Kinney Family


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170th Anniversary of the Kinney family in Wisconsin celebrated at the Kinney farm that was homesteaded in 1844 at 5325 Irish Lane in Fitchburg. Pictured is the white farmhouse that was built in 1921. Photo taken at the reunion in 2014.

The Kinneys were one of the early pioneer families of Fitchburg, arrived in 1844, and founded a large community of Irish settlers around what is today the Irish Lane area.  The name was originally spelled “Kenny” until about 1855, when the family in Wisconsin began spelling the name “Kinney.”

The origins of the Kinney family in Ireland are that they descend from the ancient Celtic kings of Ireland.  During the Middle Ages, the Kinneys were the lords of the Barony of Moycarn in southern County Roscommon for 1000 years, and resided at Shenny Castle.  After the Irish lost the wars with the English, this branch of the Kinneys dispersed to County Mayo.  (See reference books at the end of this article).

The two Kinney brothers that came to Fitchburg were Andrew, who was born in 1805, and an older brother Michael, who was born in 1798 and was named after their father Michael.  The brothers left the family home in Newcastle, County Mayo, in the spring of 1831.  Andrew, Michael and Michael’s family boarded a ship at Westport and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World.  They reached Canada and settled on a farm near Trois Rivieres in Quebec Province.  The brothers’ parents eventually left Ireland and joined them at the Trois Rivieres farm, and later passed away there.

While Michael operated the Trois Rivieres farm starting in 1831, Andrew lived at that farm and other locations in Canada and northeastern United States over the next thirteen years.  Andrew had a canal contracting business that expanded along the East Coast from Canada down to South Carolina.  He is also remembered for having worked on Erie Canal expansion projects in New York.

Andrew met Lucretia Jane Clark in Trois Rivieres and married her on March 23, 1834 in Salisbury, Connecticut.  Lucretia Jane Clark was a seventh generation descendant of the Clark family of Milford, Connecticut.  The Clark family was founded by an Englishman, Deacon George Clark, in 1639, just nineteen years after the Pilgrims arrived on the East Coast.  George Clark’s home was reconstructed in 1780, and is a museum for the Milford Historical Society today.  Lucretia Jane’s grandfather Elisha Clark fought in the American Revolutionary War under the command of General George Washington.  She also had a great grandfather, Landa Beach, who fought in the Revolutionary War.  Lucretia Jane’s parents were Elisha and Jane Baldwin Clark, who later lived in Sheffield, Massachusetts.  Lucretia Jane was born on February 18, 1802, and later became known as Mary Jane when she converted to Andrew’s Catholic faith.

Andrew and Mary Jane Kinney’s first child was Edmond, who was born December 8, 1835, in Hudson, New York.  Their second child was Michael, born June 18, 1838, in Ontario, Canada.  Andrew and Mary Jane’s third child was a daughter, Harriet, who was born September 14, 1840, in Salisbury, Connecticut.  Their fourth child, Andrew, was born August 18, 1842, in Ontario, Canada.

The Kinneys could speak both French and English since the families were based at Michael’s Trois Rivieres farm in French-speaking Quebec.

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Andrew and Mary Jane Kinney’s 1844 log cabin at 5325 Irish Lane. Michael and Alice Lynch Kinney seated in 1880s photo.


In May 1844, Andrew entered the United States at Lewiston, New York, just north of Niagara Falls, to become a citizen.  When Andrew and his family reached Wisconsin soon thereafter in 1844, they settled on gently rolling land south of Syene Prairie (which the Kinneys originally called Nine Springs Prairie) in the heart of the wilderness that would become “Fitchburg.”  All of the land in central Fitchburg in 1844 was uninhabited wilderness.  The Kinneys in 1844 were the first pioneers to settle in central Fitchburg.  Soon, a road (later known as Irish Lane) developed in front of the Kinneys’ homestead.  A large agricultural settlement of Irish pioneers then formed in the surrounding area around the Kinneys in the late 1840s and 1850s, eventually totaling twenty-five families, and was one of the three settlement areas of Irish in Fitchburg in the 1800s.

Andrew’s homestead was southeast of the modern-day intersection of Caine Road and Irish Lane.  Andrew’s brother Michael in 1845 brought his family from Trois Rivieres to Irish Lane and had a farm adjacent to Andrew’s – on the west side of Caine Road.  Today’s Whalen Road formed on the south boundary of the farms.  Michael rode horseback from the homesteads to the Milwaukee federal land office and purchased the land on June 2, 1845.  Together, the two Kinney farms totaled 200 acres by 1849, and their primary cash crop was wheat.

