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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
George E. Philo

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 760-763 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]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 George E. Philo

Portrait: George E. Philo

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It has been said that one of the best elements of success is faith in one's self, and judging by what he has accomplished, George E. Philo of Utica was abundantly endowed with this important quality. As a lawyer, business man and public-spirited citizen he has ably performed his part, and there are few men in Utica who have been more active or efficient in advancing their own interests and that of the general good. He was born in Utica, Oneida county, New York, on the 2d of April, 1859, a son of Elisha and Phebe C. (Newell) Philo. The father, who was born in Genesee county, this state, on the 23d of October, 1812, died at West Frankfort, Herkimer county, on November 9, 1864. The mother, a native of Frankfort, New York, passed away at Washington Mills, Oneida county, in 1884, when sixty-eight years of age. Her father, Edward Newell, was a soldier of the War of 1812. Her mother lived to the advanced age of one hundred and three years and died in Utica. On the paternal side the family descended from John P. Fillow, a French Huguenot, who came to America and settled in Connecticut before 1700.

George E. Philo was the seventh in order of birth in a family of nine children, six of whom are living. He received his early education in the district schools and as a boy of eleven years began working on the Erie canal in summer and attended school in winter. Later he was employed on a farm and thus became familiar with farm work and farm values. In 1876 he was graduated from the Utica Business College and the following winter taught in a business college at Troy, New York. He then went to Washington Mills and associated with his brother, Charles H. Philo, in the mercantile business for about three years. Perceiving the importance of larger educational training, he became a student at Cazenovia Seminary, in Madison county, New York, graduating therefrom in 1883. Soon afterward he entered the law office of Henry F. and James Coupe, and after pursuing the regular course of study, was admitted to the bar upon examination at Syracuse in 1890. He practiced for about ten years with his preceptors and has since conducted a general practice alone. He also has been engaged for a number of years in dealing in city real estate and farm property, the buying and selling of houses, and is frequently called upon to appraise property.

Mr. Philo has been a prominent worker in politics and an earnest supporter of the republican party. He has served as ward and county committeeman, and for fifteen years has been a member of the election board, filling the position of chairman of the board during ten years of that time. In 1897 he was elected to the general assembly from the first Oneida district and discharged his duties in such a way as to meet with the general approval of his constituents. In 1898-99 he was connected with the office of attorney-general as counsel of the department for appraising and preparing claims for the state under what was known as the nine-million-dollar contract. He began operations at Clyde, Wayne county, and worked east to Oneida county, preparing several hundred claims. During the winter of 1909-10 he was employed in the engrossing department of the state senate at Albany as counselor at law.

On the 30th of June, 1892, at Clinton, New York, Mr. Philo was united in marriage to Miss Celia C. Ledwell, daughter of Thomas and Celia Ledwell. The father was born in Ireland and the mother was also of Irish descent. There were ten children in their family, seven sons and three daughters. Five children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Philo, namely: Mary C., Elizabeth, Elisha G., Ruth and Marguerite.

Mr. Philo is a member of the Masonic order and has taken the various degrees, including the commandery and Shrine. He is also connected with the Modern Woodmen of America, the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and the Republican Club of Utica. He served very acceptably as secretary of the Elks for four years. His religious faith is that of the Methodist Episcopal church. He has been remarkably successful in making a practical application of the knowledge he gained as a boy when working on the canal or on the farm, and as a result has acquired a competency for himself and family. He has through life been a close observer, and his unflagging industry in business and the faithful discharge of his responsibilities as a public officer or attorney have won for him deserved recognition.

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