New information and more research has uncovered a bit more history about an old implement shop at the site of the old Main Garage, the subject of last September's column. The McCormick dealership was directly east of the Kelsey Livery Stable, and was also built over Cedar Creek. The course of Cedar Creek has changed westward in that area over the years, allowing for a small parking area.
In the 'Pioneer History' column of September 1980, a story about the early community of Orchard Grove, and some of its pioneers appeared. One of those early men was Charles Kenney (1792-1856), who came to Lake County in 1838 and purchased 160 acres of prairie land and 40 acres of timber land for the bargain price of $1.25 per acre. Pioneering with him was his son, Jeremiah M. Kenney (1823-1911), who was the grandfather of Jerry C. Kenney (1873-1958), the proprietor for several years of that prosperous implement shop in downtown Lowell.
Jerry C. Kenney was born on the old family homestead east of Lowell, near the east intersection of State Roads 2 and 55. His grandfather, Jeremiah M. Kenney, was the owner and operator of the general store on that corner from 1854 until about 1900. He was also the postmaster.
Jerry Clifford Kenney, nicknamed "Kip," was born in 1873, the son of George W. Kenney (1849-1924) and Olive Fuller Kenney, who died in 1922. His brothers and sisters were Cora, born in 1875; Vern, 1877; Murrell, 1879; and Charles, 1882. His half brother was Cordean (Cordie) G. Kenney, born in 1892. Cordie's wife, Bessie, was the secretary of the Lake County Historical Assn. for many years, and was a well-known historian.
As a child, Jerry Kenney traveled with his parents to Coates, Kan., where his mother died and was buried before the family returned to the Orchard Grove Community.
As a young lad, Jerry spent considerable amount of time at his grandfather's general store. Among the many jobs a young boy could do was candling and packing eggs, and young Jerry received his pay in pocketfuls of hard candy. Jerry learned the alphabet and arithmetic at the old Orchard Grove School, where his first teacher was Martha Haste.
In the spring of 1895, Jerry C. and his fiancee, Bertha Wallace (1878-1930), received an invitation to the 13th Annual Commencement of Crown Point High School. The invitation was from Bertha's cousin, and they drove the "Nine Mile Stretch" that hot day in ankle deep dust to attend the exercises. Earlier, they had decided to make the same day their wedding day, and were married by Rev. W.A. Mathews, who had given the Benediction at the program. At first they farmed the old Kenney Homestead, then built a new home on ten acres north of the corner and continued to farm the older farm.
In about 1900, at the time his grandfather sold the general store to George Fisher of Lowell, Jerry began work at the McCormick dealership in Lowell, and soon purchased the business. The old implement building also housed from 4-6 cows which were milked daily and driven to pasture by his son, Cecil. Cecil also delivered fresh milk in Lowell, carrying three one-quart pails in each hand.
Jerry and Bertha Kenney's children were Cecil, born in 1896; Stella O. (1899-1900); and Nelda Blanche, born in 1909.
Cecil Raymond Kenney married Mabelle L. Einspahr and their children are Virgadell D., married to Wayne E. Bateman, and Sandra R., married to Charles N. Wilson.
Nelda Blanche Kenney married Walter Dickey Childress (born in 1907) in 1926 and they were blessed with five children: Beverly A., married to George Wilkening; Jerry L., who married Mary L. Hall; W. Dickey, who married Wynona B. McDole; Joyce D., married to Walter D. Huseman; and Nancy, spouse of Don Kustron.
After Bertha's death in 1930, Jerry married Amanda Maude Dean in 1933.
In the Lake County Directory of 1909, Jerry C. Kenney is listed under "Implements, wagons and buggies" at the old address of 218 West Commercial, now East Commercial, with Telephone 27. In about 1911, the old implement building was removed and Jerry returned to the farm. He also went into the ditch contracting business for a time and continued farming and traveling until his retirement, when he lived in a small home on the farm of his son Cecil near Leroy.
Jerry "Kip" Kenney, descendant of a pioneer family and related to many other early pioneer families of southern Lake County by kinship and by friendship, died in 1958.
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