Each of the two Kinney homesteads on Irish Lane had both a log cabin and a log barn.  Andrew’s log cabin was located just south of the lilac bushes in front of the present-day Kinney farmhouse.

Immigrants fleeing the Great Potato Famine in Ireland began arriving in the late 1840s and early 1850s.  Andrew and Michael Kinney were older than most of the Famine-era immigrants, and therefore shared their knowledge and skills with their new neighbors.  Michael had a talent for bookkeeping, and helped immigrants with their farm accounts. Andrew was knowledgeable in stone masonry, so he supervised the laying of foundations for neighbors’ log cabins and barns.  Also, Andrew continued his contracting business – now around southern Wisconsin.  Andrew and Mary Jane’s sons worked on the farm under the direction of their Uncle Mike while their father was gone on contracting work.

Andrew and Mary Jane were leaders in the religious development of southern Dane County.  After their arrival in 1844, Andrew began bringing Catholic priests from Madison to say Mass at the Kinney log cabin since there was no Catholic church in the southern Dane County wilderness.  The Kinneys’ efforts, along with a Fox family’s, contributed to the later founding in 1856 of what was called St. Mary’s Church on Highway M in Fitchburg – the parish of which Holy Mother of Consolation now has its church in the nearby Village of Oregon.

One of the earliest primary source / contemporary writings about the Kinneys in Fitchburg was an advertisement placed by Michael Kinney on July 10, 1845, in the Madison Express, the forerunner of the Wisconsin State Journal.  Michael Kinney offered a reward for locating a pair of his oxen that strayed on July 4, 1845.  (No, we don’t know if he got his oxen back!)

In 1847, at the first meeting to elect people to govern the town that was to become Fitchburg, Andrew was elected a fence viewer, a person who mediated disputes over property lines.  His brother Michael was elected town treasurer in 1851.   The Kinneys recall that Andrew and Michael attended a town meeting in 1853 when the name “Fitchburg” was chosen for the township (to replace the name “Greenfield” that was already in use in Milwaukee County).

When the government first started constructing schools, which were small one-room buildings for eight grades in the country, the Kinney children attended Syene School in the early 1850s, located at the northeast corner of the intersection of today’s Syene Road and Lacy Road.

Pioneer Michael and his wife Mary Golden Kinney had two children, Catherine and Margaret, who had been born at the Trois Rivieres farm in 1833 and 1834 respectively.

Michael and Mary’s oldest daughter, Catherine, then lived on the Irish Lane farm with her parents, and in 1850 married Patrick Lynch.  Patrick originally was from County Fermanagh, Ireland, arrived on Irish Lane in 1847, and founded the pioneer Lynch family of Dane County.  Catherine moved to Patrick Lynch’s farm located on the south side of Irish Lane a little over a quarter of a mile east of the intersection of Syene Road.  They had four children together before Patrick Lynch died in 1864.  Notably, a great grandson of Catherine and Patrick was Stephen L. R. McNichols, Governor of Colorado from 1957 to 1963.  After Patrick Lynch’s early death, Catherine secondly married William Halpin in 1870 and they had a daughter.  Later, Catherine and William moved to Ellendale, North Dakota, where they operated a large wheat farm.

Margaret, the younger daughter of Michael and Mary Kinney, married James Sheridan on November 24, 1850.  This marriage was the second wedding to be recorded at the small wood-frame St. Raphael’s Catholic Church in Madison at the north corner of West Main Street and South Henry Street.  This church was the forerunner of the large stone St. Raphael’s Cathedral building that was constructed in the 1850s and burned in 2005.  James Sheridan fought in the Civil War in the 2nd Regiment of the Wisconsin Volunteer Cavalry from 1863 to 1865.  The Sheridans had seven children.

Michael Kinney’s wife Mary died in the late 1840s on the Irish Lane farm, and Michael died there on August 25, 1854.  Later, Michael’s farm was purchased by Andrew’s son Michael.

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Michael Kinney of 5325 Irish Lane, born 1838 and died 1912, son of Andrew and Mary Jane Kinney. He married Alice Lynch in 1861. Michael and Alice Kinney were the second generation to operate the Kinney family farm.


