George R. McKinley, forceful and resourceful, has accomplished much in the way of improvement and progress in Bartlesville as well as in the advancement of his individual fortunes. He stands as a splendid type of American manhood and chivalry, recognizing and utilizing the opportunities for development in the west and building along lines of future needs as well as of present day demands.
Mr. McKinley is a native of Kansas, his birth having occurred at Lawrence, February 24, 1869, his parents being James B. and Julia A. (Porter) McKinley. He was named for his grandfather, George McKinley, a native of Scotland, who was brought to the new world in childhood by his parents, the family home being established in Pennsylvania, where George McKinley spent his remaining days, passing away when his son James B. was but eight years of age. The latter, a second cousin to the father of President William McKinley, was born in Venango County, Pennsylvania where his youth was passed, upon farm and his education was acquired in the public schools. He was but seventeen years of age when he began teaching in the rural schools and later he took up bookkeeping in Pittsburgh, being thus employed until the outbreak of the Civil war. He twice attempted to enlist but was rejected on account of his small stature. Finally, however, he removed to Kansas and there in 1861 he joined Company I, Fourteenth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, in which organization he served until the close of the war. He was promoted to orderly sergeant and participated in several hotly contested engagements but was never wounded nor captured. After receiving his honorable discharge he engaged in the lumber business at Lawrence, Kansas, and also followed farming in the vicinity of Burlington, Kansas, until ill health forced him to put aside business cares and he took up his abode in Burlington, there passing away in 1900 at the age of sixty-three years. He was a faithful member of the Presbyterian Church and in politics was always a stalwart Republican from the time when he cast his first Presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln. His wife, who was born in Findlay, Hancock County, Ohio, survives her husband and still makes her home in Burlington, Kansas. They were the parents of seven children, four sons and three daughters.
George R. McKinley spent his youthful days in the usual manner of the farm bred boy. He did not fancy the idea, however, of devoting his attention to agricultural pursuits and while still pursuing his studies in the district schools he devoted his leisure hours to the study of telegraphy, so that when still a youth in his teens be was able to secure a position as a telegraph operator with a railroad company. Subsequently he was made station agent and from that position was advanced to chief clerk in the trainmaster’s office of the southern Kansas division of the Santa Fe. In 1905 he came to Bartlesville as station agent and continued to act in that capacity until 1907, when he was made assistant cashier of the Bartlesville National Bank. Seven months later he was elected cashier of the institution and after the bank was sold to Phillips Brothers he remained with the new owners until 1909, when he accepted the position of cashier of the Bartlesville State Bank. He contributed in no small measure to the success and growth of the institution through his business ability, his close application and his uniform courtesy to the patrons of the bank. He remained as cashier until September, 1916, when he severed his connection with the bank and has since devoted his entire time to public affairs and to the management of his oil interests, for he has been identified with the oil industry since 1916, associated with the Warren Petroleum Company, of which he is general manager. His fairness and his appreciation of faithfulness on the part of his employees have awakened between them mutual regard and friendship. Such a course if uniformly pursued would settle all the problems of capital and labor.
In September, 1892, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. McKinley and Miss Nannie A. Chesnut, a native of Indiana, whose mother was a cousin of Stephen A. Douglas. Mr. and Mrs. McKinley have become parents of two children: George J., born May 28, 1893, has by his own initiative become Vice President and general manager of the Osage Oil & Gas Company. The younger son, William, was born January 29, 1898, the anniversary of the birth of President William McKinley, after whom he was named and from, whom he received three letters during the administration of the; martyr L President. On the 23d of April 1915, when he was yet a high school pupil, he lectured at Coffeyville, Kansas, on “The Cost of the War,” in an oratorical contest between the high schools of Washington County, Oklahoma, and Montgomery County, Kansas. On the 21st of April, 1916, he lectured at Dewey, Oklahoma.
Mr. McKinley is a member of the Masonic fraternity, having taken the degrees of the Scottish Rite and become a member of the Mystic Shrine. He also belongs to the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and the Modern Woodmen of America. In politics he is an earnest Republican and has always been an untiring worker for his political convictions but has never accepted office. He has always worked quietly, preferring to do the good that he can in an unostentatious manner. He believes in the American principle of free speech and the world principles of justice, liberty and truth. By reason of this belief he has sought to further public welfare and to uphold high standards of public service. Though a man’s influence may be restricted to his home community or to the section in which he lives, it is not the less surely and not the less effectively a factor for good in the world’s work, and. Mr. McKinley has made his service such a factor.