The History of New York State
Biographies, Part 45

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam

 

HALL G. VAN VLACK. M. D. 

There are few specializing surgeons of his age who have had the advantage of such a comprehensive practical experience in the profession as Dr. Hall G. Van Vlack, resident of Jamestown since 1921. For eleven years prior to establishing himself in practice here he was constantly engaged in his occupation in famous hospitals and in the serve of the United States Army Medical Corps. His experience in France during the World War may have been the incentive to his adoption of orthopedic surgery and diseases of the bones as his specialty, owing to the vast number of gunshot wound cases that came under his care during that period. At any rate, his work since settling down to private practice has shown him to be a skilled operator and a scientist of exceptional ability, who has won the high regard of the people by his intimate knowledge of his profession and his attractive personal qualities. Added to these commendatory attributes

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is a sincere interest in the civic, social and fraternal activities of the community, all of which make for sound and useful citizenship, which Dr. Van Vlack represents in highest quality.

He was born in Perrysburg, New York, January 8, 1885, a son of George W. and Margaret A. (Merrill) Van Vlack, and acquired his education in the local schools and at Forestville High School, after graduation from which he attended the University of Michigan, and was graduated with the class of 1910 and received his degree of Doctor of Medicine. He followed this with one year as an interne in the emergency Hospital at buffalo. In August, 1911, he went with his wife to Paris, where he acquired knowledge of the French language and attended the hospital in Paris. Later in the same year he went to Constantinople, took examinations and received a diploma permitting him to practice in the Turkish Empire. He went early in 1912 to Busrah in Mesopotamia, where he was sent by the University of Michigan Student Christian Association to take charge of the hospital operating in cooperation with the Arabic Mission of the Dutch Reformed Church of America. He continued in this capacity until 1915, when the hospital was turned over to the British for the care of wounded Turks, with Dr. Van Vlack in charge. Early in 1917 he returned to the United States, having fulfilled his contract, and entered the United States Army as lieutenant in the Medical Corps of the Regular Army. One year was spent in France with the American Expeditionary forces and a like period in Washington, District of Columbia, at the Walter reed Hospital General Hospital. He then became assistant to the chief surgeon of the General Hospital No. 31, located at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, and then surgeon at this hospital. Later this hospital was transformed into the Field Service School from the Medical Department, and Dr. Van Vlack remained as instructor and post surgeon. In February, 1921, he resigned from the regular army and now holds rank of Major of the Medical Reserve Corps. He was professionally associated for three years with Dr. George W. Cottis, but since 1824 has been in independent practice in the specialty mentioned. He is a member of the staffs of both local hospitals, of the American Medical Association, and of the New York State and Chautauqua County Medical Societies, also a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He is a past president of the Jamestown Rotary Club and an active member of the American Legion. His fraternal affiliations include the Hanover Lodge, No. 152, Order of Free and Accepted Masons; Jamestown Consistory; Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Masons; and other bodies. His family stock is pre-Revolutionary, his great-grandfather having been a soldier in that war of the colonies for independence.

Hall G. Van Vlack married Mercy I. Dye, of Forestville. Their children are: 1. Norman P. 2. Louise A. 3. Hall G., Jr. 4. Jacques D.

The family residence is at No. 38 Royal Avenue, Jamestown, New York.

MORRIS ERWIN GREGORY

Manufacturer, was born on the home farm in Caton, July 29, 1864. His father and grandfather were both men who mastered the soil into productivity, and early in life the boy, Morris, learned the patient perseverance, the will force, the foresight, that is part of the grain of character and the sinew of courage with which the pioneer creates from the raw the stepping stones for civilization. He led the busy, happy, wholesome life of the country boy until well in his teens. In the local district schools he gathered knowledge from books; at home, nature and farm responsibilities helped to mold his character and develop his keen intelligence. In 1886 he was graduated from high school, known in that section as the Corning Free Academy. He grappled at once with one of the most exacting professions in life, that of the teacher. Teaching calls into play every resource of character, every atom of willpower, all possible nerve and physical energy, if the teacher is to be effective and inspiring, and Morris Gregory could not be otherwise, for the two qualities were part and parcel of his personality. He taught school for four years in the graded schools of New Jersey. Then he entered the business world by becoming bookkeeper for the Corning Brick company in Corning, New York. The bookkeeper's chair too often became an anchor in the lives of bright men, until they are made lifetime drudges of its polished seat. During the five years or more that Morris E. Gregory held the bookkeeper's stool he was daily becoming less and less the bookkeeper and more and more the man of enterprise. There was in him such force and aspiration that the bookkeeper metamorphosed into

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the owner of the concern. In 1896 Mr. Gregory bought the entire business to become its sole owner and manger. The name was changed to the Corning Brick Terra Cotta and Tile Company and its reputation for quality came to stand highest in the market. Mr. Gregory made Corning brick a symbol of himself. It stood for strength, for reliable uniformity, for integrity, for beauty. The name Corning brick became the trade-mark of quality.

