife and widow, she seems to have been proud of him, and if she had at first felt any dislike or repugnance to receiving his attentions, it was quickly overcome. Father once asked here “how it happened that she, a young lady of twenty-one, married a man old enough to be her Father, (and one having but one eye besides. He lost the other by a careless handling of nitric acid). She replied spiritedly “that he – Father – would never be either so smart looking, or so handsome as his Father.” Grandmother kept all the letters her husband wrote her during his courtship. I shall transcribe them here, and they will show his manner of wooing. I shall not purposely alter them in any particular though an occasional correction might improve them.
My dearest cruel, but still generous Miss Anna –
I have had the unhappy misfortune to lose an amiable and agreeable companion – I was buried in an abyss of grief and woe, day after day added to my sorrow, the world appeared a mournful solitary wilderness – my grief was my daily company – but reason endeavored to reassume the Throne – and called on me why I gave way to inconsolable grief – act with manly fortitude and resolution – be the man – submit to divine disposals – but the passions resisted – I have lost the agreeable society of a sweet companion who assisted in smoothing & sweetening the rugged and bitter scenes of life – yes she is gone – never to be recalled – nothing before me but a melancholy gloom – reason still ceased not her entreaties and at length prevailed – I sought for a companion amongst the fair – I found one who I am persuaded – would fully and amply make up my loss – restore me again to myself & the world – fond hopes raised my expectations high – that she would pity my sorrows, that she would lend a friendly hand to heal my wounds & soothe my heart – I felt myself united to her by the strongest bonds of affection. I soon found there was nothing wanting but a reciprocal return of affection from her to make me happy – I flew to her on the wings of real love & affection, hope speeding my flight – I sought, I wooed, I entreated – but oh cruel she – even she whom I was in hopes I should have the happiness of calling my own dearest wife, has denied me – yet generously denied – ah fond hopes why did you deceive me – why tear open the wounds to bleed afresh and make my sorrow sink deeper than ever – Oh Anna, thou hast made me miserable indeed - & yet I must not blame you, no my dear girl, I will not blame you – but lay all the fault on my own presuming folly – but Anna must I bid you farewell, a farewell forever – no I cannot I will not – though you bid me – I will yet feed my fond hopes – upon the goodness & generosity of your Nature, which may perhaps in time cause you to lend a pitying ear to one that loves you more than life - & whose earthly happiness depends on your smiles – oh my dear, do not give me a hasty denial – weigh my cause, give it a candid hearing - & if after all there is no advocate within your own dear breast, in my favor - I must take the sorrowful farewell – but till then, rest assured I am more than friend, and your devoted humble
Miss Anna Shaver Monday Night ten of the clock.
Aug 21st 1790 Dearest Miss
Man was made to enjoy happiness but we are often mistaken in the road that leads thereto – even as to this life much mistaken some seek for it in the high road of ambition - & whilst the thorns of aspiring thoughts torment, & ideal hopes of this or that honor perplex and just at the critical moment of enjoying his wishes - & soaring away on his airy pinions – how often do the scorching beams of envy melt his waxen wings & he falls low, very low into the mire of insulting pity & contempt, having no heartfelt satisfaction to comfort under his misfortunes – while another seeks for happiness in heaping up yellow dirt – forgetting that they have wings & too often flee away & leave the neglected mind a perfect void – Another seeks for happiness in gaudy attire & empty show manifesting to a rational mind that nothing but vanity & folly possess his soul – others seek it in the road of debauchery & uncleanness openly declaring that they have no taste for the nobler pleasures of the mind – whilst a few others seek for it in hard Philosophic Rules deny themselves the enjoyment of the softer passions – every one seeking happiness in their different paths – but my dear girl, happiness, in my opinion, consists in social Love and friendship. Man was made for society – it is those that pour comfort & soothes the afflicted mind – that sweetness, exalts & adds a relish to all our rational pleasures – but when religion comes in, how strong the triple Bond – no changes or scenes of Life can destroy the peace & happiness of that soul who has Love, Friendship & Religion for its companions – but how inexpressible is the happiness increased when two such souls, male & female are united together by such bonds & the endearing tye of husband and wife – with what pleasure do they enjoy each other’s happiness, o how kind do they soothe & comfort each other in their afflictions – but my dear girl I must leave off this moralising lest some of your giddy acquaintances should happen to see this & exclaim, this is a fine love letter indeed – but to you my dear Girl I can freely write, knowing you to be possessed of a large share of that amiable Love & friendship – joined with a charming stock of female virtue – which must make you agreeable to every man of understanding & sensibility - & which makes you outshine so many of your female competitors
– that I love you my dear Girl & that my soul is swallowed up in friendship for you – I imagine you are not ignorant of whether I shall have the inexpressible pleasure of adding to all the endearing tye of husband, & of devoting my life & services to your happiness, Heaven only knows. But this happiness, I pride myself in of being enrolled in the number of your warmest friendship through life – that all happiness may attend my dear Girl & that, that happy Man who she shall honour with her hand, may know how to set a proper value on her Love & friendship – is the real & sincere wish of him who with pleasure subscribes himself my dearest Miss, your sincere friend & admirer, your unfeigned lover & most
Dec. 18th, 1790 Dear Madam/
If I as steadily pursued & relished the thoughts of the Duties I owe the Supreme Ruler & my neighbor, as I delight to think of you – it would so influence my conduct, that every one almost, would readily call me, the demurest saint on earth – When I awake the first thought is of you & the last when I lay down – if any man could be sensible of the many schemes to promote your happiness I am daily planning – at other times quarreling with myself that I am possessed of so few agreeables as not to be able to gain the ascendancy over your affections, he would certainly say that I was gone stark mad! – Last Tuesday evening when I saw your sister & Katy come in (viz. to singing school at Archy’s) my heart began to flutter, hoping you would enter next; for even the sight of you is an enviable happiness – presently entered a woman & for a moment imagination said it was you – how my heart did beat, what a flood of tenderness & sorrow overwhelmed me – but soon I sunk down to my melancholy again.