As for Andrew and Mary Jane Kinney’s family, their oldest son Edmond grew up on the Irish Lane farm and in 1856 married Catherine O’Connor, a daughter of a Dane County lawyer and farmer, Patrick O’Connor.  Edmond served in the Civil War in the 44th Regiment of the Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.  Edmond inherited from his father a 160 acre tract of land in northwestern Wisconsin and he later operated a large 480-acre farm in Hudson, Wisconsin.  Edmond and Catherine Kinney founded the Northern Branch of the Kinney family in Wisconsin.  Michael, the second son of Andrew and Mary Jane, married Alice Lynch in 1861.  Alice was a niece of Patrick Lynch, who was the founder of the pioneer Lynch family of Dane County, and an 1847 arrival on Irish Lane.  Michael and Alice remained on the Irish Lane Kinney farm where they raised their family.  Andrew and Mary Jane’s daughter Harriet married James Matthews in 1858, and they later moved to Osceola, South Dakota, where they were wheat farmers.  Andrew, the youngest child of Andrew and Mary Jane, fought in the Civil War in the 30th Regiment of the Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and married in 1868 a young lady from Boston named Margaret “Mayme” Hobbs in Madison.  They lived in the Irish Fourth Ward of Madison, southwest of the Capitol building.

Pioneer Andrew Kinney died on September 6, 1855 on the Irish Lane farm, and his wife Mary Jane died of cancer a few months before his death.  They were buried in Greenbush Cemetery in Madison, where Catholics in the county were being buried at the time.  When St. Mary’s Hospital was built on the cemetery site in the early 1900s, people’s remains were moved to the newer Resurrection Cemetery in Madison.  A historical marker is in Resurrection Cemetery commemorating graves such as these moved in from Greenbush Cemetery that no longer have individual headstones.

The executor of pioneer Andrew Kinney’s estate was a nephew, Timothy Kinney.  Timothy was born in 1823 at the family home in Newcastle, Ireland.  In 1848, he immigrated to America, and later joined the California gold rush, where he amassed a considerable amount of money.  Timothy made his way to Madison, Wisconsin, by 1853, and in 1856 he opened a hotel on the north side of Main Street — west of Bedford Street.  Also in 1856, after years as a village, Madison became a city, and Timothy Kinney was elected the first alderman of the Irish Fourth Ward, southwest of the Capitol.  In 1859, Timothy purchased a farm on the east side of the Kinneys on Irish Lane, though he continued to reside at the hotel.  Timothy became the guardian of pioneer Andrew’s youngest son Andrew, who went to live at Timothy’s hotel while he was a minor.


Alice Lynch Kinney (1837-1898). Alice married Michael Kinney in 1861, and they resided at the 5325 Irish Lane farm where they raised their family.


Andrew and Mary Jane’s second son Michael remained in Fitchburg to farm the family homestead on Irish Lane, and married Alice Lynch in July 14, 1861.  Alice was born in County Fermanagh, Ireland in April 1837 to Peter and Bridget McQuillen Lynch. Alice’s uncle Patrick Lynch emigrated from Ireland and came to Madison, Wisconsin, in 1846 and settled on Irish Lane in 1847, founding the pioneer Lynch family of Dane County.  Patrick wrote back to Ireland encouraging relatives to join him, and many did, including Alice’s grandmother Rose Ann McWilliams Lynch, who came in 1850, and later Alice herself in 1852.  Alice’s siblings also came to Dane County, some of whom started farms in a rural Irish settlement in the Town of Westport just north of Madison.  In 1864, Alice’s father Peter Lynch, then a widower, retired from farming in Ireland and arrived in Fitchburg.  Peter Lynch lived with Michael and Alice Kinney for part of each year for the next three decades, along with living with others of his grown children.  Notably, Peter Lynch’s sister Rose Lynch Hamilton of Syene Road had a grandson Fleet Admiral William Leahy, who was the Chief of Staff to President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II in the 1940s.  Admiral Leahy was a second cousin to Michael and Alice Kinney’s children on Irish Lane.

During Michael Kinney’s tenure owning the farm on Irish Lane in the latter 1800s and early 1900s, the homestead went from being a wheat farm, to a general farm, to a dairy farm of 140 acres (60 acres of the 200-acre farm had been inherited and sold by Michael’s brother Andrew).  Michael also served in Fitchburg’s town government as treasurer for a number of years.  Some of Fitchburg’s Irish immigrants were illiterate, and Michael would write their letters and read newspapers to them.


Alice Watts Kinney (1881-1952) and Edward J. Kinney (1873-1955) of 5325 Irish Lane were married in 1901, and were the third generation to operate the family farm.