The business branched into several departments and chief of these in his thoughtful concern was the architectural terra cotta, a product that offered both strength and beauty to buildings; for it was used both as a main building material and in graceful decoration, and was desired for banks, schools, churches, theatres, office buildings, filing stations, park adornment, garden furniture and such like. The product improved and varied under his creative direction. He gave its growth constant and thoughtful study and the result brought him fame and honor. Throughout the eastern United States his products appear in some of the finest and largest semi-public buildings. His name appeared in the front ranks of State, national, and international ceramic associations. Mr. Gregory, a year before death called him, made a trip to Europe, partially to study further possible uses and forms for his excellent and attractive terra cotta products. He was dreaming ahead, as usual, and being of such calibre as Kipling writes: "If you can dream--and not make dreams your master"--he sought inaction to find practical application for his visions. As the editorial in his home paper so well put it:

He was practical in his applications. He always stood his ground. He was either for or against. He spent no time grumbling about everything to emptiness but would devote his entire energies to attempt to change conditions where they could legally and effectively be altered. He was full of energy. A man of enthusiasm.

Such a man could not, and would not want to, except a multiplicity of civic, and social zeal and enthusiasm in national campaigns, while at home he stood by the men whose qualities he believed would most benefit the community. He desired no public office himself, but gave without stint of his effort and substance to promote civic welfare loyally, and progress nationally. He was an unostentatious leader, but he wielded because of his personally, a powerful influence.

Fraternally, he was widely popular and of distinctive prominence. He was a member of long standing in Masonic orders, a Sir Knight, with the thirty-second degree Scottish Rite, also a member of the Mystic Shrine and of Corning's Consistory. Morris e. Gregory was a member and Past Grand in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and a member of the Corning Lodge, No. 1071, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Fraternalism was to him a matter of constant inspiration, as he in such associations proved to others. In religion a staunch Presbyterian, his spirit marched in time with better morals and high ideals and on all such issues he stood firm as supporter and abettor. His efforts for all good causes were used with the remarkable energy and vim that showed in all his activities.

Much credit is due Mr. Gregory also in his labors with the New York State Automobile Association. Many of the wise policies now in use he propounded and advocated when they were but empirical ventures. State conventions found him nearly always one of them, a booster for good roads, a perspicuous judge in matters of taxation and highway systems.

His affiliations were numerous in societies, clubs and associations and his posts of honor many. Mr. Gregory was president of the National Brick Manufactuers' Association in 1908, chairman of the membership committee of the New York State Automobile Association; first president of the State Ceramic Society in 1915; member of the National Terra cotta Society; member of the American Ceramic society; member of First Presbyterian Church; member of Corning Rotary; first vice-president Corning Automobile Association at the time of his death, and also its first vice-president, being a charter member; member of Painted Post Lodge, No. 117, of the Free and Accepted Masons, of Corning; Corning Chapter, No. 190, of the Royal Arch Masons; Corning Council, No. 53, of the Royal and Select Masters; Corning Consistory; Kalurah Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of Binghamton; St. Omer's Commandery, Knights Templar of Elmira; member of Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; formerly prominent in Independent Order of Odd Fellows' proprietor of Corning Brick Terra Cotta and Tile Company for twenty-seven years, and Corning Terra Cotta Company for past three years. Business affairs held him steadily, but what avocations he allowed himself outside of social and fraternal contacts, were found in gold, or in water sports.

Mr. Gregory's passing, on May 4, 1926, was

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a serious shock to his community and to many friends and associates in outlying section of the country. His death inspired an editorial far above the average eulogy, a tribute that only a man of exceptional endowment could evoke. It deserves permanency and is well worth quoting from. The editorial reads in part:

His forebears were pioneers wrestling with the rugged lands. His own nature was pioneer but his activities were transferred from the primitive to the complex and with fundamentals he too, wrestled as a pioneer, going through trial and adversity, great business responsibility; in industry and community and political life he dealt primarily with conditions, studied those conditions and sought to better and alter them. Any student of Morris E. Gregory's active and busy life will find its theatre and activity in pioneer work in fundamentals in a complex field……

Enough of a practical optimist to be an ideal pessimist, his qualities of leadership among movements and men lay in his urge to do something. Few men found more self-expression than he or met with less resistance in essentials.

