John Phillips Downs.

History of Chautauqua County, New York, and its people (Volume 3) online

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ing Democrats in this region. He has held a number of
important local offices and was secretary of the County
and City Democratic committees for a number of years.
He was also acting Municipal Court judge of Dunkirk
for a time, but resigned from this office in 191 5 to
arrept a recess appointment as postmaster of Dunkirk,
v.hirh was tendered to him April 23, 1915. He was
reapp'.inted to this office for a full term of four years,
\)'-r. 17, 1915. and on March 3. 1920, again received
another appointment for four m^TC years. He has ren-
derf-d valuable service to the community and done
much to develop the efficiency of his department. He
w.-is at one time deputy state superintendent of elec-



tions. He is a member of the Dunkirk Chamber of
Commerce, and in social and fraternal circles is affili-
ated with a number of important organizations, in-
cluding the local lodges of the Order of Maccabees, An-
cient Order of Hibernians, Benevolent and Protective
Order of Elks, and the Knights of Columbus, of which
he is a past grand knight. In religious belief, Mr.
Karin is a Roman Catholic and attends St. Mary's
Church at Dvmkirk.

Mr. Karin was united in marriage, Nov. 27, 1913, at
Buffalo, N. Y., with Louise A. Lennertz, a native of
Dunkirk, daughter of John and Clara (Fellinger) Len-
nertz. Her parents are natives of Germany and came
to this country in early youth, being married at Dunkirk.
Mr. and Mrs. Karin are the parents of five children,
as follows : Anna Louise, Mary Paula, Agnes, died in
infancy; Roger Paul, and Barbara Jane.



GUST C. PETERSON, who since the establishment
of the Level Furniture Company, Jamestown, has had
charge of its plants, and prior to that had like re-
sponsibility in the plants of other Jamestown furniture
manufacturers, is a native of that city and has advanced
from humble circumstances to a position of importance
among the furniture manufacturers of that busy center
of the trade. The Level Furniture Company affords
employment for many Jamestown residents, and the
success it has experienced has in great measure been
due to the technical and administrative ability of Mr.
Peterson. And that his lifelong record, and his mode
of living in general, have brought him the respect of his
fellow-citizens is manifest in the public ofiice he holds,
that of alderman, and especially in the fact that he has
been elected to the office four times.

Gust C. Peterson was born in Jamestown, Nov. 27,
1S74. the son of Charles G. and Matilda Peterson. The
Peterson family is of Swedish origin, and Charles G.
Peterson, father of Gust C, was born in that country,
although he lived the greater part of his life in James-
town, where, like his son and so many others of his
countrymen, he was connected with the furniture manu-
facturing industry of the place. In his earlier years of
residence in Jamestown, his labor did not bring a very
substantial return, and his son. Gust C, sought to help
the family by commencing to work at an unusually early
age. In fact, the three years of his boyhood from nine
to twelve, when most boys spend their time in play and
school. Gust C. spent in steady work, as a mill hand,
at the Jamestown Worsted Mills, and the Broadhcad
Mills. He had attended the gr;imniar school for the
first few grades, and was eventually compelled, by law,
to return to school, and pursue his studies until he had
reached the age of fourteen years. He then again began
to work, finding employment for eighteen months in
Newman's Spring Bed Factory, after which he found
more lucrative work, as a machine hand, in the furni-
ture factory of Breed & Johnson, with which firm he
remained until the factory was closefl down. Soon
after that happening he became an employee of the
Fenton Roberts Sideboard Company, at Falconer, near
Jamestown, and held connection with that company until
its finances became involved during the national panic
of iiSoi, when so many manufacturers were forced to
suspend nperations, and many ultimately passed through



BIOGRAPHICAL



543



the courts in bankruptcy. The Fenton Roberts Com-
pany was one of these, and conditions in Jamestown
generally were so unsettled that for eighteen months
Gust C. Peterson could not find steady employment.
Afterwards, however, for three years he was with the
reconstructed Breed & Johnson Company, later known
as the Eckman Company, and during the last year of
his service to them held the responsible position of man-
ager in the shops. He was a skilled workman, and
later was with the Maddox Table Company, making
samples. Subsequently, until 1904, he had part in the
management of the Baily Jones Company. In IQ04, he
joined others in the organization and establishment of
the Level Furniture Company, and of the new corpora-
tion he was appointed general manager and director.
He has held that capacity ever since, and has seen the
company's operations develop almost tenfold during
the fifteen years from its establishment to the present,
until the Level Furniture Company has become a manu-
facturing industry of appreciable consequence to the
city.

