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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Floyd Ashton Clayton

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 650-651 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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A well known figure in mercantile circles is Floyd Ashton Clayton, the head of Gray & Clayton, a firm of grocers, of Ilion. A man of enterprise, ability and sound judgment, he has made steady progress in commercial life and has risen to an enviable place among the leading business men of his community. He was born in Ilion, December 9, 1881, and is the son of Joshua and Julia E. (Paddock) Clayton, residents of this village. Joshua Clayton is a mechanic and one of the oldest employes of the Remington Typewriter Works, with which he has been associated for the past twenty-eight years. He was born in England, October 20, 1851, at Ashton-under-Lyne, and came to America with his parents during the Civil war period. The boat upon which they crossed the Atlantic was held up by a war vessel, an event that made the conflict between the two sections of the land to which they were going a grim reality to the prospective citizens. The Claytons settled first at New York Mills. Joshua was educated at the Whitestown Seminary and later came to Ilion, where he has since made his home. His father, John Clayton, was born in England, September, 1814, and died in America in March, 1872, while his wife, Betty Clayton, the mother of Joshua, was born in January, 1815, and died in November, 1851. Julia E. (Paddock) Clayton was born in Cleveland, New York, March 21, 1859, the daughter of John S. and Mary (Gardener) Paddock. Her great-grandfather, William Paddock, served in the Revolutionary war, and more remotely she is descended from Zachariah Paddock, who came to New England in the famous Mayflower. John S. Paddock was the son of Richard Paddock and grandson of William. Born in Litchfield, New York, May 17, 1819, he engaged in the contracting business in Ilion until he was forced to retire by the loss of his sight. He died here May 20, 1878. His wife was born in Brighton, New York, September 13, 1829, and died July 3, 1878.

After obtaining his education in the Ilion high school, Floyd Ashton Clayton entered the employ of the Remington Typewriter Company at the age of eighteen as an aligner and final inspector. He inherited a generous share of his father's talent as a mechanic, which enabled him to hold a very important position during the fourteen years he was connected with the Remington people. He left the Remington company to become superintendent of the Ilion works of the Library Bureau, where he remained for six years. Mr. Clayton went into business for himself as a partner of the late Charles M. Gray under the firm name of Gray & Clayton, which has been continued to the present time, although Mr. Gray died December 10, 1920, and Mr. Clayton at that time bought out his interests in the business from his estate, thus becoming sole proprietor of the concern. Mr. Clayton and his associate established and built up what has become one of the leading mercantile houses of the village, a retail grocery store of the first rank. That they succeeded in meeting the local demand for staple and fancy groceries is shown by the large measure of patronage that has been accorded them from the start and has been since enjoyed by Mr. Clayton.

Mr. Clayton was married to Miss Elma H. Gray in this village on June 22, 1905. Mrs. Clayton's great grandfather on the paternal side was Samuel Gray, a Revolutionary soldier who took part in the battle of Oriskany. His son, Henry Gray, was a pioneer settler of Whitesboro and a banker. At the time of his death, which occurred in Ilion, he was living retired. He married Catherine Loucks, who also passed away in this village. Their son, Alfred Gray, was born in Stone Arabia and died in Ilion, March 27, 1911. He was a retail grocer here and long prominent in business life. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Alice Finch, is a native of Rochester, and was born May 6, 1857. She now makes her home in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Her father, Charles Finch, was born in England and came to this country early in life. He married Maria Cole, the daughter of English parents and the only one of their six children born in America. Both parents died in Syracuse. Elma H. Gray, daughter of Alfred and Alice (Finch) Gray, was born July 12, 1879, and graduated from the Ilion high school in the class of 1898, following which she took a course in the Albany Library School. Prior to her marriage she was assistant librarian in Ilion for five years. Mrs. Clayton belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church of Ilion, as does her husband; is a member of Evening Star Chapter, No. 82, O. E. S. of Ilion and also of Mohawk Chapter, No. 319, Daughters of the American Revolution. Mr. and Mrs. Clayton have three children: Marion Elizabeth, born November 15, 1907, and graduated from the local high school in June, 1924; Robert Ashton, born January 18, 1909; and Lawrence Gray, born October 20, 1912.

Mr. Clayton has been very public-spirited and generous in the amount of time and energy that he has devoted to civic work and matters of municipal government. For eighteen years he has served the village of Ilion as a member of the sewer commission, member of the board of village trustees, member of the board of health and of the electric light commission. He was president of the latter for four years, during which the boulevard lighting system was installed on the main thoroughfares of the village. In the World war he acted as deputy food administrator for this district. Mr. Clayton also actively supports the work of the local chamber of commerce and is a member of the Engineers Club of Ilion. Politically he ranks as a republican. For years he has been prominent in Masonic circles as a member and is past master of Ilion Lodge, No. 591, F. & A. M., and was secretary of the building committee and master of the lodge at the time of the dedication of the Masonic Temple here; member of Iroquois Chapter, No. 236, R. A. M., Ilion; Khorassan Grotto, No. 2, Mystic Order of the Veiled Prophets, Ilion; and Evening Star Chapter, No. 82, O. E. S., also of this village. He likewise is identified with Ilion Lodge, No. 1444, Benevolent Protective Order of Elks.

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