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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Cluett

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[This information is from Vol. II, pp. 821-825 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

The original English spelling of this name was Clued or Clud. The family was seated in counties Salop and Nottingham, England. Arms: "Ar — a bend between four cottesses sable." Crest — "A Bull's head per cheb — gules and ermine." (Burke's Gen. Arm., p. 206.) The family herein traced was founded by William Cluett, of Wolverhampton, county Salop, England, who settled in Troy, New York, in 1850. He was born in Hilton, Staffordshire, England, 1806, died in Saratoga, New York, September 18, 1890. He was the eldest and only son of William and Mary (Harris) Cluett, both of English birth.

In 1854 William Cluett, Jr., established the now well-known music house of Cluett & Sons. He was a man of learning and widely read; a lover of books and in England had been for many years a book dealer with stores in Birmingham and London. He established his first store in Troy at 75 Congress street, dealing in books. The business increased rapidly, and enlarged quarters were necessary again and again. In 1857 he admitted his eldest son, John William Alfred Cluett, to a partnership under the firm name of William Cluett & Son. In 1858 they opened a branch house in Albany and extended to cover in part the states of Vermont, New York and Massachusetts. In 1863 J. W. A. Cluett withdrew to engage in the manufacture of collars and cuffs, associating with the house of George B. Cluett, Brother & Company. In the same year Edmund and Frederick H. Cluett were admitted to the firm with their father and the firm name changed to Cluett & Sons, by which it is now known in all parts of the business and musical world. In 1865 the line of books was discontinued, and sheet music, musical merchandise and piano and organ departments introduced. William Cluett, the founder, was a man of rare attainments and transmitted his unusual abilities to a family of sturdy sons, who have worthily perpetuated his name. He was identified with the Republican party, and a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.

He married, in England, in 1828, Ann Bywater, died 1876, daughter of Thomas and Mary Bywater. Children:

  1. Emily, married John W. Cadby, a box manufacturer and old book dealer, of Albany.
  2. John W. A., born in Wolverhampton, England; was one of the pioneers in Troy in the collar industry, and a member of a firm, the largest of its kind in the world, now known as Cluett, Peabody & Company. From 1857 to 1863 he was in the music business with his father, then withdrew to engage in the business that has made the name Cluett a world-wide one. He was a man of many talents, a student, tourist, lecturer, microscopist of unusual attainment, and a seeker after knowledge all his life. He was a member of Christ Episcopal Church, a director of the Young Men's Christian Association, and a liberal and upright citizen. He married Elizabeth Bonticou; children:
    1. Jessie A., married C. Vanderbilt Barton, of Colorado Springs.
    2. Louise B., of Troy, married Harvey D. Cowee.
  3. Mary, married Rev. Joseph N. Mulford.
  4. George Bywater, born in England; in 1861 he was admitted a member of the firm of Maulin & Bigelow, manufacturers of men's collars. In 1862 he organized the firm of Maulin & Cluett. In 1863 Mr. Maulin died, and George B. and John W. A. Cluett with Charles J. Saxe organized the collar manufacturing firm of George B. Cluett Brother & Company. In 1866, Charles J. Saxe withdrew and Robert Cluett became a partner. In 1889 they consolidated with the firm of Coon & Company under the new name of Cluett, Coon & Company, making the largest collar, cuff and shirt manufacturing house in the world. George B. and John W. A. built the stone spire on the State Street Methodist Episcopal Church, and they also put in a beautiful memorial window in Christ Church (Episcopal) in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Cluett. George B. is now an Episcopalian; he gave a $10,000 organ to St. John's Episcopal Church, and in 1910 gave $25,000 as an endowment fund for a district nurse for the poor of the parish, and in case not employed by any of the parish to be used for any poor of the city of Troy. John W. A. put a stone and brick front on the Young Men's Christian Association building on Second street. He married (first) Sarah B. Golden; left no issue. He married (second) Amanda R. Fisher and had the following children: Walter R., Nellie A., Harold, George, deceased; Beatrice, George B., Jr., and Alfonso R., who died in young manhood; a school was dedicated to his memory at Pawling, New York.
  5. Edmund, born at Wolverhampton, England, 1840, died December 10, 1908. In 1863 he was admitted a member of the music firm of Cluett & Sons, and was thereafter connected with the management and development of the business of that most successful house. He was identified with the business for nearly half a century, and at his death was at its head. He was a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, and a vestryman at the time of his death. He was an accomplished musician, a progressive business man, quiet and unostentatious, warm hearted and liberal. He was an ardent golfer, and was connected with all local golf clubs and at Palm Beach, Florida, where he spent his winters. He married Mary Alice Stone and left sons:
    1. Albert E., a director of Cluett, Peabody & Company; married Caroline, daughter of George P. Ide;
    2. Sanford L., vice-president and director of Walter A. Wood Mowing & Reaping Company of Hoosick Falls.
  6. Robert, a sketch of whom follows.
  7. Frederick Henry, see forward.