When I saw you last at Mr. Armstrong’s your disdainful fastidious looks, your cavalier answers, for a moment made me almost disdain you & call myself the veriest blockhead for being so simple as to harbour such a flood of tenderness within my breast, for one who was not sensible, as to me, even of obligations of friendship, for I am bold to say your friendship, esteem & pity, if not your love, I do deserve, & you need not, methinks, be ashamed to own it – if ashamed of me as a lover, why did you entertain me so long as such – was it to make me the sport of your young suitors – or was it to torment me – if so I would be glad to know my offenses, - but where, oh wither are my disturbed passions hurrying me. I have endeavored since I had the mournful pleasure of seeing and conversing with you – to amuse myself with other girls
- & tho I have met with girls kind & condescending to me, & called by others good girls – yet how insipid their conversation when in person present with them – in mind present with you – how cruelly tormenting the condition; for two such friends to be parted – a wounded spirit who can bear – I often compare my fortune to the famed Tantalus, who for certain crimes was fastened down to the chin in a river – his arms extended and a loaf of bread placed at the ends of the fingers of each hand, unable either to procure water or bread, whilst the Gods at the same time afflicted him with intolerable hunger & thirst – but what crime have I committed, is it a crime to love the too lovely Anna – Yes, it is an unpardonable crime for an old man to love – when at the same time there is no resisting the shaft – but I’ll suppose by this time you begin to gape & be as weary of reading from me as conversing with me; but I must indulge my scribbling vein whether you read or not for I have nothing else to amuse myself with – therefore, till you forbid my writing, I shall write on & if you please you may gape on – but in our parting & breaking company keeping, you permitted me to write provided I did not reflect on you too hard
– could you suppose, could you for a moment harbor such a thought, that I could harshly treat one so lovely & too much beloved by me – if so, I wonder not you refused my wishes – such a meanness of soul ought to be despised, but my feelings are, oh woe is me, too tender – like the sorrows of Werter –continually nurturing & cherishing the dear image within his own breast, wishing & praying all happiness, pleasure and enjoyment to the dear destroyer of his – but why do I outrage your eyes and feelings with stuff so disagreeable to you – but I hav’nt done yet – patience – for as the shepherds of old took a sorrowful delight in telling to their flocks, the fields, groves, hills & rocks, tho’ unfeeling, their pains – how much more ought I not rather to tell my sorrows to you – you who were from your infant days possessed of my friendship – conversation & a nearer view of your female graces – caused friendship to rise to a fountain of pure Love – which continuing to increase – made me ardently long to be possessor of such an amiable companion – My happiness was & is connected with those desires – I hoped such a connection would not be an alloy to yours – I believed the disparity of your years (at least fond hopes flattered me) would not mar our happiness – as to my character & standing I life, I believed myself to be your equal at least – therefore stood on equal grounds with the rest of your suitors – but as to reality & strength of affection greatly exceeded – as far as opportunity & means permitted. I have been an indulgent husband to one worthy woman! I prized you as equally worthy – My age don’t prevent me of tender feelings alas too tender, if you always refuse – you need not fear the want of a tender husband in me & through the smile of Heaven, able to maintain you in rank equal to your station in life – My manners are not so rough but I may say –
Oh dear Anna, though sly blushing maid Don’t of a simple shepherd be afraid Wert though my lamb with sweetest grass
I’d treet thee, I am no wolfe that I should eat thee Then hasten with me Oh! Nymph to dwell I bring the sweetest wife to my cell. - -
But my dear Miss I shall tire your patience – begging you’ll read not my long letter buy my long scribble - & hoping that you will yet comply with my ardent longing desires, subscribe myself your
almost despairing Lover & most obd’t servt – Sam.l Kennedy Please to gratify my pride
In answering my scribble With a few lines from Your own sweet hand
Miss Anna Shaver
Oh! Where shall I find eloquence to prevail with you to favor my suit – with what words shall I address you – Am I to be so wretchedly unhappy as to have the one I wish for my bosom friend – a companion – a solace – a comfort – my joy & happiness – to be my greatest & only enemy – by totally destroying my peace – I am positive your natural temper & disposition is not to wish anyone unhappy – then why me – my days are spent in solitary mourning – must I bid farewell to all happiness – which will absolutely be the case if obliged to bid farewell to you – oh! Heavens incline her heart to love, or why implant in my breast so vast a load of Love & tenderness – a burden too heavy to bear whilst the dear girl is so hard hearted - & turns a deaf ear, an indifferent countenance & careless eyes to all my complaints – oh! If you will continue so determined against me – I beg, beseech entreat & pray of you to marry as soon as possibly you can that much to be envied, happy man, whoever he is & kill me outright - & let me know that you have friendship enough to do me a favor, if it is even to be my executioner – oh! Hasten the direful, fatal day & put me out of my pain – I intended to have wrote a long letter on some subject more pleasing to you than that stale, irksome & hateful tale of Love from me – so grating & disgustful to you – but I have no patience – May the fates blot out the day that first began my (lost) ne of misery & let it never be had in remembrance –
I am dear Madam, your almost distracted forlorn & at length become your low
Pitiful Lover - & most
Saml Kennedy Miss Anna Shaver Friday Night Decr 24th 1790
P.S. The begging one favor gives rise to another therefore I beg if you will – if you marry any other that you will marry a young fat swine, I mean a rich man able to give you a full living – but tame, not morose, lest he should use you ill – that he may be willing to give you a full share of his fat living & entertain you with a good humored grunt – for I could not bear he should use my charmer ill – but his being a swine would alleviate my pain – by turning my love into sorrow & grief for you – thereby you would bear a part of my burden, in no thanks to you – but much too heavy for me to bear alone -----
Monday, Decr 27th, 1790 My dear Miss/
On our return yesterday we called at Mr. Reeders, & there the topic of the conversation soon was about her whom my soul loveth – your friends many of them seem pleased that a union should take place, nothing is wanting but the consent of my dear Girl to make me happy – but there lays the dreadful Bar in the way – I have used every art that a sincere mind would wish – I have opened my whole soul to my sweet musician – who though so fond of scales & gamut – I cannot prevail with to set her key only on D – denial –if my lucky stars could but make her freely descend to a lower key C – come & freely take possession of my heart & hand, how happy, happy should I be - & yet I have pride enough to think myself her equal in every respect but age - & one deserving respect from Anna Shaver – still cannot succeed – I must be writing whenever I can take pen in hand because I have so beloved a subject as yourself – which declares how much you possess my thoughts – I was last night at George Allen’s esqr poor Susy will last but a few days – how jealous & even envious, poor grey, black, or sooty Betty is about you – yet if she knew all – how little reason on your acct – I wish you a much happier New Year by far than I expect to enjoy myself – for all the enjoyment that I have is thinking of you & that mingles with much sorrow of heart – pray do something that I may despise you – no do not – for if I cannot obtain your favor – I wish all the world to admire you – my dear Girl.
