The History of New York State
Biographies, Part 39

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam


William Allen Underhill

A SON OF THE LATE Hon. Edwin Stewart Underhill, Sr., former owner and publisher of the Corning "Evening Leader," is one of the business managers of that enterprising journal, which occupies a unique position in its field. Having acquired valued experience in the editorial department of the "Leader" for a period of five years, he then entered the business office.

Born in Bath, New York, January 28, 1888, William Allen Underhill is a son of Edwin A. and Minerva E. (Allen) Underhill, both parents deceased. Two years of study at Haverling High School, Bath, was followed by one year at the University High School, Chicago, Illinois, and thence to the Princeton Preparatory School, Princeton, New Jersey, where he spent one year, then entered Yale University, from which he was graduated in the class of 1910 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts.

From college he went directly into the "Leader" office, where he served his time in the editorial department. Here he acquired much knowledge and experience which the better qualified him for becoming one of the newspaper's business managers. He is also secretary of the Corning Printing company, a director of the Gold Seal Products company, Urbana, N Y., president of the Corning Industries, Incorporated, and president of Corning Hospital. He is a director of the Corning Trust Company, one of the leading banks of that city. He has twice served as a director of the Corning Chamber of Commerce. He gives his political allegiance to the Republican Party.

Very shortly after the entrance of the United States into the World War, Mr. Underhill enlisted as a yeoman, 2d class, in the United States Naval Reserve Force at the Philadelphia

Page 214

(Pennsylvania) Navy Yard, June 2, 1917, and was assigned to duty on the United States Ship "Edorea" (see P. 549). On April 15, 1918, he was commissioned as ensign and transferred to the Overseas Communication Service. He subsequently was on duty at London, England, and Bizerta, in Tunis, Africa, and with the American Commission to Negotiate Peace at Paris. He returned to the United States in February, 1919, and received his honorable discharge on March 17, 1919.

He is affiliated with the Sons of the American Revolution, and Corning Lodge, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. His clubs are the Corning Country, Corning City, Elmira Country, Elmira City and Yale, of New York. He is a member of Christ Protestant Episcopal Church, Corning.


One of the best-equipped newspaper men of up-state New York, whose experience in the editorial department of well-known journals of that section, and as correspondent of important metropolitan dailies, covers a very wide range, John Furman Rolfe has most capably administered the posts of managing editor and editor of the "Corning Evening Leader" for more than twenty five years. As an associate of the late Edwin Stewart Underhill, St., former owner and publisher of the "Leader," and of the latter's sons, William A. and Edwin S. Underhill, Jr., a review of each appearing in this edition, he has played a highly important part in the erection of a splendid monument to journalistic enterprise, of which the newspaper's public is justifiably proud. Incidentally, it should be stated, Mr. Rolfe is an active participant in the Corning community's civic and commercial advance.

Born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, may 12, 1880, John Furman Rolfe, son of Maro and Alice (Potter) Rolfe, inherited much of his literary ability from his father, who was a man of letters; an editor, author and historian. He comes from Revolutionary stock on both sides. On the Rolfe side he is a direct descendant of honour Rolfe and of Benjamin, one of the proprietors of Newbury, and of the family of which the poet Whittier's mother came. On his paternal grandmother's side he is a descendant of Stephen Hight, after whom Hightstown, New Jersey, was named and who was one of the original surveyors of Steuben County. On his mother's side he descends from the Connecticut Potters, who settled Potter County, Pennsylvania, and from whom that county takes its name.

Having finished the course at Lawrenceville High School, and supplemented it with a commercial training at the Elmira (New York) Business college, the son, John, having elected the career of a journalist, launched out into newspaper work, which later saw him seated in the editorial chair of the "Elmira Tri-Weekly Advertiser," meanwhile serving as correspondent from his district of the Associated Press, "New York Sun," and "New York World." With this fine background, he came in 1901, at the request of Mr. Underhill, to be the managing editor and later the editor of the "Corning Evening Leader." Events since have proved Mr. Underhill's wisdom in making his choice, and the growth in size and influence of the "Leader," within its field has been due in no little measure to Mr. Rolfe's recognized ability in executing contents of one of the most appealing newspapers in its region. His genius as an editor is reflected in the high standard maintained in the editorial utterances and the various departments of news matter and feature pages. Advance in quality of the matter served to the readers has gone step by step with the progress made by the paper in its circulation department since Mr. Rolfe took the editorial helm in hand. With a fine spirit of cooperation, he continues to be a powerful unit in he conduct of the only newspaper in the city of Corning.

