From the Biographical Review, Volume XXXIII, located at the Durham Center Museum.
Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin
William E. Thorpe, of Catskill, N. Y., member of the firm of Malcolm & Co., was born in Conesville, Schoharie County, on November 15, 1869, his parents being Douglass and Catherine H. (Ingraham) Thorpe. His paternal grandfather, Amos Thorpe, was born in the town of Broome, Schoharie County. He was a blacksmith by trade, and worked at that occupation all his life. He also did some farming. The death of Amos Thorpe took place in Conesville.
Douglass Thorpe was born in Conesville on March 9, 1832. He worked somewhat in the smithy with his father, but when about nineteen year of age began learning the carpenter’s trade. Subsequently he went to Dyberry Falls, Pa., to assist in putting up a tannery, and after it was completed he returned to Conesville and settled on a farm. While there he was twice Supervisor of the town. In 1881 he came to Catskill and for the two succeeding years was in the grocery business in company with a Mr. Bassett, under the firm name of Bassett & Thorpe. Upon his retirement from business he was made Superintendent of Streets, which office he filled two years. More recently he has been in poor health. He is a trustee of the Methodist church, and both he and his wife are members of it.
Mrs. Catherine H. Thorpe was born in Durham, and spent her life there until she was eighteen, when she removed to Conesville. She taught school from the time she was fifteen years old until she was married, at twenty-two. She has been the mother of two children—William E. and George N., the last-named of whom resides on a farm in Conesville. Mrs. Thorpe’s father was Ezra Ingraham, son of William and Hester (Doty) Ingraham. Her mother was Charlotte Newell, daughter of Seth Newell, a soldier of the War of 1812, who contracted disease while in the service and died from its effects. William Ingraham, her grandfather, was born in Saybrook, Conn. He came to Durham among the early settlers, and had a grant of a small farm, but worked most of the time at his trade, which was that of a cooper. He died at the age of eighty. His wife, Hester, who was born in Saybrook, Conn., died at fifty-five. William and Hester (Doty) Ingraham had ten children, all of whom are now deceased. Their son Ezra was born in Durham. He was a shoemaker by trade, but much of his life was spent on a farm in Conesville, where he died at the age of fifty-six years. His wife, who died at the age of eighty-two, bore him three children, of whom only Catherine (Mrs. Thorpe) is living.
William E. Thorpe attended school in Conesville until he was about twelve years old, when the family removed to Catskill. Here he entered the high school. At seventeen he had finished his studies, and entered the employ of Smith & Forshew, dry goods merchants, with whom he remained for a year. At the end of that time he took a position as book-keeper with Van Brocklin & Co. in the Catskill Knitting Mill. When, nine years later, Mr. Van Brocklin retired and the Malcolm Company was formed, Mr. Thorpe took an interest in the business, this being in January, 1897, the annual output of this mill is valued at between two hundred and fifty thousand and three hundred thousand dollars. Woollen underwear is manufactured, also men’s dress shirts. This firm is one of the pioneer concerns in the making of fleece-lined goods. That its product bears a solid reputation in the market may be gathered from the fact that during all the recent business depression the mill has been running steadily and often over hours. Sales are made through the company’s agents direct to the jobbing trade, and there is not a State in the Union that does not purchase goods of Malcolm & Co. One noticeable thing in history of this business had been the cordial feeling between the employers and the workmen. Mr. Thorpe began work in the office at six dollars a week, and had his salary increased from time to time until it reached twenty-four dollars a week. He forms a striking example of what can be accomplished by faithfulness and application.
In March, 1898, Mr. Thorpe was chosen Trustee of Catskill and after one year President of the village. His politics are Republican. He is a member of Catskill Lodge of Masons, No. 468, and its organist; a charter member of the Catskill Royal Arch Chapter; member of the Order of Odd Fellows, Lodge No. 189, in which he has occupied the Noble Grand’s chair; and also a member of the Rip Van Winkle Club. For two years he was a choir leader in the Methodist church, but he now holds membership in the Reformed church. For five years he was a member of the Sixteenth Separate Company, N. G. S. N. Y., and for two years, or until his discharge, a member of the First Ambulance Corps. He has always shown a warm interest in the fire department, and is at the present time president of Wiley Hose Company and vice-president of the Hudson River Volunteer Firemen’s Association. He is a singer of unusual merit, and has sung on many public occasions. While in the employ of Mr. Van Brocklin, Mr. Thorpe was the recipient of many handsome presents, being remembered most generously on each recurring Christmas.
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