Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Link to Chicago Mayor Kennelly?

Posted by Craig on 8/12/2009
Last September, when I first moved to Chicago, I threw together a blog post of my genealogical connections to the city.

The most interesting and ironic link from that list was that my great-grandfather Wallace Kanalley came to Chicago looking for work in 1920 at the age of 18, not far away from my coming at 23. He spent time as a watchman, but obviously didn't stay, as he was in Buffalo a few years later (where I grew up), and had my grandfather Kenneth in Buffalo in 1932.

Since then, I've also learned that some of my Bulger relatives came from Canada to Chicago in the late 1800's (not listed in that original post).

And tonight, an old video triggered an old memory.

The video is literally old, though I found it in the most new media of ways. A YouTube video depicting 1948 night life in Chicago, I came across it while doing work with Twitter during my internship today at the Chicago Tribune.

At 1:39-1:43, the video mentions Colonel McCormick, former Tribune publisher, who @ColonelTribune was inspired by.

Interestingly, the man introduced in the video right before Colonel is "the honorable Mayor Martin H. Kennelly." Mayor of Chicago from 1947 to 1955, the name immediately brought back memories.

Chicago Mayor Martin H. Kennelly, 1947, Photo by Time (OK for personal use)

About five years ago or so, long before I knew I'd ever come to Chicago, a distant relative of mine said they had heard we're related to a Mayor Martin Kennelly. I knew he was from Chicago, but I didn't know when he served. How ironic I came across him in the video...

INTERESTINGLY, the guy in the video pronounces the surname the way I pronounce mine, and even more interesting I think, I know for a fact my name used to be spelled Kennelly in Ireland. I'm very confident there's a link.

I did a little digging. He was born in Chicago in 1887 and his father is said to have come from Ballylongford, Co. Kerry, according to genealogy forums. County Kerry neighbors County Limerick, where my ancestor Thomas Kennelly was born in about 1820. Again, I'm sure there's some kind of connection. It's even possible that Thomas had a brother who was Martin's grandfather, making the former Mayor and my great-grandfather Wallace just second cousins.

So here's the video... watch from about 1:34-1:39.

10 comments on "Link to Chicago Mayor Kennelly?"

Anonymous said...

Martin Kennelly was one of 4 children. He had a sister, Ella, and two brothers, Jerry and John.
His brother John Kennelly was my grandfather. My grandfather died before I was born so Martin "adopted" our family and acted as our grandfather. I saw him many times for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas until his death in 1961. He was also my godfather and I was baptised in 1950 while he was Mayor of Chicago. He was a fine gentleman, quiet, gentle and generous.

Jerry Martin Kennelly

Anonymous said...

So Craig, with your interest in geneology, were you able to track a direct connection between your family and ours? ( I am Jerry Kennelly's older sister). I would be very interested in any thing you may have confirmed.

My brother's description of our "Uncle Marty" is exactly as I remember him.

Marilyn Kennelly

Anonymous said...

To Jerry Martin Kennelly,
Did Martin have any children. I am researching the ancestors of Herman John Kennelly Sr. I was told by Herman John Kennelly Jr daughter Linda that Martin was her great grandfather but I can not find any evidence to support her information.

Vicky Swaton Langlois

Unknown on October 11, 2016 at 11:40 AM said...

As far as I know Martin H. Kennelly, Mayor of Chicago, never married, nor had children. My dad is cousins with Marilyn and Jerry. If you have any documentation that might connect our two families that would be wonderful.

Unknown on December 7, 2016 at 6:19 PM said...

I was born Kathleen Ann Coughlin in Evanston, IL. My Grandmother was Margaret Kennelly, my Grandfather Jeremiah Coughlin. I was raised hearing that Mayor Kennelly was my Great Uncle. But, I guess since he had no children, he may have been a 2nd uncle to my Grandmother. On my Grandfather's side...Bath House John Coughlin was an uncle...the family was so ashamed, they had changed our last name to Conklin for a while. LOL Maybe we might be related. My Father is Jeremiah Coughlin, my Mother is Rasma. If you have any info...please email me. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I am Grace Kennelly and believe that Martin Kennelly is the son of my great grandfather's brother, Timothy (born in Ireland around 1851) who immigrated from Ireland as a child in 1851. I have the Census records from 1900 listing Timothy Kennelly as 49 years old, living in Monroe County, New York. He had 7 children with his wife Catherine - John W., Catherine M., Margaret, Timothy, Mary, Vincent and Leo (my grand father). I believe Catherine M. was my dad's Aunt Kit but my dad can't recall a lot of his childhood as he was born in Northern California. I know that Vincent Kennelly became the mayor of Fairport, NY and was an auctioneer - I met him when I was a child. I would love to know if anyone that has posted has anymore information as my father's side of the family is a slight mystery to us all. My father is 84 years old and his father, Leo John, passed away shortly after I was born in 1966.
Thank you!!

