Oliver P. Kinsey, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Oliver P. Kinsey

OLIVER P. KINSEY. For more than thirty years vice president of Valparaiso University, Mr. Kinsey shares with his associate, President Brown in the distinction of creating one of the greatest schools in the nation. He identified himself with the old college at a time when it was still new and with little more prestige than the average academy and private college. He brought to the work a long and successful experience in school instruction and an especial ability for detailed management, which proved to be the exact co-operating factors required by the president for the vast undertaking which has been so successfully directed by these two men. Valparaiso University is the net result of the life work of President Brown and Vice President Kinsey, the one being the founder and chief executive and the other the manager and skilful director of the economy and detailed policies of the institution.

Both Mr. Brown and Mr. Kinsey are natives of Ohio, and had known each other in the educational field before they came to Valparaiso. Mr. Kinsey was born near Freeport, Harrison county, December 7, 1849, a son of Reese and Eliza A. (Ridgeway) Kinsey. The family had settled in eastern Ohio during the pioneer period, and the ancestry on both sides goes back into colonial history. Both the Kinseys and Ridgeways were originally Quakers. John Kinsey, of Yorkshire, England, was one of the adherents of this simple faith who came to America with William Penn. Some of his descendants moved to North Carolina, later to Virginia and then into western Virginia, which is now West Virginia, and finally moved entirely beyond the limits of slave territory and settled in eastern Ohio. The line of descent from John Kinsey, the immigrant, was through Absalom, Absalom second, Richard, and Reese, who was the father of the Valparaiso educator. The first American Ridgeway likewise came over with William Penn, and some of his descendants remained in Philadelphia, some went to New Jersey and others settled in eastern Ohio. Eliza A. Ridgeway, the mother of Mr. Kinsey, was born near Freeport in Harrison county, Ohio, and was the daughter of Thomas E. and Elizabeth (Wright) Ridgeway. The Wrights were also Friends, members of the Penn colony and settled at Fredericktown, Maryland. Reese Kinsey was one of the stanch Friends and anti-slavery Whigs who gave a decided social and political character to the region of eastern Ohio in ante-bellum days, and it was through that vicinity that one of the routes of the underground railroad for the escape of fugitive slaves was laid. By profession he was a school teacher.

Oliver P. Kinsey was reared and educated in Ohio, and was graduated from the university at Lebanon. For nine years of his young professional career he was professor of English literature at his alma mater, and in 1881 came from that institution to Valparaiso, where he has ever since been vice president of the college and university. Probably Mr. Kinsey's greatest contribution to the success of this school has consisted in the creation of an ideal system of domestic economy for the benefit of the large student body. In the recent agitation concerning the high cost of living, the practical operation of the Valparaiso student dining halls and living quarters has again and again been described in the periodical press to prove that co-operation and system can reduce to a minimum nearly all the difficulties of high prices. The Valparaiso method of keeping down living expenses and at the same time furnishing a high grade of food and house comforts is so intimately connected with the entire success of the university that a more complete description belongs in the history of the university, as told on other pages of this work. To Mr. Kinsey belongs the credit for this part of the university's management. For a number of years he has made a special study of the chemical and economic value of food, and has applied with remarkable results this study to the problem of feeding about fifteen hundred college students.

Mr. Kinsey has been prominently identified with the public affairs of his home city and county in addition to all his varied activities at the university. For four years he was a member of the city council, was on the Porter county council ten years, and for several years president of the Valparaiso City Library. His politics is Republican. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and has membership in the Chicago Press Club, the American Geographical Society, the American Economic Association, the American Civic Association, the American Academy of Science, and the Society for Promotion of Industrial Education.

Mrs. Kinsey has shared with her husband honors as an educator and for an equal period of time has been connected with the university. Before their marriage, which was celebrated at South Point, Lawrence county, Ohio, August 26, 1876, she was Miss Sarah J. Porter, a daughter of Jerry and Charlotte Porter, of that county. Like her husband, she is a graduate of Lebanon University, where for several years she was a member of the faculty, and was also principal of the high school of Des Moines, Iowa. She has been at the head of the department of geography in the Valparaiso University since 1881. Mrs. Kinsey has been prominently identified with the National Woman's Federation, and for two terms was trustee of that organization. She was president of the Indiana Woman's Federation two terms and for several years trustee and vice president. For a number of years she has been foremost in the varied activities of the local study clubs of her home city, where she has done much for civic advancement and the spread of culture.

Source: Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 881 p.
Page(s) in Source: 451-453

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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