Copyright
Moses King.

The men of New York: a collection of biographies and portraits of citizens of the Empire State prominent in business, professional, social, and political life during the last decade of the nineteenth century (Volume 1) online

. (page 50 of 69)
Online LibraryMoses KingThe men of New York: a collection of biographies and portraits of citizens of the Empire State prominent in business, professional, social, and political life during the last decade of the nineteenth century (Volume 1) → online text (page 50 of 69)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


attended the district schools and academv
iif his native town : taught school aihi
studied law, and was admitted to tlie bar
in 1877 : married Clara B. Darbee of
East Aurora October 7, 1886 ; was mem-
ber of assembly, 1887-88 ; practiced law
in Buffalo, 1877-95 ; was elected judge of
tlie Erie County Court in 189't for tlie
term 1896-1901.



2). (BibSOll, long a leading
merchant of East Aurora, N. Y., and
latterly a prominent man in the public
affairs of the town, was born there in
September, 1859. He was educated in
the district schools of his native town,
and in the academy at the same place.
His father, Chisman Gibson, carried on
a clothing and boot and shoe business
at East Aurora for nearly forty years, and
Byron entered the store at the age of
nineteen for the purpose of acquainting
himself thoroughly with mercantile af-
fairs. He remained with his father until
the latter' s death in 1890, when he pur-
chased the business from the estate. He
has since conducted the enterprise with
the success that might have been pre-
dicted from his long experience and
excellent school of commercial training.
'The store is still located in the same place where the
elder Mr. Gibson began business in the middle of
the century : the establishment has been for many
years one of the landmarks of the village.



East Aurora has come to be a good deal of a
town, and its population extends over a correspond-
ingly wide area. The original Gibson establishment
was located in the western part of East Aurora, in
the village called Willink. Deeming it desirable to
reach the important trade at the other end of the
town, Mr. Gibson formed a partnership, in March,
liSill, with A. E. Hammond, for the purpose of
carrying on a business in clothing and general
furnishings in the territory not covered by the Wil-
link store. This project was successfully carried
out, and Mr. Gibson now has a flourishing trade in
both his individual establishment and his partner-
ship concern.

Having lived in East Aurora all his life, and
taken a leading part in the business and social affairs
of the community, Mr. Gibson gradually attained




HYKO.\



political prominence as well. In March, 1892, he
was elected trustee of the village for two years. At
the expiration of this term he received the honor of
an election as president of the village of East



,1/A'A' OF NEH' YORh'll'KSTKK.V SC77/>.\



Aurora ; and in the following year he was re-elected
to this office. In March, 1X95, he was also elected
supervisor from the town of Aurora for two years.
( )n this occasion the Democrats paid him the indirect
hut conspicuous compliment of nominating no one
against him. On November 20, 18X9, Mr. Gibson



East Aurora September 4, 1882 ; wax postmaster at
IVillink, 1890-93 ; was trustee of the village of East
Aurora, 1892-94, ami its president, 1894-96 ; was
elected supennsor of the town of Aurora in March,
I *!>:>, for two years ; has conducted a clothing store
at East Aurora since 1890.




H-.IKKKX n. HOOKKR

was appointed postmaster of Willink, and held the
office four years, 1X90-93.

Mr. Gibson is a firm believer in fraternal socie-
ties, and supports several by membership and regu-
lar attendance. He belongs to Bla/.ing Star Lodge,
No. 694, F. & A. M. ; to East Aurora Chapter, No.
_'*_', R. A. M. ; and to the Masonic Life Association
of Western New York. He is also an < >dd Fellow,
attai hed to Aurora Boreal is Lodge, No,. 642, and a
member of the Royal Arcanum.

PERSONAL 'CHR O.\OL O G ) ' Byron D.
(lihson ii wf horn at East Aurora, N. Y., September
I .', IH.~>!> : was educated in district schools and Aurora
Academy; ti'iis a clerk in his fathers store at East
Aurora, 1S1S-HO; married Hattie A. Holmes of



Marten 36. Ibooher, a son of

John and Philena Hooker, was 'born in
Perrysburg, Cattaraugus county, New
York, in 1856. His father was a native
of Vermont, and his mother, Philena
Waterman, of Massachusetts. They set-
tled on a farm in Cattaraugus county,
and lived honorable and useful lives pro-
longed in each case beyond the psalm-
ist's allotment of three score years and
ten.

Warren was reared upon his father's
farm, and became accustomed early in
life to such toil and discipline as gave
him strength for future achievement.
Aside from the district school he was
educated at Forestville Academy, from
which he graduated with honor in 1X75.
Soon after this he began the study of law
with the late John G. Record of Forest-
ville. He was admitted to the bar of
the Supreme Court in 1879,-and, ^prac-
ticed law in Chautauqua county until he
moved to the West in lx.s-_'.

