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Opha Cleophas Kennedy
(1876-1965)

 

Opha Kennedy

Opha Cleophas "Ophie" Kennedy was born on May 15, 1876 in the mountainous Webster community of Taylor County, WV, the son of Josiah and Ruth Ann (Minerd) Kennedy Sr.

He had black hair and black eyes, and was of medium height and build. 

At the age of 24, Opha married 22-year-old Bertha "Bertie" Mayle (1876-1933), the daughter of Thomas and Mary Mayle. The wedding took place  on Feb. 23, 1901, at the home of Rev. S.A. Cleavenger. 

 

Bertha Mayle Kennedy

In 1917, when Opha was 41, he registered for the military draft during World War I. On his registration card, he marked that his employment was coal mining for Sterling Coal Company in Cecil. The draft board officer marked his race as white but also wrote, "Called Colored." 

The Kennedys had at least eight children -- among them were Dovey Lee Kennedy, Howard C. Kennedy, Clavius Calvin Kennedy, Mary J. Rupar, James Bradley Kennedy, Magdalene Opal "Sweets" Mayle, Charles Kennedy and Ruth Ann Kennedy. 

Sadly, daughter Ruth Ann (named for her grandmother and great-grandmother) died at age two in 1923. 

When the federal census was taken in 1910, Opha and Bertie resided in Barbour County, with Opha laboring as a coal miner. At the time they had been married for nine years and their four eldest children had been born. The census taker marked them as "mulatto."

The census of 1920s shows the family continuing to live in Barbour County and Opha (mis-named "Okey") maintaining employment as a coal miner. Circa 1923, the Kennedys resided at Flemington, WV, where Opha apparently was employed at the Cambria Mines. 

In 1930, census records show the family (surname misspelled "Canada") living in Barbour County with Opha and son Clavius working in local coal mines.

Sadly, at the age of 56, Bertie came down with a fatal case of tuberculosis in February 1933. Added to malnutrition and dehydration, she died the following month, on March 7, 1933. 

 

Well-tended Mt. View Cemetery, resting  place for many generations of Kennedys. The church at this site closed in the 1960s and was dismantled in 1967.

 

Mt. View Cemetery

The next year, in 1934, the widowed Opha made his home in Galloway, Barbour County. 

On Dec. 29, 1945, Opha married again, to Lena (Dalton) Mayle Vaughn ( ? - ? ), the daughter of Haymond Calvin and Harriet Amanda (Mayle) Dalton. She brought a son to the marriage, Fred Vaughn. 

She had been married twice before, to (?) Vaughn and Samuel Mayle (from whom she was divorced). Earl W. Slayton performed the nuptials.

In 1954 and 1963, they lived in Webster, Taylor County. He retired from Simpson Creek Collieries Company.

 Opha suffered from hardening of the arteries and passed away from the illness on April 9, 1965, at the age of 88. He was laid to rest with his first wife Bertie and in-laws at Mt. View Cemetery. Handwritten burial records of Mt. View burials are on file today at the Taylor County Public Library in Grafton. The Grafton Sentinel said he was survived by 41 grandchildren. 

Some eight months after Opha's death, Lena married again, at the age of 67, to widower Charles Stewart Tacy, age 85. Their wedding took place on Jan. 11, 1967, in Randolph County, WV.

~ Daughter Dovie Lee (Kennedy) Kennedy ~

 

Dovie Kennedy

Daughter Dovie Lee Kennedy (1902-1977), sometimes misspelled as "Dovey" or "David," was born on Jan. 15, 1902, in Philippi. 

On May 5, 1921, when she was age 19, Dovie married 19-year-old Ellis "Red" Kennedy (1900-1962), the son of Emma Kennedy. On their application for a marriage license, Dovie's father provided information and stated that the bride and groom were "fourth cousins." The wedding was performed by Rev. R.O. Phillips of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Philippi. 

The Kennedys had nine children -- Harry Kennedy, Steward Lutell Kennedy, Barbara (Arminthia?) Kennedy, James Ellis Kennedy, Roger Kennedy, Virginia Mayle, Madge "Judy" Newman, Shirley Mayle and Victoria Hinton. 

