John Kennedy

Phillip Gowan

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Apr 10, 2001
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I heard on the news this morning that there have only been 20 cases of death in the United States during the last 100 years from virulent anthrax.

One of those was a Titanic survivor. John Kennedy was a young Irishman from Limerick who survived the Titanic sinking only to meet with another dismal fate within a few years.

(Taken from the AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, Augusta, Georgia, June 11, 1918)

HANCOCK SOLDIER SUCCUMBS TO MALIGNANT CASE OF ANTHRAX


Private John Kennedy of Machine Gun Company 21, Has Cheek Infected by Use of Shaving Brush and Hasty Death Results

After an illness of four days, Private John Kennedy, age 25 years, of machine gun Company No. 21, a draftee coming to Camp Hancock from his home, Brooklyn, N.Y., May 5th, died Sunday afternoon at the Base Hospital from malignant anthrax.

The death of Kennedy from this cause is the first case of this nature to develop in any cantonment of the United States and the only case of a like nature ever known in this city or vicinity, according to physicians.

Anthrax is the most infectious disease known to medical science. From the standpoint of infection and immunity the disease is of particular interest. It is the first disease of which the bacterial etiology was proved, that is the first case where disease by germ was proved beyond question.

It is peculiarly applied to cattle and sheep and prevails in certain European countries, especially Russia--and Australia. That it is peculiar to animals was possibly the reason for its early discovery in Kennedy's case, the lieutenant-physician pronouncing the case anthrax coming from northern New York, where the disease is not such a rarity, and where tanneries are many.

The examining physician recognizing symptoms of anthrax had Kennedy immediately taken to the Base Hospital where a spear was taken from the pus and sent to the University Hospital for analysis. The answer came back positive. The disease started on the right cheek of the deceased and is believed to have been communicated by a shaving brush. It is known that bacillus anthrax has lived from 10 to 12 years on dry hair.

The remains of Private Kennedy were forwarded from the R. E. Elliott Funeral Home Monday afternoon, the casket being hermetically sealed and sent to the home of Michael Kennedy, the only living relative, at No. 7, Fourth Place, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The remains were accompanied by Private Kelly of the same unit of which Kennedy was a member.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
It's a pity they didn't have anti-biotics in those days. While hardly a sure thing, they would have given this unfortunate soldier a fighting chance. My understanding as to why it's useful as a weapon isn't that it's all that remarkably virulant. (It isn't) But that it's so bloody tough to kill. Absent a host, it can go dorment for years until it enters a nice warm moist environment...like some poor sods body.

For the perposes of terror, it doesn't even have to be all that effective in and of itself. In the sort of game that appears to be afoot these days, it's the fact that it can scare that matters.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Dave Hudson

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Apr 15, 2011
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Phil,

Are you sure that that John Kennedy is the same John Kennedy that was on the Titanic? There is a 5 year age difference and the Titanic Kennedy was from Ireland.

David
 

Phillip Gowan

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Apr 10, 2001
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Yup, that's him. The age reported in the newspaper (and death certificate) is wrong--they were just guessing. His body was claimed by his brother Michael--the same person listed as his next of kin on Carpathia. I would also add that the Irish seemed, more than other ethnic groups, to prevaricate about their ages. I've obtained birth certificates for some of them that prove they were as much as 13 years older than they claimed on Titanic and later. Major offenders were Hannah Riordan and Delia McDermott.

I've been in touch with John Kennedy's living relatives who now live in Massachusetts and they have all the original correspondence between Michael Kennedy and military officials who were in charge when John died.

Regards,
Phillip
 
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John O'Malley

Guest
This is sort of a far fetched theory, but I'm just curious about what other peoples opinions are. I was just wondering if there is any confirmation that John Kennedy was onboard the ship. There seems to be very little known about his experiences onboard and I was wondering if it was possible that someone may have bought his ticket. According to "The Irish Onboard Titanic", his age and occupation are inaccurate on the passenger manifest. He also apparently lied about being injured in the sinking (according to his claim for compensation for the US District Court) when the John Kennedy at the American Red Cross was not reported to have any injuries. Is it possible someone else survived the sinking under his name, and that the real John Kennedy, upon arriving in America aboard another ship, later tried to gain compensation for property loss and injury that never occurred? I don't mean any disrespect towards Mr. Kennedy, who died at such a tragically young age, but I am just intrigued as to why there is so little information about his Titanic experiences.
 
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John O'Malley

Guest
Thank you. I suppose he is just a person who liked to keep out of the public eye. It just struck me as odd that there is so little information about him in comparison to the other surviving 3rd class Irish passengers.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Thank you. I suppose he is just a person who liked to keep out of the public eye.<<

Very possible. Nobody who sailed on the Titanic had any idea that there would be any special destinction to their choice and all they wanted to do was get to the other side of the pond. The ones who actually made it to the other side were just happy to be alive and just as happy to get on with their lives without any fanfare.
 

Arne Mjåland

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Oct 21, 2001
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The Augusta Cronicle June 10 1918.
Pvt. Kennedy dies in base hospital.
Private John Kennedy, aged 23 years of Company 21, machine gun training camp, died at the Base Hospital, Camp Hancock at 2;06 Sunday afternoon. Kennedy lately came to Camp Hancock from his home, Brooklyn N.Y.
The body is now at the R.E. Elliott funeral home awaiting burial instructions
This may be a thread for those who may want to find out more about him
 
Apr 15, 2019
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Limerick
Hello , I’m a descendant of John Kennedy and he actually died of anthrax in camp Hancock, my great aunt , his nominated next of kin was compensated for his death to the tune of 10,000 US dollars
 
Nov 14, 2005
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Hello , I’m a descendant of John Kennedy and he actually died of anthrax in camp Hancock, my great aunt , his nominated next of kin was compensated for his death to the tune of 10,000 US dollars
Hi. Welcome to ET. I just read your relatives bio on here. Its ashame he had to go so young and how he did. I don't think they had any treatment for Anthrax back then. Even today with Cipro you have to get it treated very early or it will still kill you.

[Moderator's note: The thread that Steven cited to has now been incorporated into this one. MAB]
 
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Apr 15, 2019
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Limerick
It was suspected that he contacted it from a shaving brush brought with him from New York, apparently anthrax spores could survive in the animal hair that brush was made of, my family always knew it was related to a shaving incident but was not aware of the anthrax, so a sad story