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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
William Seward Van Brocklin

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 234-237 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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At the foundation of the prosperity of every community lies the work of the manufacturer, who, in seeking a market for his products, directs commerce to his city, causes factories and business houses to arise and furnishes a means of livelihood to others. In this classification belonged William Seward Van Brocklin, one of Amsterdam's leading knit goods manufacturers, who responded to the final summons on the 15th of October, 1908, when sixty-eight years of age. His death was the occasion of deep and widespread regret, for he was a man of the highest ability and integrity, large-hearted and faithful to every relation of life. He was born in this city on the 5th of December, 1839, and his parents were Mathias and Charlotte (Stoller) Van Brocklin.

William Seward Van Brocklin attended the district schools and when twelve years of age became an employe in a store in New York city. He went to West Troy in 1855 and obtained a position with the firm of Marsh & Dauchy, well known lumbermen of Troy, remaining with them for nine years. In 1864 he returned to Amsterdam and joined his father in business, taking contracts to supply the New York Central Railroad with wood. In 1869 William S. Van Brocklin began the manufacture of knit goods in Amsterdam, being one of the first men in the valley to glimpse the possibilities of an industry that has carried the name and fame of this region to all sections of the United States. Later he embarked in the same business at Phoenix, Otsego county, and in Catskill, Greene county, New York. He was a director of the Catskill National Bank and the Catskill Building & Loan Association, while he also took a very active part in civil affairs, serving as president of the village and as a member of the water commission. He was the moving spirit in the organization of the Van Brocklin & Stover Company of Amsterdam, which was incorporated in November, 1898, and was chosen its president, while his son was named as vice president. Possessing a genius for organization and an aptitude for successful management, Mr. Van Brocklin built up one of the largest knitting mills in this part of the country, and was also a director of the First National Bank of this city, the Amsterdam Fire Insurance Company and the Johnstown Knitting Mill. His business associates had the greatest confidence in his ability and judgment and his name became a synonym for enterprise and probity.

In politics Mr. Van Brocklin was a stanch republican, but only on one occasion could his party induce him to accept public office in Amsterdam. In the fall of 1896 he was nominated for the position of alderman from the sixth ward and won the election by a majority of one hundred and fifty votes. He was a member of the common council for a year and represented his constituents in a highly creditable manner, supporting constructive measures and standing for progress, reform and improvement in municipal affairs. He was a faithful member of the First Methodist Episcopal church and for several years was one of its trustees. He was a liberal contributor to the cause of religion and the call of charity never found him unresponsive. He was a member of Amsterdam Lodge, No. 34, I. O. O. F., the only organization of social or fraternal nature with which he was connected.

On the 10th of May, 1862, Mr. Van Brocklin was married to Miss Margaret Kline, who survives him, and they became the parents of a son, Frank, a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in this volume. A devoted husband, a loving father, a steadfast friend and an irreproachable citizen, Mr. Van Brocklin was universally esteemed, and left behind him a memory that is cherished by all who were brought within the sphere of his influence.

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