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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Kenan, Daniel Love

by Alvaretta Kenan Register, 1988; Revised by SLNC Government and Heritage Library, July 2023

18 Dec. 1780–14 Oct. 1840

Daniel Love Kenan, local official and legislator, was born in Duplin County, the son of Colonel James and Sarah Love Kenan. Of Scot-Irish descent, his grandparents immigrated from Ireland to Wilmington in the 1730s. Young Kenan was educated at Grove Academy. In 1807 he was acting deputy coroner, and in 1809 he was elected sheriff of the county. The 1810 census of Duplin County is signed by him as assistant marshall; he was one of the justices in 1812 and 1815, and in the period 1813–17 he also served as postmaster of the county seat. He was elected to the House of Commons for the 1820 session and to the North Carolina Senate for the 1821–22 session. Kenan's interest in education was demonstrated when he served as Duplin's representative on the board of trustees of the Smithville Academy in Brunswick County and as an original trustee of the Line Academy, established in 1825 on the line between Duplin and Sampson counties. An active Mason, he was secretary of Pine Lodge No. 89.

Kenan, a man of vision, moved to Florida in 1831 as that state began to develop. Although Kenansville, Fla., was named for him, he settled in Quincy. There he joined the local Masonic lodge and was elected Master the following year. In 1836 he represented Gadsden County, Fla., in the Legislative Council, and again served in 1837 and 1838. In the latter year he was one of the charter members and ruling elders in organizing Old Philadelphia Presbyterian Church in Quincy. His name appears among the thirty largest planters of tobacco and cotton and as the enslaver of thirty people.

Kenan's first wife was Mary James, whom he married in Duplin County in 1809; she died in 1811. Secondly, in 1812 he married her sister, Elizabeth, who lived until sometime between 1825 and 1830. His third wife, to whom he was married between 1836 and 1840, was Mrs. Ann Wilkinson, who survived him. Kenan's children by his first wife were Thomas James and Sarah Elizabeth. By his second wife he had William Owen, Mary James, Temperance Jane, Michael Molten, Susan Catharine, and Daniel Lafayette. He died in Quincy, Fla.


Cape Fear Recorder, 28 Oct. 1829.

Correspondence between Elizabeth Johnston Blanks and her sister, Catharine Kenan Price, 1833–88 (Manuscript Department, Duke University Library, Durham).

A. T. Outlaw, The Historical Background of Duplin County, North Carolina (1949) and Official Directory of Duplin County, North Carolina, 1740–1935 (1935).

Probate Records (Gadsen County, Fla.).

Quincy Sentinel, 15 Nov. 1838.

Records of the Post Office Department (National Archives, Washington, D.C.).

Alvaretta Kenan Register, ed., The Kenan Family (1967).

U.S. Census of 1810.

Additional Resources:

Kenan Family Papers, 1748-1996 (collection no. 04225). The Southern Historical Collection. Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (accessed February 18, 2013).

Register, Alvaretta Kenan. The Kenan family and some allied families of the compiler and publisher. Statesboro, Ga., J. S. Kenan II. 1967. (accessed February 18, 2013).

"James Kenan." N.C. Highway Historical Marker F-26, N.C. Office of Archives & History. (accessed February 18, 2013).

Alvaretta Kenan Register Papers, 1700-1985 (collection no. 04506). The Southern Historical Collection. Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.,Alvaretta_Kenan.html (accessed February 18, 2013).