Henry Edmund Machold was born in Amsterdam, NY on July 5, 1880. His dad was P. Bernard Machold, a prominent local architect and building contractor who died in 1929. His Mom Elizabeth’s maiden name was Mehlman. She died in 1900. Today’s Amsterdam Birthday Blog celebrant was one of eight children. An industrious lad, he delivered newspapers and groceries as a boy and graduated from high school here in 1897. His initial career goal was to be a lawyer and he began studying law under a local judge named Z. S. Westbrook. He also entered Albany Law School. But after a year into his studies, Judge Westbrook died and Machold dropped law and got a job teaching in a school in Randall, NY. That’s where he met and courted a girl named Jennie Ward, whose family owned a pretty large farm in Ellisburg, NY, a western NY Jefferson County community near Lake Ontario.
The couple were married in November of 1900 and settled on the Ward farm. Machold proved to be an astute and entrepreneurial agriculturist, and within a few years had expanded the farm’s acreage significantly. The more successful he became as a farmer, the more influential he became in Jefferson County politics and the local Republican Party. By 1911, he was nominated to run for the New York State Assembly. He won that election and was reelected five times. As his Assembly seniority built up so did his power, culminating with his election as speaker in 1921.
In 1924, Machold announced he did not intend to run for reelection to the Assembly. A group of Republicans from around the State then convinced him to run for the Republican Party nomination in that year’s New York State gubernatorial election. Machold at first accepted the offer but when he sensed the rival campaign of Theodore Roosevelt Jr. had surpassed the momentum of his own, he dropped out of the race and threw his support to the former President’s son. Roosevelt went on to lose the ’24 election to Al Smith and four years later, Machold became the Chairman of New York State’s Republican Party, holding that powerful post for two years and then resigning to concentrate on his lucrative careers outside of politics.
Machold’s biggest backer in Jefferson County had been Floyd L. Carlisle, a Watertown banker who in 1916, organized a syndicate of businessmen to purchase the St. Regis Paper Company. Since the paper and pulp business required inordinate amounts of waterpower, Carlisle began to acquire waterpower sites and small electric utilities throughout the state. He then formed his own investment house to finance massive projects that combined his diverse power holdings into the grid that generated power for the entire northeastern part of the Country. Using Machold’s legislative power in the Assembly, Carlisle was able to get quick legislative approval for these projects thereby gaining a favorable advantage over any would-be competition.
Carlisle put Machold on the Boards of St. Regis, his financial institutions and several of his utility companies. The Amsterdam native would go onto become the first President of Niagara Mohawk. H. E. Machold died in 1967 at the age of 86. At the time of his death, only one of his sisters, Mrs. Alonzo Finlayson still lived in Amsterdam, NY.