July 9 – Amsterdam Birthday Bits

walterM222There has never been a City of Amsterdam firefighter who loved his job or his profession any more than Walter Martin. The native of Amsterdam’s South Side was born on July 9, 1952. He was a tough and sturdy Amsterdam High varsity football center and middle guard for Gene White and John Los-coached Rugged Ram teams and he was a key member of the backstage crew for Bert DeRose’s Drama Club productions. Martin graduated from Lynch in 1970 and by 1972 he had become an Amsterdam firefighter. Over the next four decades he would rush to thousands of fires and emergency situations in this city, become one of the department’s very first EMT’s, earn “Firefighter of the Year” honors twice and even deliver a baby. By the time he retired in 2012, he had risen to the rank of Battalion Chief and become one of the most …

atlasknitThough he owned none of the firms in which he worked, he was a key employee in all of them and certainly one of the reasons why Amsterdam’s reputation for manufacturing quality knitted goods extended throughout the United States. His name was James Henry Van Brocklin and he was born just west of Amsterdam in present-day Fort Johnson on July 9, 1844. His parents Mathias and Charlotte Van Brocklin owned a large and prosperous 160 acre farm that bordered the north shore of the Mohawk River. In 1860, Mathias moved his wife and fours sons to Amsterdam, where they took up residence at 136 East Main Street. The elder Van Brocklin owned stock in one of Amsterdam’s earliest knitting firms, the American Hosiery company and young James secured employment there and exhibited both a work ethic and aptitude for learning the knitting business that impressed all those he encountered. By 1868 he had been put in charge of the finishing and seaming department. In 1876 the American Hosiery mill burned to the ground and Van Brocklin was quickly hired by Amsterdam’s  Greene Knitting company.where he managed the finishing room for the next eighteen years. He then spent two years on the management staff of Amsterdam’s Atlas Knitting Company. That’s when his older brother William, who had been living in Catskill, returned to Amsterdam…

(This former Amsterdam Rugmaker shortstop was also born on July 9)

My complete birthday posts for Walter Martin and James Van Brocklin will appear in the new second edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam, NY Birthdays, which will be available before the 2016 Holiday season. I also distribute an Amsterdam, NY Birthday Blog Monthly Newsletter that includes the full birthday posts for three of the twenty-to-thirty  people whose birthdays I recognize each month. Each newsletter also includes an Amsterdam Birthday Quiz that will test your knowledge and memory of people and events in your hometown.

The monthly newsletter is free. If you’d like to receive it, just make sure your name and e-mail address are included on this list.


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