(II) Frederick Henry, son of William and Ann (Bywater) Cluett, was born in Wolverhampton, England, May 2, 1843. He was eight years of age when his parents came to the United States and settled in Troy. He was educated in the city schools, and on attaining his majority was admitted a member of Cluett & Sons. He possessed unusual musical talent, and was noted as a skilled performer on the piano and pipe organ. These talents were noticeable in his boyhood, and were developed under the most able instructors. He was an able business man and was closely identified with the progress of Cluett & Sons, but as a musician he was pre-eminent, music was his great delight and recreation. At sixteen he was organist of Dr. Magoon's church in Albany. He became organist of State Street Methodist Episcopal Church at Troy in 1860, and continued for thirty-eight years, and rarely missed a Sunday. During his long term of service, the church had fourteen pastors and fifteen Sunday school superintendents. He was a pupil of Dr. T. J. Guy, of Troy, and of Dr. George William Warren, of New York City, and visited while in Europe some of the world masters of organ music. He presided at the organ on the occasion of the last service held in the old State Street Methodist Episcopal Church, and at the dedication of the new edifice, March 30, 1871, by Bishop Simpson. He was a member of the State Street Methodist Episcopal Church from boyhood, and was for twenty years a trustee. In connection with his brothers, and as a memorial to their parents, the sons of William and Ann Cluett erected the spire of the new State Street Church. In his will Frederick H. Cluett generously donated ten thousand dollars to the same church, his religious home for over half a century. He was a charter member and director of the Central Young Men's Christian Association, and ever took an active interest in its welfare. He was most charitable, yet so modest and unassuming that none but himself and the beneficiaries knew of his many acts of kindness. He was a Republican in politics, and was always interested and urged to completion all movements that meant a greater and more progressive city. His high standing in the musical world, and his close connection with the great music house of Cluett & Sons, brought him in contact with cultured people from every section. Among such people he was held in the highest esteem, both as a man and an artist. He died at Houston, Texas, December 23, 1909, where for four winters preceeding his death he had resided with his daughter, hoping for restoration to health and vigor.

He married, January 11, 1866, Frances Amelia, daughter of Charles B. Bishop, of Troy, who survives him and is a resident of her native city. Children:

  1. Charles Frederick, born August 25, 1867, in Troy, New York; educated at St. Paul's parochial school and at Troy Academy. He was admitted to the firm of Cluett & Sons in 1901, and is now (1910) president and treasurer of the company, which was incorporated as Cluett Sons in 1910. He is an able business man and a worthy successor to the Cluetts who preceeded him in establishing and developing a great business. The company now has branch stores and warerooms in Albany, Gloversville, Schenectady, Plattsburgh, Glens Falls, Saratoga, New York, North Adams, and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, also at Bennington, Vermont. Their home office and principal place of business is the Cannon Place block, Broadway and Second street, Troy. Mr. Cluett inherited the family musical talent and is a fine musician. He was organist of the North Second Street Methodist Church for a time, was organist of the First Presbyterian Church for fifteen years, and brought the musical services of that congregation to such a high standard of excellence that they were considered the best in the city. He is a member of the Troy Club, St. Paul's Church, Troy, and treasurer of the Round Lake Improvement Company. He married (first) April 20, 1892, Jessie L., daughter of Joseph Knight, of Troy. She died March 22, 1893. He married (second) November 19, 1894, Alice M., daughter of Charles Bascom and Irene H. Dexter.
  2. Frances Charlotte, born in Troy, New York, graduate of the Emma Willard School; she married Charles L. Desel, and resides in Houston, Texas. They have one child, Frances Cluett Desel.
  3. Clarence Wentworth, born February 16, 1873; married, January 1, 1898, Abigail E. Rawson, and is now residing in Troy, New York.
  4. Mary Elizabeth, a graduate of Troy high school and Emma Willard School; married, February 22, 1898, William T. Shyne, of Troy; children:
    1. William Kennedy, born October 25, 1899;
    2. Mary Elizabeth; Lydia Cluett.