The news column today carry the sad message to his friends that this soldier of industry, community crusader has fallen in his prime. They tell us in detail of his many connections and activities.

Summed up they chronicle the story of a man who believed thoroughly in himself and his community, and who was not afraid to put such belief to the test.

And, most important, he was not an individualist. He could and did do his work through groups.

Morris E. Gregory married, October 29, 1891, Annie C. Creveling, daughter of Samuel W. and Emma B. Creveling. Their children: 1. Morris Creveling, active in his father's business. Issue, Dorothy Ann. 2. George Erwin, associated with his father in terra cotta manufacture. Issue, George Erwin Gregory, Jr.

M. WAITE HICKS

Numbered among the leading business executives of Granville is M. Waite Hicks, president and general manager of the Granville Company. Throughout his business career he has always closely allied himself with affairs tending to promote civic betterment and never fails to give his earnest support to such advancement.

His father, Frank E. Hicks, was born at Granville, in 1848, and for many years he was a speculator in farm products. He also served in the capacity of supervisor of the village of Granville, was a staunch Republican, and at the time of his death was president of the Granville Telephone company, and vice-president of the Granville National Bank, offices he had held for many years. He married Ida J. Waits, who was a native of Granville, having been born there in 1851, and who died in 1914.

M. Waite Hicks, son of Frank E, and Ida J. (Waite) Hicks, was born at Granville, May 3, 1875. He received his early education in the public schools of his native place and after attending the local high school spent one year at the s. S. Seward Institute at Florida, New York; subsequently attending Albany Business College, from which he was graduated in 1896. His first position was in a clerical capacity at Albany. In 1908 he went to work for the Mutual Life Insurance Company as an agent. In April, 1900, he was made construction foreman for the Granville Telephone Company, and supervised the construction of the telephone lines from Granville to Cambridge; installed exchanges at Rupert, Vermont; Salem, Shushan, and Cambridge, New York, and in December, 1900, was made superintendent of the Granville Telephone Company. It was not long that he remained in that position, however, for his ability was readily recognized and he quickly rose through the several positions o secretary, treasurer, and, in 1906, was made general manager. This office he continued to fill until his father's death in 1916, when he was also made president of the company, to fill the vacancy caused by the elder man's death. In recognition of his ability as an able executive, he has been called upon several times to take positions of importance, and has served as president of the Granville Development Company; a director of the Washington County National Bank, at Granville; and a member and a director of the Rotary International. He has been a member of the Board of Education since 1921. He holds membership in Lake St. Catherine's Golf Club at Poultney, and in his religious affiliations is an attendant of the Baptist Church at Granville. He is a republican in politics.

On January 20, 1906, at Granville, M. Waite Hicks married Cora B. Shaffner, daughter of Lorenzo and Rose B (Haskins) Shaffner, the former for many years overuse to his death having been proprietor of the Colburn House at Manchester, Vermont. Mr. and Mrs. Hicks are the parents of the following children;. 1. Hildah E. 2. Mansir W., Jr. 3. Merilla V. 4. Ida J. and 5. Almera E. the family residence is at Granville. Mr. hicks finds his recreation in fishing.

JOHN EDWARD SUTTON, M. D.

Prominent physician and surgeon of Albion, with a clientele extending well through the county and a medical reputation widely known in the State of new York, Dr. John Edward Sutton is one of the most valued member of the Albion community, deeply interest in its general progress. He was born in Carleton,

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February 27, 1856, son of Thomas and Kittie (Brown) Sutton, both of whom were natives of Kent, England. For many years Thomas Sutton was a farmer, in Orleans County. Dr. Sutton received his early academic instruction in the common schools of his native place and at Albion Academy. Outside of his professional studies his education has been largely attained by self application. He matriculated in the University of Buffalo, at Buffalo, New York; and meanwhile, his ideas had turned with ever-increasing interest to the profession of medicine as a life-work. He took the degree of Doctor of Medicine from the Buffalo institution in 1883, then at the age of twenty-seven years, and was admitted to practice forthwith, opening offices in Albion, where he has been in residence and practice through the more than forty-five years that have followed. His position in the profession was large even in earlier years, and this he has added to consistently, until today he maintains standing as a foremost figure in medical affairs, esteemed highly by his colleagues as a physician and as a man. He is a member of the county, State and American medial associations.

