Biography of Alfred D. Remington


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It is not surprising that readers of biography grow suspicious of what appears to be unstinted praise, remembering that there is a disposition on the part of many writers to indulge in idle compliment of men who have attained success either in the mercantile or professional walks of life. There are some men, howévér, too well respected in the community which knows them as they are to call forth suspicion asto the motive of the compiler, and one of these is Alfred D. Remington.

Mr. Remington was born at Manlius, Onondaga county, N. Y., April 13, 1827, a son of Illustrious and Annice (Dennison) Remington. His father, a man of exceptional ability and business acumen conducted a cotton mill in Manlius at this time, and he was reared in that village, receiving the excellent advantages offered by the Manlius Academy. At an early age he engaged in the hat manufacturing business in Auburn and later in Watertown. This business was entirely unsuited to his natural capacity and he soon left it to engage in a paper manufacturing enterprise at Fayetteville, near Syracuse, being associated with his father under the name of Remington & Son. He came to Watertown in 1856 and with his associates established the business which has grown to be the largest enterprise in Jefferson county.

Considering the length of time they have been in business and the extent of their operations Mr. Remington and his associates have probably paid out more money for labor than any other firm within the bounds of the county. Mr. Remington is still a comparatively young man with many years of work and capacity before him. The value of the Remington enterprise to this community has been great but their influence also extends beyond the limits of the State and even of the country.

The subject of this notice is regarded, and justly so, as one of the leading spirits among paper manufacturers, for he has repeatedly proven himself a man of many resources, fearlessly grappling with problems that might have intimidated less courageous men. The business has grown from a small beginning to large proportions, but as it broadened out Mr. Remington was ever found “measuring up to the line.” The mills which represent his life work are noticed more in detail in the industrial chapter.

Mr. Remington was one of the pioneer manufacturers of wood pulp in this country, and the first to make it in Jefferson county. Later when the “Suiphite “process was first talked of he became so impressed with the value of it that he made a journey to Sweden to get at the “root of the matter.” This was characteristic of him; he invariably grasps all the details and gets at the bottom of whatever he undertakes, be the matter small or great. But, unlike many men possessed of this attribute, he is always ready to accept the suggestions of others. In Sweden he carefully looked into the “sulphite” process and found that it could be used here to advantage. For experimantal purposes he purchased quite a quantity and brought it to Watertown with the result that the first paper made successfully in the United States of ground wood and sulphite was manufactured in the Remington Mill “B,” This is a historical fact which a hundred years hence will be valuable, giving to Mr. Remington a foremost place among American paper manufacturers of the nineteenth century. During the period covering Mr. Remington’s experimental work in the process, mills all over the country were condemning it.

His politics are Republican and before the formation of the Republican party he was a Whig. He is a staunch partisan and might more than once have obtained political preferment, but the cares of a growing business, as well as his own disinclination to bring his name into prominence have left him with but one record of public service; that of fifteen years of faithful attention as a member of the water board. Mr. Remington was married in 1849 to Miss Helen M. Houghton, a daughter of Dr. Sidney Houghton of Belleville.

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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