I am what I always wish to be Yours most affectionately
Saml Kennedy Miss Anna Shaver Excuse scribble
How happy was my morn of Love When first thy graces won my heart How guiltless of a wish to rove I deemed it more than death to part ---
Whene’er from thee I chanced to stray How fancy dwelt upon thy mien That spreads with flowers my distant way and showers delight on every scene ---
But fortune envious of my Joys hath robbed a Lover of thy charms from me thy sweetest smile decoys and gives thee to another’s arms ---
But though my tears are doomed to flow May tears be never Anna’s lot let Love protect thy heart from woe his wound to mine shall be forgot
Miss Anna above read the genuine sentiments of my heart & let reason & reflection operate & certainly if you have done justice to my person & offers, you must conclude you have not to my true rejected, despised, though sincere Love – farewell – but I hope not forever ---
Dear Madam –
it is the saying of one of the wisest men & inspired too! that hope deferred makes the heart of man sick & that proportionate to the greatness of the desire after the beloved object – nay that sometimes that uneasiness of desire is so pressing & unreasonable, that it can scarcely be born - & often-times so depraves & darkens the understanding, as to make the passions revolt agst & break forth into acts unbecoming the human character – when you consider these motives – you cannot any longer wonder at my conduct, in sometimes descending below the manly dignity but despising my weakness – if you felt but the smallest part of what I daily feel – it would certainly move your pity & tenderness to soothe & administer that most reviving cordial endearing friendship – thou sweet tormentor of my peace – with what language shall I address you – what argument shall I take up to persuade you to listen to my grief – if you could feel but a small part of what I suffer, you would certainly conclude that I was a cruel hard hearted man indeed, that could not be moved to pity, tenderness & Love – but I am old & that is sufficient to shade all the little virtues & graces I am possessed of – therefore I may sit down in the dreary regions of misery & despair --- I would write, but cannot – here I must drop my pen & my melancholy theme too. Oh! Anna ---------------- Anna ----------------- I am your despairing &
Sam. Kennedy Miss Anna Shaver Jan. 27th, 1791
Coxe’s little house was crowded sufficiently on the singing night - spectators plenty, tag, rag, & bobtail – yet some of your & my respectable friends were there whom I would not rank among the first prescribed – I was late entering, but my wishful eyes soon followed the dictates of my longing heart, but soon returned sorrowful & indignant – for Anna was not there – Among other tunes Amusement was sung – but what amusement – what for me to feast upon – when I could not see Anna – Mrs Willm Armstrong filled my soul with sorrow – for she immediately began the serious subject, when are you to be married to Anna – oh! never, never, for she will not accept of my poor services - &c &c. and to add to my grief, I saw two grooms with their brides – but I saluted bride Gitty, who gently chid me with her lips but more with her eyes, that I thought myself too good to grace her wedding – but my thoughts, my heart, my soul, my affections are all swallowed up in contemplating your perfections and lamenting my miserable fate in loving so ardently & yet so unhappy – having so small a return – oh! Anna if you wish not that I may arrive at the summit of my wishes – pray be so kind a friend as to assist me to obtain the victory over myself – for I am all confusion, lost in the wilderness of despair, loving most intensely & yet almost wishing not to love – whilst you, like some superior being are looking down with sovereign contempt on my weakness & folly, but Anna – no – he that can look on you & converse with you & not love is a stupid, unfeeling, insensible fool – curses of creation – therefore do not despise for loving, but presuming – but remember my year of probation is almost up, think not then any longer to evade my earnest suit, if a sincere heart is a sacrifice worthy to be placed on love’s altar, you cannot refuse – oh! Think seriously of the matter – for if I am not as young as you could wish – overlook that and suffer me to be happy in you & you in me – With this I lend you a book which I hope will be entertaining – but I must stop writing, or I shall tire your patience – excuse scribble & incorrectness – I am dear Madam
Your sincere Admirer
most obedt hble Servt
Saml Kennedy Miss Anna Shaver Feb 7th 1791
Dearest Miss/ When will the happy time come that we may enjoy all the sweets of friendship without reserve
the Letter I recd on Tuesday gave me great pleasure, it was as the Poesy set in a diamond ring – because from a young Lady of your circumspect & prudent conduct it must give inexpressible satisfaction to know that I do enjoy your esteem & friendship, for it is friendship that is the very soul of all our enjoyment, it gives life & vigor, spring & activity to all our pleasures, it is the bond of society, - in fine it is that makes life worth the wishing for – it softens the soul & fits it for every tender impression – how melancholy are all the pleasurable scenes of life without it – let a man in a dungeon be visited by a friend he puts confidence in, how, for the present moment will he forget his misery & feels an inexpressible pain & sweetness in the enjoyment of his friend – just so with me, for a pang of Doubt will arise – is it not only common friendship – the sweet mingling of souls, the very essence perhaps is wanting - oh! clear up my Doubts & fears, if possible let me enjoy the sweet enlivening beams of friendship – I thank you for your goodness in professing an esteem – it is my pride to be ranked amongst those you have friendship & esteem for & shall so account it to my life’s end – but love is not satisfied
– still longing to enjoy more & more, nay to possess the very soul & affections of a friend, especially a female one – My dear child, you observe that perhaps my earnest desire of your writing was to have something to laugh at – impossible – it was in hopes of having something drop from your sweet fingers that I could not receive from your sweeter lips - & though the lines are few, yet they contain what is of more value to me than pearls set in studs of gold – therefore if I laugh it will be with pleasure to think I am possessed of the friendship & esteem of one whose smiles alone are the centre of my earthly happiness - & whose hatred or aversion strike death to every pleasure – My dear Miss write on, oblige a friend, cool the wounds you have made & if it is not in your power to make me happy – do not make me more miserable – let me still enjoy your friendship & your confidence too – with what pleasure have I already 30 times read over those few lines & shall more curiously preserve than the greatest curious his fragments of antiquity – receive from me not only my esteem & friendship – but every assurance of my most sincere love & affection till Death, or some not wished for change in you
I am dearest Miss Your most obedt servt Saml Kennedy Miss Anna Shaver
Mr. Stewart’s friday night 12 of the clock My dearest Miss Anna
Madam I sit down to write you not as a suitor but as a real friend & lover who feels himself under the strongest ties, that the endearing names of Love and friendship can lay me under to tender all my poor services – Therefore you’ll excuse any freedom that may appear too
I shall never forget the sweet calm, & sweet serenity I felt on your kind & endearing treatment the last time I had the pleasure of your sweet company – nor the soft & tender feelings which almost overwhelmed my soul when you gave me encouragement you would be mine – oh thou darling of my soul draw not back from your kind intentions unless you mean to make most wretchedly miserable, the chains are now too strongly riveted for me to break them but by death
