Discovering The Name Of My 2nd Great Grandfather, Joseph Kennedy!

Kennedy Surname

My 4th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge.

My 4th ancestor is my 2nd great grandfather, Joseph Kennedy (1876-?). No, not the father of the U.S. President (although my conservative grandmother used to like to tease my conservative grandfather that he was related to the liberal Kennedy clan).

My Joseph Kennedy is the father of Sarah Kennedy (?-1930), of whom I know very little because she (and her husband) died and orphaned my grandfather Michael John Flanagan (1927-1997) when a toddler. Grandpa knew nothing about his grandfather, other than that he thought his last name was Kennedy. Until recently, I was not even sure if Kennedy was Sarah’s maiden name…I kept hearing the surnames Kennedy and Ward applied to her prior to her marriage to Grandpa’s father. In March 2012, I finally found Sarah’s marriage records: to Patrick Thomas Flanagan in 1925, and first to Frank J. Ward in 1913. Sarah identifies her father as Joseph Kennedy on both marriage records, and identified her birthplace as Cumberland [in Allegany County] Maryland.

With those marriage records providing his name and my first clues, I went in search of a father-daughter combination of Joseph Kennedy and Sarah Kennedy on the 1900 U.S. Census–the first Census on which Sarah would have been enumerated, based on her estimated birth year–in Maryland. I found them about a week later. According to that Census (taken 6 June 1900):

  • The family lived in Lonaconing, Allegany County, Maryland. No street name or number.
  • Joseph and Sarah (age 1) lived alone, even though Joseph is listed as married.
  • Joseph is described as: the head of household; white; born October 1876 (age 23); married for 3 years; born in Maryland, father born in Maryland, mother born in Virginia; a coal minter (but unemployed for 2 months); able to read, write, and speak English; and renting a house.
Census image
Courtesy of Click image to view a larger copy.

I found a possible lead, at the same time, for Joseph on the 1880 U.S. Census in Frostburg, Allegany County, Maryland. Joseph’s age and the birthplace of his parents jive with what was recorded on the 1900 U.S. Census. But I need to do a bit more cross-referencing before I chalk this up to a strong lead. If only that elusive 1890 Census were available…

I still need to prove through vital records that Joseph is indeed Sarah’s father, and that he is my 2nd great grandfather, but I feel good about my hunch, at least as far back as the 1900 Census (and I hope to get some of that documentation during my visit to the Family History Library next week for RootsTech!). I feel less sure about the 1880 Census connection, but will keep plugging away to find corroborating evidence.

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