Dr. Sutton has interested himself consistently in the advancement of the Albion community, primarily as a medical man, but also as a citizen in other capacities. He has served several terms as coroner and on the Board of Health, and for fifteen years as member of the Board of Education of Albion, and for several terms as president of the board. Fraternally he is identified with Renovation Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons; with the Chapter, Royal Arch Masons; and the Independent Order of Odd fellows. He belongs to the Historical Club, and interests himself in good writings of classical and professional character. During the World War he contributed liberally to patriotic causes, notably to those requiring financial support. He is also a member of the Volunteer Medical Service Corps.

Dr. Sutton married (first), in 1891, Lizzie Bruner; and of this union were born children: 1. John Edward, Jr., who is a graduate of Cornell University, holding the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Medicine, now engaged in a lucrative medical practice in New York City, being well known there for his proficiency in surgery. 2. Henry Bruner, also a graduate of Cornell, with the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine, now practicing medicine and surgery in Ithaca, New York. 3. Janet M., wife of Captain Kenyon P. Flagg, of the Regular United States Army, now detailed as instructor in army tactics at East Lansing, Michigan. Mrs. Flagg is a graduate of Lake Erie College, class of 1918, degree of Bachelor of Arts. Dr. Sutton married (second) Alice Rogers, and of this union was born a son: 4. William Rogers, now (1929) engaged in post-graduate work at Cornell University. The family residence is at No. 16 East Avenue, and the Doctor's offices are at Main and East Bank Streets, Albion.

Dr. Sutton has never joined any religious organization,. Though inclined to the Unitarian. He has based his principles of life's philosophy on the belief that straight thinking by an educated brain with reasonably sound ancestors needs no supernatural supervision, to keep it thinking straight, and has no such supervision. To think is to act.

FREDERICK CARDER

An internationally known figure, covering the glass industry in this country and England, and one who probably has done more for the advancement of artistic glassware in the United States than any other man is Frederick Carder, art director of the great Corning Glass Works, at Corning, Steuben County, New York. Although the greater part of his time is devoted to his particular line of endeavor, he has, since coming to Corning in 1903, taken a keen and active interest in this city's welfare and has always found time to support any movement appertaining to its progress.

Frederick Carder was born in South Staffordshire, England, September 18, 1864, the son of Caleb and Annie (Wadelin) Carder, the former a pottery manufacturer of prominence. Frederick Carder received his elementary education in the primary and grammar schools of his native place, and then attended the School of Design, subsequently taking a course at the Royal College of Arts at South Kensington, England. He then learned the pottery trade from his father, later studying sculpture and drawing, in which he gained distinction as an artist and designer. Worthy of note are the facts that he was the gold medalist of his class while attending the School of Design and also that he had some of his work on exhibition at the Royal Academy in England in 1898. Upon coming to this country in 1903 and settling in Corning, where he has since resided, he became associated with Thomas G. Hawkes in the glass business and a short time later founded the Steuben Glass Works, where he began the

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making of artistic glass of designs and texture unknown to this country. It took but a little time before the Steuben lass became famous, Mr. Carder, being the author of the many varieties and rich colors which have made the Steuben Glass Works so popular. In 1913 Corning Glass Works and at that time Mr. Carder became art director of the company. .

Ever public-spirited in the fullest sense of the word, and especially interested along educational lines, Mr. Carder has served as a member of the local School Board, was chairman of the building committee and in fact one of the instigators of the erection of the half a million dollar schoolhouse which is a building of exceptional beauty in Corning. He is a Rotarian, was the first president of the Corning rotary Club, and was one of the founders of the Bath Rotary; is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London; member of the Chemical Society of America; member of the Society of Glass and Technology of Great Britain,, and the Ceramic Society of America; and a member of the Society of Illuminating Engineers. In Masonry he holds a prominent place, being a thirty-third degree Mason; Noble of the Mystic Shrine; and a trustee of the Corning consistory for fifteen years. He also holds membership in the Chemists Club and the Old Colony Club of New York City, and the Corning Club of Corning, of which he is president.

In England, in 1887, Frederick Carder married Annie Walker, and they became the parents of two children: Gladys, who married G. C. Wells, and now resides in Cleveland; and Cyril, who was a lieutenant in the Sixteenth United States infantry, received a citation for bravery and the Distinguished Service Cross, and was killed in action at Soissons during the World War.

Through the force of his character and his constructive activities, Frederick Carder has become a useful and influential member of the society and his life has been an exemplary one in every respect.

FRANK BARROWS SEELEY, D. D. 

