Dr. James Kennedy - Assistant Surgeon

James M. Kennedy was Assistant Surgeon at Fort Missoula in 1897. Kennedy was from Abbesville, South Carolina and 32 years old when he rode with the Corps. In his book, Iron Riders, George Sorenson claims, "Kennedy was not at all enthusiastic about participating in this big ride; regulations, however, called for a medical officer...and he got the call"[pg.53]. The July 28, 1897 St. Louis Post Dispatch claims Kennedy had to learn to ride a bike within a week. On the other hand....

"Joining Moss as second in command was a fellow white officer, Dr. James M. Kennedy, assistant post surgeon at Fort Missoula, who shared Moss's interest in cycling." (pg. 248)
- Charles M. Dollar Putting the Army on Wheels, Buffalo Soldiers in the West

Dr. James M. Kennedy, the surgeon who will accompany the expedition is a typical South Carolinian, who entered the service four years ago. He is 32 years of age, and being one of the finest young surgeons in the army, an enthusiast wheelman and a fine specimen of manhood, he is in every way fitted to fill his new position."
- James A. Moss 2nd Lieutenant, 25th U.S. Infantry
Daily Missoulian Military Purposes, June 19, 1897

US Military Post Returns - Fort Missoula, Montana 1894 Jan-1908 Dec
"James M. Kennedy 1st Lieut. Med Dep’t Dettached service on bicycle trip to St. Louis, Mo. per authority from War Department dated May 4, 1897. Left post. June 14, 1897. Was on special duty preparing for bicycle trip from May 29 to June 14, 1897…."

The surgeon will carry a supply of medicine, case of surgical instruments, bandages, etc., the Corps will carry a complete outfit of repairing tools, oil, tire and rim cement, chain lubricant, extra tires, rims, spokes, cones, axles, pedal cranks, etc.
- James A. Moss 2nd Lieutenant, 25th U.S. Infantry
Daily Missoulian Military Purposes, June 19, 1897

Baldwin, Mary Ellen: b. May 3, 1873; married April 16, 1898, James Madison Kennedy; b. December 4, 1864.
Had issue: A. Lawrence Baldwin: b. September 19, 1899

1880 Census - Indian Hill, Abbeville, South Carolina
According to this census, Kennedy's father, A.B., was a farmer in Calhoun's Mills in 1870. Kennedy had five siblings: Laurens (19); James M. (15); A. M.[?](12); Archy C. (8); Charlie L. (6) and Sallie J. (4)

"Kennedy, James M. Asst. Surg., 12 May 1893. Capt., 24 Oct., 1898 [Born in S.C. Appointed from S.C.]"
- List of Officers of the Army of the U.S. from 1779 to 1900, William Powell

From October 17th to October 30, 1895.... Leave of absence for one month, with permission to apply for an extension of two months, is granted First Lieut. James M. Kennedy, Assistant Surgeon Camp Merritt, Montana.
- North Carolina Medical Journal Vol. 35-36, pg. 317

First Lieutenant James M. Kennedy, Assistant Surgeon, Fort Missoula, Montana, ordered to Fort Yellowstone, Wyoming, for temporary duty with troops in the field, in the National Park, during the season.
- The Medical News vol. 68, 1896, pg. 628

"First Lieut. James M. Kennedy, Assistant Surgeon, on the expiration of his leave of absence, will proceed to Griffin, Ga., and report to the Chief Mustering Officer at that place for duty pertaining to the muster-out of Georgia volunteers.
- New York Times, The United Service.-- Army, October 26, 1898

"Capt. James M. Kennedy, Assistant Surgeon, is relieved from further duty in the Department of California, to take effect May 10, and will report to the commanding General, Department of California, for transportation on the first available transport for Manila, where, upon arrival, he will report to the commanding General, Division of the Philippines, for assignment to duty."
- New York Times, The United Service.-- Army, April 22, 1900

"Major James M. Kennedy, Surgeon, United States Volunteers (Captain and Assistant Surgeon, United States Army) is honorably discharged from the service of the United States as Major and Surgeon, United States Volunteers, only, to take effect Oct. 31"
- New York Times, The United Service.-- Army, October 15, 1902

"Capt. James M. Kennedy, Assistant Surgeon, will proceed to Allentown, Penn; New York City, Boston, Chicago, and St. Louis on business pertaining to the Medical Department."

