Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Louise Achey Kennedy, 1860-1945
By Emily Palombo, student, and Cassandra Pegg-Kirby, faculty sponsor, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
Louise Achey was born on September 13, 1860, to John Jacob and Frances Louise Sherwood Achey in Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio. Louise Achey attended private schools and studied in Paris. On April 30, 1889, she married a lawyer from Dayton, Grafton Claggett Kennedy, and they had two children. The Kennedy family lived in the Duncarrick Mansion located in Dayton. The family had strong social standing and remained prominent in high society from the late nineteenth century into the twentieth century. The Kennedys' wealth allowed them to travel together often around Europe and spend their summers in their home in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Louise Kennedy became a widow on January 9, 1909.
Though not much information is known about the scope of Louise Achey Kennedy's involvement in the suffrage movement, there is no doubt that she and the rest of her family played an essential role in support of women's rights. As a wealthy family in the nineteenth century, they had influence and power in the community. With the matron of the family supporting women's suffrage, they gave strength to others to support the movement without fear of being ostracized. Kennedy was likely an influential member of the movement as her daughter, Katherine Kennedy Brown, became a well-known Dayton suffragist.
The biggest piece of evidence of Kennedy's involvement in the movement came from pictures and cabinet cards of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony found in her home. These memorabilia from the movement can be found in the Louise Achey Kennedy Collection at Wright State University.
In an unsigned document found of her collection, Louise Kennedy was described as having "straightforwardness, dependability, brusqueness, boldness, honesty, frankness, outspokenness and a truthful nature." Kennedy likely attended lectures and rallies with her daughter and her daughter's mother-in-law, Martha McCellan Brown. There are programs in Brown's collection to validate this idea.
Besides suffrage, Louise Kennedy was involved in other community organizations. She was a member of the Jonathan Dayton Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Her genealogical expertise was useful to the DAR, where Kennedy served as historian, and she was a member of several national genealogical associations. She was raised Presbyterian, but later in life, she became a member of St. Joseph's Catholic Church.
Louise Achey Kennedy died on December 18, 1945, at Duncarrick, at the age of 85. She was buried in Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum in Dayton.
Find a Grave. Louise Achey Kennedy. Added September 26, 2012 by Mary Rose. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/97812480/louise-kennedy.
Finding Aid. Louise Kennedy Collection (MS281). Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio. Ohio Link Finding Aid Repository (http://ead.ohiolink.edu/).
Louise Kennedy Collection (MS281). Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio.
"Mrs. Edward Davies was elected...," Dayton (OH) Daily News, May 21, 1916. Newspapers.com.
"Mrs. Louise A. Kennedy, 85, G.O.P. Leader's Mother, Dies." Dayton (OH) Journal Herald, December 19, 1945. Newspapers.com.
Schweickart, Michelle. "Through the Eyes of Pioneers: Accounts of the Women's Suffrage Movement in Dayton, Ohio (1890-1920)." Master's thesis (Dayton: Wright State University, 2015). Accessible online at https://corescholar.libraries.wright.edu/humanities/16/.