Drafted into public service by the citizens of Corning, Mr. Rolfe has rendered a fine service as a member of the Board of Health for the past fifteen years. In the World War period the Federal Government has in him a most efficient and patriotic aid. He served as a member of the Liberty Loan Committee, and as that body's district publicity director, as chairman of publicity for the War Chest; district director of War Stamp and Postal Savings; assistant to the fuel and food administrators; member of the Draft Board Education committee, and as a member of the Hone Defense Company.

In various interests and activities of Corning, Mr. Rolfe is or has been intimately concerned. He is vice-president of the Corning Printing Company; volunteer secretary and member of the Denison Park commission, which devel-

Page 215

oped Denison Park and raised the development fund; a former director of the Corning Chamber of Commerce, and of Corning Rotary Club; an incorporator and a former director of the Crystal City Realty Corporation; director of Corning Homes, Incorporated; a former director of Steuben County Young Men's Christina Association and of the Girl Scouts, and a member of the examining board of the Boy Scouts.

As a member of the Fourth Estate, Mr. Rolfe enjoys high standing in the New York Editorial Association, the New York State Dailies' Association, the New York State Publishers' Association, of which body's committee on education he is a member; and of the empire State School of Engraving and Printing. His fraternal obligations are given to Painted post Lodge, No. 117, Free and Accepted Masons, of Corning. He is an incorporator and charter member of Corning Lodge, No. 1071, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; a member of the Corning Club and the Corning country club. His religious affiliation is with Christ Protestant Episcopal Church, Corning.

Mr. Rolfe married, October 14, 1903, at Elmira, New York, Bertha Emily Butterworth, daughter of William and Mary Ann Butterworth.

Edwin Stewart Underhill, Jr.

One of the business manager of the "Corning Evening Leader," of which his father, the late Hon. Edwin Stewart Underhill, St., was the owner and publisher, and of which the latter's other son, William Allen Underhill, is also a manger of the business department. Reviews of the father and brother of Edwin S. Underhill, Jr., and of John Furman Rolfe, editor of the "Leader" are contained in this work as a contiguous account of the rise and progress of the "Evening Leader," its inspiring genius and his able corps of associates in the management.

Edwin Stewart Underhill, Jr. was born in Bath, New York, April 18, 1890, a son of Edwin S. and Minerva E. (Allen) Underhill, both parents deceased. He was a student at Haverling High School, Bath, for one year, and pursued his studies further at

Princeton Preparatory School, Princeton, New Jersey, for an additional year, and then spent a like period at Jacob Tome Institute, Port Deposit, Maryland. He next entered Sheffield Scientific school, Yale University, from which he was graduated in the class of 1911. His association with the "Corning Evening Leader," began almost immediately on his leaving the university, for in the year of his graduation he was attached to the business department of the newspaper, and has ever since held office as one of the managers of that division.

For six years Mr. Underhill gave undivided attention to the duties of his important office on the "Leader." July 2, 1917, he enlisted in the Navy, and served on submarine Patrol boats off the Atlantic coast. He was commissioned an ensign in the United States Naval Reserve Force, May 13, 1918, and in September, 1918, was given the rank of ensign with his (T) at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland. He saw office aboard the United States steamship "Von Steuben," in the transport service, and was honorably discharged from the Navy in December, 1918.

Mr. Underhill is enrolled as a member of the Democratic Party. He is president of the Corning Printing Company; a director of the Gold Seal Products Company, Urbana, New York, and of the First National Bank and Trust Company, of Corning. He is secretary-treasurer of the New York associated Dailies and a former president of the Corning Chamber of Commerce.

In fraternal life he is a member and Past Exalted Ruler of the Corning Lodge, Benevolent and protective Order of Elks, and also affiliated with the Free and Accepted Masons. He is a member of the Corning Country club, the Corning Club, and the Elmira Country club. His religious fellowship is with Christ Protestant Episcopal Church, Corning.

Mr. Underhill married, June 7, 1923, at Elmira, New York, Florence winner, daughter of Seth and Florence (Henry) Winner. They have two children: Margaret Minerva, born May 7, 1924, and Edwin Stewart Underhill (3), born April 15, 1926.

