Zula Kenyon - Artist

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Zula Kenyon, 1873-1947

Zula Kenyon was one of the most successful artists in the history of the United States. She was born in Wisconsin and had her studio in Waterloo, WI. During her long career, she produced over 250 Calendar prints alone for the Gerlach-Barklow Company. Her favorite medium was pastels.

A good friend of hers was the equally well known artist Adelaide Hiebel. Their work is very similar in style.

Richard R. Kenyon has worked out the following biography for Zola Kenyon.

The first US census where Zula Kenyon appears is in the 1880 census where she appears in Beaver Dam, Dodge County, WI, with her parents, sister, and aunt:

John W. Kenyon, head, 36, b. NY
Anna S. Kenyon, wife, 32, b. WI
Zula Kenyon, daughter, 7, b. WI
Haidee Kenyon, daughter, 3, b. WI
Lillie F. Clark, sister-in-law, 25, b. WI

In an attempt to learn Zula's grandparents, I looked at earlier censuses. I think I found her father in the 1870 WI census in Fountain Prairie Township, Columbia Co. (Fall River WI Post Office), apparently rooming with the family of George W. Halt, a farmer, where John W. Kenyon is listed as age 26, b. NY, and a teacher. Going back another ten years to the 1860 census (and looking at all John Kenyon's born around 1844 in NY, but living anywhere in the US in 1860), the most likely candidate seems to be a John W. Kenyon, age 15, b. MA (!), a tailor's apprentice, living in a household by himself in Watertown, Jefferson Co. WI. It would seem odd that a 15 year old boy would be living by himself, and if this is the right person, it gives no clue to his parents. Trying to find him in 1850 with any certainty seemed futile. So I'm unable to determine anything else about Zula Kenyon's ancestry.

I did look for Zula in more recent censuses. She's listed twice in 1900 (probably no 1890 census record exists). First, she is listed in Muscola, Grant Co., WI, b. Jun 1873 in WI, age 26, and boarding with the family of Henry Pfuster. The other 1900 census entry is in Chicago where she is listed with her mother and sister (her father is not listed and another John W. Kenyon of about the same age, but living in MO is believed to be in another line). The Chicago household is listed as:

Anna Kenyon, white, head, b. Feb 1847 in WI, age 53
Haidee Kenyon, dau., b. Oct 1876 in WI, age 23
Zula Kenyon, dau., b. Jun 1873 in WI, age 26

In 1910, the mother is no longer shown and the two daughters are living alone in Chicago. Zula is listed as 36, b. WI, and Haidee as 33, b. WI.

In 1920, the two sisters are living by themselves in Tuscon Arizona, apparently "cheating" a little bit on their ages. Zula is listed as age 39, b. WI, and Haidee as age 36, also b. WI. They still show a 3-year age difference, but they only aged 3 years in a ten year span!

I also happen to have the California state death index and it appears that the two sisters died in San Diego CA. That index shows that Zula S. Kenyon died 23 Jun 1947 in San Diego, while the younger sister, Haidee Kenyon, died earlier, 1 Apr 1944, also in San Diego CA.

The information previously appearing on the Web page for Zula Kenyon says she had a studio in Waterloo WI. Assuming that's so, it shows how incomplete a picture is obtained from the "snapshots" taken at ten-year intervals by the federal census.


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