Buchanan Article
from Cutters


Buchanan is one of the oldest and most honored Scotch surnames. The family was in Stirlingshire as early as the year 1200. An important branch of the family went to Ulster, north of Ireland, in the early days of the dispossession of the Irish and settlement by Scotch and English Protestants under King James in 1610 and afterward. The name of Captain William Buchanan of Lord of Ards’ Quarters, county of Down, appears in the list of those ordered to remove under a Declaration of Commissioners, May 23, 1653, in accordance with a plan of the English government to remove all popular Scots from Ulster to certain districts in Munster. This shows that the family was then well known in county Down. It flourished especially in the adjacent county of Tyrone and in the census of births in 1890 we find that out of twenty-four births that year in all Ireland, twenty-one were in Tyrone.

(1) James Buchanan, American immigrant, came to this country from the north of Ireland, doubtless from the family at Tyrone, and settled among the pioneers in Orange county, new York, as early as 1737. He died April 6, 1775, and is buried in Goodwill churchyard, near Montgomery, New York.

(II) John, son of James Buchanan, was born in Orange county, New York, lived in Orange and Herkimer counties, and died about 1808 in Herkimer county. He enlisted and served as sergeant of Captain Theodore Bliss’ company, Second Artillery, of the Continental Army, under Colonel John Lamb, on March 23, 1777, for three years. His name last appeared on muster roll for November and December, of 1779. He also served as a private in Captain William Talbert’s company, Colonel James McClaughry’s regiment, of New York militia, and was ordered into service by Governor Clinton to reinforce the garrison at West Point at the time General Cornwallis was marching down the river. He married Miriam Eager, of an old Massachusetts family. Children: Thomas; James E., mentioned below; William, John, Watkins, Polly and Martha.

(III) James E., son of John Buchanan, was born in Orange county, New York, April 24, 1788, died at Cortlandville Village, McGraw, New York, December 29, 1860. He was a soldier in the war of 1812. He came to Cortland county in January, 1818, and was one of the pioneer settlers of the town of McGrawville, coming thither from Herkimer county. He was educated in the public schools. All his active life he followed farming. In religion he was a Congregationalist; in politics a Democrat. He married, January 19, 1814, Sally Farmer, born June 23, 1793, in Herkimer county, died in McGraw, New York, September 4, 1878, daughter of John Farmer. Children: John F., born November 26, 1814, died December 29, 1876; James, April 18, 1817, died April 12, 1868; Sophia, December 30, 1819, died January 8, 1820; Miriam, July 6, 1821, died march 13, 1900, married David Short; Sally, August 18, 1824, died November 4, 1826; William Willard, mentioned below; Sanford, born May 21, 1828, died December 6, 1849; Thomas Watkins, February 16, 1832, died January 19, 1877.

(IV) William Willard, son of James E. Buchanan, was born July 5, 1826, in McGrawville, New York, died September 25, 1886. He attended the public schools of his native town and Homer Academy, and for a few years taught school in Cortland county. During most of his life, however, he followed farming at Cortlandville. In politics he was a Republican. He was an active member of the Presbyterian church, at McGrawville. He married, February 20, 1851, Amelia Hatfield, born September 20, 1828, in Cortlandville, and is now living with her son at McGraw, New York. She is a daughter of William and Ana (Smith) Hatfield. Their only child was William J., mentioned below.

(V) William J., son of William Willard Buchanan, was born in McGrawville, New York, September 13, 1857. He attended the public schools of his native town and the Union High School of McGrawville. He commenced his business career in 1879, in the employ of P.H. McGraw & Son, in the manufacture of corsets. He continued with the McGraw Corset Company, as the concern was known after incorporation, for a period of twenty years and for many years he was superintendent of the plant. In 1901 he organized the Empire Corset Company, of which he has since been president, and the business has grown to large proportions. The plant is modern and designed for efficiency and comfort of the workers. The factory is thirty-six by three hundred feet, two stories high, with basement. The basement is devoted to a cutting room and printing plant and for a stock room where the steel stays, rubber cloth and other goods used in the factory are kept. It is interesting to note that forty tons of these steel stays are kept on hand. In the printing plant all the box labels used in the business are printed. In another part of the basement also are the two strip folder machines of a new automatic type, made especially for the corset business. The fold and cut are made in one operation, the cloth strips being for the inner side of the corset to cover the stays. In the east end of the basement is an Acme self-clamping cutter with new-style friction gear for cutting square cloth. The corsets are cut out from brass patterns with knives, forty-eight thicknesses being cut at each time. The scraps are sorted into two grades and sold to paper mills. More than five thousand yards of cotton cloth and one hundred and fifty dollars worth of elastic webbing are used daily.

On the first floor are the offices, the paper box stock-room, the label room, packing and shipping departments. On the second floor the rough work of construction, such as the assembling of parts, boning, staying, girdling, are performed, and for this purpose there are fifty-two needle and sixty-three three-to-ten needle machines, operated by steam power and geared to three thousand three hundred stitches a minute. One ten-needle machine of the latest type is used for narrow girdles only. Nearly all the machines are of the latest patterns from the best makers. In the finishing room on this floor the corsets are completed. This room contains sixteen new-style binding machines of the compound feed type, doing two thousand stitches a minute. In this room also are the eyelet machines, not unlike the Mergenthaler linotype machines of the printers, and the single needle machines for plain stitching with which the lace and hose supporters are attached to the corset, running at the rate of four thousand stitches a minute. When the corset is complete it is rolled by a machine designed for the work and boxed, after inspection, and ready for shipment. One ingenious and wonderful machine in this room is that which threads the ribbon within the lace. In a small room on this floor starch is sprayed by machinery upon the finished corset, which is then taken to the laundry. The power house contains a steam engine of one hundred and five horse power and a thirty-five kilowatt dynamo. Water for the plant is pumped from an eighty-three-foot well.

The “Never Rust” corset, the “Sorosis” and the “Reduzyou” styles, manufactured by this company, have proved extremely popular and are known throughout the country. The company employs two hundred and fifteen women and thirty-five men. Four traveling salesmen are kept busy and the goods are sold not only in this country, but in Cuba, Mexico, Canada and other foreign countries. In 1910 the company manufactured one hundred thousand dozen corsets, and in some days the plant has produced four hundred dozens. The officers of the company are: William J. Buchanan, president; Harry C. Chaffee, secretary; Hartley K. Alexander, treasurer. A sketch of Mr. Chaffee appears elsewhere in this work. Mr. Alexander was born in 1866, in East Homer; for thirteen years he was bookkeeper for the P.H. McGraw & Son’s corset factory. He is a graduate of the Elmira School of Commerce; is ex-president of the village, member of the water board and board of education, steward of the Methodist church and treasurer. Mr. J.H. Hill, superintendent of the cutting room, and a director of the company, is an expert in the art of designing corsets.

Mr. Buchanan is keenly interested in the village in which his business is located. He was president of the incorporated village in 1892-93-94-95; he has been secretary of the fire department; was president of the board of education for several terms and is at present railroad commissioner of the town of Cortlandville. He is a prominent member of the Presbyterian church, of which for a number of years he has been an elder and treasurer.

He married, in 1884, Marcia Hollister, of Cortlandville, born January 1, 1861, daughter of Harvey D. and Martha (Thompson) Hollister. They have one son, William Harvey, born September 11, 1894.

          Entry done by Marilyn Lane on August 2, 1998

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Created 23 August 1998

LAST UPDATED: Saturday, 21-May-2011 13:57:59 MDT

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