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FAMILY CREST: Genealogy is a journey



Renee’ Kennedy, a local insurance and benefits broker, has been studying her own ancestry for years. However, a few years ago she stumbled on a few surprises regarding the origins of her husband, Steve.

Inspired by the findings, she recently had an unveiling for massive, custom made Kennedy family crest in the foyer of her Germantown home.

Kennedy, who considers herself a spiritualist, said the answers when looking for gaps in an ancestral line are often “right in front of your face.”

“People want to be found,” she said. “And often times things happen that are too close for it to be coincidence. You can be in a weird strange place and things just happen when you least expect it.”

That’s exactly what happened to the Kennedy’s nearly five years ago while staying at a bed and breakfast in Louisville, Ky.

While there, the couple decided to tour a local Victorian home.

“Well,” Renee’ said, “as we leave I see a sign for the Kentucky Genealogical Society. I wasn’t looking for anything.”

Steve, whose father was a master genealogist, rolled his eyes.

“After growing up doing grave rubbings he’s over it,” she laughed.

However, the two decided to enter and Renee’ approached a random shelf.

“Everything on the shelf says Kentucky except one book, which says Virginia,” she said. “I pull it out thinking it is in the wrong place and the book opens up to Alexander Kennedy.”

Intrigued by the discovery, the couple made copies of as much of they could from the book for future reference.

“Steve had gone back four generations and hit a brick wall,” Renee’ said. “So, we thought this might be something.”

A later trip out west would provide the key.

While driving through Kansas, the couple decided to stop at a thrift store.

“They had all of these tartans. So, I asked, ‘Do you have the Kennedy plaid,’” Renee’ recalled. “(The shop worker) said, ‘No, but I can order you one.’ She then looks at my husband and said, ‘I can tell he’s the Kennedy because he has the Kennedy nose.’ So, she shows us a book that has a picture of a man that looks just like my husband. It was uncanny. It was a ringer.”

The picture was of the Earl of Cassilis of Scotland. After flipping through the book more, Renee’ found a familiar name.

“Alexander Kennedy,” she said. “I got chills.”

The book helped the Kennedy’s trace the family lineage back to 1385 and even find the family castle.

They had gotten past Steve’s “brick wall.”

Inspired by the crest on the castle, Renee’ decided to have a custom crest created by her sister-in-law, Regina, who had already completed five crests for other family members.

“Whenever you go to research a family crest,” Regina said, “once you get past the 14th century, records are very ambiguous. There is a lot of guess work. For you to find the exact crest that is your bloodline is pretty much unlikely unless something comes along like a certain book.”

The Kennedy crest features the inscription “Avis la fin,” which translates to “Consider the End.” It also includes a dolphin perched on an acorn to represent growth. A crown, two swans, three crosses and four mandalas meant to “stimulate the mind” also adorn the colorful piece.

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