- New York Times, The United Service.-- Army, April 17, 1903
"A board of medical officers to consist of Lieut. Col. George H. Torney....and Capt. James M. Kennedy, Assistant Surgeon, is appointed to meet at the General Hospital, Presidio of San Francisco, for the examination of candidates for admission to the Medical Corps.
- New York Times, The United Service.-- Army, December 9, 1903

"Excerpted from
History of the Medical Department
U.S. Army

Following the great earthquake and fire which nearly destroyed the city of San Francisco, April 18, 1906, and the days following, most admirable sanitary and emergency work was done by the officers and men of the medical department under the able direction of Lieut. Col. G.H. Torney, who was at the time acting chief surgeon of the Department of California, and his successor in that office, Colonel C. L. Heizmenn.
Captain James M. Kennedy, assistant surgeon, was placed in command of the general hospital and Lieut. Col. Torney, upon request of the mayor and the president of the health commission of San Francisco, was placed at the head of a joint committee of the city, state and federal authorities to control the sanitation of the city in addition to his duties as chief surgeon of the department."
1910 Census - Oahu, Hawaii, Fort Shafter
Kennedy is in the US Army, 44 years old. He has been married to Mary B.(36) for 12 years. They have two children: Laurence B. (10) and A Katharine (6). Also living in the house are his mother-in-law, Alta C. Balwin (63) and four servants: Hun Prugmo [sp?] (24-Korea); Lulu Viagil (21-female-California); Marie Caraballo (17-female-Puerto Rico) and Saki Heaki (34-male-Japan). His wife was born in Iowa.
"Kennedy, James M.
Port Surgeon, U.S. Army
Port of Embarkation, Hoboken, N.J.

Date Of Action:
World War I Era
Citation:The Navy Cross is awarded to James M. Kennedy, United States Army, Medical Corps, for distinguished service in the line of his profession as Port Surgeon, Port of Embarkation, Hoboken, N.J. His co-operation with the Naval Medical authorities resulted in a high degree of sanitation being maintained on board troop transports."
- Home of Heroes website
1920 Census
Kennedy is listed as a colonel, fifty-four years old and married to Mary B. He was working at Letterman Hospital in San Francisco, which in 1918, was the Army's largest general hospital. Letterman cared for many of the wounded returning from Europe during World War I and pioneered the field of physical therapy. The census mentions two sons Laurence (20 yrs. old born in California) and Archibald Boggs (6 yrs. old born in Hawaii) and a daughter, Alta Katharine (15 yrs born in California.). Also living with the Kennedy's was a 22-year old Chinese servant named Lung(?) Soo Hoo.

San Francisco Earthquake Response
"The devastating earthquake and fire that struck San Francisco, California and vicinity early on the morning of 18 April 1906 immediately challenged the personnel of the U.S. Army Medical Department (AMEDD) who were then assigned to the headquarters of the U.S. Army's Division of the Pacific and Department of California and the Army General Hospital at Presidio of San Francisco....
AMEDD personnel played important roles in controlling disease and restoring San Francisco's health care structure. Many of the officers who were directly involved later went on to significant careers...and two later commanded Walter Reed General Hospital and Army Medical Center, Brig. Gen. James M. Kennedy (1926-29)...."

