Rev. James Lillbourne

 the patriarch, Rev. James Skidmore Kennedy (1826-1905). The TN Kennedys are descendants of the Ayrshire, Scotland clan, and his great-grandfather likely came to America early- to mid-1700s. Rev. Kennedy was born in Madison County, VA, one of seven known children. Around 1846, already with a classical education from a school near his home, James traveled 300 miles by stage to enter Emory & Henry. He graduated with a B.A. in 1849 and went on to earn a Masters degree from Emory & Henry and a Doctor of Divinity from Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC. In 1851, he married Melinda Stringfield (1833-1905), daughter of a Methodist minister in Strawberry Plains, TN. Melinda was educated at the East Tennessee Female Institute in Knoxville.

The Kennedy family reflects the Methodist Church’s early influence on American education. John Wesley, Oxford-educated teacher, priest and founder of Methodism, appointed the first Methodist minister to America in 1738. The 26-year-old John Asbury spent 54 years spreading Methodism, sometimes riding an average of 6,000 miles a year. His journeys spanned some ten states, MA to GA. He ordained numerous new itinerant ministers, the first circuit riding preachers. Under his leadership, the church grew from 1,200 to 214,000 members and 700 ordained preachers(1) and, by 1900, had grown to be the largest Protestant denomination. When those ministers settled in an area, usually because of marrying a local, they founded schools. These schools were open to anyone who could afford the nominal fees or acquired scholarships, including females and blacks (Asbury ordained the first black minister in the US).

Rev. Kennedy spent 56 years as a teacher and Methodist preacher in TN, NC and VA. He was recognized as one of the most scholarly men of the Holston Conference. He was president of Holston Female College for ten years and also president of Strawberry Plains College 1857-59. The SPC was an example of the structure and well-rounded curriculum of the Methodist schools of that era. The college history on the Jefferson County History website reads:

"Strawberry Plains College was founded by the Rev. Creed Fulton and the Methodist Church and opened on July 4, 1848, with Rev. Thomas Stringfield (Melinda’s father) as superintendent. The five acres on which the college was built were donated from Rev. Stringfield's farm. The college was incorporated in 1850. Located on the main road 15 miles east of Knoxville, it was probably a modern high school, but young men from TN and surrounding states attended the college.

"Tuition began at $5.00-$10.00 per session. The college was composed of a large central building with two wings. Students often arrived by train and stayed with nearby families for $1.25-$1.50 each week. A spacious boarding house was finished by 1855’s fall quarter providing facilities for students that few colleges of the day offered. Tuition, in advance for five months’ session, costs $10-$15. The cost of room and board was $30, fuel costs were $2, and washing costs an additional $2. It had the largest library in the region. The college offered a comprehensive and thorough course of study. Some of the courses offered for study were: elementary English grammar, advanced grammar, geography, composition, bookkeeping, penmanship, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, science, theology, Constitution of the U.S., algebra, advanced algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and classical Latin and Greek. A telescope was even ordered for viewing the eclipses of Jupiter’s moons."

The Kennedys had ten children. Their eldest son, James Lillbourne Kennedy, was born in Strawberry Plains in 1857 and served as a Methodist missionary in Brazil for  54 years. He died in  São  Paulo in 1952.

The eldest daughter, Caroline (Carrie) A. Kennedy (1852-1918) attended and taught at Ashe-

ville  female College, NC, and in  TN and   VA schools and worked eleven years as assistant to

the secretary of the  Women’s  Board of Foreign Missions in  Nashville, TN.  She never mar-

ried,  retired in  Roanoke,  VA, and is buried in  St. Clair  Cemetery near there.  Daughters

Fannie and Mollie  (Mary  Burrus  Kennedy) were also missionaries and teachers in  Brazil.

Mary is buried in Old  Gray;  Fannie is buried in Gaithersburg,  MD.  James Lillbourne’s dau-

ghters  Eula  and Jennie,   graduates of  Randolph-Macon  Women’s  College in  Lynchburg,

VA,  were also missionaries and teachers in  Brazil.  Jennie,  who never married, is also

buried in Old Gray;  Eula is buried with her husband Frank Long in Salem, VA.

Rev. James S. & Melinda Kennedy spent their last months with their son, Edwin M. Kennedy

and wife Sarah in Knoxville. Edwin was also born in Strawberry Plains, was president of the

Morris Plan Bank for 27 years, and lived on Morningside Drive off Dandridge Avenue in hist-


East Knoxville. He and Sarah are also buried in Old Gray.

