Thomas E. Kinney was born in Canada, the son of Edmund (sometimes called Edward) and Elizabeth Kinney (d.1894). The couple were citizens of the United States, but Elizabeth Kinney had been visiting friends in Canada at the time of her son’s birth. The family settled in Utica, New York.
In the early 1860s, Edmund Kinney resided in Richmond, Virginia, where he was employed in the grocery business. About June 1862, a friend of Thomas Kinney’s obtained for him a certificate from the British Consul of Virginia which would prevent Kinney from being conscripted into the Confederate service. He attended the University of Virginia in session 40 (1863-1864). After that year, Kinney returned to Utica to obtain additional funds, and on his way back to Virginia stopped at the War Department in Washington, D. C., to obtain a pass to cross the Union lines. On 26 Nov. 1864, he was required to sign an oath of allegiance to the Federal government. (Utica Daily Press) At this point, Kinney returned to New York and began working for a legal firm in Utica, where he read law. He was admitted to the bar in 1867. He was elected City Attorney of that city in 1868 and 1869.
In August, 1877, he married Frances “Fannie” Golden (b. Oct. 1851), daughter of a leading dry goods merchant of Utica, and their children were David G., Edward D., Rose, and Thomas E. Kinney, jr. (Wager)
When not in office, Kinney practiced as a trial lawyer with “some considerable ability, and at times addressed a jury with unusual effect.” (NY State Historical Assoc., p. 176) In 1885 he was the Democratic candidate for State Senator, but was defeated. That same year he was elected Mayor of Utica on a Democratic ticket, and subsequently served an addition two terms, in 1886 (Independent) and 1887 (Democratic). In 1892, he attended the National Democratic Convention in Chicago as a delegate. In 1896, he changed party affiliation and supported William McKinley, the Republican candidate for president of the United States. Thomas ran for Mayor of Utica again in 1896 and was elected, becoming the only person who ever served four terms as Mayor of that city, as well as being elected under the sponsorship of three different political platforms. He died in Utica, New York in 1899.
- Ancestry.com. 1850-1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.
- “Citizenship all right.” Utica Daily Press (Utica, NY). June [26?] 1898.
- Hughes, Steve. “Couple to restore 1889 home at Rutger Park. Utica Observer-Dispatch (Utica, NY) 3 Sep. 2013. http://www.uticaod.com/x1367236355/Couple-working-to-restore-1889-home-at-Rutger-Park?img=5
- New York State Historical Association. Annual meeting … 16th annual meeting. New York, 1915, v.14, p. 176.
- Wager, Daniel. Our county and its people. Boston, MA, 1896, p. 191-192.