The History of New York State
Biographies, Part 67

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam

 

THOMAS WILLIAMS

New York City is the headquarters of the oldest and largest firm in the world dealing in mahogany and other imported cabinet woods--Ichabod T. Williams and Sons. The present head of the firm is Thomas Williams, who, in his personality, character and business methods sustains the fine ideals and traditions of one of America's oldest Colonial families.

Welsh genealogists have traced this family back to the ninth century, placing it among the oldest and most distinguished in Wales. The Williamses of Elizabethport, New Jersey, including the ancestors of Thomas Williams, all migrated from Connecticut. Among the early comers to Wethersfield, that State, were several families of the name of Williams. Among these was Matthew, "the brickmaker," as he was called, and Thomas, who came to the town at a later date. Whether these two men were related is not known. By far the greater number of New Jersey Williamses are descended from Matthew; but it is possible that the branch of the family here under discussion may trace its lineage from Thomas. That Christian name was used quite commonly b both families. The line here recorded has been traced back to Benjamin Williams, who died February 26, 1731-32, and whose will was probated soon after that date. His wife's Christian name was Mindwell (her surname has not yet been learned), and her father's given name was Joseph.

Their son, Thomas Williams, was born in Elizabethtown in 1724, and died July 21, 1776. He married Rebecca Halsey, born in 1729, and died October 5, 1785, daughter of Joseph Halsey.

Ichabod Williams, son of Thomas and Rebecca (Halsey) Williams, was born May 10, 1768, and died September 23, 1837. He married Hannah, who was born May 18, 1766, and died December 31, 1852. Their children were: 1. Elizabeth W., who married Jacob D. Howell. 2. Mary D., who married Ichabod Woodruff. 3. Phebe C.,

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who married William Craig. 4. Thomas of whom further; he was executor of his father's will. 5. Hannah, who married Jacob H. Davison. 6. Ichabod. Ichabod Williams Sr., was a clockmaker, and he left his shop, which stood beside his residence, to his youngest son for his own use, rent free, so long as he used it himself. He was also to have use of half of the family residence--which he was already occupying--rent free.

Thomas Williams, son of Ichabod and Hannah Williams, born in 1800, was the founder of the lumber business already mentioned, and of which more is to follow. He had his home at No. 18 Beaver Street, New York City, and the house is now in possession of his grandson, Henry K. S. Williams. The city directory of 1823 names him as a cabinetmaker, with a place of business at "Broad n. Beaver" Street. The following year he is named as a member of the firm of Wiliams and Dawson, cabinetmakers, at No. 51 Broad Street. In 1827, they were located at No. 65 Broad Street. Thomas Williams married Sarah Waldron, born October 29, 1788, and died in 1862, daughter of Adolph and Christina (Zabriskie) Waldron, and great- granddaughter of Resolveert, or Resolved, Waldron, who was said to be "Perhaps the most noted of the Harlem Patentees." The Waldron farm extended from the East River at Eighty-sixth Street to the North River.

Their son, Ichabod Thomas Williams, was born in New York City, in 1826, and died there in 1899. He was an officer in the 27th Regiment, which was the predecessor of the famous 7th Regiment, New York National Guard, and took part in the famous Astor House Riots. The major part of his time and energy was occupied in the development of the lumber business, which his father had established in connection with his cabinetmaking and to which Ichabod T. Williams succeeded. But he was a man of fine artistic taste, and this he indulged, especially in the collection of pictures. He was a director of a number of important financial institutions. Ichabod T. Williams married Elizabeth Skelding, of Stamford, Connecticut, which was the home of that family since the beginning of the eighteenth century. They had four children: 1. Thomas, of whom further. 2. Henry K. S., who resides in Paris. 3. Waldron, deceased. 4. Lloyd, deceased. The family were members of the Parish of the Incarnation.