Craig on August 10, 2017 at 11:02 AM said...

Jerry and Marilyn,

You never left contact information and it is years later, so I hope you somehow see this. I am not sure to date of a definite connection -- however, in recent years I have been doing research through DNA testing - I have had multiple relatives test including a great-uncle with the Kanalley surname. One of our findings is the Co Kerry Kennellys ARE connected to our Co Limerick Kennellys. Most of our DNA connections are coming up around Listowel Parish and Ballybunion, and that vicinity, but Ballylongford where Mayor Martin Kennelly was from is not far from these places. I visited Ballylongford myself in 2012 and stopped by Kennellys Pub - it was closed but got a photo. I did meet a Tim Kennelly who owns an auto shop and is related to the pub owners. And I met a Mike Kennelly who owns a Kennellys Hardware Store in Moyvane. We are probably all related if you go back far enough :)

Have either of you taken a DNA test by any chance? Would you be willing? An AncestryDNA or FamilyTreeDNA Family Finder test would work well to see if our families are one in the same.


Unknown on August 19, 2017 at 7:31 PM said...

My wife Juli and sons Ryan, Tim, and Patrick John met Tim Kennelly also at the Kennelly Bar in Ballylongford. Since my son shared his name my son Tim was allowed to bartend for a while. We also met Mike Kennelly's family the owner of the hardware in town. My family is originally from Movane Ireland.
Patrick Joseph Kennelly.

Jack on August 28, 2017 at 12:04 AM said...

Hello to all,

My name is Jack Kennelly. Nice to hear these stories. My grandfather John, was born in Lisselton, about 4 miles from Ballylongford, in about 1885. He had told me that he was a first cousin to the former mayor. My grandfather settled in Bridgeport, "back of the yards" in the same neighborhood as Martin. My grandfather had 2 brothers who also emigrated to Chicago, although one of them, I believe that his name was Tom, went back to Ireland some time later and died in the 60s. It has been about 35 years since I have been back to that area in county Kerry. Great people. I would like my kids to meet some of their relatives. At that time some of my relatives had farms and also raised greyhounds for racing. My grandmother's name was Donovan. She also grew up within a few miles of Ballylongford.

Conor Kennelly said...

hi Craig and everyone else in the chat above. Craig, we've already been in touch with each other via messenger and on As you know Craig, I eventually took up the dna challenge so if anyone else above has done so it would be interesting to see if we can establish a connection. I'm from the townland of Coolnagraigue, Ballylongford or Cool as it's more commonly known around the village. From what I heard, the Mayor's father was from Lenamore Cross which is about halfway between Ballylongford and Moyvane. Lenamore townland bordered Cool though the borders were and still are quite nebulous. Some of my grand aunts and uncles are listed as born in Lenamore and others are listed as born in Cool in parish records. I note Jack that your grandfather was born in Liselton. My great grandfather Edmund was born in Coolard, Liselton in the 1830s. His father was Jeremiah Kennelly and was born in about 1825. The family eventually moved to Cool but I don't know exactly when. Just to note, Jack, if you're doing family research, Liselton then was just a townland of Ballybunion before eventually becoming an "independent" parish in the last century. Most of my grand uncles, emigrated to Chicago and sadly contact was lost with them over time. My eldest granduncle was Jeremiah and his son, also Jeremiah or just Jerry, was born around 1900 and achieved minor fame as the inventor of the Mars light. It's interesting to note how the name Jeremiah pops up several times in the above posts and suggests a probable connection given the naming format that was used in Irish families until relatively recently (before we started getting notions about ourselves and started using more exotic names borrowed from abroad!). I should also note that my grandfather, John was also known as Jack though there are dozens of John Kennellys in Parish records in North Kerry in the 19th century. In any case, I hope to hear more from the posters above and will chat to you later Craig on messenger. Kind Regards, Conor Kennelly.


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