You can find a summary of David Kennaley’s life here, but I wanted to delve a little deeper into things. David Kennaley was my 3x great grandfather on my father’s side. Please note: while the surname Kennaley has changed multiple times over the years: Kennaley, Keneily, Kenealy, Connelly, Canale, Connal, etc. for sanity purposes, I will use the spelling of my grandmother’s maiden name, Kennaley, when discussing the family. In any other instance, the name is spelled as it was from the document it was copied.
When I first began researching David’s life, I was surprised and delighted to find that he too had lived in Jones County, IA. I was already familiar with the area, as my 3x great grandmother on my mother’s side, Mary Morton, had also lived in the area. And I had already researched it quite a bit for my novel about her life.
But David was exceptionally interesting as well. Most of my Jones County, IA research was done on the county’s amazing genealogical website, iowajones.org If you have family that came from this area, seriously, check it out. They have so many wonderful records and stories and pictures. If only all counties/states/genealogical societies were so thorough!
At the time my research began, the website had a “Search” box, which it seems, has since been disabled. It’s my only complaint, because it made finding things so much simpler. Along with the several census records that lists David and his family, I found a much more eye-catching article:
HORRIBLE MURDER IN JONES COUNTY
On Sunday, the 19th of September, 1858, Sheriff Newton S. Noble received information that an atrocious murder had been committed in Washington Township. The Sheriff immediately repaired to the place of the murder and succeeded in arresting the murderer. The murdered man was a Mr. Keneily, an Irishman, and Ned Penderghast the murderer. The crime was the result of the too free use of the “ardent.” These two men were at work mowing, when, having drank too freely, a quarrel ensued, and resulted in the killing of Keneily by Penderghast with a scythe. A Mr. Clancy was badly wounded by the blow that caused the death of Keneily, he (Clancy) standing near at the time. A good deal of excitement prevailed, and there was much talk of lynching Penderghast, but he was taken to Marion by the Sheriff and confined in jail to await trial. There was no jail in Anamosa at the time. In due time, Penderghast was tried in the District Court at Anamosa, convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to serve at hard labor for two years in the State Penitentiary at Fort Madison. He was taken to Fort Madison by Sheriff Noble, there to serve his time; returned to Jones County and soon after died.
And this one:
THE ANAMOSA EUREKA Friday September 24, 1858
Horrible Murder in JonesCounty, One Man Killed– Another Dangerously Wounded— Arrest Of The Murderer! The murder was committed on Saturday evening, the 18th inst., between 8 and 9 o’clock. The murdered man was David Keneily, an Irishman, and Penderghast who had been engaged in mowing for him on that day. Penderghast whilst under the influence of liquor, commenced a quarrel with Keneily and some hard words passed between them. A man named Clancy interfered and the difficulty was apparently settled. In the evening they went to Keneily’s house, and after supper Penderghast renewed his quarrel with Keneily. After a few words, Keneily told him he would give him his scythe, and then he must go home. They started out together, and Keneily gave him his scythe, and ordered him to leave the yard. Penderghast took the scythe, and followed Keneily, making motions to cut him. Clancy then came up, but before he could interfere, Penderghast had struck Keneily, almost entirely severing one leg at the thigh, and badly cutting the other. He expired almost instantly. Clancy was standing so near that the scythe struck the back part of one of his legs just above the knee, and severing some of the ligiments. Penderghast then started for the bushes, but came back in a few minutes, was seized and taken before Justice Plant.
But David’s story begins in Ireland. He was born in 1818. While the Kennaley surname originated in County Limerick, I’ve been unable to determine who David’s parents were. The name has changed spellings over the years, and it’s been difficult to trace back to Ireland. I place his birth in either County Limerick, or in County Cork, where in early spring of 1840, 22 year old David departed on a ship named the Governor Douglass. He arrived in New York, NY on 24 Apr 1840. He lived in New York from that time, until about 1848 when he married Hanorah Murphy, also born in County Cork, Ireland.
Whatever David did in New York, it left him profitable enough to purchase land in Washington township, Jones County, Iowa. He and Hanorah settled there after the land purchase and it’s where they had seven children. Margaret: b. about 1849; John: b. about 1850; David: b. about 1851; Edward: b. about 1853; Thomas: b. about 1856; and twins: Jeremiah Joseph and William: b. 24 Mar 1858. And in September of 1858, David was killed.
Following David’s murder, Penderghast was arrested and housed in the jail in Marion, Iowa. The coroner, M.H. Byerly, gathered the following facts:
Honora Keneily, being sworn in says:- I am the wife of the deceased; live here in Washington township, Jones County, Iowa; I was at home on Saturday, the 18th; Ned Penderghast and Wm. Clancy were owing for my husband on that day; they came into the house around 7 o’clock and after eating supper commenced a quarrel; Ned Penderghast said to Keneily, “By Christ, I will have my revenge of you.” Mr. Keneily said to Penderghast, “Come, I will give you your scythe, and I wish you to go home.” They went out together; in about fifteen minutes I went out, and Clancy exclaimed. “Oh, my God! My leg is cut off with the scythe, and your husband is cut too.” I went up and found my husband lying down bleeding; Penderghast was standing by, and when he saw me he ran off to the brush; my husband expired immediately.
