James K. McKenney
James K. was the eldest son of James
and Jemima (Kemp) McKenney and was born 6 Aug 1806 near the mouth of the Niagara
River in Canada. His ancestry was Scottish. In 1811 the family went to Niagara,
NY and ten years later to Monroe County, NY.
In the fall of 1844, he arrived in Grand Rapids, Michigan with his wife and four
children. He purchased 120 acres of land in section 20. There was no road from
his home to Grandville except by following the trails through the woods. He
carried his grist of corn and wheat on his back, and single-handed, cleared 87
acres of land. He started to build his house and nearly had it completed with
the opening to put in the door and windows when at night two foot of snow fell.
He had a large carbuncle on his knee and the family dwelled in the unfinished
house which they were scarcely able to get the necessary fuel for to keep warm.
The house was without a fire place or chimney. Mrs. McKenney had to do her
cooking outside on a log fire. In six of seven years he bought his first team
and drew the first load of hay ever drawn to Grand Rapids, also the first green
He married 6 November 1839 in Parma, NY to Ruby Seelay, daughter of Seth A. and
Annie (Brady) Seelay. She was born in Hartford, Connecticut 7 Feb 1813.. Of the
seven children, one is living – Julia A. who married Judson A. Norris. The
second son enlisted at Grand Rapids, 23 August 1862 in the Co. H, 21st
MI Vol Inf and served nine month in the Army of the Cumberland. He was wounded
by gunshell, taken prisoner and re-captured. He was seized with a hemorrhage of
the lungs, and came home to die. Mr. and Mrs. McKenney were members of the
Methodist Episcopal Church. He was a member for 50 years and his wife for 40
years. He was a democrat and served his township as Highway Commissioner.
Created: 21 February 2014