Kansas City, Missouri Its History and Its People 1800-1908 by Carrie Westlake Whitney, vol. III, 1908
Jesse Williams Jennings, manager for Jennings & Graham Kansas City depository of the Western Methodist Book Concern, came to Missourian 1904 as one of Indiana’s native sons, his birth having occurred in South Bend, that state, in September, 1852. His portents, James H. and Mahala Margaret (Laswell) Jennings, were representatives of old American families. His paternal grandparents, Samuel and Susan Jennings, settled in New Windsor, Ulster county, New York, in 1773. The maternal grandfather, James Welch, fought under General Washington in the war for Independence.
Mrs. Jennings was only fourteen years of age when his father died in 1867, and he has since made his own way in the world, carving out alike his own fortune and his own character. In early life he was employed at various occupations in Indian, Michigan, Kentucky and Missouri, and at the age of twenty years he became local salesman for a flourmill in Indiana. Later he engaged in business on his own account at a retail grocer, becoming junior partner of the firm of Brownfield & Jennings at South Bend, Indian. On the 19th of September, 18881, he removed to Nebraska and has since been identified with the west. He is now a member of the pioneer Association of Boone county, that state, and his brother, John L. Jennings is one of the pioneer settlers of Lincoln county, Oklahoma.
Mr. Jennings was ordained a clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal church and the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him by Chaddock College of Quincy, Illinois, in 1898. He became a member of the North Nebraska Conference of the Methodist Episcopal church in 1884; is a member of the board of trustees of the Nebraska Wesleyan University and was a trustee of the Nebraska Methodist Episcopal Hospital from 1899 until 1905. For twenty-five years he has been connected with church organization in Nebraska; for five years was presiding elder of the Omaha district; and in 1901 and 1902 was chaplain of the Second Regiment of Nebraska National Guards. In 1902 the degree of Doctor of Law was conferred upon him by the Nebraska Wesleyan University.
In 1904 Mr. Jennings served as a delegate to the World’s Conference of the Methodist Episcopal church at Los angles, and on the 1st of October of the same year he removed to Kansas City and assumed his present position as manager of the Kansas City depository of the Western Methodist Book concern. It will thus be seen that throughout the greater part of his life he has been connected with church work in various phases and at all times has been zealous and untiring in his efforts to advance and broaden its activities and to secure the adoption of its principles by his fellowmen.
On the 15th of March, 1874, Mr. Jennings was married at South Bend, Indiana, to Miss Lydia Ann Sousley. They have two daughters: Viola, now Mrs. Melville D. Cameron, of Omaha, Nebraska; and Martha Elizabeth, deceased. Mr. Jennings owns a good farm near Chalk Level, St. Clair county, Missouri, but maintains his residence in Kansas City at 3327 Charlotte.
Fraternally he is connected with the Odd Fellows and is a past grand of that order. He is also affiliated with the Masons, being a member of Albert Pike Lodge in Kansas City, and he belongs to the Ancient Order of United Workmen of Nebraska. He was a delegate to the recent World’s General conference Methodist Episcopal church, which met at Baltimore in May, 1908, having for the second time been elected as chairman of his delegation by the North Nebraska Conference. In 1903, 1904 and 1905 he was a member of the joint commission of the Methodist Episcopal church and the Methodist Episcopal church South, which was composed of four bishops, six clergymen and four laymen, equally divided between the two denominations, which was authorized by the general conferences of he two churches to arrange a new catechism for the joint use of the two Methodist Episcopal churches. This commission finished its work in 1905 and its work was subsequently approved by the bishops for the Methodist Episcopal church and the Methodist Episcopal church south. This catechism, known as the Standard and the Junior, is now in general use as the official one in the two churches.