Ten Eyck T. Mosher

In 1901 Ten Eyck T. Mosher entered the real estate business which had been established by his father of the same name, in 1896. A few years later the firm name was changed to Ten Eyck T. Mosher & Company, composed of the subject of this sketch, his father and Henry W. Polgreen. The business was removed from No. 180 South Pearl Street, where it has been established, to No. 82 State Street, where is increased very rapidly. In 1913, the four-story building at No. 128 State Street was purchased and after being extensively remodeled and named the Mosher building was occupied by

Page 216

Ten Eyck T. Mosher & Company in 1915. On January 1, 1922, Henry W. Polgreen retired from the firm. The business is continued under the same name with Ten Eyck T. Mosher as sole proprietor, his father having died October 13, 1917.

One of the interesting real estate developments planned and carried out by Mr. Mosher has been a tract of twenty acres called Helderberg Heights, through which extends Main Avenue for a distance of 1,750 feet between Woodlawn Avenue and New Scotland Avenue. This beautiful street is ninety feet wide with a parkway and boulevard lights in the center and is one of the most carefully restricted residential streets in Albany. The lots are wide and deep and restricted tot he building of first-class one-family dwellings only. Scarcely a vacant lot now remains on Main Avenue, Helderberg Heights, and beautiful homes occupied by many of Albany's prominent business men now line both sides.

Mr. Mosher has been active in the purchase and sale of Albany real estate both for his own account and for the account of many clients. He has for more than twenty-five years specialized in all branches of the real estate business within the city of Albany. Millions of dollars have been loaned on mortgages on Albany property through his firm and no client has ever lost a dollar from a mortgage investment which he made. Much time and study have been given to Albany real estate values and as a result the services of Ten Eyck T. Mosher have been in demand in appraising real estate for the city of Albany, the State of New York, for banks, for estates, for individuals, and the United States Government. He was one of the five appraisers appointed by the State of New York to appraise the value of real estate surrounding the Capitol from which a site was selected for the new thirty-two-story office building. He is president of the following companies, all of which are large owners of real estate: The Real Estate Investment Company of Albany, New York, incorporated, in 1907; Washington Investing Company, incorporated in 1910; the Mosher Corporation, incorporated, in 1913; the Fermac Corporation, incorporated in 1922; and the Waldron Estates, incorporated in 1926. The latter took the contract from the State of New York, to clear the site of the new State office building on Swan Street from Washington Avenue to State Street, and in carrying this out moved the eight-story Fort Frederick apartment house from Washington Avenue and Swan Street to No. 248 State Street. The Actual moving of this apartment house, which weighs 3,200 tons, was done by the John Eichleay, Jr., Company, of Pittsburgh, without cracking a wall or breaking a window, and was the largest moving job ever undertaken in Albany.

Ten Eyck T. Mosher, was born in Albany, November 19, 1884, the son of Ten Eyck T. Mosher, born at South Bethlehem, March 19, 1850, and of Sarah Jane Anderson, born in Albany, December 24, 1850. His mother was born in the building standing on the northwest corner of State and Pearl Streets, the present site of the Ten Eyck Hotel. He was educated in the public schools of Albany.

One June 14, 1905, Mr. Mosher married Mary Matilda Long, a grand-daughter of the James Long who was head of the famous Albany firm of carriage makers, Long and Silsby. They have three daughters, Emily Hathaway and Sarah Anderson, twins, who are attending Mount Holyoke College; and Mary Ten Eyck, who attends the Albany Academy for Girls.

He has a city home in The Fort Frederick, 248 State Street, and a country home called "Peacedale," at Van Wie's Point on the Hudson River. He has long been a collector of books and prints pertaining to Albany and he has a complete collection of autographs of the mayors of Albany. His library composes more than 5,000 volumes. His favorite diversions are reading, country life and traveling. He is a member of the Albany Lodge, No. 49, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; Albany Burns Club, Old Philologians, the Albany Club, Unconditional Republican Club, and a charter member of both the Kiwanis Club and the Albany Realty Board. He is also one of the trustees of the Albany Orphan Asylum; and a director of the Albany chamber of commerce and of the Albany Abstract Corporation.

Thomas J. P. Cawley

For some years, ever since his admission to the bar, his native city, Albany, New York, has been the scene of Mr. Cawley's successful professional activities as a lawyer. Though one of the younger members of the Albany bar, his great legal ability and his deep interest in all phases of law have gained him a very high reputation and brought him a large and important practice. This he carries on from his offices at No. 86 State Street, Albany. He also takes an active interest and part in the fraternal, social and religious life of his native city.