– When I parted from my darling & I recovered from my transporting views, my joy was in some measure damped – What did my Anna mean when she said, do not think too much of it – surely it could not arise from coldness & indifference – no – but from a fear I should set too high a value on my happiness – admirable modesty – can I set too great a value when I am commanded to love – as Christ loved his church – who laid aside all his dignities, submitted to shame, reproach, vilifying & death itself for her – draw the comparison & blame me if you can for loving you tenderly & willingly suffer anything for your sake – how pleasing the prospect when you shall be mine, when with uncontrolled friendship we shall view the hidden steps of heaven that brought us together & not only spend part of our time in reciprocal marks of love & friendship but through the grace & mercy of God, shall cordially join together in promoting our eternal happiness, in contemplating the perfections of Deity & his amazing love & wisdom in the recovery of our lost happiness by a merciful & glorious Redeemer – what a sweet & unbounded field of contemplation opens to view – there & only there is or can the human mind be wrapped in true happiness in the prospect of an happy Eternity – whilst too many are seeking happiness in different paths – some soaring on the airy pinions of honors & ambitions – some in heaping up yellow dirt – others in gaudy attire & empty show leaving their minds a perfect void – others in the road of debauchery – but my dear Anna, let us seek for happiness where it may be found, solid & lasting – the improvement of the mind – by knowing ourselves – knowing God & his beloved son our glorious redeemer there we may find a fund of happiness – which all the giddy & gaudy scenes of life cannot give – but my dear Girl perhaps you’ll say I am too serious – my dear, mould me to your wishes, make me anything, only let me enjoy your love, your friendship, confidence and esteem, then shall I be as happy as any man on earth when I shall have the happiness encircling my dearest Anna in arms of my love – but I shall tire your patience – but I’ll close my scribble – wishing you all happiness I am my dearest Girl your true lover till Death
Saml Kennedy Miss Anna Shaver
March 14th, 1791 My dearest Spouse/
I sit down to write to my charmer, my bosom friend, as one who feels himself under the strongest ties that the obligations of Love, gratitude and friendship can bind him under – My dearest receive from me my warmest wishes for your happiness, & look upon me as one who desires to devote himself to your happiness, & doubt not that I promised anything in that important affair of marriage that I wish not with my whole should to perform- oh! That God may of his mercy grant to us both the will, the desire, the power, the opportunity & length of years to promote each others happiness – my dearest wife, how much do I rejoice in your Love – but my only love how I forget myself – I sit down after the close of the day, eleven of the clock at night, to recount to my friend the actions of the Day – Henry Miller who met your father, went home with me – I put up some medicine for him, gave him an order on a man that owes me for ?5, as I have in vain tried to get a mare he has – So self will work in brotherly kindness – After dinner I went to James Bartow’s to see his wife who lays extremely low with an inflammatory fever – God preserve the health of my beloved – I returned about half after eight in the evening – entered my accounts, examined my Books a short time then wrote a few lines for you & at present bid you a good night & if spared shall recount to you the actions of the morrow – half after 12 roused to go to Andover Forge to visit Job Daniels a Foregeman – a rainy night but I hope my Anna sleeps in peace. Tuesday night 2 of the Clock. I slept some last night & did not intend to sleep (till I had seen you) but I am so overcome with fatigue that I must go to bed & after wishing good night & all manner of happiness to my dearest Anna – I remain
Your unworthy, but ever
Affectionate loving constant
Husband till Death -------
Saml Kennedy My dearest Anna will I presume excuse my written prattle as it may be proof I think of her when absent from her soul loves
good night -----
My dearest Love
In Haste I sit down to write to inform you I am going to the Great Meadows to see Mr. Poyers from thence to Abrm Deen’s, from thence to Mr. Weir’s, from thence beyond the furnace, from thence to Othniel Smith’s – from thence home – thus I have laid out my rout & to a lazy Doct would be 3 days work but Kennedy must do it in one if spared. I have ordered a piece of Beef to be sent to you – My dearest you may depend Love will add spurs to my haste to see you Good night
God bless you
I am your truly
S.K. Anna Kennedy
My dearest wife & only love,
Mother is much in the same way as when I left her in the forenoon – she lays pretty clear of pain which if it should continue & encrease, I am determined to attempt Delivery – be not alarmed about your Mother. Mr. Johnson acted incautiously – for as he was going to Log-Goal he was desired to call to desire me not to forget myself – my Love we must be apart another night – but not absent as you are always with me in mind – do take care of yourself for your own sake & mine too for I do not expect to fill your place with another --- I wish you a good night’s rest & may God of his infinite mercy grant you the sensible presence & enjoyment of a husband
– infinitely preferable to the best earthly husband – even the Lord Jesus Christ – farewell my dearest wife – I am Your affectionate, constant & faithful husband & friend till Death
Saml Kennedy friday evening
My best beloved/
I did not do myself the happiness to call on you, to enquire your health – expecting Matters nearer a close than what I found on examination – I rode on from Mr. Stewart’s to Papa Shaver’s in about an hour – I am in hopes it will be over before tomorrow – my dearest Love make yourself perfectly easy – I think Mamma will do very well, she is full as well as I expected – if any particular change should happen, you may depend on immediate information – I hope that God will grant your Mama a safe & happy delivery --- May God bless & preserve my dear Girl – if you expect a smile from me take care of yourself
I am your truly sincere friend, &
most affectionate & loving husband till
Sam Kennedy Sabbath morning
11 of the clock
The letters, a sort of commonplace book in which Dr. Kennedy wrote his family record among accounts of remarkable diseases and remarkable cures, Latin prescriptions and recipes for compounding salves, lotions and pills, and a rough copy of a letter, or part of a letter addressed to the Rev. Peppard on political subjects, is all we have in the family of his writings, except some old account books. The most ancient of these – abridged at both the beginning and the end
– is dated 1779. It is curious to read the old up-Jersey names – The Allens, Armstrongs, Cooks, Ayres, Lannings, Howels, Harkers, Willis’s, Collins – and a great many others, charged with visits, bleeding, blistering and doses of medicine. The families of most of these first inhabitants can still show numerous representatives in Warren and Sussex Counties. The charges for attendance are quite moderate for those early times when drugs were costly, and the distance to the patients’ often ten or twenty miles. Sometimes the Doctor went on a circuit so extensive that he would be away from home two weeks; and in cases where there was dangerous sickness, or wounds that needed such attention as the friends of the patient were too ignorant to give, he would take my Grandmother, who was a most skillful nurse, to remain in charge while he was absent on his rounds.
Dr. Kennedy was an advocate of State Rights – it would seem from the letter before spoken of, and which is here given. According to tradition, this letter was not the only argument he had on the same subject, with Mr. Peppard, who was the Minister of the Presbyterian Church at Hardwick, or Shaw’s Lane Church, as it had formerly been called.
One Sabbath morning, the Reverend gentleman was so indiscreet as to advocate his political opinions in his sermon. Grandfather rose in wrath, and Grandmother clutched him by the tail of his coat, and begged him to sit down and keep quiet. But the irate Doctor paid no heed, but administered a rebuke to the Pastor who dared to preach politics, instead of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to his expectant flock.
The copy of the letter which was sent, no doubt, to Mr. Peppard, has neither name of date.
