July 31 – Happy Birthday Samuel Wallin

wallin_samuel-050Samuel Wallin was one of the most significant and accomplished citizens in the history of Amsterdam, NY. He was born on July 31, 1856 in the city of Easton, Pennsylvania. His father was a native of England who had been trained in carpet manufacturing, which explains how he and his family ended up in Amsterdam, NY, working in the Sanford carpet mills by 1864.

As a youngster, Samuel attended Amsterdam Academy but while still a boy, he got himself an entry level job in the Sanford mills, earning fifty cents a day. He fell in love with the place and the rug-making process and he would remain involved with it the rest of his life.

Because he had started so young and at the very bottom rung of Sanford’s  corporate ladder, he held just about every job possible on his climb up it. By the time he was thirty in 1886, he was ready to form a rug making company of his own. Well not exactly his own. Three of his coworkers at Sanford were ready to take the leap with him and each of the four possessed knowledge of a different area of the business.

David Crouse was a dyer. John Howgate’s specialty was the finishing room. William McCleary’s expertise was the drum room and Wallin himself was a designer. The four didn’t have much money between them but they managed to scrape together just enough cash to start the firm, McCleary, Wallin and Howgate in a small factory next to the Mohawk River on Amsterdam’s South Side. Their goal was to specialize in narrow runner rugs, no wider than 30 inches in length. The company started with nine employees and struggled mightily before turning the corner to profitability…

You can read the rest of my story about this former Amsterdam industrialist in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.

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