Biography of Grafton I. Kenyon

Grafton I. Kenyon is well known in Wakefield, Rhode Island, as a successful business man, secretary, and assistant treasurer of the O. P. Kenyon Company, Incorporated, and member of a family which has for more than two hundred years been associated with the development of Rhode Island.

The Kenyon line includes the following generations: John Kenyon, born in 1605, who, in 1630, married Ann Smith; John Kenyon, born in 1636, married (first) Hannah Sheppard (second) Mary Rigby; John Kenyon, born in 1657, died in 1732, having married Sarah Gray, probably of Mayflower ancestry; Jonathan Kenyon, born in 1695, married Mary Gardner; Nathan Kenyon, born in 1720, married Mary Green; Gardner Kenyon, born 1757, married Susannah Boss; Elisha Reynolds Potter Kenyon, born April 29, 1799, married Mary Ann Knowles, and they had a son, William Gardner Kenyon, of the eighth generation. He was born at Point Judith, in South Kingstown, January 4, 1825, moved to Wakefield and became a successful merchant there, postmaster, and owner of a fertile and well-situated farm which was afterward developed into a village, and organizer of a business which was developed by his sons into a large department store; he married Emeline Bull Allen, and they had a son, William A. Kenyon, merchant, State Senator, and prominent citizen, who married Emma Scott Sheldon; and a second son, Orrin Potter Kenyon, of further mention.

Orrin Potter Kenyon, son of William Gardner and Emeline Bull (Allen) Kenyon, was born at Point Judith, Rhode Island, January 11, 1852, and he grew up in Wakefield, receiving his education at the Friends’ School in Providence. He entered his father’s store, and with his brother, mentioned above, conducted the establishment of Kenyon Brothers. He was also owner of the Boston Store at Narragansett Pier and a director of the Wakefield Land & Investment Company and the Wakefield Manufacturing Company. He married, August 24, 1880, Fannie Gorton Grafton, and they were the parents of three children: Grafton Irving, of further mention; Leslie; and Gladys Bull.

Grafton I. Kenyon, son of Orrin Potter and Fannie Gorton (Grafton) Kenyon, was born in Wakefield, Rhode Island, March 18, 1882. He was educated in the public schools of that city, Wakefield High School, and the Burdett Business College in Boston, which he finished in 1902. He then became associated with the O. P. Kenyon Company in Wakefield which operated an excellent department store which was incorporated, in 1924 under the name of O. P. Kenyon, Inc. Mr. Kenyon was elected secretary and assistant treasurer, offices he still holds. He is a director of the Wakefield Trust Company.

The fraternal affiliations of Mr. Kenyon are with Hope Lodge, No. 25, Free and Accepted Masons; Amity Chapter, Royal Arch Masons; Narragansett Commandery, Knights Templar; thirty-second degree Scottish Rite; and Palestine Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. He is a Democrat in politics and for two years served in the Rhode Island House of Representatives and for two years in the State Senate. During the World War he took military training at Plattsburg in 1916 and was captain of the Rhode Island State Guards.

Grafton Irving Kenyon married, in 1914, Mary Burns, born in Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island, and they are the parents of two children: Jane B. and Orrin Potter Kenyon, 2d.

Source: Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.

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