Thomas J. Bolger, who has attained and holds a place in the foremost ranks of the nurserymen of Ontario county, New York, and who is prominently identified with the political and social affairs of that section of the state of New York, is of Irish descent, and has inherited many of the excellent traits which distinguish that people.
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Andrew Bolger, father of Thomas J. Bolger, was born in Ireland in 1844, and came to this country in early manhood. He commenced work as a laborer and has always followed that occupation. By means of his thrift and industry he succeeded in acquiring a moderate capital, purchased a home in the town of Seneca, and has lived there more than forty years. He married in Geneva, New York, in 1873, Honora Buckley, born in Ireland in 1851, died aged thirty-six. Children : Thomas J., see forward; Andrew, born in 1877; Mary. born in 1880, married Ernest J. Mosey.
Thomas J., son of Andrew and Honora (Buckley) Bolger, was born in Seneca, New York, November 28, 1875. He was but eleven years of age at the time of the death of his mother, and immediately was obliged to assume heavy responsibilities. He took full charge of the household cares and at the same time, devoted a portion of his time to outside work, to assist in the support of the family. These manifold duties deprived him of the necessary time for the acquisition of a school education in his youth, but he was determined to acquire knowledge and spent all his spare moments in home study. Later in life he became a student in the Geneva high school, utilizing his vacations by working in nurseries and about his own home. He thus attained, at a comparatively early age, a practical knowledge of tree growing, and was so quick in absorbing these ideas that, at the age of sixteen years, he was made the foreman of a large nursery located on the state road. About three years later he entered the employ of John Sweeney, who owned a nursery on William street, and it was but a short time when his natural abilities for this industry were recognized, and the most important duties were entrusted to him, culminating in his being made manager of the entire nursery. After serving in this capacity for three years, Mr. Bolger bought the Sweeney property, carried it on in his own interest, and also acted as manager of the packing grounds of O. K. Gerrish, in High street. At the end of three years he purchased the Gerrish business and property and merged the two concerns, carrying them on together very successfully. As his capital increased he commenced to interest himself in real estate matters, and at the present time is extensively concerned in this line of business. His nursery holdings alone are about thirty acres. In 1911, the Bolger interest in the nursery business was incorporated as the Universal Nurseries, with F. J. Conboy, president, and T. J. Bolger, secretary and treasurer. This concern, which does a thriving business, handles a first-class line of nursery stock in fruits and ornamental plants.
Mr. Bolger has earned the distinction of being the first alderman elected in the second ward, after the ward had been controlled by the Republican party for many years. He was elected to this office in 1905, and reelected in 1907. His efforts in the council were most laudable ones and he was rewarded by being the nominee of his party for supervisor in 1909, and was elected by a large majority over a strong opposing candidate. He has also served as delegate to the state and county Democratic conventions, and has served as county committeeman from Geneva. While serving on the board of supervisors, he was frequently called upon to serve on the most important committees, and also as chairman of the board. Mr. Bolger is still a comparatively young man, and his past career gives promise of a brilliant future. He is a member of the Geneva Council, Knights of Columbus; Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, of Geneva; and of the Hydrant Hose Company. His religious affiliations are with the Catholic church.