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Kenan Family Collection

Identifier: SC-MS-107

Scope and Contents

This collection contains research materials from Mary Bason Broadfoot in relation to the Kenan House property on Market Street in Wilmington, North Carolina. The research materials consist of correspondence between Mary Broadfoot and Leila Delano Patterson, the Kenan descendants as well as the Kenan family’s long-time chauffer Denver Clarence Padrick. Other correspondents with Mary Broadfoot document their memories of the Kenan House and its history. The collection also includes Broadfoot’s outline, drafts, and final essay on the Kenan House as it appeared in the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society Bulletin are included in this collection. Additional research materials include an interview with Padrick in which he gives his account of events at the Kenan property as well as annotations about the Delano family. In 1913 Lyman Delano, executive vice president of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and a cousin to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, rented the property on Market Street that was later sold to Sarah Graham Kenan.

The collection also documents Kenan Family History, including publications on the history, restoration, and preservation of Liberty Hall plantation in Kenansville, Duplin County. Other items include an opinion piece and miscellaneous notes by North Carolina Attorney General and former Confederate colonel Thomas S. Kenan. A letter from Alvaretta Kenan Register about her research on her family and a description and illustration of the Kenan Family Coat of Arms complete the family history portion of the collection.

Finally, the collection includes information on the extended Kenan family, including a pamphlet about the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum at Whitehall Way, Palm Beach, Florida. Henry Morrison Flagler was the husband of Mary Lily Kenan, a native of Kenansville and niece of Thomas S. Kenan.


  • 1864-1972

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 University of North Carolina at Wilmington, all rights reserved (subject to exceptions). Certain items in this collections were conveyed to UNCW without the accompanying copyright. Where the donor did not convey copyright to UNCW,copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Stephen Kenan I and Elizabeth Kenan emigrated to the colony of North Carolina from Ireland in the 1730s. They settled in the vicinity of Turkey in Sampson County, building a family home that would later bear the name Liberty Hall. Their son James Kenan (1740-1810) was elected Sheriff of Duplin County at the age of 22. During the American Revolution, James served first as colonel and then as brigadier general in the North Carolina militia. After the Revolution, James Kenan chaired the 1789 Fayetteville Convention where North Carolina ratified the United States Constitution, thereby becoming the twelfth state. Kenan then became one of the first trustees of the University of North Carolina in 1790.

James Kenan married Sarah Love ("Sallie") in 1770 and they had eight children. After the first Liberty Hall burned sometime in the 1790s, their eldest son Thomas Stephen Kenan II (1771-1843) built the second Liberty Hall ca. 1800. After serving three terms in the United States House of Representatives, Thomas S. Kenan II moved to Selma, Alabama in 1811. Owen Rand Kenan (1804-1887), son of Thomas S. Kenan II, then assumed management of Liberty Hall.

Owen Rand Kenan and his wife Sarah Rebecca Graham (d. 1871) had four children, including Thomas S. Kenan III (1838-1911). As Owen Rand Kenan sat in the First Confederate Congress, Thomas S. Kenan III rose to the rank of colonel in the Confederate Army. After the war, Thomas S. Kenan III practiced law, later holding the office of Attorney General of North Carolina from 1877 to 1885.

Another son of Owen Rand Kenan, William Rand Kenan (1845-1903), held the rank of captain with a Confederate militia unit. William Rand Kenan was, after the Civil War, an insurance agent and merchant in Wilmington where he helped lead the white supremacist Coup and Massacre of 1898.

William Rand Kenan had four children with his wife Mary Hargrave (1842-1916). His daughters included Mary Lily Kenan Flagler (1867-1917), who was the second wife and widow of Standard Oil magnate Henry Morrison Flagler; Sarah Graham Kenan (1876-1968); and Jessie Hargrave Kenan Wise (1870-1968). Upon their deaths, the latter two donated their Market Street houses to the University of North Carolina Wilmington.


.2 Linear Feet (Contains 1 document box)




This collection is arranged into the following series: Kenan House research materials, 1968-1971; Kenan Family history, 1864-1972.

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Thomas S. Kenan on August 29, 1972.

Processing Information

This collection was reprocessed by Lencia Beltran in Fall 2021.

Kenan Family Collection
Special Collections Staff
2021 August 12
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Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository