John Knox Stewart was born in Perth, NY on October 20, 1853. He was the son of William Stewart, also a Perth native and Catherine Knox, who hailed from the nearby village of Galway, NY. His dad must have been a man of some means because he moved his family south to Amsterdam, NY in 1860 and started a knitting mill on present day Forest Avenue.
Six years later, a fire destroyed that business and the elder Stewart replaced it with a paper mill, which he ran successfully until he passed away in 1872. Meanwhile, John Knox Stewart attended Amsterdam Academy until 1871 and then left to join his father at the paper mill. He took over that business when his dad died. Five years later he married Miss Sarah Schuyler, whose father James Schuyler was partners with Gardiner Blood in the Amsterdam-based Chuctanunda Knitting Mill. In 1884, Schuyler took ill and he asked his son-in-law to assist him with his responsibilities at the knitting mill. In a repeat of what happened with his own father a dozen years earlier, a year after Stewart joined the Chuctanunda firm his father-in-law passed away. Stewart than purchased the Schuyler family’s half interest in the business and the firm’s name was changed to Blood & Stewart. A few years later Gardiner Blood also died and Stewart purchased his half the business to take full control of the mill. During the next two decades, the Stuart Knitting Mill evolved into one of Amsterdam’s largest and most successful industrial concerns.
Much of the company’s growth was fueled by acquisition. Stewart was always ready with his checkbook whenever merger discussions took place with the owners of other knitting mills operating in Amsterdam at the time. Over time he purchased the Greene Knitting company, the McDonnell mill and a portion of the Globe knitting business.
As was usually the case with Amsterdam’s turn of the Twentieth Century industrial barons, as Stewart’s knitting business grew he became more and more entwined in Amsterdam’s banking and government sectors…
If you would like to read the rest of my story about John Knox Stewart it will be included in the new second edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam, NY Birthdays, which will be available before the 2016 Holiday season. You can now reserve a copy of this book and by doing so, also qualify for a significant discount off its list price. You won’t be asked to pay for the book now and you’ll be notified as soon as it becomes available. You can reserve your copy now using this on-line order form.
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