The Kennedy Family

Michael Kennedy (Great Grandfather of John, Bernard and Suzanne) arrived in Australia from Tipperary Ireland in 1854, he left the Port of Liverpool on the sailing ship Invincible on the 5th June arriving in Melbourne in August of that year.

Accompanying him on the ship were Patrick and Mary Burke and their two children Hugh and Bridget; also a man named Patrick Ryan, it is believed that these people came from the same area as Michael Kennedy and were associated with the Kennedy family there. Michael was the 2nd son and the 4th of six children born to Bryan and Ellen Kennedy (nee Ryan) of Knockwilliam, which is near Nenagh in County Tipperary, his father Bryan was a farmer in that area.

The Kennedy home at Knockwilliam, Co Tipperary, Eire. Circa 1760’s.

After a short time in Melbourne and Geelong he headed for the goldfields of Ballarat in search of the illusive metal. He became embroiled in the Eureka uprising of 3rd Dec 1854 and was one of the men who helped the leader Peter Lalor make his escape to Geelong following the rout of the miners by the troops.

In 1859 he married Catherine Ryan at St Mary’s Catholic Church at Kyneton. They remained in the area for a number of years where Michael owned and leased farmland. He also worked as a contractor for the Kyneton Shire building roads and footpaths. Nine of their twelve children were born while they were at Kyneton.

On 1st May 1876 the Kennedy family severed their ties in the Kyneton district and set out for Karramomous where they had selected land (approximately 10 km due east of the Arcadia Township). The trip to Karramomous took them 5 days with all their possessions loaded onto a dray and a springcart, camping each night beside their possessions- however the women folk did spend one night in a hotel which would have been a luxury. The log cabin at Karramomous was still under construction when they arrived so they had to live in a tent for a few days.

The Kennedys had been settled at Karramomous for only a few months when Honorah (Nance) was born in the log kitchen. She was christened a few days later at the Arcadia Hotel. The priest Fr. P Kearns had come out there to say mass for the licensee Patrick O’Brien who had passed away. It was believed that O’Brien had traveled with Michael on the same boat from Ireland. Later O’Brien’s wife Hanora married Patrick McCluskey, from then the hotel was known as McCluskey’s Hotel until it was delicenced on 31st December 1928.

Michael and Catherine Kennedy had twelve children, three of whom were born after they had settled at Karramomus; all but two of them remained in the area for the rest of their lives. Amelia entered the convent and spent most of her life at Yarrawonga. Patrick went to Tocumwal where he had a farm and later a business in the town. Bernard the eldest in the family died as a result of injuries received when a bull attacked him.

The Kennedy farm interests extended down to the Molka area (approximately 15 km south east of Arcadia) where four of Michael’s boys had land: Phil and Tom had 1100 acres they called “The Ranch”. John (Grandfather of John, Bernard and Suzanne) and Bill also had land there.

In the 1920’s Phil and Tom sold their property at Molka. Tom took on the agency for the Arcadia district for W.J.Quirk & Co P/L Stock and Station agents of Melbourne, the Company provided him with the use of a car, a single seater called an “Empire”and there were very few automobiles in the Arcadia area at this time, possibly the only other one being a “Durante” owned by Lou Boschetti.

Phil bought a property on the Muddy Creek south of Arcadia where he ran sheep and cattle; Phil was a well-known figure in the Arcadia area as he was an agent for the livestock auctioneers Francis Ross & Co. He forwarded many thousands of sheep and cattle, which were loaded on rail at Arcadia, destined for the sales at Newmarket in Melbourne. Phil along with his sister Honorah (Nance or Aunty Ann as she was known throughout the area) remained here until Phil’s death in 1956.

Tom Kennedy who had married Elizabeth Hanneberry of Arcadia in 1922 moved to Melbourne for a time where he joined Mr Charles Rahilley in the operation of a wood yard in Buckley St Essendon. The family which now included two children Marie and Bernard moved back to Arcadia in 1933 and leased the house that had previously been the Butter Factory’s manager’s residence.

Following the death of Elizabeth in 1942 Marie and Bernard moved to Melbourne where Marie worked for the PMG as a telephonist and Bernard joined the R.A.N, he served on a Frigate during the 2nd World War. Tom continued to live in the district and worked a variety of jobs from droving to building projects. Tom died at Arcadia in 1951.

In 1919 another of Michael’s offspring, a sister of John Kennedy (snr) also moved into the Arcadia area, Mary Theresa Noonan (nee Kennedy) whose husband had died earlier bought a property on the Arcadia / Euroa Road which she called Pastoria Park after the area they had come from in Kyneton. Mary Theresa spent the latter years of her life living with her son Michael and his family at Junction Park, south of Arcadia.

John married Kate Danaher in 1896 and they made their home on Cullen’s Road, over the next thirteen years eight children were born to John and Kate, from here they went to school at Pranjip which was on the way to Longwood, in the early 1900’s there were sixty children attending this school, all from nearby farms which at that time consisted of 320 acres (one selection).

