Myron H. Kinsley was a real estate developer who played a pivotal role in the expansion of the Oneida Community factory to Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Kinsley was born on July 3, 1836, in Fletcher, Franklin County, Vt., the son of Albert Kinsley and Maria Ellsworth. Albert Kinsley served as a justice of the peace for nine years and was sheriff of Franklin County for a year.
The family lived in Vermont until 1847, then moved to Lenox in Madison County, N.Y., where they lived until 1881, moving to Niagara County in 1882.
In 1854, when he was 18 years old, Myron Kinsley moved to Oneida in Madison County, and began working as a traveling salesman, a line of work he pursued for 22 years.
In 1872, Kinsley became superintendent of a large factory in the town of Vernon, Oneida County, although he continued to live in Madison County. Three years later, he took over as operator of "a large fancy stock and fruit farm of 600 acres, partly in Madison and partly in Oneida counties," according to the "Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Niagara County, New York," published in 1892 by Samuel T. Wiley and W. Scott Garner.
The Cyclopedia notes that in the year it was published, Kinsley was still a stockholder in that business, which was then under the control of the Oneida Community Ltd..
The Oneida Community Ltd.'s industries were founded and operated by members of the controversial Oneida Community, formed in 1848 by John Humphrey Noyes on land between Utica and Syracuse.
Noyes' philosophy was called Perfectionism, a form of Christianity in which members work for self-perfection and share everything communally. The most controversial facet of the philosophy was the concept of commune-wide group marriage, in which every adult member was considered wed to every adult member of the opposite sex. Couples who showed a preference for each other would be separated.
The children resulting from the group marriage were also raised communally, and adults were required to treat all children the same, showing no partiality toward their own offspring.
The group also supported gender equality, social consciousness and a fundamental belief in the dignity of work.
Like the Shakers, another utopian group, the Oneida Community began a number of businesses and sold their goods to the outside world.
The commune itself lasted only until 1880, but was succeeded by a joint-stock company, the Oneida Community Ltd., which was owned and operated by former members of the society.
In 1877, the still-thriving Oneida Community built the Oneida Community Silver Plating Works at Wallingford, New Haven County, Conn., and Kinsley moved there as superintendent.
He married Jessie C. Baker in 1880 in New Haven. They had one son and three daughters.
In 1881, Kinsley oversaw construction of the Oneida silverware factories in Niagara Falls, which were at the time the most extensive in the state, employing more than 250 workers.
During his time in Niagara Falls, Kinsley was also credited with calling the first meeting of eight people, spearheaded by Engineer Evershed, which "started the agitation that finally led to the public sentiment that led to the great tunnel enterprise," according to the Cyclopedia.
Kinsley was active in the Business Men's association, which worked to consolidate the villages of Niagara Falls and of Suspension Bridge under one municipal government.
Kinsley continued as general superintendent of the Oneida factory until 1890, when he resigned to accept a position as manager of the Yakima Irrigation and Improvement Co., in the state of Washington.
The Cyclopedia profile of Kinsley concluded, "In political belief Mr. Kinsley is a republican, but has been too much engrossed by the many cares of an active business life to engage in practical politics. Whatever best subserves the true interests of his fellow citizens satisfies him, though he keeps in touch with the political movements of the day and is remarkably well posted on passing events."