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This biography is from Landmarks of Albany County, New York, edited by Amasa J. Parker of Albany, N. Y., Syracuse, N. Y.; D. Mason & Co. Publishers, 1897.

James Barclay Jermain

The name of this venerable Albanian will long be cherished as that of a truly noble philanthropist. Modestly regarding himself as but a custodian of great wealth, he has dispensed his charities with a liberal hand, yet wisely. He is the son of Sylvanus Pierson and Catherine (Barclay) Jermain, and is descended from a long line of English and Scotch ancestry. He was born in Albany, August 13, 1809. His father settled in Albany at the beginning of the present century, and for many years was a commission merchant in that city, gradually accumulating a large property.

Deprived of his mother's care by her death in 1816, James became the protege of his uncle, the Rev. Nathaniel S. Prime, by whom he was prepared for college. He entered Middlebury College in 1824, subsequently attended Yale, which he was obliged to leave on account of ill health, and later entered Amherst, from which he was graduated in 1831. Soon after leaving college he began the study of law, and in 1836 was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

In 1843 he married Miss Catherine Ann Rice, of Cambridge, Washington county, N.Y. She bore him five children, of whom three daughters are now living. Mrs. Jermain died in 1873.

Upon the death of his father in 1869 a large inheritance came into Mr. Jermain's possession and to his wise dispensation; to this duty he brought a cultured mind in its matured strength and a noble heart. For the cause of practical Christianity, as well as for a family memorial, he erected at Watervliet the Jermain Memorial church, a structure of grace and beauty and an enduring monument. Bereft of an only son, a young man of great promise, in 1883 he endowed as a memorial the Barclay Jermain professorship in Williams College, his alma mater. Mr. Jermain's local benefactions have been many and munificent. One of the most admirable of them is the Home for Aged Men on the Troy road, of which institution he has been the chief founder and patron. The magnificent Y. M. C. A. building in Albany will long and fittingly commemorate the almost princely generosity of its founder. The Fairview Home for Friendless Children owes its existence and continued usefulness mainly to Mr. Jermain. It is beautifully situated on the hill above Watervliet, and is designed to shelter one hundred children.

It is hoped that years may yet be granted to a life so marked by unostentatious philanthropy, and by the promotion of practical Christianity and the best interests of humanity.

In 1892 Williams College conferred upon Mr. Jermain the degree of LL. D.

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