The farming families survived by selling the timber from the cleared land, this timber was split and cut into 7ft billets and then carted by wagon or dray to the saw mills at Arcadia or Longwood a distance of approximately 16 Km. They also milked cows and carted the cream to the nearest creamery, Ned tells the story of a salesman who came to the property one day selling milking machines which had recently been invented, but John casting his eye over his children said he was not interested as he already had “machines with legs”. The boys also spent much of their time hunting rabbits that roamed the country in vast numbers; they sold the skins and ate a lot of rabbit stew


This property is still owned by the Kennedy family today. In 1922 John and Kate and their 8 children: John, Michael, Edmund, Bernard & Mary, Johanna, Amelia and Joseph bought the property known as “Clearview” from Patrick McCluskey which was situated on Quirks Road south of Arcadia.

This was about the time that irrigation came into the area posing a new challenge for them. Here they also milked cows and raised sheep. They had a tennis court and also a bush racetrack where picnic race meetings were held to raise funds for various organizations. There was some intense rivalry between some farmers as to who had the fastest horse. Mick and his sister Mary were the keen horsemen in the family; Mick with his trotters (which were never very successful) and Mary had a keen interest in riding.

Ned Kennedy’s 1926 Dodge

John Kennedy snr was a breeder of Clydesdales, he owned a stallion that was officially named “Dalhousie” for breeding purposes but was known as “Blackie” by the family, this horse was often yoked to a sled, the sled being a V shaped limb cut from a tree with a platform fitted on it and was used as a means of transport, especially in wet conditions.

Rev John Kennedy Cssr.

Kate and John’s eldest son, John, went away to study for the Priesthood and later became a Redemptorist Missionary Priest. Following the outbreak of World War 2 John joined the army as a Chaplain, he was assigned to 2/40 Battalion and was taken prisoner by the Japanese on the island of Timor he spent the next 3 years as a POW spending time in camps at Timor, Java, Singapore, the Burma Thailand Railway, Japan and finally Manchuria from where he was released at the end of the war.

Ned Kennedy harrowing the ground ready for sowing.

Two other brothers, Edmund (Ned) and Michael (Mick) sharecropped some of the land out at Karramomous, their machinery consisted of two double furrow ploughs, a set of harrows, a 13 row Mitchell drill and a 5ft Robinson harvester all pulled by horses. When the Arcadia Hall was being built in 1926 Ned also worked for the builders who had the contract to build the hall.

In 1928 Ned and Mick purchased the property known as Rogersons for 12 Pounds an acre, in latter times the Doyle family owned this property. Ned and Mick developed the property and laid it out for irrigation on which they grew Lucerne, cereals and had sheep and cattle. Mick remained on this property until his death in 1957; his wife Vera then sold the property and moved to Melbourne.

Ned purchased the property immediately south of this farm in 1936 which had been owned by Harry Rowe, following his marriage to Mary Morrissy of Wahring in 1937 Ned and Mick worked their farms independently of each other.

In 1944 Ned extended his property when he bought the farm owned by Billy Powles, this is the property on which Bernard now lives. Ned diversified in to growing Sub Clover for seed, he developed a method for collecting and then threshing the seed, this was achieved by first removing most of the clover plant (cutting and baling), then sweeping by means of an old horse drawn road broom the residue of the clover plants and seed in to rows, it was then gathered by means of a horse drawn dump rake in to heaps from where it was manually forked in to an old converted 8ft harvester where the seed was threshed and bagged off.

As the farmland in the area was being improved there was a demand for more productive grasses and clovers for stock to graze on, sub-clover was highly nutritional and also added nitrogen to the soil. Much of the clover seed harvested was sold to local district farmers.

Using an old road broom to sweep the clover burr into rows.
Raking the clover burr into heaps.
Thrashing out the clover seed.
Ned Kennedy bagging off the seed.

Following the death of John Kennedy snr in 1940, Bernard or Barney as he was known acquired most of the Molka property and continued to run sheep on the farm until 1963 when John and Bernard bought the property from him.

At about this time the Kennedy women also went their separate ways, Mary and Joan along with their mother moved to Shepparton in 1941; Amelia went to Melbourne where she worked for a large retail store for many years.

Joe Kennedy farmed the “Clearview” property and also part of the Molka property, following his marriage to Eileen Boschetti, he continued to run both properties, but gradually relinquished his farming interests selling “Clearview”.

The original property at Karramomus is now run by Gerald Kennedy and his wife Pam, Gerald is also a great grandson of Michael and Catherine Kennedy and his grandfather was also called Michael.

A gathering of the Kennedy family to celebrate Ned’s 100th birthday June 5th 2000.

Ned passed away July 25th 2000.
John and Frances Kennedy along with Bernard and Bernadette continue to farm in the Arcadia area, the farm area also includes land at Molka. The farming enterprise has beef cattle that are raised and then sold in to the domestic prime beef market, also 1st X ewes that are kept for the breeding of prime lambs, cereal crops are also grown on the property.