Thomas J. P. Cawley was born at Albany,

Page 217

November 20, 1890, a son of Thomas and Catherine M. (McLaughlin) Cawley, the former for many years engaged in railroad work, but now living in Albany in retirement. He was educated at St. Joseph's Academy, from which he graduated in 1906. He then attended Niagara University, Niagara Falls, Niagara County, for one year. Later he took up the study of law at Albany Law School, where he was a member of the class of 1919. Admitted to the bar September 15, 1919, he established himself in the practice of his profession in Albany, in which he met with marked success and in which he has continued ever since then, specializing in corporation and insurance law.

In politics Mr. Cawley is a supporter of the Republican Party and its principles. He is a member of the Fourth Degree, Knights of Columbus; the Order of Alhambra; the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; the Gamma Eta Gamma Fraternity; the Albany Club; the Schuyler Meadows Country Club; and the Yonkers City Club, of which latter he is a non-resident member. His religious affiliations are with the Roman Catholic Church, and more particularly with St. Patrick's Church, of Albany.

Thomas J. P. Cawley married, July 2, 1917, Josephine C. Mulcahy. Mr. and Mrs. Cawley are the parents of two children: 1. M. Marjorie, born March 31, 1918. 2. Junior, born August 4, 1919.

The Niagara Falls Public Library

The Niagara Falls Public Library can trace its ancestry back to 1814, when an association of citizens started, with forty books, what was called the Grand Niagara Library. In 1838 a tax of $20 was voted for the purchase of books or a district library. This was the beginning of an institution which ash occupied several homes. It started its existence in a small recitation room on the first floor of the old Third Street School, but was soon crowded out and moved to the Frontier Mart on Falls Streets. It was next found in the Young Men's Christian Association room on the upper floor of a building on the corner of Main and Cherry streets. It was shortly moved back to the Frontier Mart on the second floor, then to the upper floor. The next change was to the third floor of Ryan's Block, and from there to a room on the third floor of the Arcade Building.

The perpetuation of the District School Library was largely due to the untiring efforts of James F. Trott, who molded public sentiment and gratuitously discharged the duties of librarian for fifty years. On February 1, 1895, the District School Library ceased and the Niagara Falls Public library opened it s doors under the new charter. In 1898 the library was moved to a room in the Arcade Building. On March 8, 1901, Mr. Carnegie numbered us among the fortunate ones to receive a gift of $50,000 for a building, and in October of the same year the city purchased a site on Main Street, corner of Ashland Avenue, a location accessible to all parts of the city. The Central Library was built on this side in 1902. Mrs. Adele Barnum, Miss Jennie Witner, and Mr. Earl Browning served in turn as librarians from 1902 to 1920. In 1920 Miss Bertha M. Cudebec became librarian.

Miss Cudebec was graduated from the University of Rochester in 1914. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and various local organizations. Trained at the New York State Library School, she brought a high ideal of service into the re-organization of the Public Library. Its growth has been steady. Four branches have been opened and many plant libraries have been placed. In 1919 the circulation of books amounted to 90,000 and the librarian's staff numbered three. In 1928 the circulation was 517,140 and the staff, full and part-time, averaged thirty.

During these years of growth, Colonel George C. Shepard has been president of the Board of Trustees. The librarian acknowledges her indebtedness to the ever-ready cooperation and support given her by the Board of Trustees. Ex-Mayor Maxwell Thompson, Mayor William Laughlin, and the present City Manager, W. F. Robbins, have lent their support in securing the additional funds necessary for expansion and improved service.

P. Gardner Coffin

One of the outstanding figures in the local business affairs of the village of Catskill, New York, is P. Gardner Coffin, who for many years has occupied a prominent position in the activities of this thriving community. Born, reared and educated in Catskill, he has always taken a deep interest in its welfare and has devoted much of his time and efforts to the progress and betterment of his home town.

P. Gardner Coffin was born in Catskill, August 10, 1859, the son of Uriah H. and Elizabeth J. (Surfliet) Coffin. He attended the collage schools and there laid the foundation of his education, which he augmented in later

Page 218

years by a wide range of carefully selected reading and close observation of men and events.

In 1876, at the early age of seventeen, Mr. Coffin began to earn his own living. He entered the Catskill post office as deputy post-master, and in 1882 an opportunity to begin a career that promised much more then the position he was then occupying, presented itself. He accepted the offer of an opening in the Catskill National Bank, one of the oldest banking institutions in the United States, having been founded in 1813. This opened for him an opportunity of which he made the most and which eventually led to success and prominence in his town and county. He was advanced to the position of assistant cashier in 1889, and in 1895 was elected cashier, a position he has held ever since. He has also been a director of the bank for many years.

