AMBROSE E. SAWYER, of the Rathbun-Sawyer Company, a prominent business man of Oneida, local manager and part owner of the Oneida Flouring Mills, is a son of the Rev. Elisha Sawyer, a Baptist clergyman, and his wife, Clarissa Baker, both of Jefferson County. Elisha Sawyer and his wife were the parents of eight children, namely: Albert, now living in Michigan; Anna, wife of the Rev. E. P. Weed, a Baptist clergyman; Ellen A., formerly wife of Horace Hooker, of Carthage, N.Y., but now deceased; Ambrose E., the subject of this sketch; Clarissa D., wife of J. T. Gorsline, of Rochester; William, deceased; Mary E., wife of L. V. Rathbun, of Rochester; and Alonzo, deceased.
He of whom we write was born in Watertown, N.Y., August 16, 1838, and when young attended the district schools. Later removing to Parma, N.Y., he pursued a course of study at the Parma Institute. After this he was for some years occupied as a teacher, and subsequently became engaged in business in both Eastern and Western New York. In 1875 he was elected School Commissioner of Jefferson County, which office he held for six years, during this time devoting
himself entirely to educational interests. He brought about many reforms in the schools, and made suggestions and recommendations to the department at Albany the value of which was recognized, as evinced by their speedy adoption. In 1879 he formed one of a syndicate of five in purchasing Round Island in the St. Lawrence River, and in forming what is known as Round Island Park. This company was incorporated with a capital of fifty thousand dollars; and Mr. Sawyer became its Secretary, continuing active in the business of the company until 1888, when he and the other stockholders sold their holdings to New York capitalists.
In the same year, 1888, he and his brother-in-law, Mr. L. V. Rathbun, purchased the Oneida Flouring Mills, then in a very poor condition, the equipment being antiquated and practically useless. They at once introduced the most modern machinery, and made other improvements in the property, the result being that the mill is now one of the most elaborate and best fitted out in Central New York, and probably the most profitable. It is operated by water power obtained from Oneida Creek, and utilized up to one hundred horse power, a steam-engine of sixty-five horse power being used as auxiliary. There are in the mill two run of stones and eighteen pairs of rollers, of which twelve pairs are used in the
manufacture of flour, the rest constituting a fine and complete roller buckwheat plant. The entire capacity of the mill is twenty-five hundred bushels of grain per day. Mr. Sawyer is the local manager of the enterprise, and devotes his entire time to the business of the company, the latter having been incorporated in March, 1893, with a capital stock of eighty thousand dollars, he being made Vice-President and Treasurer.
At a convenient time for settling in life Ambrose E. Sawyer married Frances E. Cox, a native of Byron, Genesee County, by whom he has had two children, namely: Rose, who died at the age of eight months; and Charles E., who died when seventeen years of age. Politically, Mr. Sawyer is a Republican, and in religion a member of the Baptist church, of which he has been a Deacon for a number of years. He has always taken a deep interest in church and Sunday-school work, believing true religion to be the basis of sound morality and good citizenship. He is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, having been a soldier in the war for the preservation of the Union. He served two years in the Thirteenth New York Volunteer Infantry, and on account of the hardships and exposure incident to active military life was taken sick in Virginia and sent to the hospital, where he suffered a severe attack of typhoid fever. Mr. Sawyer is well known, and is one of the most highly respected citizens of Madison County, having an excellent reputation as a sagacious man of business and a man of unimpeachable integrity. Few, if any, of his fellow-citizens manifest a stronger desire to be of service to the community; and he has taken an active part in many useful and benevolent undertakings having for their object the promotion of the public good.
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