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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Willard J. Doak

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[This information is from Vol. IV, pp. 68-69 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]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 business record of Willard J. Doak, superintendent of a silk manufacturing plant, has been so honorable that he has gained the good will of all with whom he has been brought into contact. He was born on March 24, 1893, in Amsterdam, his parents being Samuel and Clarissa (Palmer) Doak. Samuel Doak was born in County Down, Ireland, in December, 1871, and is now living in Amsterdam, where for the past twelve years he has been caretaker of the Odd Fellows Temple in that place. Prior to that he was the foreman of the company of S. Sanford & Sons, Incorporated, of Amsterdam, New York. When a boy he came from Ireland with his parents, who remained for a short time in Canada, later coming to New York state. He was the son of James and Elizabeth Doak, the former of whom was born in Ireland and died in Amsterdam. His business was that of a carder with S. Sanford & Sons. Later in life he became interested in politics, casting his vote with the republican party. For a number of years he was assessor and at one time supervisor. He was twice married. To him and his first wife eight children were born: John; Hugh, deceased; Samuel; Sarah, deceased; Minnie, Elizabeth, and William Doak and one boy who died in infancy. His second wife was Sarah (Ridings) Doak of Amsterdam, now deceased. To them was born one son, Christopher Doak. Clarissa (Palmer) Doak, mother of the subject of this sketch, was born on July 12, 1872, in Amsterdam, and is now living there at the age of fifty-two years. She is the daughter of John D. and Martha (Collins) Palmer. John D. Palmer died at Amsterdam. He had been a foreman for S. Sanford & Sons of that place. He was twice married, his first wife being Martha (Collins) Doak, who died at Amsterdam. She was the mother of four children: Carrie; Louise, deceased; Clarissa; and Elinor, who died in infancy. His second wife was Melissa (Armstrong) Doak. She was the mother of four children: Jessie; Edward; Florence, deceased; and Charles Doak.

Willard J. Doak acquired his education in the Amsterdam public schools, and in the Reynolds Business College at the same place. At the age of fourteen years he went to work as an apprentice printer for A. C. Hindle of Amsterdam, and remained for eighteen months, after which he entered the office of the Evening Recorder at that place and was there for six years as press feeder. He then became associated with the Huguenot Silk Company at Hornell, New York, to learn the business of silk manufacturing, and was there for one and one-half years, at the end of which time he went to Wayland, New York, for the same firm but remained only seven months. Mr. Doak then went to Palatine Bridge, New York, where he learned the art of tricot silk weaving under the direction of his father-in-law, Henry Underwood, and remained for five years, then went to Brooklyn, New York, and there became manager for Debany Brothers, silk manufacturers, and was there about one year. On May 15, 1922, he came to Fonda as superintendent for O'Melia Brothers, also silk manufacturers, which position he still holds.

On April 16, 1913, in Amsterdam, Willard J. Doak was united in marriage to Miss Annie Underwood, who was born on October 18, 1892, in Brooklyn, New York, her parents being Henry and Annie (Perry) Underwood. Henry Underwood was born in Leicestershire, England, and is now living in Fonda, aged fifty-eight years. He is a silk manufacturer. His first wife, Annie (Perry) Underwood, was born in England and died in Amsterdam, in March, 1906. She was the daughter of Samuel Perry, who was a farmer and both he and his wife were born, lived and died in England. Henry Underwood is the son of James Underwood, who was born in England and died in Brooklyn, New York. His trade was that of a silk weaver. His wife was also born in England and died in Brooklyn.

Mrs. Willard J. Doak was educated in the public schools of Amsterdam, New York. She is a member of Tekaharawa Lodge No. 488, Eastern Star of Canajoharie, and of the Methodist Episcopal church of that village. In politics she is a republican. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Doak: Samuel Perry Doak was born in Canajoharie, on November 23, 1916; and James W. Doak was born in Brooklyn, on October 15, 1921.

Mr. Doak is a Mason and member of Hamilton Lodge, No. 79, F. and A. M., of Canajoharie, and of the Methodist Episcopal church of Canajoharie. His political views and efforts are with the republican party and reading is his chief diversion. Throughout his life Mr. Doak has been eminently practical and this has been manifest not only in his business undertakings but also in social and private life.

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