Luther Martin Kennett was born on 15 March 1807 in Falmouth, Pendleton County, Kentucky. His parents were Preston Graves Kennett and Margaret Porter. Luther died on 12 April 1873 at the age of sixty-six in Paris, France. The city of Kennett, Missouri, was named in his honor.

After working as a court clerk in Kentucky, Luther came to Missouri in 1825, moving to Farmington and then Selma where he became a partner in a merchandise store. He remained in that occupation for fifteen years, becoming quite wealthy. Luther Kennett began his political career as an alderman from St. Louis’s fourth ward in 1843. He was re-elected three times. He was then elected mayor of St. Louis as a Whig in 1850 and served three terms. In 1854, he was a representative to the U.S. Congress from St. Louis, defeating Thomas Hart Benton. During the cholera outbreak in 1849, Luther was a member of the twelve-man health committee that was appointed to deal with the crisis.

Luther was involved in the railroad business in St. Louis and was vice president of the Pacific Railroad Company and then, in 1853, president of the Iron Mountain Railroad Company.

Luther’s brother, Ferdinand Kennett, built Selma Hall, known as the Kennett Castle, overlooking the Mississippi River in Jefferson County, Missouri, near Crystal City in 1854. The mansion, which is on a site of more than 2,400 acres, has been restored and in 2020 was valued at more than $24 million.

Luther and Martha Ann Eliza Boyce were married in 1832. Martha was born on 14 May 1814 in Fayette County, Kentucky. She died on 29 August 1835 at the age of twenty-one in Farmington, St. Francois County, Missouri. Luther and Martha Ann were the parents of a daughter, Anne Caroline Kennett.

Kennett Hall
Kennett Hall
Photo from the Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Luther married his first cousin, Agnes Ada Kennett, as his second wife on 8 March 1842 in St. Louis. Agnes, daughter of Dixon Hall Kennett and Frances Wilson, was born on 13 February 1821 in Millersburg, Bourbon County, Kentucky. She died on 8 November 1904 at the age of eighty-three in St. Louis.

Luther Martin Kennett and Agnes Ada Kennett had the following children: John Corbyn, Frances Julian, Agnes Florence, Luther Martin Jr., Charles Pope, Dr. William Covington, George Clark, and Kenneth Wilson “Wils” Kennett.

Written by Ted Steele
February 2021

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Last Modified: 18-Nov-2021 14:22