Town of Sherburne, Chenango County, New York
Sketch of Hector Ross
In the town of Sherburne, and near the village of the same
name, Chenango county, is a locality known as the "Quarter,"
taking its name from the fact that it comprises one-quarter of the town.
Here is located a thriving little manufacturing and trading settlement. By
far the greater part of the life and prosperity of this place are due to
the business capacity and the energy of the man whose portrait appears
Hector Ross was born in Greenock, Scotland, in 1811. His
father's name was John Ross, who was a molder. living in Greenock. His
mother's maiden name was Isabel Melville. She was also a native of
Scotland, and came to this country in the year 1844. With her came also
two brothers of Hector Ross--William and George, and one sister, Bell, all
residents of Binghamton.
When Hector Ross first came to this country, in 1837, he landed in Canada,
where he was employed for a brief time in a foundry. Leaving the Dominion,
he crossed to Charlotte, and from there went to Rochester, walking the
distance, as he was entirely out of funds. Finding no employment in
Rochester, he started on foot eastward, but found nothing to do until he
reached Brownell's mills, in Oneida Co., where he worked one day, during
the absence of one of the hands, who was known as a hand mule spinner.
Thence he went to New Berlin, Chenango county, expecting to find
employment in one of the two mills located there. Again he failed, but
with characteristic perseverance, he went on to Morris, Otsego county,
where he began work as a hand mule spinner in a cotton factory. He
received for his services about $18 per month, and he worked faithfully in
that place for twenty years. For the last six years of this long time of
service Mr. Ross had full charge of the mill. It was there that he gained
the practical experience and acquired the foundation of that large
business capacity that enabled him in after years to gain so much success
as a manufacturer.
In the early part of his service in Morris. in the year 1838. Mr. Ross was
united in marriage to Miss Ellen Edwards, of that village. Her parents
were of Welsh nativity, and came to this country in 1806 or '7. Mrs Ross
was born in 1814.
Leaving the mill where he had been so long employed, Mr. Ross returned to
New Berlin, where he, with his brother Daniel, and William Clinton,
purchased the cotton mill there located. Subsequently the Brothers
purchased Mr. Clinton's interest, and in the spring of 1859 Mr. Ross sold
his interest to his brother. He then bought a fine farm within the
corporation limits, erected a large house, contemplating the future
devotion of his time to agriculture.
Becoming again imbued with a desire to enter the manufacturing business,
he sold out his farm property and went to Sherburne, in 1861. There he,
with great energy and success, soon enlisted sufficient capital for the
erection of an extensive cotton mill at the Quarter. The planning,
furnishing and general oversight of the erection of this mill was placed
in care of Mr. Ross, and the work was accomplished in the most thorough
and successful manner. The first brick of the mill chimney, 108 feet high,
was laid by Alexander Ross, the eldest son, on his birthday, June 25,
1862, the first breaking of ground having occurred on the 1st of April
preceding. The first brick of the mill itself was laid by Hector Ross on
his birthday, May 6, of the same year, on the south east corner of the
building. The mill was 163x46 feet, three stories high, with boiler house,
51x23 feet, and an ell 57x26 feet. The office was 42x22 feet. So
energetically was the work pushed that the first cotton was run through
the mill on the 23d day of December of that year. Moreover, durthe same
year, Mr. Ross built six dwellings, one store, a large storehouse, a
blacksmith shop, a barn and 186 rods of picket fence. It will readily be
seen that he was a busy man. His business enterprise and his liberal
foresight almost revolutionized the Quarter, giving it its present
appearance of thrift.
For a time Mr. Ross managed the mill in the interest of the stockholders.
but he finally purchased the entire mill property, which was left at his
death, July 24, 1872, in a prosperous condition, to his family.
A person who was well acquainted with Mr. Ross, thus writes of him at the
time of his death:--
"Mr. Ross possessed the rare gift of accomplishing large results with
little display of activity. While everything was moving on with celerity
and precision under his hands, he never seemed to be busy or in a hurry.
His judgment in business affairs was seldom at fault. He was prompt and
liberal with his means in all matters of public utility, and never stinted
his sympathy or means in cases of private suffering. It will be long
before the void made by his death will be completely filled."
Mr. Ross was the father of ten children, six of whom are now living. We
have already mentioned Alexander as the eldest son of Hector Ross. To him
was left, by the death of his father, the full management of the large
business. Alexander Ross was born in Morris, Otsego county, June 25, 1845,
and removed to Sherburne in 1862, where he has since lived.
This mill, which is now under the control of Alexander Ross, is the
largest manufacturing establishment of any kind in Chenango or Madison
county. It now manufactures prints exclusively, employing one hundred
hands and manufacturing annually 2,250,000 yards. The goods stand high in
the markets, and are sold mostly in New York city.
The machinery of the mill is run by about 160 horse power. and is complete
in every detail. In addition to this branch of business, Mr. Ross runs a
first-class retail store, in which is his private office. The direction of
his large business interests is characterized by the same traits of
energy, foresight and capacity evinced by his father, with still more of
modern progressiveness and liberality. To his present large and prosperous
business interests much of the thrift of the village is due.
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Source: Taken in part from Smith, James H.,
History of Chenango and Madison Counties, New York. D. Mason &
Co. Syracuse, NY 1880.
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