The man they named the street after

Joan Hart

The construction of the Joe D. Esther Elementary School helped to focus attention on a little known Lebanon Street just to the south and east of the school campus. Kenoly Street has always shown up on older Lebanon maps as the west boundary of what is considered Old Town in Lebanon.

I’ve been searching for several years for information about Jacob Kenoly for whom the street was named and finally located a book on Amazon which I received last week. The following information is taken from that book as well as some information from Gleason’s “First 100 Years of Lebanon."

Jacob Kenoly was a giant of a man in mission work, serving first of all as a home missionary, then as a foreign missionary to Liberia. Jacob was born in Laclede County in 1876. His parents had been slaves in Alabama but made their way to Missouri after the Emancipation and were living about 6 miles north of Lebanon at the time of Jacob’s birth. He was the second child born in a family of 13 children, and the oldest son.

When Jacob was 8 years old his family moved closer to Lebanon so he and his sister could attend the school in Old Town, this being the only school for blacks in the county. They were only able to attend for two terms until the family moved out toward Bennett Spring.

Jacob’s father was able to read somewhat.  His mother was illiterate. Jacob and his sister had such a strong desire for education that they often took their books to the homes of white neighbors who had agreed to teach them. The teacher of the public school there came to their home one day and told them he would take the matter to the school board and advocate for them to be allowed to attend the white school. The Board agreed, but Jacob only attended one day because some in the district opposed having black children in the white school.

When Jacob turned 15, he and his sister hired themselves out to a family in Lebanon to work mornings and evenings and Saturdays for room and board so they could go back to school in Old Town. But the lack of sufficient clothing while working out in the cold during a severe winter brought an illness upon his sister, and she died.

Jacob continued in school here until the close of the term, then went to St. Louis and took a job as a carriage driver for $20.00 a month. He saved enough money to go to summer school in St. Louis.

For the complete column, see the Weekend print edition of The Daily Record, or view the e-Edition online.




The Lebanon Daily Record

100 E. Commercial St.
Lebanon, MO 65536
(417) 532-9131