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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
John Best

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[This information is from Vol. IV, pp. 69-70 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Though a native of the state of Connecticut, John Best, one of Herkimer's well known and progressive merchants and former president of the official board of that village, has been a resident of Herkimer since the days of his childhood and thus naturally feels himself as much a part of that community as though a native thereof. He was born in Greenville, Connecticut, April 25, 1864, and is a son of John and Elizabeth (Smith) Best, the latter of whom was born in the vicinity of Norwalk, Connecticut, and is now living in Herkimer, being nearly eighty-five years of age. The senior John Best, who gave his life as a soldier of the Union during the time of the Civil war, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. His father was a native of England, who became a manufacturer of paper in West Springfield and whose last days were spent at Mitteneague, a suburb of Springfield. When the Civil war came on John Best volunteered for service and went to the front as a noncommissioned officer in one of the Second Connecticut regiments, with which he served valorously until a soldier's fate overtook him on the battle field at Petersburg, Virginia.

Bereft of his father by the fortunes of war when but an infant, the junior John Best was reared at Herkimer, in the public schools of which place he received his initial schooling. This was supplemented by a course in the seminary at Dansville, New York, and he was graduated from that institution in 1879, one of his classmates having been Job B. Hedges, afterward a candidate for the office of governor of New York state. The respective fathers of both Mr. Hedges and Mr. Best were killed in battle at Petersburg, Virginia, meeting their fate there on the same day. Upon leaving the seminary Mr. Best became engaged as a clerk in the general merchandise store of C. W. Palmer & Company at Herkimer, and was thus employed for four years, at the end of which time he began working in the plant of the Herkimer paper mill, then being operated by Miller & Churchill, and continued thus for four years. He then entered the railway mail service, taking a run on the New York Central, and four years later was transferred to a run on the Mohawk & Malone line, running between Malone and New York city, and carried on this run for eleven years, or until retired from active service by reason of injuries received in a railway wreck at Nelson Lake on May 10, 1903. By reason of the hurt thus sustained Mr. Best was confined to his home for three years, at the end of which time, in 1906, he went into the grain and feed business at Herkimer, with a well stocked and well equipped establishment on Green street, and has thus continued in business and is doing very well. Mr. Best is an active member of the Herkimer Chamber of Commerce and of the locally influential Exchange Club of that place. He is a republican and has served as a member of the board of trustees of the village, of which he was president for one term, and is also a member of the municipal committee. He is a Scottish Rite, Thirty-second Degree, Mason and a Noble of the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, is affiliated with the blue lodge at Herkimer, the Royal Arch chapter at Ilion, the Knights Templars commandery at Little Falls, the consistory at Utica and the Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Utica. He also is affiliated with the local chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star at Herkimer, and is a member of the official board of the Methodist Episcopal church at Herkimer.

In November, 1888, at Herkimer, John Best was united in marriage to Miss Carrie D. Bellinger, who was born at that place on July 10, 1865, a daughter of Amos and Amelia (Getman) Bellinger, the latter of whom was born in the town of German Flats and spent her last days at Herkimer. Amos Bellinger also was born in German Flats and died in Herkimer, where for years he followed the vocation of merchant. Mrs. Best completed her schooling in the Herkimer high school. She is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and is a republican, as is her husband. She is a past matron of Myrtle Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star at Herkimer, is a member of the White Shrine at Utica and is a member of the Old Ladies Home Association at Herkimer. Mr. and Mrs. Best have one daughter: Marjorie Amelia, who was born on November 13, 1904, in Herkimer, and was graduated from the Herkimer high school. In November, 1919, she was married to Dr. William Graeme Murray, son of William Graeme Murray, D. D. S., of Herkimer, and has one child, a son, William Best Murray, born on January 13, 1923.

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