The History of New York State
Biographies, Part 20

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam


 Page 110


A man whose training and experience in many different fields of human endeavor have been extensive is John A. Westman, who, a native of Sweden, came to the United states, when scarcely more than a schoolboy, made his way successfully in the new land, and then became an officer of the Dalhstrom Metallic door company, one of the foremost business enterprises of Jamestown, New York. since that time, he has held this important position, and he is today one of the leading men in the industry in his community and State. This company was born in 1904, as a result of the vision of its founders, one in 1903 foreseeing that there would be an urgent demand for material for use in large buildings for both trim and doors which would be superior to wood in that it must be fireproof, flexible in design and attractive in finish, and at the same time have great durability. Its first officer was Charles Swanson, president for the first year of its existence, 1904. In 1905 he was succeeded by Elof Rosenkrantz, who filled the office until Carl A. Lundquist became the head of the company. He in turn was succeeded by James L. Weeks; and the next president, the present hear of the company, was H. E. V. Porter, a review of whom appears elsewhere in this work. The only secretaries have been Nels Johnson, who served in that office in 1904, and John A. Westman, who took office in 1905. Since 1909, Mr. Westman has also served as general manager of the company. The general manger from 1904 to 1909 was Charles P. Dahlstrom. During the first seven years of the company's existence, Mr. Westman was also the organizations' treasurer. In that office he was succeeded by Fabian Sellstrom, who himself was succeeded by Fred W. Hyde; while the president, who has held office since March 26, 1919, is Erick E. Carlson. E. W. Sellstrom has been the superintendent since 1910.

This company gives employment to between seven hundred and one thousand persons at its plant, as well as to an army of outside me known as "erectors," varying in number from two hundred to five hundred. Its operations cover the entire world. The Dahlstrom organization was the first, so it claims, to develop the method of moulding from cold strip steel; it introduced fireproof hollow metal doors, and did much to develop the metal interior equipment of the Pullman sleeping car and dining car service; it also was responsible for changing the vogue of elevator enclosures from the open grillwork to the present-day enclosed and fireproof variety of enclosure. The company's contention is that no building is more fireproof than its doors and trim.

John A. Westman, the secretary and general manager of this great industrial enterprise of Jamestown, came with this company on August 1, 1904, to take charge of the business end of its activities, and of its official family has been a member continuously since that time. He was born at Stockholm, Sweden, February 9, 1871, the son of John A. and Anna Caroline Westman. His father was a mechanical engineer and sea captain; but, although he was a deep-sea sailor, he did mot of his work in the coastwise service. John A. Westman, the son, of whom this is a record, having lost his parents in his early years and used to making his own living, was a lad of sixteen when he came to New York and made his home in Jamestown. He had received his education in Sweden, where he had gone through the public schools and had learned something of cabinet-making at the trade schools. So it was that he went into cabinet-making when he first came to the United States, and remained in this type of work for five years while acquiring a working knowledge of the English language. A business course at the Elmira, New York, Business College fitted him for executive work in connection with large American business activities; and this he supplemented with studies in a law office in Elmira. He then spent some time with Wilmott & Hobbs, later known as the American Tube & Stamping Company in Bridgeport, in their New York City office, and eight years later with the Neufchatel Asphalt Company in New York City, after which he came to Jamestown and took up his position with the Dahlstrom Metallic Door Company. In the different offices in which he has served in the course of his connection with this institution, Mr. Westman has shown remarkable capabilities, and it is generally admitted by his associates and by the business men of Jamestown and other communities where he is known that much of the success of the Dahlstrom company is directly traceable to the work of Mr. Westman.

