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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Captain Tharratt Gilbert Best

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 502-505 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

Contents | Portraits | Illustrations | Maps

Portrait of Captain Tharratt Gilbert Best

Portrait: Captain Tharratt Gilbert Best

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Captain Tharratt Gilbert Best, who is successfully engaged in the banking business and also in the profession of civil engineering, is a representative young citizen of Oneida county, who made a splendid record overseas during the period of the World war. His birth occurred in Denver, Colorado, on the 21st of September, 1892, his parents being Frederic W. and Jessica Louise (Tharratt) Best, who were married in September, 1890. The father departed this life on the 28th of August, 1922. Frederic W. Best was born in Utica, in May, 1856, the son of John and Mary (Perry) Best. His father was an engineer and architect, and constructed the Federal building in Utica, the Utica Steam and Mohawk Valley Cotton Mills, and all of the wooden bridges on the line of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad, wood then being in more general use for railway construction. Frederic Best was educated in the Utica schools and associated there in business with his father for several years, later going west and finally settling in Denver, where he became the head of a large wholesale gas and electric fixture concern. In 1894 he returned east with his family and entered the manufacturing business (gas and electric fixtures), which he followed the greater portion of his life. In 1910 he retired from this business but later engaged in the bond business with a Detroit concern, in which city he died in August, 1922, while there on a business trip.

In the acquirement of his early education Tharratt G. Best attended the Boonville grammar school, the Cecily Baker grammar school of Utica and the Utica Free Academy, completing the course in the last named institution as an honor graduate in the class of 1910. His more advanced intellectual training was received in Princeton University of New Jersey, which in 1915 conferred upon him the degree of Bachelor of Science. He also attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and pursued postgraduate courses in electrical engineering. During the years 1916 and 1917 he was a cadet engineer with the General Electric Company of Schenectady. Mr. Best spent three summer seasons, from 1914 until 1916 inclusive, at the Plattsburg training camp and then in June, 1917, joined the American Field Ambulance service. He landed in France with the Field Ambulance contingent, which comprised the first five hundred Americans in combat on French soil. He was first stationed on the Aisne front and in August, 1917, his unit was changed from ambulance to ammunition supply work for the Tenth French Army, due to the greater need of General Petain for this form of support than for ambulances, in preparation for the great Malmaison offensive of October, 1917. Captain Best participated in this offensive, was gassed at Vailly and honorably discharged from service in November, 1917. He later joined the American Red Cross (militarized) in France. A concise account of his subsequent service has been given as follows:

"Joined Motor Transportation Department in November, 1917; sent to Nancy in charge of fifteen camions; participated in Nancy air raid succor work and evacuation of refugees on Lorraine front; was transferred to Toul front, later to Vosges front, being attached successively to the First, Twenty-sixth (Yankees), Forty-second (Rainbow) and Forty-first (Sunset) Divisions as transportation officer for the Red Cross."

He was placed in command of an ambulance unit in April, 1918, and discharged, in July, 1918, to return to America in order to join the United States army. Following his enlistment in the army on the 8th of August, 1918, he was sent to the Motor Transport Corps Officers Training School at Camp Johnston in Florida, was commissioned first lieutenant in November, 1918, and furloughed to the Reserve with the same rank in December, 1918. In July, 1922, he was promoted to captain in the Officers Reserve Corps and was assigned to the staff of the Ninety-eighth Division.

After his return from the army Captain Best spent two years with the Empire Gas & Fuel Company of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, as civil and petroleum engineer in the Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas oil fields. He then returned to Utica and during 1921 and 1922 acted as civil engineer in the bureau of engineering for the city of Utica. Subsequently he became associated with the firm of Merritt & LaBella, civil engineers and surveyors of Utica, and in 1924 became engaged in business for himself. In September, 1924, the board of directors of the First National Bank of Boonville elected him president, a position held by his grandfather, Brinckerhoff C. Tharratt, and his great-grandfather, Joseph R. Tharratt, the founder of the institution.

On the 19th of December, 1923, Captain Best was united in marriage to Helen Elizabeth Ney, daughter of Henry Marshall and Emma (Huxford) Ney of Utica.

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