Red was a longtime coal miner. They made their home in the Berryburg community of Route 2, Flemington.

At the age of 62, Red died at home on Oct. 6, 1962. Following a funeral at Berryburg's Apostolic Faith Jesus Christ Church, led by Rev. Hayward Menear, he was buried in Mt. View Cemetery. At the time, he and Dovie were survived by 13 grandchildren.

The widowed Dovie lived in Berryburg, Barbour County in 1965-1968. She died in December 1977, at the age of 75. 

Son Harry Kennedy lived at Route 2, Flemington circa 1962. He was deceased by 2008.

Son Steward Lutell Kennedy (1928-1999) was born on March 17, 1925. He was united in holy wedlock with Colleen Jones (1936-2017), daughter of Happy and Sadie (Male) Jones of Galloway, Barbour County. They lived in Philippi in the mid-1960s and had one known son -- Timothy M. Kennedy. Colleen also had these children -- Tina Hill, Toni Rose Leasure, Marshall Jones and Randall Jones. Steward served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. The family resided in Galloway, Barbour County circa 1962, and eventually moved to Canton, Stark County, OH. Steward died in Canton on Sept. 26, 1999. Colleen survived her husband by 17 years, remaining in Canton. She died there at home at the age of 80 on Jan. 3, 2017. Rev. L. Douglas Rowh officiated at the funeral service followed by burial in Evergreen Memorial Gardens. An obituary was printed in the Canton (OH) Repository.

  • Grandson Timothy M. Kennedy (1964-2013) was born on Jan. 9, 1964, in Philippi. He lived in Canton, OH and had one daughter. He died at age 49 in Cleveland Clinic, and was entombed at Mt. View Cemetery in Philippi.
  • Step-granddaughter Tina married Timothy Hill and resides in Canton.
  • Step-granddaughter Toni wed John Leasure and dwells in Canton.
  • Stepson Marshall Jones was joined in marriage with Judy and live in Carroll County, OH.
  • Stepson Randall Jones makes his home in Canton.

Daughter Barbara Jean Kennedy (1929-2008) was born on Sept. 4, 1929 in Philippi. She wed LeRoy W. Schloeder (1928-2004), sometimes misspelled "Schoeler," and in all they were married for 33 years until his passing. The couple had one daughter, Eldora Lavdas. The Schloeders made their home in the early 1960s in Fairmont, Marion County, WV and later moved to Canton, Stark County, OH. Barbara was a member of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Canton. Said a  newspaper, she was a "person who put others first, especially her family. She looked forward to vacations and outings with friends and family." LeRoy passed away on April 14, 2004 in Canton. At the age of 79, Barbara died in Canton on Sept. 5, 2008. Brother Carl Baldwin officiated at her funeral service, followed by interment in West Lawn Cemetery in Canton.

Son James Ellis Kennedy (1937-1999) was born on June 21, 1937 near Philippi. He was married and had three children -- Sandra McGee, Tommy McGee and Donnie McGee. He was a longtime farm laborer and "worked on several area farms," said the Clarksburg Exponent. He lived in Flemington in 1962 and Berryburg in 1999. He contracted an "unexpected illness" and died in Aultman Hospital in Canton, at age 62, on Sept. 2, 1999. His remains were returned to Philippi for a funeral and burial in the Mt. View Cemetery.

Son Roger Kennedy resided in 1962 in Flemington. He wed Vicky (?) and in 2008 lived in Barbour County.

Daughter Virginia A. Kennedy (1931-2008) was born on June 14, 1931 in Barbour County. As a young woman, Virginia migrated to Canton, Stark County. On June 6, 1952, at the age of 21, she wed 20-year-old Boyd W. Mayle (1932-1982), son of Charles E. and Lydia Mayle. Their wedding was held in Canton. The couple resided in Canton for decades and produced two sons -- Michael Mayle and Patrick E. Mayle. Sadly, Boyd died on Sept. (or Dec.) 14, 1982, at age 50. Virginia lived on for another 26 years and was a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses North Church in Canton. Said the Canton Repository, she was a "self-employed domestic worker for several families in the Canton area for many years." She died on Christmas Eve 2008, at the age of 77, in the Mercy Medical Center in Canton. Burial was in Evergreen Memorial Gardens.

