Biography of Max J. Kennedy

Max J. Kennedy. An enterprise which, founded in 1904, had grown to large and important proportions is that of the Kennedy Printing Company, of Fredonia. In an era of specialization, the proprietor of this business, Max J. Kennedy, had confined the activities of his establishment to the printing of matter for banking houses, a field in which he had not only had phenomenal success in the immediate locality in which his business is located, but in towns and cities far distant, one of the most important branches of his house being that which handles the mail orders. Mr. Kennedy is one of the most progressive and enterprising of Fredonia’s young business men, and is also a leader in politics in this locality, being at this time chairman of the Democratic County Central Committee of Wilson County.

Max J. Kennedy was born at Fredonia, Kansas, December 27, 1883, and is a son of James M. and Elizabeth (Stivers) (Jordan) Kennedy. His grandfather, Patrick Kennedy, was born in County Tipperary, Ireland, in 1832, came to the United States as a young man, resided at Indianapolis, Indiana, and near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and fought as a Union soldier in an Illinois regiment of volunteer infantry during the Civil war. In 1869 he came to Kansas and took up a claim of 160 acres in Wilson County, and resided thereon until his retirement, in 1902, when he removed to the City of Fredonia, and died there in 1912. He married Alice Moore, who was born in 1835, also in County Tipperary, Ireland, and died in Wilson County, in 1896, and they became the parents of four children: John L., who was one of the appointees of President McKinley to a position on the Industrial Commission and is now a printer of Washington, District of Columbia; Mary, who is the owner of the family homestead in Wilson County and of real estate at Fredonia; James M.; and William T., a ranchman and county commissioner of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

James M. Kennedy, the father of Max J. Kennedy, was born near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, November 11, 1857, and was twelve years old when brought to Kansas. Here he attended the rural schools of Wilson County for two years, and then began working among the farmers of the locality. While thus engaged he managed to secure an education through home study, and when twenty years old started teaching in the Wilson County country schools. He was later superintendent of schools for Fredonia for four years and a teacher in the summer normal schools for eight years, and in the meantime applied himself assiduously to the study of law, so that after a period spent in the office of S. S. Kirkpatrick, a Fredonia lawyer, and a short experience in the farm loan business he was admitted to the bar in 1890. He had since been engaged in practice and is one of the leading members of the profession at Fredonia. He is also an extensive property owner and a well-known business man, being president of the Excelsior Brick Company, the largest of its kind west of the Mississippi. He is a Mason, is independent in politics, and served two terms as county attorney. James M. Kennedy was married in 1882 to Mrs. Elizabeth (Stivers) Jordan, daughter of Hon. William and Matilda (Young) Stivers, both now deceased. Judge Stivers was auditor of Tipton County, Indiana, for eight years, and for twelve years was judge of the Probate Court of Wilson County, Kansas. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy: William R., Kansas University, LL. B., and a practicing attorney of Greenville, Missouri, married Edith Van Duser and had three children, Hugh, James Randall and Gilbert; Max J., of this review; and Madge, a graduate of Kansas University and now the wife of Frederick Cambern, cashier of the State Bank of Fredonia, and had one daughter, Elizabeth.

Max J. Kennedy was educated in the public schools of Fredonia, and after he finished his studies in the high school entered the printing business. He had a natural aptitude for this vocation, and, as is usual with young men in this business, bad ambitious to enter the newspaper field. Before he was twenty years of age he published the first issue of the Daily Herald, of which he was the proprietor until 1906, in which year he sold out. In the meantime, in 1904, he had established the Kennedy Printing Company, the business of which grew to such an extent that his entire attention was needed for its handling, which was the real reason for his retirement from the field of journalism. The Kennedy Printing Company, as noted, devotes itself exclusively to bank printing, and orders for this kind of work come from all over the United States. Mr. Kennedy had made a keen study of this branch of printing, and his ideas, workmanship and knowledge of bank printing have combined to give him a prominent place in this particular field. His plant is equipped wth the most up-to-date machinery of all kinds for the proper handling of every kind of bank work, and the Kennedy workmanship bears a distinctiveness that makes it known anywhere. In addition to his printing business, Mr. Kennedy had interested himself in farming. He is the owner of a handsome property of 440 acres, lying two miles northeast of Fredonia, with modern buildings of all kinds, including dairy barns and silos, and there he had particularly interested himself in the breeding of registered Holstein-Friesian cattle, of which he had a magnificent herd. For several years his activities in the political field have made him one of the best known democrats in Wilson County, and at this time he is doing much for the success of his party as chairman of the Democratic County Central Committee. He is well, prominently and popularly known in fraternal circles, being a member of the Knights of Pythias, the Modern Woodmen of America; Cherryvale Lodge No. 929, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; Constellation Lodge No. 95, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Kilwinning Chapter No. 44, Royal Arch Masons, and Ab-Del-Kader Commandery Knights Templar, all of Fredonia; and Mirza Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, of Pittsburg, Kansas. In addition to his farm, Mr. Kennedy is the owner of his own home, at No. 310 North Seventh Street; and an office building on the north side of the Square.

Mr. Kennedy was married in 1904, at Excelsior Springs, Missouri, to Miss Bessie F. Wolever, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John H. Wolever, the latter a resident of Fredonia. Mr. Wolever, who was a veteran of the Civil war, became a pioneer contractor of Fredonia, where his death occurred. To Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy two children have been born: Kenneth, November 25, 1905; and Conrad Max, August 13, 1907.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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