Thomas Williams, son of Ichabod Thomas and Elizabeth (Skelding) Wiliams, was born in Stamford, Connecticut, August 10, 1854. He was educated at Churchill's well-known school in Sing Sing, and then went to work in his father's lumber business. This business was established in 1838 on Broad Street near the site of the present Stock Exchange. From there it was moved to Broadway and White Streets. The venture was successful from the beginning, growing in volume and importance with the expansion of the city; so it was not long before later premises and docking facilities were required. Accordingly a location at Desbrosses Street and the North River was found and was occupied until 1850. The establishment of the Desbrosses Street ferry by the Pennsylvania Railroad brought congestion to that district and made it necessary to move the business again. So, Ichabod T. Williams, who had succeeded his father in the management of the business, purchased the property on the east side of Eleventh Avenue, from Twenty-fifth to Twenty-sixth streets and extending to the river. At this time both hard and soft woods were brought from the Great lakes to Buffalo and then shipped by canal and Hudson river to New York City. In 1885 the city of New York condemned the waterfront between Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth streets, building piers and docks and establishing what is now known as Twelfth Avenue. The firm continued its retail business on the remainder of this property on Eleventh Avenue, where the offices are still located, but it was forced to seek a new waterfront property. A purchase was made of about half a mile of waterfront property located on the main ship canal in New York Bay, between Tompkinsville and Stapleton, Staten Island. There, with wonderful facilities of deep water and rail connections, sawmills were built and the largest mahogany and hardwood yards in New York City were established.

In 1880 Thomas Williams became a partner in the firm, and two years later his brother, Henry K. S., was admitted to membership, the firm name becoming Ichabod T. Williams and Sons. The two remaining sons, Waldron and Lloyd (both now deceased), were later admitted to partnership. In 1900, Thomas Resolved Williams, elder son of Thomas Williams, became associated with the firm, and became a partner in 1905. Henry K. S. Williams retired in 1910 and the vacancies left by subsequent deaths of the two younger brothers were filled in 1918 by the admission to partnership of Frederick C. Leary and Thomas Blagden. In October, 1919, the city condemned the waterfront property on Staten Island for municipal docks; and for the sixth

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time it became necessary for the firm to find a new home. Industrial locations from Boston to New Orleans were examined, and it as finally decided to purchase seventy acres of property owned by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation at Carteret, New Jersey, which borders Staten Island Sound in New York harbor. This property, served by the line of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, connecting with all trunk lines, has a frontage of 1,300 feet on a thirty-foot channel--an ideal location as a manufacturing and distributing point. Construction of the largest mahogany sawmill and veneer mill in the world was begun in 1922 and completed in 1925. With the keen competition of modern business, profits are now derived from volume and through economy of operating such as the facilities mentioned afford. These advantages enable the firm to continue to carry the very choicest of cabinet woods in logs, lumber and veneers and to offer the lowest possible prices to consumers. A description of the plant would be too technical for the average reader, but the following facts and figures may convey some idea of the magnitude of this great New York industry. The waterfront is developed with a slip for lighters; a reinforced concrete dock three hundred and fifty feet long by one hundred feet wide on which is direct rail connection with the Central Railroad of new Jersey; a timber basin of eight hundred and fifty feet frontage and covering approximately ten acres. Three large steamers can be discharged at one time. Between the dock and sawmill a large logyard is laid out, equipped with standard gauge railroad alongside each pile of timber, which, together with the timber basin, provides a storage capacity for over fifteen million feet of logs. Two thirty-ton oil-burning steam-driven locomotive cranes and four electric derricks handle the timber. The entire plant is electrically driven. There are sixteen buildings with a total floor area of about 250,00 square feet-six acres.

For many years the firm maintained its own fleet of schooners on the Great Lakes to bring hardwood lumber to Buffalo. They also owned and operated sawmill sin Kentucky and elsewhere until the timber in those sections was exhausted. Large quantities of choice hardwoods have been exported. At one time the firm opened yards and an office in London, England, with agents in France, Belgium, and Germany. For many years it has maintained offices and resident managers in British Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Colombia, and has imported tropical cabinet woods from every known producing area. It has an office and resident manager in Grand Bassam, Ivory coast, French West Africa. An interesting item in connection with the logging methods of that far-off continent is that the "tsetse" fly makes the use of cattle impossible. African logs are so large and heavy that tractors have not worked successfully; hence the use of "man-power" only in getting out the huge logs, which often weight ten to fifteen tons.