He also organized the International Casement Company, Incorporated, in association with T. H. Ringrose and Axel Eckberg, both citizens of Jamestown. For time he served as vice-president and secretary of the com-

Page 111

pany, until in 1926, he retired from the organization entirely. He is deeply interested in all the civic affairs of Jamestown, his adopted city, and he was one of its organizers of the Jamestown Mutual Insurance Company, of which he is today a director. He is also a director of the Jamestown Metalsmiths and the National Chautauqua County Bank, and is one of the incorporators and directors of the Jamestown Savings and Loan Association. He is likewise known as the Community Chest; a past president of the Jamestown Manufacturers Association; president of the Hollow Metal Door & Trim Manufacturers' Association; and a director of the League for Industrial Rights. A man whose fraternal associations are many and strong, Mr. Westman belongs to the Free and Accepted Masons, in which order his affiliations are with the Mount Moriah Lodge, No. 145, the Jamestown Consistory of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, and Ismailia Temple of the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of Buffalo; while he also belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he identified with the Monitor Lodge. He also belongs to the Royal Arcanum. His religious affiliation is with the First Mission Church.

On November 23, 1896, John A. Westman married Signe Carlson of New York City. Mr. and Mrs. Westman are the parents of two children: Esther M. and Florence. The family residence is at No. 223 Curtis Street, Jamestown, New York, and their summer home is Locust Lodge Farm, near Bemus Point, on Chautauqua Lake.


The financial development of Troy, New York, throughout the last three-quarters of the nineteenth century, was shaped, in part, by the activities of the Hart family. William Hamilton shields, president of the Troy Savings Bank, since 1916, belongs tot hat family, whose history is interwoven with that of the above-named institution. The Troy Savings Bank was incorporated by an act of the New York Legislature, April 23, 1823, the third savings bank in the State, and one of its incorporators was Richard Philip Hart, grandfather of Mr. Shields. The first location of the bank was in a room loaned by the Farmers' Bank, on the northeast corner of First and State streets, and its first depositor was a Negress named Martha Jefferson, who opened an account with twenty dollars. The bank grew steadily and required larger and still larger quarters. No small part of this progress was due to the character and skill of the first vice-president, who subsequently became the second president of the institution.

Richard P. Hart was born in Harts Village, Dutchess County, New York, and came to Troy in 1801, and soon became a salient personage in business affairs, being keen, broad-minded and honorable. Like his associates in the Society of Friends, Mr. Hart was simple in manner, and deeply interested in cultural and scientific subjects. He was a Representative in the State Legislature, mayor of Troy, and one of the founders of the Troy Orphan Asylum, and was a director of the following organizations: Rensselaer and Saratoga Ice Company; Troy Lyceum of Natural History; Troy Female Seminary; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; the Bank of Troy; Troy City Bank, of which he was also first president; and the Troy Savings Bank. He died December 27, 1843.

To his son, William Howard Hart, was handed down a place on the directorate of the Troy Savings Bank, and in addition to this four sons-in-law and five grandsons have served as trustees of the bank at various times.

A daughter, Caroline, of Richard P. Hart, was the mother of William Hamilton Shields, the next of the family to guide the fortunes of the bank. Born in Troy, New York, in 1853, Mr. Shields was educated at the Troy Academy. He has always been a prominent figure in business and social affairs, and his activities have included many important executive offices, including that of manager of J. W. Griswold Wire company, president of the Kilburn Manufacturing Company, superintendent of the Troy Water Works, Commissioner of Public Works of the city, a director of the Manufacturers National Bank, director in several railroad companies, director of the Humane Society, a member of the governing board of Marshall Sanitarium, and a member of the board of trustees of the Troy Savings Bank since 1908.

On October 7, 1916, he was elected president of the institution which he continues to serve in that capacity, and the early years of his presidency coincided with the period of the World War and called for patriotic support on the part of the bank to Liberty Loan issues. It being the policy of the Troy Savings Bank

Page 112

to offer every resource tot he service of the country, the institution subscribed to over three and one-half million bonds, selling one-half to depositors and storing them, for the most part, in the vault of the bank for safekeeping, without charge to owners. Mr. Shields has followed the example of his grandfather by participating in various phases of civic enterprises. He is treasurer of the Emma Willard School, a trustee of the Troy Orphan Asylum, and a member of the Troy Citizens' Corporation, and treasurer of the Troy Public Library. For seventeen years he was a member of Company A, Second Regiment, new York State national Guard, and during that time rose from private to lieutenant. His religious affiliation is with the First Presbyterian Church of Troy, of whose board of trustees he is president, and he holds member ship in Mount Anthony Country Club, at Bennington, Vermont. Mr. Sheilds' recreation is farming, he being the owner of an extensive farm at Bennington, where he raises choice Guernsey stock.


