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Oklahoma Family Tree Stories

This beautiful sculpture of three redbud trees with gold and silver leaves by artist Robin Starke is located just outside the Eleanor & John Kirkpatrick Research Center in the Oklahoma History Center. Each leaf of the "Oklahoma Family Tree" memorializes an Oklahoma family with the family surname, first name(s), and the town or county where they lived. In addition, a short family history will be preserved in the digital family history book at the base of the tree. This is a great way for your family to make history and benefit future generations at the same time. To find out how to honor your own family with a leaf visit the Oklahoma Family Tree Project page.

Kenny Family

Thomas Joseph Kenny was born on February 16, 1875, in Darby, England. Yet his ancestors were primarily Irish. His father, John, was born around 1841 in Pennsylvania. His mother, Mary Anne (née Foley), was born circa 1840 in the County Wexford, Ireland. John and Mary Anne were married in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1870. In all likelihood, Thomas and Mary Anne, who emigrated from the County Longford, Ireland, were among millions of Irish who were escaping the potato famine. Nobody knows what drew the Kenny family to England. John Kenny died in Manchester on November 21, 1897.

John and Mary Anne had three sons: John, born in 1871 in New York; Thomas Joseph, born in 1875 in Darby, England; and Michael, born in 1881 in Manchester, England. Thomas Joseph Kenny was a North-West Mounted Police in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. In the 1901 Canadian Census, his occupation is listed as telegrapher.

Thomas J. Clark staked his claim in the Cherokee Strip Run in 1893. James McKinney homesteaded his land in 1896. In 1900 James and Susan (Mc)Kinney lived in Gibbon, Grant County, Oklahoma, with their adult son, James, Jr., According to their cousins, James, Jr., suffered from mental and emotional problems. Per an arrangement between the aging James and Susan Kinney and Thomas Kenny and Anna Gallagher, in exchange for the land, Thomas and Anna cared for James, Jr, Susan Kinney died in 1902, and James Kinney, Sr., died in 1903. James, Jr., followed them in death in the 1940s.

Thomas Joseph Kenny married Anna Gallagher on September 24, 1902, in Pond Creek, Grant County, Oklahoma Territory. The following announcement was published in the Manchester Journal on October 3, 1902: "Thomas Kenny and Anna Gallagher were married at Pond Creek Catholic church by Father J. Francis on Wednesday last. The groom, a relative of Mr. Kenny, came here from Canada, while the bride, a niece of Mrs. Kenny, came here several months ago from Ireland. The happy couple will make their home with Mr. Kenny's son. We extend congratulations."

Eleven children were born to this union on the Kenny family farm in Gibbon: John Francis (1903-1979); Thomas Joseph (1904-1967); Bernard Jerome (1906-1987); Mary Rose (Kenny) Peterson (b. 1907); Katherine Elizabeth (Kenny) Koehler (1909-1968); Joseph Richard (1910-2002); Edward Aloysius (1912-2003); Phillip Vincent (1914-1995); Rose Mary (Kenny) Koehler (1916-2001); Irene Ann (Kenny) Cummings (1919-2002); and Gerald Patrick (b. 1922). Kate and Rose married brothers. Jerry lived in Davis, California.

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church was very much a part of the Kenny family's social and spiritual life. The church, located between Gibbon and Manchester in Grant County, was built in 1898. All of the Kenny children were baptized and married at the church. John Kenny, the eldest of the Kenny clan, had an especially strong attachment to this church, for even though he left Gibbon and was estranged from his family, he returned in 1933 to have all three of his children—Thomas, John, and Phillip—baptized. Six of his siblings were godparents. James and Susan Kinney, their son James Jr., Thomas and Anna Kenny, and several of their children are buried at Saints Peter and Paul Church Cemetery, which is located one-quarter mile behind the church. According to a cousin, Kathy Dark, her mother, Rose (Kenny) Koehler said, "The Kenny family rarely missed mass, and Mrs. Kenny would warm bricks on the old stove and place them on the floor of the wagon to keep the children's feet warm on the seven mile trip to the church."

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