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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



HON. SAMUEL BEVAN KINSEY, a prominent and wealthy farmer of Mt. Hope Township, owns and occupies a valuable farm estate which is pleasantly located on section 12. He is an old and valued resident of McLean County, and has contributed his full share toward the development of the resources of this section. He is possessed of fine abilities, is of an energetic and enterprising turn of mind, and has always had in view some worthy aim and object.

Mr. Kinsey was born in Highland County, Ohio, on the 19th of September, 1824. His father, John Kinsey, and his grandfather, Christopher Kinsey, were both natives of North Carolina, the latter emigrating from his native State to Clinton County, Ohio, during the early settlement of that county. He there purchased a farm and pursued the peaceful calling of an agriculturist the balance of his days.

His son John, the father of our subject, there learned the trade of a millwright, and later, that of a carpenter. Soon after his marriage he removed to Highland County, and in about 1825 returned to Clinton. He was industrious and enterprising, and was afterward engaged as a builder and contractor. In 1840 he engaged to build a few miles of stone pike that extended from Cincinnati to Columbus, which he completed, but which, owing to the dishonesty of his partner, proved unprofitable.

In the spring of 1843 he removed from Ohio to Illinois, accompanied by his wife and six children. Their outfit consisted of six horses and two wagons, and they carried the greater part of their household belongings, and camped and cooked by the wayside. The first stop was made in the south part of Logan County, where they were obliged to wait for the waters of Salt Creek to subside before they could proceed further.

They then journeyed to the northern part of the county, and settled two and one-half miles southwest of the present site of the then unknown city of Atlanta. The elder Kinsey then being unable to buy land, rented for the succeeding three or four years, afterward going to Tazewell County, Ill., and engaging in his former business as a builder and contractor. He there superintended the erection of several large barns and two county bridges on the Mackinaw Creek, and in this vicinity he spent the last years of his life.

The mother of our subject, before her marriage, was Miss Elinor Bevan. She was born in Virginia, attended her husband in his various wanderings after their marriage, and died at the home of her daughter in the village of McLean, Sept. 22, 1872. They had become the parents of nine children, of whom the record is as follows: Jonathan, the eldest born, died in Logan County, Ill.; Samuel B., our subject, was the second son; Lewis lives in Mt. Hope Township; Milton in Tazewell County; John died in Ohio; Louisa married Lafayette Archer; Ruth lives in McLean, and also Stacy B.; Nathan L. served as a soldier of the Union in Co. G, 33d Ill. Vol. Inf. [ed., 33rd Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, also known as the Brains Regiment and the Normal Regiment ], and died in the army. The parents were reared in the Quaker faith, to which Mrs. Kinsey adhered until the close of her life.

The subject of our sketch remained with his parents during his childhood and youth, pursuing his education in the common schools, and in the different branches of work in which he was engaged. He came to Logan County with his parents and lived with them one year, after which, during the winter seasons, he taught school, and during the summer was engaged in farming pursuits.

In 1850 he entered 160 acres of land on the southwest quarter of section 12, in what is now Mt. Hope Township, and commenced the improvement of a farm. Three years later he moved upon it and since that time has occupied it continuously. The land is all enclosed and in a good state of cultivation, and Mr. Kinsey has a comfortable set of frame buildings on it. He subsequently added to his first purchase, having 160 acres in another part of the township and fifteen acres of timber in Logan County.

Mr. Kinsey was married, Jan. 16, 1847, to Miss Mary Stephens, a native of Logan County, Ill., and the daughter of Adam and Mary Stephens, who were pioneer settlers of that section. This lady only remained the companion of her husband for six short years, departing this life in 1853, after having become the mother of two children: Guy H., who died at the age of twenty-seven years, and one who died in infancy.

In 1854 Mr. Kinsey was married to Miss Millicent Stephens, the sister of his first wife, and of this union there were born five children, of whom the record is as follows: John is a resident of Bloomington; Jarvis H. lives in Mt. Hope Township; Nathan L. lives in McLean Village and is employed as a teacher; Effie married Terah Farnsworth and they reside in this township, and Maude is at home with her parents.

Mr. Kinsey has been prominent in the affairs of this locality since first coming here, his talents and ability being duly recognized by his fellow-citizens. For two years he was the Assessor and Treasurer of Logan County, and the second year after coming to McLean was elected Assessor, and since that time has held the office of Commissioner of Highways for twelve years. He has been School Treasurer for the same length of time, and a member of the Board of Supervisors for the past ten years.

In 1862 he resigned his position on the Board, having received a commission from Gov. Yates [ed., Gov. Richard Yates] as a recruiting officer for volunteer soldiers, and in six days raised a company of ninety-six men, of which company he was elected Captain. This was named Company A, and it constituted a part of the 117th Illinois Regiment. They marched to the scene of conflict and were engaged in the battles at Sabina Cross Roads [ed., Sabine Cross-Roads], and were in all the battles of Sherman's meridian campaign [ed., Meridian and Yazoo River Expeditions (1864)]. Then, on account of ill-health, Capt. Kinsey was obliged to tender his resignation, and on the 10th of May, 1864, reached home and for some time was incapacitated for any active labor.

In 1884 Capt. Kinsey was elected to represent the 28th District in the Lower House of the Illinois Legislature, and re-elected in the fall of 1886. His abilities here, as elsewhere, were at once acknowledged, and he was placed on various important committees, embracing roads and bridges and canals and rivers. He has served his constituents faithfully and conscientiously, and enjoys the respect and esteem of the people of his community in a marked degree.

In politics he was originally a Whig; his first vote for President was for Henry Clay, and on the organization of the Republican party he became identified with its principles, and has been a stanch supporter of that party since.

Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 306. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.


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