A retired merchant who now gives his time and attention to private interests, Jonas Muhlfelder is regarded as one of the successful men of Albany. The esteem in which he is held by those among whom he has worked and lived is proven by his election to the vice-presidency of the National Savings Bank of Albany, and to the directorship of the Morris Plan Bank in this same city. Previous to his retirement in 1922 from active mercantile enterprises, Mr. Muhlfelder was conducting ladies' ready-to-wear stores: one at New Haven, Connecticut, one at troy, and another at Albany.

Jonas Muhlfelder was born in Saxony, Germany, January 2, 1867m the son of David and Elsie Muhlfelder, both of whom were also natives of Saxony. David Muhlfelder, the father, was for many years engaged in the cattle business in his native land. He came to this country, however, in 1889, two years after the death of his wife, and passed away at Ballston Spa in 1906.

Jonas Muhlfelder commenced his education in the public schools and gymnasiums of Germany, subsequently continuing his studies in Albany after his migration to this country. He also attended Albany Business College. His first employment was in a wholesale millinery store in Albany, but in 1888 he started in business for himself in Pittsfield. In this way, at the age of twenty-one years, Mr. Muhlfelder had found his proper niche in the world of business, a place he maintained for approximately thirty-five years, with ever-increasing success. The store at Pittsfield was a ladies' ready-to-wear clothing store. A few years later he established another store of this nature at Troy, New York, and one at New Haven, Connecticut. His store at Albany was one of the finest of its kind in the city, and having reaped that which he desired in active business fields, Mr. Muhlfelder, in spite of his unusual success, retired from active business affairs in 1922, sold out all his mercantile interests and since that time has given all of his time and energies to his own private interests. His election to the offices of trustee and vice-president of the Albany Savings Bank and director of the Morris Plan Bank came as marks of appreciation from those who had watched him climb from the bottom to the top of ladder of business success. Further marks of confidence came with his election to membership in the Chamber of Commerce of Albany. He holds membership in the Adelphi, the Colonie Country and New York Bridge and Whist clubs, and fraternally is affiliated with the Free and Accepted Masons. Together with his family he attends the Temple Beth Emeth.

Jonas Muhlfelder married, in 1891, Mattie England, and they became the parents of three daughters, all of whom are graduates of Wellesley College, and all of whom are married: 1. Helen, now Mrs. Eiseman, of Boston, Massachusetts. 2. Rose C., wife of Dr. H. A. Peck, of Albany. 3. Ida, now Mrs. F. Vorenberg, of Boston, Massachusetts.


Attorney and corporation counsel well known in Jamestown and Chautauqua County, J. Russell Rogerson was born on a farm in Chautauqua County, October 1, 1892, son of David M. and Alberta (Campbell) Rogerson. He received his education in the public school of Jamestown and at Syracuse University, whence he took the degree of Bachelor of Laws in 1914. In 1917 he was admitted to the bar, and has engaged in practice since 1920, having served in the World War prior thereto. Mr. Rogerson enlisted may 8, 1917, soon after he was admitted to the bar, and was assigned to the Signal Corps. He went overseas in January, 1918, and arrived

Page 113

back in the United States in July of 1919, when he was mustered out. He returned to civil life at that time, and commenced the practice of his profession with offices at Jamestown. He has been engaged in this practice continuously through the years that have succeeded.

Mr. Rogerson is a Republican, and an active supporter of the party's principles and candidates. Since January 1, 1928, he has been Jamestown's city attorney. He is a member of the Jamestown and State Bar Associations; the American Legion; and is a communicant of the First Presbyterian Church.

