HON. GEORGE BERRY was born in the town of Eaton, November 12, 1820, the seventh son of Henry Berry, who was a native of Ireland, born in the latter part of the eighteenth century. He was a farmer by occupation, and after coming to America settled in the town of Eaton, near what is known as Pratt's Hollow, but afterward went to Canada, where he died at the age of seventy-five years. The mother of our subject died when but thirty-seven years old. There were nine children born to them, namely: Robert, Rachael, and John, all deceased; Henry, living at Poolville,
N.Y.; Thomas, deceased; Isaac, in Elmira, N.Y.; George, the subject of this sketch; David, deceased; and Margaret, living in Canada.
George Berry was brought up on the farm, and, his parents being poor, had to work industriously, attending the common schools as he had opportunity, and, while not receiving a classical education, gained a practical one, which fitted him for the useful positions he has held through life. There was this great advantage in those schools attended by the farmers'
children; while the range of study was confined principally to the rudimentary studies of the language, the children had, in addition, the daily study of agriculture in the fields around them, the knowledge of Nature in her varied aspects, and the value of cattle in their service to man, their whole lives being benefited by this apparently unmethodical style of learning. Our subject was quick to learn, and, having an excellent memory, retained much of the information he gained during his younger days. When nineteen years of age, he went to the village of Eaton, and was employed in making edge tools for four years. He then commenced buying hides and pelts, and subsequently was associated with one of his brothers in a tannery at Poolville, N.Y., remaining in this business for three years. For three years more he was in a woollen factory at Munnsville, Madison County, N.Y., coming from there to Oneida in 1857. Here he built a tannery, commencing in a small way; but the business rapidly grew to considerable dimensions, requiring additional buildings and facilities. For many years this plant was closely identified with the progress of the village. It covered about an acre of ground, and steam power was used to operate the machinery. To enhance the growth of the work, Mr. Berry purchased an adjoining property; by which he was enabled to obtain a constant and unlimited supply of good water, so essential to the success of that brand of leather manufactured. The product consisted of what is known as "rough leather," mainly used in the making of boots and shoes. The output was of the very best quality, and was in the neighborhood of seven thousand sides of leather annually. This industry was built up solely by Mr. Berry, who managed it for years with great success; but of late the plant is not in active operation, he having practically retired from its superintendence. At present he occupies himself principally in carrying on a considerable trade in hides, pelts, calfskins, etc.
Mr. Berry has been a potent element in the development of the village of Oneida, and has contributed his share toward its prosperity. He is an enterprising citizen, and to his activity much of the flourishing condition of the place is due. Politically, he is a Democrat; but, notwithstanding the county is strongly Republican, so popular is he that he has been intrusted with many positions of trust and honor. In 1856 he was chosen Justice of the Peace, later was Supervisor for the town of Lenox, serving three terms, and was elected President of the Village Board. In 1874 he was elected Member of Assembly, although having Republican opposition; and so well did he satisfy his constituency that he was re-elected to the same position in 1878. His honesty and integrity were powerful allies, and made his name a stronger element than any the opposing party could find. He is also Vice-President of the Oneida Savings Bank, and a Director in the Oneida Valley National Bank.
At the age of twenty-four Mr. Berry was married to Miss Eliza Brown; and this union was blessed with a daughter, who is now deceased. She was the wife of Hon. Benjamin D. Stone, of Camden, N. Y. She left one daughter, Florence B., now Mrs. Lyman H. Carr, who has one child, Donald E., and resides in Chicago, Ill. Mr. Berry is held in a more than reverential regard by the people of his town and county. His life has been marked by enterprise, industry, and rectitude; and his best energies have been utilized in the building up of his village and contributing to its success and prosperity. Both he and his wife have been members of the Methodist Episcopal church at Oneida for a period extending over the past forty-five years, Mr. Berry having been steward and a Trustee for the greater part of this time. He has also been a class leader for a number of years. The causes of religion and education have ever found in him a liberal supporter.
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