Biography of Asa Messinger
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Asa Messinger. It is not likely that men within the City of Pittsburg, Kansas, have contributed in greater measure to the making of their surroundings than has Asa Messinger. Look where one will, large buildings and small, modest homes and elegant residences, banking houses and industrial plants, churches and educational institutions, structures for the housing of public utilities–these, and more which contribute to the architectural ensemble of a flourishing town, are the product of his brain and hand. And this is not all. In the capacity of commissioner of streets and public improvements, he has added to the city’s beauty and safeguarded its people’s health in the way of sanitation, and has introduced innovations that would be valuable assets to a city many times the size of Pittsburg.
Mr. Messinger was born at Taylorville, Illinois, November 29, 1876, and is a son of W. S. and Harriet (Flemming) Messinger. His grandfather, Asa Messinger, was a pioneer of Illinois, where he followed farming for many years, and died at Taylorville. W. S. Messinger, father of Asa Messinger, was born in 1851, at Alton, Illinois, where he was reared and educated, and as a young man went to Taylorville, at which place he was married. He engaged in farming in Christian County until 1888, in which year he went to Missouri, and for ten years farmed in the southern part of the state. In 1898, on coming to Kansas, Mr. Messinger located at Cherokee, where he followed the trade of carpenter, and in 1904 located at Pittsburg, where he is still actively engaged at his trade. He is a democrat, belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church, and is fraternally affiliated with the Knights of Pythias. Mr. Messinger married Miss Harriet Flemming, who was born in 1846, at Taylorville, and whose death occurred in Southern Missouri in 1890. They became the parents of five children, as follows: Harmon, who died in infancy; Asa; Homer, who died in infancy; L. Dwight, a carpenter and builder of Pittsburg; and Marion, who is also engaged in the same business here.
Asa Messinger received his education in Illinois and Missouri, where he attended the public schools, but this has been greatly supplemented through reading and by contact with his fellow men, so that he may really be said to be self educated. He was only fourteen years of age when he took his position among the world’s workers, finding employment in a sawmill in Southern Missouri. He was so engaged for eight years, after which he turned his attention to the trade of carpenter, having inherited mechanical ability from his father and developing it through his work among skilled mechanics. In 1898 he accompanied the family to Cherokee, Kansas, where he continued to work at his trade for two years, and since 1900 has been a resident of Pittsburg, and for the greater part of this time has been engaged in a general contracting business. During the sixteen years of his residence and business activity at Pittsburg, he has been connected with the construction of some of the largest of the city’s buildings. Among the many contracts handled by him may be mentioned the following: remodeling of the National Bank; erection of the Masonic Temple; superintending the construction of the Methodist Episcopal Church; rebuilding of the State Normal School and the Presbyterian Church; drawing of plans for the Christian Science Church and the Forest Park Building, the latter a $22,000 structure; remodeling of the Lakeside and Washington school buildings, and the Ramsey, Famous and Degen’s dry goods stores; and the building of Ridgeway’s, Charles Melette’s and Doctor Graves’ residences, in addition to many others too numerous to mention. Mr. Messinger is an intelligent, well-informed and broad-minded man, lending to his business a progressive spirit, and to the community an extent of practical usefulness which it is difficult to correctly estimate. In politics, he is a democrat. In April, 1913, he was elected commissioner of streets and public improvements, and during his two terms of office there have been more streets paved than there had been previously since the founding of Pittsburg. One of his greatest works was the installing of the first storm sewer ever put in at Pittsburg, a $50,000 contract. He has been instrumental in securing the Whiteway, also in the establishing of municipal music and entertainments and was instrumental in securing the first motor driven fire fighting apparatus ever purchased in Pittsburg. In every possible direction he has given himself whole-heartedly to looking after the improvements of the city. That he has armed to discharge the duties of his office in an economical way and at the same time to get the greatest amount of beneficial results for the municipality, is shown in the fact that he has never employed a foreman or superintendent in his department, but has supervised all work himself. Commissioner Messinger is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He belongs to various fraternal, commercial and social bodies, including Pittsburg Lodge No. 187, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Rescue Lodge No. 393, Independent Order of Odd Fellows; Pittsburg Lodge No. 1554, Knights of Pythias, and Smelter Camp No. 691, Modern Woodmen of America; the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce; the Pittsburg Automobile Club, and the Pittsburg Good Roads Club. He has a number of business connections and is vice president of the Pittsburg Poster Advertising Company.
In 1896, while a resident of Southern Missouri, Mr. Messinger was united in marriage with Miss Jennie Burriss, daughter of William and Dollie (Snead) Burris, both of whom are deceased. Mr. Burriss was a teamster by vocation. To Mr. and Mrs. Messinger there have been born seven children: William, who resides with his parents and is identified with his father’s contracting business; Pearl, who is attending the State Manual Training Normal School, Pittsburg; Paul, who died at the age of ten years; Lee and Helen, who are attending the graded schools of Pittsburg; and Marguerite and John, at home.