Michael and Alice had ten children born in the log cabin during the 1860s and 1870s.  The first son was Andrew, born April 11, 1863, married Margaret Giles in 1914, and lived in Chicago where he died in 1916.  Bridget was the second child of Michael and Alice, and she was born August 25, 1865, married Matthew Lochner in 1887, and lived in Fitchburg where Matthew was town treasurer in 1906, and later lived in Madison, where Bridget died in 1938.  Michael and Alice’s third child was Michael Joseph, born May 22, 1866, and married Ellen Lacy (Cemetery) in 1894.  Later, he married Maude Watts in about 1901.  He farmed in Fitchburg on Fish Hatchery Road north of modern day Post Road.  Michael Joseph also had a successful career in real estate.  He died in 1951 in Madison.  Alice Ellen was the fourth child of Michael and Alice Kinney, and was born October 15, 1868, married James M. Byrne in 1887, farmed southeast of the intersection of Byrne Road and Syene Road in Fitchburg, and died in 1940.  Michael and Alice’s fifth child was Mary Jane, born August 3, 1870, married Philip Byrne 1894, lived on a number of farms in Dane County, and died young in 1910.  The sixth child of Michael and Alice was Rose Ann, born November 14, 1872, married Patrick H. Purcell in 1901, farmed on Purcell Road in Fitchburg, and died in 1956 in Janesville, Wisconsin.  Michael and Alice’s seventh child was Edward James, born August 30, 1873, married Alice Watts in 1901, operated Michael and Alice’s farm after they passed away, and Edward died in 1955.  The eighth child of Michael and Alice was Harriet, born May 22, 1876, married a printer William Gill in 1901, farmed on the property west of the Kinney farm and at other locations, and she died in 1949 in Madison.  Michael and Alice’s ninth child was Thomas Patrick, born February 15, 1879, married Nora Tobin in 1902, and lived in Chicago where Thomas died in 1962.  The tenth child of Michael and Alice was Elizabeth, who was a twin to Thomas Patrick and died shortly after birth.

Michael and Alice Kinney’s children went to grade school at the one-room school house Fitchburg Center at the corner of Fish Hatchery Road and Whalen Road, and they went to high school in the Village of Oregon. Michael and Alice raised their children in their log cabin on Irish Lane until 1896.  In that year, they built a large yellow wood-frame house in an upright-and-wing architectural style with Queen Anne ornamentation.

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Kinney farm as it appeared in 1911 with the log cabin (1844-1916) and the homestead’s first frame farmhouse (1896-1920).


Michael’s wife Alice Lynch Kinney died June 26, 1898 of appendicitis (Obituary).  Michael spent the early 1900s in semi-retirement at the homestead, while his son and daughter-in-law, Edward and Alice Watts Kinney, ran the farm.  On November 12, 1912, Michael passed away in Fitchburg (Obituary).  Michael and Alice Lynch Kinney are buried under a large Kinney monument in St. Mary’s Cemetery (Cemetery) in Oregon near the border of Fitchburg, and many of their descendants were laid to rest in this cemetery in the following generations.

Edward and Alice Watts Kinney were the third generation to operate the Kinney farm on Irish Lane.  They were married on February 19, 1901 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church just east of the Capitol in Madison, likely where Alice was a parishioner.  Alice then joined Ed as a member of Holy Mother of Consolation Catholic Church in Oregon, the long-time parish of the Kinneys, of which they were founders back in 1856.

The same year that Ed and Alice were married in 1901, a dairy barn was built east of the new farmhouse on Irish Lane, since general farming was being replaced in the region by the more profitable dairy farming, where larger number of cows would be milked so that milk and butter could be sold.

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Kinney dairy barn in 1919. The boy is believed to be Willie Kinney. The logs from the dismantled log cabin were used to create a structure to hold feed and are seen in the right rear of this photo.


Edward was Justice of Peace for Fitchburg for several years.  The highlight of that service was when a county judge asked Edward to hear a case in Verona, a town to the west of Fitchburg.  Meanwhile, Alice was a member of Fitchburg Center Mother’s Club, Swan Creek Sewing Circle and other organizations.

Edward Kinney is credited with giving Irish Lane its name.  Country roads in Wisconsin for the most part did not have names in the 1800s and early 1900s.   Irish Lane got its name in 1924 when electricity first came to the area and Edward was asked by Madison Gas and Electric where to send his electric bill.  Edward said, “Send it to Ed Kinney on Irish Lane – I’ll get it.”

Edward’s wife Alice Watts Kinney had an interesting background.  Alice Julia Watts was born July 14, 1881 in a house that was located on the east side of Syene Road a quarter of a mile north of the intersection with Irish Lane.  The house was situated just south of where the railroad tracks come the closest to Syene Road.  This house was later taken down around the late 1910s.

