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William Kenna was born Kilkenny, Ireland and at eleven years of age migrated to Chicago, Illinois with his parents.

It was in Chicago that he first gained knowledge in the brewing industry in a large Chicago brewery. He only worked there for a short time, however, leaving to take a position with the Nashville and Chattanooga Railway.

There he ultimately followed the vocation of mechanical and locomotive engineering for some ten years, operating locomotives and transporting boxcars for the Armies; which made him a non-combatant with the Union Army, transporting their troops and war equipment, and during the time the war between the Northern and Southern States was raging.

Mr. Kenna related that on one occasion when bound for Chattanooga, Tennessee the locomotive engine he was opersting was riddled with bullets; and he received one round in his right arm, causing a scar that he carried throughout his life.

He remained at his seat in the locomotive, however, and piloted his train and its cargo to safety.


Unfortunately, employee records keeping track-record of that time wasn't good to begin with and was complicated further by other factors; including the records of the railroad being carted around the South throughout the Civil War so that any number of records were lost.  Some were even possibly overtaken by Northern forces who were under no special instructions to take good care of them.  In modern time all of the employee records of the NC & StL were discarded and destroyed when the L&N affected its merger in August 1957; and what little relating to the Nashville and Chattanooga Railway that did survive the war likely met the same fate.

During the Civil War the Nashville and Chattanooga Railway line became strategic to both the Union and Confederate  armies. The Tennessee campaigns of 1862 and 1863 saw Union troops force the Confederates back from Nashville to Chattanooga almost exactly along the line of the railroad. It was repeatedly attacked, sabotaged, damaged, and repaired, and was used at various times to supply both armies.

Throughout the civil war the Nashville and Chattanooga was taxed to capacity by transporting troops, munitions and supplies for first the Confederate, and then for the Union armies. After the fall of Nashville in February 1862 to Union forces, the northern portion of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad came under the complete control of the U.S. Army; while Vernon K. Stevenson and Edmund Cole operated the portion of the railroad located in Confederate-held territory. The


Nashville and Chattanooga was used to transport Union army supplies, stockpiled in Louisville. Confederate cavalry conducted several skirmishes in efforts to destroy the important rail connection. The Union army attempted to protect the line by constructing several blockhouses and stockades along the railroad, fortifications like Fortress Rosecrans in Murfreesboro. It also spent considerable time in repairing torn-up rails. The railroad also had a critical role in supplying Union forces in the battles of Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, and ultimately General William T. Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. By acquiring connecting lines after the civil war, the Nashville and Chattanooga by 1873 evolved into the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway (NC&StL).


In 1864 Kenna vacated his job with the railroad and and migrated to Victoria, Australia where upon his arrival he acquired a position with Mr. Chambers, of Little Collins' street, Melbourne, where he once again engaged in mechanical pursuits. Discontinuing that occupation he served some two months aboard the steamer ‘You Yangs’, eventually moving to Ballarat where acquired employment with  Messrs. Magill and Coghlan; well known brewers of Ballarat. He remained in their employment for over twenty years, then proceeded to Geelong, connecting himself witb Clancy's (then Powell's) Queen's Head Brewery where he remained for two years before returning to Ballarat, He also worked for the Corio Brewery. There in 1887 he went into business for himself at Warrenheip, Victoria where he turned out first class Ale and Stout.


He spared no expense in the building of his own brewery on the crest of a hill, all the rooms being large and well suited for the purpose they were being built. He then outfitted his ‘Warrenheip Brewery’ with all the most modern equipment for the production of pure and wholesome beer. His residence was located only a short distance from his new brewery.


William Kenna died at 68 years of age at his residence in Warrenheip, Victoria on March 28, 1910; after ailing for many months; one newspaper source, however, stated he died on April 28th.  He had been in Melbourne receiving medical aid, but shortly after returning home he was seized with paralysis of the spine.  In addition to being a leading brewer, Mr. Kenna had many interests in mining and farming. He was an ex-President of the Buninyong Shire Council, Chairman of the Lal Lal Falls Turf Club and associated with all the local charities throughout the district. He had twice ran for a seat in the State Parliament. William Kenna was buried on March 30, 1910 in the Ballarat New Cemetery in Section N, Roman Catholic D, Grave 1 .


The Kenna’s interred in the Ballarat Cemetery include; Unnamed Kenna (SB), Alexander (SB), Andrew Michael (14 mo.), Benjamin James (24), Bertha (76), Joseph Brian (67), Francis (56), Alice (SB), Cornelius (75), Dennis Patrick (28), George (6 mo.), George, Gwendoline (20 mo), Isabella Jane (68), Jerry (35), Kennedy (52), Leonard M. (15), Leonard William (61), Lorraine Edna (58), Lorraine Edna (2nd., 58),  Marianne Kathleen (19), Mary (42), Mary (another 44), Mary (third 83), Mary Ann (82), Richard (36), Thomas (77), William (68) and William Joseph (27).


Australian Brewers Journal & Wine Trade Review, Sept. 20, 1900

Dain Schult, President, NC&StL Railway Preservation Society, Inc.

David Evans, Ballarat Cemetery Archives

Genealogical Society of Victoria

State Library of Victoria


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