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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Willard H. Prince

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 125-126 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

Contents | Portraits | Illustrations | Maps

Portrait of Willard H. Prince

Portrait: Willard H. Prince

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Among the large and long established business houses of Rome, Oneida county, New York, The Wiggins Company has been known for many years because of the magnitude of its business transactions and its unvarying prosperity. The company's business, which is furniture and undertaking, is not a merely local one, but extends pretty generally over the entire Mohawk valley country. For many years it was conducted under the style of J. B. Wiggins & Son, but when Mr. Prince became manager of the concern in 1918 the name was changed to that of The Wiggins Company and has so remained. Willard H. Prince was born in Rome, on February 28, 1855, the son of Daniel B. and Sarah (Boerum) Prince, the father a native of New Milford, Connecticut, and the mother of Poughkeepsie, New York. The parents settled in Oneida county, New York, about 1844, their original home being built on the site of old Fort Stanwix. The father's occupation was that of a contractor and builder, and he also ran a hotel, known as the Commercial, for twelve years before his retirement, the hotel building being now occupied by the Catholic Association, on North James street. The elder Prince built the roundhouses and freight depots at Oneida, Sidney and Norwich, New York, for the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company, and numerous large structures, among them being the Rome Lace Works, the Rome Iron Mills, the Rome courthouse, and many other notable buildings of the city. Willard H. Prince's mother died in 1869, and his father in 1896. They were the parents of nine children, six sons and three daughters, Willard H. Prince being the eighth child born.

After completing his education in the public grade and high schools of Rome, Willard H. Prince started to learn the jewelry and watch repairing trade with M. M. Davis, serving an apprenticeship of three years and then working an additional year. His father then needing assistance in the hotel, Mr. Prince left the jewelry business and was with his father for two years, after which he went to St. Louis, Missouri, where for a short time he worked at his trade as a jeweler and watch repairer, and then returned to Rome to take charge of the hotel, which he conducted for two years. An opportunity then offered for a connection with J. B. Wiggins & Son in the furniture and undertaking trade, and Mr. Prince was associated with the business until 1918, at which time the name was changed to that of The Wiggins Company and Mr. Prince became general manager of the entire business.

On November 29, 1879, in Rome, New York, Mr. Prince was married to Miss Esther J. Wiggins, daughter of Jerome B. and Ann E. (Waldo) Wiggins, an old family of Oneida county. Both father and mother have passed away. Mrs. Prince is a member of the Rome Hospital Commission, the Order of the Eastern Star and the White Shrine of Syracuse. Four children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Prince: Anna L., the wife of H. J. Teller, a physician at Rome; Eva May, who became Mrs. McMaster, but is now deceased; Daniel J., who has also passed away; and Waldo Wiggins, who married Miss Alice Page and is his father's assistant in business.

Mr. Prince is an independent democrat in his political views, and while not a member of any religious denomination, attends the Baptist church. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Masonic order, having taken both York and Scottish Rites, is eminent past commander of Rome Commandery, No. 45, and has been secretary of Fort Stanwix Chapter for twenty-three years; and he belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Mr. Prince is also a member of the Rome Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis Club and the Masonic Country Club.

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