William Clancy sworn, deposes and says:- I live in Washington township, Jones County, Iowa; I was mowing for David Keneily on Saturday, the 18th of September 1858; Ned Penderghast, the prisoner, was also mowing for Keneily on the same day; we came into the deceased’s house in the evening, and took supper about seven o’clock; immediately after supper a quarrel took place between Ned Penderghast and the deceased in the house; Mrs. Keneily and myself parted them; the deceased said to Penderghast, “I will give you your scythe, and I wish in the Name of God that you would go home;” they went out together; in about fifteen minutes I went out to the stable; I saw Penderghast, the prisoner here before me, standing beside the wagon with a scythe in his hand; I saw Mr. Keneily crossing the pole of the wagon; had the neck yoke in his hand; Keneily requested Penderghast to go away out of his sight and Penderghast followed Keneily up with the scythe in his hands, making motions to cut him; Keneily walked up towards Penderghast and told him if he did not go home he would knock him down dead; I went up to Keneily and requested him to keep away fro Penderghast for he would draw the scythe upon him, and while standing by Keneily Penderghast came up and struck the deceased and myself with the scythe; I saw Mr. Keneily stagger and fall to the ground; Keneily expired immediately.
From this the coroner put together:
The murder was committed on Saturday evening, the 18th inst., between 8 and 9 o’clock. The murdered man was a Mr. Keneily, an Irishman, and Penderghast had been engaged in mowing for him on that day, Penderghast, whilst under the influence of liquor, commenced a quarrel with Keneily, and some hard words passed between them. A man named Clancy interfered, and the difficulty was apparently settled. In the evening, they went to Keneily’s house, and after supper Penderghast renewed his quarrel with Keneily. After a few words, Keneily told him he would give him his scythe, and then he must go home. They started out together, and Keneily gave him his scythe, and ordered him to leave the yard. Penderghast took the scythe, and followed Keneily, making motions to cut him. Clancy then came up, but before could interfere, Penderghast had struck Keneily, almost entirely severing one leg at the thigh, and badly cutting the other. He expired almost instantly. Clancy was standing so near that the scythe struck the back part of one of his legs just above the knee, and severing some of the ligaments.
Penderghast then started for the bushes, but came back in a few minutes, was seized and taken before Justice Plant, and he there said he “supposed he was guilty, although he had no recollection of striking Keneily.”
A great deal of feeling was manifested against the prisoner, and a number in favor of lynching him immediately. -As soon as the Sheriff arrived, he took charge of the prisoner, and, after the inquest, brought him here. He is about 22 years old, rather under the medium size, and lightly built.
William Clancy was so severely wounded that he was not able to appear as witness for some time. The case finally went to court in May of 1859. Penderghast was indicted for murder in the 1st degree, but after only a few days of trial, he was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to two years hard labor in the Prison of the State of Iowa, which was and is located in Fort Madison, Lee County.
My family has a compilation of Kennaley’s descending from David and his wife Hanorah, and the documents included the above coroner’s report as well as an overview of the trial. When I first read through the booklet, I was beyond annoyed that Penderghast only received a two year sentence. Someone who hides behind a wagon lying in wait doesn’t sound like manslaughter to me. So I did a little research on Ed Penderghast. After his two year prison sentence, he enlisted on 7 Aug 1862 with the Union to fight during the Civil War. But he did not survive the war. On 15 Aug 1864 in Memphis, TN, Penderghast drowned in the Mississippi River while on his way to the regiment. That’s some karma.
Following the trial, Hanorah operated the farm with the help of her children. But by 1880, she had sold the farm and the family had moved. First to Hazel Green, Delaware County, Iowa and then to Neola, Pottawattamie County, Iowa.
In the last years of her life, Hanorah lived with her various children. In 1900, she lived in Liston township, Woodbury County, Iowa (near present day Danbury) with her son, Jeremiah and his family. On 15 Jan 1908, Hanorah passed away in Neola, Pottawattamie County, Iowa. She was buried in the St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery in Neola under the name, Honora Kenealy.
Hanorah (Murphy) Kennaley
Hanorah with her children
While the story of David’s murder is a peek into how difficult pioneering life was, I find what happened after his death, Hanorah and her struggles, to be the more fascinating story. Here was a woman who was left with seven small children to raise alone and by sheer force of will, and she succeeded. All of her children survived to adulthood and beyond, in a time when it was common to lose multiple children to illnesses or accidents. And she herself lived to nearly 90, which says to me she had to be made of grit. There is no photo of her grave on findagrave.com yet but it’s only a thirty minute drive to Neola, so I plan to add one. Here’s hoping there is a stone.