Mr. Rogerson married, December 22, 1917, Eleanor E. Olson, and their children are: June Adele and Rita. The family residence is at No. 164 Buffalo Street, Jamestown.


For more than a decade and a half his native city, Albany, New York, has been the scene of Mr. Reynders' successful activities in the banking business. Connected with the National Savings Bank of Albany since 1913, his industry, energy and ability won him rapid and frequent promotions to different positions of ever-increasing responsibility and importance, until he was made cashier of the this bank in November, 1925, the first one of occupy this office, creased at that time. In it he has displayed all the qualities which have been responsible for his rapid rise and he has contributed his full share to the continued prosperity and success of the bank. He is also prominent in the civic and religious life of the community, in which he is considered one of the most successful and substantial of the younger generation of bankers.

Gilbert John Reynders was born in Albany, July 18, 1895, a son of John C. and Caroline (Demgen) Reynders, the former a native of Holland, but for many years and to the time of his death in 1926, a resident of Albany, of which latter city his wife was a native. He was educated in the public grammar and high schools of Albany and after leaving school, at the age of fifteen years, entered the employ of the National & Commercial Bank of Albany as a clerk. Three years later, in 1913, he became connected with the National Savings Bank of Albany, founded in 1868, and one of the most important and largest savings banks in Central new York. his first position there was as bookkeeper, and later he became successively receiving teller, paying teller and assistant treasurer. In November, 1925, the new office of cashier was created, and Mr. Reynders became its first incumbent. Since then he has continued to fill this position with the ability and efficiency which distinguished his entire career with this bank. During the World War he was effectively active in connection with the various Liberty Loan drives and also with the War Savings Stamps campaigns.

Mr. Reynders is a member of the American Institute of Banking. In politicks he is a supporter of the Republican party, while his religious affiliations are with St. Matthew's Evangelical Church, of the board of trustees of which he is secretary.

Mr. Reynders married, August 18, 1919, Catherine A. Moldenhauer, of Albany, a daughter of Frederick and Bertha (Krouse) Moldenhauer. Mr. and Mrs. Reynders are the parents of two sons: 1. Gilbert John, Jr., born June 25, 1920. 2. Warren F., born January 27, 1923.


In the unusual line of business in which he had engaged throughout his career, that of expert in blue stone and its constructive uses, James Edward O'Neill became one of the foremost men in his calling in New York State, his work receiving well-merited recognition through his native abilities as well as because of his unfailing fairness and integrity in his many business relationships. For many years connected with the New York Board of Water supply, Mr. O'Neill was a painstaking and an honorable public servant, and one whose work and work were accompanied with proven reliability.

He was a son of Patrick O'Neill, who died in 1889, and of Catherine (Cashin) O'Neill, who was born in County Kilkenny, Ireland, in 1825, and came to the United States in 1845, engaged in the stone-quarrying business at Hurley, New York, all his life. Patrick and Catherine (Cashin) O'Neill had nine children, those living being: 1. James Edward, of whom further. 2. Catherine, who married John J. Carey, of Rondout. 3. Nellie, who resides in New York. 4. Delia. 5. Theresa. 6. Patrick John, of Kingston.

James Edward O'Neill was born July 21, 1857, in Hurley township, where he spent the larger part of his life. After attending the public schools in West Hurley, when he was sixteen years old, he began to engage in business with his father in the quarrying of stone on his own farm, a quarry that for many years has produced a blue stone that is made use

Page 114

of in general building, and particularly in the construction of platforms, walks, and the like, and that forms part of the construction of Ashokan reservoir, of New York's water supply. Mr. O'Neill was appointed blue stone expert for construction work; and for twenty years, to the time of his death, he was connected with New York's Board of Water Supply.

A Democrat in his political views, Mr. O'Neill received the appointment of postmaster for West Hurley, from President Grover Cleveland, and he served one term in that office. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus; the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks,. And a member of the board of trustees of the Roman Catholic Church at West Hurley. Mr. O'Neill died February 27, 1926, a citizen and public official who rendered a substantial and enduring service to his generation.