Having regard to the educational handicaps in his
young days, the business success of Gust C. Peterson
is noteworthy. Of course, knowledge cannot come
without study, and where a man rises superior to early
handicaps and unfortunate limitations, it invariably has
come only by resolute application in later life to studies
which should have formed part of the academic cur-
riculum of his early years. It was so with Mr. Peter-
son. Although he had to work steadily during his
youth, he later took advantage of the excellent night
schools of Jamestown, and also studied much at home.
Naturally an observant man, of alert mind, and of
studious inclination, he quickly acquired much of the
fundamental knowledge he had been denied during his
earlier years. He was particularly apt in technical
matters. Without tuition, he learned to read draw-
ings and in that way became sufficiently proficient to be
able to do his own designing. When the first plant of
the Level Furniture Company was established, Mr.
Peterson drew the plans, superintended the building,
and placed the machinery. He is an omnivorous reader,
and has a comprehensive knowledge of many subjects
that are in no way connected with his business. Politi-
cally, Mr. Peterson is a Socialist, and has taken some
part in political activities. Particularly in local affairs
is Mr. Peterson interested. He is serving in his fourth
term as alderman of the Fourth Ward, and he is ac-
tively associated with the local lodges of the Eagles
and Odd Fellows fraternal organizations.

In May. 1S97, Mr. Peterson was married, in James-
town, to Hildra Bergman, of a well known Jamestown
family. They are the parents of four children, three of
whom are living, namely : Clayton, who is shipping clerk
in the plant of the Level Furniture Company; Viola,
who now attends the Jamestown Business College, and
eventually will enter upon a business career; Grace, who
attends the grammar school.



been turned out by the company, and the manufacture of
tables was eventually discontinued altogether.

The plant was first established on Allen street, and
the first samples made in the old Martin building. The
incorporators were: William Bjurte, president; F. O.
Ruckman, secretary and treasurer; J. M. Anderson, A.
Carlson, O. Bloomquist, G. \'. Olson, E. Jones, directors;
with G. C. Peterson, manager. Mr. Peterson is still
general manager of the company, and the present cor-
poration officers are : John M. Anderson, president ;
Elmer P. Jones, vice-president ; and J. .■\. Bloomquist,
secretary and treasurer. The development of the com-
pany has been appreciable since 1904; it then gave em-
ployment to about thirty men ; today it employs 275.
At the outset, it had factory floor space of io,coo square
feet, and had not use for the whole of it ; today it
occupies 75,000 square feet, and at times the space
becomes congested. Phonograph cabinets, for the
Edison Phonograph Machine Company, are now the
main product of the plant. Many phonograph compan-
ies purchase cabinets from the Level Furniture Com-
pany, but the bulk of its output goes to the Edison
Company. The plant is well equipped with wood work-
ing machines, and its product is of a high grade. The
power originally was steam, but now the plant is sup-
plied with 175 horsepower in steam and 73 horsepower
in electricity. The development of the industry is
commendable and must be gratifying to the men who
have had a part in its affairs since its inception. It is
a plant of appreciable consequence to the city of James-
town.



THE LEVEL FURNITURE COMPANY was es-
tablished in 1904. the original intention being to confine
their operations to the manufacture of library and par-
lor tables, but manv commodities in wood have since



CONRAD W. GREEN, president of the Brocton
Fruit Products Company, of Brocton, N. Y.. and one
of the most widely known preservers and manufacturers
of fruits, vegetables and juices, of Chautauqua county,
is a native of Germany, born March 4, 1878, a son of
Conrad and Fiorina (Ora) Green, lifelong residents
of that country.

The childhood of Conrad W. Green was spent in
his native land until he had reached the age of fifteen
years, during which period he attended the local schools
and gained the elementary portion of his education. He
then came to the United States and attended for a time
the Kelley School near Sandusky, Ohio, .'\fterwards
he secured employment in the vineyards of Western
New York, but being of a very ambitious character, he
continued his studies at night school and later worked
his way through a business college. After this he re-
turned to his native land and took an extensive course
in fruit and vegetable preserving in a well known school
in Berlin. Here he acquired the knowledge and science
of the art of preserving which helped him in later years
to become the head of the large industry under the name
of the Brocton Fruit Products Company. After com-
pleting his course abroad he returned to .America and
settled at Portland, Chautauqua county, N. Y., in 1903,
and secured a position with the Brocton Fruit Products
Company as superintendent of the plant, .\fter a short
time in the employ of this concern, during which he
rendered himself of great service to his employers, he
was admitted into partnership in association with
Messrs. R. .•\. Hall, Ernest Buckner and Robert N-



