Photograph of Richard Bannon

A third cousin on my mother’s side recently contacted me after visiting the Gathering Leaves blog. She and I share the same great-great-grandparents, Richard and Henrietta Bannon.

When I was growing up, my grandmother had hanging in her living room two portrait paintings that were created around 1914 by an older cousin. One portrait was of my great, great-grandmother Henrietta and the other portrait was of her second husband, Bernard J Campbell, Jr.

Richard was about twenty years older than Henrietta. After he died in the 1880s, she married his younger half-brother, Bernard, when they were both in their fifties. According to my grandmother, Henrietta’s children opposed the marriage and very much disliked Bernard.

I often wondered what my great, great-grandfather, Richard, looked like and now thanks to this third cousin, I need wonder no more. Here is a photograph of Richard Bannon (1818 – 1883). I estimate this photograph was taken some time around 1860.

Richard Bannon, c. 1860?

Richard Bannon was born circa 1818 in Down Co., Ireland. He emigrated circa 1843 from Ireland. He may have arrived in the US as early as 1839. A “Richard Bannon” age 21 appears on a passenger list as arriving in New Orleans on Jun 18, 1839 from Liverpool on-board the SS Silumah. He was naturalized as a US citizen in 1854 in Louisville, Kentucky. He appeared on the census of 1860 in Covington, Kenton Co., Kentucky, unmarried and living in a hotel. He married Henrietta Knox Kelsey, daughter of William Kelsey and Mary Emily Knox, in 1864 in Belfast, Ireland. Richard and Henrietta were married in the home of Hugh Rea, a cousin of Richard and brother-in-law of Henrietta, in Belfast, County Antrim, Ireland. He was a street contractor in Louisville, Kentucky. He and Henrietta Bannon appeared on the census of 1870 & 1880 in Louisville, Jefferson Co., Kentucky. He died on August 6, 1883 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Richard Bannon was 43 years old at the start of the Civil War. His brother Patrick was 37 years old and in 1861, neither man had any children. We do know that Richard travelled from America some time during war and went back to Northern Ireland where he stayed until the end of the war. I had always assumed that he left the States due to civil unrest in the city at the start of war, but from a reading of article on Louisville during the Civil War, I get the impression that the city and region was in the early years relatively quiet. It was not until 1864 when guerilla warfare began to plague the state that conditions became bad. In the North, there was a growing anti-war, pro-south movement whose adherents were known as Copperheads. The term Copperhead was used for the first time in writing in 1862 by the Cincinnati Gazette. It was used to indicate people who would not admit they were Southern sympathizers or “peace at any price” Democrats. In the 1860 census, Richard Bannon is found living at a hotel in Covington, Kentucky. The city of Covington is directly across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Ohio and this area was a center of Copperhead political activity during the Civil War.

I do not have any evidence of Richard being a Copperhead, but he does fit the demographic; plus, his leaving the country for the duration of the war is curious.

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