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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
William John Roser

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 691-692 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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William John Roser is well known in public utility circles of the Mohawk valley through his long connection with the Montgomery Electric Light & Power Company, of which he is the manager and treasurer. As manager of the company since its organization over a quarter of a century ago he is in a large measure responsible for its highly successful operation in years past and its present extensive program of expansion. Born in Canajoharie, on the 6th of October, 1866, he is the son of the late Joseph Roser of this city and his wife, Sophia (Scharff) Roser. His father was born in Frankfort, Germany, December 28, 1832, and came to Canajoharie in 1849. Prior to his death, which occurred on February 22, 1913, he was engaged in the furniture business here. Joseph Roser's parents, Balthara and Louise (Hoffman) Roser, lived and died in their native Germany, where the father was a professor of music. Through his mother Mr. Roser is likewise of German descent. His grandfather, Charles Scharff, was a contractor in Canajoharie and a leader among the German population. He was born in Cassell, Germany, as was his wife, Louise (Straussman) Scharff, and they came to this country together in 1832, settling in Canajoharie. So long as there was a local supply of suitable timber Charles Scharff followed his trade of a cooper, operating a large shop, later turning to contracting. It was largely through his efforts that St. John's Lutheran church was organized in Canajoharie for the benefit of the German population. His daughter, the mother of William John Roser, was born here November 27, 1837, and died February 27, 1922, surviving her husband by eleven years.

William John Roser obtained a high school education in the local high school and at the age of sixteen went to work in a jewelry store to learn the business. At the end of some ten years of experience he bought out his employer, Martin Frolich, and continued the business for about five years, under the firm name of Roser & Burton. Mr. Roser then sold his interest in the jewelry business to enter the creamery business as president and treasurer of the Canajoharie Creamery Company, Incorporated. His associate in this enterprise was W. H. Lipe, the secretary and manager of the creamery. Mr. Roser had been associated with this concern for about eight years when it was sold to ex-Governor Smith of Vermont. Later the creamery again changed hands, when it was purchased by Brown & Bailey, the present managers.

When the Montgomery Electric Light & Power Company was organized in 1898 Mr. Roser was made its manager, which position he has held ever since. In addition he is the treasurer of the company. This public service company is rendering efficient light and power service to the citizens and industries of Canajoharie and is now extending its lines to several of the neighboring agricultural districts, including Sharon Springs and Cherry Valley. With the increased use of electrical appliances in the household as well as in industrial plants, the value of such a concern to the community has become immeasurably greater than it was at the opening of the twentieth century when Mr. Roser first entered the field of public utilities. He has kept well abreast of the times, however, in developing the resources of his company to meet the new demands placed on it by the public and in many instances has been instrumental in introducing new uses and equipment for electric power in this section of the state. All of this busy executive's time has not been devoted to this single enterprise, however. His influence has been felt in other industrial and financial organizations of Canajoharie as well. As manager and treasurer of the Canajoharie Supply Company he has done much toward building up the business of that concern, while in banking circles he holds an honored place as a director of the National Spraker Bank.

Politically Mr. Roser is affiliated with the democratic party, in which he has been quite active locally. From 1894 to 1903 he was supervisor for the town of Canajoharie for Montgomery county, while he is now serving as village trustee, a position that he has held continuously for the last six years. In 1898, Mr. Roser made a splendid run for the office of state senator from his district, but he was defeated by a very popular and influential candidate, Senator Krum. For some fifteen years past Mr. Roser has been a trustee of the St. John's Evangelical Lutheran church, which his grandfather helped to found. His fraternal affiliations are with the Masonic order, in which he is identified with Hamilton Lodge, No. 79, F. and A. M., of Canajoharie; the Chapter of this city; Little Falls Commandery, No. 26; and Oriental Shrine of Troy. He also belongs to Lodge No. 226, B. P. O. E., of Gloversville, and Canajoharie Lodge, No. 516, I. O. O. F., of Canajoharie, being past noble grand in the latter organization.

Mr. Roser and Miss Angelica Bierbauer were united in marriage in this city on September 18, 1900. Mrs. Roser is the daughter of Lewis and Louisa (Gauch) Bierbauer and was born in this city, February 28, 1870. Her father and mother came to America from Germany as young married people, first locating in New York city, whence they moved to Utica and later to Canajoharie, arriving here in 1858. This city continued to be their home until their death years later.

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