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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Walter Stafford

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 387-389 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Walter Stafford is well known in Little Falls as one of the successful manufacturers of the city and throughout the knitting industry in this country and elsewhere as the maker of highly complicated and delicate machinery for knitting. Born in Ilion, on April 4, 1864, he comes of English and German parentage. His father, Benjamin Stafford, Jr., was born in Stockport, England, and brought to this country as an infant by his parents. He was a machinist by trade and a veteran of the Civil war, having served in the Twenty-sixth Regiment, New York Volunteers. He passed away in Ilion in 1905. Benjamin Stafford, Sr., was also a native of Stockport and after coming to America he settled in Vanhornesville, New York, where he conducted a cotton mill. Mr. Stafford's mother was Henrietta Wolfe before her marriage, a native of Dresden, Germany. Her father, Frederick Wolfe, was once an attendant at the court of King John II of Saxony. His wife and children came to America before he did and after the Revolution of 1848 he followed them, settling for a time in Jerseyfield Patent. Later they moved to Michigan, where they all died except one daughter, Mrs. Mary Lane of Coleman, Michigan.

Walter Stafford attended the grammar schools of Ilion and the high school there until he was about sixteen years old, when he put aside his textbooks to go to work in the machine shop of Eliphalet Remington & Sons of Ilion, where he was employed for five years as an apprentice machinist. After two years of experience as a master machinist in various places in Rome, New York; Troy, New York; Cleveland, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he came to Little Falls in 1887 and became associated with the Pike Knitting Machine Company. He left this firm at the end of three months to form a partnership with Wyman Eaton, under the firm name of Eaton & Stafford, for the purpose of conducting a jobbing shop for the repairing of machinery. He bought out Mr. Eaton's interests at the end of the third year of this enterprise and continued the business alone for another three-year period. During this time he began to make knitting machinery, which proved to be a very successful innovation in his business, so that now his firm manufactures it on a large scale for the textile trade all over the world. Another change in the personnel of the firm occurred when Mr. Stafford sold a half interest in the concern to Horace G. Babcock, but after doing business for a year as Stafford & Babcock, the latter's share was sold to Robert C. Holt in 1895. An account of Mr. Holt's career appears elsewhere in this volume under his own name. He is a man thoroughly trained in the knitting business from start to finish, thus he brought to the concern a knowledge of the manufacturing end of the textile industry that has been of enormous advantage in developing the part of the establishment given over to the production of knitting machinery. Stafford & Holt, as the firm is now known, has had a most successful history and does a business that reaches almost literally to the four corners of the earth, for its machines are being used in mills in Japan, China, England, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Russia and Australia. The firm has a pay roll that averages about a hundred employes, many of whom are the best of skilled workers, for textile machinery is among the most complicated made.

Mr. Stafford was married to Miss Marie Walts Brierley at Camden, New York, December 24, 1890. Mrs. Stafford was born in Camden, October 10, 1868, and is the daughter of the late Robert and Euphemia (Schott) Brierley. Her father, a native of Lancaster, England, was a hatmaker by trade, but later he took up the occupation of bookkeeping. He died in Little Falls in 1905. The mother, who was born in Oneida county, New York, and died in Camden, was a member of an old family of this section of the Empire state. Her father's people, the Schotts, and her mother's family — people by the name of Sterling — were originally German immigrants from the Palatinate, who settled here in pre-Revolutionary times. Her father, John Schott, was a farmer of Oneida county, his birthplace, where he spent most of his life, although he died in Camden. He fought in the War of 1812 and participated in the battle of Sackett's Harbor, and to this day the musket he carried is treasured in the family as a priceless heirloom. Some place way back in the family history a trace of Indian blood came into the line, which proved to be a very serviceable bond between John Schott and his red-skinned neighbors in the trying days of the war, for he was able to exercise a certain amount of control over their operations and through their reports kept in touch with the movements on the Canadian-British frontier. Another of his services to his country of a military nature was the training of raw recruits from the farmer and village lads of his part of the state. Mrs. Stafford is a member and past matron of Rock City Lodge, Order of the Eastern Star.

A very great sorrow came to Mr. and Mrs. Stafford when, on March 21, 1924, their only child, Grace Euphemia (Stafford) Bellinger, was claimed by death, almost without warning. Grace Stafford was born in Little Falls, January 14, 1894, and spent her girlhood in this city, where she graduated from the high school in the class of 1910. Later she became a student at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, where she obtained the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1915. In college she was very popular with her classmates, belonging to several sororities and college societies, while in the social circles of her home city she was one of the most charming of the younger matrons. On the 12th of October, 1919, she was married to Harry Campbell Bellinger, son of John Bellinger of Little Falls, a prominent young hardware merchant and a leading republican and Mason. To Mr. and Mrs. Harry C. Bellinger were born two children: Frederick Walter, born February 12, 1921; and Mary Grace, born October 22, 1922. Mrs. Bellinger's death, which came as a severe shock to her family and friends, inspired the sympathy of the whole community for her husband, children and parents, while her sweet and gracious personality will long be missed in the circles in which she moved.

Mr. Stafford is a stanch believer in the principles of democracy as set forth by the party of Jackson and Woodrow Wilson, but he has never taken an active part in public life. He attends the Methodist church and is a Mason of high rank, belonging to the blue lodge, chapter, commandery and Mystic Shrine, and being past high priest and past commander of his commandery. He is likewise identified with the Elks and was a member of the Little Falls Country Club. Formerly he was active in the work of the local Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Stafford is an enthusiast on the subject of the great American sport, baseball, and is also fond of traveling. At various times he has visited many of the foreign countries as well as many points of interest in our own United States.

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