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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Jay Brackett

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 680-682 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Jay Brackett, who as manager and part owner of the Ilion Hardware Company is a conspicuous figure in the mercantile circles of his community, is a native son of New York, and was born in Hannibal, Oswego county, on the 27th of June, 1869, and comes from families that have been identified with the Empire state since the days of the Revolution. His father was Levi Brackett, who was born in Cincinnatus, Cortland county, New York, in 1828, the son of James Alanson and Sarah (Sherman) Brackett, and died in Hannibal on July 21, 1906. He was a farmer during the greater part of his life and for more than thirty years served as the justice of the peace in his community. Besides the subject of this review, Levi Brackett had two sons, James and John, who now reside on the old Brackett homestead in Hannibal. John Brackett married Miss Ann Butts of Phoenix, Oswego county, New York, and they are the parents of two sons, Sheldon Lewis and William Levi Brackett.

James Alanson Brackett, the paternal grandfather of Jay Brackett, was born in Buckland, Massachusetts, on March 15, 1800, and died in Hannibal Center, New York, on the 25th of November, 1868, in the sixty-ninth year of his age. He was an uncle of the late Senator Edgar T. Brackett of Saratoga Springs, New York. Mrs. Sarah (Sherman) Brackett, the wife of James Alanson Brackett, was born in Rhinebeck, New York, and died on March 7, 1886, after having lived to see the eighty-first anniversary of her birth, as she was born on January 27, 1805. On his mother's side of the house Jay Brackett is the great-grandson of one of the heroes of the battle of Saratoga. His grandmother, Hannah Perkins before her marriage to John Schenck, was born in Saratoga, New York, on the 19th of December, 1804, on a site that was originally a part of the old battlefield where her father helped to settle the question of American independence. She died on January 15, 1887, and was buried in Fulton, New York. John Schenck was born in Cranbury, New Jersey, on the 14th of August, 1797, and died on June 7, 1869, his burial likewise taking place in Fulton. Elizabeth Schenck, daughter of John and Hannah (Perkins) Schenck, was born in Granby, New York, in 1835, and died in Hannibal in January, 1915. By her marriage to Levi Brackett she became the mother of Jay Brackett, now of Ilion.

In the acquirement of his early education Jay Brackett attended the public schools of Hannibal and Ilion, after which he took a course in the Rochester Business University, at Rochester, New York. At twenty-one he went to work for the well-known lumber firm of A. N. Russell & Sons of Ilion. He, however, was located in Frankfort, where he had charge of the Frankfort branch of the business for thirteen years. When the Russell firm was sold to Charles C. Kellogg Sons & Company, the Frankfort branch was closed and Mr. Brackett, consequently, came to Ilion, where he took charge of the local branch of the firm for two years. In 1909 Mr. Brackett launched out in business for himself by forming a partnership with R. F. Watkins and William A. Maury to conduct a hardware business in Ilion, under the name of the Ilion Hardware Company. Upon the organization of this new concern Mr. Brackett became its manager and has held that position ever since. About eight years ago Mr. Watkins sold his interest in the store to Mr. Brackett, so that now he and Mr. Maury are the joint owners of what has become a very prosperous concern. Mr. Brackett took to this enterprise a long experience in the business world and a general knowledge of the trade territory tributary to Ilion, together with an understanding of the conditions controlling merchandising in this area. To this he has added an exhaustive study of the hardware business in all its phases that has caused him to be recognized among the other men in the trade as an authority on the subject. In 1921 his colleagues in the New York State Hardware Association elected him president of their organization for the current year, a convincing evidence of his standing in trade circles. In addition to his mercantile interests, Mr. Brackett is connected with other commercial projects of this region, among which should be mentioned the National Mohawk Valley Bank of Mohawk, of which he is vice president.

On June 17, 1897, Mr. Brackett was married to Miss Jennie Walker, daughter of Giles and Electa Jane (Mason) Walker, who was born in the town of German Flatts, New York, on the 19th of September, 1870. Her mother was also a native of German Flatts, her birth having occurred on October 26, 1834, and the daughter of Alanson and Mary (Thomas) Mason, the former a farmer living near Mohawk. Giles Walker was the son of Lewis and Sallie Ann (Robbins) Walker, was born in Schuyler, New York, on the 5th of August, 1832, and passed away in Mohawk on February 25, 1917, after having spent the greater part of his life in agricultural pursuits. Lewis Walker was engaged in farming until his retirement from active life and he died in Mohawk on June 9, 1893, at the advanced age of eighty-six, his birth having occurred in Newport on the 28th of May, 1807. His wife, Sallie Ann (Robbins) Walker, was born in Schuyler, New York, on the 17th of March, 1808, and died near Mohawk on August 5, 1881. Mrs. Brackett was educated in the Mohawk high school, from which she graduated in the class of 1890. She is a member of Mohawk Chapter No. 319 of the Order of the Eastern Star and belongs to the First Presbyterian church of Ilion, as does Mr. Brackett.

Mr. and Mrs. Brackett have one son, Ernest Walker Brackett, born on the 8th of December, 1902. He graduated from the Mohawk high school in 1921 and is now a student at Cornell University, where he is enrolled in the class of 1925. As a Mason and a member of Mohawk Valley Lodge, No. 276, F. & A. M., he became eligible to the Acacia fraternity upon his entrance to college and was duly chosen a member of the Cornell chapter. He is an enthusiastic tennis player and has had two years of military training in the course of his career in the university. In Ithaca Mr. Brackett was formerly assistant scoutmaster for the local Boy Scouts' organization and was one of the three hundred and sixty Scouts selected in 1920 to attend the International Boy Scouts' Jamboree at London, England. While abroad he had the opportunity of attending the Olympic games at Antwerp, Belgium, and visiting the battlefields of France and Paris. Like his parents, he is affiliated, religiously, with the First Presbyterian church.

Jay Brackett is very prominent in the Masonic order, both in local and Mohawk Valley bodies of his fraternity. He is a member of Mohawk Valley Lodge, No. 276, F. & A. M., of Mohawk; Iroquois Chapter, No. 236, R. A. M.; Johnstown Council, No. 72, R. & S. M.; Little Falls Commandery, No. 26, K. T., of Little Falls; Mohawk Valley Consistory, A. & A. S. R., of Utica; Ziyara Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S., of the same city; Khorassan Grotto, No. 2, M. O. V. P. E. R., of Ilion; and Mohawk Chapter, No. 319, O. E. S. He is also a member of Ilion Lodge, No. 1444, B. P. O. E. In all things that are of benefit to the community, economically, socially or along civic lines, Mr. Brackett is a willing worker and loyal supporter. He is now the president of the Ilion Exchange Club and a director of the Ilion Chamber of Commerce. During the World war he was a director of the Ilion Community Chest. In Mohawk he has been active in local politics as former president of the village, member of the board of education for five years and former member of the Mohawk municipal commission. He was also supervisor for the town of German Flatts for the four-year term expiring in March, 1924. Mr. Brackett's political affiliations are with the republican party and both he and Mrs. Brackett have loyally upheld its principles in exercising their right of franchise. This busy merchant realizes that he who stops progressing begins to retrogress, and that to keep well abreast of the times every one must make an effort to keep informed as to the course of events outside of his own little field. In addition to his general reading and the information he gains through intercourse with his business and social associates, Mr. Brackett takes every available opportunity to increase his knowledge and stimulate his thinking by personal observation and travel. His trips are a source of pleasure and recreation to him as well, and he always returns to his place of business with renewed vigor and zest.

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