Tom F. Kenny

MINERAL COUNTY WEST VIRGINIA
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Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
vfcrook@trellis.net
April 12, 2000
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The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 400

TOM F. KENNY, dean of the insurance agents at Pied-
mont, and ex-postmaster of the city, is one of the most rep-
resentative men of Mineral County, and one who holds the
confidence of everyone who knows him. Practically his
entire life has been spent in this locality, and no man has
its interests closer at heart than he. He was born on Bac-
coon Creek, near the Village of Newburg, Preston County,
West Virginia, December 25, 1853, a son of Thomas and
Mary (0’Connor) Kenny, both from County Galway, Ire-
land, where they were married. Coming to the United
States in 1847, they first established their home at Cum-
berland, Maryland, but later leaving that city for Preston
County, West Virginia, making the trip by stage. On the
present site of Newburg they bought an acre of ground,
as they had learned the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, then
in process of construction, was to have a station at that
point, and realizing that the investment was likely to be
profitable.

Thomas Kenny was a member of the surveying party,
and carried the surveyor’s chain almost the whole way
from Cumberland to Grafton in the work of locating the
line of the road. When the location work was completed
he was employed by one of the contractors on the construc-
tion work, Jacob Humbard, and was connected with the ac-
tual building of the road as far west as Grafton. He then
wont with the track department of the road, and continued
with it until his death, which occurred in 1867, his widow
surviving him until 1886, when she died at the age of sev-
enty-eight years, and both are interred in the Grafton Cem-
etery.

The children born to Thomas Kenny and his wife were
as follows: John, Timothy, Mary, Patrick, Julia, Tom
Francis and Michael. Of these children John Kenny spent
his life at Grafton and was track superintendent of the
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and died in that city. Timothy
entered the railroad service and was a conductor on the
Third Division of the Baltimore & Ohio until 1866, when
he left the railroad, and, coming to Piedmont, built the
Kenny House, which still bears his name. This became one
of the most famous hostelries along the road, and he con-
ducted it until he reached an advanced age, when he re-
tired, and he died at Baltimore, Maryland, at the home of
his son, Rev. Father T. B. Kenny, of that city, and is buried
in Maryland. Mary never married, but spent the greater
part of her life at the Kenny House with her brother Tim-
othy. She died at Piedmont, and is buried in the cemetery
by the side of her parents. Patrick was also a railroad
man, and for about forty years was a conductor with the
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and then retired from its serv-
ice. He died in 1916, and he, too, is buried at Grafton.
Michael was killed in the shaft explosion at Newburg in
1889, while engaged in coal mining. Patrick was a team-
ster during the war of the ’60s, for the Federal Govern-
ment, and John was assistant to the roadmaster of the Balti-
more & Ohio Railroad, having charge of the reconstruction
of bridges from the Ohio River to Martinsburg, destroyed
by the Confederate forces. Julia, the younger daughter,
married James Talbott, a resident of Mononga, West Vir-
ginia.

Tom F. Kenny spent his boyhood and youth at Newburg,
and there received his preliminary education, his boyhood
friends being the Crogan lads, one of whom has since be-
come a distinguished lawyer of Kingwood, Preston County.
The year his father died Tom F. Kenny came to Piedmont,
and while completing his education lived with his brother
at the Kenny House. Beginning his business career, he
conducted a news stand, corner of Second Street and Childs
Avenue, and occupied that spot for eighteen years, acquir-
ing there his start in life. In 1893 he sold this business
and was appointed postmaster by President Cleveland, suc-
ceeding William B. Heskett in that office, in which he con-
tinued until 1898, when he was succeeded by the republican
nominee.

Upon leaving the postoffice Mr. Kenny embarked in the
life and fire insurance business, in which he has since con-
tinued, and he represents many of the most reliable com-
panies, including the Hartford, the Home of New York,
the Continental, the Royal, the Commercial Union, the Na-
tional Union, the Atlas Assurance, and the Camden Fire In-
surance Company. He also represents the United States
Fidelity and Guaranty Company of Baltimore. Of late
years he has confined his operations to the fire insurance
and bonding business.

Before he was appointed postmaster Mr. Kenny had made
his influence felt in democratic circles, and during a period
of thirty years he was a delegate to the state and congres-
sional conventions, and was a member of the one which,
after a siege of four days, nominated Governor Wilson.
He also gave his support to William L. Wilson for Con-
gress. The latter was nominated the first time at Pied-
mont by Col. John T. McGraw, of Grafton, in one of his
first public speeches. In the democratic contest for presi-
dent in 1912 Mr. Kenny was a supporter of the late Champ
dark, and did his best to nominate his candidate, but after
Woodrow Wilson became his party’s candidate he loyally
supported him. In fact, Mr. Kenny has always been the
advocate of the scholar in politics. He says, “If democracy
was run in its purity as handed down to us by the framers
of the constitution, we would have different conditions in
our country now.” He is a Roman Catholic in his religious
faith.

Tom F. Kenny married at Newburg, West Virginia, Jan-
uary 17, 1881, Catherine D. Daily, a daughter of Dennis
and Anna (McArthur) Daily, natives of Scotland, who lo-
cated at Newburg about 1854, and Mrs. Kenny was born
in that village June 8, 1855. There were seven daughters
in the family of her parents, namely: Mrs. M. A. Moran,
Mrs. Elizabeth Kenny, wife of Patrick Kenny, Mrs. Mar-
garet Doonan, Mrs. Tom F. Kenny, Mrs. Esther Barrett,
Mrs. Isabel Templeton and Miss Bridget Daily.

The children born to Mr. and Mrs. Tom F. Kenny were
as follows: T. Daily Kenny, who is assistant to President
William B. Cornwell on the Winchester & Western Bail-
road, with hearquarters and residence at Winchester, Vir-
ginia; Stanley A., who is assistant auditor in the revenue
department of the Federal Government, with headquarters
at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; John Sheridan, who repre-
sents the American Can Company of Chicago at Cumber-
land, Maryland; and Ada Maria, who is a stenographer in
the Department of the Interior, Washington, District of
Columbia, where she has been since the beginning of the
World war.

Stanley A. and John Sheridan Kenny volunteered for
service during the World war. John Sheridan Kenny was
the first to enlist from Piedmont, and was in the Second
West Virginia Infantry. He was trained at Camp Hum-
phreys, mobilizing first in Fairmont, and went overseas
from Humphreys. He was sergeant of his company and
was made purchasing agent for the camp while in France.
After the signing of the armistice he was returned home
without injury, and returned to civil life. Stanley A.
Kenny went overseas after his brother, and was sergeant-
major of his company, but did not get to the front before
the signing of the armistice. He was returned home in 1919.
also without injury. Taking the internal revenue depart-
ment examination, he entered its service, where he has since
remained.