April 7: Mary Cogswell Kinney (1877)

Mary C. Kinney’s image on her tombstone at Oak Hill Cemetery.

Mary Cogswell Kinney was the eldest daughter of the Rev. Jonathan Cogswell, D.D. and his first wife, Elizabeth Abbot. On both sides, Mary was descended from old New England families. Her father’s ancestors settled at Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1635 and her mother’s family, the Abbots, in 1643 at Andover, where her great grandfather richly endowed the seminary, the oldest graduate school of theology in the United States. Mary was educated in New York. In 1833, Mary Cogswell married Franklin Sherwood Kinney, a prominent New York lawyer. When he died in 1871, his estate was said to be valued at $12 million.

Mary Kinney divided her time between New York City and Washington, D.C. A younger sister, Elizabeth, was married to Senator James Dixon of Connecticut. Elizabeth Dixon was a close personal friend of Mary Todd Lincoln. On the night of Lincoln’s assassination, Robert Todd Lincoln sent for Elizabeth Dixon to help care for his grief stricken mother. Elizabeth came with her sister Mary Kinney and Mary’s daughter, Constance. Elizabeth, Mary, and Constance sat with Mrs. Lincoln all through the night in the front parlor of Petersen House. After her death on April 7, 1877, Mary Kinney’s funeral was at the Church of the Epiphany. Mary’s obituary in the New York Herald stated, “She was a Christian lady, alike beautiful in mind and person and was characterized by great benevolence.”

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