Biography of Eugene H. Conant
Oneida County, NY Biographies





For fifty seven consecutive years the name of Conant has been inseparably interwoven with the industrial history of Camden in connection with furniture manufacture. Eugene Henry Conant has long been a representative of this branch of business and whatever he has undertaken has been carried forward to successful completion, owing to a determination and energy that falters not before obstacles but continually seeks out new paths for successful accomplishment. He was born in North Bay, New York, June 12, 1847, but when about three years of age was brought to Camden by his parents, Francis H. and Mary E. (Gates) Conant. The father was born in Albany, New York, September 19, 1815, but his childhood was passed in Stow, Massachusetts. On the 19th of September, 1836, he was united in marriage to Miss Mary E. Gates, and auto them were born six sons of whom the eldest died in infancy. The others were: Frank E., who enlisted for service in the Civil war and was killed in the battle of Antietam; Walter N., Eugene H., John A., and George I., all of whom were engaged in the furniture business.

Soon after his marriage Francis H. Conant became a resident of North Bay, New York, where he conducted a general merchandise store and also engaged in some outside business. He remained there for several years and then returned to St.ow, Massachusetts. About 1849 he came to Camden. bringing his family, and here he entered into the milling business in partnership with George Lyman Curtiss. Later he became a partner of the Hon. T. D. Penfield, and in 1851 with but limited facilities began the manufacture of chairs on the site of the Grove Mills. Three years later he purchased the property in the valley where the modern factory now stands and there established the Camden Chair Factory which has been in operation since that time, or for a period of fiftyseven years. About 1865 he purchased the Detroit Chair Factory of Detroit, Michigan, and removed his family to that city, carrying on business there for several years. At the same time he was also associated with S. P. Duffield in the manufacture of fluid extracts for medicinal purposes. From Detroit he removed to Adrian, Michigan, but eventually returned to Camden where he made his home until after the death of his wife, which occurred in Toledo, Ohio, while she was visiting her son, Walter N. Conant. For the remainder of his life Mr. Conant resided in the west. He afterward married Mrs. Sarah Beech of Coidwater, Michigan, and passed away in that City on the 12th of May, 1887, at the age of seventy one years. He was a trustee of the Congregational church as well as superintendent of the Sunday school and took a very active and helpful part in promoting the moral development of the communities in which he lived. At various times he wa.s elected a trustee of different corporations and also served as a member of the board of education. In fact he was a valued citizen because of the active and ready cooperation that he gave to all measures and movements for the public good.

His son, Eugene Henry Conant, pursued his education in the public schools and in the Utica Business College, where he pursued a course that qualified him in a measure for the business world. His practical training, however, came in connection with his father's chair factory at Detroit, which he entered in the capacity of bookkeeper. He was also given charge of the shipping depart. ment and thus became familiar with different phases of the business whereby he was qualified for the active work that devolved upon him. Upon his return to Camden he joined his brother, W. N. Conant, in carrying on the business of the Camden Chair Company and in 1869 he became interested in the Rochester Furniture & Chair Company, of which he was the secretary for about three years. He then again returned to Camden and became a partner with his father in the conduct of the chair business, which was carried on under the firm name of F. H. Conant & Son until 1876, when a most disastrous fire occurred, destroying nearly the entire plant. The father then withdrew and was succeeded in the ownership of the business by Eugene and George Conant. They rebuilt the factory and formed a partnership which was terminated only by the death of George F. Oonant in 1898. Since that time Eugene H. Conant has been sole proprietor of the business which has constantly grown in volume and importance and is today one of the most prominent productive interests of this section of the state.

On the 4th of November, 1874, Mr. Conant was united in marriage to Miss Caroline Phelps, of Camden, and unto them have been born three children: Harold T., who is associated with, his father in the manufacture of chairs; Alice B., now the wife of Charles F. Sisson, Jr., a resident of Binghamton, New York; and Mary E., who died March 19, 1904.

A man of wide experience, Mr. Conant has traveled extensively in his own country as well as in many of the countries of Europe, visiting the land of the midnight sun, Egypt, the Nile, the Holy Land and some parts of the Turkish empire. He has always been deeply interested in the welfare of his town, serving as president of the village, and it was largely through his energy and personal attention that the citizens of Camden are now enjoying a line modern opera house and the benefits to be derived therefrom. He was also among those who were instrumental in influencing the railroad company to extend the E. C. & N. line, now the Lehigh Valley system, through Camden.. Governor Morton appointed him one of the trustees of the State Custodial Asylum at Rome for a term of four years, and on the expiration of that period he was again offered the position by Governor Roosevelt, but business cares had at that time become so pressing that he was obliged to decline. His cooperation, however, is given at all possible times to those measures and movements which are for the public good and his efforts are effective, far reaching and beneficial.

From:
History of Oneida County, New York
From 1700 to the present time
of some of its prominent men and pioneers.
By: Henry J. Cookinham
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago 1912


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