Canton Historical Society



Nathaniel Kenney, of Canton

By John Spare, M. D.


This man was born in Canton in 1753 and was the son of Josiah* and Anna Billings Kenney, in a house situated about 40 rods in the rear of the Ponkapoag schoolhouse, the site of which was represented by a cellar hoIe for many years and possibly now. The house was built and owned by Joseph Billings, the father of Anna, till 1784, in which year the house was sold with the 7 acres of land. This sale required the removal of Kenney to a house near and to the north of the well-known Samuel Blackman place, as shown on an old map of 1794. In 1802, Kenney rigged up a large emigrant wagon, hooped over and covered with canvas, and filled with such household goods and supplies as would be useful on his way, and with two yoke of oxen and a horse set off for the town of Columbus, Chenango County, N. Y., and in sixteen days arrived there. I suppose his wife, who was Elizabeth Shaler, went with him. In a wilderness he set up a log cabin and kept house till his death in 1829.

He was of large stature and a strictly honest man. He left no son but at least one daughter bearing the name Spicer. A woman of this name replied to my letter of enquiry, from which I learned these facts, although I knew the genealogy of most of the Canton Kenneys better than she. How many hundreds of times I passed near the old cellar hole mentioned without as much as dreaming that it would be possible to know who had lived there.

The said Joseph Billings owned and lived on the site of the Hoosic Whesick Club. He was born 1709 and died 1789.

A word about Jonathan Kenney, the soIdier who married Sarah Redman. Before he was drafted to go to fight the French & Indians In 1755, he lived in a house near the Potash Meado w and Aunt Katy's Brook. The night before he departed for the war he walked the house all night crying and with his two children in his arms. These children were Jonathan and Chloe, who were legatees under the will of Robert Redman.

The boy did not grow to manhood. The inventory filed by his guardian is a mode] in its way. Among the articles supplied were a psalter and leather breeches, etc. Chloe became the wife of Fisher Kingsbury who is well remembered by me. She showed true Redman pluck when her husband became worthless by drink (1810) in going to Boston on horseback, carrying to market fowls, berries, etc. The soldier never returned from the service but died in a military hospital at Albany.

*This Josiah’s gravestone is that broken one in the cemetery at Ponkapoag.


(This article originally appeared in the 12/31/1897 Canton Journal Newspaper)


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