"TWO COLONELS PROMOTED.; Cheatham Is Quartermaster General
--Kennedy Succeeds Glennan.
Washington, Jan. 8.-- Two important army promotions were made today when Colonel B. Frank Cheatham was appointed Quartermaster General in place of the late Major Gen. William H. Hart, and Colonel James M. Kennedy was made Assistant Surgeon General, succeeding Brig. Gen. James D. Glennan, who will retire for age on March 2...."
- New York Times, Jan. 9, 1926
[more to this pay-per-view article Special to The New York Times. Section: Amusements Hotels and Restuarants, Page 17, 264 words]

"Mrs. Kennedy, wife of Gen. James M. Kennedy entertained at luncheon today in... Other guests were....
- Chicago Tribune, April 27, 1929
[this is a pay-per view article Page 18, 672 words]

"Commanding [Walter Reed Hospital] is Brig.-General James Madison Kennedy, U.S.M.C."
- Time Magazine, Monday, July 15, 1929

Post Commander Number 12
Brigadier General James M. Kennedy, Post Commander from March 1926 until December 1929, was a bluff, hearty man.40 Long an intimate friend of General Ireland, he was one of the elite members of the “official family.”41 Although Kennedy had some success as a surgeon he was undoubtedly better known as a hospital administrator.42 Kindly, jovial and deeply interested in patient care, he took infinite trouble to provide the small niceties that added so much to the comfort of the sick.43

General Kennedy had been Chief Surgeon of the New York Port of Embarkation during the war, and it was generally conceded that he was both a capable administrator and a good sanitary engineer.44 Shortly after the war he became the Chief Surgeon of the Philippine Division, and it was to his office that the overworked and mentally exhausted editor of the Index -Catalogue, Fielding N. Garrison, by then a commissioned officer and Lieutenant Colonel in the Medical Corps, was assigned. It was therefore Garrison, the indefatigable letter writer, who in the early twenties provided a word -picture of the man later to  command the Army Medical Center. “Colonel Kennedy, our Chief is a man of broad mind and generous disposition, with the sweetness of temper that big broad- gauge men of large physique usually have, and he has given me some extraordinary work to do.”45  The extraordinary work, for Garrison had never practiced medicine, was cooperative work with the Army’s third Tropical Disease Board, whose members arrived in Manila in September 1922; and to another friend he wrote, “I have the good fortune to have a military chief who is an aristocrat and a gentleman, a man who is used to having vassals. Working for such a man, certainly the nicest man I have ever worked for, I find my duties intriguing and engaging.”46

 Convivial and cheerful, General Kennedy tried with almost child- like anxiety to be a model of all the virtues which “Noisy Jim” had represented, and so he asked his executive officer to  remind him quietly when he showed signs of straying from the path of dignity, which tried his inclination for bluff, warm- hearted comradeship.47  He may have lacked his predecessor’s fine sensitiveness to nature, but he carried out, to a large extent, the carefully laid plans for beautifying the grounds.48  The hospital was famed for its beautiful gardens and well stocked greenhouses, and General Kennedy instituted the practice of sending flowers to all women and children on the second day after admission to the hospital, and of having flowers placed on the caskets of all destitute and friendless soldiers who died at Walter Reed.49  He was not well during his last year as Post Commander, but as General Ireland was approaching the retirement age, “Big Jim” remained on duty regardless of his own infirmities. In December 1929, he requested transfer to Letterman General Hospital, which he had once commanded, and he died there in October 1930.

Borden’s Dream, pg. 225-227, Mary W. Standlee  
online version: http://www.bordeninstitute.army.mil/other_pub/borden.html

Army Tenure Plan Hits 20 Commands
"Gradual shake-up of high army commands has began with retirement of Brigadier General James M. Kennedy, assistant to the surgeon general. Within the next 12 months 20 chiefs, assistant chiefs and generals will revert to lower grades or walk the retirement plank..."
Atlanta Constitution, December 8, 1929
[this is a pay-per-view article A9, 474]

1930 Census - Washington D.C.
Kennedy, 64, is still listed as an officer in the U.S. Army and rents an apartment for $156.00 a month, which appears to be a princely sum compared to the others on this census. He and his wife live in Kew Garden Apartment #11 on "Q" Street. Kennedy is not listed as being a veteran. Living with him are wife, Mary B. and son Archie B., now 16 years old.

