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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Elbert Lemuel Heacock

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 304-306 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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When Lemuel Heacock began making gloves and mittens in Kingsboro, now a part of Gloversville, Fulton county, shortly after the close of the Revolutionary war, he founded an industry that has been continued by his descendants down to the present generation and has become one of the leading concerns of its kind in a section of the country which is noted for glove manufacturing. The management of the business has been handed down from father to son until today it is being conducted by Elbert Lemuel Heacock, one of the older glove manufacturers of the district, in association with his sons, Philander W. and James A. Heacock.

The Heacock family dates back in New York to pre-Revolutionary days, but beyond that its origins are difficult to follow, owing to the various ways in which the name was spelled in the early records. Heacock, Haycock, Hecock, Heecock, Hickock, Hicock and Hiscock all appear frequently enough to warrant the suspicion that they often referred to the same persons. The only really authoritative genealogy of the family in America is of the Pennsylvania line, which was founded by Jonathan and Ann Heacock, members of the Society of Friends, who emigrated from England in 1711 to join the Quaker colony founded by William Penn. In this line the name has always been spelled Heacock. The tradition is that at that time a brother of Jonathan accompanied him to this country and settled in Boston, Massachusetts, establishing a New England line whose name was frequently spelled Heacox. The family first appears in New York in the person of Captain David Heacock, a Revolutionary soldier, who seems to have been a resident of Connecticut in the pre-Revolutionary days. At the time of the war he was living in Dutchess county, New York, and served as captain of a company in the Third Regiment of Dutchess County Militia. He also commanded a company in the Fifth Regiment for a time. During the operations about New York city the Continental forces were encamped on his farm for some time, during which he furnished provender for the cavalry and officers' horses. Like many of the American patriots, he was unrewarded for this assistance by any direct pay, with the result that his descendants had bills for the same before the New York state legislature as late as 1870 before the matter was finally adjusted. Captain Heacock married a Miss Bartoff and their children were: Job, Noah, John, Daniel, Lemuel, Gamaliel, Catherine and Sally.

Job, the oldest son, was the first of the family to settle in Fulton county. Shortly after the close of the Revolution he located in Kingsboro, where he followed the occupations of a farmer and a tanner. By his first wife, Abigail Mills, he had the following children: Sally, Lemuel, Abigail and Philander. Philander was born in Kingsboro, now Gloversville, September 27, 1791, and died June 22, 1837. On April 27, 1819, he married Margaret Smith, who was born April 22, 1793, and died April 6, 1837. They had the following family: Joseph S., Willard J., Mary L., Ann E., Mills D., Jesse, Edwin H., Margaret A. E., and Lemuel. Job Heacock was married the second time, Anna Cotton becoming his wife, and they had three children: Nancy, Betsy and Isaac.

Lemuel, the oldest son of Job Heacock by his first marriage, was born in Kingsboro, October 8, 1786, and lived in this vicinity all his life. He, too, was a farmer and located on the site of Kingsboro mountain. Like his father, he ran a tannery in connection with his agricultural operations and began the manufacture of gloves and mittens, thus founding the business that is known today as the E. L. Heacock Company. In this undertaking Lemuel Heacock was successful and as one of the prosperous and leading men of the community was very highly regarded by his contemporaries. On May 28, 1816, he married Sophia Leavenworth, who was born December 3, 1790, and died September 6, 1854. They had the following children: Abigail L., who married Daniel S. Tarr; Mariette, the wife of J. C. Leonard; Philander C.; David G., born January 14, 1827, and who married Jane A. VanWyck, February 2, 1853, and they had two children, Helena V. W. and Eugene D. Heacock; and Catherine S., who married Charles R. Bellows.

Philander C. Heacock, son of Lemuel and Sophia (Leavenworth) Heacock, was born on the Kingsboro homestead, on December 11, 1823. In partnership with his brother, David G., he continued the business started by his father and became a large manufacturer of gloves and mittens. Until his forty-fifth year he was an active, energetic man, but at that time his health broke and he was compelled to spend the rest of his life in quiet retirement. His son, Elbert Lemuel, assumed the responsibility for managing his business interests and has continued in the glove industry down to the present time. The brother, David G. Heacock, retired about the year 1875. During his active life Philander Heacock played a prominent part in the affairs of his community. He was one of the founders of the Fulton County National Bank and a director in that institution until he resigned in favor of his son, Elbert Lemuel, in 1877. Also he was instrumental in securing the Kingsboro waterworks and conspicuous in various other movements for civic improvement. Religiously he was identified with the Kingsboro Presbyterian church.

On March 12, 1850, Philander Heacock married Janet Thomas, and they became the parents of the following children: Elbert Lemuel; William L., who died at the age of two; and Janet Thomas, who is living in Gloversville. Mrs. Heacock was the sixth in a family of seven children born to Isaac and Cynthia (Washburn) Thomas, who came to Fulton county from Hardwick, Massachusetts. Her father was born July 28, 1778, and was married on November 27, 1805, to Cynthia Washburn, whose birth occurred June 22, 1784. Their children were: Anna B., born May 13, 1808; James W., born April 25, 1811; Dwight, born June 24, 1813; Mary B., born May 18, 1816; Cynthia W., born July 21, 1818; Janet A., born May 12, 1822; and Isaac Elliott, born September 6, 1825.

