William James Kennedy, better known as "Unlce Bill, was in Decatur County by about 1900, but his grandfather, Hugh Kennedy, settled in Henderson County around 1823, when he received a grant in what was then Perry County. Hugh married Jane Delaney in Greene County TN in 1818, and was in Washington County records for a few years. Daughters, Emeline and Maria were probably born there. There were six additional children born after moving to Henderson County: David and Isaac (twins), John G., Margaret, Hugh Johnson and Louisa. All the boys raised families in the Henderson-Decatur County area.
Jane was the daughter of John Delaney and grandaughter of Francis and Agnes Delaney. They were listed on the 1783 tax roll of Greene County TN Being among the earliest settlers of Tennessee and were in Greene County in 1796 when Tennessee became a state, making their descendants eligible for "First Families of Tennessee." Delaneys and Kennedys probably landed in Pennsylvania and came down the Appalachian Valley to Virginia and later to Tennessee. Many of their neighbors are proved to have followed that route.
The Kennedys were a classic divided Civil War family. John G. was a Rebel while his twin brothers, David and Isaac, were Union. John G. enlisted early and was in the Battle of Shiloh (APril 1862) in which seventy-five percent of his company was killed or wounded. He came directly home after the battle and his son, William James, was born three weeks later. It appears his enlistment was up as he remained at home until the following January when he re-enlisted in a Cavalry Company and was in the Confederate Army until the end of the war. David and Isaac enlisted September 1862 for three years in the Union Cavalry.
John G. Kennedy married Mary Jane Brawley. Their children were Charles J. who died young, Elizabeth Jane Goff, Hugh Johnson "Jonse", John Jackson "Jack", Permely Caroline, died in infancy, William James, Ephraim cain and Thomas Cathey Kennedy. William James married Nancy "Annie" Jane Austin in December 1887. The Austins came to Henderson County from Anson County NC about 1826. They settled in the cedar Grove area of Henderson County. Uncle Bill and ANnie moved to an area known as Bluff Chapel on the old Scotts Hill-Decaturville Road about 1900 where he built a house and opened a country store. The house is still there and owned by one of the grandchildren. No one lives in it now, but it is still the "home place" to many Kennedys and 45 descendants were there for the 1995 Decoration Day including Mrs. Batry Hill and Ms. Willie Hawkins who were both in their 90s. Uncle Bill died in 1939.
Annie Jane was a strong willed woman who taught herself to read and write and encouraged her children to get an education and be somebody. Her descendants number lawyers, engineers, business owners, university professors and other professionals. She was the mother of nine children: John Elvin, Charles Edgar, Ella Buella, died in infancy, Essie Creasy, Ethel Florence Goff, Willie Jane Hawkins, Batry Vallen Wexler Hill, James Clifford and Ruby Pearle Wallace Mitchell. She died in 1963 at 93 years of age leaving 13 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.
Contributed by Kathy Gautney