Birge, George Kingsley - Erie County

GEORGE KINGSLEY BIRGE, President of M. H. Birge & Sons Company, is a life-long resident of Buffalo, one of the industrial leaders of that city, and head of one of the largest wall-paper manufacturing concerns in the United States. In addition to his business pursuits Mr. Birge is a prominent factor in Buffalo's general interests.

Mr. Birge was born in Buffalo December 19, 1849, and was educated in the public schools, Buffalo Academy and Cornell University. Upon leaving the university he entered the wallpaper establishment of his father, the late Martin H. Birge, and was soon admitted partner, the firm style being M. H. Birge & Company. Later Henry M. Birge became a member of the house, which became M. H. Birge & Sons. This partnership continued until 1890, when it sold out to the National Wall Paper Company. In 1900 the original proprietors bought back the business, establishing the corporation since widely known as the M. H. Birge & Sons Company, of which George K. Birge is President. The house maintains branch offices in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, St. Louis, Boston, and London, England, and its products are sold throughout the United States, Europe, South America, South Africa and Australia. The designing of wall paper has been raised by the Birge Company from the status of mere trade work to that of artistic decoration. In 1896, Mr. Birge reorganized the George N. Pierce Company, which was then engaged in the manufacture of bicycles, but is now one of the foremost automobile concerns in the country.

When the Pan-American Exposition was organized, Mr. Birge was elected a director and a member of the Executive Committee. But one of the most difficult functions of the enterprise rested with the Building Committee, of which Mr. Birge was also a member, his associates being J. N. Scratcherd, Col. T. W. Symons, Carlton Sprague, and Harry Hamlin. The work was so divided that upon Messrs. Scratcherd, Birge and Sprague devolved the task of erecting the numerous and beautiful buildings of the Exposition.

Mr. Birge is a trustee of the Pine Arts Academy, and a member of the Historical Society. He belongs to the Arts Club of New York City, and for several years was one of its Vice Presidents. He is also a member of the Buffalo, Saturn and Country clubs.

Mr. Birge married Carrie Humphrey, a daughter of the Hon. James M. Humphrey, who represented Buffalo in Congress during the Civil War period and later received the honors of the bench. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Birge are Humphrey, Marion and Allithea Birge.

SOURCE: Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York; Volume I