Funday Monday! Meet the Keans!

We thought it might be fun to highlight some of the Keans and exactly who they are and why they’re so awesome to New Jersey history. Before we get to the Keans, lets cover some of their early relatives, the Livingston family and the connection between the two families.

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First family member up is….

William Livingston- He was the first resident of Liberty Hall, a lawyer from New York who retired the the countryside of Elizabethtown, New Jersey.  Elected as NJ’s first governor in 1776 and served on the 2nd Continental Congress.  He held the position of governor for 14 years straight (each was a 1 year term).

Sarah Livingston Jay- Daughter of William Livingston, known as “the pretty one.”  She married John Jay at the family home, Liberty Hall in 1774. John Jay would go on to become the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Susan Livingston Kean Niemcewicz- William’s niece who married the first John Kean, tying the two families together. After John’s passing, she married Count Julian Niemcewicz, a scholar from Poland.  She moved into Liberty Hall in 1811.

Colonel John Kean- He’s the grandson of the first John Kean and made the most changes to Liberty Hall.  He was very active in the NJ railroad & canal business, owner of the Elizabethtown Gas & Water companies, and National State Bank. 

Senator John Kean- Son of the Colonel, he never married and lived at the family home for majority of his life. He was a NJ Senator from 1899-1911. While he lived in Washington D.C, he was known for his infamous dinner parties that he threw.  However, behind every great man, there’s a greater woman and in his case, it was women; his mother and 3 sisters!

Captain John Kean- Nephew of Senator Kean, he moved into Liberty Hall with his family in 1939.  A graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School.  He served in WW1 in France but was wounded and discharged from the Army.  He then worked at the family companies, Elizabethtown Gas & Water companies, as well as the NJ National State Bank. He became smitten with a younger lady, Mary Alice and pursued her despite her shutting him down many times- he finally won her over with several love letters and they married in 1925.

(As you can tell…the Kean’s love the name John. There’s currently 3 living John Keans! wtf Keans!)

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Mary Alice Barney Kean- The last lady who lived in Liberty Hall.  When she moved in, she became very interested in the history of the house, Kean family and her own family.  She did extensive research in hopes of making the family home a public museum after she passed away.  She’s the first women in New Jersey to have a prominent role in historic preservation. 

Hope you learned not only some NJ history but some Kean family history! We were just so excited that we couldn’t wait until Tuesday Newsday! We’ll see you next week when we discuss family weddings! Since it is wedding season after all…

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