Today’s Amsterdam Birthday Blog Celebrant was born on this date in 1890. He was the son of a wealthy industrialist and he took over the largest pearl button manufacturing operation in the world after his father retired in 1943, just a bit before zippers and plastic buttons took over as the fasteners of choice in the World’s apparel industry. By 1966, the two Amsterdam plants he and his family had operated at the foot of the Chuctanunda Creek were both gone, demolished to make way for the new arterial system. At its zenith the business employed as many as 1,000 workers. Meanwhile, Harvey Chalmers II had happily transformed himself from industrialist to well respected historical novelist. It was making buttons that made him rich but writing books that made him happy.
Harvey’s parents were Arthur A. Chalmers and Emma Appleton Chalmers who made their home in Broadalbin, NY. He was educated in Amsterdam’s public schools and then after a two-year-stint at Williams College, he completed his four-year degree at Yale in 1914, where he became an intercollegiate fencing champion. He worked briefly for a company in Boston before enlisting in the Army and serving in the Medical Corps as a lieutenant during WWI. It was upon his discharge from the service that he returned home to Amsterdam to join his father at Harvey Chalmers & Son, the button manufacturing company first started by his grandfather and namesake.