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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Andrew J. Budlong

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 578-580 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Among the real veterans of the Mohawk Valley there are few who have a wider acquaintance hereabout than has Andrew J. Budlong, an honored veteran of the Civil war, with an officer's commission, president of the village of Mohawk, formerly and for years the proprietor of a packet boat which plied the river between Mohawk and Utica, prior to that the operator of a bus line which did a thriving business "in the good old days", and in other ways one of the active men of his community, who is now living retired in the pleasant "evening time" of his life at Mohawk, where he has been going in and out among his friends for many years, his life is as an open book. Though not a native of the valley, Mr. Budlong has been a resident here since the days of his boyhood and is thus as much a part of the community as though he were indeed "native and to the manner born", which indeed he properly may claim to be, for his father was a native of Herkimer county, a member of one of the old families of that county.

Andrew J. Budlong was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, December 2, 1843, that having been at a time when the now thriving city of that name was but a straggling lumber camp in what amounted practically to a "howling wilderness", for the settlement of the lands in Michigan began at a much later date than those of us here in the Colonial section of the country are accustomed to thinking of as "settlement days". His parents, Hiram and Julia Ann (Scott) Budlong, were earnest young pioneers of the Grand Rapids settlement and at the time of his birth were struggling with a problem of pioneering that presently was given up, conditions eventually proving so wholly uncomfortable that they returned east to take up with more settled ways of living than were possible in the "big timber" wilds of Michigan.

Hiram Budlong was born in the town of Litchfield, in Herkimer county, New York, a son of Aaron Budlong, farmer and landowner, and grew up a competent carpenter and joiner. At the age of twenty-one he married Julia Ann Scott, who was born in New London, Connecticut, and with his bride went to what was then new country in Michigan, settling in Kent county, of which the city of Grand Rapids is the county seat. There he bought one hundred acres of congress land which then was selling for $1.25 an acre, and he and his wife buckled down to the trying task of making a home in the wilderness. While clearing his land he also did a good part in the community by exercising his trade as a carpenter, not only on his own place but in behalf of his widely separated neighbors in the wilderness, and in this craft had the distinction of building the first frame barn in Kent county. For ten years Hiram Budlong and his wife made their home in Michigan and then disposed of their holdings and returned to Herkimer county and settled in Frankfort, where they spent the remainder of their lives. They were the parents of four children, those besides Andrew J. of this sketch being Alfred Henry, Addison Ballard and Clara Louise, the two latter of whom died in youth. The last heard of Alfred Henry Budlong was just about the time the Civil war broke out. He then was working in Florida and it is supposed that he was conscripted for service in the Confederate army and was killed in battle, a clue along this line long afterward secured indicating that he might have met his death at the battle of Crampton Pass, Virginia.

Having been but a lad when his parents returned from Grand Rapids to Herkimer county, Andrew J. Budlong received his schooling in the Frankfort schools and at the age of fourteen years became employed as a driver on the old Erie canal, continuing thus engaged until the time of the Civil war, when, at the age of sixteen years, in October, 1861, he enlisted his services in behalf of the cause of the Union, was accepted despite his youthful years (for he was a strong, husky boy), and went out as a private in Company K of the Second Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry [Editorial note: it was the Second Heavy Artillery], with which command he served for four years, or until after the close of the war, being mustered out in October, 1865. Not long after he went into service he was promoted to the grade of chief musician and afterward, for meritorious service in the field, was advanced to the rank of second lieutenant.

Upon the completion of his military service Mr. Budlong returned to Herkimer county and for about six months thereafter was engaged in driving a team in Jacob Breezer's brickyard at Deerfield, now a part of the city of Utica. In the meantime, during the time of his service in the army and when home on a furlough in 1863, he had married. Not particularly attracted to the teaming job he went to North Bloomfield and at the solicitation of James Elwell, his wife's grandfather, he became a partner in the Elwell mercantile establishment at that place and for two years thereafter was engaged in business there, the partners carrying on under the firm name of Elwell & Budlong. He then sold his interest in that business and returned to Frankfort, buying there the bus line operating from the village to the old New York Central depot. For seven years Mr. Budlong carried on this bus business and then he became a conductor on a palace car, in the employ of Webster Wagner, the inventor of the "palace" car idea, and in this capacity was engaged in railroading for three years, at the end of which time he bought a packet boat, carrying in both the passenger and freight trade, and for thirty-four years was engaged as captain of this packet, plying daily between Mohawk and Utica, and thus became one of the best known men on the river. Upon his retirement from the river Mr. Budlong became employed in the production department of the Remington Arms and Ammunition Company and was thus employed for ten years, at the end of which time he retired and has since been "taking things easy" so far as industrial occupations are concerned. Since March, 1924, Mr. Budlong has been rendering public service as president of the village in which he has so long made his home. He is a republican and has for many years taken an interested part in local civic affairs. For two terms during his residence at Frankfort he served as town clerk, was corporation collector there for a year, and has also served a term as corporation collector at Mohawk. He is a member of Chismore Post, No. 110, Grand Army of the Republic, at Ilion; is a Freemason of more than sixty years standing, having been raised a Mason in 1863, during his term of army service, and has ever since been an active Mason, a member of Mohawk Valley Lodge, No. 276, F. and A. M., at Mohawk, and also a member of the Masonic Club at Mohawk. He and his wife are members of the Universalist church.

It was on December 9, 1863, in Frankfort, that Andrew J. Budlong was united in marriage to Miss Minerva J. Harris and to this union three children were born: George A., who died at the age of six years; and two who died in infancy. Mrs. Budlong was born in East Schuyler, Herkimer county, November 24, 1843, and is a daughter of Ira and Eliza (Elwell) Harris, both of whom also were born in Herkimer county, members of old families here. Ira Harris, who in his generation was one of the well known carpenters here, was born at Fairfield and his last days were spent in Frankfort. His widow long survived him and lived to be past ninety-one years of age. She was born in East Schuyler and died in Frankfort.

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