Biography of Clinton Rice Berry


Berry, Clinton Rice, Buffalo, was born in Bethany, Genesee county, N. Y., September 28, 1824. His paternal grandparents, who were well-to-do farmers of Old England, came to America with a large family in 1795 and located in Seneca. Ontario county, N. Y. Richard Berry, father of Clinton R. and the third child of nine brothers and sisters, was then ten years old. He was not only a farmer but also conducted a tavern, store, distillery, and potashery. besides running two farms, all at the same time. He died, after a most successful career, at the age of sixty-three, and at that time owned a farm of 200 acres, lying partly in the village of Le Roy. March 15, 1813, he married Deory Rice, who survived him twenty nine years and died aged eighty-two. They had two sons and two daughters. Mrs. Berrys parents were New Englanders. She was educated at North Conway, Mass., whence her family early removed to Seneca, N. Y. Clinton Rice Berry's first visit to Buffalo was a trip of fifty miles in a wagon, with his parents, to see the three Thayers hung. When he was born, Gov. De Witt Clinton was so active in the construction of the Erie Canal that he was dubbed its father. This is why Mr. Berry became honored with the name of "Clinton." He was reared on a farm, and for several years attended select school at the celebrated Round House in Le Roy. When sixteen he was sent to Lima Seminary, which he attended three terms. In 1840 he took his first active part in politics, and remembers the song of "Tippecanoe and Tyler too," that carried General Harrison into the presidential chair. He was an ardent Whig, and naturally became a Republican, which party he has since conscientiously supported. In the fall of 1841 he became a clerk in the store of Charles B. Rich at Akron, Erie county, where he remained three years. January 13, 1846, he was married in Batavia to his employer's niece, Mary Catherine Rich, the Rev. (afterward Bishop) A. P. Ripley performing the ceremony. She was the eldest of three daughters and two sons of Calvin and Margaret Rich. That spring Mr. Berry became a clerk in the store of C. W. Perkins, of Albion, and in 1847 the two formed a copartnership under the firm name of Perkins & Berry. Two years later Mr. Berry became sole owner, and after two more years failed-a blow which caused him much disappointment. Being quite a genius he foolishly thought he could win a prize of $300 offered for the best railroad sleeping chair to be exhibited in New York. This was prior to the Pullman sleeping cars. The firm of Pullman Bros. (of which George Pullman was a member) made his invention. The committee of the American Institute reported that there was no device exhibited worthy of the prize. For three years he acted as deputy clerk of Orleans county under Hon. Dan H. Cole, and acquired a valuable experience. In the spring of 1856 he moved to Buffalo, where for twelve years he was employed by the Western Transportation Company; in the fall of 1866 he became their bookkeeper in Chicago. Returning to Buffalo he was later employed by the Merchants' Dispatch, Emory Cummings, superintendent, for three years. Afterward he was commercial editor of the Buffalo Express for seven years, and during one and a half years of that time performed the same service for the Buffalo Commercial. He purchased an interest in the Express, of which his oniy son, Earl D. Berry, became city editor; the latter was also elected supervisor and later alderman of the Ninth ward. Finally Mr. Berry invested in real estate and met with eminent success. He was also for a long time agent of Chandler J. Wells, a millionaire, and since his death continues in the same capacity with his estate. During an active career Mr. Berry has always been held in the highest respect, and enjoys the esteem and confidence of all who know him. He has lived in a generation the most prolific in inventions of any recorded in history. In his day people could travel only eight or ten miles an hour. In his young days there were no steamboats or locomotives, no gas or matches, no planing mills, no grain harvesters, no sewing machines, no telegraphs or telephones, no electric lights, no trolleys.

Our County and its people
A descriptive work on Erie County, New York
Edited by: Truman C. White
The Boston History Company, Publishes 1898


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