JOHN N. NEAR, BRIDGEPORT: Mercantile Printer and Publisher.
John N. Near was born in Rhinebeck, N. Y., June 15, 1837, of Dutch ancestry, the name being originally spelled
Neher. At fourteen years of age he entered the office of the American Mechanic in that place as an apprentice.
In 1855 he left there to accept a position on the Berkshire County Eagle at Pittsfield, leaving there in 1856 to
accept the foremanship of the Daily Farmer at Bridgeport, Conn. In 1857 he left this position on a trip to better
his fortunes, but after an absence of several weeks he returned to Bridgeport, and took the foremanship of the
City Steam Printing House. At this time he engaged in active politics, and was elected town and city treasurer.
The printing house soon after went into a joint stock concern, and after a few years the owners sold the business
to young Near, without the payment of a dollar down.
From this time forth he withdrew from all active participation in politics, refusing to accept any office, though
often tendered, preferring to devote his entire time to the business, having a laudable desire to pay off his obligations,
and become in fact, as well as in name, the owner of the property. After several years of hard work and personal
supervision of the business he has the satisfaction of seeing his hopes realized and himself in possession of the
largest job printing business in Bridgeport. The office now no longer requiring all his attention, being in charge
of his sons, and being again drawn into politics, he was elected a member of the council, and president of the
board in 1885. In 1886, and again in 1887, he was the candidate of his party for mayor. Each time he was defeated,
owing to the active opposition of the saloon element in his party. They had been allowed to keep their places open,
not only after 12 o'clock at night, but also on Sundays, and it was published that if he were elected the laws
would be enforced. Although defeated for mayor, yet when he came before the people as a candidate for representative
in 1888, he was elected by over five hundred majority.
Mr. Near married Miss Sarah F. Barnum of Bridgeport, and has two children. He is a democrat, and as such has held
the offices of town and city treasurer, city councilman, and president of the board, representative in the general
a assembly, and is now chairman of the board of fire commissioners. He is a member of the Universalist church,
and of the order of Knights of Pythias. He is emphatically a "self made man," having by dint of strict
business methods and unswerving integrity won an honorable position in the business and social world, and a competence
at the same time. It is a pardonable boast of the subject of this sketch, that, starting with nothing, he has never
seen the time when he was absolutely in want of a dollar. His credit has always been unlimited, for the reason
that he never has failed to pay when promised. Today, the business which he has established ranks as the second
largest in this line in the state.
Illustrated Popular Biography
Compiled and Published by J. A. Spalding
Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co.
Hartford, Conn. 1891
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