Change your cover photo
Change your cover photo
This user account status is Approved

This user has not added any information to their profile yet.

Brief History Photo

Old photograph of Thomas P. Kennard

Thomas P. Kennard was Nebraska's first Secretary of State.


Kennard is well known for establishing the city of Lincoln. It's location, public works projects, and associations can primarily be linked to Kennard.

He is responsible for naming and numbering all of the streets as they are set out today, and was instrumental in plotting and selling the majority of Lincoln's land.

He died at 92 years old and remains one of the most influential people in Lincoln's history. You are looking at his tombstone in Wyuka Cemetery.

Thomas P. Kennard lived longer than any other influential politician in Nebraska of his time. He became the renown "old man" of Lincoln.

The Lincoln Journal regularly used Kennard as a primary source for what the early days of Lincoln were like. He had numerous old, historical stories that were published in the paper at the time, passing them down to posterity.

Thomas Kennard|http://mylivinghistory.org/user/thomaskennard/
Photo 13

EARLY LIFE 1828-1850

1828:  Thomas P. Kennard is born in Flushing Twp., Ohio (Belmont County) to Thomas and Elizabeth Kennard. His parents, both from Pennsylvania, were members of the Deer Creek Quakers and ran a small farm.

1833-1836:  Kennard's father purchases new land in Henry County, Indiana. Researchers believe his parents moved to acquire more land out west. His family took one of the first national roads (constructed as part of the National Road Project) to move to Greensboro. The national road is the same interstate used today.

1844:  Kennard becomes an apprentice at the Mowrer woolen mill. He is an apprentice for nearly four years.

1848-1850:  Kennard travels and works at four different woolen mills for two years.


1850:  Kennard returns to the Mowrer mill with his brother, Jenkins. They buy and operate the mill.

1851:  Kennard begins to read the law, and passes the bar in New Castle, the county seat of Henry County. In those days, attorneys and those practicing law were not required to go to law school or obtain a J.D. degree. They had to be proficient in the law, and pass the bar in order to be a practicing attorney.

1852:  Kennard marries Livia E. Tempelton, a Baptist woman. He is disowned from his Quaker congregation for "marry[ing] contrary to discipline." The two were married by a Baptist elder.

As a result, Kennard ends his partnership at the woolen mill, and takes up his own law practice.

1854: Kennard and his family move to Anderson, Indiana (Madison County). He becomes a part of Cooper & Kennard Law.

While living in Indiana, Kennard becomes a delegate in the first Republican presidential convention (the Fusion Convention), held in Indianapolis, IN. This ignites his passion for political science and government.


New Life in Nebraska 1857-1859

1857-1858:  Kennard arrives in Omaha, and settles in Desoto, Nebraska (Washington County).

In May, Kennard becomes a part of the law firm, General Land Agents - L.J. & T.P. Kennard.

1859: Kennard starts his long tenure as a businessman by operating a small hotel and tavern in Desoto.

Kennard becomes a member of the Republican County Central Committee and involved with the Organization of Agricultural Society.


Civil Service 1860-1866

1860:  In January, Kennard becomes Chairman of the Republican County Central Committee. In February, he is elected as a delegate to Nebraska's Constitutional Convention. Kennard also becomes Chairman of the Washington County Fourth of July celebration in May of the same year.

1862:  Kennard runs for town recorder, but is defeated.

1863:  Kennard becomes the Deputy Assessor and Collector for the Internal Revenue Service of Nebraska.

1864-1865:  Kennard is elected as the Mayor of Desoto, while still holding his Deputy Assessor and Collector position.

1866:  At the Union Party convention in Plattsmouth, Kennard is nominated to be the first Secretary of State of Nebraska. He is elected on October 8th.

Business in Nebraska 1867-1920

1867:  Kennard becomes Incorporator of the Northern Nebraska Air Line Railroad Co. He also purchases town sites for the modern day cities of Blair, Kennard, and Arlington. Kennard purchases terminal grounds at Fremont as well.

