Biography of Edmund Raymond Kinsey

Edmund Raymond Kinsey, president of the board of public service of St. Louis and identified in a professional capacity with the public interests of the city since 1912, was born in Muscatine, Iowa, January 24, 1873, his parents being William M. and Lucy Loretta (Chapin) Kinsey. In the paternal line he is descended from one of the old and distinguished American families that has figured prominently in public affairs throughout the history of the nation. A member of this family was one of the first justices of. the supreme court of Pennsylvania and his portrait is over one of the three chairs in the old courtroom in Independence Hall at Philadelphia, in the room occupied by the supreme court when that city was the national capital.

The first representative of the family in America came to the new world with William Penn, settling in Philadelphia, and through many generations the family has been connected with the Society of Friends or Quakers. William M. Kinsey, a lawyer by profession, also became a lawmaker, serving as a member of the fifty-first congress from the tenth district of Missouri. He was judge of the St. Louis circuit court for a period of twelve years, from 1904 until 1916, and in many ways has left the impress of his individuality upon the legal records of the state. At the time of the Civil war, when but sixteen years of age, he endeavored to enlist in the Union army, but his father would not permit him to go to the front. He was very active in support of many interests of the late war and was chairman of the legal advisory board of the twelfth ward in St. Louis. His wife is a descendant of one of Deacon Samuel Chapin, one of the founders of Springfield, Massachusetts.

Edmund R. Kinsey, after attending the public schools, and the Manual Training School of St. Louis, continued his education in Washington University, where he took up the study of engineering-municipal and general-but did not graduate. He started active work as a municipal engineer under Robert E. McMath, who was formerly president of the board of public improvement and with whom he continued until 1901, when he started in business independently, doing municipal and general engineering.

In 1902 he was made engineer in charge of roadways, lagoons, bridges and grading in connection with the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and continued to serve in that connection through 1904. The construction work in connection with the exposition, like all work of similar character, was rushed to such an extent that the work of the engineers was ofttimes most trying, presenting very difficult problems, all of which Mr. Kinsey handled in a very masterful manner, displaying great ability in meeting the exigencies of the occasion, particularly in laying the foundation of the Cascade building, which was put in before the plans for the superstructure were completed, it requiring cantilever trusses and other engineering expedients to carry this immense structure as finally designed on the foundation as constructed.

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From 1905 until 1912 Mr. Kinsey continued in the engineering profession, devoting himself to private work, and in 1912 he was elected president of the board of public improvements for the city of St. Louis. In 1914 the city charter was adopted, creating a board of public service to supersede the board of public improvements, the presidency of this board becoming an appointive instead of an elective office, and at the close of his term in 1916 Mr. Kinsey was appointed as the first president of the new board of public service, his term of incumbency to continue until 1921. During the period of the World war he entered the Home Guard and became captain of Company A of the Third Regiment of the Missouri Home Guards.

In 1894 Mr. Kinsey was married in Minneapolis to Miss Inez Viola Wheeler, who was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and is a representative of one of the old families of that state. From the earliest period of its colonization the Wheeler family was represented in Massachusetts and one of the name was killed in King Philip’s war. To Mr. and Mrs. Kinsey have been born four sons, constituting an interesting family of whom they have every reason to be proud. Their eldest son, Milton Mansfield Kinsey, also an engineer, entered the army soon after the declaration of war and went at once to France as a lieutenant in the Engineer Corps. He was attached to General Headquarters Company and saw twenty-one months of active service, participating in five of the major engagements. During the first nine months of his overseas work he was with the British in the Cambrai campaign, both of offensive and defensive. He then joined the American forces and was engaged in railway construction work in connection with the operations of the army in the Chateau Thierry and St. Mihiel drives. He was under shell fire all of the time in doing this work and had many very narrow escapes. William Putnam, the second son, served for more than a year in the navy, becoming quartermaster on the U. S. S. Kansas, and earlier he was engaged in sweeping mines off the Jersey coast. He is now in the University of Wisconsin pursuing a course in mechanical engineering. Halladay Metcalf and Daniel Chapin, the younger sons, are high school pupils.

Mr. Kinsey and his family are identified with the Presbyterian church. His political allegiance is given to the republican party, but the honors and emoluments of office have had no attraction for him. He belongs to the American Society of Civil Engineers and enjoys high standing in professional ranks. He belongs also to the Sons of the American Revolution and he is well known in the club circles of St. Louis, being enrolled among the members of the Engineers, Century Boat, City and Riverview Clubs. He is fond of all manly outdoor sports, including golf and handball, and in 1916 he organized in his department of the city a baseball club which won the amateur championship that year, and he has in his office a beautiful silver cup as the trophy of that occasion.


Stevens, Walter B. Centennial History of Missouri (The Center State) One Hundred Years In The Union 1820-1921 Vol 2. St. Louis-Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company. 1921.

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