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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Harry H. Copeland

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 436-437 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Harry H. Copeland, merchant, was born in Kovno, Russia, now Lithuania, on November 9, 1873, the son of Bernard D. and Fannie (Rabinowitz) Copeland. Bernard D. Copeland was born in Russia in 1845 and died in Troy, New York, on July 18, 1904, at the age of fifty-nine years. He was a retail grocer in Troy and came to America with his wife, and son, the subject of this sketch, and daughter Rosie, now Mrs. Henry Morrison of Herkimer, Herkimer county, New York. In September, 1888, one brother, Bennet A. Copeland, preceded him to Troy by two years. In his native land Bernard D. Copeland supplied food each day for about five hundred government horses. When he came to America he had ten thousand rubles which equaled five thousand three hundred dollars when exchanged into American money. Fannie (Rabinowitz) Copeland, mother of Harry H. Copeland, was born and married in Russia and died in Herkimer, New York, in November, 1922. She was the daughter of Rabbi Rabinowitz, of a prominent family in Russia, many of her people being rabbis, doctors and lawyers.

Harry H. Copeland acquired his early education in a public school in Russia and at the age of fourteen came to America and settled with his parents in Troy, New York. He first worked in the collar shop of Cluett & Peabody for a short time, then went to Newburyport, Massachusetts, where he learned the hat making trade, his brother being also employed at the same place, and remained about three years, then returned to Troy on account of failing health. In 1891 he canvassed from door to door selling household supplies, in order to be out-of-doors as advised by his physician, and continued this work until 1896, when he became motorman for the United Traction Company until June 28, 1898, when he returned to the canvassing. From 1900 to 1906 he canvassed through the Mohawk Valley and in November of that year married and settled in Herkimer. He continued canvassing on the installment plan, having a horse and wagon for the business, until 1910, when he opened a store at No. 119 North Main street, Herkimer, where he remained three years selling men's and ladies' wear. In the meantime he purchased property from Clifton Burritt, razed the building and erected a handsome three-story structure in 1913, where his store is now located. On January 19, 1924, Mr. Copeland opened another store in Troy, New York, bearing the same name of the Empire Clothing Company, which is located at No. 48 Third street in that city.

On November 25, 1906, in Utica, New York, Mr. Copeland was married to Miss Eva Boff, who was born in Utica in 1885, her parents being William and Fannie (Wynburg) Boff. William Boff was born in old Russia and is now living in Utica, aged sixty-four years. He is associated with the Robert Wicks Tailoring Company. His wife was born in Russia and died in Utica in June, 1923. Mr. and Mrs. Copeland are the parents of four children: Pearl Copeland, who was born on October 21, 1907, and is attending the high school in Herkimer; Anna Copeland, who was born on December 15, 1909; Esther Copeland, who was born on January 13, 1916; and Bernard D. Copeland, born on January 19, 1922.

Mr. Copeland is a member of Herkimer Lodge, Number 572, I. O. O. F., and of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, of which he is trustee. He is also a member of the Down and Out Club of Herkimer. In politics he is a republican and enjoys reading as a diversion. Mr. Copeland is fond of home life and takes great pleasure in the society of his family and friends.

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