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Lance L. Kennedy

KENNEDY, JOHN J. (ca. 1813–ca. 1880). John J. Kennedy, Harrison County sheriff, lawyer, Confederate cavalry captain, and unsuccessful Texas Senate candidate, was born in South Carolina about 1813. His middle name is suspected to be Joseph, but he never spelled it out and used the initials “J. J.” or “John J.” exclusively. Kennedy served as a first lieutenant under the command of United States Army Gen. Abraham Eustis in the Second Seminole and Alabama Red Stick wars. He and his wife, Elizabeth Fields, and her extended family, including patriarch Joseph Fields, immigrated to the Republic of Texas in February 1837.

Kennedy and his family first arrived at Clarksville, Red River County, where his wife gave birth to a son, Joseph Fields Kennedy. He received a certificate for a second class headright for 1,280 acres in 1838. The clan then moved to newly-founded Marshall in Harrison County. Kennedy was elected Harrison County sheriff in the mid-1840s, and his brother in-law, Joseph Upton Fields, was elected county judge. As Harrison County sheriff, he was involved with a local conflict known as the Regulator-Moderator War. Kennedy, with the aid of the militia sent by President Sam Houston, helped end the lawlessness.

The 1850 census for Harrison County listed Kennedy as a farmer. The household included his wife and five children. That same year he ran for the Texas Senate as a Jeffersonian Democrat and opposed the Compromise of 1850. He was initially declared the winner, but the victory was short-lived. The election results showed Kennedy defeated. In the 1860 census he reported a total worth of more than $19,000.

In 1862 Kennedy joined the Confederate Army. He served as captain of Company K, Seventeenth Texas Cavalry, and saw action at the battle of Arkansas Post in the Vicksburg Campaign.

After the war Kennedy moved to Hallsville, Texas, where he lived during the remainder of his life. He was a Mason and a member of Marshall Lodge No. 22. He died around 1880.


Randolph B. Campbell, A Southern Community in Crisis: Harrison County, Texas, 1850–1880 (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1983). Texas State Gazette, November 16, 1850.

Lance L. Kennedy

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Lance L. Kennedy, "KENNEDY, JOHN J.," accessed August 13, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fkenn.

Uploaded on November 11, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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