Frances Amelia (Bishop) Cluett is a descendant of the Bishops of Connecticut. She is a daughter of Charles Bingly and Mary Elizabeth (Becker) Bishop, a granddaughter of Luther Bishop, and great-granddaughter of John Bishop, born in Litchfield, Connecticut, December 24, 1752, died at Clifton Heights, 1825. He settled in Rensselaer county, New York, where he followed the occupation of farming. He married, March 16, 1774, Olive Bissel, born in Litchfield, Connecticut, August 15, 1756, died in Troy, New York, 1828. They had several children, the eldest being a son Luther.

(II) Luther, son of John and Olive (Bissel) Bishop, was born January 3, 1779, in Troy, New York, where he died March 13, 1862. He was a farmer. He married, April 27, 1817, Hannah Baker, born in Rome, New York, June 16, 1799, died in Brunswick, March 13, 1849. They had six children.

(III) Charles Bingly, eldest child of Luther and Hannah (Baker) Bishop, was born in Schodack, Rensselaer county, New York, July 1, 1818, died June 13, 1889, in Troy. He was three years old when his parents removed to Troy, where he received his education in the common schools. He established in Troy the first postal delivery system — delivering letters anywhere in the city for one cent. This was the original "pennypost" in Troy, and was kept in operation by Mr. Bishop for several years. After discontinuing his "pennypost," he became interested in the grain business with Henry J. Becker, whose interest he afterward purchased, becoming sole owner of the "Barge line," and the business in Troy and New York, where the firm had offices. He purchased grain and shipped it to New York in his own barges, conducting a most successful business, and becoming one of the wealthy men of that period. In 1854 his residence on First street, Troy, was destroyed by fire. He then discontinued his Troy offices and removed them to Albany, making that his principal place of business and shipping point, and continued there in business until his death. He rebuilt his home in Troy, erecting a beautiful modern home, and having it ready for occupancy in six months. He was a man of great energy and possessed of fine business qualities. He was one of the original board of directors of the Union National Bank of Troy, and at his death was the oldest bank director in that city, in point of years of service. He was a member of State Street Methodist Church, Troy, but later attended a church nearer his residence, which was the Park Presbyterian. He was a liberal contributor to the support of both churches. He was a member of the Troy Volunteer Fire Department for many years, and one of the original members of the Troy Citizens Corps, serving as corporal. At the time of the "Anti Rent" in Helderberg, he was on duty with the corps. He was a leader in the movement to introduce the English sparrow in Troy as a remedy for certain evils that probably were less annoying than the remedy has proved. He married, May 25, 1843, Mary Elizabeth, born August 2, 1823, died April 27, 1893, daughter of Henry I. and Lydia Norton (Hotchkiss) Becker. Children:

  1. Frances Amelia, born in Troy, New York. She was educated in the public schools, and at the Emma Willard School. She married, January 11, 1866, Frederick Henry Cluett. She is a member of the State Street Methodist Church, Troy, where she continues her residence.
  2. Charles Becker.
  3. Percy James, deceased.

