The History of New York State
Biographies, Part 47

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam



A civil engineer of exceptional ability and wide experience, Ransome Tedrowe Lewis, as local manager of the American Bridge Company at Elmira, is a constructive force in the business life of that city. Being a man of strong purpose with a determined will and indefatigable energy, he has also "made good" as a citizen and is well entrenched in popular confidence and esteem by reason of his steadfast integrity, his progressive methods and his civic loyalty.

Dr. George W. Lewis, father of Ransome Tedrowe Lewis, was a native of Indiana, and served four years during the civil War as a member of Company G, Seventieth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, being wounded in the battle of Resaca, Georgia. Upon recovering from his wounds he was transferred to the hospital service, and after his honorable discharge completed his medical course at the Indiana State Medical College. He then established himself in the practice of his profession at Indianapolis, but lived only two yeas to carry on. He was a Republican in his political choice and was a member of the Methodist faith. He married Sarah J. Tedrowe, September 3, 1865, in the Hoosier Hospital, and to them were born four children, all of whom are deceased but Ransome T., of whom further. Mrs. Lewis died March 16, 1928, at Indianapolis, the result of an accident.

Ransome Tedrowe Lewis was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, January 22, 1868, and obtained his preliminary education in the public schools of his native place, supplementing this with a course in engineering at Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana, form which he was graduated in 1888. His first employment was in the maintenance-of-way department of the Pittsburgh, Chicago, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad, his headquarters during the two years he was identified with his corporation being in Pittsburgh. He next became inspector for the firm of G. W. G. Ferris & Company, engineers an inspectors, remaining with them until 1896, when he went to Cleveland, Ohio, as inspector and engineer for the Osborne Engineering Company. Three years later he was placed in charge of their Philadelphia office, inspecting all the work done by that concern in that district, and later acted as chief inspector for the New York Central Railroad company. Subsequently he returned to Philadelphia to the office of the Osborne Engineering Company, with which he continued until October, 1901, when he entered the plant of the American Bridge Company at Athens, Pennsylvania, as plant manager. In February of the following year h was sent to Elmira to take charge of the company's plant there, and has since that time continued in this important office, winning the utmost confidence and trust of this great corporation.

Mr. Lewis has always been interested in supporting every worthwhile movement advanced for Elmira's good since his coming to this community, and has taken an active part in many worthy projects. He has served on the Elmira Board of Education takes an active interest in the Boy Scout movement, having been president of the Elmira Council, Boy Scouts of America, for eight years and, upon resigning from that office, being made president emeritus; is an untiring worker for the local Young Men's Christian Association, being largely instrumental in securing the necessary funds for its new home; and during the World War was active in the campaigns of the Red Cross, Liberty Loans, and served as chairman of the Forgings and Stampings group of Region Six, war resources committee. He is a Republican in his political affiliations, but has never been a seeker for office; professionally he holds membership in the American Society of Engineers, the American Society for Testing Materials, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and also in the National Geographic Society. Fraternally, he is prominent in Masonic circles, being a York and Scottish Rite Mason and a member of the Shrine and Grotto; and, socially, he is a member of the Masonic Club, the Century Club, and the Rotary Club.

On march 21, 1894, Ransome Tedrowe Lewis married Etta Lucia Hilliard, a native of Warsaw, Indiana, and like her husband Mrs. Lewis was a student at Purdue. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis

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Are the parents of two children: 1. Joseph H., served during the World War as instructor at Camp Zachary Taylor with the rank of first lieutenant of artillery; he was graduated from the department of chemical engineering at Purdue in 1918, and is now superintendent of Blue ridge Glass Corporation, Kingsport, Tennessee; he married Florence Meyers, of Washington, District of Columbia, and they are the parents of two children; 1. Polly Anna and ii. Jane Meyers. 2. Kathleen, was graduated from Elmira College in June, 1923, completed a course in dietetics in Johns Hopkins Hospital, Maryland, and in June, 1924, was given her present position as assistant dietitian with that institution.


For nearly one hundred years the hillsides overlooking Pulteney, Pleasant Valley, Urbana, Wayne and Hammondsport and bordering on Lake Keuka have been the seat of grape culture in Steuben County, New York. Prior to the introduction of prohibition in the United States the finest champagnes and still wines including such famous brands as the "Great Western" and "Gold Star" champagnes were manufactured here.