Picture of Kennedy passing out diplomas at Walter Reed hospital

"Retired Army Surgeon Dies
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 15 (AP) -- Brig. Gen. James M. Kennedy, an outstanding hospital authority of the United States Army Medical Corps, died today at the Letterman Hospital.
Gen. Kennedy retired from active service last December after reaching the age of 64 years. He leaves his widow, Mrs. Mary Kennedy, and three children.
He spend most of his service in San Francisco, being at the Letterman Hospital from the time it was founded in 1899 until 1907 and intervals since then. In 1926 he was named assistant Surgeon-General of the Army, in command of the Medical Corps center and Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington."

- Los Angeles Times, Oct. 16, 1930
Kennedy is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, along with Mingo Sanders and James Moss



DATE OF DEATH: 10/15/1930


Article about Walter Reed Hospital - it's pay-per-view - looks like there's something about Kennedy in it.
New York Times,
April 26, 1931 Sunday Section Arts & Leisure, Page X7, 1034 words

"In 1943, the United States Army opened a 3,000 bed hospital in Memphis on Park and Shotwell Streets. This hospital, which was made up of 128 buildings was named for Brigadier General James Kennedy, a distinguished army surgeon and veteran of the Spanish American War"
found at http://www.utmem.edu/Medicine/urology/index.php?doc=history.htm

"Mrs. James M. Kennedy
Special to the New York Times

"CHICAGO, Dec. 30- Mrs. Mary Baldwin Kennedy, widow of Gen. James Madison Kennedy, died here on Tuesday. Her age was 81. Her husband was formerly Assistant Surgeon General of the Army and commader of Walter Reed Hospital in Washington"
- N.Y. Times, December 31, 1954
Section: Books, Page 13

Services for Mrs. Mary Balwin Kennedy, 81, of San Francisco, widow of Brig. Gen. James Madison Kennedy, former assistant surgeon general, United States army, and commander of Walter Reed General hospital, were held at 11 a.m. yesterday at Fort Sheridan.
Mrs. Kennedy came to Chicago several weeks ago to visit her daughter, Mrs. Catherine Kean, wife of Lt. Gen. W.B. Kean, executive director of the Chicago housing authority. She became ill and was sent to Great Lakes Naval hospital, where she died Tuesday. Mrs. Kennedy was a sister of the late Frank Conger Baldwin of Washington, D.C.
Surviving besides Mrs. Kean are two sons, Laurence Baldwin Kennedy and Archibald Boggs Kennedy and five grandchildren."
- Chicago Daily Tribune, December 31, 1954, pg. A7

Name: Archibald Boggs Kennedy
SS # 558-07-8707
Born: 22 April 1913 (Hawaii) Died: 17 January 1982 (Santa Clara, California)
Mother's Maiden Name: Baldwin
He was buried in the Madronia Cemetery in Saratoga, Santa Clara County California

University of California Blue and Gold Yearbook 1948

Found following at http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=:1688583&id=I2095
James Madison Kennedy
Archibald B. Kennedy - 1st marriage to Edith Wickline
2nd marriage Ora Gertrude Black 23 Feb. 1980 in King Co., Seattle

Following found at http://files.usgwarchives.net/wa/lewis/history/lch-pt1.txt
4.  Ora Gertrude- born, 11-]5-1899, Alexandria, Missouri, married first
George Dearborn Rowe, 5-5-1926, Centralia, Washington, married second Archibald
B. Kennedy, 2-23-1980, Seattle, Washington. George Dearborn Rowe died
Seattle, Washington. Archibald B. Kennedy died 1-19-1982, Sarato-
Kennedy, Alta Katharine San Francisco (1) 2 LS--Letterman General Hospital, 8 F West 7180

Laurence B. Kennedy
SSN: 549-30-5835
San Francisco, California 94116
Born: 19 Sept. 1899
Died: 1 July 1972
- Social Security Death Index
Sophmore at University of California-Berkeley 1922
- Blue and Gold Yearkbook

Kennedy family papers- The Place Where I was Born, Onie Kennedy Haggard, sent to me via e-mail.

