Kearney is a city in Clay County, Missouri, United States. The population was estimated to be 8,599 in 2008. It is most famous for being the birthplace of Jesse James, and there is an annual festival in the third weekend of September to honor the notorious outlaw. Kearney was unofficially founded in the spring of 1856 by David T. Duncan and W. R. Cave, and was originally called Centerville. Centerville was composed of what is now the southeastern portion of the town. In 1867, John Lawrence began laying out plans for another small settlement around the newly established Kansas City and Cameron Railroad subsidiary of the Hannibal and Saint Joseph Railroad which was to build the Hannibal Bridge establishing Kansas City, Missouri as the dominant city in the region. The president of the railroad was Charles E. Kearney (although there is speculation that it was named after Kearney, Nebraska). The railroad still operates as the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. As they grew, the two settlements of Centerville and Kearney were effectively merged, and the town of Kearney, Missouri was officially incorporated in 1869.