Biography of Robert P. Grant


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ROBERT P. GRANT, who for more than twenty years has been closely and actively identified with banking and other business enterprises in northern Jefferson county, was a native of Sullivan county, N. Y., born in Neversink, May 6, 1844, and was the eldest of eight children in the family of Isaac and Hannah (Le Roy) Grant. His father was a mechanic, and as the oldest child in the family upon Robert fell nearly all the boy’s work to be done about the house, but he also attended district school and succeeded in getting two terms’ attendance at the High School. He then learned the tanner’s trade, at which he was employed when, in 1863, he recruited Company C of the 92d Regiment, N. G. S. N. Y., and was elected its captain. Indeed, Captain Grant had previously taken much interest in military affairs and was well versed in "Hardie's tactics.” This gave him an excellent standing with the commissioned officers of the regiment, who depended on him to drill the troops, and ultimately led to his promotion to the rank of colonel, in 1865, he then being the youngest officer in the command. In 1863 the 92d was ordered to the State line when the Confederate army invaded Pennsylvania and threatened the country farther north.

In the mean time Mr. Grant had acquired a third interest in a tannery, and after returning from military service devoted himself wholly to business. From that time to the present he has been constantly occupied in various pursuits, in a career so interesting as to be worthy of. wore than passing mention. In 1866 he sold out the tannery interest and engaged in farming and managing a store at Neversink, N. Y., at which he was occupied about a year. In 1869 he went to Hawkinsville, N. Y., and operated a tannery store for another year, and in 1870, at the request of Thomas E. Proctor, hide and leather dealer, of Boston, he removed to Lycoming county, Pa., and carried on a general store in the heart of the lumber and tannery regions for which that State was then noted. At the end of another year Mr. Grant went to Cameron county, Penn., and bought the bark on a 10,000 acre tract of land, and also built a tannery at Sterling Run, on the tract, he then acting as the managing partner in the firm of Grant, Clark & Co., and having then saved as the result of his previous labors some six or seven thousand dollars.

Mr. Grant continued in business at the place last mentioned until five days previous to the panic of 1874, when he sold out and removed to Fort Madison, Iowa, where, in partnership with Senator W. G. Kent, he started the Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Bank. In the course of the next six or seven months other similar enterprises were either started or projected, which threatened injury through over-competition, whereupon Mr. Grant sold his banking interests and in 1876 returned east and went to Boonville, Oneida county. Here he arranged to take the cashiership of a bank at Lincoln, Neb., but was dissuaded from this purpose through the arguments of friends, Then, at the suggestion of President Dodge of the First National Bank of Boonville, N. Y., Mr. Grant came to Clayton and established the Bank of Clayton, in partnership with A. F. Barker. This was a fortunate enterprise both for the founders and for the town. In 1880, as is stated in the history of the village, the insti tution was changed into a State batik, called the Bank of Clayton, but four years later Mr. Grant (who had been cashier and manager), andfifty others bought out the Barker interest and organized the Exchange Bank. The history of this successful enterprise is elsewhere written at length, hence needs no repetition here. It did business until January 1, 1898, and then became the National Exchange Bank, with more than one hundred share holders, and with Mr. Grant as cashier, which position, as well as that of manager in fact, he held in connection with its predecessor banks.

Thus in brief is narrated the leading events of a busy life; one which had its beginning in a small way and with very little original capital other than good capacity and judgment and a determination to succeed, but one which from the beginning has grown and enlarged until its principal factor and founder has acquired a position of prominence in business and financial circles. About 1880 Mr. Grant became interested in the manufacture and sale of cheese, adding one factory after another as years passed, until he is now the managing owner of seven such enterprises. Since May, 1897, he has been president of the Board of Cheese Trade, an organization of about one hundred members. In addition he is the owner of a large fire insurance agency business, and is otherwise interested in local enterprises. He is one of the trustees of the Thousand Island Park Association; treasurer of the Anglers' Association of the St. Lawrence River (an association of more than three hundred members and the strongest body of its kind in the United States); and was also one of the incorporators (and now vice-president) of the Fish, Game and Forest League, which was organized during the winter of 1897-8.

In politics Mr. Grant was originally a Democrat, and in Pennsylvania was offered and declined a nomination (which was equivalent to an election) for the Legislature. Since returning to this State he has not taken an active part in political affairs and acted independent of party dictations until the presidential campaign of 1892, since which time he has been identified with the Republican party. For many years he has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and is a liberal contributor to its support, and as well to other worthy enterprises. In his business life Mr. Grant has been abundantly successful, the reward of industry, perseverance and straightforward honesty. When only twelve years old he had saved about $20, which he invested in sheep and in the course of five years produced a good flock, accumulating thereby the sum of $500. This was his real starting capital in actual business life.

Our County and it's people
A descriptive work on Jefferson County, New York
Edited by: Edgar C. Emerson
The Boston History Co., Publishers 1898

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