Notwithstanding the exacting demands made by this business upon the time, thought and energies of its senior partner, Thomas Williams, he has still found it possible to take an active part in the conduct of many other important organizations. He is president of George D. Emery Company; Stapleton Dock and Warehouse Company; Matowoc Corporation; Resolved Corporation, and is a director of the following corporations: White Rock Company; Baltimore & New York Railroad Company; Niagara Fire Insurance Company; United States Mortgage and Trust Company; National Bank of Commerce of New York; Edgewater Mills; Thompson Starrett Company; United States Safe Deposit Company. He is a trustee of the Mutual Life Insurance Company and of the Nassau Industrial School. He is a member of the executive committee of the Charity Organization Society; is chairman of the Community Trust; president of the Rockaway Hunting Club and a member of the Union, Manhattan, Bankers'. Jekyl Island, Mountain Lake, Broad Street and Wickyup clubs. He is a member of the St. Nicholas Society, and is a vestryman of St. John's Episcopal Church of Lawrence, Long Island, where he resides.

On October 21, 1880, Mr. Williams married Emma Wells Stott, daughter of Charles H. Stott, of Stottsville, New York. they have four children: 1. Thomas Resolved. 2. Henry Waldron. 3. Edith S., married to Mr. Van Blydenburgh, of Smithtown, Long Island. 4. Dorcas, who married Morris D. Ferris, of Lawrence, Long Island.

FRANCIS CLARKE WILLIAMS

Devotion to the interests and needs of his community have marked the career of Francis Clarke Williams, one of the leading attorneys of Corning New York, who has received many official positions of trust and responsibility from his fellow-citizens, including the office of Food Administrator for his locality during the Great War.

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Mr. Williams was born in Corning, Steuben County, New York, November 26, 1864, the son of Francis A. Wiliams (q.v.), born March 25, 1834, died December 21, 1901, and L. Jane (Clarke) Williams, the former a prominent lawyer of that city, and descendant of an English settler who landed in this country about 1650. After passing through the public schools and the Free Academy of Corning, Mr. Williams entered the University of Rochester, from which institution he graduated in 1888 with the degree of the Bachelor of Science. He was admitted to the Bar in 1891 and at once entered upon his professional career. Mr. Williams was appointed recorder, serving from 1892 to 1894, and was placed in office as city attorney, serving from 1906 to 1910. He was appointed Food Administrator of Steuben County during the World War, and among other offices he has held are those of member and president of the local Board of Education, director and trust officer of the First National Bank and Trust Company of Corning, director of the Corning Co-operative Savings and Loan Association, and T. G. Hawkes and Company; director and secretary Crystal City Gas Company, and elder and trustee of the First Presbyterian Church of Corning.

Mr. Williams has attained high distinction in the Masonic Fraternity, holding the rank of thirty-third degree in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. He is a member of Corning Lodge, No. 117, Free and Accepted Masons; of Corning Chapter, No. 190, Royal Arch Masons; of Corning Council, No. 53, Royal Supreme Masters, of Corning Consistory, an Honorary member of the Supreme Council, Scottish Rite Masons, and a member of Lodge No. 1071, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He is an active member of the Corning Country Club and of the Corning Club, of which latter organization he was president for many years, until, in 1925, he resigned the office; a member of New York State Bar Association and Psi Upsilon Fraternity, Politically, he is affiliated with the Democratic Party.

FRANCIS A. WILLIAMS

It has been said that "Biography is the only true history" and it is manifest that that history is most worthy of preservation which embodies the lives of men who have left this world better than they found it. Such an example is he history of the fruitful life of the late Francis A. Williams, eminent attorney of Corning, New York, whose good works which he accomplished have survived these many years, since his passing in 1901. He was mourned by a wide circle of friends and, in fact, Corning itself felt his going irreparably, for his sterling qualities will always remain in the minds of those who knew him, he being recognized as a loyal citizen who had ever generously shared in all movements instituted for the common welfare of this community.

Francis A. Williams was born in Prattsburg, Steuben County, New York March 25, 1834, the son of Ira C. and Maria (Benedict) Williams. He received his early education in Franklin Academy, and having, in the meantime, determined to enter the legal profession and with this end in view, he accordingly matriculated at the University of Rochester from which he was subsequently graduated in 1860, having become while a student a charter member of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity. In 1862 he was admitted to the bar and the following year removed to Corning, where he established himself in the practice of his chosen profession in which he won for himself an enviable reputation both as an advocate and counselor, and was accorded a lucrative clientele in recognition of his marked ability in this practically line of advance. His religious affiliation was with the Presbyterian faith, and for many years he served the First Church of this denomination as elder. He was also a member of the local Board of Education for many yeas.