Mr. Coffin's business activities have not been confined to banking, but have been extended to other spheres. From 1885 to 1891 he was associated with his brother, the late Charles G. Coffin, in a large insurance business. For ten Years, he was president of the Catskill Cement Company, the first industry of its kind to be established in the town. In 1889 he helped to organize the Catskill Building & Loan association, now the Catskill Savings & Loan Association, and has been a director and treasurer of the organization ever since it was founded. He has served as president of the Catskill Mountain Fire Insurance Company, and the Greene County Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Greenville, New York, and serves these companies as a director. He is an associate director of the New York Bankers, Incorporated.

In county and municipal affairs Mr. Coffin has taken an active and prominent part for many years. He served on the Greene County Board of Supervisors in 1896, 1898 and 1899, and was its chairman for two years. He was one of the committee that had charge of the construction of a court house, county jail and sheriff's residence, a group of stone buildings noted for their rare architectural beauty and modern conveniences. Mr. coffin was village treasurer for twelve years and was a member for some time of the Board of Health, resigning to accept a place on the Board of Water Commissioners, on which he served for fifteen yeas, most of which as president. He has been for many years president of the board of directors of the Home for Aged women of Greene County. he is a trustee, director and treasurer of the Young Men's Christian Association; was vice-president of the Columbia-Greene Council, Boy Scouts of America, and is treasurer and chairman of the finance committee of the Greene County Council, Boy Scouts of America, recently organized.

Mr. Coffin is prominent socially and in spite of all his business and organization connections, he finds time for recreation. He is a charter member of the Rip Van Winkle Club and was its president twice, besides serving as its treasurer. He is a director of the Catskill County Club, Incorporated, and he organized the Rotary club, serving as its first president and being unanimously re-elected for a second term. His fraternal affiliations are the Free and Accepted Masons, Royal Arch Masons, and Select Masters, and Knights Templar. For a number of years he has been a member of the First Reformed Church of Catskill. Mr. Coffin is a Republican, having been affiliated with that party in an active and prominent manner for along time. For several years he was a member of the Greene County Republican Committee and was at one time the chairman.

Mr. Coffin sprang from a long line of distinguished ancestors, who trace their origin to Sir Richard coffin, Knight, who accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066, and settled in Dorsetshire. The founder of the American family was Tristram Coffin, who was the son of Peter and Joan (Thember or Thumber) Coffin, of Brixton, Devonshire, and a grandson of Nicholas Coffin of that place, who died in 1613. Tristram Coffin was born probably about 1605, and married Dionis Stevens. With his widowed mother and family he came to New England in 1642. They lived successively in Haverhill, Newbury, and Salisbury and finally settled in Nantucket about 1660. Here Tristram Coffin died in 1681 and here some of his descendants are living today. He was granted a commission by Francis Lovelace, governor of New York, as chief magistrate over the islands of Nantucket and Tuckernuck.

Mr. Coffin's paternal grandfather, Peter G. Coffin, was born in Hudson, New York, July 30, 1794, and for many years he was a well-known boatman, his vessels plying between Catskill and Albany. He died December 5, 1858. He was married three times and his second wife, formerly Lucy O. Green, who was born in Athens, New York, November 1, 1793, was the grandmother of P. Gardner Coffin. She

Page 219

Died in Athens, February 7, 1834. Her only child was Uriah H. Coffin, who was born May 30, 1831.

Uriah H. Coffin was a resident of Athens in his youth, but spent most of his life in Catskill, where for a time he was in the grocery business. Later, like his father, he took to boating and at one time was captain of the "P. G. Coffin," plying between Catskill and Albany. Later he commanded a steamer running from New York and Catskill. Eventually he abandoned the boating business and removed to Whitehall, New York. When the Civil War broke out he enlisted and was commissioned a captain in the 120th Regiment and remained in service until the end of the war. He was quartermaster of the regiment, on the staff of Colonel George H. Sharpe. After the war, he received an appointment in the New York post office, a position he held for many years.

P. Gardner Coffin was married, November 9, 1887, to Ida Brown, a daughter of Captain John and Helen (Waters) Brown, the latter a former resident of Catskill. Captain Brown for many years was connected with the Southern Pacific Railroad. Mrs. Coffin was born in Petaluma, California. Mr. and Mrs. Coffin have two sons: Charles G. Coffin, an attorney-at-law in Catskill, and Robert E. Coffin, of New York City, and one daughter, Miss Helen M. Coffin, of Catskill.


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]