William B. Kennedy &
Rachel Thompson

William B. Kennedy, possibly the son of Aaron Canady, Sr., was born May 13, 1798, in Wilkes Co., NC, and died 1874 in Wilkes Co., NC. He married Rachel Thompson, the daughter of James THOMPSON & Rachel JOHNSON, May 15, 1819, in Surry Co., NC. She was born abt. 1799 in Surry Co., NC, and died bet. 1860-1870 in Wilkes Co., NC.

Children of William B. Kennedy & Rachel Thompson:

  1. Ruffin Kennedy, b. May 19, 1820, Surry or Wilkes Co., NC; d. 1870-1880, Wilkes Co., NC; m. Nancy NIXON, abt. 1842 (b. abt. 1820; d. 1870-1880). Children: Alfred Kennedy (c.1843), Frances J. Kennedy (c.1845), James Kennedy (c.1846), Elizabeth Rachel Kennedy (1849) m. Creed EDWARDS, Newton Kennedy (1851), William Jasper Kennedy (c.1853), Thomas Jackson Kennedy (c.1855), Ruffin Kennedy Jr. (c.1858), Mary E. Kennedy (c.1861).  [Nancy NIXON's maiden name is from daughter Elizabeth's death cert.]
  2. Sedilia Kennedy, b. May 30, 1821, Wilkes Co., NC; d. unk; m. Nathan Hardin GAMBILL, son of John GAMBILL & Sarah ALEXANDER (b. Dec. 19, 1810; d. Apr. 28, 1889). Children: Sarah Gambill (c.1847), William D. Gambill (c.1849), Sadilla Elizabeth Gambill (c.1852), Nathan H. Gambill (c.1856), Susan Frances Gambill (c.1856), Rachel Catherine Gambill (c.1860), Lula A. Gambill (c.1862), Milly C. Gambill (c.1863).
  3. +Mary Little Kennedy, b. Feb. 21, 1823, Wilkes Co., NC; d. Feb. 13, 1898, Alleghany Co., NC; m. Moses O. WOODRUFF, son of John M. WOODRUFF & Candace CROUSE, Oct. 15, 1850, Wilkes Co., NC (b. Oct. 17, 1823; d. Oct. 30, 1892); bur. Woodruff Primitive Baptist Church in Glade Valley, Alleghany Co., NC.
  4. +William Aaron Kennedy, b. abt. 1824, Wilkes Co., NC; d. bet. 1860-1870 in Wilkes Co., NC; m. Amanda EDWARDS, daughter of Young EDWARDS, Jr., & Catherine COX, Nov. 22, 1855, Alleghany Co., NC (b. June 11, 1834; d. Oct. 31, 1903); Amanda is buried at Glade Creek Church, Alleghany Co., NC.
  5. +Thompson Kennedy, b. Feb. 10, 1829, Wilkes Co., NC; d. Aug. 13, 1900, Alleghany Co., NC; m. Sarah EDWARDS, daughter of Young EDWARDS, Jr., & Catherine COX, abt. 1851 (b. Aug. 5, 1832; d. Aug. 1, 1894); bur. Glade Creek Church, Hooker, Alleghany Co., NC.
  6. Norwood Kennedy, b. Feb. 18, 1832, Wilkes Co., NC; d. aft. 1880, Wilkes Co., NC; m. Frances Lucinda JOHNSON, Feb. 13, 1862, Wilkes Co., NC (b. abt. 1828; d. aft. 1880). No children?
  7. Amelia Brown "Milly" Kennedy, b. Jan. 27, 1835, Wilkes Co., NC; d. aft. 1900, Wilkes Co., NC; m. William CHEATWOOD, Apr. 16, 1856, Wilkes Co., NC (b. Apr. 1825; d. aft. 1900). Children: Thomas Newton Cheatwood (c.1855), John Cheatwood (c.1859), James Cheatwood (c.1863), William Cheatwood (c.1866), Charles Cheatwood (c.1868).


Roaring Gap

Roaring Gap, North Carolina

WWilliam B. Kennedy is believed to be one of the four sons of Aaron CANADY, Sr., of Wilkes and Surry Counties, NC.  William married Rachel THOMPSON in Surry County, NC, in 1819.  They settled in Roaring Gap, which is a windy pass in the Blue Ridge between Wilkes and Alleghany (formerly Ashe) County.  They had seven children.  Rachel died between 1860 and 1870, based on census records.  William was still alive in 1870 at the age of 72, but he died prior to Sept. 1874 when his will was proved Wilkes County, NC.  His will, which is dated Oct. 5, 1860 (fourteen years before his death) names his wife Rachel, sons Ruffin, William, Thompson, and Norwood, and daughters Sedilia, Mary, and Millia.