In 1884 he returned to western New
York, and entered upon the active prac-
tice of his profession in Fredonia. He
has remained there ever since, and has
attained abundant success in both pro-
fessional and political life. In 1878 he
was elected, special surrogate of Chautau-
i|ua county for & term of three years.'
He was elected supervisor of the town of Pomfret
in 1X89 and again in 1890, receiving at the latter
election the unusual compliment ot the support of
both political parties.

In the fall of IXSMI, at the age of thirty-three, Mr.
Hooker received the nomination of the Republican
party for congress in the r!4th congressional district,
comprising the counties of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus,
and Allegany, and was elected by a majority of
57'J(>. He was re-elected in 1X!)2, and again in
isi4. when he received 15,:>0<) plurality. In 1896
he was nominated once more, and was elected to
the 55th congress by a plurality of L'7,4'26 votes.
These repeated political triumphs have been
achieved in a district distinguished for intelligence.



ME.\ OF A7-;;r YORKirESTEK.\ SECTION



and for the zeal and ability with which political
honors are contested.

In the 54th congress Mr. Hooker held the impor-
tant and coveted position of chairman of the com-
mittee on rivers and harbors. The bill that he then
presented to the house in that capacity was not only
passed in both branches of congress by large majori-
ties, but was afterward carried over a presidential
veto. The measure provided for an appropriation
larger than that of any previous bill on the subject ;
but the expenditures authorized were so judicious
and so equitably distributed that the bill was not
attacked by the press, nor by the opposition speakers
in the campaign of 1896.

Mr. Hooker's success as a politician is not acci-
dental, but is due to his able discharge of duty, and
to the benefits that he has conferred upon his con-
stituents. Industrious, ambitious, self-
reliant, pleasing in manner, commanding
in presence, Mr. Hooker may confidently
look forward to a continuance of public
favor and of political honors.

In September, 1884, Mr. Hooker was
united in marriage with Etta K. Abbey,
a daughter of Chauncey Abbey, latelx
president of the Fredonia National Bank,
and long a prominent citizen of Chau-
tauqua county. They have two children,
Sherman Abbey and Florence Elizabeth.

PERSONAL CHR ONOL OGV-
\Varren Brewster Hooker was born at
Perry sburg, N. Y., November ,.'4, 1S~>H ;
was educated at Forcstville (N. Y.) Acad-
emy ; studied /aw, and was admitted to
the bar of the Supreme Court in 1879 ;
ii'iis elected special surrogate of Chautaii
qua county in 1878 ; married Etta E.
Abbey of Fredonia, N. Y., September 11,
1884 : was supervisor of the town of Pom-
fret, 1890-91 ; has been member of con-
gress since 1891 ; has practiced /an* in



ness of his own, and wisely decided that America
promised the quickest realization of his hopes. In
April, 1X4(1, accordingly, he embarked with his
family from Liverpool in one of the first steamships
constructed for ocean traffic. They made the pas-
sage in eighteen days, then regarded as marvelously
quick. John was born the day they landed in New
York city.

After sojourning in various places, Duncan McEwen
finally established himself in Wellsville, Allegany
county, in May, 1854. Beginning operations mod-
estly a lathe and a drilling machine, indeed,
comprised his entire plant at first he enlarged his
business prudently as opportunity offered, and laid
the foundations in his little foundry and machine
shop for the magnificent business afterward developed
therefrom by his sons. At the time of his death,




I, well known among

the successful business men of Allegany
county, was born in New York city in
1849. His father, Duncan McEwen,
came from the Highlands of Scotland,
and -learned the machinist's and mill-
wright's trades in Glasgow. He was a

man of high character and exceptional ability, and however, in February, -IN 04', the works were hardly
ultimately obtained the position of superintendent self-sustaining, and John McKuen, his eldest son.



JOIIX Mi / 1 1 / \



of one of the large government shipyards at Liver-
pool. He was ambitious, however, to have a busi-



was still a boy. The shop was rented for a few
years, therefore, while John and William, the next



330



ME.\ Of-' XEll' VOKKH'ESrERX' SECT/OX



son, prepared themselves to take up the business.
By 1868 they felt ready to carry on the work, and
formed the firm of McEwen Brothers.