Daughter Madge "Judy" Kennedy married Howard Newman. They made their home in Canton in the early 1960s and 2008.

Daughter Shirley Kennedy wed Wilford Mayle. They resided in Detroit in 1962. 

Daughter Victoria Kennedy ( ? - ? ) made her home with her parents in Flemington in the early 1960s. She wed Wayne Hinton ( ? - ? ) and lived in Canton circa 2008.

 

Clavius and Berneda

~ Son Clavius Calvin "Tave" Kennedy ~

Son Clavius Calvin "Tave" Kennedy (1904-1978) was born on Oct. 2, 1904, in Berryburg, Barbour County. 

At the age of 23, he wed 17-year-old Berneda Croston (1913- ? ) on July 5, 1930, by the hand of Rev. Fred Decost. They were six years apart in age.

The couple produced 10 children -- Calvin Kennedy Jr., Virginia Dennison, Patricia Hill, Eugene Kennedy, Isaac D. "Fluke" Kennedy, Conal Kennedy, Opha "Sonny" Kennedy II, Paul Kennedy, David Kennedy and Milda Kennedy.

 

Clavius and Berneda

The Kennedys lived in Canton, Stark County, OH in 1965; in Detroit, MI in 1968; and at 1581 Pekin Drive SE in East Canton, OH in 1978.

Tave was a longtime coal miner, belonging to the United Mine Workers of America, and was a member of the Crystal Park Wesleyan Methodist Church of Canton. 

He passed away at the age of 71, in 1978, at Timken Mercy Hospital, in Canton. 

The Grafton Mountain Statesman said that Tave was survived by 21 grandchildren and two great- grandchildren.

Berneda outlived her husband and resided as a widow in Louisville, OH.

Her final fate is not yet known.

Son Calvin Kennedy Jr. (1934- ? ) was born on Dec. 20, 1934 at Galloway, Barbour County. He married Vivian Crites (1939- ? ), the daughter of Gaylord and Ada (Brannan) Crites of Arnettsville, Monongalia County, WV. Their wedding took place on March 10, 1956, with the newlyweds making their home in nearby Rivesville, Marion County. Circa 1978, Calvin resided in Canton, Stark County, OH.

Daughter Virginia Kennedy married (?) Dennison and lived in Detroit in 1978 and Canton in 1988.

Daughter Patricia Kennedy wed (?) Hill and made her home in 1978 in Detroit and by 1988 was in East Canton.

 

Canton's Market Avenue looking north, 1930s

 

Eugene & Samantha Kennedy with son Don

Son Eugene Kennedy ( ? - ? ) was married to Samantha "Nannie" (?). They lived in East Canton and had at least one son, Donald Kennedy.

Son Isaac D. "Fluke" Kennedy (1933-1988) was born on Sept. 11, 1933 in Barbour County. He served in the U.S. military during the Korean War. He moved to Canton, OH in about 1958, when he was 25, where he worked as a construction laborer and attended Crystal Park Wesley Methodist Church in Canton. His five children were Cynthia Barnett, Deborah Saenz, Becky Ward, Wendy Coal and Daniel Kennedy. They resided at 4945 Ravenna Avenue SE in East Canton. Isaac died at the age of 55 in 1988 in Timken Mercy Medical Center. He was buried in Sunset Hills Memory Gardens following a funeral led by Rev. Winfield Mayle.

Son Conal Lee Kennedy (1940-2013) was born on July 23, 1940 in West Hill near Grafton, Taylor County. He married Rosemary (?) and they had these children: Belinda Geiger, Anita Hedrick and Michael Kennedy. The family resided for many years in Canton and Massillon, OH, where Conal was employed in construction and later by H&H Auto Parts and Babcock & Wilcox. He also was a member of the American sportsman's Club in East Canton and in his spare time enjoyed boating, fishing and hunting. Conal died at the age of 73 on Aug. 29, 2013, ending a marital union of 51 years. Burial was in North Lawn Cemetery in Canton, with Lance Lindenberger preaching at the funeral service.

Son Opha "Sonny" Kennedy II was wed to Mary (?). He made his home in Canton in the 1970s and into the 2010s.

