The Kennedy family became a part of Grapeland’s history in the early 1900s. Professor Sam Kennedy taught in the school here in 1903; two of his sisters, Fannie Stafford and Blanche, also taught school here; so did two nieces: Frances Stafford Schultz and Ruth Kennedy. Charles Wall Kennedy and John Chester were engaged in general mercantile business here after moving from Augusta, where they had established “Kennedy Brothers” store several years prior to 1909. The Kennedys are descendents of the first permanent white settler in Houston County. Daniel McLean first came to Houston County in 1812 or 1813 as a member of the Guitierrez-Magee Expedition. He was promised a grant of land for his services, and liking the country in and around Augusta, he applied for the grant there. He established his home in 1821, but because the mail had to be carried by horseback, and the land had to be surveyed by the Mexican Government, the grant was not forthcoming until 1835. Two years later, May 10, 1837, he died at the hands of Kickapoo Indians. After moving to Grapeland in January, 1909, Kennedy Brothers store on the corner of Main Street served this community well until 1978. These two brothers were instrumental in organizing the Grapeland State Bank (formerly known as the Guaranty State Bank). C. W. Kennedy Sr. was president of this bank from 1913 until 1952. Emory Long served as president from 1952 until 1958. C.W. Kennedy Jr. followed as president from 1958 until 1975 when he retired, and then Sam (son of John and Bess Kennedy) became president. J. C. (Chester) Kennedy served the town as mayor from 1930 until 1944. Charlie Kennedy was president of the Grapeland School Board for many years and as such signed the high school diploma of each of his children. He also was a member of the official board of the Methodist Church, as well as a trustee for many years. He was a thirty-second degree mason and a Past Master of the Grapeland Masonic Lodge No. 173. James McLean Kennedy died in Augusta on October 4, 1909, and his wife with three boys to rear moved to Grapeland. After several years as a school teacher, Blanche became a clerk at Kennedy’s Dry Goods store until her retirement.
Dr. Sam Kennedy received his medical degree and returned to Grapeland to practice medicine. He gave Houston County more than 50 years of service as “Dr. Sam”. John W. Kennedy, Sr. was manager of Kennedy Bros. store form 1958 until 1978. Dawson Schultz was also an employee. This store was in continuous operation on its original site and under the ownership of the same family from 1909 until 1978. John W. Kennedy Jr. served this community as a dentist from the mid-1950s until December, 1986. The building was formerly built and occupied by his uncle, Malcolm G. Kennedy; DDS (“Dr. Mal”) C. W. Kennedy Jr. was a lawyer in Crockett from 1931 until 1958. He was then president of the Grapeland State Bank until his retirement in 1975. He was followed by Sam (son of John Kennedy Sr.) who is currently the president. James Kennedy (twin brother of Sam) is a construction engineer employed by Tenneco, and is now located in Houston. J. C. Kennedy, M. D. is a well recognized surgeon in Houston. Yes, the Kennedys have served in the U.S. Army: Sam Kennedy, M.D. – World War I; C. W. Kennedy Jr., Jim Kennedy, M. D. Kennedy, John Kennedy Jr., Sam Kennedy, and James Kennedy – World War II; Chuck Kennedy in the Vietnam War as a “Green Beret”.
Kennedy Family Tree in Texas
FIRST GENERATION The first permanent white settler in Houston County, Daniel McLean, was born in 1784 in Moore County, North Carolina, and came to Houston County, Texas from Tennessee in 1812 of 1813 as a member of the Guitierrez- Magee Expedition. He returned to Texas in 1821 with Austin’s Colony. His wife, Hannah (sister of John Sheridan) was born in 1798. SECOND GENERATION Daniel and Hannah McLean’s daughter Eliza was born in 1826 and married C. L. Wall. THIRD GENERATION To C. L. and Eliza Wall were born three children: Josephine (Jo) born October 23, 1845; Wm. H. (Billy) born 1850; Fannie born in 1853. Josephine Wall married John Kennedy.
FOURTH GENERATION To John and Josephine Kennedy ten children were born: 1) Eliza who died in infancy; 2) Mary who married Dr. Hall Wilson. After her death Dr. Wilson married his wife’s aunt, Fannie Wall Cunningham; 3) Charles Wall (Charlie) who married Nezzie Keisler of Huntsville, Texas. Three children of Charlie and Nezzie Kennedy were Charles W. Jr. (C. W.), Ruth, and John Chester (J. C.); 4) Chester married Clara Rice (no children); 5) James McLean married Eleanor McMillan. Four children were born to them: Eleanor, who died in infancy, John, Malcolm (Dr. Mal), and Jim; 6) Fannie married Dr. P. H. Stafford and had one childFrances; 7) Blanche (unmarried); 8) Samuel Cunningham (Dr. Sam) married Eula RAU Hollingsworth. Their baby, Marjorie Jo., died in infancy; 9-10) Two others Eunice and Eula also died in infancy. FIFTH GENERATION C. W. Kennedy Jr. (son of Charlie Kennedy) married Virginia Zehmer of Richmond, Virginia; Ruth (unmarried); John Chester married Virginia Scott. John, son of James McLean Kennedy, married Bess Howard. Malcom married Polly Pridgen, and Jim was unmarried. Frances, daughter of Fannie Kennedy Stafford, married Dawson Schultz.
SIXTH GENERATION T o C. W. and Virginia Kennedy were born; Charles W. (Chuck) Kennedy III, and Roberta; To John Chester andVirginia Kennedy had two adopted sons: Stephen (Steve) and Robert. To John and Bess Kennedy were born: John W. Kennedy Jr. (Dr. John), who married Joanne Dickey; Sam Kennedy who married Gloria Dixon; and James who married Mary Barnett. To Dr. Malcolm and Polly Kennedy were born: Don; Polly Ann who married Jerold Parmer; and Frances. To Dawson and Frances Stafford Schultz was born Dawson Stafford Schultz.
SEVENTH GENERATION to Charles W. (Chuck) III and Debbie Kennedy was born Elizabeth Gail. To Roberta and David Glasgow were born Monica Anne and Virginia Ruth. To Steve and Jill Kennedy were born Stephen John and Scott. To Dr. John and Joanne Kennedy, Jr. were born: Beth, who married Philip Renfro; John Thomas who married Connie Lane; and June who married Michael Penestante. To Sam and Gloria Kennedy was born Sammy. To James and Mary Kennedy were born Sheri, Jimmy, and Michael. To Don and Shirley Kennedy were born: Martha, who married Lynn Blair, then Joey Rodgers. To Don and Jeannie Kennedy were born Kurt and Kelly, To Polly Ann and Jerold Parmer were born Kenneth and David. EIGHTH GENERATION to June and Mike Penestante were born Joanna and Michael, To Martha and Lynn Blair was born Michelle Lynn. To Martha and Joey Rodgers was born Ashley Jill.