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Biography of Hon. Vinton Stillings
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Hon. Vinton Stillings, only son of the late Judge Edward Stillings, had lived in Leavenworth since early boyhood, though he spent much time in the East and abroad while securing his education and for purposes of travel. With the leisure afforded by ample means he had accepted the many opportunities which come to such men for rendering the vital service so much required in realizing the civic ideals of every community. He is a citizen upon whom progressive Leavenworth had often called and who had never failed to respond. While he is extremely modest as to his personal role, others competent to judge say that Vinton Stillings had given a valuable if not indispensable influence to much of the constructive progress of which Leavenworth had most reason to be proud in recent years.
Born in Kenton, Ohio, December 15, 1852, he came to Leavenworth in 1863. The Leavenworth he knew as a boy was almost the metropolis of the West. It was still the outfitting point for many of the great caravans of merchandise and passenger traffic which set out for the golden shores of the Pacific, and as a commercial and social center it rivaled the other river cities of St. Joseph and Kansas City. The theaters of Leavenworth attracted people for miles up and down the river, and besides its cultural advantages and its commerce the city was the home of many splendid old families.
Besides the training he received in the local schools he had the opportunities afforded by one of the most exclusive preparatory schools in the East, the venerable academy at Exeter, New Hampshire. He was president of the class of 1874. That school prepared him for Yale College, but he never entered the higher institution, and instead was sent to Europe to profit by travel and also for the definite purpose of learning Spanish. His father thought his son would become interested in railroad work and that a knowledge of this language would prove available. Mr. Stillings attended for a time the famous Heidelberg University, and while abroad he visited all the principal capitals of Europe.
After returning to Leavenworth he read law with his father, was admitted to the bar, but had never practiced. He had been associated with various business and civic undertakings, and one of them was the construction of a pontoon bridge across the Missouri River in 1888. That the period he spent in Europe was filled with close observation of many institutions and activities had a proof in the fact that the pontoon bridge at Leavenworth is modeled after the one which Mr. Stillings studied at Cologne, Germany. He had much to do with the original and the later plans for the construction of this bridge, and he finally instituted the proceedings to convert it into a steel bridge. Without sufficient means of his own to carry out that constructive enterprise, he secured as an associate Mr. W. E. Snyder, and together they should receive the chief credit for the steel structure which now spans the broad waters of the Missouri.
In 1904 Mr. Vinton Stillings was elected a member of the State Senate and was continuously in service in that body until 1916. He introduced the bill to construct the asylum for the criminal insane. He is a member of various organizations of a civic, fraternal and scholarly nature. In 1895 he married Miss Edith Walkiewicz.
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