This was nearly thirty years ago, when both the
brothers were under age and comparatively inex-
perienced. They had traits of mind and character,
however, that more than countervailed these de-
ficiencies, and they achieved a rare degree of success.
Suffering a temporary setback in October, 187(>,
when their plant was burned, they at once erected a
substantial brick building, and equipped the same
with the finest and latest machinery. The firm now
employs about sixty workmen, and manufactures
annually engines, boilers, mill and general machinery
valued at 8125,000 or more. They make a specialty
of fitting up tanneries, and for twenty-five years past
they have furnished the machinery for all the tan-
neries within 150 miles of Wellsville, including the
enormous plant at Costello, Penn., the largest in the
world. John McEwen has been the head and front
of the concern from the beginning, and its success
may be ascribed in a superior measure to his energy
and business sagacity.

Aside from his career as a manufacturer Mr.
McEwen deserves mention as a public-spirited citi-
zen. In political matters he has long been an im-
portant factor in the Republican party of Allegany
county, though he has felt unable to neglect his
business interests in the way that public office might
require. He was a delegate, however, to the Re-
publican national convention held at Minneapolis in
1S!2. He is a Knight Templar Mason of St. John's
Commandery, Olean. His connection with the
Wellsville, Coudersport & Pine Creek railroad illus-
trates both his public spirit and his ability as a
financier. The road was originally planned many
years ago, but work was abandoned after eight miles
had been graded. In 1890 it was rumored that
Hornellsville capitalists intended to build a compet-
ing line that would seriously retard the growth and
prosperity of Wellsville. Under the circumstances
Wellsville deemed it highly important to put its road
through at once. Mr. McEwen personally circulated
the paper for subscriptions ; and he was elected
president and general manager of the new company,
and gave close attention to the construction, equip-
ment, and operation of the road. The enterprise
was highly successful, and when the road was sold,
in 1895, the stockholders realized a handsome profit
on their investment.

PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY John Me 1^,-n
wax burn at New York city April 21, lSJf.9 ; inorfil to
ll't-I/s -,-'///<, A//i\i,'iiny county, N. }'., in lS.'/4 ; married
Emma Alger October SO, 1879 ; began business as a



manufacturer of machinery at ll'fllsville in 1S08, and
has continued the same since.

#

Sbcri&an /IDcBvtbur iHorton, though he

has barely reached the prime of life, has already
attained success in various lines of activity as a
teacher, lawyer, promoter, farmer, banker, and
judge. His lineage will bear close scrutiny, and
will lead the examiner back to Puritan stock. He
was born in a country town in Allegany county,
New York, shortly before the middle of the century,
and spent his boyhood and youth under the harsh
but wholesome discipline of farm life. His early
education was obtained in the common schools, in
Friendship Academy, and in the Belmont graded
school. At the age of seventeen he began to teach,
and continued in that occupation during a great
part of the time for the next seven years. Before he
had reached his majority he was made president of
the Allegany County Teachers' Association.

He was fond of teaching, and would doubtless
have been very successful in the profession, had he
decided to make that his life-work. The law was
attractive to him, however, and in 1*71, simultane-
ously with his teaching, he began to fit himself for
the bar. He studied first at Angelica with Judge
James S. Green and D. P. Richardson, afterward
reading law at Belmont with Judge Hamilton Ward
and General Rufus Scott. He was admitted to
the bar January 8, 1874, and began practice three
weeks later at Friendship.

He built up rapidly a valuable clientage, and
obtained a wide reputation for adjusting disputes
without litigation, and for winning his suit in con-
tested cases. He acquired distinction, also, as a
referee, and ever since his admission to the bar
he has had an extensive business in hearing ref-
erences.

Judge Norton has shown great aptitude for busi-
ness, and has been strikingly successful as a pro-
moter of business enterprises. He has been presi-
dent of the Citizens' National Bank of Friendship
since it organization in 1882. He was interested
in the first oil well at Richburg, Allegany county,
and devoted considerable attention to the develop-
ment of the oil industry. He showed rare good
judgment in withdrawing from his operations at an
opportune time. He had an active part in the con-
struction of the railroad from Friendship to Bolivar,
holding a directorate in the company. As a prac-
tical farmer conducting operations on a large scale.
Judge Norton has likewise demonstrated his business
ability. He owns a farm in Friendship of over 200
acres, which he personally superintends, and to



J/A'.V OF NEW YORK \rESTERX SECT/OX



which he turns for relief from the exhausting labors
of his profession.

Judge Norton has always taken great interest in the
affairs of his town and county. For three years, begin-
ning in 1879, he was supervisor of Friendship, and
was chairman of the board during the last two years
of his service. For a number of years
he was a member of the board of educa-
tion. He is an effective and entertain-
ing speaker, and is in great demand
on Fourth of July and other patriotic
occasions.

