James H. De Coursey. Many of the great commercial houses of the world have been built up from a small foundation, and a young law student’s enterprise in nourishing and developing a business idea of his own, is responsible for the most extensive ice cream and butter manufacturing plant in the State of Kansas. It is located at Kansas City and is the property of the De Coursey family, and its able manager, James H. De Coursey, was also its founder.
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The De Coursey name has been one held in high regard in Kansas for three generations. The first of the family, James De Coursey, was born in Louisiana, undoubtedly of French stock, and in the gold rush of 1849 traveled by wagon to California from Illinois. He returned by water and after marrying in Illinois, came again to Kansas, the appearance of the state having pleased him when he had crossed overland on his way westward. He located on a farm in Johnson County, near Edgerton, broke up his land with, oxen and bore many hardships there before moving to Leavenworth, in 1859, after selling his farm. There he engaged in the grocery trade and also became interested in dairying and he is credited with founding the first creamery in the state, in 1879. During the Civil war he was a member of the Home Guards. He was the father of four sons and three daughters, and three sons and one daughter survive.
Edwin E. De Coursey, son of James and father of James H. De Coursey, accompanied his father to Kansas but in 1879 went to Colorado and for some years was a mine operator at Leadville and became interested also in ranching. He came back to Kansas and located at Leavenworth in 1898 and at present is a resident of Kansas City, Kansas, but he still retains his interests in Colorado. He is a democrat politically and was quite active in public affairs in Colorado, serving there as chairman of the county central committee, also as assessor and as water commissioner.
Edwin E. De Coursey was married in Colorado to Miss Mary E. McCormick, and they have five children: James H., Frank C. and William B., all interested in the De Coursey Ice Cream Manufacturing Company; Edward J., proprietor of a hotel at Mexia, Texas; and Mary, residing at home.
James H. De Coursey attended the public schools and St. Mary’s College and then entered upon the study of law in the offices of E. S. McAnany and M. L. Alden, at Kansas City, and subsequently worked his way through the Kansas City School of Law. It was during his student days that he began experimenting in a small way at No. 330 Seventh Street, in the manufacture of ice cream, his quarters being too small for much expansion. He gradually was able to interest his father in his enterprise and then his brothers, and in 1908 the business partnership was formed that has been the means of adding one more important manufacturing plant to Kansas City. The normal demand for this dainty is large in every section and when it is marketed under the De Coursey brand, its handling is found profitable everywhere.
James H. De Coursey is one of the younger business men of Kansas City, his birth having taken place at Alma, Colorado, July 29, 1883, but practically his life has been spent here. Outside of his creamery interests he is otherwise concerned, being a director of the Riverview State Bank and of the Peoples National Bank, and is president of the Kansas Ice Cream Improvement Association. Politically he is a democrat and is president of the Wyandotte County Democratic Club.
In 1910 Mr. De Coursey was married to Miss Julia McManus, who was born in Kansas City and is a daughter of Michael McManus, one of the pioncer residents. They have two children: Edwin and Mary. Mr. and Mrs. De Coursey are devout members of the Catholic Church. He belongs to the Knights of Columbus, to the Elks and to the Merchants Club, and is ever ready to testify to his public spirit by assisting in laudable public movements.