|Death: ||Sep. 10, 1909|
Santa Clara County
One hot Monday afternoon, on July 6th, 1909, Isola Kennedy took five young boys from her Sunday school class for a cool swim at the beach at Coyote Creek.
While several of the boys were splashing about, a lion appeared. The lion clawed one of the boys, leaving a long gash on his head. Isola stood up, but the lion swung a forepaw and struck her back to the ground, sinking his teeth into her arm. She jabbed at him with a eight-inch hatpin. Fighting, Isola screamed to the boys to run. The frightened boys got help from a man at a camp nearby, telling him that a big cat had attacked them. The man ran to the scene with his shotgun and saw Isola lying on the beach with the lion on top of her, clawing and chewing on her shoulder. He fired a charge of birdshot into the lion's flank, but the lion did not pause. In an agonized voice, Isola said, "Don't shoot me." In desperation, the man slammed the lion with the gun butt, but his blows had no effect on the lion. Finally, he ran back to the camp for a rifle and upon his return he fired the rifle into the lion's shoulder. The brute raised its head at the attack. At this point the man fired into the lion's brain. The episode lasted fifteen minutes. Isola was still conscious. Isola's injuries were at first thought not to be fatal. What finally caused her death, and that of the boy who was clawed, was rabies. She died two weeks after the boy did. Her fiance, Dr. Puck, left for Texas at the time of the attack and never returned.
FROM THE MORGAN HILL TIMES, Sept. 17, 1909:
Miss Isola Kennedy passed peacefully Sept. 10, 1909, after having made a heroic struggle for life for 2 long months. From the time of her frightful encounter with a mountain lion on July 6 to Sept. 2, she seemed to be gradually improving and her friends and loved ones were buoyed up with the hope of her ultimate recovery. The entire community was shrouded in mourning when the word was sent that she had passed away, her sister, Mrs. Maud Pickering of Junction City, KS, arrived just hours before the end came. Miss Kennedy's attack came on a day when she had taken 3 boys for a summer's day outing. Relaxing on a sand bar when suddenly a large mountain lion appeared and attacked one of the boys. She quickly rose to his defense calling the animals attention to herself, fighting back with the only weapon available, an 8-in. hatpin. Her injuries were extensive, the left ear was completely eaten off and the other badly lacerated, and a cut to the right eye laid bare the bone but left the eye uninjured. Her left arm was fearfully mangled from the shoulder to the fingers. Her right arm was also badly torn. Both the boy and Miss Kennedy seemed to be healing from their wounds but 2 months later they were both taken with a high fever which developed into lockjaw and then spinal meningitis, causing the town to suspect that the animal must have been mad at the time of the attack. Her funeral procession was one of the longest ever seen in Morgan Hill history.
*Sacrificed her life battling a lion to save some small boys. A memoir, by the U.S. Loyal Temperance Legioners*
THE AFTERMATH OF ISOLA KENNEDY'S DEATH:
* Grieving after the death of his fiance, Dr. Otto Puck sold his practice and moved away, never to return to Morgan Hill.
* Isola's mother became so distraught from her daughter's death that she died a short time later. Three years later, Isola's father John Dawes Kennedy sold his Morgan Hill home and moved north. He later returned to the area to live out the rest of his life in San Jose.
* John "Jack" Conlan, who killed the mountain lion in the epic battle, dressed the animal's hide and used it as a rug in his home for many years.
* The Morgan Hill mountain lion attack was the last for many decades in California. The next attack took place on April 23, 1994, when 40-year-old Barbara Schoener was jogging along the American River Canyon trail near Auburn and an 80-pound female mountain lion pounced on her. She fought back, but the lioness killed her.
Mount Hope Cemetery
Santa Clara County
Created by: Candice xo
Record added: Mar 29, 2004
Find A Grave Memorial# 8574062