In Pitt and Beaufort Counties
Presented by Robert A. Moore
EARLY KENNEDYS IN BEAUFORT AND PITT COUNTIES
John Kennedy arrived in Beaufort County North Carolina from
Virginia sometime prior to 1750 as indicated by the article
about his home Creekmere. Other early references to John
Kennedy occurred in the 1755 list of North Carolina Taxpayers
in Beaufort County, in 1762 and 1764 in Pitt County, 1779,
1782, 1786 in Beaufort County, and 1786 in Pitt County.(10)
Other early records in 1760 are of "John Kennedy Jr. the son
of John Kennedy and Elizabeth his wife" Listed in the will of
Ann Adams listed in old wills of Beaufort Co. p. 75
Ann Adams Death is recorded in the 1763 Kennedy Family Bible.
John Kennedy is listed in many Land transactions as early as
2 March 1761 and many others (see land transactions listed in
this document). John Kennedy Sr., member of an ancient Scottish
family, was an influential person in the community as indicated
by his representing Beaufort County in the House of Commons in
1779 and in the State Senate in 1791. He also serves as High
Sheriff of Beaufort County from 1788 - 1796. (11) A further
break down of dates indicates that he serves as High Sheriff from
1788 & 1791, 1792 - 1793 and 1795 - 1796. (12) John Kennedy Jr.
served in the North Carolina General Assembly Lower House for the
years 1796, 1800, and 1801.(11)
The ownership of land and slaves was an indication of a man's wealth
and usually his social, as well as economic position.
The first United States Census, taken in 1790, gave the total
population of Beaufort County as 5,462. Of these, 1,632 were slaves.
Over half the taxpayers of the county owned two hundred or more acres
of land. The percentage of those owning one thousand acres or more
was 8.4%. The largest landowner had more than twenty thousand acres.
Ten wealthy men owned 25% of the total number of slaves in the
county. Thomas Respess owned 76; John Gray Blount 74; James
Bonner Sr. 51; William Armstead 33; John Anthony 32; John Kennedy
30; Alley Ellison 30; Frederic Grist 29; John Burns 29 and Cader
Barnes 26.(13) John Kennedy's sons, John Kennedy Jr., William
Kennedy, and Warren Kennedy, were large landholders and also
prominent men in the community.
John Kennedy Jr. and William Kennedy were leaders in the community
in establishment of the school system in Washington.(13) William
Kennedy a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in 1782 returned
to North Carolina and was admitted to the bar, and began to practice
law in Pitt County. William Kennedy was the first to represent the
First Congressional District in 1803-1805, again in 1809-1811, and in
1812-1815. William Kennedy retired to his estate in Beaufort
County. He owned large tracts in the Broad Creek District, on
Bear Creek and Pamlico River, as well maintaining his principal
seat on a plantation above the town of Washington. He also owned
Mills. He made his will on September 20, 1833 leaving a large
estate in land, personal property, and over 30 slaves to his three
children Frances, Sophrorisba, and William L. Kennedy (William L.
Kennedy served in the N.C. Assembly Lower House in 1833.)(14)(16).
He Died on October 11, 1834 and was buried in the Kennedy Burying
Ground near Washington. William Kennedy was a gentleman of
integrity, charter, and forceful presence in the political arena
of Beaufort County and in the United States Congress. His
Congressional record speaks well for his abilities and his
responsibility to the citizens of Beaufort County.(14)
Creekmere, on Tranters Creek about two miles from Washington, was
built by Colonel Kennedy in 1750. This home was the social center
of refined hospitality. The ends of the house are of brick while
the front and back are of wood. The interior was very elegant in
its day and though marred by abuse and time, the living room is a
fine example of the panel work and wainscoting of that period.
In the bedrooms upstairs there are little corner fireplaces not
larger than 12 inches wide. Allen Grist bought this place from
Kennedy and lived there during the winter months and ran a large
His main dwelling was on the top of the hill about a mile away,
where S.M. Lee now lives. Creekmere is now owned by Mrs. Mary
Hackett, a daughter of General Grimes, who purchased it after the
war. (15 )
11. WASHINGTON AND THE PAMLICO Ursula F. Loy and Pauline M. Worthy Editors.
Washington - Beaufort County Bicentennial Commission. p401.
12. BEAUFORT COUNTY TWO CENTRIES OF ITS HISTORY. C. Wingate Reed; p 168.
13. BEAUFORT COUNTY TWO CENTRIES OF ITS HISTORY. C. Wingate Reed; p 224.
14. WASHINGTON AND THE PAMLICO Ursula F. Loy and Pauline M. Worthy Editors.
Washington - Beaufort County Bicentennial Commission. p402.
15. "Interesting Old Places Near Washington Include Mill Creek Plantation,
Others" Washington Daily News; August 17, 1951 p.2.
16. BEAUFORT COUNTY TWO CENTRIES OF ITS HISTORY. C. Wingate Reed; p 216 & 219.
Kennedy Family Bible Transcription
Kennedy Family Cemetery
Moore/Kennedy Family Site by Bob Moore
Visit NCROOTS.COM for more NC genealogy.
Very useful Data Links for NC
Beaufort County -- Genealogy
© Diane Mason