This bearded gentleman is Vitruvius Jackson Kennedy of Tennessee, a physician who served in both houses of the Tennessee State Legislature. Details on Kennedy's life are noticeably absent from the internet and very few sources mention him at great length, with the exception being his service during the Civil War.
Vitruvius J. Kennedy (most sources list him under the initials "V.J.") is listed as being born on July 9, 1840, in Clinton, Tennessee. His father, Jackson J. Kennedy, is mentioned as being a cabinet maker by trade, and when Vitruvius signed up for military service during the early months of the Civil War, he listed this as his primary occupation.
Genealogical websites have been quite the blessing when it comes to finding any information on "V.J." One of these sites states that he fought for the Union Army and later deserted during his service! This fact alone is worth mentioning, but it's even more strange to find out that he subsequently reenlisted sometime later, serving until his discharge at the war's conclusion! A statute book also contains Kennedy's name and lists him as a member of the First Regiment of the Tennessee Volunteer Light Artillery.
At some point in the years following the war, Kennedy earned a degree to practice medicine (a few sources list him with the title of "Dr.") but no available source states what school he attended or what year he graduated.
Kennedy was also involved in Tennessee politics, hence his inclusion here. He was elected to the Tennessee State House of Representatives in 1880 and served in the legislative session of 1881-1882. The portrait of him shown above was found on the House of Representatives composite picture taken during his service. Vitruvius Kennedy was later elected to the Tennessee State Senate, and served from 1887-1889, representing both Hamilton and Marion County.
Kennedy's abbreviated name (#28) as it looked on the Tennessee General Assembly roster of 1881-1882.
A death date originally couldn't be found for Vitruvius Kennedy, until a useful book entitled the Congressional Serial Set (1912) gave a passage on his widow applying for a pension. The book lists him as dying on July 7, 1890, of "cancer of the larger intestine", two days before his 49th birthday. He was later interred at the Welsh-Rogers Cemetery in Sale Creek, Tennessee.
In an aside note, Kennedy's first name "Vitruvius" stems from a Roman architect, writer, and engineer named Vitruvius. This obscure Roman figure has been called by some sources as the "world's first known engineer", but it is unknown as to why V.J. Kennedy was endowed with this highly unusual first name. The rare portrait of Kennedy shown above was featured on a legislative composite portrait published during his time in the state house of representatives in 1882.
You Can Help!
I am currently trying to find more information pertaining to the life of Vitruvius Jackson Kennedy. While a picture of him has been located, as well as information relating to his Civil War service, other aspects of his life remain a mystery. If any reader/lurker/amateur historian wants an interesting project to fill their time with, see what you can dig up on this wonderfully named man. As there is almost next to nothing on the internet about this oddly named politician, maybe someone out there knows more about him than what is already stated in this article!