As early as 1836 the Catawba and Isabella grapes were being grown in Pleasant Valley by the Rev. William Bostwick, as records show that in that year Mr. J. W. Prentiss, of Pulteney, obtained a few cuttings from the former and planted them on an elevation of 800 feet above Lake Keuka and two miles form its western shore. From these cuttings, Mr. Prentiss kept experimenting until he had a vineyard of three acres. In 1854 Andrew Reisinger, a German wine dresser, came to Pulteney and planted one and one-half acres on the hillside of the lake, but met with little success. The next year Orlando Shephard and Judge Jacob Larrowe brought vines from there to Pleasant Valley and set out one-half acre on the hillside near Hammondsport. The great financial success of Longsworth and others in grape culture at Cincinnati, Ohio, stimulated the interest, also as Mr. Mckay, of Naples, in Ontario County, who had cultivated several acres of grapes since 1848 with great success, and the newspapers of that period kept calling attention to the subject, all this, together with an influx of Germans familiar with grape culture and wine-making, gave the people an opportunity to gain further information on the subject. Consequently in 1858, Messrs. Shephard and Larrowe increased their vineyards to three acres each; Messrs. Bell and McMasters set out six acres each; Edwin P. Smith planted two acres; G. H. Wheeler, four acres; Charles D. Champin, one acre; Stanley B. Fairchild, one acre; and Timothy M. Younglove, one acre.

In 1860 Catawba, Isabella, Delaware, Diana, Iona, and Concord grapes were being raised in this section, an from this small beginning the acreage in the raising of grapes has grown until now a vast acreage is being devoted to this industry, making Steuben County the banner one in this particular line of endeavor.

The Pleasant Valley Wine company, producers of the famous Great Western Champagne, was organized in 1860 by William Baker, Aaron Y. Baker, Charles D. Champin, G. H. Wheeler, Timothy M. Younglove, Deloss D. Rose, G. H. Brundage, Bell & McMasters, Dugold Cameron, and J. W. Davis, with Charles d. Champlin as manger, which office he held until his death in January, 1875. It was through Mr. Champlin's untiring efforts that this company was formed and due to his indefatigable energy, perseverance, and ability that its products became second to none in this country. With the company's twenty-four vaults of one hundred by twenty-two feet, with a storage capacity of three million bottles of sparking win and six hundred thousand gallons of still wine, this organization was conceded to be the most flourishing of its kind in the country.

In 1865 the Urbana Wine Company, manufacturers of Gold Seal Champagne, was organized with the following personnel: John W. Davis, H. H. Cook, A. J. Startzer, and others; and on October 1, 1878, the Lake Keuka Wine Company has its inception. From these in later years many smaller companies were formed.

Although the prohibition enforcement act has greatly curtailed the activities of the larger companies in the manufacture of champagnes and wines, the growing and marketing of grapes for home consumption and the manufacture of grape juice is being carried on extensively in this section.


The name Champlin has been synonymous with grape culture and he manufacturing of wines and champagne since 1855, and upon the death of Charles D. Champlin, of Hammondsport, Steuben County, new York, January 8, 1875, founder of this particular line of advance in that community, the following review of his life appeared in "The Courier," of Bath, New York, January 13, 1875.

"We have known Mr. Champlin for twenty-five years and are happy to number him among out list of friends. We would much prefer that some other pen should sketch his character and speak of his manly virtues, for ours can do them but partial justice.

