Buena Vista County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 233-35.

Transcribed by Mary Alice Schwanke and Cyndi Vertrees

Biography of  Warner C. Kinne

On the list of Buena Vista county’s honored dead appears the name of Warner C. Kinne, who for many years was one of its leading and influential residents. He left the impress of his individuality for good upon the public life of Storm Lake and was closely connected with the upbuilding and development of the city in various ways. Moreover, in all life’s relations he stood foresquare [sic] to every wind that blows and when he passed away in 1904, he left behind the memory of an active, honorable and upright life, which may well serve as a source of inspiration and encouragement to those who knew him.

Mr. Kinne was born in La Salle county, Illinois, in 1840, and was of Scotch ancestry. His parents were Eli M. and Maria (Heath) Kinne and were also natives of Illinois but at an early day removed to Wisconsin. Spending his boyhood and youth in his parents’ home W. C. Kinne was afforded the educational advantages offered by the common schools and also by an academy. Prior to his removal to Iowa he engaged in teaching school and also devoted some time to farming. He arrived in this state in 1872, settling on a farm in Maple Valley township. Buena Vista county, where he secured a tract of railroad land. Not a furrow had been turned nor an improvement made, but with characteristic energy he began its development, devoting the two succeeding years to the work of the fields. Thinking he was a more advantageous business opening, however, he removed to Storm Lake in 1874, and became identified with the city during the early era of its progress and upbuilding. He purchased a general stock of goods of W. H. McCune and thus founded the establishment, which is today the oldest and most important mercantile enterprise of the city.  With the exception of about two years, he was continuously connected therewith up to the time of his death. He erected the first store building of any importance in Storm Lake, its location being at the southwest corner of Lake avenue and Fifth streets. From time to time he enlarged his facilities to meet the growing demands of his trade and in 1900 he erected an addition to his original storeroom, which had a frontage of twenty-five feet and when the new part was completed there was a total frontage of the double stores of fifty feet with a depth of one hundred feet. He was careful in the selection of his goods, studied the trade, the market, and the demands of his patrons, and by unfaltering enterprise and unassailable business methods gained the success which made him one of the substantial citizens of the community. There was not a single esoteric phase in his career. He based his business principles and actions upon the rules which govern unabating industry and strict unswerving integrity and the same qualities characterized him in the other relations of life. Few men of the county enjoyed a wider acquaintance or had in larger measure the good will and confidence of those with whom they were brought in contact. He left to his family the priceless heritage of an unblemished name as well as the substantial benefits which accrued from his business enterprise.

On the 26th of January, 1862, Mr. Kinne was married to Miss Rowena K. Underwood, who was born in Ulster county, New York, April 24, 1843, a daughter of Benjamin F. and Eliza Jane (De Lamater) Underwood, of New York. They have become the parents of three sons: Eli F. born in Iowa county, Wisconsin, March 8, 1863, was a student in the high school at Avoca, Wisconsin, and he State University of Wisconsin, at Madison. He afterward engaged in the drug business at Avoca for a number of years and in 1895 came to Storm Lake. He had been reared by his grandparents in Wisconsin and did not come to Iowa at the time of his parents’ removal, but when he arrived in Storm Lake he joined his father in his mercantile enterprises here and is today a partner in the Kinne Store and a worthy successor of his father in the conduct of a business which has assumed extensive proportions. In 1897 he was married to Miss Ida M. Pelton, of Storm Lake, who has been actively connected with the store not only since her marriage but for ten years previous. She is a daughter of Ira C. and Mary E. Pelton, who were pioneer residents of Mitchell county, Iowa. Warner K., the second son, was born in Wisconsin, married Marie Nelson and died in July, 1907, at the age of forty-two years. Roy U., born in Storm Lake in 1879 married Alice M. Bell, of Marion, Iowa, in 1904, and they have one child, Catherine Rowena. The widow and surviving sons and daughters-in-law now constitute the firm of W. C. Kinne Company, incorporated, successors of the father in a general mercantile store. They now carry a stock valued at thirty-five thousand dollars, and their annual sales have reached a large figure. The concern is the oldest establishment of the kind in Buena Vista and will merits the liberal patronage accorded it by reason of the straightforward business policy which has ever been maintained in connection with the affairs of the house.

Mrs. Kinne survives her husband and is well known in Storm Lake, where she has long made her home. She holds membership in the Presbyterian church and has ever been prominent in the social circles of the city.

Mr. Kinne gave his political allegiance to the republican party, while fraternally he was connected with the Masons and Odd Fellows and exemplified in his life the beneficent principles upon which those orders rest. By the consensus of public opinion, he was accounted one of the foremost citizens of Buena Vista county, his life record constituting an integral chapter in the history of Storm Lake.