Alice’s parents were George and Catherine Landers Watts.  George was employed as a printer in Madison in the early 1880s.  He was known for his excellent handwriting, which was likened to calligraphy.  After a few years living on Syene Road in the early 1880s, the family moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where George managed a store for nearly twelve years.  George then moved his family to Baltimore, Maryland, where he had grown up, and ran a newspaper there, while his children could attend a good school.  George was of English descent, and the Watts name had been in the Baltimore surrounding area since the 1600s.  George died at 57 years old on December 27, 1896 in Baltimore.

In the late 1890s, Catherine Landers Watts brought her children Alice, Maude and young George back to the Madison area where her Landers family had long resided.  Alice became a teacher in the one-room schools of Swan Creek and Syene in Fitchburg, until she married Edward Kinney in 1901 and joined him in running the farmstead.

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Edward and Alice Watts Kinney family in the early 1940s: Donald, Regina, Harold, mother Alice, father Edward, Helen, Willie, Rev. Edward.


Edward and Alice had seven children born in the early twentieth century.  The children went to grade school at Fitchburg Center, and high school at Central High in Madison until a change in districting had the younger children going to East High School in Madison.  The first child was Evelyn Cecilia, who was born in September 10, 1901, with a heart defect and died May 22, 1904.  Michael Edward was the second child of Edward and Alice, and he was born August 17, 1903. He went to a seminary and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1931, changing his name along the way to Edward Michael.  When Madison became a diocese, Father Ed was named its first Chancellor.  He was Rector of St. Raphael’s, which had become a cathedral, and he was elevated to Monsignor.  Fr. Ed did extensive family history charting starting in 1931, and was the Kinney family’s first genealogist.  Msgr. Edward Kinney died in 1976 in Madison.

Edward and Alice’s third child was Helen Bernice, born July 28, 1905, and married Floyd Kissane in 1953.  Helen worked as a dental assistant, was employed by Dane County Social Service office, and ultimately was a secretary at Resurrection Cemetery office at the time of her death in 1988.  Edward and Alice’s fourth child was Harold John, who was born February 18, 1907.  Harold earned a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and a law degree from Temple University in Philadelphia. Harold married Madeleine Schilling in 1936, and went on to become the head of the patent and trademark law office at Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M) in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Harold died in 1986.

Edward and Alice’s fifth child was Wilfred Cecil, who was born July 13, 1910, married Mary Fleming in 1935 (Obituary, Cemetery) and, operated Edward and Alice’s farm after they passed away.  Willie died in 1990 (Obituary, Cemetery).  Edward and Alice’s sixth child was Donald James, who was born July 6, 1917, married Iola Bewick in 1944, worked at a number of jobs related to the food industry such as the food service in the UW – Madison Memorial Union, managed a restaurant on State Street and later Kinney Restaurant on Sherman Avenue in Madison, and worked in sales for a company that marketed restaurant supplies.  Don died in 1964.  Edward and Alice’s seventh child was Regina Mary, was born August 26, 1921, and worked as a secretary for the Bank of Madison and also at a bank in Lynn, Massachusetts.  Regina married Robert McInerney in 1945 and lived in Swampscott, Massachusetts, where she later died in 2004.

While Edward and Alice Kinney were raising their children, they continued to improve their farm, with its cows, horses, pigs, and chickens.  In 1916, they dismantled the pioneer log cabin that had set empty for 20 years after the frame farmhouse had been built, and the logs were used to build a structure to hold feed in the back of the barnyard.  Over time, the log barn, a tobacco shed and a cattle/machine shed were taken down, and they built a pump/milk house, buggy house, granary, wooden silo, and a newer machine shed.

On a Sunday morning in March 1920, a fire started in the east chimney of the Kinney’s upright-and-wing yellow farmhouse. The fire spread to the roof and house, and the family could not put it out.  They saved what they could including a roll-top desk, a new piano, and a few other things, and then the fire burned the house to the ground.

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The Kinney’s second wood-frame farmhouse, built in 1921, as seen at the 150th Anniversary of the Kinney family in Wisconsin in 1994.


The Kinneys set about having a new house built, and within a year had completed a large two-story rectangular house built in what is referred to as “prairie” architecture, and bears the distinctive hipped roof of that design.

As Edward and Alice moved into their new farmhouse in 1921, the horse-and-buggy days were being replaced by the age of the automobile in Wisconsin.  Friends and relatives from Madison took advantage of the quicker transportation to spend Sunday at the Irish Lane farm.  Alice loved entertaining visitors in the coming decades, and was known to often prepare dinners for anywhere from ten to thirty people.  The lawns surrounding the farmhouse became the site of family picnics for generations to come.

