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Douglas, William Alexander - Erie County

WILLIAM ALEXANDER DOUGLAS is of Scottish ancestry, belonging to one of the most ancient and honorable houses in Scotland, and one which is connected with many of the most interesting events in Caledonian history. His grandfather, Alexander Douglas, was born in the Parish of Foss on Loch Tummel, Scotland, in 1781, and came to America about 1800. He first settled near Johnstown, Fulton County, N. Y., and there married Elizabeth Macbeth. They removed to the town of Fenner, Madison County, where they lived till 1830, when they removed to Covington, Wyoming County, N. Y., where Mr. Douglas resided till his death. His children were: John A.; Susan, who married Daniel Cameron and afterward lived in Mt. Vernon, O.; Isabella, who married Duncan Stewart, and was a resident of York, N. Y.; Ellen, who married Charles Stewart, and lived in Stewartville, Minn., and Alexander, who married first Isabelle Stewart of York, N. Y., and after her decease married Margaret Campbell of Wheatland, Monroe County, N. Y.,

John A. Douglas, son of Alexander Douglas and. father of William A. Douglas of Buffalo, was an esteemed and influential resident of York, Livingston County, N. Y. He was a farmer all his life, and in 1824 purchased an interest in the 300-acre tract taken up in the town of York in 1812 by the brothers, Daniel, John and James McNab. Mr. Douglas was a man of quiet life who devoted himself to his family, his church and his farm. He was of strict religious ideas, a Presbyterian of the old school, being connected with the United Presbyterian branch of that denomination, and for many years was a deacon of the church. His standards of morals and conduct were of the highest, and he exemplified them in his own career.

October 27, 1842, he married Christia McNab, born May 2, 1818, a daughter of Daniel and Isabella Armstrong McNab. The Armstrongs and the McNabs came as a part of an emigration movement, about the beginning of the last century, toward the land West of the Genesee River. Christia McNab Douglas was a woman of noble character. Mr. and Mrs. Douglas were the parents of six children: Watson, born February 1, 1844, died 1875; Isabella, born in December, 1850, died 1851; Elizabeth, born March 7, 1854, died 1858; William A., born April 4, 1859; John F., born June 9, 1861, and Annabel, born January 30, 1863. Of the above children, John A. Douglas died December 7, 1881. Christia M. Douglas died in 1884.

William A. Douglas was born at York, Livingston County, N. Y., April 4, 1859. He received his education in the common schools, and the State Normal School at Geneseo, N. Y., graduating in 1882. He then went to Des Moines, Iowa, and for the succeeding three or four years was principal of schools in that locality.

In 1886 he entered the University of Columbia Law School and School of Political Science, in the City of New York. At the end of two years he graduated with distinguished honors, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Laws, cum laude. While attending law school he studied in the office of Wetmore & Jenner, in New York City.

After his graduation in 1888 Mr. Douglas came to Buffalo, where he held clerkships in various law offices for a time.

In 1889 Mr. Douglas was admitted to the bar, and the following year began practice by himself in Buffalo. Many important interests are entrusted to his care, and he is a prominent figure in various industrial enterprises in Buffalo, Chicago and elsewhere. In 1896 he was appointed Receiver of the Springville National Bank.

In politics Mr. Douglas has always been a Democrat. In November, 1894, he was appointed a member of the Board of School Examiners by Mayor Bishop, serving two years.

In the early '90's Mr. Douglas became actively interested in the examination of tenement house conditions in Buffalo, and with others succeeded in having passed stringent ordinances regulating tenement conditions. The rules proposed by Mr. Douglas and his associates are those which exist today as modified by the Tenement House Act of 1901, and were the model followed by the Tenement House Commission, of which Mr. Douglas was a member, appointed by Governor Roosevelt, and which framed laws for Greater New York and Buffalo.

Mr. Douglas was also a powerful factor in causing the Common Council of Buffalo to adopt an ordinance providing for the licensing of employment agencies. Before the present State law on the subject was enacted, Mr. Douglas, with Dr. Wende, Dr. Pryor, and Mr. Williams Lansing, induced the Common Council to make an appropriation of $6,000 for a free bathhouse on the Terrace, which was built.

In recognition of his many services in the cause of public health. Governor Higgins appointed Mr. Douglas a member of the New York State Tuberculosis Hospital in the Adirondacks. This office he resigned in 1905. In 1908 he was appointed one of the Board of Managers of the Craig Colony for Epileptics at Sonyea, N. Y. He is a member of the Charity Organization Society, and for many years a trustee. He belongs to the Civil Service Reform Association, a charter member of the Municipal League, a member of the Chamber of Commerce, the Historical Society, the Natural History Society, the National Geographical Society, and the State Bar Association; belongs to the Buffalo, Saturn, Ellicott and Country clubs and a charter member of the Liberal Club.

October 3, 1892, Mr. Douglas married Alice Charlotte Hedstrom, daughter of Eric L. and Anna M. (Klampfer) Hedstrom of Buffalo. They have two children, Anne, born October 5,, 1893, and Eric, born April 16th, 1895.

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