In 1889, and again in 189."), he was
elected county judge, and has faithfully
discharged the duties of that office, and
of the Surrogate's Court of the county.
His decisions are characteri/.ed by strict
integrity and judicial fairness. His thor-
ough knowledge of the law was tested in
the notable Miner will case. This was
carried to the Court of Appeals, which
sustained Judge Norton's decision. In
the fall of !;"> he presided at (ieneseo
tor Judge Nash during the fiercely con-
tested Father Flaherty case, and won
much approval for his conduct of the
trial.

Judge Norton takes a deep interest in
Masonry, in which he has attained the
32d degree.

PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY -
Sheridan Mf Arthur Norton was horn ai
Belmont, N. }'., J/,n /, 1*4$ .- was ei/n-
catcd in l''i iendship Academy and the Bcl-
mont graded school ; taught school at inter-
vals, lStl~>-7.> : was admitted to the l>ar
January ,V, IN",' 4, and began practice at
Friendship, X. Y. ; married May Lilian
Robinson of Friendship September I, 1NNH ;
was supervisor of Friendship, 1fT!'fi-f!1 ; has been
president of the Citizens' National Bank of Friend-
ship since _7,S',9..' , lias been county judge and surrogate
of Allegany county since IN! in.



XCWtS S. fl>aVWC has been one of the fore-
most citi/ens of Niagara county, New York, for
more than half a century. Born in the town of
Riga, Monroe county, in IXI'I, he obtained such
instruction as the imperfect common schools of the
time afforded, his parents feeling unable to provide
education at better schools away from home.
Resolving, at the age of sixteen, to start out for
himself in the world, Lewis proceeded to Tona-
wanda, where an uncle lived, and there found



employment as a general-utility boy in one of the
variety stores so common in the country. His
aptitude for business was marked even at this early
day, and by the time he had reached his majority
he was able to buy out his employers and conduct
the establishment on his own account.





General stores in the country, managed prudently
by men of character and weight in their community,
have often become the basis of substantial fortunes ;
and Colonel Payne's career illustrates the general
truth. Branching out into one enterprise and
another as his means increased and experience
broadened, he became long before the period of
middle life one of the most successful business men
in the county. Tonawanda had not then become
the second greatest lumber market in the world, but
its subsequent prominence in that industry was
already foreshadowed ; and Colonel Payne, with
man\' others, found it profitable to engage in the
business. In 1847 he built the first steam sawmill
in Tonawanda. He also engaged for several years



338



MEN OF NEW YORK WESTERN SECTTOA



in the forwarding, shipping, and commission busi-
ness. In 1858 he turned his attention to farming,
and has ever since maintained a large and beautiful
estate in the town of Wheatfield.

When the Civil War broke out Colonel Payne
was in the prime of vigorous manhood, and he threw




LEIVIS S. PAYNE

himself into the contest with the same persistence
and energy that had brought him success in business
life. Raising a company of volunteers at his own
expense in the fall of 1861, he ultimately reached
McClellan's army, and took part in the famous
Peninsular campaign. Enlisting as a private, he was
promoted through the various grades until he
reached the rank of lieutenant colonel. He par-
ticipated in some of the hottest battles of the war,
and in less than four months lost more than a third
of his regiment. Williamsburg, Seven Pines, White
Oak Swamp, and Malvern Hill were the scenes of
some of his earlier battles. In the spring of ]*(!.'!
he made many daring expeditions with his company,
particularly distinguishing himself by able and suc-



cessful operations in Charleston harbor. In August,
1863, while attempting to intercept the communi-
cations of the enemy between Charleston and Fort
Sumter, he was attacked by a superior force, and
after a desperate engagement was wounded and
taken prisoner. Confined for a while in the hospital
at Charleston, he was afterward taken
to Columbia, S. C., where he was kept
in close confinement until February,
1865.

With such a record in war and in the
mercantile world, Colonel Payne has
naturally been prominent in public life.
Originally a Whig, he became, after the
dissolution of that party, a Douglas Dem-
ocrat. As early as 1X44 he was elected
one of the supervisors of Wheatfield, and
served on the board for eleven terms.
He was the first collector of canal tolls
appointed at Tonawanda, holding the
office in 1850-51. Elected clerk of
Niagara county in the fall of 1851, he
discharged the duties of the office effi-
ciently and faithfully during the years
lx.VJ-54. Eleven years later he was
again made county clerk, and held the
office for the term 1866-68. In the fall
of 1869 he was elected to the state
assembly. He was made chairman of
the committee on claims in that body,
and was also a member of the committee
on canals, and of that on military affairs.
In November, 1877, he received the
Democratic nomination for the office of
senator from the 29th district. This
district ordinarily went Republican by
about 2000 votes, but on this occasion
Colonel Payne was elected by a narrow
margin. He was the first Democrat ever
elected in the 29th senatorial district. In 1883 he
was nominated for congress, but even his great
popularity was unequal to the task of overcoming
the usual Republican majority.

