Philena was the daughter of Gibbons and Eliza Kendall, who were Quakers living in New Castle County, Delaware, near the "Mermaid" post office. Philena never married. She had a brother Caspar, who succeeded as a carriage manufacturer, and was married to Emily. They moved from Wilmington to Philadelphia in the early 1880s. Philena also had a younger sister named Emma, who attended Miss Shortledge's Institute in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.
Philena's aunt and uncle, Mabell P. and Emmor Entrikin, lived in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and she often went up there for long visits to help her aunt. As an adult, Philena probably maintained her own home, but she also rotated among several households, providing welcome assistance to busy kinswomen. She spent time in Wilmington, with her brother and Emily, in New Castle County with her parents, in West Chester, with her aunt and uncle, and in Kennett Square, where Emma went to school and settled down.