"Charles D. Champlin was born in Stamford, Delaware county, New York, on the 31st day of August, 1828, and at the time of his death was in the forty-seventh year of his age. He came to Hammondsport in 1846 and was employed as a clerk in the store of Messrs. Adsit & Davis, and in the following year, when only nineteen years of age, he married Miss Emily, daughter of the late Judge Baker, of Pleasant Valley. In 1850, he and his brother-in-law, Mr. John Baker, purchased the interests of the other Baker heirs of the property, consisting of a large farm and grist mill, and two years later Mr. Champlin became by purchase, sole owner of one of the best estate in Pleasant Valley, which he occupied at the time of his death. As an agriculturist and wool-grower Mr. Champlin held a high position among the farmers of Western New York. Combining, as he did, practical experience with a good degree of scientific knowledge, he was remarkably successful in these departments. In 1855 and 1856 grape culture attracted his attention, and to him more than to any other individual, Pleasant Valley is indebted for the success of this comparatively new and profitable industry. In 1860 he was the projector and principal organizer of the Pleasant valley wine company, which under his skillful management has become the largest and most successful establishment of its kind in the country, and is known the world over for the excellence of its products. It was in this field Mr. Champlin's foresight, energy and business capacity shone most conspicuously. It was a bold undertaking, an untried experiment, but he foresaw the end from the beginning, and pursued it with energy and steadiness of purpose which overcame all obstacles. He was a bold though not reckless operator and rarely made a financial venture which was not profitable in the end. But it is not so much of Mr. Champlin's energy and business capacity of which we wish to speak, as of his higher qualities as an honorable man, a benevolent and public-spirited citizen, and a warm-hearted friend and neighbor. His integrity was unquestioned and all who knew him regarded his work as good as his bond. Like most men of positive character he had his likes and his dislikes, but no man who once had his friendship lost it, except by his own default. Large-hearted, generous and confiding, and strong in his attachment, he never deserted a friend unless he was betrayed, and the books once closed for cause were seldom reopened. But he loved his kind, and suffering humanity never appealed to him in vain. Every public enterprise calculated to benefit the community in which he lived found in him a warm, generous and efficient friend. He was the instigator and largely the promoter of an enterprise, not yet, but soon to be completed, the Bath and Hammondsport Railroad. He was a generous patron of all that was calculated to promote the best interests of society. Of a genial and social disposition he was happiest when he could render those around him happy, and endeared himself to a large circle of friends by the overflowing of his warm and generous heart. He was probably more widely known and had a more extensive acquaintance than almost anyone in Steuben, and the intelligence of his death will pain thousands of hearts, while every home in his own Pleasant Valley is filled with mourners. Of the deep sorrow which broods over the hitherto happy domestic circle at the untimely loss of husband and father, it is not for us to speak. They of his own household knew and loved him more and better than all the world beside, and theirs is a bereavement which others cannot realize. Pleasant name, more valuable than acres, and the sympathies of the whole community are theirs, but these, grateful as they may be, can in no degree affect their irreparable loss."

Entered upon the minutes of the Steuben County Agricultural Society, dated January 13, 1875, was the following:

The officers and members of the Steuben County Agricultural Society, learning of the death of Charles D. Champlin, of Urbana, always a member and former executive officer of the Society, hereby place upon the records, the unanimous expression of the loss which the County has sustained in the death of one of its most enterprising and valued citizens and this Society of one of its best executive officers, and truest friends and well-wishers and a man who has done as much to advance the grape-growing interests of our country a any other, and that to his bereaved family we extend out heartfelt sympathies.


Charles Addison Champlin, another member of the famous Champlin family of Hammondsport, Steuben County, new York, which has for so many years been identified with grape culture and the manufacture of superior wines and champagne in that community, passed away at

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the General Hospital, Buffalo, New York, March 2, 1917. Aside from being secretary of the Pleasant Valley Wine company, which his father had founded in 1856, he was also the owner of large vineyard interests among the best in this region.

Mr. Champlin was born on the family homestead in Pleasant Valley, March 27, 1862, the son of Charles Davenport Champlin, a review of whom appears on preceding pages, and of Emily (Baker) Champlin. After attending the local schools he was a student at Stamford Military Academy, subsequently returning to his home community, where for several years he conducted an drygoods and grocery business along successful lines. Later he devoted the major part of his time to the care and development of his large vineyards, and to his office as secretary of the Pleasant Valley Wine Company, in which he continued up to the time of his death.

On September 10, 1884, Charles Addison Champlin married Georgia Malburn, of Denver, Colorado, and to them were born three children: 1. Charles Davenport. 2. Gladys, wife of W. E. Doherty, of Mablehead, Massachusetts, and 3. Francis Malburn, of New York City.

A true son of his father, being a man of high character and sound business ability, he left a name fragrant with good deeds which will remain in the hearts of many for years to come.


In the death of Harry M. Champlin, Hammondsport lost one of its most estimable citizens. Gifted with an exceptional personality which had won for him a lost of friends, he proved himself a worthy representative of the Champlin family, which, since 1846, has been prominent in the development of agriculture and the manufacture of wines in this community.

