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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Robert Christopher Holt

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 226-227 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Robert Christopher Holt, member of the firm of Stafford & Holt, manufacturers of knitting machinery of Little Falls, comes from a family that has been so closely identified with the textile industry that he may almost be said to have grown up in his business. His father, Joseph Holt, was a native of Manchester, England, and a textile worker by trade. He came to Cohoes, New York, from his native land in 1863, and became the superintendent of a knitting factory in that place. He died there in August, 1907, at the age of sixty-eight, his birth having occurred on April 15, 1839. He was the son of Joseph and Alice (Grundy) Holt, the former a coal dealer of England. Mr. Holt's mother was Jane Heap before her marriage to Joseph Holt, the daughter of Christopher and Jane Heap. She was born in Somerset, England, in January, 1836, and was married in her native land. Two children were born before the Holts left England, Mary and Richard, now deceased, and four more were born after they settled in Cohoes: Sophia, who died in 1912; Richard, Robert and Eva. The mother survived her husband for several years and passed away in Cohoes in October, 1915.

Robert C. Holt was born in Amsterdam, Montgomery county, New York, on January 1, 1869, and was given a general public school education in Cohoes. At the age of thirteen, when many future manufacturers are still deeply concerned with their marbles and kites, this lad went to work in the knitting mill of which his father was the superintendent — the Root Manufacturing Company of Cohoes. He spent eight long years in that mill learning every detail of the business with a thoroughness that has stood him in good stead on many an occasion since then. Eventually he worked his way to the position of foreman of the knitting department, in which capacity he worked for the company for several years. Later he worked as foreman in a number of different mills, learning something of the problems peculiar to those factories and gaining a general knowledge of the industry throughout the country. Foreseeing a large market for American manufactured knitting machines and possessing the technical knowledge of the textile industry necessary for success in such a venture, Mr. Holt decided to branch out into the knitting machinery business, and in May of 1897 formed a partnership with Walter Stafford for this purpose. Under the firm name of Stafford & Holt they began the manufacture of machinery in Little Falls and now employ about a hundred workmen in their establishment. Today they not only supply a large domestic trade, but they also ship machines to nearly every foreign country where knitting is done on a commercial scale, including Japan, China, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Spain, Russia, Sweden and even Germany and England.

Mr. Holt belongs to the local Chamber of Commerce, to which he gives his hearty support and cooperation in all of its efforts toward civic and economic improvements. He is a Mason and an Elk and is likewise affiliated with the Little Falls Country Club. Politically he votes with the republican party, but has taken little active part in party affairs. In 1912-1914 he did serve very ably as councilman for Little Falls, yet this office was accepted more from a sense of civic duty than from ambition for a public career, and Mr. Holt has steadfastly refused to become a candidate for higher offices within the gift of the people.

At Troy, New York, on August 28, 1893, Mr. Holt was married to Miss Sarah Ayers Rockwell, who was born in that city on August 26, 1871, and is the daughter of Alonzo and Uphemia (Whytte) Rockwell. The Rockwells are descendants of some French immigrants who settled in Saratoga county, New York, in colonial days and took a prominent part in the Revolutionary war in that vicinity. Mrs. Holt's mother was born in Carcody, Scotland, in 1836, and died in Cohoes, New York. She was the daughter of Joseph and Jeannette (Black) Whytte, natives of Scotland, who emigrated to America with their family. Joseph Whytte came to Cohoes from Scotland with the machinery and the skilled laborers for the manufacture of linen thread about the year 1840 and was the first man to engage in this work in America. Mr. and Mrs. Holt have one child: A daughter, Eva May, born February 12, 1894, and on October 12, 1917, she was married to James Cook Bronner, an attorney of Little Falls, who at that time was a captain in the United States army. He is the son of Myron G. Bronner of this city, who is mentioned at length elsewhere in this work, and his wife, Mary (Baldwin) Bronner. Mr. Bronner is recognized as one of the best lawyers of the city, and his son, who seems to have inherited much of the father's ability, is fast coming to the fore as an attorney of more than usual merit. Mr. and Mrs. James Cook Bronner have one child: Pamelia Holt Bronner, who was born at Little Falls on February 6, 1919.

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