Biography of Henry W. Millar
Oneida County, NY Biographies





Henry W. Millar, who was called to his final rest, on the 10th of May, 1905, was one of Utica's leading residents and most prominent business men. His birth occurred in this city, on the 20th of July, 1845, his parents being Charles and Jane (Quait) Millar. Charles Millar was born in Greenwich, England, March 9, 1808, and received a good education in the parochial schools of London. In 1835 he came to America and first located in Williamsburg, near New York city, whence he removed in 1839 to Utica, where he spent the remainder of his life. He had been educated as an architect and master builder, and here he at once commenced business in that line, securing large and important contracts. He erected many of the most prominent of the older buildings in Utica, among which were the courthouse, the Mohawk street jail, the Tibbitts block, several public schools and John Thorn's residence His career as a contractor and builder continued successfully for about seventeen years. From 1857 to 1860 he was the agent and manager of the Utica Screw Company. When he assumed charge of its affairs the company, suffering from the prevailing financial depression, was virtually bankrupt, but through his efforts it rapidly recovered and became such an important competitor that the American Screw Company, of Providence, Rhode Island, offered to buy its stock at par, which, contrary to Mr. Millar's advice, was accepted by the directors. The soundness of his views was subsequently confirmed by the advance of the Providence company's stock many hundredfold. In 1861 Mr. Millard was made superintendent of the Utica & Black River Railroad, which position he held six years. He laid the foundation of the future prosperity of that important line and made many improvements in the property, notable among which was the filling of the immense trestle work at Trenton, New York, a work of great magnitude, occupying several years and requiring several million yards of sand and gravel. His management of the affairs of the company was so energetic and characterized by such good judgment that the road was enabled to pay its first dividend.

In 1861 he had purchased the wholesale tin, plumbing and steamfitting business which he continued to conduct until his death and to which he commenced to devote his whole attention in 1867, when he resigned his position as superintendent of the railroad. In the latter year he erected the Millar building on Genesee street in Utica, and here was conducted one of the most extensive establishments of the kind in the United States. In 1866 he admitted his son, Henry W. Millar, to full partnership, under the firm name of Charles Millar & Son. The business continued to grow rapidly. The firm became extensive manufacturers of cheese and butter making apparatus and many of the appliances were Mr. Millar's invention. This machinery was sold all over the country and large quantities were shipped to Europe, Australia, Canada and South America. In 1883 the firm commenced the manufacture of lead pipes in Utica, which proved a success from the start. A large factory and warehouse on Main street was erected for the purpose in 1885, and soon afterward Mr. Millar's son in law, John L. Murray, was admitted to the firm, the name remaining the same. In 1889 the firm, with Nicholas E. Kernan, Irvin A. Williams and the late William M. White, organized the Utica Pipe Foundry Company, of which Mr. Millar was elected the first president, a position he held until his death, which occurred when the company was about to cast its first pipe, the buildings having been erected under his direction. His son succeeded him as president and held the office until his death.

Mr. Millar was a man of rare business thrift and ability, and no one ever left a more honorable record or one more worthy of emulation. The enterprises which he founded and with which he was connected are among the most important in Utica His steady and persistent application to business brought him success. Scrupulously upright in his dealings, farsighted and comprehensive in commercial and financial conditions, he conquered fortune and at the same time held the confidence of the community and the esteem of all who knew him. For more than half a century he was an active force in the business, social and public life of the city, whose interests and welfare he helped to increase and further. He was a man of the strictest integrity, progressive, public spirited and benevolent, and gave liberally to all worthy objects. In politics he was a strong abolitionist and a free soil democrat, and affiliated with the republicans upon the organization of that party, whose principles he ever afterward supported. He was alderman from the fourth ward for two years, at the time of the incendiary fires, and was himself a sufferer from the burning of his carpenter shop on Division street. He was president of the Utica Mechanics Association one term and for several years chairman and manager of their fairs, which at one time were so popular.

Mr. Millar was married in England, in 1833, to Miss Jane Quait, by whom he had nine children, four of whom are living as follows: Frances S., Julia A., Louise A. and Carrie E. The parents celebrated their golden wedding on the 15th of September, 1883. Charles Millar passed away in Utica on the 23d of February, 1890.

Henry W. Millar, whose name introduces this review, obtained his education in the public schools and in 1866 became his father's partner in the firm of Charles Millar & Son, having first spent five years in familiarizing himself with the business. The name of the firm was not changed after the death of the senior partner. The concern dealt in hardware, plumbers' supplies, etc. It was the agent for the Utica Pipe Foundry Company, in the establishment of which Henry W. Millar and his father were mainly instrumental and to the presidency of which the former succeeded after the latter's demise. To Henry W. Millar is also due the largest share of credit for the establishment of the Savage Arms Company, of which concern he was the first president. He was likewise the president of the Whitesboro Canning Company and the Sauquoit Canning Company; the first vice president of the Utica City National Bank and the Utica Trust & Deposit Company; vice president of the Utica Knitting Company; a stockholder in the First National and Oneida National Banks, Utica and Mohawk Valley Cotton Company, Shenandoah Cotton Company, International Heater Company, Willoughby Carriage Company, Whitestown Water Company, Wright-Dana Hardware Company, New York Central Railroad, Western Union Telegraph Company, Stradling Plumbing & Heating Company; a director of the Utica and Mohawk Valley Railroad Company, the George Young Bakery, the Utica Paving Company and the Utica Mechanics Association; a manager and president of St. Luke's Home and Hospital, a trustee of the Soldiers Monument Association and the Forest Hill Cemetery Association and one of the managers of the Utica Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Millar was preeminently a man of affairs and one who wielded a wide influence, and the soundness of his business judgment was such that his cooperation was continually sought in the control and management of important concerns. Enterprise, industry, thoroughness, executive ability and unfaltering integrity were recognized as his dominant characteristics.

In 1879 Mr. Millar was united in marriage to Miss Kate Wagner, of Whitesboro, by whom he had five children, four of whom are still living, namely: Florence, Eleanor, Gertrude and Charles. The wife and mother was called to her final rest on the 3d of June, 1905.

Mr. Millar was a republican in politics and a most loyal, public spirited citizen withholding his aid and cooperation from no movement instituted to promote the general welfare. His religious faith was indicated by his membership in Calvary Episcopal church, in which he served as a vestryman. He likewise belonged to the Fort Schuyler Club, the Maple Lake Club and the Yalmundahsis Golf Club. So upright and honorable was his life in all of its phases, so commendable his principles, so manly and sincere his actions, that his name is enshrined in the hearts of all who knew him in a way that time cannot obliterate.

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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