The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 10, July 1906 - April, 1907

Martin McHenry Kenney.

The grandfather of Captain Kenney emigrated from Ireland to
Pennsylvania about the end of the eighteenth century. One of his
sons, John Wesley Kenney, removed to Kentucky and married
there. Later he moved to Illinois and settled on the bank of the
Mississippi about fifteen miles above Rock Island, at that time a
very thinly settled region. Here was born his son, Martin Mc-
Henry Kenney, on December 11, 1831.
When the Black Hawk War broke out the family took refuge in
a frontier fort, while the father served in the army until the strug-
gle was over. The home having been destroyed in the meantime,
they now went back to Kentucky. Here in the late summer of
1833 the cholera broke out. The family fled to the mountains,
and in October began the long journey to Texas.
On December 17, 1833, they landed on the west bank of the
Brazos where the elder Kenney built the first cabin in what was
later the town of Washington. The next year he was granted a
headright league as a member of Austin's colony and removed to
Austin County, ten miles south of Brenham. Here young Kenney
grew to manhood. He attended such schools as the country af-
forded,-the earliest being the first public school in Texas,-but
received the greater part of his instruction from his mother, who
was a well educated woman. In 1848 he attended for a short time
the McKenzie College at Clarksville until an attack of typhoid
fever forced him to withdraw.
'Two years later he began his wanderings with a trip to Mexico
"to see the world." For a few months he was county clerk at
Laredo, and then in 1851 he set out with a party of adventurous
gold-seekers for California. After several years of futile search
for a fortune in the mining regions, he returned to Texas in 1856,
and settled in Goliad, where he became county surveyor. When the
Civil War broke out he volunteered and was made captain of Com-
pany K, 21st Texas Cavalry, and served in that capacity until he
was honorably discharged at its close. Immediately thereafter he


Texas State Historical Association. The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 10, July 1906 - April, 1907. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed February 14, 2016.