In recent years Colonel Payne has withdrawn
from active pursuits, confining his attention to the
oversight of his farm and the maintenance ot his
property. His memory has become somewhat
uncertain with advancing age, but in most respects
his seventy-eight years rest lightly upon him. His
knowledge of pioneer conditions in western New
York, his stirring experiences in the Civil War, and
other eventful periods of his career, give unusual
charm and interest to his reminiscent talks. He
is widely respected in Niagara county, and holds a






.l/A'.V Or NEW YORKU'ESTERX SECTION



warm place in the regard of those who know him
best. Everyone wishes him a twilight of life as
long and as lovely as the fading of day in midsum-
mer on the peaks of Ben Nevis.

PERS O NA L CHR ONOL O G Y Lewis
Ste flien Payne wax horn at Riga, N. Y. , January
21, 181ft : was educated in common schools ; was
clerk in a country store, lS-l't-40 ; married Mary
Tabor of Ithaca, ~N. Y. , November 22, 1840 ; served.
in the Union arm\ throughout the war ; was elected a
member of the Niagara-county hoard of supervisors in
1844, and served eleven terms ; was clerk of Niagara
county, lf-i.'> - ~i'i and 1866-^68 : was member of
assembly in 1870, state senator, !S7S-i!>, and candi-
date for congress in 18S-i ; /lets been fitgageJ in vari-
ous mercantile enterprises at North Tonawanda, .V. )". ,
since 1841.



fo. JPrOUl>fit Has been
identified with the city of Jamestown for
more than half a century, and may almost
be regarded as a native of the place.
He was horn, however, in Milwaukee,
Wis. , and was two years old when he
was brought to western New York. He
received his education in the Jamestown
common schools and academy, but left
school at the age of fifteen to begin busi-
ness life. His first employment was that
of clerk in a dry-goods store, and he
subsequently served as cashier and finally
as bookkeeper in dry-goods and clothing
stores in Jamestown. By the year 18(11*
he had made a good start on a successful
mercantile career ; but he interrupted it,
like so many other men in those fateful
years, at the call of his country. Enlist-
ing in company F, 112th New York vol-
unteers, in August, 18(>'2, he served until
the close of the war, and was honorably
discharged June 13, 18(>f>.

Returning to Jamestown, he established
the clothing house of Proudfit & Osmer
in December, 1866, buying out the firm
of Andrews & Preston. He has con-
ducted this business at the original loca-
tion ever since, and has become one of
the foremost merchants of Jamestown.
Mr. Osmer died in 1880, and from that
date Mr. Proudfit has been sole owner of the business,
devoting his best energies to the enterprise, and
achieving most gratifying and well-deserved success.

All public movements for the general good have
received Mr. Proudfit's active support. He is a



Republican in politics, and takes a proper interest
in party affairs ; but he has no aspirations for public
office, and has never accepted a political nomina-
tion. He is deeply interested in the growth and
prosperity of the city that has been his home for so
many years, and in its benevolent and charitable
work. He is an elder in the First Presbyterian
Church there ; and took a prominent part in the
organi/.ation of the local Young Men's Christian
Association, serving on its first board of directors.
When the James Prendergast Free Library was
established in Jamestown, as a memorial of the man
to whom the city owes its name, Mr. Proudfit was
appointed one of the first trustees of the institution.
He is also a trustee of the Cemetery Association, a
member and trustee of the Grand Army of the




\\I1.L1A\1 //. PROUDFIT

Republic, and a director of the Chautauqua County
Trust Co.

PERS ON A L CHR ONOL O G Y U'iltiam
Henn- Proudfit was born at Milwaukee, I! 7s. , Decem-
ber l. r >, 1S41 : wns educated in thf common school^



:!40



,i//-:.v or .\Eir YORK WESTERN SECTION



and academy of Janicstt>isn, N. Y. ; 2t>as employed
ds clerk and bookkeeper in Jamestown, 1856-62;
served in tlie Union armv, 186265 ; married Ellen



Online LibraryMoses KingThe men of New York: a collection of biographies and portraits of citizens of the Empire State prominent in business, professional, social, and political life during the last decade of the nineteenth century (Volume 1) → online text (page 50 of 69)