1 Francis Asbury, Wikipedia
2 Ref. “History of the Hume, Kennedy, and Brockman Families”

by William Everett Brockman

Rev. James L. Kennedy  married on   29 Oct. 1918  in Santa  Barbara  d'Oeste,  SP,  Brazil 

Daisy Ellis Pyles, daughter of  Adomiran Judson Pyles and Josephine Frances MacKnight.

  They would have one son, Embree Moore Kennedy, BIRTH 27 OCT 1919 • Rio de Janeiro,

Brazil, DEATH 12 JAN 2010 • Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

James,, : BIRTH 31 DEC 1857 • Strawberry Plains, Jefferson, Tennessee, USA, DEATH 07,


1942 • Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil of prostate cancer. and buried at Cemitério do Redemptor 

São Paulo, Município de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Daisy: BIRTH OCT 1882 • Capivari, SP, Brazil, DEATH 06 JUL 1970 • Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil.

The following biography was written in 1916 before Rev. James Kennedy's second marriage to Daisy E. Pyles 

REV. JAMES LILLBOURNE KENNEDY (5) was born at Strawberry Plains, Tenn., Dec. 31, 1857. He has been a missionary to Brazil since 1881. He was educated in Wofford and Weaverville Colleges, graduating in 1877 from the latter institution in the State of North Carolina. He entered the ministry of the M. E. Church South in 1878 and offered his services a few years later to the Board of Foreign Missions of that church. He was accepted and appointed to Brazil, sailing March 2, 1881. Two years later he returned to his native land to recuperate from a severe attack of yellow fever. While at home he was married to Miss Jennie Wallace, daughter of Robert Wallace and wife Harriet. Miss Wallace was born on Jan. 16, 1858, near Knoxville, Tenn. Her education was acquired in private schools, and at Branner Institute, Mossy Creek, now known as Jefferson City, Tenn. She was an attractive person and lovely in character. After her marriage to Mr. Kennedy, they returned to the field, where she soon became ardently attached to the work. For nearly thirty years she was a model wife and mother; most faithful and helpful to her husband, and to her, he attributed much of his success. Side by side they ministered to all classes around them, but she was especially devoted to women and children. Failing health called her home in the fall of 1912. The best medical aid proved without avail, and she died Jan. 1, 1913, and was buried in Old Gray Cemetery, Knoxville, Tenn.

The following summary of Rev. James L. Kennedy's work is from the pen of Bishop W. R. Lambuth, and was written two years ago: "Mr. Kennedy has frequently taken an active part in directing the construction of our church buildings in Brazil. He has translated into Portuguese and published a book of Wesley's Sermons; the larger Wesleyan Catechism; assisted in the translation of our Ritual, which he published, as well as one edition of our Discipline. He compiled and published a Life of Wesley, besides a number of Gospel Facts. He has been a faithful, indefatigable worker, ever holding aloft the Banner of the Cross wherever duty called him. During his missionary life of thirty-two years, he has been superintendent of the entire mission for one year; presiding elder for thirteen years; pastor on stations and circuits, twenty-three years; editor of the Conference Weekly, eleven years; Sunday School editor, four years; an agent of the Publishing House, and book editor, two years; president of the Annual Conference, once; delegate to the General Conference, which convened in Birmingham, Ala., in 1906. He is now (1913), president of the Sao Paulo Sunday School Convention. On July 12, 1913, in company with his daughter, Miss Eula Lee Kennedy, his sister, Miss Mary B. Kennedy, Bishop Lambuth, and other missionaries and friends, Mr. Kennedy embarked again for his work, in the land of the Southern Cross', there to continue, he hopes, with still greater success, the work to which he has devoted himself since he was twenty-three years old".

Rev. James L. Kennedy and Jennie Wallace were married on May 16, 1883.

Their children are as follows:

1. Eula Lee Kennedy, born at Taubate, Brazil, Sept. 25, 1893.

She married on October 13, 1914, Frank Millard Long,
formerly of Oklahoma, U. S. A., but now Y. M. C. A.
Secretary and teacher in Granberry College, Juiz de Fora,
Brazil. Mrs. Long finished her education at Randolph-
Macon Women's College, Lynchburg, Va.

2. Jennie Ruth Kennedy, born in Knoxville, Tenn., March 4,

1894. She was educated there and at Randolph-Macon

Women's College. Miss Kennedy is now

a teacher at McKenzie College, Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

3. James Wallace Kennedy, 

born at Taubate, Brazil, Aug. 11, 1895. He is now a student at the University

of Tennessee.


History of the Hume, Kennedy, and Brockman Families: In Three Parts    1916    Page 20

By William Everett Brockman

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