Kenny, Kenney, or Kinney?

Written January, 28, 2005




    In June 2002, I visited Sturgeon Bay, WI  to seek out the question on how the Kennys/Kenneys spelled their name.  It seemed that all the data that I found was written as Kenney.  Land records, marriage records, birth and death records even seemed to be written as Kenney.  I looked everywhere for a record that was not transcribed by someone else.  All the records found were written by another's hand,  even the land records.   BUT....  on my last day, I was able to find a settlement of a law suit that Edward Kenny was involved in, and with it was an actual signature written in perfect penmanship, and spelled Edward Kenny.  This was a welcome find.  Many of the Kennys could not sign their own name, but Edward sure could.  He was involved in many political areas of Nasewaupee, including Justice of the Peace.  He also taught school for many years and therefore, could sign his name and I might add, in the penmanship taught to children.  

One other item that I found convinces me that we are Kenny's.  There was a grave stone at the St. Mary's Cemetery, near Sturgeon Bay, that just said, Kenny.  It is where many of the Kenny's are buried. 

Below, please find my other thoughts that I had previously written.


All my life, I have been proud of the spelling of my last name, because this was what I always assumed the correct spelling to have originally been.  I am not fully sure if my thoughts are correct.  In fact, when someone would spell my name Kenney or Kinney, inside, I would cringe.  

In many cases, the record keeper simply misspelled the name, but in my research, I cannot rule out that some of my ancestors may have used the name Kenney.  To be specific,  the following data was discovered, all using the word, Kenney or Kinney; 

* Many, many census returns, from Smiths Falls to Sturgeon Bay, to Carroll, IA, to   Omaha. 

* Numerous parish records from the same areas.

* Obituary of Mrs. James Kenney, on Feb. 27, 1920

* Obituary of Mrs. Phillip Gillick, showing her maiden name as Anna Kenney.

* Obituary of Edward's son, Joseph Kenney.

* Richard P. Kenny's death certificate it is spelled KENNEY

*Actual marriage certificates of James and Edward Kenney, in Door County, WI.

* On grave stones of Richard P. Kenny's children in Arcadia, Iowa.

* On grave stones in Smiths Falls, Ontario.


All of these people and documents,  I could look past as perhaps the record keepers error, or the Kenny individual just not caring about the correct spelling, But.... there are a few things that I find hard to look past;

* The citizen application papers for Edward and James Kenney,   It is possible that James marked it with an X, and someone else signed it, same with Edwards.

* On the grave stone in Arcadia, IA, it shows 3 separate burials on one pillar shape stone, three sides. All three children were definitely Richard and Eliza Kennys. They were Bridget, Elizabeth and William, and all their names are spelled KENNEY.

* The fact that the other people from the Sturgeon Bay area that are researching the Gillick and Kennys, and fellow researchers in the Smiths Falls area, all seems to think their way of spelling was Kenney, and that these individuals all went by Kenney.  Bob Pabst, a grandson to Anna Kenny Gillick, said it was the only way he remembered it being spelled.  If it wasn't Kenney, it was Kinney, but he never recalled it as Kenny.


Now, lets not forget about Bartholomew.  Bartholomew was a brother to all these Kennys in Sturgeon Bay, and in fact, lived there himself for at least a year or two.  He showed up in the 1870 census as Bartholomew Kinney.  His property fell victim to the Great Fire of 1871, in which he and brother Richard Kenney, lost all their property, land and farm tools.  (note: At the bottom of the page with the fire of 1871, the spellings were Kinney).  Please see link to Bartholomew. 

David A. Kenny Jr. a world renowned Psychologist, shared the following with me, "Not sure I shared with you the story of why it is, that there are Kennys and Kenneys (and Kellys and Kelleys). Supposedly, the preferred British spelling is Kenney. So during the famine, the English when giving out food would ask how to spell the name. If you said Kenny they would not give you food. So those are called Kenny would rather starve than give into the English. It is a great story, even if it is not true.

In summary, I know that my families spelling, is Kenny.  I feel that the Kenny family came over from Ireland, and at their port of debarkation, it ended up as the record keepers error.  I have indications to believe that the parents were illiterate, and perhaps may have even went by Kenney or Kenny, and even Kinney.  I did notice on several trips to Ireland, that there were many many more Kennys in Ireland than there are Kenneys.  I found many of the Protestants in North America/Canada were spelled Kenney and many of the Catholics in North America/Canada, spelled it Kenny, though this is surely not a fact.  After my last trip to Ireland, in Nov. 2005, I stayed with distant cousins, in Kennystown. (ummm, note the spelling)  They assured me the spelling is indeed, KENNY, and they are relatives of all my Kennys from there.   Thank goodness !!!!!!

In summary, this is the 21st century, and I have just given the proof.

       STOP SPELLING IT KENNEY !!!!!!!!!