On august 9, 1862, Francis A. Williams married L. Jane Clarke, who was born November 29, 1838, and was graduated from Mt. Holyoke college, South Hadley, Massachusetts, in 1859. To Mr. and Mrs. Williams were born five children; 1. Mary G., who received the degree of Doctor of philosophy from the University of Michigan, and is now professor of Greek at Mount Holyoke. 2. Francis C., whose preview precedes this. 3. Clarke B., a graduate of Princeton University and dean of Kalamazoo College, who was killed in the collapse of the Grand Hotel at Yokohama, Japan at the time of the earthquake calamity on September 1, 1923. 4. Jane w., a graduate of Wellesley College, who is the wife of W. H. Insley of Indianapolis, Indiana. 5. Elizabeth, who was a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, and who passed away in 1908. Mr. Williams passed away December 21, 1901, and Mrs. Williams died on March 21, 1920.

Such, in brief, is a summary of the life of Francis A. Williams whose death removed from Corning one of her most dearly and high-

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ly esteemed citizens, a man just in all his dealings, and one from whom posterity may profit by following his example in life.

WILLIAM TITUS SMITH

The permanence and growth of a business is measured by its usefulness and the character of the business it gives, and so it is with the Corning Building company, Incorporated, which is known as the largest concern of its kind in this section of the State, and who progress has in no small way been due to its president, William Titus Smith. Not only has Mr. Smith become a leader in business circles, but also he is widely recognized as a citizen whose aid and cooperation are ever found on the side of right, progress and improvement, his efforts being always exerted in behalf of the general welfare.

James P. Smith, father of William Titus Smith, was born in Caton, Steuben County, New York, and was a farmer throughout his lifetime. He died February 21, 1912, at the age of seventy-five years. He married Sarah J. Cross, a native of Cambridgeshire, England, and to them were born four children; 1. Florence, who died in infancy. 2. Lucy, now deceased, formerly the wife of Fred G. Davenport, of Big Flats. 3. William Titus, of whom further. 4. Carrie L., deceased.

William Titus Smith, son of James P. and Sarah J. (Cross) smith, was born at Big Flats, Chemung County, New York, August 16, 1867. His education was obtained in the district school of his native place and one year at Elmira High School, after which he returned to his father's farm, where he worked for five years. He then went to Corning, new York, securing a position in the auditor's office of the Fallbrook Railroad, and eighteen months later resigned from this position to become a bookkeeper with the concern of M. D. Walker & Company, dealers in lumber, in which capacity he served for eleven years, being promoted then to manager. In 1894, the name of the concern was changed to Drake & Company, and eight years later, Mr. Smith became a member of the firm. That same year, 1902, the organization went into the contracting business, and three years later it was incorporated under the name of The Corning Building Company, with Mr. smith as its treasurer and manager. In February, 1920, he became president in lumber, coal, building supplies, wall paper, paint and glass, as well as conducting a general contracting business. Recognized as an executive of exceptional ability he has been sought on many occasions to accept directorships, and in the capacity serves the First National Bank and Trust Company; Corning Homes, Incorporated, and the Corning Hotel Corporation. A staunch Republican in his political affiliations he has ever taken a keen interest in the activities of his chosen party and has served as alderman in Corning four years. He is a member of Corning Lodge, No. 94, Independent Order of Odd Fellows; a member and a director of the Corning Chamber of Commerce; member of the Rotary Club; Corning Country Club; and the firm are members of the New York State Builders' Supply Association, and the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association. His religious affiliation is with the First Presbyterian Church of Corning, where he serves as elder.

On March 20, 1889, William Titus Smith married Ida B. Rhinehart, daughter of Edward J. and Elizabeth (Goffe) Rhinehart, and to them have been born seven children: 1. Edward R., deceased. 2. Maynard L. 3. Sarah E. 4. Marie L., wife of James W. Bassett, of Staten Island. 5. Martha L. 6. James W. 7. Elvina R., a student at Russell Sage College, class of 1928. All of his business life has been spent in Corning, New York, and his friends feel for him a peculiar esteem, not only for his abilities but for his many congenial qualities of mind. He is numbered among the city's best citizens and enjoys a high standing as an enterprising and capable business executive.

James WILLIAM FERGUSON

The law has a constant and undeniable attraction for men of fine intellect and intelligence, and the bar of Amsterdam, New York, is distinguished for is quality. One of the foremost figures of this bar is James William Ferguson, whose professional career has been an inspiration to contemporaries and younger men about to undertake their life's work along similar lines. He is known for his public spirit, and for the active and interested support which he accords the city's advancement. His record is of interest.

