Biography of George A. Bagley
Jefferson County, NY Biographies

George Augustus Bagley. - A dominant figure in the business life of Watertown, where he was president of the Bagley & Sewall Company, was George Augustus Bagley, who died in this city, May 12, 1915. He was born at Watertown, July 22, 1827, the son of Bernard and Zurviah (Gates) Bagley.

Bernard Bagley was born in Broome County, N. Y., Nov. 5, 1791. He came to Jefferson County in 1812 and in early life was a school teacher and surveyor. He read law in the office of Charles E. Clarke, of Watertown, and in 1926 was admitted to the bar. Mr. Bagley served as a member of the New York legislature for several years. He was one of the founders of the Jefferson County Savings Bank in 1859 and was a trustee of the North Watertown Cemetery, which was laid out in 1838. Mr. Bagley died in Watertown, June 26, 1878.

George Augustus Bagley received his early education in the public schools of Watertown, and studied law in his father's office, being admitted to the bar before he was 21 years of age. He was not interested however in law, and in 1853 became associated in business with Edmund Quincy Sewall, and George Goulding, as founders of the Bagley & Sewall Machine Works. Thus the present concern was established by George Goulding in 1823. From the date of its organization Mr. Bagley served as president until his death. He was also president of the Newton Falls Paper Company, and was active in numerous other business enterprises in the city.

Mr. Bagley was a Republican and served as trustee and president of the village board. He was chairman of the board of supervisors in 1874, and from 1875 until 1879 represented his district in the Congress of the United States.

In 1858 Mr. Bagley married Miss Sabina P. Clark, the daughter of Col. Ambrose W. Clark. Their children were: 1. Jessie, married Virgil K. Kellogg, resides in London, England. 2. Carrie, the widow of Stuart D. Lansing, a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in this history. 3. Ambrose, lives in Florida. 4. Madeleine, lives at the family homestead, 204 Ten Eyck Street, Watertown.

Mr. Bagley possessed an alert and vigorous personality, dynamic in its influence, and his personal success brought to Watertown the opportunity for economic advancement. He was at the same time likeable, generous and straightforward. His home, his circle of friends, and his fellow townsmen benefited by his able and constructive life.

One of Mr. Bagley's greatest achievements was the handling of the Carthage, Watertown & Sackets Harbor Railroad. He was one of the prime movers in the building of this road in 1871 and became president. It was through his efforts that the absorption of this road by the New York Central Railroad without compensation was prevented, and to this end he raised nearly half a million dollars. The railroad had been built by bonding the towns and private subscription, for the purpose of securing a competing route by a connection with the Utica and Black River Railroad at Carthage, which at that time was an independent company. It was afterward absorbed by the R. W. and O. Railroad, and both companies were later absorbed by the New York Central. The stock of the Carthage and Sackets Harbor Railroad was considered worthless and there was a movement to secure it by the New York Central for ten cents on the dollar. This plan nearly succeeded when Mr. Bagley stepped forward to raise the necessary money. He obtained a new board of directors and through his tireless efforts the New York Central was finally forced to pay par for the railroad stock held by the surrounding towns. The city of Watertown had invested about $800,000 and instead of ten cents on the dollar Mr. Bagley obtained 100 cents on the dollar. He was not satisfied however with this. The Carthage and Sackets Harbor Railroad was entitled to a percentage on all freight moved over it, and to avoid paying the percentage the lessees diverted freights from this road over its own lines via Philadelphia. He began suit to compel the reimbursement for freight so diverted, and while the suit was in progress the railroad commissioners sold the stock at par, the directorate was changed, and the suit was discontinued.

Mr. Bagley was a devout member of the Episcopal Church and for 47 years served as vestryman in St. Paul's Church.

Sabina P. (Clark) Bagley was born at Cooperstown, N. Y., Jan. 24, 1838, and died Nov. 24, 1916. She was a sister of Ambrose J. Clark, paymaster general of the U. S. Navy, and David J. Clark, U. S. Navy.


The North Country
A History, Embracing
Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Oswego, Lewis
and Franklin Counties, New York.
By: Harry F. Landon
Historical Publishing Company
Indianopolis, Indiana 1932

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