Biography of George West

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HON. GEORGE WEST, manufacturer, banker and ex-Congressman, was born in Bradninch, Devonshire, England, February 17, 1823. At the age of eleven he went to work in a paper mill and served his full apprenticeship from fourteen to twenty-one years of age, and rising rapidly he was soon put in charge of a department. He came to this country in February, 1849, in the steerage, and fothid employment in a paper mill in New Jersey at seven dollars per week, but at the end of a year removed to Tyringham, Berkshire county, Mass., and entered a writing-paper mill. It was here, in February, 1850, that he made the first watermark writing paper on a machine in the United States. He also invented machinery for cutting watermark in the centre of the sheet. In 1853 he took full charge of the Russell Mills; in 1861 he purchased the Empire Mill, Rock City Falls, Saratoga county, and in June, 1862 purchased the mill outright. He now owns and runs seven paper and one suiphite mills. The paper mills have an output of fifty tons of paper per day, and the suiphite milils an output of fifteen tons per day; he employs 400 men, women and children. He is a large stockholder in the Utica Herald. He is president and one of the founders of the First National Bank of Ballston; a director of the National Folding Box and Paper Co. of New York city; director of Franklin Bank; owns a creosote factory and several mines in the west. He is treasurer of the Round Lake Association and one of the original incorporators, and a member of the firm of D. S. Walton &Co., wholesale merchants of paper and paper boxes, corner of Varick and Franklin streets, New York city. He is also a member of the board of trade and transportation, the American Geographical Society, and the Republican Club of New York city. In politics a Republican, he was five times elected to the Assembly from Baliston, from 1871 to 1875 inclusive; served in Congress three terms (188086) from the Twentieth district. In 1880 84 and in 1888 he was a delegate to the National Republican Convention. His popularity in his county was very great; and once, when his political opponents had a picture taken representing him asleep in his chair in the assembly hail and distributed proofs by the thousands in his district, the people elected him by a greater majority than usual. He had been up for nights watching legislation, and accidently dozed in his chair. His political career has been brilliant, and his native wit and readiness and good humor in speaking have won him many friends. In 1883, on the occasion of a visit to England, a public reception and banquet was given to Mr. West, by the officials and the people in his native town, Bradninch. Mr. West is a thirty-second degree Mason, and a Knight of Pythias. He was the original New Yorker who suggested Benjamin Harrison for the presidency in 1888, and was also the first to advocate Levi P. Morton for vice president. In religion he is a Methodist and an active member of the denomination. He paid half the cost of erecting the handsome church edifice in Ballston, which was dedicated by Bishop Newman in December, 1893, and in 1896 he presented the church with a handsome parsonage. Mr. West is a self-made man in the best sense of the word, and having experienced the struggle of life does not forget to sympathize with others. He is most philanthropic, contributing largely to charity and earnestly supporting every worthy measure for the public good. He was married in Devonshire, England, April 7, 1844, to Louisa Rose. They have had six children, two of whom survive. The first-born son, George West, jr., now living, is married and has three sons, and the last born, Florence L., now Mrs. Douglas W. Mabee, has seven children.

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