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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Lucius Nathan Littauer

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 478-482 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Portrait of Lucius Nathan Littauer

Portrait: Lucius Nathan Littauer

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One of the outstanding figures in the American glove industry is Lucius Nathan Littauer, president of the Littauer Glove Corporation of Gloversville, Fulton county, and a stockholder and official in a number of other concerns manufacturing gloves or their materials. Mr. Littauer is the son and successor of Nathan Littauer, the founder of the Littauer business and one of the builders of the industry in this country. His father's career is illustrative of the opportunities awaiting the foreign-born citizens who come to our shores. A German by birth and a native of Breslau, Nathan Littauer came to the United States in 1846 and located in Gloversville, which was the center of his business enterprises for a good many years. At first he was possessed of little capital with which to set himself up in business, so he earned his livelihood by selling dry goods and notions to the housewives of Fulton, Hamilton and Montgomery counties, traveling on foot from one customer to the next. In those days of poor roads and no motor cars the itinerant merchant did a thriving business, and by 1855 was able to settle down in Gloversville, where he established a dry goods store and embarked in the glove manufacturing business. About 1860 he established a sales office in New York city to facilitate the marketing of his goods, and six years later he moved there with his family, making the metropolis his home until his death, on May 8, 1891, at the age of sixty-two. In addition to manufacturing gloves he did a good business as a dealer in glove materials, in which connection he was the first to introduce the fine foreign-made glove materials into this country. He was also a pioneer in the use of buckskin for gloves. In 1883 Mr. Littauer turned his glove business over to his two sons, Lucius N. and Eugene, who carried it to its present high state of development. He continued his business of importing and dealing in glove materials in Gloversville until 1886, however, and was intimately connected with some of the other financial enterprises of this city. Among them was the Fulton County National Bank, then known as the National Fulton County Bank, of which he was a director, and the Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville Railway. He was instrumental in organizing the latter and for years held a seat on its board of directors. With untiring activity, inflexible integrity and lofty ambition he achieved eminence and esteem.

Nathan Littauer was married to Miss Harriet Sporborg, a native of Albany, who survived him for several years, her death occurring in 1908, on the 8th of November, in her seventieth year. Lucius Nathan Littauer, son of Nathan and Harriet (Sporborg) Littauer, was born in Gloversville, January 20, 1859, and there spent the first seven years of his life. He began his education in the old Wells Seminary in this city and after the family took up their residence in New York city entered the public schools there. In 1878 he graduated from Harvard with the B. A. degree. Immediately after leaving college Mr. Littauer came to Gloversville to enter the glove business with his father, and five years later, in partnership with his brother, succeeded to the ownership and control of the concern now known as the Littauer Glove Corporation, which they developed into the largest glove manufacturing establishment in the United States. Formerly they employed from eight hundred to a thousand people regularly and did an enormous business. As has already been stated, the father had introduced the higher grades of imported glove materials into this country and began the use of buckskin. Working along these lines, Lucius N. Littauer and his brother devoted their energies gradually to producing the finer types of gloves and were rewarded for their efforts to improve their product by the patronage of the best dealers in the country, thereby establishing an American industry, particularly on cape gloves, formerly imported from England, France and Germany.

Successful as he has been as the head of this great corporation, the limits of its business have by no means bounded the scope of Mr. Littauer's activities. He was instrumental in organizing the Fonda Glove Lining Company, of which he is now president; is the largest stockholder and a director of the Mohawk Silk Glove Company; and a partner in the firm of Bachner-Moses-Lewis Company, glove manufacturers. The Gloversville Knitting Company owes its origin to him and he is largely responsible for its business policies in his capacity as president since its organization. The glove and textile industries have not totally absorbed his interest, however, for he is a stockholder and a director of the Fulton County Gas & Electric Company; a member of the board of the Fulton County National Bank, in which his father was likewise deeply interested; and president of the Glen Telephone Company and one of its directors ever since its organization. Formerly he served on the directorate of the Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville Railway and at present he is treasurer of the Johnstown & Kingsboro Railway Company.

Mr. Littauer's career has been as conspicuous for its notable public service as for his achievement as a business man. Probably no man of his generation has done more for Gloversville, either publicly or as a private citizen, than Lucius N. Littauer; surely no citizen has had its welfare so close at heart. That he has won the confidence and esteem of his fellow townsmen is shown by the fact that in November of 1896 they elected him their representative in the United States congress and four times thereafter expressed their approval of his course in our national legislature by reelecting him to this high office. His district comprised the counties of Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Saratoga and St. Lawrence. In this territory the glove industry is one of the dominant commercial enterprises, hence it was as a spokesman for his constituents that Mr. Littauer sponsored a measure in congress that provides for a tariff on fine gloves, thus protecting our domestic manufacturers from ruinous foreign competition and enabling them to pay their workers wages capable of supporting American standards of living. Congressman Littauer's name will also long be associated with other important pieces of constructive legislation, for in the course of his several terms of service in Washington he earned the high regard of his fellow legislators and held some important committee posts in the house, notably on the committee on appropriations. For four years Mr. Littauer also served the state of New York as a recent of its university. He was largely responsible for the building of the armory in Gloversville and was instrumental in securing the new postoffice building.

Moreover, Gloversville owes much to Mr. Littauer's generosity as a private citizen. The Nathan Littauer Hospital is the memorial he built for his father, while the Harriet Littauer Home for Nurses is a graceful tribute to the memory of his mother. A new three hundred thousand dollar addition to the hospital, now in the course of erection, will be dedicated to his wife, who passed away January 31, 1924. As an adherent to the Jewish faith, Mr. Littauer is honorary president of the local synagogue, but his charity knows not the boundaries of sect nor religion. He has generously supported the work of the Young Men's Christian Association in Gloversville and helped to found the Community Center. In short, there is no worthy movement for promoting the social and civic welfare of the community that does not enlist his sympathy and aid, for he rightly believes that the measure of a man's success is the way in which he uses his fortune rather than its size. Fraternally Mr. Littauer is a life member of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, and his social connections in this city are with the Eccentric Club and the Sir William Johnson Country Club. In Washington he is a member of the Metropolitan Club, in New York the Harvard and Republican Clubs, and in Albany the Fort Orange Club. He is a republican in politics. In connection with his manufacturing interests he helped organize the Glove Manufacturers Association and as its president for fifteen years did much to shape and carry to a successful completion its policies for the advancement of the industry.

Mr. Littauer was married to Miss Flora Crawford in March, 1885. A happy married life was terminated by the death of Mrs. Littauer in January, 1924. For many years the Littauers have maintained two city homes, one at No. 64 West Eighty-seventh street, New York city, and the other in Gloversville. In the summer months they have spent much of their time at their country place at Premium Point, New Rochelle, New York.

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