“Revd & dear Sir, I have great respect for the Priests - & would willingly attend to their ghostly admonitions – but generally speaking they are poor politicians – therefore we cannot expect to gain much political knowledge from that quarter. As to the Constitution of our Government, both our general & states included, I believe them to be the best political institutions in the world, if every one of them were kept in their proper sphere, the rights of freemen would be well secured. Were not the several states, by the solemn act of independence, declared sovereign, free, & to have the sole right of protecting their citizens in the enjoyment of their rights as freemen, both civil & religious, the citizens to be amenable only to the laws of his own state, both civil & criminal? Why was there not a Bill of rights prefixed or attached to the constitution of the federal government? Because it was supposed and believed by the framers of the federal government, that such Bill would infringe the rights of the several states. It seems as though gentlemen have lost sight of the Sovereign rights of individual states, by their blind zeal for federal government. I would ask what kind of an union the federal government is – whether it amounts to anything more or less than to embrace ???? those things that are necessary to prevent a monopoly of any individual State over the rest & for safety to the whole as allied states. The federal government has a right to – (Here a line is worn away where the paper was folded) that God in his providence is carrying on his own case & the liberties of mankind, have we a right to lift up our hearts & voices to Him to stop the progress thereof, any more than I would have a right to hinder your lawful business, because you had an abandoned, vicious, malignant servant in your employ contra ????? will do for infidelity – nay our duty is to cry devoutly – to cry earnestly to God “Thy will be done” – I fully believe that God reigns & that He will fulfill all his purposes throughout his Dominion, Heaven, earth & Hell, yea through all his creation, & that to all eternity. And an infinitely wise being will make use of instruments fitted for the various works of Providence – Angles & ministering spirits to do his will – wicked men & Devils to carry on other works according to their dispositions – free agents must act freely – or they would be guilty of no crime.”
I am glad that the old Presbyterian elder wrote that last sentence. It is to me convincing proof that he did not believe that sinners were foredoomed to commit the crimes for which they were to be finally punished. His father, too, the Rev. Samuel Kennedy, it would seem believed that there was provision made for the salvation of every human being – for he used to say – alluding to the atonement of Christ – “That the plaster was as large as the sore,” a homely, but expressive speech.
Dr. Kennedy possessed a gift or a defect which has been mentioned already – one that few people would not shrink from. When death came to any of his friends in his absence, he was conscious of the loss at the moment it occurred. Two instances will be sufficient proof. Shortly after his second marriage, he and his wife were visiting at her Father’s, Major Peter Shafer’s. On sitting down to dinner, the Doctor leaned back in his chair with an expression of countenance that alarmed Mrs. Kennedy, who started up, asking him what was the matter. He was unable to speak at first but quickly recovered, and said that Catharine, his youngest daughter had just died. She was a sickly child always, but had appeared unusually well that morning, and they had left her without apprehending danger. The time was noted, the dinner eaten with what appetite they could command, and the visitors went to their home, several miles distant. When they arrived they found the child indeed dead! She had died the very moment that her Father had perceived his loss. I say perceived, but he called it seeing. Another one that I clearly remember having heard from my Father and his older Sister, occurred before the death of his first wife, but I never heard how long before. Her Mother was very sick, and Mrs. Kennedy went to attend her. The Doctor went off on one of his medical rounds, and one night about 11 o’clock, I think it was, he heard strains of sweetest music in the air, and saw the apparition of his Mother-in-law surrounded by so bright a light that he could tell the hour by his watch. He was then on his way home; but changing his course somewhat, he rode on to the house of Mr. Beavers, his father-inlaw, thirteen or fourteen miles beyond his own residence. His wife met him at the door with this “Doctor, Mother is dead.” He said that he already knew it, and the time of her death. It had taken place at the moment he had noted.
Well, happily for his children, Dr. Kennedy did not transmit to them his weird gift, for I never heard that any of them were seers of visions, or dreamers of dreams.
My father, Bernard Shafer Kennedy, was the oldest son of Anna Shaver, (as Dr. Kennedy addressed her in his letters.) The original name of the German family who settled at Stillwater, among the foothills of the Blue Mountains was Schaeffer. But this was soon corrupted into Shaver – afterward the family compromised upon Shafer or Shaffer. Anna was I think a great Granddaughter of Bernhardt Schaeffer, the first settler at Stillwater. Bernhardt was changed in the careless speech of the neighborhood to Bernet, as my Father, who was his namesake, was called. Sylvia, the negro woman, who was a slave to Grandfather in his last years, and whom I well knew in my youth, used to tell a comical story regarding the naming of my Father. She said the Doctor proposed naming him Caspar, Alexander, Simeon Simpson, Peter Bernet Shaver Kennedy. I suppose all these names were mentioned by different members of the Family, and by friends, as suitable for the new baby, and Grandfather, in his humorous fashion, strung them together, and gravely presented the overwhelming whole, as something that would please everybody. Casper, was Anna Shaver’s Grandfather – Peter, her Father, Simeon Simpson, her Mother’s Father, and Alexander, probably Alexander the Great, as Grandfather seems to have been a hero-worshipper, and had already named one son for the Greek Achilles. Fortunately, the child escaped the full weight of so many ancestral and heroic names, or he might have grown to feel that they were burdensome. Even Bernard was laid aside except in writing, and he was simply called by his Mother’s family name. Of the people who bore that name, I ought to write a small history, for the Shafers were a very respectable family, and had no small opinion of their own worth, as compared with the deservings of other people. Luckily one of their own name has written an account of the doings of their virtuous and well-to-do ancestors, which I would gladly transcribe in this rambling, fragmentary narration, if I could obtain a copy.
Anna Shafer, so often spoken of already, was, I believe, the eldest daughter of Peter B. Shafer of Shafer’s Mills, on the Paulin’s Kill – the place has another name now, I am told – Besides Anna, there was a son Abraham, who married a daughter of William Armstrong, Esq., another son Issac, whose wife was Elizabeth Turner, a sister who married to Richard Turner, Elizabeth’s brother, - another, Margaret, who became the wife of a Mr. Vanduren, and died young and childless. Another sister was the wife of a Mr. Armstrong, who was a cousin to her brother Abraham’s wife. The youngest sister, Catherine, married Archibald Stinson, and her oldest daughter, Jane, became the wife of John Armstrong – the third of that name who intermarried with the family – he was an uncle of the wife of John I. Blair of Blairstown. Scotchy, the names sound, most of them. Blair – Stinson – Armstrong – Kennedy – Simpson, all connected with this one German family. Besides in the neighborhood were the Allens, - Ayres, - Laytons, - Scotts, - Robert – Robertsons – Hamiltons – Shaws – Lundy’s – Laings and others.
But there are many English, Dutch, German and some Welsh names in Grandfather’s account books, even so early as the time of the Revolutionary war.
I should like to know the former history of all the families I have known in dear old Warren County; and Sussex too, as I lived so near the dividing line between the two. Know where they came from, when they came, and what they came for, whether to better their fortunes, to obtain greater political freedom, or to find liberty of conscience. The latter was the cause of the Rev. Samuel Kennedy’s leaving Scotland, says tradition in the family. No doubt the same cause led others of his countrymen to seek a home among the hills of Northern New Jersey, for most of their families, as late as my early youth, were a God-fearing people, apparently preferring the interests of their religion to worldly prosperity. They were sever and loyal Presbyterians.
