July 9 – Happy Birthday James Henry Van Brocklin

Though 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, formed a partnership with Henry Stover and purchased the knitting mill of McCowatt & Company that was located in a building on the corner of Chuctanunda and Livingston Streets. They immediately brought James Van Brocklin into the company and he took charge of the new firm’s finishing and seaming room for the next fourteen years. In October of 1909, he came down with a severe case of pneumonia. He died two weeks later in his home on the corner of Division and Wall Street. He was 66 years-old. His wife Katherine and two daughters survived him as did his 95-year-old mother, to whom James had been completely devoted. The four firms that formed Van Brocklin’s career also formed the foundation of this town’s knitting industry, which continued functioning up until Montco ceased operations in the 1970’s.

(This former Amsterdam firefighter was also born on July 9)

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

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