Son Paul Kennedy married Karen (?). He lived in Louisville, OH and in 2013 was in East Canton.

~ Son Howard "Cornelius" Kennedy ~

Son Howard "Cornelius" Kennedy (1905- ? ) was born in about 1905 in West Virginia. 

He was married at the age of 17, but eight years later, in 1930, he boarded in the home of his uncle and aunt, Howard Lee and Merriam (Tate) Kennedy in Zanesville, Muskingum County, OH. That year, he was employed as a puller in an ice plant, and the federal census taker marked him as "negro."

Howard made his home circa 1965-1968 in Morgantown, Monongalia County, WV. 

He was deceased by 1995. Nothing more is known.

 

The Rupars' grave at Mt. View Cemetery

 

~ Daughter Mary Jeanette (Kennedy) Rupar ~

Daughter Mary Jeanette Kennedy (1909-1995) was born on May 24, 1909 in Grafton, Taylor County, WV. 

She married her next-door neighbor, coal miner Andrew Rupar (1885-1952), in the early 1930s. He was an immigrant from Yugoslavia, the son of Mary Rupar, and almost a quarter century older than his bride. 

They had four children: Mary Ann Rupar, JoAnn Mayle, Robert Lee Rupar Sr. and Frances Imperial. The family lived in Galloway, Barbour County. 

Sadly, daughter Mary Ann died of bronchial pneumonia at the age of one month, eight days on March 28, 1935. The infant was buried at Mt. View Cemetery.

Andrew died in Myers' Clinic of hardening of the arteries, heart disease, stomach cancer and chronic bronchitis at the age of 66 on March 26, 1952. He was laid to rest in Mt. View Cemetery. A search has been made for his obituary in the Philippi Republican newspaper microfilm collection at West Virginia University, but none was found.

The widowed Mary maintained a residence in Galloway. She died on Oct. 17, 1995, at the age of 86, at the home of a nephew in the Berryburg community. Her obituary in the Barbour Democrat said she "was a homemaker and a member of the Galloway Center of the Barbour County Senior Citizens." She was survived by nine grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. Rev. Winfield Mayle led her burial service. She rests for eternity beside her husband. 

Daughter JoAnn Rupar married (?) Mayle. Circa 1995, they made their home in East Canton, OH. 

Daughter Frances Rupar (1936-1995) was born on Jan. 4, 1936 at Galloway, Barbour County. As a young woman she moved to Clarksburg, Harrison County, WV where she took up residence at 1 Bruce Street. At the age of 22, she wed 28-year-old Patsy Joseph Imperial (1929- ? ), son of Joe and Mary Teresa (Pandora) Imperial. Their nuptials took place in Clarksburg on Aug. 23, 1958, with Rev. Colombo F. Bandiera officiating at St. John's Roman Catholic Church. When Patsy was a student at St. Mary's High School, he played baseball on the 1947 team which captured the Little 10 Conference Championship. (He and the team were pictured in the April 8, 2013 edition of the Clarksburg Exponent Telegram.) Frances died on April 4, 1995, just six months before her mother. A search has been made for an obituary in the Clarksburg newspapers of the era at West Virginia University, but none are on file there for the pertinent date.

Son Robert Lee Rupar Sr. (1933-2008) was born on Sept. 26, 1933 in Philippi. He was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps in Korea and Vietnam. Later, he worked as an electrician for Sparks Medical Center in Fort Smith, AR. He married Thi Kieu Hoang (1940-2004), a native of Saigon, Vietnam. Thi Kieu had been married before and brought four children to the union: Pam Rupar-Lee, Lisa Nguyen, Dung Hoang and Tuan Hoang. They went on to have two children of their own: ZoAnn Hernandez and Robert Rupar Jr. They resided in Van Buren, AR and were Buddhists. The couple is believed to have separated. Thi Kieu died on Nov. 12, 2004 in Barling, Sebastian County, AR. Burial was in the Barling Cemetery, with an obituary printed in the Times Record. Robert survived her by four years. He died at the age of 74 on June 5, 2008. A memorial service was held at the U.S. National Cemetery at Fort Smith.

