Charles Millar was born in Greenwich, England, March 9, 1808, and received a good education in the parochial schools of London. In 1835 he came to America and first located in Williamsburg, near New York city, whence he removed in 1839 to Utica, where he spent the remainder of his life. He had been educated as an architect and master builder, and here he at once commenced business in that line, securing large and important contracts. He erected many of the most prominent of the older buildings in Utica, among which were the court house, the Mohawk street jail, the Tibbitts block, several public schools, and John Thorn's residence. His career as a contractor and builder continued successfully for about seventeen years. From 1857 to 1860 he was the agent and manager of the Utica Screw Company. When he assumed charge of its affairs the company, suffering from the prevailing financial depression, was virtually bankrupt, but through his efforts it rapidly recovered and became such an important competitor that the American Screw Company, of Providence, R. L, offered to buy its stock at par, which, contrary to Mr. Millar's advice, was accepted by the directors. The soundness of his views was subsequently confirmed by the advance of the Providence company's stock many hundredfold. In 1861 Mr. Millar was made superintendent of the Utica and Black River Railroad, which position he held six years. He laid the foundation of the future prosperity of that important line, and made many improvements in the property, notable among which was the filling of the immense trestle work at Trenton, N. Y., a work of great magnitude, occupying several years and requiring several million yards of sand and gravel. His management of the affairs of. the company was so energetic and characterized by such good judgment that the road was enabled to pay its first dividend.
In 1861 he had purchased the wholesale tin, plumbing and steamfitting business which he continued to conduct until his death, and to which he commenced to devote his whole attention in 1867, when he resigned his position as superintendent of the railroad. In the latter year he erected the Millar building in Genesee street in Utica, and here has since been conducted one of the most extensive establishments of the kind in the United States. In 1866 he admitted his son, Henry W. Millar, to full partnership, under the firm name of Charles Millar & Son. The business continued to grow rapidly. The firm became extensive manufacturers of cheese and butter making apparatus and many of the appliances were Mr. Millar's invention. This machinery was sold all over this country and large quantities were shipped to Europe, Australia, Canada, and South America. In 1883 the firm commenced the manufacture of lead pipes in Utica, which proved a success from the start. A large factory and warehouse on Main street was erected for the purpose in 1885, and soon afterward Mr. Millar's son-in-law, John L. Murray, was admitted to the firm, the name remaining the same. In 1889 the firm, with Nicholas E. Kernan, Irvin A. Williams, and the late William M. White, organized the Utica Pipe Foundry Company, of which Mr. Millar was elected the first president, a position he held until his death, which occurred when the company was about to cast its first pipe, the buildings having. been erected under his direction. His son succeeded him as president and still holds the office.
Mr. Millar was a man of rare business thrift and ability, and no one ever left a more honorable record or one more worthy of emulation. The enterprises which he started and with which he was connected are among the most important in Utica. His steady and persistent application to business brought him success. Scrupulously upright in his dealings, farsighted and comprehensive in commercial and financial conditions, he conquered fortune, and at the same time held the confidence of the community and the esteem of all who knew him. For more than half a century he was an active force in the business, social, and public life of the city, whose interests and welfare he helped to increase and further. He was a man of the strictest integrity, progressive, public spirited, and benevolent, and gave liberally to all worthy objects. In politics he was a strong abolitionist and a Free-Soil Democrat, and affiliated with the Republicans upon the organization of that party, whose principles he ever afterward supported. He was alderman from the Fourth ward for two years, at the time of the incendiary fires, and was himself a sufferer from the burning of his carpenter shop in Division street. He was president of the Utica Mechanics Association one term and for several years chairman and manager of their fairs, which at one time were so popular.
Mr. Millar was married in England in 1833 to Miss Jane Quait, who survives him. On September 15, 1883, they celebrated their golden wedding. He died in Utica February 23, 1890. Their children were Frances S., widow of Edwin Johnson, of Utica; Julia A. (Mrs. Charles L. Blakeslee), of Albany; and Henry W. Millar, Miss Louise A, Millar and Carrie E. (Mrs. John L. Murray), all of Utica. Henry W, Millar, born July 20, 1845, was placed in charge of his father's business in 1861 and five years later became a full partner. John L. Murray entered the firm as a clerk in 1882 and in 1885 was admitted to partnership. Since Mr. Millard's death the two have carried on the business under the old firm name, making it exclusively wholesale since 1890.
Henry VV. Millar is president of the Utica Pipe Foundry Company, also of the Whitesboro Canning Company and the Sauquoit Canning Company; a director of the Utica City National Bank, the George Young Bakery, the Utica and Mohawk R. R. Company, the Utica Paving Company, and the Utica Mechanics Association; a. manager and president of St. Luke's Home and Hospital, a trustee of the Soldier's Monument Association and the Forest Hill Cemetery Association, and one of the managers of the Utica Chamber of Commerce. He is also interested in and an officer of a number of Water Works Companies in different villages in New York State and New England; and is junior warden of Calvary Episcopal church. In 1879 he married Miss Kate Wagner, of Whitesboro, and of their five children four are living.