On May 30, 1952, Alice Watts Kinney died in a car accident on South Park Street in Madison at age 70.  Edward was 80 years old and was injured in the accident – he died three and a half years later on November 29, 1955.  Both were buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Oregon.

Wilfred C. and Mary Fleming Kinney were the next generation to live at the Irish Lane farm.  Willie and Mary were married on July 22, 1935, at St. Raphael’s Church in Madison.  Mary then joined Willie as a parishioner at Holy Mother of Consolation Church in Oregon.  They operated the dairy farm in the mid-1900s, and ultimately sold the cows in 1966.  By 1971, Willie was named the Town of Fitchburg’s first water superintendent – a post he held working with the town’s wells and water towers until he retired in 1983.  Willie’s wife Mary was a founder and early leader of the Fitchburg Fireflies 4-H Club, and was active in various civic organizations and clubs (including Fitchburg Center Mothers’ Club, Syene Homemakers and Swan Creek Sewing Circle), and taught a home economics course in crocheting at Madison Area Technical College for seventeen years.

Mary Katherine Fleming’s ancestors were mostly Irish, such as the Flemings of County Cavan, along with some German bloodlines.  Her forebearers had been in America since the mid-1800s and had settled on farms in Sauk County, northwest of Madison.  Two of Mary’s ancestors had fought in the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865: Wilhelm Schwartz (1807-1879) and John Patterson (1842-1918).  Mary was born on April 9, 1913 on a dairy farm in Dallas, Wisconsin, to Edward and Nellie Patterson Fleming.  Dallas is in Barron County in northwestern Wisconsin.  In 1927, the Flemings sold the farm in Dallas and moved with their children Edwin, Clarence, Arthur, Mary, Ruth, Merwin, Loretta, and Ivan to a farm near Lyndon Station in Juneau County northwest of Madison.  Edward and Nellie sold the Lyndon Station farm in 1937.  Later, they moved to Fitchburg, where they lived from 1939 until 1942 at what was called the Penfield farmhouse, which was located southwest of the corner of Fitchburg and Grand View roads.  Ed and Nellie thereafter lived at a number of different places.  Nellie died in 1954, and Edward then lived with his sons and daughters at different times, including substantial time at Willie and Mary Fleming Kinney’s Irish Lane farmhouse, where he had a chair in the backyard overlooking the garden and the fields beyond.  Edward Fleming had a huge 100th birthday party in 1978 at Fitchburg Town Hall, and passed way in 1980.

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Willie and Mary Fleming Kinney family in 1960. Back: Dan, Eleanor, Bill; Middle: Mary and Willie; Front: Regina and Kathleen.


Willie and Mary Fleming Kinney had several children born in the mid-1900s and raised at the Irish Lane farm.  In the year they were married in 1935, they built the Little House west of the farmhouse.  In 1949, Willie and Mary expanded the Little House as their family grew.

The first child of Willie and Mary was Wilfred Edward, known as Bill, who married Carole Marzuki in 1962 and built a house on Irish Lane in 1966 on the site of the farm’s old orchard west of the Little House.  Bill and Carole had three sons, Edward Thomas and Andrew.  Willie and Mary’s second child was Eleanor Mary.  Eleanor married Edward Cronin in 1962, and had two children Kathleen and Edward, lived near Schenectady, New York, and Eleanor worked as a bank secretary and Edward as an engineer for General Electric.  Willie and Mary Kinney’s third child was Daniel Franklin, who married Nancy Fluckiger of Fitchburg in 1965, and had children: Patrick (died shortly after birth), Donald, Debra, Rebecca, Barbara, Kimberly, Kristine, John, and Janeen.  Dan and Nancy operated a dairy farm fifteen miles south of Irish Lane in the Town of Brooklyn, where Dan also served as town chairman for a number of years.  Willie and Mary then had twins Alice and Ann, who were stillborn.  They next had Kathleen Helen, who had two children Jeffrey and Mark Heller.  Kay taught home economics in McFarland Public High Schools east of Fitchburg, and resides in a house built in 1976 in a woodland on the south end of the Kinney farm.  Willie and Mary’s youngest child was Regina Ruth, who married James Barden in 1983.  Gina worked at the telephone company and Jim worked in engineering at Ameritech.  They built their home in 1984 on the south end of the farm in the woodland northeast of the intersection of Caine Road and Whalen Road.  Kay and Gina each have their own horse barn and pasture.

