rchibald McMichael Kennedy was born on August 25, 1818, in Guilford County, North Carolina, and was the patriarch of three generations of covered bridge builders operating throughout southeastern Indiana from 1870 to 1918. A. M. Kennedy, with his parents, moved in 1825 to Indiana and settled first in Fayette and nine years later in Rush County. At the age of 21 Archibald Kennedy returned to Fayette County and there in 1841 married Henrietta Langston, she having been born in Union County, Indiana, on October 10, 1820. To this union were born six children: Mary J., born 1842; John B., born 1844; Emmett Loren, born July 5, 1848; Emily F., born 1850; and Charles Freeman, born September 25, 1853.
In 1841 Archibald Kennedy began working at the carpenter's trade, which he followed for 12 years. In 1853 he moved his family to Wabash County, where he supplemented his carpentry work with the construction of small bridges. The family returned to Fayette County in 1857 and seven years later settled in Rush County. Archibald acquired 247 acres of fertile farm land, four miles northeast of Rushville, where he resided for the remainder of his life. Here he erected a fine two-story home of brick, made of clay from his own land, which in now on the National Register of Historic Places.
The bridge-building chapter of the Kennedy family began in 1870 when Archibald received his first contract to build a 2-span bridge over the east fork of the Whitewater River near Dunlapsville in Union County, which he accomplished in the company of his son Emmett.
While building the Dunlapsville Covered Bridge Archibald and his son Emmett stayed at the nearby farm home of Israel Freeman where Emmett met the Freeman daughter, Martha Ann, and married her on September 14, 1870. The newlywed couple made their home in Rushville, where Emmett went into business with his father, the firm being known as A. M. Kennedy & Son; between 1871 and 1880 Charles Kennedy became involved with his father and brother in the business, the name then being changed to A. M. Kennedy & Sons.
The elder Kennedy had been reared as a Democrat, but after the formation of the Republican Party he became one of its most ardent supports, and was for years a leader in local politics. During his residence in Jennings Township, Fayette County, he was three times Trustee. In 1870, he was chosen to represent Rush County in the General Assembly, and in 1876 was Joint Representative for the Counties of Rush, Ripley and Decatur. In 1886 he was elected Senator from the Counties of Rush and Hancock and was strongly advocated for Member of Congress before the convention of his party, held at North Vernon in 1874. The small photo to the right (from R. Branson's personal collection) shows A. M. Kennedy most likely during the time he was serving as Senator ... click on the small image to view a larger version.
In 1885, after the death of his first wife, which occurred on February 24, 1883, A. M. Kennedy married Miss Laura M. Riley of Boone County, Kentucky, she having been born on May 25, 1848; this union was also her second marriage. The photograph at the top of this page (from R. Branson's personal collection) shows A. M. Kennedy later in life, most likely after the business of bridge building had been turned over to Emmett and Charles in 1884.
From 1886 to 1892 Emmett L. Kennedy continued the business under his own moniker until joined by son Karl in 1914, the firm being known as E. L. Kennedy & Son, and then when son Charles R. joined the firm it became E. L. Kennedy & Sons; the last bridge build by the Kennedy family was the Mitchell Covered Bridge in Wayne County during 1918.
The above was compiled from information in "History of Rush County, Indiana, " published by Brant & Fuller in 1888 and from "Indiana Covered Bridges thru the Years" written by George E. Gould and published in 1977.