Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Who Is Mrs. F. B. Kennard aka "Alice L."?

When Frank Benjamin Kennard married Sarah (Sadie) Ellen Kennedy in 1891, he was 40 years old. It would be logical to assume he may have had another wife or two. Frank was a civil engineer who received his education in Portland, Maine circa 1874 based on his engineering guide book. The part where Frank moves from Maine to Billings, Yellowstone, Montana is still a mystery.

From several written accounts, Frank worked on the Northern Pacific Railroad in Montana as a contractor. According to The Yellowstone Genealogy Forum http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mtygf/county/yellowstone.htm, the third building built in Billings, Montana was for FB Kennard. Frank and his wives, Alice and Sarah, bought and sold many pieces of property in and around Billings, Montana from 1882 into the 1890s. In the early to mid 1890s, Frank and Sadie were located on ranch in Kinsey, Custer, Montana near Miles City.

Getting back to Alice. She bought and sold land with and without Frank in Billings from 1883 to 1885. Where did she and Frank meet? Where did they get married? Did they have children? Maybe such questions could be answered if they were found in the 1880. But .... I have looked for years for Frank even before I knew about the existence of Alice. They were most likely in some very desolated part of either Dakota Territory. Many of their associates were in Bismarck, Dakota Territory (now North Dakota) in 1880.

Sadly, Mrs. F. B. Kennard (Alice L.) died on July 31, 1886 in Detroit, Wayne, Michigan. Figuring out where she died, took more than a little deducing. The following is the obituary for Alice L. Kennard published in “The Daily Gazette” in Billings, Montana on Friday, August 6, 1886:

Alice L. Kennard

The people of this community are greatly bereaved in the death of the dear woman whose names stands at the head of this sketch. Word comes to us through Mrs. Judge Goss who is now visiting in the East, that Mrs. Kennard was borne to the grave on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1886.
She was one the first ladies to arrive in Billings, and was well and favorably known by most of our people. She was a woman of exceptional conversational powers; bright, sprightly and animated. Always interesting, always consistent and kind, with a pleasant smile for all. She was willing beyond her strength ready to help and engage in every good work. She was eminently sociable in her instincts, and habits of thought and life; warm in her friendships, craving sympathy and love. She was also religious in her feelings and beliefs; a member of the Congregational church of this place, and as her pastor I can testify as to her Christian and womanly worth. She was a rare, good woman, and her loss is nearly irreparable. It gives me great pleasure to bear this emphatic testimony, of one so near and dear to us, and to all the people of this place, and I know they will heartily respond to the sentiments and feelings expressed.
Alice L. Kennard is dead. Her memory is blessed; her name a benediction and many of us will be better men and women from the recollections of her sweet and quiet spirit, her beautiful character and noble life. And while our hearts are sad, and our loss great, we sorrow not as those who mourn without hope.

S. A. Wallace
Billings, Mont., Aug. 6, 1886

I am very moved and touched by S. A. Wallace’s sketch. These kinds of finds make genealogy real and interesting. But, as a genealogist, S. A. Wallace did a poor job telling us WHO Alice L. Kennard was. Without the deeds from Billings, I may not have known that she was Frank’s wife. Since Pastor Wallace did not help much, the detective work had to begin. Clue one – Mrs. Judge Goss. Many genealogy doors are opened if one will research every name on the document. It turns out that Judge James R. Goss married Florence Lord who was born in Jackson County Michigan. James R. Goss was the witness on several Kennard deeds from Billings. Clue two – “now visiting in the East”. Apparently Florence Goss had not been in Montana at the time of Alice’s death but “in the East”. Well, maybe that meant that Florence was with Alice when she died. Alternatively, why would Florence know before others that Alice had died? And last but not least, WHERE is “East”?

Well, Familysearch.org has posted Michigan Deaths 1867-1897. A search using the Search Record Pilot on “Kennard, death, 1886, Michigan” revealed that Mrs. F. B. Kennard died on July 31, 1886 in Detroit, Wayne, Michigan. She was female, 36 years old, estimated year of birth 1850, born in Vermont, married, no names for father or mother, housekeeper. p 354 rn 2922.

So Alice died on 31 July 1886, and was buried on 3 August 1886. Next question, where was she buried? Not in Montana. In Michigan? In Vermont? Elsewhere? … Born in Vermont … close to Maine and to where Frank was born and family lived. But because Florence Lord Goss reported Alice’s death, and she was born in Michigan, was Florence a relative? A quick search of the census indicates that Florence’s parents, George and Delia Lord were both born in New York. Hmmm …… an online book indicated that a Lord family from Vermont removed to Michigan. Perhaps there is a connection. This is all speculation at this point. And of course, the death record of Mrs. F. B. Kennard has raised more questions that need to be investigated.

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