Pastor of the Reformed Church of Kingston, Ulster county, Rev. Frank Barrows Seeley is dean of the clergymen of that city, having occupied that post continuously since April 1, 1898. Greatly beloved by all the members of his congregation, Dr. Seeley is admired and respected by all the residents of Kingston, irrespective of creed or position, and is every where recognized as a true exemplar of the tenets he preaches. He has often been heard to declare that life seems to him more wonderful every day, and he truly lives his belief that a man takes out of life what he puts into it.

Dr. Seeley was born at Richfield Springs, Otsego County, May 10, 1872, the son of Francis Hiram and Martha (Weeks) Seeley, both natives of Vermont. The mother of Dr. Seeley was a sister of Governor Weeks of Vermont, and a direct descendant of John Alden. His father was a Presbyterian clergyman who was pastor in Richfield Springs from 1866 to 1882, after which he held a pastorate in Delhi, Delaware County, from 1882 to 1912. He died in 1921, at the advanced age of eighty-two; his wife having passed away while Dr. Seeley was but an infant.

The early education of Dr. Seeley was obtained at Delaware Academy, Delhi, after which he entered Middlebury Academy, Middlebury, Vermont, graduating in 1893 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. He then attended the Union Theological Seminary, New York City, from which he graduated in 1896. His first pastorate was at Margaretville, Delaware County, where he remained for one year. He then supplied the Reformed Church at Gardiner, Ulster County, from August, 1897, to April 1, 1898, at which time he was called to Kingston. He received his degree of Doctor of Divinity from Middlebury College in 1920. Dr. Seeley is affiliated with Kingston Lodge, No. 10, Free And Accepted Masons, of which he is Past Master, and is also a member of Mount Horeb Chapter, Royal Arch Masons. He has been president of the Rotary Club of Kingston; President of the Board of Domestic Missions of the Reformed Church in America, of which he has been an active member for many years and president since 1927, and is greatly to the fore in all community and welfare projects.

In June, 1896, Dr. Seeley married Virginia St. Claire Boice, daughter of the late Hewitt Boice, of Kingston, a prominent operator of blue stone quarries and one of the organizers of the United States Gypsum Company. Dr. and Mrs. Seeley were the parents of one child, a daughter, Louise Caroline, who died in her infancy. They have since adopted a child, Virginia, a cousin of Mrs. Seeley.

WILLIAM D. ROBBINS

By profession a civil engineer, Mr. Robbins was engaged in the active practice of his profession for some thirty-four years, holding successfully various

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positions of importance in different parts of the country. About two-thirds of that period he spent as an engineer at Niagara Falls, Niagara County, the greater part in connection with engineering work on the famous Niagara Falls power plant and some six years as city engineer. In 1924 he was recalled to Niagara Falls as its city manager, a position which he has continued to fill with much ability and efficiency since then. naturally he takes a very active and prominent part in the life of the city, where he is greatly liked and highly respected by all classes of people.

William D. Robbins was born in Cumberland, Maryland, October 13, 1868, a son of Orlando D. and Fannie (Schley) Robbins. He was educated in the public schools and at Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, where he took up the study of engineering and where he was graduated with the degree of Civil Engineer in 1890. Immediately afterwards he commenced his career as a civil engineer with the West Virginia & Pittsburgh Railroad, with which he remained for two years. the next fifteen years he was engaged on construction work in connection with the Niagara Falls Power Plant, holding the position of chief assistant engineer. During 1907-13 he served as city engineer of Niagara Falls, acting also as chief engineer during the installation of that city's water system. In 1913 he became president and general manager of the Glascock Manufacturing Company of Muncie, Indiana, at which he continued until 1917. During next two years he was manager of the Public Service Contracting company of Niagara Falls, New York. In 1919 he served as resident engineer of the Bethlehem Ship Building corporation at its large plant at Sparrows Point, Maryland, near Baltimore. During 1920-24 he was chief engineer and assistant manager of the Tennessee Charcoal Iron Company at Collinwood, Tennessee. In 1924 he accepted election to his present office as city manager of Niagara Falls. In this position he has shown exceptional executive ability, and his administration of the city's affairs has been very able ands faithful. To an unusual degree he understands how to gain and retain the loyalty and cooperation of others, a characteristic which has proven itself very helpful in his present work. He is a member of the Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce, the Niagara Club, the Niagara Falls Country Club, and the Niagara Falls Rotary Club. His religious affiliations are with the Protestant Episcopal Church.

Mr. Robbins married, February 12, 1902, May Granger Clark, of Niagara Falls. Mr. and Mrs. Robbins are the parents of two sons, Edward Clark and Richard Gardner Robbins. The family makes its home at the Red Coach Inn, Buffalo Avenue, Niagara Falls.

 

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

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