Kinyon/Kenyon Family of Fairfield
Herkimer County, N.Y.
Contributed by Ronald J. Reid
Sheffield Kinyon and his wife Mary "Polly" Maxson moved their young family to
Fairfield, Herkimer County, New York in 1799. Sheffield was born in Hopkinton,
RI, in 1771 and was one of five children of Peleg Kinyon and Elizabeth Stanton.
He moved to Fairfield in the company of his brother Peleg Kinyon Jr. and his wife
Ruthe Talcott. The brothers Sheffield and Peleg first show up in the Fairfield
records in the 1800 Census.
Mary "Polly" Maxson was born in Washington County, RI, on June 28, 1764, and she
and Sheffield Kinyon were married about 1796. The eldest son Lyman Kinyon was
born in Hopkinton, RI in 1798. Other children included Varnum Sheffield Kenyon
born in Fairfield about 1800; Friend Kinyon born about 1802; Maxson Kenyon born
about 1805; and Samuel Kenyon born about 1819. Early census data indicates there
may have been other children including some daughters but they have not been identified.
Sheffield's brother Peleg Kinyon passed away about February of 1802 leaving Ruthe
a 28 year old widow with a one year old baby named Polly. Sheffield Kinyon was an
executor of Peleg's estate along with Asa Gifford and widow Ruthe. Asa Gifford
and Hezekiah Talcott, both of the town of Herkimer, bound themselves as the
guardians of Hezekiah's granddaughter, the infant Polly Kinyon. Widow Ruthe
married a minister by the name of Joshua Knight in 1804 and by 1820 had moved
away to Sherburne County. Ruthe and Joshua Knight had eight children before Ruthe
died in 1823. After Ruthe died Joshua Knight married his step-daughter Polly
Kinyon and they had returned to Newport by the time of the 1830 census. It
appears from the Deed record that they may have still been in possession of some
of Peleg Kinyon's original land in Newport.
In 1806 Sheffield Kinyon purchased from Richard Kimball the land on which the
village of Middleville now resides. The first Free Baptist Church of Middleville
was organized in 1820 and Sheffield Kinyon was a Deacon. His son Varnum was also
a charter member and a nephew had arrived from Rhode Island by the name of Peleg
Kinyon and he was also a Deacon. This Peleg is not to be confused with
Sheffield's brother Peleg who died in 1802. The "Union Religious Society of
Middleville" was organized at the school house in the village of Middleville, on
April 5th, 1825 and two of the trustees chosen at that time were Sheffield Kinyon
and his son Varnum S. Kinyon. When the new wooden house of worship was dedicated
in July of 1826 by Elder Lake, a Free Baptist preacher, Sheffield and Varnum
became two of the first pewholders. This new house of worship was actually shared
by the Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians and Universalists.
Sheffield's eldest son Lyman and his wife Mary lived in Fairfield and had children Miles,
Almira, Emily, Anna Maria, Sheffield P., and Maxon L. Lyman's wife Mary was born about
1809 in Connecticut. Although Lyman is indicated in the census to
be a farmer he also had a mercantile business in Middleville for some length of
time. Lyman and Mary's daughter Emily Kinyon married Benjamin Bushnell and
apparently lived in Little Falls and they had a son Kenyon A. Bushnell. Lyman and
Mary's daughter Anna Maria married a man named Loomis and their daughter Almira
married a man named Watson. Lyman S. Kinyon departed this life about the middle
of September 1862 in Albany, Albany County, while returning to his home in
Fairfield from trip to New York City.
Sheffield's second son Varnum Sheffield Kenyon married first Rebecca Griswold in
1819 in Fairfield and then married Maggie Thayer in about 1865. From the first
marriage were children Helen K. Kenyon, Gertrude K. Kenyon and Varnum S. Kenyon
Jr. In 1858 V.S. Kenyon Jr. died and after the second marriage of Varnum "Senior"
to Maggie Thayer they had a son in 1868 who they also named Varnum Sheffield
Kenyon. Helen K. Kenyon married Leonard Benchley and Gertrude (Fanny) K. Kenyon
married Philip B. Plantz. Prior V.S. Kenyon Jr.'s death, he married Sarah G.
Jones on June 17, 1850. Sarah G. Jones was born on May 4, 1830 in Utica, NY. V.S.
Kenyon Jr. and Sarah had children Rebecca Griswold Kenyon, Mary S. Kenyon and
another Varnum S. Kenyon. In 1844 Varnum Sheffield Kenyon Senior became
proprietor by purchase of the Middleville Cotton Factory, and in 1860 was giving
employment to 80 persons, and turning out $45,000 to $50,000 worth of sheetings
annually. In 1869 he was also the president of the Newport National Bank. V.S.
Kenyon Sr. died in September of 1873 and his estate papers in the Herkimer County
Courthouse are over 200 pages in length.
The third son of Sheffield was Friend Kinyon who was born about 1802 in Fairfield
and he left home when he was probably 18 or 19 and moved to Canajoharie in
Montgomery County. There he met Nancy Anna Garlock the daughter of Jacob P.
Garlock and Maria Dunckel. Nancy Anna was born on January 24, 1805 in Canajoharie
and she and Friend were married in about 1821. They had eight children. The first
five children, Sylvester, Erastus, Jonas, Menzo and Anna M. were born in
Canajoharie. In 1835 Friend and Nancy Anna Kinyon moved to Wayne County, NY with
Friend Kinyon's inlaws, the Garlocks. The three children born in Marion, NY were
Melissa E., George, and Elizabeth J. Kinyon. Friend Kinyon and three of his sons
served in the Civil War. Friend enlisted in 160th NY Volunteer Infantry on Aug.
22, 1862, at the advanced age of 62. He noted on his enlistment that he was 44
but the Army required him to buy a new set of teeth before they would take him.
After a year and half of slogging through the bayous of Louisiana, his rheumatism
got the better of him and he had to own up that he was too old for soldiering. He
was transferred to the Veterans Reserve Corp in March of 1864. Two of his sons,
Sylvester and Jonas survived the war but Friend's youngest son George was killed
at the siege before Petersburg. Friend Kinyon returned to Marion and died on
February 9, 1886 of old age and is buried along with his wife Nancy Anna and his
youngest son George in the Marion Cemetery, Wayne County, NY.
The remaining two sons of Sheffield Kinyon that we know of were Maxson Kenyon who
was born in Fairfield about 1803 and Samuel Kenyon who was born about 1819. But
beyond this we have no information.
Sheffield Kinyon's first wife Mary "Polly" Maxson died on November 4, 1820 and is
supposedly buried in the Middleville Cemetery. Sheffield then married Adah Walker
who was a widow with a daughter named Elizabeth who was born about 1819. Adah was
born April 21, 1778 in Massachusetts. Sheffield died November 29, 1859 and is
also supposed to be buried in the Middleville Cemetery. Adah moved to Newport to
live with a daughter Adda Willard and her family. Adah Walker Kinyon died on
January 15, 1861 and is buried in the Century Cemetery in Russia, Herkimer County, NY.
An Original Article By Ronald J. Reid