~ Son James Bradley Kennedy ~

Son James Bradley Kennedy (1911-1968) was born on June 19, 1910 in Barbour County, WV. As an adult, he resided in Tennerton and Anmore, Upshur County, WV. 

He married Adeline Josephine Dalton (1917-1964), the daughter of Floyd Dalton of Quiet Dell, WV. 

The Kennedys had three children -- Franklin Kennedy, Loretta Jean Jenkins and Dorothy Elouise Iaquinta. 

James was a longtime coal miner. He was an employee of Clinchfield Coal Company, Dola Mine No. 2, in the 1960s, and a member of the United Mine Workers of America. They were members of the Mt. Zion Methodist Church of Anmore. 

Sadly, Adeline died at the age of 46 on Feb. 8, 1964, said the Grafton Sentinel, "in a Clarksburg hospital following a brief illness." Following her funeral at the Mt. Zion Methodist Church, led by Rev. Clyde Loar, she was buried in the church cemetery.

James was the informant for his father's death certificate in 1965. Circa 1968, he lived in Anmoore.

After being stricken with a sudden, acute coronary occlusion at the age of 57, James died in Buckhannon, Upshur County on May 1, 1968. According to his obituary printed in the Grafton Sentinel, James was survived by six grandchildren. He was laid to rest in Mt. Zion Cemetery in Anmore, Harrison County.

Son Franklin Kennedy moved to Ohio, settling in Canton, Stark County.

Daughter Loretta Jean Kennedy (1935- ? ) was born on May 16, 1935 at Galloway, Barbour County. At the age of 19, on May 13, 1955, she wed 25-year-old Orvil Lee Jenkins (1929-2000), son of Van and Clara (Crites) Jenkins of Little Birch, Braxton County, WV. Rev. Russell W. Harvey officiated at the ceremony held in Clarksburg. At the time of marriage, he lived at Sprague, Raleigh County, WV and she at Anmoore, Harrison County, WV. The Jenkinses established a home in the Plum Borough section of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, PA and lived there in the 1960s. Tragedy visited the family in July 1966, when two motorcyclists were killed when colliding with Orvil's vehicle on Saltsburg Road in Plum. Orvil was hospitalized but recovered and lived for many more years. He died on Aug. 20, 2000 in Natrona Heights, Allegheny County. 

 

Daughter Dorothy Elouise Kennedy (1938- ? ) was born on June 15, 1938 in Galloway, Barbour County. On Jan. 6, 1962, when she was 23 years of age, Dorothy married 24-year-old William Iaquinta Jr. (1937- ? ). He was the son of William and Loretta (Garcia) Iaquinta and a resident of Clarksburg. Rev. Colombo F. Banderia, of St. John's Catholic Church of Clarksburg, led the nuptials. They lived in Arlington, VA circa 1968.

 

Opal and 3 of her children

~ Daughter Opal "Sweets" (Kennedy) Mayle ~

Daughter Opal "Sweets" Kennedy (1916-2006 ) was born in 1916. 

She married Linsey "Linzy" Mayle (1909-1971), the son of Eugene and Essie "Ocie" Mayle. The wedding took place on Oct. 7, 1934, at Philippi. At the time, the 25-year-old Linsey lived in Flemington, while the 18 year old Opal resided in Galloway. 

Later, they relocated to Ohio, settling in Chesterhill near McConnelsville, Morgan County. 

 

Chesterhill, Ohio

Chesterhill is seen here in an old postcard view. 

The Mayles had 11 children, of whom nine are known -- Roger Mayle, Dow "Junior" Mayle, Freda "Sissy" (Mayle) Mayle, Floyd "Tommy" Mayle, Michael Alan Mayle, Carolyn Hill, Patricia Hill, Nancy Tippie and Kathy McKibben. 

Linsey died in 1971 at the age of 62. 

Opal outlived him by 35 years. "She was an aide at Mark Rest Center for 20 years and belonged to the Cornerstone Church in McConnelsville," said the Zanesville (OH) Times Recorder. Opal passed away at the age of 88 on June 16, 2006, at the Good Samaritan Medical Center in Zanesville. She was laid to rest in Chesterhill Cemetery in Chesterhill, Morgan County. At the time of her death, Opal and Linsey had produced 23 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.