Jim was a good natured, lovable boy, the middle member of his family of seven brothers, loved and teased by the older, and loved and looked up to by the younger. He resembled the Kennedy's in type, and has his mother's features of face. He had an average weight of one hundred and sixty-five pounds, is five feet eight inches in height, with brown hair and blue eyes. He was active and lively of disposition, loved the country athletics and games, and was up to all kinds of games and practical jokes. His early education was under Captain R. J. Robinson, one of the best of the academy teachers. When Tump was ready for college Jim was sent along too. Their first year at college was at Erskine College, the Church school. One of the professors of Languages was a man of brilliant mind and sound principles, and a cousin of Jim's father. At the end of the first school year at Erskine, this cousin was elected Professor of Language at South Carolina College, and the father wishing to continue the education of the boys under him they were sent to Columbia to finish their college course. At their graduation Jim was only eighteen years old, but his father with his concurrence established him in the mercantile business in the small town of the community was two partners of the same town. The business went well but after a year or two one of the partners proving unsatisfactory they dissolved business. At this time a plantation of five hundred acres coming into the family by inheritance and purchase, the father, again with Jim's concurrence, put him and his younger brother "L" to farm it. Jim made a splendid farmer and his Negroes adored him. Bu this time he had reached maturity and decided for himself that he wished as his life work the study of medicine. He is warm hearted and loyal to his background and traditions, conservative and thoughtful in his methods, carefully analyzing his problems of life and duties and business before venturing. Having determined what he wants, he goes after it. He was graduated in medicine from the Baltimore College of Physicians and Surgeons, and after a short preparation took the examination for Army Sturgeons, received the appointment and his first station was Fort Riley, Kansas. Next he went to Montana, and in addition to his army work there he did some work among the Indians and acquired some interesting experiences. There also he met at the home of her Aunt, the wife of an Army Officer, Mary Baldwin, and on the even of the Spanish War, which occurred soon after, they were married. They have three children, Lawrence Baldwin, Alta Katherine, and Archibald Boggs. Katherine married, at the age of nineteen, W. B. Kean, a Calvary Officer, and they have one son, little Bill. Part II, "The Columbia State" publishes this account of Jim's career, June, 1929. "General Kennedy, early in his career attracted the attention of his superiors by his knowledge of his profession, especially that of surgery, and for his administrative ability. He was constantly given assignments of greater importance that his rank indicated. His relations with those with whom he comes in contact are such as to inspire confidence. His personality has won for him many admirers and personal followers. Plain in words, sane and direct in action, he has applied himself to all duty and to all work with a manifest purpose, not only of succeeding in what he attempted, but of guiding and directing his fellows in what was before them. He has been an encourager of men - those who propose to do things always have his sympathy and support. His ability, merit, and distinguished service caused his selection to the grade of Brigadier General, the first South Carolinian to reach that rank in the Medical Corps. He is one of Carolina's most distinguished sons". Some of the more important phases of his service are: - In 1897, while on duty with the 85th [sic-MJH] Infantry, Bicycle Corps, he made the march with them from Fort Missoula, Montana, to St. Louis, Missouri, a distance of nineteen hundred miles, to test out the bicycle as a means of army transportation. In 1900 he went to the Philippine Islands and served several years. From 1904 to 1910 he served as Commanding Officer, United General Hospital, at San Francisco. He commanded the U.S. General Hospital at the time of the San Francisco earthquake and fire. From 1910 to 1913 he was Commanding Officer, Department hospital, Department of Hawaii. From 1916 to 1917 he was general sanitary officer, Arizona section, American forces on the Border. May 23, 1918 he was promoted to the grade of Lieutenant Colonel, and May 15, 1917 to that of Colonel. From July 1917 to October 1919, he was the Surgeon, Port of Embarkation, Hoboken, New Jersey. During this period he organized and exercised command of all activities at the Port relating to the sanitation of all posts, transport service, and physical examination of all troops embarking for overseas. His personnel engaged under him in exclusive Medical Department activities reached the large number of 1024 commission officers, 1270 nurses, 6288 enlisted men, and 402 civilian employees. Some idea of the stupendous job can be gained when it is noted that 268,118 soldiers passed through the Port for overseas in July 1918. Practically all sick and wounded from forces overseas passed through this Port. The administration of the medical activities at the Port of Embarkation, Hoboken, was unquestionably the largest single operation of the Medical Department during the World War. From 1919 to 1922, he was Commanding Officer of the Letterman General Hospital. Mary 3, 1926, he was assigned to his present station in command of the Army Medical Center at Washington, D.C. The Army Medical Center now comprises the Walter Reed General Hospital, the Army Medical School, Army Veterinary School, Army Dental School, and the Army School of Nursing. General Kennedy received the Distinguished Service Medal for work at Hoboken , and also the Navy Cross for cooperation with the Navy during the same tour of duty. He is the only medical officer in the Army to have received both the Distinguished Service Medal and the Navy Cross. He also received the following citation for gallantry in action: "James M. Kennedy, Colonel, Medical Corps, United States Army, for gallantry in action against Spanish forces in Santiago, Cuba, July 1, 1896, in attending wounded under fire". He has the following campaign medals: - Spanish American War, Philippine Insurrection, Cuban Occupation, Mexican Border Service, Victory. In 1907 he was appointed honorary professor of surgery in the University of California. He is a Fellow of the American Medical Association, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and a member of the Association of military Surgeons. He was given an honorary degree by the University of South Carolina his Alma Mater, today June 1929.
Kennedy General Hospital opened at the intersection of Park and Getwell on January 26, 1943 and was named for the late Brigadier General James M. Kennedy, distinguished Army surgeon and veteran of both the Spanish-American War and World War I.  Over the next three years, the hospital grew to be the largest Army general hospital in the nation.  Kennedy had an emergency capacity of 5,300 beds and a peak of 6,000 patients in June and July, 1945.
During the three-year period of time, the hospital cared for over 44,000 patients and received the Meritorious Service Unit Plaque for “superior performance of duty in the performance of exceptionally difficult tasks during the period of January 1, 1943 to January 1, 1946.”
- http://udistrictmemphis.org/2011/12/christmas-1944-at-kennedy-general-hospital/

