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Kingsley, Spencer Silas - Erie County

SPENCER SILAS KINGSLEY is a representative citizen of Buffalo. The Kingsley family is of English origin. John came to this in 1624, and in Hampshire Mass. Silas Kingsley was descended from John Kingsley, a Baptist clergyman of note. His mother was a daughter of Dr. Samuel White, a descendant of Peregrine White, the first child born to the Pilgrims on this side of the ocean. Silas Kingsley was one of the pioneers of Buffalo and stood in the foremost rank of its. citizens. He was born May 21, 1800, in the town of Peru, Hampshire County, Mass. His early educational advantages were meagre, but were supplemented by self -culture. He taught at Ballston Spa, N. Y., for six years, and in 1826 came to Buffalo. The same year he went to Michigan, where he was engaged in the laying out of military roads and the organization of Washtenaw County' In 1828 Mr. Kingsley returned to Utica, N. Y., where he resumed teaching. In 1833 he again came to Buffalo, where he founded the first classical and military school ever organized in Buffalo. Eventually he resigned his principalship to accept the offices of President and Treasurer of the proposed University of Western New York. For two terms he served as Superintendent of Schools, and was also commissioned by Secretary of State Spencer to investigate the public school system. He was for three terms Superintendent of the Poor of Erie County, and was sole commissioner for locating and building the County Almshouse and Insane Asylum. The Almshouse site which he selacted is now the proposed site of the greater University of Buffalo, an outgrowth of the University of Western New York, of which Mr. Kingsley was first President. He was one of the commission to furnish the Erie County Penitentiary, and supervised the discipline of that institution. He was President of the organization to prevent street begging, and with Millard Fillmore and Mrs. John C. Lord, he founded the Buffalo Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and was its first President. He was the first President of the Old Settlers' Festival Association, and was a ruling elder and one of the oldest members of the First Presbyterian Church. He was a trustee of the Buffalo Savings Bank, and was concerned in several other financial enterprises. He settled a number of estates, on many occasions acted as guardian for heirs and orphans, and was widely known for the capability and scrupulous integrity with which he acquitted himself of fiduciary responsibilities.

In 1833 Mr. Kingsley married Julia Cozzens, daughter of Levi Cozzens of Utica, N. Y. Their children were: Spencer S.; Edward A., who died in 1881; Mary C, now Mrs. Edward W. Ordway, of Brooklyn, and George W., who died in 1890.

Silas Kingsley died in Buffalo, April 5, 1886. He is remembered as a grand exemplar of Christian manliness and sterling citizenship.

Spencer Silas Kingsley, son of Silas Kingsley, was born in Buffalo June 21, 1849. His education was obtained in the grammar schools of his native city, the Central High School, the Buffalo Academy, and the Heathcote private school. When sixteen years old he became a clerk in Titus' Tea and Spice Store in Buffalo. He attended school for three years more, then entering the store of C. E. Walbridge, where he remained ten years, and became manager of the wholesale department. He then engaged in the book business with Otto Ulbrich, in the firm of Ulbrich & Kingsley. In 1888 he engaged in his present real estate business. He is a trustee of the recently organized American Savings Bank.

Mr. Kingsley is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and formerly of the Merchants' Exchange. For three years he was Chairman of the Real Estate Committee of these organizations, and has also served on other committees. Of the Real Estate Association Mr. Kingsley is a leading spirit, and was one of the chief factors in the erection of the Mutual Life Building by the former Real Estate Exchange, of which he was President for three years.

He has been a Director of the Y. M. C. A. for over twenty-five years, and for twenty years has served as Chairman of the House Committee. Since boyhood he has been connected with the First Presbyterian Church, and since 1888, has served as deacon and elder.

June 20, 1876, Mr. Kingsley married A. Louisa McWilliams, daughter of John A. and Susan A. McWilliams of Elmira, N. Y., and sister of John J. and the late Joseph E. McWilliams of Buffalo, and of Daniel W. McWilliams of Brooklyn. Mr. and Mrs. Kingsley have two children, Silas Eugene Kingsley, who is engaged in the real estate business in Pittsburg, and Louise Kingsley of Buffalo.

SOURCE: Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York; Volume I