 

Opal and her adult children

 

Daughter Freda Magdalene "Sissy" Mayle (1937-2000) was born on Jan. 15, 1937, in Philippi. As a young woman, she resided in Berryburg, Barbour County. On Jan. 6, 1955, at the age of 18, Freda married 24-year-old Camden Mayle (1930- ? ) of Moatsville, Barbour County. He was the son of Clelle and Vittie Mayle. Rev. Fred DeCost of the Olive Hill Church officiated at the ceremony held in Simpson, near Grafton, Taylor County. They relocated to Canton, Stark County, OH, and had these children -- Deborah Dalton, Denise Kennedy, Deanna L. Tavares and Dwayne C. Mayle. Freda died at the age of 63, on Oct. 6, 2000, following an extended illness," reported the Canton Repository. She was buried at Melscheimer Cemetery.

Son Roger Mayle (1945-1969) was born in 1945 in Canton, and graduated from Marion High School in Chesterhill, Morgan County. He served in the US military in Vietnam, and later was a construction worker. Tragically, he was killed in a one-car accident on Route 50-A in Amesville, Athens County, OH on March 10, 1969. Said the Athens Messenger, the "car left the road, hit an embankment and overturned. A passenger, Aaron Mayle, survived the crash." Burial was in Chesterhill Cemetery.

Son Dow "Junior" Mayle

Son Floyd "Tommy" Mayle

Son Michael Alan Mayle

Son Floyd E. Mayle

 

Amy Reid with "Finding Your 
Roots" host Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Daughter Carolyn Sue Mayle married Harley Leon "Bud" Hill -- a son of Harley Hieskell and Gretta Frances (Male) Hill and a grand nephew of Lucy Lorraine (Hill) Minerd. In 2014, their granddaughter Amy (Nichols) Reid was interviewed on the Public Broadcasting television series "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr." which aired on Nov. 25, 2014. The interview with show host and Harvard history professor Gates took place in Philippi, WV while he was researching his own West Virginia genealogy and connections with the original American Mayle ancestor, Englishman Wilmore Male. As part of the show, Carolyn agreed to have her DNA used for an "ancestry composition" analysis which tells what percent of one's DNA comes from the 31 established populations worldwide. The test includes DNA received from all of one's ancestors on both sides of the family. Carolyn's analysis concluded that a vast majority of her DNA -- 81.2 percent -- is shared with Northern and Southern European populations, confirming her known German ancestry on the Minerd side of the clan.

Daughter Patricia Mayle wed Lee Hill -- also a son of Harley Hieskell and Gretta Frances (Male) Hill and a grand nephew of Lucy Lorraine (Hill) Minerd

Daughter Nancy Mayle married (?) Tippie. 

Daughter Kathy Mayle wed (?) McKibben.

 

Amy Nichols Reid's photos of Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s interviews in Philippi. Above: interviewing Rhonda Cook Tabler at the Croston School. Below: reading a Mayle grave marker in the Welch Cemetery

 

Charles Kennedy

~ Son Charles E. Kennedy ~

Son Charles E. Kennedy (1925-1992?) was born in 1925. 

 

Charles and his dog

He married Eleanor Mayle (1926?-2008?), thedaughter of Alvin and Rosa Mayle. 

They had at least one son, Greg Kennedy.

The family resided in Canton, Stark County, OH in the 1960s and in nearby Minerva, OH in 1978. Charles was remembered by a niece as "funny and caring."

Charles was a talented amateur photographer and often captured family scenes on film. Said the niece: "I wonder if he knew the enjoyment of all those photo's taken on that 8 mil. camera would bring to his relatives, and others someday? He always like to have a large group of families together, and show the many slides that he would take through the years. It was a treat."

He was deceased by October 1995, and is believed to have passed into eternity on Dec. 5, 1992. If so, he was only age 67 at death.

Eleanor is thought to have outlived Charles by 16 years and to have died on Nov. 4, 2008, at the age of 82.

This needs to be confirmed.

 

Eleanor and Charles Kennedy

 

Copyright 2005-2010, 2013-2014, 2017 Mark A. Miner