Family Stories

Joseph Bonaparte Kenney – Bourbon/Scott Counties

I share with you today a biography included in The Biographical Encyclopedia of Kentucky of the Dead and Living Men of the Nineteenth Century, by J. R. Armstrong and Company, originally printed in 1878.  This is a different set of biographies than those usually seen by Perrin, Battle and Kniffin.  This particular volume was reproduced from an 1878 edition located in the John E. Ladson’s private library in Vidalia, George, by Southern Historical Press, Inc.  Since copyright laws include this edition, I received permission from Southern Historical Press to share biographies with you. is a wonderful source for genealogy books.  I have ordered several from them.

Joseph Bonaparte Kenney

Joseph Bonaparte Kenney, farmer, was born January 19, 1806, near Paris, in Bourbon County, Kentucky.

His father, James Kenney, was a Virginian who settled, in 1781, on he banks of the Stone River, in Kentucky.  He was twice married; first to Miss Froome, and afterwards to Margaret Johnson, by each of whom he had eight children.  Joseph B. was the fourth child by the second wife.  His father was considered one of the finest farmers of his day.  He died when Joseph was but eight years old. 

The early education of Joseph B. Kenney was quite moderate, and the early years of his life were passed upon a farm.  Upon the death of his father, the five sons inherited a large farm of two thousand acres, which they divided among themselves.  Joseph at once became an enterprising farmer and stock breeder upon a large scale, raising cattle, sheep, hogs and mules.  He drove his own cattle and hogs to market – first in Virginia and the South, and finally to Cincinnati, Ohio.  In 1829, he sold out in Bourbon County, and removed o Scott County, continuing his previous business until 1865, when he divided his property among his children, and settled at Georgetown.  He was a magistrate for sixteen years, under the old Constitution.  He also served for eight years after the adoption of the new Constitution.  He was for sixteen yeas a director of the Lexington and Covington Turnpike Company, and, for twenty-one years more, president of that corporation.  He has been for ten years a trustee identified with the progressive enterprises of his neighborhood.  He was the first man in the county who used the following method of sowing wheat:  he sowed the wheat in a field which had grown corn the previous season, and which had been left standing in the stalk, and the hogs, as they ate the standing corn, tramped down the wheat into the ground.  This method has since been largely adopted.  He has been a member of the Presbyterian Church for forty years. 

In March, 1827, he married Lavinia, daughter of Henry Lauder, a farmer of Bourbon County, who was considered one of the neatest farmers of that vicinity.  By this marriage he had ten children, nine of whom united with the Presbyterian Church, and grew up useful and honored members of society.  Six of his children now survive:  Margaret A., widow of B. C. Glass; James H., who married Norah Graves; Sallie, wife of Joseph Force; Charles O., who married Miss Grisham; Alice V., wife of Samuel Davis; and Victor M., who married Alice Warren, of Illinois.  These all live in Scott County, except Victor M. Kenney, who lives in the State of Illinois.

In the Lexington Herald-Leader, January 19, 1967, edition, is an article about a Main Street home in Georgetown that was ‘built by Michael Goddard after 1830 and “modernized” by the children of Joseph B. Kenney between 1865 and 1880’ is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Phil Pike.  The property was purchased in 1865 by ‘James H. Kenney, and in 1885 it passed to other brothers and sisters.  These owners included Samuel and Alice Kenney Davis, Victor Kenney and Bettie F. Glass, and James H. and Nora W. Kenney.’  After the renovation the property was sold to Thomas B. Gaines.  The original brick was rose-colored, which Mr. and Mrs. Pike planned to have sand-blasted to restore. 

Children of Joseph Bonaparte Kenney (19 Jan 1806 – 01 Jan 1887) and Margaret Lavinia Lauder (15 Sep 1808 – 14 Jan 1884):

  1. Margaret Ann Kenney (05 Mar 1828 – Dec 1908) married Benjamin Christy Glass.
  2. James Houston Kenney (06 May 1830 – 09 Apr 1886) married Eleanor Martha Graves.
  3. Henry Lauder Kenney (29 Oct 1832 – 26 Feb 1851).
  4. Joseph Franklin Kenney (31 Aug 1834 – 24 Oct 1865) married Mary Eliza Thomas.
  5. Napoleon Bonaparte Kenney (28 Oct 1836 – 18 Oct 1868).
  6. Sarah Frances Kenney (11 Apr 1839 – 1894) married Joseph Foree.
  7. Charles Oscar Kenney (12 Mar 1841 – 28 Sep 1914) married Mary Grissim.
  8. Lavinia Alice Kenney (11 Apr 1843 – 01 Jan 1921) married Samuel Marshall Davis.
  9. Maria H. Kenney (1846 – 22 Jun 1851).
  10. Victor Moreau Kenney (Sep 1846 – 16 Jul 1941) married Alice Warren.

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