Though all of Willie and Mary Kinney’s children were born while the family lived in the 1935 Little House, Willie and Mary moved their family into the farmhouse in 1952 when Willie’s mother died and his father was unwell.  Willie purchased the farm after his father died in 1955.

Willie and Mary’s older three children attended the Fitchburg Center one-room school for grade school, and then Edgewood High School of the Sacred Heart. Their youngest two children went to grade and high school in the Village of Oregon.

Farm improvements by Willie and Mary included building a cement silo, a large corn crib, a new milk house now attached to the barn, and a metal machine shed where the chicken coop once stood.  Years later, the cows and pigs were sold in 1966 and Blaney Farms rented the fields to raise seed corn, as Willie transitioned his work to eventually becoming the first water superintendent for the Town of Fitchburg from 1971 to 1983.

Willie passed away in 1990 at the age of 80, and Mary in 2003 at 90 years old.  They are buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Oregon.

After Willie died in 1990, his oldest son Bill Kinney took over management of the Kinney farmlands, buildings, fence rows, and woodlots for the Wilfred C. Kinney Trust for the next twenty-five years.

Bill Kinney has spent most of his life on Irish Lane.  After graduating from Edgewood High School in 1954, Bill helped his father with the farming until Bill was drafted into the United States Army in 1958.  He was stationed in Verdun, France, and was able to see much of Western Europe while on leave.  Bill finished his tour of duty in 1960.  He returned to Wisconsin and earned a degree in accounting.  Bill married Carole Marzuki on November 24, 1962, at St. Raphael’s Cathedral in a ceremony officiated by his uncle the Right Reverend Monsignor Edward M. Kinney.

Carole Marzuki Kinney descends from a noble and prominent land-owning family from Reggio Emelia northwest of Florence, Italy, with a name-to-name descent chart from Bartolomeo Marzucchi (as it is spelled in Italy), who lived in the 1500s, that comes down to the present. Carole’s paternal grandfather Achille “John” Marzuki got a good education in Italy and immigrated to America in the late 1800s due to political strife in Italy.  On a ship carrying passengers from both Italy and Great Britain to the new World in 1896, John Marzuki met an Irish woman Johanna Joy.  The two were married on the ship, and the ceremony was repeated on May 27, 1896, at Holy Angels Catholic Church in Aurora, Illinois, just west of Chicago.

John and Johanna made their home in Aurora’s Little Italy on East Lake Street. Their eighth child Henry (1908-1997) married Louise Alexander (1911-1962), and they later bought a house nearby on West Lake Street.  The children of Henry and Louise were Delores, Gloria, Henry, Carole, Everett, and Sylvia Jean.  Henry and Louise eventually bought a resort in 1952 on Kimball Lake west of Minong in northwestern Wisconsin, and their children and grandchildren enjoyed summers there for nearly 40 years.

The fourth child of Henry and Louise was Carole Sue, who grew up in Aurora’s Little Italy and became a Registered Nurse.  Carole completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Public Health at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she met Bill Kinney, who was visiting friends there.

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Bill and Carole Marzuki Kinney family in 1981. Front row: Thomas, Andrew and Edward.


The year after Bill and Carole were married in 1962, they moved in 1963 into the Little House, and in 1965 they moved into their new white ranch-style house at the southeast corner of Irish Lane and Caine Road, where they raised their three sons Edward, Thomas and Andrew.

In Bill’s career, he became a trust officer and vice president of Bank One Trust Company, later known as J.P. Morgan Chase, on the Capitol Square.  Bill has served on the City of Fitchburg’s Landmarks Preservation Commission and also the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.  He is a member of the Fitchburg Historical Society.  Carole, as a Registered Nurse, has done both bedside nursing and clinical instruction of students at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, and she taught students in the Nursing Skills Lab at Madison Area Technical College for twenty-eight years.  She has been a member and officer at times of Fitchburg Center Mothers’ Club, Syene Homemakers, and the Swan Creek Sewing Circle.  Carole was a founding member of the Fitchburg Historical Society and Charter President in 1987, and continues as an active member.

Bill and Carole’s three sons Edward, Thomas and Andrew were born in the 1960s and all attended kindergarten, grade school and high school at Edgewood in Madison.  In the late 1970s and early 1980s, each served a term as president of Fitchburg Fireflies 4-H Club and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Youth Group (now Good Shepherd Parish).  The boys worked countless hours with their father Bill to maintain the trees in the fence rows and woodlands on the farm property over the years.  All three graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

The oldest son of Bill and Carole, Edward William Kinney, went on to become a senior vice president of Settlers Bank.  For the City of Fitchburg, he has served as chair of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, and as vice chair of the Plan Commission.  In 1989, Ed married Jacqueline Ziegler, who has worked as a microbiologist at Promega Corporation in Fitchburg.  They have resided with their children, Marina and Delanie, at a house they built in 2005 in a Kinney farm woodland on Whalen Road, west of Caine Road.

