The town of Kennard was founded in 1903 by the Louisiana and Texas Lumber Company and platted on 160 acres. Land agent Alexander McTavish also acted as Kennard's first postmaster. The town served as a terminus for the Eastern Texas Railroad, a line established to transport timber to Angelina County.
Many businesses and citizens from earlier settlements nearby moved to Kennard when the rail line located here. Schools were built nearby as early as 1864 and served the area until Kennard School opened in 1903. Religious observances began with tent meetings conducted by traveling ministers. Permanent churches were soon organized. Early establishments included a bank, hotel, drug store, general merchandise stores, cafe, meat shop and Woodmen of the World lodge. In the 1920s and 1930s the timber industry and farming grew while other businesses came to town including a cottonseed mill, cotton gins, syrup mills, a blacksmith shop, gas stations, and a boardinghouse. In 1933 State Highway 7 was built through Main Street, shifting the town's business center there.
Incorporated as a city in 1969, Kennard continues as an active and involved community located in the heart of the Davy Crockett National Forest.