Mr. Ferguson is of Scotch and Irish extraction, his father, James Ferguson, having been a native of Aberdeen, Scotland, coming to Amsterdam, new York, when he was about twenty-one years old, where James William Ferguson was born July 22, 1868. His mother,

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Etta (Stapleton) Ferguson, was a native of Ireland.

A farmer and business man of rather extensive affairs, James Ferguson was able to give his son the best of schooling available. After he had graduated from the Amsterdam Academy, and Union classical institute, Schenectady, New York, he matriculated in Union College, of Schenectady, New York, there studied four years, until 1891, and in that year received the degree of Bachelor of Laws. Admitted to the bar, he returned to Amsterdam and here has built up a large practice. Through the nearly forty years of this practice he has represented as counsel many great organizations and important persons as individuals, and at the present time numbers among his clients the Hudson Mohawk Mutual Casualty Company, of Albany, New York, the Mohawk Carpet Mills, Incorporated, the Inman Manufacturing Company, and the Montgomery County Trust Company, all of Amsterdam, New York, and is a director as well as general counsel to the principles of the Democratic party, for one year he was counsel to the city corporation, has served as park commissioner of the city of Amsterdam, New York, for two terms, and has continuously been accounted an influence in the party's workings locally. Fraternally, he is affiliated on the professional side with the American Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, and the Bar Association of the city of Amsterdam, New York; and on the non-professional side with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He is a member of the Antlers Country Club, and a communicant of St. Mary's Church, Amsterdam. During the war he was of assistance in the campaigns of the Liberty Loan and Red Cross, and gave of his personal aid to all capacities possible for more speedy culmination of international hostilities and establishment of world peace.

Mr. Ferguson married, at Schenectady, June 5, 1895, Anna Gates, daughter of Stephen D. and Rebecca (de Forrest) Gates, both of that city. Their children are: 1. James Gates, born in 1898; married at Garden City, Long Island, New York. 2. Gertrude, wife of Homer Root Phelps, of New York City. Mr. Ferguson has his law offices in Amsterdam, at No. 45 East Main Street.

RICHARD A. MOORE

One of the leading citizens of Mechanicsville, Richard A. Moore takes a prominent part in the industrial and business life of the town, being treasurer of the Dufney Brick company and the R. a. M. Brick Company, as well as vice-president of the First National Bank of Mechanicsville. At difference times he has been selected to serve on commissions whose purpose was to improve in one way or another conditions in the town.

He is the son of Pierce Moore, born in Waterford, Ireland, on June 22, 1839, died in Mechanicsville, in 1879; and of Bridget (Sweeney) Moore, a native of Waterford County, Ireland, now a resident of Mechanicsville. The father came to the United States when a young man, and settled in Mechanicsville, where he was employed in the mills until his death. Their children included three who are now deceased, but those living are: 1. Mary, the wife of Henry Madigan, of Mechanicsville. 2. Richard A. 3. Ellen, who married Mr. Rolph, of Syracuse.

Richard A. Moore, born in Mechanicsville, New York, November 8, 1871, was educated in the Mechanicsville and Stillwater public schools. He was first employed in the Duncan Mills, in Mechanicsville, where he remained for four years; and afterwards he was for twenty-two years a salesman fro the Dobler Brewery Company. In conjunction with this work he conducted a retail store in Mechanicsville, for thirteen years. In 1910 he became associated with the Dufney Brick Company, of which he became treasurer in the following year and has been treasurer ever since that time. He is also treasurer of the R. A. M. Brick Company, of Mechanicsville, and vice-president of the First National Bank. At one time he was a member of the sewer commission, and later was supervisor of canals in Mechanicsville. He is a director of the New York State district of the Common Brick Manufacturers' Association; a member of the Foresters of America; a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, in which order he is affiliated with Lodge No. 1403, of Mechanicsville; and the J. L. Short Hook and Ladder Company for twenty years. He belongs to St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church.

Richard A. Moore married, in Mechanicsville, Katherine Goodspeed, the daughter of George and Sarah A. (Bissell) Goodspeed, born resident of Schoharie County. The children by this marriage were: 1. George, Deceased. 2. Katherine, deceased. 3. Nellie, deceased. 4. Mary. 5. Ethel. 6. Pierce. 7. Anna, and 8. Margery.

 

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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