James Edward O'Neill married, June 22, 1884, at West Hurley, Julia A. Reddy, who was born in West Harley in 1860, and died in 1893, daughter of Richard and Elizabeth (Carey) Reddy, early settlers in this district. The children of this marriage: 1. Francis, born May 3, 1885, died in 1889. 2. William Vincent, born September 10, 1886. 3. Mary Loretta, born December 14, 1887. 4. Paulene, born November 7, 1890. 5. James Arnold, born August 8, 1893. William V. and James A. served in France with the American Expeditionary Forces. Mr. O'Neill married (second) Mary Cudahy, who was born in West Hurley, daughter of Edward D. and Mary (Mooney) Cudahy, the marriage taking place September 23, 1901, at St. Mary's Church, in Kingston. Mrs. O'Neill now resides in Kingston. They were the parents of a daughter, Elinora, who was born September 27, 1902, and died in infancy.


Brigadier-general, New York National Guard, commanding the 53d Infantry Brigade, National Guard, New York, and a prominent attorney, Ransom Hooker Gillett was born at New Lebanon Center, New York, February 25, 1877, son of Silas Wright and Abbie Patience Gillett. His early education was obtained in the public schools, St. John's Military Academy at Ossining, New York, Warrenton Military Academy at Warrenton, Virginia, and United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland. From here he entered the Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, Connecticut, then the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale University, from which institution he received the degree of Bachelor of Science, and from there he matriculated at Albany Law School, where he received the degree of Bachelor of Laws. Upon completing his law course, he practiced in Troy and Albany until December, 1918, when he enlisted in the United States Army, and went to France with the 106th Infantry, American Expeditionary Forces, 27th Division. Upon his return to this country, he established himself in the general practice of his chosen profession at his present location, which is in the Delaware and Hudson Building at Albany, New York, and the years that have intervened have brought him unbounded success. In 1919 and 1920, he was made a member of the New York State Legislature and he has continuously played an important part in public affairs. He is a lecturer on "Trial of Criminal Cases," and "Evolution of Criminal Law" for the New York State Police School; in 1922-23, general counsel of the New York State Division against the Prohibition Amendment, and also general counsel of the Committee to Enforce the Corrupt Practice Act. Professionally, he is a member of the American Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, Albany country Bar Association, Rensselaer County Bar Association, and the Columbia county Bar Association. His fraternal affiliations are with the Free and Accepted Masons, in which he has attained the thirty-second degree; the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; and many similar organizations; and also holds membership in the Yale Club.

General Gillett has a long military record, for his service in the National guard extends back to 1900, with rank ranging from private to his present high position. Having been discharged from the National guard with the rank of major in 1914, when American entered the World War, he enlisted as a private, and after service in training camps was commissioned major and assigned to the 105th United States Infantry upon his arrival in France. He took an active part in the Belgian campaign, in the battles of Kemmel Hill, Vierstadt Cross Roads, and was in the assault on the Hindenberg Line, September 25-29, 1918, on which date he was wounded in action. He, however, returned to service after two months and was discharged with honor in demobilization. Being officially commended for work on the transport "Lincoln" for service in Belgium and having received divisional citation for courage in the Hinden-

Page 115

berg Line Battle, he was accordingly awarded the Croix de Guerre, Palm from Belgium, the British Service Medal, and the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross. He was commissioned colonel of the Second Infantry national guard of New York, in May, 1819, and promoted to brigadier-general, July 6, 1926.

On June 6, 1922, Ransom Hooker Gillett married Ida (Mott) Gwynne, daughter of Dr. Albert Mott, of Cohoes, New York. General and Mrs. Gillett are the parents of one child, Nancy Gwynne. They reside in Albany during the winter, and their summer home is at New Lebanon Center.


The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie Axtman

You are the Visitor to this USGenNet Safe-Site™ Since September 5, 2004.


[Index][Book Index][NY][AHGP]