544



CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY



Martin. Mr. Hall and Mr. Buckner were president and
vice-president, respectively, of the State Bank of Broc-
ton. They operated the plant and business until the
year loii, meeting with notable success, and tlien in-
corporated the concern with Mr. Green as president and
general manager, R. .A. Gregory, vice-president, and
R. A. Ha!l. secretary and treasurer. When Mr. Green
first became associated with the business it was a small
one. but under his skillful and far-seeing management
it rapidly grew until it reached its present great pro-
portions. Several large additions have been made to
the original plant, which is now one of the largest of
its kind in ihe country, the property now amounting to
ten acres. Three additions are now in process of con-
struction, which will bring the floor space to 200,000
square feet. They have a large market for their prod-
ucts throughout the United States, as well as exporting
them to all parts of the world. In addition to his indus-
trial activities. Mr. Green is also largely engaged in
the growth of grapes, and is the owner of three ex-
tensive vineyards, totaling 200 acres, where he raises
large quantities of the fruit that is used in his manu-
facturing plant.

On Dec. 15, 1920, Mr. Green purchased the well
known business formerly conducted under the name of
Harvard-Kaboth \"ineyards. Inc., of Brocton, N. Y.
This business was organized in 1003 and had a very
rapid growth, and its trade names. Harvard and Naboth,
are known throughout the United States. In order to
keep pace with the growing demand for his products,
he acquired the Harvard-Xaboth interests, which has
materially aided in the industrial growth of Brocton,
the increase of agricultural interest through its farming
district and the expanding of the company's own busi-
ness. The products of this well known concern are
cider, grape juice, vinegars, fruit syrups, tomatoes,
catsup, chili sauce, jellies and jams.

Mr. Green is one of the founders of the Brocton
Building and Loan .A-Ssociation, of which he is a direc-
tor, and also a founder and director of the Dunkirk
Trust Company, and a director of the State Bank at
Brocton. It was he who donated the land for the uses
of the Paul De Laney Company, a sketch of which
appears elsewhere in this work. He is the ov,'ner of a
number of tenement houses in Brocton, and is a very
public-spirited citizen. He is a member of Brocton
Lodge, Free arid .Xcccpted Masons; Knights of Pythias;
a Rcpubh'can in politics, and a member of the Lutheran
church. His plant has often been made use of by the
Agricultural Department of the United States for the
conduct of experiments in connection with the produc-
tion of fruit juices.

Mr. Green married, July 21, 1904, Charlotte I. Dol-
bcrg. of Brocton, a daughter of Peter and Lottie Dol-
b'rrg, •■•Id and highly respected residents here. Mr. and
Mrs. Conrad \V. Green are the parents of seven chil-
dren, as follows: .Milliccnt, who is a student in Miss
Marot's Schf^ol, at Thompson, Conn. ; Howard. Evelyn,
Leonard. Nona. Isabella, and Dp I'orcst, all now at-
tending the grammar schools of Brocton.

Although a native of Germany. Mr. Clrcen has, during
his long residence here, Ijcrome wholly in sympathy with
American institutions and ideals. He was especially
active in war work during the great struggle, and



assisted greatly with the various drives of the Liberty
Loans, Red Cross, and all others in the effort to aid his
adopted country.



JOHN GILBERT WICKS, who has been for many
years one of tlie leaders of the bar in Western New
York, and among the prominent and influential citizens
of Jamestown, Chautauqua county, N. Y., is a member
of a family that has been prominent in this region for
many years. He is a son of Walter D. and Wealthy
(Clark") Wicks, old and highly respected residents of
the town of Carroll. N. Y., where the former was en-
gaged for many years in agricultural pursuits, and was
prominent in social and political circles in his day. He
served as county superintendent of schools, and was
the incumbent of other offices. During the Civil War
period, he was active in encouraging recruiting, and
many volunteered, and it was largely due to his instru-
mentality that the draft law was never applied to
Carroll.