Bill and Carole’s second son, Thomas Patrick Kinney, authored the award-winning book Irish Settlers of Fitchburg, Wisconsin 1840-1860 in 1993, and also authored the book The Kinney Family of Irish Lane: From the Barony of Moycarn to the Homestead in Fitchburg, Wisconsin in 1994.  He went on to work as an attorney in New York City, and has vacation-traveled on all seven continents.

The youngest son of Bill and Carole is Andrew Joseph Kinney.  While living at the family home on Irish Lane and attending the UW – Madison, he served on the City of Fitchburg Zoning Board of Appeals.  Andrew completed a Masters degree in Composition/Theory at the University of Minnesota, and an Advanced Studies Certificate in scoring for motion pictures and television from University of Southern California.  He has orchestrated music for more than 200 Hollywood movies, and his own compositions have been performed throughout the United States.  Andrew married Kathleen Olson Kinney in 1997, and they reside with their children Daniel, William and Nicholas in Santa Clarita, California.

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150th Anniversary of the Kinney family in Wisconsin. Photo taken at the reunion in 1994 at the Irish Lane farm.


Over the generations, the Kinney family of Irish Lane has thrown many picnics and reunions on the farmhouse lawns, and two of them have been of epic proportions.  Bill and Carole Kinney and their sons have done a lot of family history research since the boys were young, so to commemorate Andrew and Mary Jane Kinney founding the Kinney Family of Irish Lane in 1844, the family hosted a 150th anniversary reunion in 1994 and later a 170th reunion in 2014.  About 175 people attended each picnic with people coming in from across the United States, and in 1994 a cousin Eugene Kenny came in from County Mayo, Ireland. Both reunions started on a Saturday with hay rides to see historic sights around the farm and neighborhood. Tom Kinney gave speeches about the ancient and noble history of the Kinney family of Irish Lane.  At both reunions, a Catholic priest was brought out to the farm to say Mass, just as the Kinneys had done in the log cabin days.  All-group photographs were taken on the front lawn with the front of the farmhouse as the Shakespearean backdrop.  On Sunday afternoon, all went to the nearby Greenfield Park for a picnic and program in the shelter house, with softball and volley ball games to follow to wrap up the successful reunion weekends.

Later in the year after the 1994 reunion, the one-time dairy barn that had become run down over the decades was dismantled.  The boards and beams were moved a half of a mile south on Caine Road and the barn was re-built as a horse barn at a farm site there.

In 2016, the Wilfred C. Kinney Trust sold nearly 120 acres of the long-time 140 acre farm to Jeffrey Raymond.  His intention was to raise horse hay.  The descendants of the Kinney family kept the rest of the land as their own homesites, horse pastures, and woodlands.

The seven households of Kinney descendants living in and around the farm today in 2021 include Bill and Carole Kinney, Kay Kinney, Jim and Gina Kinney Barden, Ed and Jackie Kinney and family, Scott and Barb Kinney Schmiesing and family (in the farmhouse), Chad and Kim Kinney Hubred (west of Ed and Jackie Kinney’s house in a farm woodland on Whalen Road), and Jeff and Erin Heller and family (an eighth of a mile west of the farm on Irish Lane).

In 2021, Fitchburg remains mostly rural, with housing developments in the northern one third closest to Madison.  The Irish Lane area in central Fitchburg is largely farmland.

Numerous Kinney descendants live today on the 1844 Kinney homestead.  From the early days of Andrew and Mary Jane Kinney’s arrival in the wilderness that became Fitchburg, seven generations of the family have lived on the Irish Lane property through the eras of wheat farming, general farming, dairy farming and the post-farming era of having jobs in town.  Times have gone from the horse-and-buggy days to the automobile age.  The Kinneys’ community service has gone from frontier fence viewing to the modern-day City Plan Commission.  The descendants of the Kinney family look forward to their part in the Fitchburg community’s future.

D32-LRBy Thomas P. Kinney — March 2021, author of the two books:

Irish Settlers of Fitchburg, Wisconsin, 1840-1860, Fitchburg, Wisconsin, Fitchburg Historical Society, 1993.

The Kinney Family of Irish Lane – From the Barony of Moycarn to the Homestead in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, Fitchburg, Wisconsin, Irish Lane Publishing Company, 1994.


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