In Lincoln, Kennard buys the northern half of the block between G and H, and 16th and 17th Streets. His colleague buys the southern half.

He begins selling off his lots in September.

1869:  Kennard becomes Incorporator of the Fremont, Elkorn & Missouri Valley Railroad.

He builds his home at 1627 H Street.

1871: Kennard becomes the Lincoln ticket agent for the Midland Pacific Railroad. In July of the same year, he helps establish a private bank, Bowker, Kennard & Wheeler (they suspend operations in 1875).

1872: Kennard participates in the Nebraska State Railroad Convention. In October, he goes into the wholesale dry goods business by opening Kennard & Jacobs Brothers.

1873: Kennard becomes the Director of the Midland Pacific Railroad (later becoming The Nebraska Railway Co.).

1876: Lincoln, Beatrice & Republican Valley Railroad makes Kennard Incorporator.

1878-1879: Kennard returns to the legal field and becomes the local attorney for Union Pacific Railroad. He doesn't quit his practice until 1882.

1880: Kennard becomes the director of the Lincoln Board of Trade.

1882-1885: Kennard is involved in the brokering and loan business, creating T.P. Kennard & Son, which later becomes an insurance agency. They don't quit operations until 1892.

1885-1886: Kennard forms Kennard & Riggs, a drugstore. It is operational until 1890. Over the next year he purchases railroad grounds in Lincoln from Missouri Pacific Railroad to form the town sites of Eagle and Walton.

1887: Kennard moves to the corner of 17th and H Street.

1889: Kennard helps found the Old Settlers Association. He becomes the Director of the Lincoln Board of Trade.

1890: Kennard organizes Western Glass & Paint Co., and later becomes the President until his retirement in 1911.

He helps complete the building at 220 S. 12th Street in Lincoln, NE.

1891: Kennard establishes a real estate, loan, and insurance company, Kennard & Moseley. The company was operational until 1896. In February, he becomes involved with the freight bureau of the Lincoln Board of Trade.

1893-1894: Kennard's daughter, Cora, and he go into business at Hardy & Pitcher Furniture. Kennard helps organize the Lincoln Commercial Club.

1905-1906: Kennard becomes Incorporator of Citizens' Railway Co. (later Citizens Interurban Railway Co.), and in 1906 becomes Director.

1909: Kennard is named President of Union Depot Committee.

1920: Fire destroys Kennard's Western Glass & Paint company.

Photo 14
First Territorial Capitol Building in Omaha

Early Political Career & Secretary of State 1866-1871

1866:  At the Union Party convention in Plattsmouth, Kennard is nominated to be the first Secretary of State of Nebraska. He is elected on October 8th.

1867:  In June, Kennard is appointed to the Capital Commission, and becomes State Librarian.

Kennard is involved in the survey of the town site of Lincoln, after it is established, and enables the first town site lot sale.

1868: Kennard is re-elected as Secretary of State. He makes his permanent residence in Lincoln.

1871: Kennard's term as Secretary of State ends. A host of impeachment trials batter his colleagues in government. Kennard does not seek re-election.

In May, he is recommended to be foreign consulate to China.

Photo 15
Photo 18
The Kennard House in Lincoln as it looks today. It is now a museum.

The Kennard House

The Kennard House is the oldest structure in Lincoln. It was dedicated as the Nebraska Statehood Memorial in 1968, and still stands in it's original place.

The house belonged to Nebraska's first Secretary of State, Thomas P. Kennard, and his family.

It is built in the formal Victorian style, extravagant for the late 1800's. Over the years, the house has fell into ruin, the rear wing was removed in renovation in 1923, it was once used as multi-family housing, and later a fraternity house.

It has been restored to it's original 1870 era style, and is available for tours year 'round. Contact the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Here are some pictures of the Kennard House over the years:

[vc_column_text] [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text] [/vc_column_text]