John Gilbert Wicks was born Jan. 10, 1853, in the
town of Carroll, now Kiantone, N. Y. He received his
education at the Union School of Jamestown. While
still a mere youth, he determined upon the law as a
profession, and upon completing his studies entered the
law office of Cook & Lockwood, well known attorneys of
that day. Later he entered the law department of Union
College and was graduated from that institution with
the class of 1876, receiving his degree of LL. B. In
August, 1S76, he began the practice of his profession in
Jamestown. In 18S3, he formed a partnership with J.
Delevan Curtis, which was continued until Aug..
1892. and since then he has practiced in partnership with
Warner S. Rcxford, as Wicks & Rexford. In 1877, he
was appointed attorney for the City National Bank and
has since been connected with that institution. During
his professional career, Mr. Wicks has made for him-
self an almost unique position among the attorneys of
this region, is honored alike by his professional col-
leagues and by the community-at-large, and has handled
a large proportion of the important litigation of the
county. Mr. Wicks served as a member of the City
Council for six years ; a city attorney for four years,
during which time he was connected with numerous
public improvements; as county attorney, handling the
duties of that office in a most efficient manner; and at
the time of the redrafting of the city charter, Mr.
Wicks was placed in charge, and he wrote article 7
allowing the city to acquire public utilities. He has also
served as consulting attorney in corporation matters in
many prominent cases. He sold city bonds, and col-
lected other moneys for city improvement without ever
being placed under bonds. Mr. Wicks is prominent in
social and fraternal affairs in Jamestown, and is a
member and past chancellor of the local lodge of the
Knights of Pythias; a member and past district deputy
of tlic Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and a mem-
ber of the Loyal Order of Moose and the Fraternal
Order of F.agles.

Mr. Wicks was united in marriage with F.nima L.
Russell, a daughter of John R. and Hannah (Roy)
Russell, and they arc the parents of one child, Ethel,
who became the wifi- of Edward Curtis, to whom she
Ikis borne one son, Louis R. Curtis.



BIOGRAPHICAL



545



CHARLES MELVIN NICHOLS, who has been
for many years one of the prominent figures in the in-
dustrial life of Jamestown, Chautauqua county, N, Y.,
is a member of one of the old and distinguished families
of this region, which was founded in America early in
the Colonial period.

(I) The name Nichols is an old one in England,
where the ancestors of Mr. Nichols resided prior to
their coming to this country, and it has since gained a
wide distribution in the new world. The founder of
that branch of the family with which we are here con-
cerned was one Thomas Nichols, who was born in
England, and came to the New England colonies before
1655. He was doubtless a relative of the Thomas Nich-
ols who was a planter in the adjoining town of Cam-
bridge before 1638, and who then removed to Hingham.
Thomas Nichols of this account was married at Mai-
den, Mass., in 1655, and appears to have been one
of a number of sons, as he left a brother, George Nich-
ols, in England, who was the executor of the estate
of their father, Walter Nichols, a clothier of Cogges-
hall, in the County of Essex, England, while James
Nichols, probably another brother, was also at Maiden,
where he married in April, 1660. Thomas Nichols
removed as early as 1665 to Amesbury and had a seat
in the Meeting House there, in 1667. He was also a
member of the Train Band in 1680. and his death oc-
curred there sometime prior to 1720. His wife, whom
he married at Maiden, September, 1655, was Mary
Moulton, and they were the parents of the following
children: Thomas and Josiah. twins, who died in in-
fancy; Ebenezer (a daughter), who became the wife
of Benoni Tucker; Thomas, mentioned below; Samuel;
Rachel ; John, who married Abigail Sargent ; Sarah,
who became the wife of Roger Stephens.

(H) Thomas (2) Nichols, son of Thomas (i) and
Mary (Moulton) Nichols, was born Oct. 16, 1670, at
Amesbury, Mass. Not a great deal is known concerning
his life, but he was a member of the Society of Friends.
He married (first) Jane Jamison, born Feb. 22,. 1673-74,
a daughter of John and Esther (Martin) Jamison. He
married (second) April 30, 1731, Judith Hoages, of
Newbury. His children by his first wife were as fol-
lows: Anna, who became the wife of Samuel Colby;
Jonathan ; Mary, who became the wife of Ralph Blais-
dell ; Esther, who became the wife of Ichabod Colby;
Thomas; David, mentioned below; Rachel and Stephen.
His children by his second wife were Ebenezer and
Benjamin.

(HI) David Nichols, son of Thomas (2) and Jane
(Jamison) Nichols, was born Oct. 26. 1709, at Amesbury,
Mass., and was lost at sea in 1756. He resided at Salem,
where he married, in 1730, Hannah Gasldll, born Aug.
16, 1709, died June 30, 1793. a daughter of Samuel and
Bethiah (Gardner) Gaskill.