(III) Robert Cluett, son of William (q. v.) and Ann (Bywater) Cluett, was born in Birmingham, England, June 14, 1844. He came to Troy, New York, in 1850, with the family and was educated in that city. In 1866 he became a partner of the collar manufacturing firm of George B. Cluett, Brother & Company, taking the place in that firm made vacant by the withdrawal of Charles J. Saxe. His associates were his brothers, George B. and J. W. A. Cluett, who with Mr. Saxe organized the firm in 1863, replacing Maulin & Cluett, who had succeeded to the business founded in 1851 by Joseph Maulin and E. D. Blanchard. Their factory was destroyed by fire, March 20, 1880, and before the fire was extinguished a new location was found on Fulton street, Troy, and in 1881 the first of the five factories later built was erected and occupied. In November, 1889, George B. Cluett, Brother & Company consolidated with Coon & Company, forming the largest house in the collar world. In 1898 the firm name became Cluett, Peabody & Company. In 1901 the business was incorporated as "Cluett, Peabody & Company," who continue the largest company in their line of business. Robert Cluett was chosen president of the corporation, and remained its efficient head until 1907, when he retired from active business. He is a Republican in politics, and has always been interested in city politics. He represented his ward as alderman for four years, and served on the board of public improvement — a non-partisan board. He has always been an active member of the Presbyterian church, of which he is an elder, and for many years he has served as superintendent of the Sabbath school, and is still in service. He is most liberal in church support; the churches of Troy have been greatly benefited in many ways by the Cluett brothers, regardless of denomination. They have served as vestrymen of the Episcopal church, and as trustees and organists of the Methodist, and have also been elders and superintendents of the Sunday school of the Presbyterian church. The towering stone spire on the State Street Methodist Episcopal Church is a memorial built by J. W. A. and George B. Cluett, in memory of their parents, William and Ann Cluett, who were members of the Methodist Episcopal church. Frederick H. Cluett was organist of that church forty-two years, and his son organist of the First Presbyterian Church fifteen years, while the services of Robert Cluett to his church cover a period of over half a century. Robert Cluett built the portico or vestibule of the Second Presbyterian Church; this is a beautiful piece of carved brown stone; he also gave $40,000 for the ground property of the Young Men's Christian Association on First street, and erected the building at a cost of $100,ooo, making a total of $140,000. Their benefactions have been constant and substantial. To strike out the doings of the Cluetts in the church and business life of Troy during the past sixty years would be to strike out some of the brightest pages in her history, and take from her rolls of citizenship many names that are her pride. The family have always been a united one, and have found, like the Warrens; that in their union was their strength. George B. and Robert Cluett are the last survivors of the sons of William and Ann Cluett. Robert Cluett's summers are spent at his pleasant home in Williamstown, Massachusetts; his winters are spent in Troy.

He married, May 19, 1868, Elizabeth Marchisi, daughter of Joseph Peter Marchisi, born in Turin, Italy, 1804, died in Utica, New York, in 1884. He married Jane Daniels, born in Albany, December 8, 1821, died June, 1902. Children of Robert and Elizabeth (Marchisi) Cluett:

  1. Robert (2), see forward.
  2. George Alfred, born January 14, 1873; secretary of Cluett, Peabody & Company; member of Delta Psi, Greek letter fraternity; married Edith Tucker; children: Emily, George Alfred, Edith.
  3. Emily Josephine, educated at Pelham Manor, New York; married John W. Scott, of Evanston, Illinois, a member of Carson, Pirie & Scott, merchants of Chicago; children: Elizabeth, Barbara.

(III) Robert (2), son of Robert (1) and Elizabeth (Marchisi) Cluett, was born in Troy, February 18, 1869. He was educated in the public schools, Troy Academy, Albany Boys' Academy and Williams College. On the completion of his studies he entered the firm of Cluett, Coon & Company as clerk and in 1901 was made superintendent of the shirt department. In 1901, after the incorporation, he was elected secretary of Cluett, Peabody & Company, and in 1907 he was elected second vice-president, which is his present position. In connection with his brother, George A. Cluett, he is in complete charge of the shirt-making department of the company. He has many outside business interests. He is a director of the Security Trust Company, of the Security Safe Deposit Company, a trustee of Troy Orphan Asylum, and a vestryman of St. John's Episcopal Church, having been elected in 1910. For seven years (1892-1899) he was a member of the Troy Citizens Corps, and a member of Greek letter fraternity, Delta Psi. He is a Republican in politics, and vice-president of the Troy Republican Club, although not an active worker. He married, September 27, 1894, Amy, daughter of Joseph Knight, of Troy. Children:

  1. Marjorie, born July 1, 1895.
  2. Robert (3), born April 24, 1898.

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