My Grandmother, though not Scottish, was a Presbyterian, and for more than two-thirds of her life, was one of the straitest of her sect. Afterward she was just as strait a Methodist. As I remember her, she died when I was ten years old – she was a tall, thin woman, slightly bent, with a placid face that smiled on me when she talked to me. I don’t remember that she ever caressed my sisters, or me, but she was kind to us, and we liked to be permitted to go into her room, and sit in a little chair by her low one. She was an habitual invalid. All her family treated her with as much respect as if she had been their sovereign ruler; but the respect was mingled with affection. She had a strong hold upon the hearts of her children. Father always regarded her with veneration. Her opinion given on almost any subject discussed in her presence, was regarded as final by herself and others. During the last years of her life there were many of her near relatives besides her own children, living near her, who were frequent visitors at her house – her brother Isaac – her sister Mrs. Stinson – dear Aunt Katie – and their families, and the families of her deceased brother and sisters, all treated her as if she had a right to their obedience or in the case of the elders, to the most respectful consideration.
The reason for this deference is not easy to find. It might have been partly because of the prestige of her position as the widow of one of the most influential men in the County, but probably it was owing to a combination of evenly balanced qualities, that gave a commanding tone to her character.
After living with her husband thirteen years, she was left a widow at thirty-four with five children, and the oldest son but six years of age. Four years after his Father’s death this son, Bernard Shafer, was one Sunday morning, leading his Mother’s staid old gig horse to the brook that it might drink before taking the family to church. When suddenly, in a frolicsome fit, he wheeled round and kicked the boy in the head, crushing in his skull from the forehead above the right eye to the back part of the head. His mother, from her window, had seen the accident and flew to pick him up. As she placed one hand under his head to support it, her fingers sunk into the ghastly wound. She never gave way, but washed the hurt and dressed it as well as she was able.
Doctors were summoned, those nearest first, and then those more distant, but no one would undertake the case. One and all begged her to leave the child to die in peace – as die he surely must. Some said she was a cruel Mother to want him tortured back to life, if that were possible. She had but one answer – she could cheerfully give him up when she had used all the means in her power to save his life, and had failed. A messenger was dispatched finally to Somerville, thirty miles away (where she had learned that Dr. Morris, an old army surgeon, was still living), with instructions to bring him if possible. Meanwhile the boy lived and had regained his senses. The surgeon came the fourth day after the accident. He prepared his instruments in the presence of the patient, probably to test his strength of nerve, and then proceeded to strap him to the table upon which he was stretched. This the boy would not endure, and the Doctor was obliged to be content with the promise that he would be quiet during the operation, if his Mother would sit by his side and hold his hands in hers. The Mother became surety for the fulfillment of this promise.
The operation was a painful and tedious one. The would had become so sore from the stiffening blood and fretting of the pieces of bone, that the suffering the child endured must have been terrible, but in after years, I have often heard Father say that what he felt worst of all, so far, was having the skin that was stripped from his head laid down over his eyes till it was ready to be replaced. But after that there was something still more aggravating – the Doctor was stitching the skin in its place, and when nearly done said he had but two more stitches to take, and he took three. Courage and patience both gave way, and his anger flamed out against the untruthful Doctor. This last incident is very characteristic. And the promise given by the little son and accepted by the Mother was equally so. What trust on her part in his honor and obedience; what unbounded confidence in his Mother’s love and wisdom on his. I believe he would have died before he would have broken that promise. There were two large pieces of the skull that my Grandmother kept during her lifetime, and that Father took charge of after her death. As I remember them, they together made a piece, irregular in shape, more than four inches in length, if my memory is correct, and from seven-eighths of an inch to one inch in width; but this large gap in the skull grew over with solid bone, except one spot at the top of the forehead, which was protected by a cartilage, very thin, for the throbbing of the brain beneath was plainly seen.
As the young Bernard approached manhood, he developed a repugnance to the doctrines taught in his Mother’s Church, a repugnance that he had felt even as a child, when he used to hide his catechism where it could not be found by those who would have compelled him to learn its lessons. An aversion to the process of committing to memory may have quickened his convictions. But there can be no doubt that he was honest in his dislike to the dogmas of unconditional election and reprobation as then taught. He had quick perceptions, strong convictions and sensitive feelings; and when yet a child he questioned his Mother how it was possible that a God of goodness and justice could punish people for sins they were foreordained to commit, and reward others for obeying his commands when they could not help it. She was puzzled how to answer him.
When he was a youth of sixteen or seventeen years, he sometimes heard the Methodists preach at the house of Mr. John Banghart, who managed his Mother’s farm. He was an older brother of the Rev. George Banghart so long a member of the New Jersey conference. Here my father heard preached the doctrine of free salvation to all who would accept Christ as their Savior; and the eternal loss of the souls of those who rejected Him. He heard gladly, and gradually his whole being was brought under the influence of the truths to which his reason had long given full assent, and he was saved by faith in the atonement made by Christ for his sins. He longed to unite in Christian fellowship with the then despised people, who had been the means of such great good to him, but all his friends were opposed to such a course – his Mother firmly, the others bitterly. To the Shafers with their exclusive notions and unchanging Dutch ideas, it seemed intolerable that one of their blood should enter any other than the Presbyterian Church. In the minds of the Kennedys there was a tendency to freedom greater than was apparent among the friends of my Grandmother. Freedom of thought and action on all subjects religious, political and social. If his father had been living at the time, I doubt if the youthful demurrer, who had not been able to believe because his forefathers did, would have been subjected to an ordeal such as his mother, with all her tenderness for him, imposed. She requested him not to connect himself with the Methodist Church for one year, till he had thought about and studied the subject calmly, and had listened to explanations of difficulties he found in the doctrines of her Church. He consented to wait and listen. During all that time he endured the arguments and persuasions and in a few cases, the sneers and ridicule of ministers and elders, and worse still of Uncles, Aunts and cousins, without succumbing, - defending his principles and opinions as a youth so unfurnished from without, best might. The controversial character of the preaching of that time supplied him with some weapons, both of offense and of defense, and, I believe, he had access to some of Wesley’s writings; but however good his reasoning, his arguments could have been no match for his trained opponents who were in the Ministry. They did not succeed in convincing him or error, but they went far to undermine the doctrinal views of his Mother. Perhaps one of the hardest things for both Mother and son was that they could not worship God together in His sanctuary on Sabbath days. She rode in her carriage three or four miles to the “Frame” and he walked some distance further to the Union Methodist church, near the old Moravian village of Hope. Not every Sunday to the ‘Union’ though, for the old time circuit was large, and sometimes required four weeks to visit all the preaching places. As there was a church edifice, and a larger membership, probably there was service as often as fortnightly.
As I recall, the fact that there were two local preachers, who were old men when I was a child, Nicholas Albertson, and Abraham Newman, in that church, besides exhorters who could almost preach, of whom I have heard Father speak, I do not doubt there was preaching every week by some one.
At the end of his year’s trial, Father gave his name to the church of his choice. But it was not long thereafter that his Mother called for her Certificate of Christian character, as did also her second living daughter Sarah, and both united with the Methodists. Father’s filial love and obedience and his steadfast adherence to what he believed to be right, probably completed what the ungenerous spirit and defective reasoning of her friends had begun.
