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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
William Benjamin Candee

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 595-596 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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The active and valuable part which members of the Candee family have taken in promoting the progress and welfare of Oneida county makes it imperative that their history be recorded in these annals. Behind William Benjamin Candee was an ancestry long and honorable, connecting the family with early Colonial events. The first representative of the name in America was John Candee, who established his home in New England in 1639, settling at Boston, Massachusetts, while in 1650 he removed to Windsor, Connecticut. At Oxford, Connecticut, lived Zaccheus Candee, of whom the Hon. Julius Candee, father of William B. Candee, was a descendant in the fifth generation. He was also a descendant in the seventh generation of Richard Osborn, an English ancestor, who settled in Fairfield county, Connecticut.

It was the Hon. Julius Candee who became the founder of the family in Oneida county, remaining for sixty-five years an honored resident of Waterville. He was born in Oxford, Connecticut, on the 19th of February, 1800, and was a youth of fifteen years when, in 1815, he established his home in the Empire state. Fourteen years later he became closely connected with mercantile interests, conducting his store along safe, conservative lines and at the same time in accordance with the progressive spirit of the age. In 1855 he admitted his son, William B. Candee, to a partnership under the firm style of Candee & Son, and this remained one of the oldest and most honored business firms of the state until the death of Julius Candee in 1880. His mercantile interests, however, did not constitute the extent of his activities, for he became a member of the first board of directors of the Bank of Waterville, was chosen its vice president in 1838 and afterward filled the office of bank president for twenty-two years. His sound judgment, keen discrimination and capable management were active factors in its successful control and the institution became not only a source of profit to the stockholders, but a prominent feature in the financial stability of Oneida county. In political circles Julius Candee was equally well known and his personal ability and public spirit led to his selection in Oneida county as its representative in 1846 in the state constitutional convention of New York. He took active part in the discussions which arose in framing the organic law of the state and fearlessly supported every measure and movement which he deemed of value and worth to the commonwealth. His Christian faith was manifest in his membership in the Presbyterian church, of which he served as clerk and most of the time from 1852 until his death he acted as church treasurer. He passed away on the 2d of July, 1880, and in his passing the community lost one of its representative citizens — a man who was faultless in honor, fearless in conduct and stainless in reputation. In 1826 he had married Miss Lucia M. Osborn, the eldest daughter of Amos Osborn, and they became the parents of four children, all of whom are deceased, namely: Julius; Lucia Catherine; who was the wife of Edward McCamus of Schenectady, New York; William Benjamin; and Amos D. W.

The second son, William Benjamin Candee, whose name introduces this review, was the worthy successor of the Hon. Julius Candee in his commercial activity and also in public service. He was born in Waterville, New York, on the 16th of May, 1831, and after attending the public schools of his home town he pursued a preparatory course in the Clinton Liberal Institute, which qualified him for entrance to Hamilton College, from which he was graduated with the class of 1852. He afterward took up the study of law and was admitted to the bar but never engaged in the practice of the profession, although his knowledge of the law was of inestimable value to him in the conduct of important business affairs in later years. In 1855, when twenty-four years of age, he was admitted to a partnership in the mercantile enterprise which his father had established twenty-six years before. As previously stated, this association was maintained uninterruptedly and with the utmost harmony until the father's death in 1880. William B. Candee then became the proprietor of the business, which he conducted until 1884, when he withdrew from commercial pursuits. For fifty-five years the name of Candee had figured prominently in connection with mercantile interests in Waterville and had been synonymous with the idea of righteousness and honor. During the greater part of his business life William B. Candee remained a chosen, safe and trusted bank officer and in other connections won a substantial measure of success, so that at the time of his death he was numbered among the most substantial citizens of his district. Toward those less fortunate he was kind and generous and, as true worth could always win his regard, he had an extensive circle of friends. He occupied a high position in the esteem of his fellowmen and the most envious could not grudge him his success, so honorably and worthily had it been won. He passed away on the 25th of March, 1886, and later Mrs. Candee, his widow, erected a handsome building known as the Candee block, so named in his memory. This structure, built upon the site of the old store in which he and his father had so long carried on business, is the largest and finest business block in Waterville. One who knew Mr. Candee well said: "His character was free from all taint and his whole life pure, earnest and exemplary." In every relation of life he was true and loyal and no trust reposed in him was ever betrayed in the slightest degree. He was a prudent and faithful member of the school board and of the cemetery association and at his death the board of education of Waterville passed resolutions attesting his "constant and faithful service since the organization of the board". Of the Episcopal church he was long a faithful communicant and vestryman and his life in its varied relations was the expression of his Christian belief. When he passed away all the business places of Waterville were closed during the time of the funeral services

"out of genuine respect to the memory of one who for many years was prominently and closely identified with the business interests of the village and, indeed, with everything that has contributed to the true and abiding welfare of the place."

Thus wrote one of the local papers and the article continued:

"It was fitting that his business associates, the young men whom he had counseled and assisted, and the public generally whom he had always treated with respect and consideration, should pause from the activities of life while the last sad funeral rites were observed and his mortal remains were laid at rest."

At different times he had suffered from ill health but, notwithstanding his pain, he remained ever patient and kindly, thinking always of the welfare and comfort of others. His salient traits of character were the exemplification of a high and noble spirit which endeared him to all.

It was on the 23d of December, 1857, that William B. Candee was united in marriage to Miss Louise Newberry, the ceremony being performed in Detroit, Michigan. In that city Mrs. Candee was born on February 7, 1834, a daughter of Henry Newberry, a Detroit merchant. Losing her mother in early life, she made her home with her aunt, Mrs. Daniel Clark of Greene, New York. She survived her husband for almost two decades and passed away on the 14th of June, 1905. In their family were four children: Harry Newberry Candee, the eldest, born on November 9, 1858, was drowned on the 12th of May, 1894. He was a graduate of Hamilton College of the class of 1880 and had married Miss Lou Holcomb, by whom he had two children, Ruth and William Harry; Lucia Clark Candee, the second of the family, is the wife of Watson S. Hawkins, editor of the Waterville Times; Miss Kate Louise Candee is the third in order of birth; and the youngest was Julius Warner Candee, who was born on January 8, 1873, and on the 7th of November, 1909, passed away.

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