From Garland Local History & Genealogical Society, Volume 6-Number 1, April 1974


Author:  Mrs. W. C. Daugherty

Showman extraordinaire, Will Kingsley was a mass of contradictions.  Some accounts state that he came from Fayetteville, Tennessee with his parents, the Charles Kingsleys and his sisters, who married Christopher C. Daugherty and John M. Belcher, at age 12.  Other accounts state that the family came from Missouri when Will was 15.  Articles state that Will worked on the XIT Ranch as a cowboy, others are strangely silent on this point.  In 1921 an article in the Dallas Times Herald avers that Kingsley acquired his wealth through farming while family members state he became wealthy by several ways.

Apparently he followed the usual life of a farm boy until he was hired to deliver mail from Garland to Richardson, which he did from horseback.  He acquired two yellow ponies and a hack and established a transfer and bus business which became known throughout the state.  In his spare time, he farmed and worked at various gins in the fall.

Maybe he worked at the XIT Ranch and maybe he did not but early in life he began to wear cowboy boots and a large white hat characteristic of that occupation.  His shirts and trousers were often white, ranch style.

Will Kingsley acquired the Bechtol homestead of 150 acres at the age of 25 and devoted his attention to farming.  His holdings later accumulated to some 800 acres.  After his marriage in 1900 to Miss Mattie Murphree he associated in the cotton gin business for some 40 years with W. H. Roach and J. W. Rabb.

During World War I, Kingsley was a member of the County Council of Defense, and was a member of the Dallas County Hospital board.  He was a thirty second degree Mason and a member of the Knights of Pythias Lodge.  He was also an organizer of the First State Bank of Garland and later a Vice President and Director of the Garland State National Bank, retiring from these activities in 1937.  He attended the First Presbyterian Church.

Will Kingsley designed his commodious two-story home, a spacious ranch style house, and all of his barns.  He had installed his private water system and private power plant that supplied heating and electricity for the farm.  The ranch house was approximately two hundred yards west of Duck Creek and south of Kingsley Road.

On his broad rolling acres, he had a zoo that had many species of animal.  Near this was provided a place for Sunday school and church picnics near a rustic log cabin and a small lake where swimming was permitted.  Duck Creek traversed his estate and during the first of this century nowhere in Texas were more ducks to be found than on the sheltered pools of the Kingsley estate.  Will Kingsley built artificial blinds and invited friends out to shoot ducks.  For city visitors, he would loosen fox or coon for their hunting enjoyment.  A Hudson Super Six Automobile or horses were provided for riding pleasure.

Kingsley was a golf enthusiast and had a nine-hole golf course constructed.  It is said that the course was one of the most perfect for its natural hazards in the United States.  Surviving pictures show Roland Coomer, W. C. Daugherty, Perry (Bunk) Caldwell, Charles White, Will Kingsley and another man enjoying a Saturday afternoon on the links.

Every old timer in Garland knows of his storied trips to far places.  Truly, Will Kingsley was the talk of the town.  A street in Garland commemorates his name.

An editorial from the Garland Daily News after his death seems fitting:  Answering the question, “What do you remember most about Mr. Kingsley?”  The two most prominent remarks are that he was generally in the company of small boys and that they were underprivileged as a rule.

It seems to us that no finer memory could have been left by this friend of Garland, than the recollection that he was a friend to those who were closer to the bottom than the top.

His attitude reflected the experience of his own life.  He made his success through effort, and his joy was to aid those who must travel the same way.

Mr. Kingsley, with his white hat, his boots, and the children following after him was a familiar sight here for many years.

It is a tribute to his friendly nature and kindly heart that the people of Garland remember this of him.