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Biographical Review: Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York
Charles H. Ramsey

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[This information is from pp. 351-354 of Biographical Review Volume XXXIII: Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York (Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1899). It is in the collection of the Grems-Doolittle Library of the Schenectady County Historical Society at 920 BIO.]

Charles H. Ramsey, president of the Howe's Cave Association, was born in Lawyersville, N. Y., on January 3, 1853, son of the Hon. Joseph Henry and Sarah (Boyce) Ramsey. He comes from a line of able and honest men and stanch Republicans. His great-great-grandfather was one of the pioneer settlers of Schoharie County. Frederick Ramsey, his grandfather, was born in Guilderland, and worked there for a time at his trade, which was that of blacksmith. He subsequently settled on a farm in Cobleskill, where he spent the rest of his life, attaining the age of seventy-eight years. He died at the home of one of his daughters. His wife, whose maiden name was Sarah Van Schaick, lived to the advanced age of ninety-four. She was a native of this county, and a devoted member of the Methodist church. Of their ten children, seven daughters and one son are living, the latter being Robert Ramsy, of Argusville.

The Hon. Joseph Henry Ramsey, for many years a leading citizen of Schoharie County, was born in the town of Sharon on January 29, 1816, and died in May, 1894. He studied law with Jedediah Miller, and was admitted to practise in all the courts of the State in 1840. Subsequent to this, he continued for some time in Mr. Miller's office, and eventually succeeded to his practice; but he afterward removed his office to Lawyersville, where he remained until his removal to Albany in 1863. In 1855 he represented the Northern Assembly District, having as his colleague from the Southern District, Wilkinson Wilsey. This was the last time the county was represented by two members. In the fall of that year he was sent as a delegate to the Whig State Convention, and was made a member also of the Joint Convention, composed of the members of the Whig Convention and a State convention of Free Soil Democrats, which formed the Republican party in this State. This was followed by his election to the State Senate the same year, as a Republican from the Seventeenth Senatorial District, which comprised Schoharie and Delaware Counties. In 1866 he was nominated as a candidate for Congress, but failed of election. In 1871, 1872, and 1873 he was a delegate from Albany to the Republican State Convention, and also a member of the Republican State Committee. He took an active part against Judge Barnard, who made the order in favor of Gould and Fisk, and secured his impeachment by the Senate, and the passage of a decree forbidding the judge to hold further office under the civil government.

Joseph H. Ramsey was a well-known railroad man, having been officially connected with a number of important roads. Prior to 1858 he was active in securing subscription for the building of the Albany & Susquehanna Railroad, and showed himself so efficient that in 1858 he was chosen director and vice-president of the company. This company was organized in 1852; stock had been subscribed along the line and at Albany to the amount of a million dollars; and the city of Albany had been authorized to loan the company, on certain conditions, another million dollars of its bonds. Work had already begun at different points in Albany, Schoharie, Otsego, and Broome Counties, but an unexpected revulsion occurred in railroad affairs, which rendered it difficult to secure further funds. This created an uneasy feeling among the stockholders, and they were glad to accept a proposal made by the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company, by which the Canal Company assumed the payment of the principal and interest of the bonded debt of the road, and the original stockholders were to receive semi-annual dividends of seven per cent. per annum. As this was a virtual sale of the road and its franchises to the Canal Company, Mr. Ramsey and others of the directors were opposed to it. They would have preferred to keep it independent of any coal or other company, to have liberal rates for transportation in order to have contracted upon the line the largest amount of business possible, and to have the original stockholders reap the full benefits accruing. As few roads in the State have been better paying property, it is seen to-day that his judgment was correct. After the execution of the lease, Mr. Coe F. Young, the general manager of the Canal Company, was elected president of the road in place of Mr. Ramsey. The latter was also president of the New York & Albany Railroad Company, and, subsequent to the death of the Hon. Erastus Corning, president of the Albany Iron Manufacturing Company. The furnances of the last-named company in Albany were built during his incumbency. Mr. Joseph H. Ramsey was also president of the Howe's Cave Cement Company. His wife, who was born in Sharon and died in 1892, at the age of seventy-six, was one of seven children born to Daniel Boyce, farmer and miller of Shirley, and the granddaughter on her mother's side of Colonel Rice of Revolutionary fame. Of Mrs. Ramsey's seven children, three are living, namely: Harriet, who is the wife of the Rev. Pascal Harrower, pastor of the Episcopal church at West New Brighton, Long Island; Frances, who married Dr. H. A. Crary; and Charles H. Ramsey.

Charles H. Ramsey fitted for college at Williamstown, Mass. He was graduated at Cornell University in 1874, and from the Albany Law School in 1875, and the following year was admitted to the bar. Shortly after he came to Howe's Cave as secretary of the company, which had then just started. Upon the death of his father he was made president. He has watched the growth of the plant, and has been closely identified with its development. It is now one of the leading industries of the county, and when running full time employs one hundred and fifty men. Large quantities of lime, cement, and plaster are manufactured; also building stone.

Mr. Ramsey was married in May, 1879, to Annie E. Stevens, who was born in Sloanesville, daughter of Mark W. and Lucy (Phelps) Stevens. Her father, who died at the age of sixty-eight, was the president of Schoharie County Bank, and a very prominent man in his section. Her mother died when Mrs. Ramsey was twelve years old. Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey have four children — Margaret, Joseph H., Mark W., and Charles H.

Mr. Ramsey is a man of very varied business interests. He is director in the Schoharie and Otsego Insurance Company, of Cobleskill; president of the New York & Canadian Pacific Railroad, which runs from Ogdensburg to New York; trustee of the Cobleskill Cemetery, and member of the Schoharie County Historical Society. He is an attendant of the Reformed church, while his wife is a member of the Presbyterian church. Fraternally, he is a member of the Masonic Lodge of Cobleskill, and of John L. Lewis Chapter; also of the Kappa Alpha, which is the oldest college society in existence. As might be expected, his political principles are Republican.

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