(IV) A break occurs here in the direct line of descent
of the Nichols family and it cannot be stated with
certainty which of the sons of David and Hannah
Nichols should appear in this place. It is. however, a
matter of practical certainty that David Nichols of New
York was a grandson of the David Nichols of the
third generation.

(V) David (2) Nichols, grandson of David (i) and
Hannah (Gaskill) Nichols, was born about 1775, in

Chau— 35



Claverack, Columbia county, N. Y. He later settled
in Jefferson county, at Cape Vincent, where his death
occurred in 1830. He served during the War of 1812
in the American Army, and was a farmer by occupa-
tion, being honored for his thrift and energy. He mar-
ried Jerusha Spinning, and they were the parents of
the following children: Elijah; Andrew, mentioned
below; Lucretia, George, Demmick and Julianna.

(VI) Andrew Nichols, son of David (2) and Jerusha
(Spinning) NJichols, was born April 2, 1806, in Oneida
county, N. Y., and died in Kennedy, Chautauqua county,
May 13, 1891. He was a farmer by occupation, owned a
large and valuable property, and also was active in
lumbering on the St. Lawrence river. It was about
1870 that he sold his interests in Northern New York
and came to Chautauqua county, where he purchased
a small farm not far from the village of Kennedy.
He was a member of the local School Board and was
keenly interested in the cause of education, also took
a prominent part in the religious life of the community.
A Democrat during his entire life, Mr. Nichols was
nevertheless sufficiently independent to vote for Abra-
ham Lincoln on the occasion of his second campaign.
He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church,
and enjoyed the esteem and affection of the com-
munity. He married, in 1830, Cordelia Holcomb, a
native of Essex county, N. Y., born March 22, iSri,
died Oct. 21, 1900, aged eighty-nine years, a daughter of
Sullivan Holcomb, of Guilford, Conn., who was an
officer in the War of 1812. The children of Andrew
and Cordelia Nichols were as follows: I. Maria, born
1831, died 1887; became the wife of Harvey S. Elkins.
2. Benjamin, mentioned below. 3. Seth Lee. born July
2, 1837, a veteran of the Civil War, and now engaged in
business as a farmer and stock dealer in Minnesota. 4.
Ira C, born March 16, 1840, at Clayton, N. Y., died in
1908 ; served as a lieutenant in the 13th Regiment,
United States Colored Troops, during the Civil War;
he later engaged in the lumber business at Kennedy, N.
Y. ; married, July, 1867, Selina Abbey, who bore him
five children, as follows : E. Ross, Lynn, Leigh, Mary
and Edna. 5. Jane, who became the wife of Edward
Carr, of Randolph, N. Y. 6. Andrew (2), who became
a stockman and farmer in Minnesota, and now makes
his home near Tacoma, Wash. ; he married Harriett
Walker, deceased, who bore him one son, Kenneth. 7.
Mary, who became the wife of William Cole, superin-
tendent of the Chautauqua Lake Assembly Grounds,
where they reside. 8. Isaac C, who is now a mine
owner at .\shland. Wis., and resides at Tacoma, Wash.

(VII) Benjamin Nichols, son of Andrew and Cor-
deHa (Holcomb) Nichols, was born Jan. i, 1835, at
Clayton. Jefferson county, N. Y., and was educated in
the local public schools. As a lad he assisted his
father with the work on the latter's farm during the
time that he was a student, and when about seventeen
years of age came to Chautauqua county, where he en-
tered the Jamestown Academy, from which he gradu-
ated in 1852. He then learned the trade of millwright
in the employ of Barnett Stillwell, and after two years
with Carlisle Patterson and John Phetelace, in the
same line, engaged in business for himself as a mill-
wright. He was exceedingly successful in his enterprise,
and erected a number of important mills in this region



546



CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY



and equipped them with machinery, inchiding flour
mills at Kennedy. X. Y. : Union City, Meadville and
Conneautville. Pa., as well as many other places. He
made his home in Kennedy. K. Y.. until 1884. and was
engaged there in association with W. T. Falconer, Sr.,
and his brother. I. C. Nichols, in the lumber business.
In 18S3, he retired from business as a millwright and
devoted his attention entirely to his extensive lumber
interests. During the Civil War he was engaged with
Daniel Griswold and Harvey S. Elkins in the building
of tlat boats wliich they loaded with provisions and
farm produce for the use of the Union Army and floated
them down the Allegheny and Ohio rivers, to where the
forces were encamped. In 1S83. Mr. Nichols formed a
partnership with William Babcock. with whom he
operated a foundry and machine shop. They purchased
at nrst the Jamestown Iron Works, which they fitted



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