Mary, the eldest daughter, died in the year 1816, at the age of twenty-four, after a life of extreme suffering. Eliza, the youngest daughter, a most amiable girl, was married to John Wesley Snyder, then residing at Baptist Town. After two years of happy wedded life, she too died under painful circumstances. Her Mother was with her, taking no rest by day or by night, till all was over, then when as she said, nothing further could be done for her child, she lay down and slept peacefully.
The remaining nine years of her life were passed with the three children still left with her
– Sarah and Thomas Jefferson lived with her in the house built by Father – who also resided there – near the old homestead. She died at the age of sixty-three years. A brother and sister younger than herself survived her many years.
My father at the age of twenty-one, married Phebe Freeman, second daughter of William Freeman of Warren County. He had married Mary Swayze, one of the numerous family of the name, that settled among the hills and valleys lying between the old Moravian village of Hope, and the Delaware River. Mary was a sister of Sheriff Daniel Swayze. There were two more brothers, Joseph and Israel, and two sisters – Patience, wife of Judge John Ogden, and Phebe, who was married to the Rev. Daniel Freeman, William’s brother. The Swayze’s were of Welsh descent. Daniel moved to Canada while still young. One son, Daniel also, was a prominent man in the community, held various offices and died in New York where he was attending to some business that brought him thither. His death occurred about 1870. His death occurred about 1870. He left several children. His son Daniel, I think, is celebrated as a California millionaire. Two daughters, one after the death of the other married a twin brother of the Rev. Egerton Ryerson, a celebrated Canadian Methodist.
The Rev. D. Freeman was distinguished as having preached the first Protestant sermon in the territory of Michigan, I have been told. Previous to that event the Roman services and ceremonies had been the only religious ordinances of the country. He and a daughter visited New Jersey when I was a child, and he preached one Sunday in the hall of my Father’s house. At that time there was but one church edifice – Episcopalian – in Johnsonsburg. My great Grandfather Daniel and Williams’s father, belonged to the Moravian community at Hope, but left them because he believed that dishonesty and other sins prevailed among them. He became a Methodist – among the earliest of that denomination in Northern New Jersey. His house was a preaching place, and among other celebrated ministers, Bishop Asbury was sometimes his guest. He was a native of Woodbridge, New Jersey, and married Miss Rachel Shadwell of the same place. His name was Andrew, and their two names, Andrew and Rachel, were perpetuated in the family of his son William, my Grandfather, the birth of whose eldest daughter Rachel, was followed by a son, Andrew.
When Grandfather and his brother Daniel, were very young – little children – their parents journeyed on horseback from Woodbridge to Wyoming, expecting there to better their fortune. The two little boys were carried in panniers slung one on each side of a horse. There was one daughter, but whether then born, I do not know. When grown to womanhood, she married a Mr. Mackey, but I remember nothing of her family, if I have ever known anything. Their household goods were, I suppose, carried in panniers too – pillows and other soft materials cushioning those of the little boys, on their weary journey through the wilderness.
I do not know what year this removal took place, but it could not have been long before the massacre of Wyoming. When the Indians began their dreadful work, Andrew Freeman was working at his trade – carpenter – across the river from his home, and on returning to his family he was shot at by the Indians on the bank, but happily their arrows missed him, and he got into the house where all the white people were sheltered. My Grandfather recollected peeping over a log and seeing the savages shooting at the whites. Probably the “log” was one that made a part of the house and that he peeped through a chink between it and its fellow. The house does not appear to have been the block house in which the inhabitants of Wyoming took refuge, as this one protected its inmates, some of who, at least, escaped. Mr. Freeman and his family returned to New Jersey and settled near the Moravian village of Hope, Warren County, as it is now. The warning that the Indians were going to attach the settlement, was given to the Freemans and their neighbors by an Indian girl – after the Massacre an Indian friend helped Mr. Freeman to secrete some of his most valuable possessions in a hollow tree till he could find it safe to bring them away. A large pewter dish handsomely engraved on the inside, near the edge, descended to my Mother, and is still in the family in a mutilated condition.
After the death of his wife, when somewhat advanced in age, Mr. Freeman married a widow Sutton, who was the mother of several children. Her son Micaiah Sutton, married her husband’s Grand-daughter Rachel Freeman, my Mother’s oldest sister.
As the Freemans were an English family, the older members retained a partiality for English laws and customs, strong enough in Daniel’s case, as we have seen, to induce him to migrate to Canada some time after his marriage, but his brother William remained in New Jersey till his death, which occurred about the year 1825. His wife survived him but a few years, dying in 1831. They both died Methodists, as have since, all their children. Rachel Sutton, aged 90 in Michigan, where she had gone to be with her children, and her brothers and sisters, several of whom had settled there. She outlived them all but the one next the youngest, Rosetta Tindal, who died two years ago – 1889 – aged 82 years, I think.
I do not recollect the exact order of their births, but believe Rachel was the first born, marred to Mr. Sutton – then Andrew, whose wife was Elsie Andross of New Jersey, and was, with his brother Joseph, as much as 80 at the time of their deaths – the next Joseph S. who married rather late in life Miss ???, Phebe, wife of Bernard Kennedy, 72 at her death, - Mary A. Wife of the Rev. Isaac Winner of New Jersey, aged 62, Rosetta who was married to Joseph Tindal and died about the age of 82, and last Daniel, who married Miss Bettany J. Curle of Michigan, and died aged 72. The one that lived the longest was Mrs. Sutton, and the shortest life was Mrs. Winner’s. Mrs. Kennedy and Mrs. Winner lived and died in New Jersey – the others all died in Michigan. All of them left families- some of them large ones.
My Mother brought up all her family, eleven daughters and four sons, only having seen the death of one – Adelaide – who died two years before her own decease, at the age of thirty. The rest are still living, 1891. Adelaide died the 17th of October, 1871, our Mother the 15th of September 1873, and our Father, Nove. 19th, 1878. A sad decade in our family. Father’s only remaining sister Sara A. Kennedy had died at his house in ???.
My Grandmother Kennedy, being a widow in straitened circumstances, her children all small at the time of their Father’s death, had but scanty opportunity of acquiring an education. Grandfather had been wont to say when the child was but a baby, that the oldest boy, Bernard, was to be educated for the Ministry, but his scquirements in learning fell far short of the standard required. In after years, when a young and earnest Christian, ready to do his share of work in the Church where he had found a home, he was often urged by some of the preachers and older members, who believed he was endowed with gifts for the office, to become a preacher of the Word. But he either had not received a divine call to this work or his spiritual receptivity was too weak to appropriate the favor shown.
In later years he said in my hearing, that he did not believe that he was chosen for this special work, and some others who had readily accepted the voice of friends, and a desire to work for Christ, as evidence that they were called to minister in holy things, he thought perhaps had run before they were sent, and that like himself, they had been intrusted with the work of the sub-pastor in the church – the work of exhortation and prayer, of admonition and encouragement. This, he believed was the part assigned him, and well and faithfully he performed it. He received his first license to exhort in the year ???. He was at work in the field when it was brought to him by the Rev. G. Banghart. This license was renewed from time to time till his death.
