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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Major Abram Vedder Brower

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[This information is from Vol. IV, pp. 23-29 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Portrait of Major Abram Vedder Brower

Portrait: Major Abram Vedder Brower

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Major Abram Vedder Brower, worthy son of an illustrious father, is thoroughly well qualified successfully to promote the numerous projects which claimed the attention of the sire and profited by his wise counsel and cooperation. The eldest son of Dr. Abram Giles and Jennie Helen (Vedder) Brower, he was born in Utica, New York, on the 10th of March, 1877. His early education, obtained in a private school of his native city, was supplemented by successive courses of study in the Utica Free Academy, the Belmont School of Belmont, Massachusetts, and in Harvard University, which institution he attended for three years, from 1896 until 1899. At the close of his junior year he left Harvard to enter the Lowell Textile School of Lowell, Massachusetts, justly famed as a training ground for men in the textile industry, in which he pursued courses in cotton spinning and completed his institutional training.

It was in 1901 that Major Brower entered active business life as cotton classer at the Utica Steam & Mohawk Valley Cotton Mills. A year later he resigned this position to assume some of the burdens being carried by his father, whose health was failing. He shared these responsibilities with his father until the latter's death in 1907, when the son succeeded him and has since been in control of the Brower estate with its varied and important interests. In 1911 he aided in organizing and incorporating the Great Lakes Steamship Company, a consolidation of five transportation companies operating a fleet of twenty freight steamers on the Great Lakes. Major Brower has been a director of that company since its organization. He has fairly earned his place in Utica's business life, and is highly regarded as a progressive, public-spirited citizen.

In the spring of 1898, while a student at Harvard University, Major Brower enlisted in a university military company, the Harvard Rifles, and when war was declared between the United States and Spain he volunteered for service with that company. The Rifles, however, were not called out and saw no actual service. Upon the entry of the United States into the World war Major Brower again responded to the call of duty and took a prominent part in the work of preparation. It was not, however, until early in 1918 that his offer of service to the government was actually accepted, and he was then assigned as a civilian in the war department at Washington to the assistant directorship in the Bureau of Industrial Research. This bureau, one of the many government activities that found their birth as a result of the entry into the war, was formed to solve the various problems of transportation and obtaining of supplies necessary for the rapidly developing American army. During a period when he was acting chief of the bureau, complaints were received from France that the markings on the supplies sent overseas were badly obliterated upon their arrival at destination. This necessitated the opening of all bales before their contents could be ascertained and resulted in a vast amount of labor. Major Brower directed that experiments be made to test the durability of certain paints on burlap. The result was his recommendation to the war department, and the official adoption of a durable paint for the marking of all overseas supplies.

While acting with this bureau Major Brower, on September 23, 1918, was appointed captain in the Quartermaster Corps of the United States army and ordered to report to the depot quartermaster in New York city for duty as his assistant. From October 3, 1918, until October 14, 1919, he served various details, having at one period some forty factories under his supervision where uniforms were being made for the army. After the signing of the armistice it was ordered that an inventory be taken in the supply zones of the army of the military clothing and stores remaining unissued, and he served as executive assistant of the New York depot in this undertaking. Later he served as paymaster at the army supply base at Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York, and as agent officer of the finance officer of the depot drew at the sub-treasury in New York and dispersed large sums of government funds. He devised a system of paying off the several thousand men employed at the base by means of which they lost no time at their work, and the entire personnel was handled in one-half day, whereas it had formerly taken two full days to accomplish it. Having had considerable experience with military supplies, he was, on October 14, 1919, relieved of duty at New York and ordered to report in person to the quartermaster general at Washington for assignment to duty in the surplus property division. This division was organized for the purpose of selling to the people the enormous quantity of supplies that had been purchased for the use of the army and at the abrupt ending of the World war became surplus. The government thus qualified as the largest merchant in the world's history, and the surplus property was sold as nearly as possible at actual cost. Major Brower served as assistant executive of the division until August 19, 1920, when he was ordered to Boston, Massachusetts, to assume charge of the transportation service at that depot. During the month of July, 1920, while still serving at Washington, D. C., he took examinations for permanent commission in the regular army, and on September 28, 1920, was advised of his appointment as captain in the Quartermaster Corps of the Regular army, with rank from July 1, 1920. Pursuant to this order he was honorably discharged from his emergency commission on September 30, 1920, and on the following day, October 1, 1920, was appointed captain in the Regular army and continued with the duty assigned previous to his discharge and re-commission. For one and a half years he served as transportation officer of the Boston depot, having actual charge of all army transportation by water, rail, motor and horse-drawn vehicles. On June 15, 1922, he reported to the commanding general of the First Corps Area, serving as transportation officer and commissary, in charge of the rationing of troops. On October 27, 1922, Major Brower tendered to the adjutant-general of the army his resignation as a commissioned officer of the United States army, effective December 1, 1922, which on November 10, 1922, was accepted by the president. On December 18, 1922, he accepted appointment as major in the Officers Reserve Corps of the United States army.

Major Brower is a republican in politics and in 1924 was nominated by the republican party leaders at the state convention in Rochester as presidential elector for the thirty-third congressional district, comprising Oneida and Herkimer counties, to which office he was elected on November 4, 1924. He is a director of the Great Lakes Steamship Company of Cleveland, Ohio, and of the Citizens Trust Company of Utica. His name is on the membership rolls of the following organizations: Fort Schuyler Chapter, Sons of the Revolution; Greater Boston Chapter, Military Order of the World war; Utica Post, No. 229, American Legion; Utica, New York, Lodge, No. 33, B. P. O. E.; the Army and Navy Club of Washington, D. C.; the Harvard Club of New York; the Fort Schuyler Club of Utica; the Republican Club of Utica; the Automobile Club of America; the Automobile Club of Utica; the Utica Chamber of Commerce; the Utica Fish and Game Protective Association; the Tennis Club and the Sadaquada Golf Club of Utica.

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