According to Surry County Heritage Vol. I, Rachel Thompson was the daughter of James THOMPSON & Rachel JOHNSON who lived near the present-day town of Devotion on Mitchell River in Surry County, NC.  James Thompson was the son of Joseph THOMPSON, Sr., & Isabella HENDERSON who came to Surry County from Louisa County, VA.  Rachel is not named in James Thompson's 1847 will; however, the will does name another daughter, Sarah, who married William B. Kennedy's brother John Kennedy.  In addition, William B. Kennedy purchased property from James Thompson's estate including 2 slaves.  James Thompson's will stipulated that the Blacks only be sold among his children.  This is strong, if not conclusive evidence that Rachel was James Thompson's daughter.

1833 Map of Ashe/Wilkes/Surry Co., NC

Part of Wilkes, Surry, & Alleghany
(formerly Ashe) Counties, NC

from an 1833 map

There was a long relationship between the Thompson family on Mitchell River the Kennedys who lived on Big Elkin Creek, just across the county line in Wilkes County.  Along with many connections between their extended families, they also lived in close proximity.  In a road order dated February 1826, the Surry County Court appointed a group of men including James THOMPSON, Sr., Elijah THOMPSON, Joseph THOMPSON, Joseph THOMPSON, Jr., William THOMPSON, Sr., Aaron KENNEDY, William KENNEDY, and John KENNEDY to provide hands to cut "the road leading from Jonesville to the intersection of said road with the Main State Road leading to Gap Civil".  Gap Civil is on the other side of the Blue Ridge in what was then Ashe (later Alleghany) County.  This road would have started at the Yadkin River in Surry County and run northwest to the top of the Blue Ridge, following a path between Big Elkin Creek (Wilkes County) to the west, and Mitchell River (Surry County) to the east.  The Kennedys and Thompsons must have lived along the route of this road or they would not have been required to provide labor for its construction.  In later years, there are also records of a "Thompson Gap Road" in Surry County which was apparently located on Mitchell River close to the Ashe County line.  (Alleghany DB 7:357, 7:451, 7:452).

A deed executed many years later in Alleghany County dated Feb. 4, 1879, between James ROBERTS and J.C. ROBERTS, describes a parcel of land adjoining William B. KENNEDY's former tract, Thompson KENNEDY's former tract, and John THOMPSON's former tract, crossing the Bear Branch.  (Alleghany DB 7:235.)  From other records, the Bear Branch was probably part of the headwaters of the Roaring River near the Wilkes-Alleghany County line.

These clues place the Thompson family high in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the upper branches of Mitchell River.  Rachel's parents are believed to be buried at the Thompson Family Cemetery in the town of Devotion, which is on Mitchell River in Surry County not far from Roaring Gap, where William and Rachel Kennedy made their home.


May 15, 1819. William CANADY & Rachel THOMPSON posted a marriage bond in Surry Co., NC. Bondsman: George DUGLASS [DOUGLAS].

1820 Census, Surry Co., NC, p.772: WM KENNADY
1 w/m 16-25 1 w/f 16-25

1830 Census, Wilkes Co., NC, p.336: WILLIAM KENNADAY, JR.
2 w/m under 5 2 w/f 5-9
1 w/m 10-14 1 w/f 20-29
1 w/m 30-39  

1840 Census, Wilkes Co., NC, Spicer's Dist., p.84: WILLIAM CANADA
1 w/m 5-9 1 w/f 5-9
2 w/m 10-14 1 w/f 15-19
1 w/m 20-29 1 w/f 30-39
1 w/m 40-49  

1850 Census, Wilkes Co., NC, p.255 (HH#84):
WILLIAM KENNEDY, 52, farmer, $200, born in Wilkes NC
-- Rachel, 51, Surry NC
-- Aron, 23, Wilkes NC
-- Thompson, 21, Wilkes NC
-- Norwood, 15, Wilkes NC
-- Amelia, 18, Wilkes NC

Aug. 15, 1851. William B. KENNEDY to James ROBERTS, both of Wilkes Co., NC, 50 acres in Surry & Ashe Counties on top of the ridge on the county line. Signed: William B. KENEDY. Wits: Thomas SMITH, Joel SMITH. Proved Sept. 27, 1869, by R. KENEDY from Thomas SMITH's handwriting. (Alleghany DB 1:344.)

Sept. 3, 1857. William B. KENEDY of Wilkes Co., NC, to William L. HARRIS of Ashe Co., NC, 25 acres on Big Elkin Creek in Wilkes Co. beg. near the county line east of a branch, adj. said HARRIS & his old tract, for $3. Signed: Wm. B. KENEDY. Wits: L.C. BOOKS [BROOKS], Thm. KENEDY. Proved Aug. 19, 1869, by Lewis HARRIS. (Alleghany DB 1:287.)