In my youth I was accustomed to hear a good many powerful religious addresses and prayers by local preachers and exhorters. Within the bounds of the circuit where we lived there were many strong men of deep experience in the things of God. But Father’s prayers, exhortations and conversations and appeals in the class room appeared to me to be more convincing than those of any other. He had an ardent impassioned nature, and a keen logical analytical mind, that rendered his ministrations wonderfully effective.
I was never more impressed with the force of his mind, than when one evening, in a country schoolhouse, he followed a sermon by the Rev. Manning Force with an exhortation that held the audience enchained as if spellbound, till the silence was painful. This occurred a little more than forty-five years ago, perhaps, when he was about fifty years old, and his mental capacity at its best. It is but just to state that I had been living away from home for a few years, and was unused to his burning words. He was for many years in the habit of traveling what might be called a little circuit on Sundays, and sometimes had an appointment during the week, in the earlier years of his life – that is, till he had passed his fortieth year. He sometimes held three meetings on Sunday; the nearest one three or four miles from home, and as many miles distant from each other.
I think he never chose a passage of Scripture and tried to explain its meaning and enforce its teachings, but he took up a subject that he believed was appropriate for the occasion, and enforced it by a suitable text, or by more than one, and with all his ability strove to impress the truth on the hearts and consciences of his hearers.
Though in favor of strict discipline in the Church, yet he was a peace-maker between those who were at variance, and believed in according the fullest forgiveness to the erring when repentant, and labored earnestly to bring them to a right state of mind.
One of the strongest traits of his character was honesty – honesty of thought and of purpose – There was nothing like craft in his nature. In a case where men took opposite sides, he was capable of stating the views of those opposed to him as impartially as if they were his own. He tried to be just – to give every one his due.
Cousin Philip Vroom Cole wrote the following letter to Cousin Daniel N. Vroom. The first paragraph refers to the Kennedy Family Reunion of 1960. The reunions were held from 1920 to 1973.
September 7, 1960
I find with regret, on returning home, that it will be impossible for me to break the previous engagement of which I spoke. I hope for better luck next year and include here a few facts about the family from which you may wish to draw on the “great day”.
The Kennedys were, as we know, at the period of which Crockett’s “Gray Man” tells, the possessors of an Earldom, with direct descent through female lines from the Royal House of Stewart (Stuart). From my own researches while in Scotland, the estate appears to have compromised 60,000 acres with annual revenues of around $200,000.00. The main residence at that time, as it is still today, was Culzean Castle, overlooking the Firth of Clyde and surrounded by famous gardens in the Italian style. Cassillis House – a great manor house near Maybole, Maybole Castle in the town, and Newark Castle were the other main residences.
Sir Thomas Kennedy, who Crockett describes as living in Culzean Castle, was direct forbear of the branch of which Rev. Samuel Kennedy was a member. The first historical seat of the Kennedys was, however, Denure Castle, now in complete ruins. My mother and I stood within a ruined windows of this castle which is perched atop a bold crag overhanging the waters of the Firth of Clyde, and witnessed a beautiful sunset scene following a storm. It was here that Sir James Kennedy lived and it was to this castle that he brought his royal bride, Princess Mary, daughter of the reigning king of Scotland, Robert III, second of the Royal House of Stewart. Here also, in later times of which the “Gray Man” speaks, was roasted in the dungeons, on a red-hot brander, Alan Stewart, the ten Abbot of Crossroguel, for the purpose of forcing him to pass title from the Church to the newly Protestant Kennedys. The Abby ruins are today very peaceful and eloquent of a day long past. It was originally one of the most important religious centers of North Britain, and being within their lands, the earlier Catholic Kennedys of Crusading times, were its most distinguished patrons.
Without using proper heraldic language, I may remind you that the Kennedy coat of arms is a shield of silver charged with a red chevron surrounded by three crosses of black. Surrounding the charges near the edge of the field is a “treasure” studded at intervals with fleur-de-lis. The supporters are two white swans, the crest is a dolphin and the motto, “Avis la Fin” or “Consider the End”. I may say that these arms, in certain respects, have implications, which cannot be exaggerated in considering the earliest origin of the family. The immediate origin of the Kennedys before the twelfth century, and when the name came into usage through their being known as “Chief of the Clan”, was without a doubt the family of the original Earl of Carrick.
Behind Kennedy and Carrick, however, there undoubtedly exists an ancestry of unique interest antedating the written history of Northwest Britain. Although Sir James’ marriage with a daughter of the then reigning king laid the foundation of the Kennedy’s later wealth and power, it should be noted that the family bore the “tressure” on their arms previous to this event and the tressure in early times was only allowed to those with royal blood. There is also an interesting tradition on the continent that all families displaying the swan in their arms are necessarily descended from Lohengrin, Knight of the Swan. The House of Lorraine from which the hero of the First Crusade, Godfrey de Bouillon, descended, claimed this ancestry, as did the sovereign Lords of Eerkel in Holland, the German Dukes of Cleves and many others. That a great House of Western Scotland should share this claim is entirely in accord with conditions then existing in Northwest Europe as a whole.
As briefly as possible I may say that it should be borne in mind that the bulk of the population in every country is a mixture of many ancient population waves which settled in general areas often encompassing the areas of a number of present day countries. The idea that the French, for instance, came to France in the beginning as a complete and separate race is a false idea, as the Franks from whom the country and people take their name were only the last of many types, which migrated to France, and actually formed a minor element there. The real Frankish concentration was in present day Holland and Northern Belgium where their language in modified form represents modern Dutch and Flemish respectively. Ethnologists recognize these ancient population waves by skull conformation in particular, as well as by other criteria, and it is these types which were actually basic races. Thus in the late Neolithic and early Metal Ages of North-west Europe, came by sea to all the coasts of France, the Low Countries and Britain, with later extensions to the Baltic area, a race of the aforesaid basic nature known to ethnologists racially as Atlanto-Mediterraneous or Littorals, and culturally as the Megalithic peoples. Suffice it to say that they brought a high civilization to the areas where they settled. I have been very much interested in this early aspect and have done much research which cannot be touched on here, but has convinced me that in them lay the germs of later chivalry as well as the origin of whatever is fact in tradition, such as that of descent from the Knight of the Swan. Therefore there is much reason to believe that the Kennedys were in the very beginning descended from a kingly family of this most ancient basic race of early Metal Age times, which came to the North from the then highly civilized area of the Eastern Mediterranean lands. That relatively pure types of this race are still produced in Western Scotland today in such numbers that the ethnologist, C. S. Coon, of Harvard University, shows this area, including the Kennedy country, as one of the few anywhere in which this race still predominates, would strengthen this belief.
Regards to all, Phil
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