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Laverack, William - Erie County

WILLIAM LAVERACK, whose death occurred in 1888, was a pioneer merchant of Buffalo and one of the most widely known and successful of our city's representative men in his day. To his memory belongs an honorable page in the annals of those men of enterprise and capability to whose labors are due the development of Buffalo from a provincial town to a large commercial city.

The family from which Mr. Laverack was descended was of Scotch origin, having removed from Scotland to Yorkshire, England, many generations ago. Edward Laverack, the father of William Laverack, was a ship owner and timber merchant of Hull, who imported ship and building timber from the Baltic region.

William Laverack was born in Hull, England, in 1815. He followed his father's business until he was eighteen years old, when he came to this country, landing in New York City. He soon went to Pittsfleld, Massachusetts, where he entered the employ of Theodore Pomeroy, a manufacturer of carpets and woolens. Mr. Laverack came to Buffalo in the spring of 1833, entering the drug store of Robert Hollister, which was located at the Southeast corner of Seneca and Main streets. He formed a partnership with Mr. Hollister under the firm name of Hollister & Laverack. The association, which was very prosperous, existed till 1864, when Mr. Hollister retired and

Mr. Laverack admitted as partners his two sons, William A. and George E. Laverack, under the style of Wm. Laverack & Co. This firm continued until. 1877, when William A. Laverack died. In 1884 Joseph L. Hunsicker became connected with the business. Upon the death of William Laverack in 1888, the firm was dissolved, Mr. Hunsicker withdrawing.

In the early days of the firm its business was almost wholly in the West, and some reminiscences of the time give an interesting picture of how commerce was carried on in the '40*s. On the 2d of January in each year Mr. Laverack would start on a horseback tour, settling up accounts of the previous year and journeying as far West as Chicago, the trip occupying three months. These horseback journeys continued till 1850. In 1854 the store at Main and Seneca streets was rebuilt, and Mr. Hollister established there the Hollister Bank. The drug and grocery business being removed to No. 230 Washington street, where it has been conducted for half a century.

A man of quiet habits and domestic tastes, as a general rule he divided his time between his store and his home. But when it was proposed to erect the first headquarters of the recently organized Buffalo Club at No. 210 Delaware avenue, next to his residence, he became a charter member of the Club. He also was actively concerned in various institutions for the furtherance of education, culture and benevolence, and held life memberships in the Buffalo Historical Society, the Fine Arts Academy and the Society of Natural Sciences. He was also a zealous member and a liberal supporter of the Young Men's Association.

William Laverack was a man of high principle and strong religious belief. He was one of the organizers of Trinity Parish in 1836, and served as Vestryman and Warden of the church for a great many years.

In 1840 Mr. Laverack married Mary Radcliffe, daughter of Jerry Radcliffe and Ariadne Webster, and was the sister of Mrs. Robert Hollister and Mrs. Walter Jay. Mrs. Laverack died in 1877. The children of the union now surviving are George E. Laverack and Mary A., now the wife of Dr. H. C. Frost.

Few lives have so well exemplified as did that of William Laverack the qualities of the capable business man, the conscientious citizen and the consistent Christian. A man without pretense or display, his existence moved in a current which, though serene, was strong and steady and which brought abundant benefits to his fellow-men. His was a well-rounded character, true to itself and to principle. His life was one of pre-eminent usefulness and his death was felt as a severe loss to the community with whose growth and prosperity his career had been so closely identified.

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