Link to bill which designates a portion of ±New York State Route 7 as the "Brigadier General James Kennedy Memorial Highway".  This bill was introduced by Sen. Jordan on May 16, 2012.


  1. Amanda Lane BeckJune 12, 2010 at 7:18 PM

    I came across your wonderful blog while researching Dr. James Kennedy, who is a direct descendant (great grandson) of John Wardlaw, a Revolutionary War veteran. The Wardlaws of South Carolina are a distinguished family, full of doctors, lawyers, bankers, and farmers.

    1. Do you know of his descendants?

      Edward Britt, I am a grandson of his sister.

  2. You wouldn't happen to know any living descendants of Kennedy would you? As you'll see in the post I've tracked down one of his sons who died in the 1980s. Doctor Kennedy was an amazing man and I was floored when I discovered the high rank he rose to later in his life.

  3. I am a great nephew of Dr.Kennedy. He was my grandmother (Georgia Cleoptra Kennedy Britt) brother. I have documents written by his sister, Onie Kennedy Haggard. They descripe in detail the family life of Dr. Kennedy. and his siblings.
    Please e-mail me a jwb@brittsbytes.com and I will forward documents to you
    Jimmy Britt
    Greenwood, S. C.
    cell 864-993-0679.

  4. We are interested in decendants of James M. Kennedy, as Jimmy wrote in the above.

    Edward Britt

  5. I'll keep digging. If I find anything I'll post it here.