William David Kenison was born on July 9th, 1899 to Samuel Peter and Rachel “Sophia” (Roddy) Kenison in Garden City, Kansas. When Will was only eight, his mother passed away in Larned, Kansas. In 1910, Will was living with his father and little brother, Harry, in a boarding house in Fort Wayne, Indiana where Samuel was working as a street car conductor.
I believe this picture was taken about 1918,when Will would have been just 18 years old. I haven’t been able to verify if Will was in WWI but it seems possible, and I have heard that he served in France. In 1920, he married a woman named Laurena Florentia Archambault in New York. On the marriage certificate, Will was listed as a soldier with his residence listed as Plattsburg Barracks in New York. There is a bit of discrepancy here, as it has Will listed as 26 years old, when in fact he was only 20. Laurena is listed as 27 and was a divorcee. I wonder, had Will joined the service early and lied about his age to get in? Or had he embellished his age to seem older to Laurena?
Just two short years later, Will was working as a fireman with the Union Pacific Railroad. He died from asphyxiation when a coal burning engine that he was working on got stuck inside the Aspen Tunnel in Wyoming.
William David Kenison is buried in the Evanston City Cemetery in Evanston, Wyoming.
Will’s wife Laurena herself is a mystery to our family. Will’s brother, Harry, was my great grandfather, the father of my grandmother Shirley Marcilee Kennison Sannar. Grandma had a sister whom I knew as Aunt Laurena, obviously named after the first Laurena, but the fact that there even was a first Laurena is news to my family. Her grandson, Robert Lewis, contacted me through ancestry.com, and he is where I have gotten all of my information. Our family must have been in contact with her for some years, as Bob had pictures of some of our family members from the 1940’s and 1950’s.
In the next few days, I will be contacting my great Uncle Harry to find out if he knows any more about this couple. He is the only one left who might have some knowledge about Will and Laurena. I’ll update this story with anything that he has to tell me. Stay tuned!
(Will is my 2nd great uncle. He is the brother of Harry Alvin Kennison. )