Harry Montgomery Champlin was born on the Champlin farm in Pleasant Valley, Steuben county, New York, October 3, 1859, the third of the four children of the late Charles Davenport and Emily (Baker) Champlin, representatives of two of the most substantial of the pioneer families in the settlement of Pleasant Valley, and a review of whom appears on preceding pages. His education was obtained in the local schools, and at Stamford, New York, where he was preparing for college at the time of his father's death. He left school at this time and took up the management of the Champlin grist mill and of the farm property. During his boyhood this was a stock grazing locality, and it was here that thousands of sheep, cattle and horses were raised and subsequently driven through Pleasant Valley, over the hills toward Dresden and the canal; the drovers stopping place. The hospitality of the home of his father during this period was far-famed, so it is easy to understand why Harry M. Champlin grew up to be such a lover o horses and blooded cattle, and maintained for many years a large racing stable. The care of the farm, vineyard and mill which for a long time was the only one in this section of the country, was the occupation of his early manhood. Interested also in the rapid development of local grape industry he was instrumental in increasing the vineyard acreage of this section, which proved of vital worth to Hammondsport. Up to this time he had taken no active part in the Pleasant Valley wine Company, but upon the death of the late DeWitt C. Bauder, in 1912, Mr. Champlin became active in the production and marketing of Great Western champagne, which was manufactured by the Pleasant Valley Wine Company, assuming at this time the management of the business. Here he proved convincingly his business ability, increasing in a short time the volume of sales to double what it was when he took command, and continued to carry on here until he became seriously ill a short time before his death on January 17, 1926.

He was a staunch Republican and his advice was frequently sought and heeded in political matters. He was never remiss in the duties of citizenship, giving always his earnest support to everything pertaining to the welfare and advancement of his home community, and at one time served as supervisor of Urbana.

In January, 1891, Harry M. Champlin married Eva Drummer, a native of Bath, New York. To Mr. and Mrs. Champlin was born one child, Emily, wife of Robert H. Howell, of Hammondsport. Mrs. Champlin still resides in Hammondsport. Harry M. Champlin was a manly man who met life's obligations with the confidence and courage that result from conscious personal ability, a right conception of things, and an habitual regard for what is best in the exercise of human activities.


The work of Lyle W. Jackson, both as an attorney-at-law and a politician, is doubly interesting with a review of his early life, its trials and hardships, the all-consuming desire for education, the monetary obstacles that hampered him and the eventual arrival of his objective after years of intensive application. His early life is a story of will

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pitted against circumstances, and his subsequent career and present status in each and every one of his endeavors are ample proofs of his ability to attain even greater heights in the years to come.

Lyle W. Jackson was born in Hartsville, New York, July 23, 1887, the son of Francis E. and Emma (Baker) Jackson. At the age of ten years he removed with his family to Cameron, New York, where he attended the district schools. When he was sixteen years of age, the lad started out into the world to support himself. He first secured employment with the "Hornell Morning Times," and while working in the print shop completed his grammar school education., graduating June, 1905. Two years later he worked for the Erie Railroad, and at the age of twenty passed the civil service examination and was subsequently appointed to the railway mail service in the employ of the United States Post Office department, being assigned to the Grand Central Station, new York City. In 1900 he entered the De Witt Clinton High School, New York City, and graduated in 1912, at the age of twenty-five years, whereupon he immediately entered Columbia University. After two years in college, ill health from intensive work forced him to leave and to seek a transfer up-state. He then worked as a railway mail clerk on the Erie Railroad, running between New York City and Salamanca, but with his health improving he again returned to the Grand Central for night duty, and accordingly matriculated at new York University Law School, receiving from that institution the degree of Bachelor of Laws in 1923; and simultaneously with graduating he resigned from the railway mail service. Worthy of consideration is the fact that he was successively elected president of his classes in high school, college and law school. Following his graduation from law school, he entered Th. law office of Colin McLennan in Hornell and remained there for one year. Upon his admission to the bar, September 24, 1924, Mr. Jackson established himself in the practice of his chosen profession in Hornell, which has since been the scene of his labors and, though but a comparatively short time has intervened since his entrance into the legal world, his rapid strides along the road to success might well be the envy of a much older man.

