Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mystery: Michaux - Meshow - Machow

There is an intriguing mystery involving the wife of Irvin Lafayette Kennedy.   Various researchers show her to be Salina (sometimes Selina, Selena).  No disagreements there, however her last name is shown variously as Machow or Meshow which actually could be an Americanized version of Michaux, a French surname.  This is not a name that shows up in Itawamba or surrounding counties... rather unusual, in fact.

My interest in this Kennedy family is due to their close connection to my Robinson ancestors.  Since I am at a brick wall with my great-great-great grandfather John E. Robinson, born 1808 in South Carolina, died 1896 and buried at Mt. Pleasant Methodist Cemetery near Tremont, any and all clues are important.   In the 1850 census, there is a 77 year old Josiah Kenida, born in South Carolina, living in the household of my John E. Robinson.  What was his connection to the Robinson family?  Several Kennedy families moved from Abbeville District, South Carolina to Marion County, Alabama (and later to Itawamba County, Mississippi) just like the Robinsons.   In 1825, Josiah Kennedy along with Matthew Robinson served as bondsmen for the executors of the estate of John E. Robinson's probable father, who was also named John.   John E. Robinson's probable mother, Elizabeth, may have been a Kennedy.  It is also interesting to note that John E. Robinson named a daughter Martha Selena - could she have been named after Martha Selena (Meshow) Kennedy?

Josiah Kennedy received an 1834 grant for land in Marion County, now located in Lamar County near the Detroit-Pine Springs area.  Several Robinson men as well as other Kennedys also received land in this area.   It appears that Josiah Kennedy, Matthew Robinson and others moved from Lawrence County, Alabama in the late 1820s to what was then southern Marion County.  Later, in 1832 when the Chickasaw Indians ceded their lands in north Mississippi and extreme northwestern Alabama, including land that became Itawamba County as well as a sliver of land that eventually became western Marion County, many families - again, including the Robinsons and Kennedys and other affiliated families - moved into the newly opened land when the Indians were removed in what has become known as the Trail of Tears.

An interesting side note is that there is also a record of Josiah Kennedy receiving a land plat for 76 acres on the Little River and Penny's Creek in Abbeville County, South Carolina.   Matthew Robinson also owned land on the Little River and Penny's Creek.   John Ervin was noted to be a neighbor of Josiah Kennedy on this land plat, and one must wonder if the surname Ervin could be associated with the use of the name Irvin in later generations of Kennedys.

Back to Salina Meshow/Machow/Michaux.  She married Irvin Lafayette Kennedy in Hardeman County, Tennessee in June 1834, based on a marriage record that exists in that county.  I believe that Irvin Lafayette Kennedy's father was the Josiah Kennedy who was living with my John E. Robinson, but this is only conjecture on my part.  Irvin Lafayette Kennedy did name a son Josiah Kennedy.  Irvin's daughter, Nancy, also named a son Josiah K. and Josiah is a name found frequently in this family.

Salina and Irvin lived most of their married life in western Marion County, Alabama.  I lost track of them following the 1870 census until I came across a biography of Lucius Quincy Stone, Tremont native and son of John Henry Stone.   L. Q. Stone's biographical sketch in the 1917 Official and Statistical Register of the State of Mississippi indicates that he was married to Lydia T. Kennedy of Rara Avis, daughter of Irvin Lafayette Kennedy and Elmina L. Lockridge of Shottsville, Ala.  The bio goes on to say that Lydia was the granddaughter of Irvin Kennedy and Martha S. Machow of Charleston, S.C. and that both Irvin and his wife moved to Peoria (Hill County), Texas where Irvin died.  

A search of the 1880 census does indeed turn up a widowed M. S. Kennedy living in Hill County, Texas with her daughter, Margaret Drucilla Evans, and her son-in-law John Jasper "Jack" Evans.  The 1925 death certificate of Meg Kennedy Evans gives her mother's name as Celena (no maiden name, unfortunately!) and place of birth as Charleston, S.C.

Meshow and Machow definitely could be a version of the French Michaux, and that is where it gets interesting!   A well-known French botanist, Andre Michaux, spent ten years in Charleston, 1786-1796, and is credited with importing the camellia, crape myrtle and mimosa trees to North America.    Andre Michaux died in 1802, before Salina's birth, but perhaps there is some connection.  Andre's son, Francois-Andrew Michaux, remained in America and followed in his father's footsteps as a botanist, traveling in the Carolinas and Tennessee.  The name is certainly an intriguing clue.

I'd love to hear from descendants of the Kennedy-Meshow family.


Kay Garriott said...

I am the great grand daughter of Lydia Kennedy Stone. She was married to Lucius Q. Stone. She died in 1936 when a monster tornado hit Tupelo, Ms. It was the 4th largest to ever hit in the Continental U.S.
I have not been able to find out very much on the Kennedys yet. I would love some help.

Mona Robinson Mills said...

Kay, please e-mail me at mmills1957 AT Maybe we can exchange information! Mona

Anonymous said...

The Alabama Voter's Registration of 1867 shows 3 Kennedy men living in Marion County: Irvin, James D., and Josiah and lists them as living in the precinct of "Kennedy's Tan Yard." I just thought this may be of interest to you if you have not seen it.

I am descended from two different Kennedy lines in Franklin and Marion Counties, that of Eli Kennedy (Franklin) and Hamilton Kennedy (Marion). I could not relate these men to my lines, but I will now research Josiah and see if there is any connection.