Elbert Lemuel, the oldest son of Philander Heacock, and the subject of this biographical review, was born in Kingsboro, March 27, 1854. His education was obtained in the Kingsboro Academy and a private school in Schenectady, after which he went into business with his father. The failure of the older man's health when he was still a comparatively young man made it necessary for his son to assume the burden of managing a large business at an early age, but Elbert L. Heacock proved himself equal to the task, difficult as it was. For nearly fifty years he has directed the affairs of the company, and that he has done so wisely and well is demonstrated by the steady increase in business and prestige his firm has enjoyed. The product of the E. L. Heacock Company, the name adopted by the firm when Mr. Heacock's two sons were taken into partnership, has always been buckskin gloves, which are made in the medium and heavy weights. They sell their output to jobbers and also directly to large chain and department stores which buy in large quantities. About twenty-five people are normally employed in the plant.

Mr. Heacock was united in marriage to Miss Miriam Hosmer Smith, on January 10, 1877, and to this union were born the following children: Philander W., born September 29, 1878; Laura Estelle, born March 30, 1882, was a student at Mount Holyoke College. She died October 17, 1918; James Arlo, born June 22, 1886; Lucy Morris, born February 13, 1888, was married to James Case Kelly, on June 28, 1916. He is the son of the late James E. Kelly and Ada B. VanBuren Kelly. Mr. Kelly is of Scotch ancestry on his father's side. His mother's family came from Holland; and Elbert L., Jr., born March 1, 1895, who died in infancy. Like her husband, Mrs. Miriam H. (Smith) Heacock claims descent from one of the old American Colonial families. She is the eldest of five children born to James H. and Freelove (Case) Smith, the four younger children being: Humphrey M., DeWitt, Annette and Gertrude. Her paternal grandfather, Samuel Smith, was born in New Jersey, December 10, 1784, and on February 9, 1807, married Mary E. Baird, who was born June 5, 1786. Their son, James H., was born August 26, 1819, and married Freelove Case March 11, 1851. She was born May 10, 1825, the daughter of Ira and Mary (Smith) Case, and died December 2, 1904. Her parents were married October 5, 1809, and had ten children: Uriel, born July 23, 1810, and died December 16, 1909, at the remarkable age of ninety-nine; Margaret, born March 12, 1813, and died April 6, 1887; Zina, born February 25, 1815, and died November 25, 1883; Rufus D., born March 23, 1817, and died October 28, 1886; William, born September 10, 1819, and died January 28, 1894; Joseph S., born September 29, 1822, and died April 8, 1909; Freelove, mother of Mrs. Heacock; Elihu, born March 27, 1827, and died May 5, 1900; Henry, died April 13, 1830; and Eliza, born September 27, 1833. The Fulton county Cases are descended from Reuben Case, who settled in Windsor, Connecticut, with early immigrants from Dorchester, Massachusetts. He was a member of the general court of the colony in May, 1670, and again in 1675. He married Sarah Spencer and lived at Windsor until 1668, when he removed to Simsbury, where he died February 21, 1704. One of his descendants, Deacon Reuben Case, came to Fulton county with his sons, Reuben, Ashbel, Darius, Elihu and Allen, about the year 1790, settling in Kingsboro. He died here at an advanced age. Among the nineteen signers of the "covenant" of the Kingsboro church, December 30, 1793, are Elihu, Stephen and Charles Case, and when the first board of trustees of the church was elected on January 3, 1794, Elihu, Darius and Reuben Case were among its members. Reuben was also chosen deacon. Elihu Case married Freelove Burr, a sister of Nathaniel Burr, who came to Fulton county about the time the Case family did. Their children were: Elihu (II), Ira and Chauncey. Ira, born June 7, 1787, married Mary Smith, October 5, 1809. She was two years his junior, having been born June 21, 1789. Freelove Case, their daughter, was married to James H. Smith on March 11, 1851, and became the mother of Miriam Hosmer Smith, now Mrs. Heacock.

Elbert Lemuel Heacock has had many business interests in Gloversville outside of his glove factory. For a good many years he was president of the Kingsboro Waterworks Company, which his father helped organize, and has carried on extensive operations in local real estate. He has built a good many of the business buildings in the city and still ranks high as a real estate owner here. Like many men who are interested in public affairs and good government, he has been an active supporter of his party — the republican — for years, but has always steadfastly refused to become a candidate for political honors himself. He has long believed that he could be of more service to his party, and hence to the public, if his actions were entirely disinterested and not based on a desire to enter official life. He is a trustee of the Congregational church and socially is identified with the Eccentric Club.

Mr. Heacock's sons have grown up in the glove business, for they have played and worked about their father's factory ever since they can remember. Both boys were born in Gloversville and were prepared to succeed their father by a thorough-going business education. They early familiarized themselves with all the processes of glove making and later took up the study of the sales and executive departments of the business, with the purpose of becoming experts in every branch of the industry. In 1910 they were taken into the firm, which became the E. L. Heacock Company, and have since been active factors in its management.

Philander W., the older of the two, is not married. James A. married Madeline Steele, in May, 1916, and they have two sons: Elbert Hamilton, born in December, 1917; and James Morgan, born in June, 1920. Mrs. Heacock is the daughter of H. Hamilton and Lillian (Pratt) Steele, natives of Gloversville and representatives of old families in this section. Her father is the proprietor of H. H. Steele & Company, glove manufacturers. James A. Heacock has succeeded his father and grandfather as an official in the Kingsboro Waterworks Company, being at present a director in the concern. Both sons are members of the Eccentric Club and play an active part in the social and civic life of their native city.

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