1860 Census, Wilkes Co., NC, Roaring Gap Twp., p.62/p.124 (HH#885):
KENNADY, Wm. B., 62, farmer, $800, $2000, NC
-- Rachel, 60, NC
-- Norwood, 28, NC
JOHNSON, Joseph, 14, NC

1860 Census, Wilkes Co., NC, Lower Division, Slave Schedule Wm B. Kennedy, 1 slave

1870 Census, Wilkes Co., NC, p.397, Trap Hill Twp (HH#114):
WILLIAM B. KENEDY, 72, farmer, $300, $300, b. in NC
-- Phoebe, 43, keeping house, NC
-- Edward, 13, farm hand, NC

Feb. 4, 1879. James ROBERTS & wife Nancy of Alleghany Co., NC, to J.C. ROBERTS of Ashe Co., NC, 212 acres adj. J.F. ROBERTS, M.V.B. NORMAN, Hardin BROOKS, Wm. B. KENNEDY's former tract, Thompson KENNEDY's former tract, & John THOMPSON's former tract, crossing the Bear Branch, for $500. Signed: James ROBERTS, Nancy (X) ROBERTS. Wits: A.M. SMITH, J.F. ROBERTS. Proved Dec. 28, 1885 by A.M. SMITH. (Alleghany DB 7:235.)

Will of William B. Kennedy

Dated Oct. 5, 1860, Proved Sept. 5, 1874
NC Archives Box No. CR.104.801.5
Digital image

In the name of God Amen. I WILLIAM B. KENNEDY of the County Wilkes in the State of North Carolina being weak in body but of sound and disposing mind and memory do make and publish this my last Will and Testament in the manner and form following to wit

I hereby will and bequeath to each of my children hereafter named and my wife RACHEL KENNEDY equal portions of all and singular my Estate both real and personal to be ascertained by sale of my property and giving each as legatees one share except that the property heretofore given and advanced to my children is to be subtracted from the share of each so as to make all equal including said advancement.

I direct my executor hereafter named after my decease to sell all my property and reasonable credit, to collect all debt due me and pay all my just debts and pay to my wife RACHEL one equal share with all my children.

To RUFFIN KENNEDY one share except that the following advancements be added to the amount of my Estate and be subtracted from the share of each of my children.

To RUFFIN KENNEDY I have advanced Seventy five Dollars.

To my daughter SEDILIA Seventy Dollars.

To my daughter MARY Thirty Dollars.

To my son THOMPSON One Hundred and forty Dollars.

To my son WILLIAM Two Hundred & forty Dollars.

To my son NORWOOD Two Hundred Dollars.

To my daughter MILLIA Twenty five Dollars.

And it is my will that the Advancements made shall be rated at the above figures.

And my will is that my Executor shall pay over to each of my children their part of my Estate except SEDILLIA my will is that my Executor shall keep SEDILIA's part in his own hands and advance it to her by little portions according to his judgment for the support of her and her children.

Lastly I hereby appoint my son NORWOOD KENNEDY Executor to this my Last Will and Testament.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal the 5th day of October in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Sixty 1860.

WM. B. KENNEDY {seal}


Wilkes County - In the Probate Court.
I GEO. H. BROWN Judge of Probate for the County of Wilkes, having examined the foregoing instrument of writing purporting to be the last Will and Testament of WM. B. KENNEDAY and signed by WM. B. KENNEDAY and dated Oct. 5th A.D. 1860 and having heard the testimony of JOSEPH F. GENTRY and HUGH HANKS the subscribing witnesses thereto in relation to the execution of the same who upon their oath each depose and says for himself that the said WM. B. KENNEDAY the testator aforesaid did at the time of subscribing his name at the end of said paper writing declare the same to be his last Will and Testament. And deponents did thereupon subscribe their names to the said will as attesting witnesses at the request & in the presence of the said Testator. And at the time when the said Testator so suscribed his name to the said Will and at the time of deponents subscribing their names thereto as attesting witnesses the said WM. B. KENNEDAY was of sound mind and memory, of full age to execute the Will and was not under any restraint to the knowledge information or belief of deponents. I do therefore judge the Execution of the said Will by the Testator aforesaid to be duly proven. I do further consider adjudge and declare the said paper writing amd every part thereof to be the last Will and Testament of WM. B. KENNEDAY deceased late of Wilkes County. And the same is recorded as such in the record of wills for said County Sept. 5th, 1874.

Judge of Probate