The Kenedy Family
Kenedy Ranch Museum of South Texas
Mifflin Kenedy was born in 1818 in Dowingtown, Chester County, Pennsylvania, and educated in a Quaker school. At the age of 25, he became the master of the steamboat Champion on which he traversed the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee Rivers in Florida.
Kenedy came to Texas in 1846 to serve as a steamboat captain with the U.S. Army during the War with Mexico. As master of the steamer Corvette, he ferried troops and supplies up and down the Rio Grande. When hostilities ceased in 1848, he recognized the opportunity on the new frontier and decided to stay. For the next two decades, M. Kenedy & Company dominated steamboat trade on the Rio Grande.
During this time, Kenedy married Petra Vela de Vidal, the young widow of a Mexican soldier. Already the mother of eight, all of whom Mifflin adopted, Petra bore him six more children. Petra was a woman of the frontier, as her father, Don Gregorio Vela, had settled on two leagues in the Santa Teresa grant, north of the Rio Grande.
When Mifflin Kenedy died in 1895 without leaving a will, his only surviving son, John Gregory, or Don Gregorio as he was known locally, bought out the other heirs’ interest in the vast Kenedy ranch, La Parra. There, he and his wife, Marie Stella, raised their two children, John Jr. and Sarita, in the Big House.
The third generation of Kenedys would be the last. With the death of Sarita in 1961, the Kenedy name remained only as an important part of South Texas history.