A staunch Republican in his political affiliation, he early became active in the affairs of his party; is chairman of the Hornell City Republican committee; a member of the Steuben County Republican organization, serving on its executive committee; is special deputy attorney-general for Steuben, Alleghany, Cattaraugus and Yates counties; special county clerk for naturalization; and this year, 1926, ran in the primaries of the office of district attorney. Although Mr. Jackson was defeated, he received a very flattering vote in his home and other districts where he was well known. He is a member of Hornellsville Lodge, No. 331, Free and Accepted Masons; Steuben Chapter, No. 101, Royal Arch Masons; De Molay Commandery, No. 22, Knights Templar; Ivanhoe chapter, No. 160, of the Eastern Star, and is Assistant Grand Lecturer for Steuben District of the Order of the Eastern Star. He also holds membership in the Phi Delta Law Fraternity; the Alphi Chi Ro College Fraternity; is a member of the Grange; is actively engaged in Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls and boys' probation work, and is a past president of the Exchange Club of Hornell. His religious affiliation is with the Presbyterian faith, he being an active member of the First Church of that denomination in Hornell, and he is often called upon to speak at church meetings on topics of the day. Together with these many phases of his active life, he is ever ready to enlist his support in furthering the welfare and advancement of his home community, and no movement which has for its aim civic betterment, fails to receive his aid.

On June 28, 1916, Lyle W. Jackson married Mary E. Karr, daughter of Edward P. and Flora (Parsons) Karr, of Almond. Mrs. Jackson, who is a graduate of Alfred University, formerly preceptress of the Elmira Heights High School and later head of English and dramatics at the Manhasset High School, Manhasset, Long Island, has proven herself a staunch supporter in her husband's every endeavor, and is now fitting herself for the legal profession.


He was born in Meadville, Pennsylvania, September 2, 1855. The first child of Colonel George H. and Julia (Prendergast) Bemus, George Hamlin Bemus was a lawyer, admitted to the bar of Chautauqua County, New York. He was at one time judge of Winona County, Minnesota, a member of the Pennsylvania State legislature, and in the Civil War, a Colonel of the volunteer Reserves. His great-grandfather owned land at Bemus Heights, or Saratoga, was fought during the Rev-

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olutionary War. His grandfather, William Bemus, was a volunteer in the American Army during the War of the Revolution. He married Mary Prendergast, sister of James Prendergast for whom the city of Jamestown is named. A son of William Bemus, Lieutenant Charles Bemus, and father of George H. Bemus, was a member of the Chautauqua County Regiment during the War of 1812. Both William Bemus and Charles Bemus are buried at Bemus Point Cemetery, Bemus Point, New York. George H. Bemus was wounded at the battle of the wilderness and is buried at Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Wilson Marvin Bemus, the subject of our sketch, attended the public schools at Meadville, Pennsylvania, and Alleghany College, at Meadville. He was graduated with the degree of Doctor of medicine by the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia, March 15, 1878. He has practiced as a physician at Jamestown, New York, since that time. He is a member of the Medical Societies of Jamestown, New York, of the Chautauqua County Medical Society, New York State Medical Association, and of the American Medical Association. He has been President of the Board of Health for the city of Jamestown, New York, and is a member of the United Spanish War Veterans. He has occupied the position of Department Surgeon and Department Historian for the Department of the State of New York. He is the author of a history of the medical profession of Chautauqua County, New York. He is a Republican in politics; a member of St. Luke's Protestant Episcopal Church, and has been a member of the vestry of that church.

During the war with Spain, he was a major and surgeon of the Third New York Volunteer Infantry. Afterwards he was in charge of the Second division, Second Army Corps Hospital. He is a former Regent of the Sons of the Revolution of the Jamestown Chapter, and a member of the Delta Tau Delta College Fraternity. During the World War he was President of the Medical Advisory Board of the Congressional District for the Counties of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Alleghany. He has served as chaplain of Ira Lou Spring Post, American Legion. He is a Mason, an Odd Fellow, and a member of the Knights of Pythias, sons of Veterans of the Civil War, and Vice-President of United Veterans of Chautauqua County, New York.

Dr. Bemus married Minnie Barrows, of Jamestown, New York, in 1881, and to them were born two sons: !. Selden B. Bemus, who served as Captain of the New York State Guard during the World War, and 2. William Marvin Bemus, Jr., as fist lieutenant overseas during the World War.


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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