Elnathan D. McKenney, lawyer and legislator, was born on November 22, 1818, in Sheldon, Vermont. In April 1841 he was admitted to the Missouri bar and practiced law in Missouri for a number of years. He married Tabitha Caroline Campbell on January 18, 1843, in Springfield, Missouri. Their daughter, Louisa, was born on October 21, 1848, in Springfield.
McKenney moved to Texas and settled in Hopkins County. He became involved in the politics of the day, and he and a number of other citizens intervened on the behalf of a young freed man named Europe who wanted to stay in Hopkins County in an 1854 case. They petitioned the House of Representatives, but their plea was rejected since the law did not recognize free people "of collour." In 1857 he was elected to the House of Representatives. He later served as a district attorney. On February 24, 1859 McKenney married Amanda J. France in Hopkins. McKenney worked as a lawyer in Tarrant County in 1860. The following year, he enlisted as a private in a militia company in Precinct No. 6 under the command of Captain Joseph A. Moore. The couple produced two sons and two daughters from 1865 to 1875. In 1866 he worked as a lawyer in Tarrant County. In 1880 McKenney and his teenage sons worked as a farmer in Hopkins County.
McKenney died on November 5, 1880, and is buried in Conner Cemetery in Hopkins County.