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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.

John R. Van Wormer

John R. Van Wormer is a member of an old Albany family, the original American ancestor of which was Henri Van Wormer, who, with a brother, came from Wormer, Holland, about 1655, and first settled in New Jersey, whence he moved to this locality. From here a member of the family removed to the Lake George region, long prior to the Revolution, and there Abram Van Wormer, grandfather of John R., was born, his father Henry being a lieutenant in the Continental army during the Revolutionary war in a company of the 14th Albany County Regiment. Abram served in the War of 1812, on the Canadian frontier, and subsequently settled in Jefferson county, N. Y. He had a son Rufus, who married Eunice E. Bullock, of Trenton, Oneida county, N. Y., and they were the parents of the subject of this sketch.

John R. Van Wormer was born in Adams, Jefferson county, March 14, 1849, and received first a thorough preliminary education in the public schools of his native town. There he also attended the Hungerford Collegiate Institute, an academy of excellent reputation, and meanwhile learned telegraphing, a business he followed for many years in various places. In 1869 he became a member of the faculty of the Hungerford Institute, having charge of the military department until 1872, when he went to Oswego in the employ of the Western Union Telegraph Company. The same year he was made the Oswego correspondent of the New York Times, which supported General Grant for president as against Horace Greeley, the candidate of the Liberal Republicans and Democrats. Hon. De Witt C. Littlejohn, of Oswego, was an ardent partisan of Greeley's, and became a candidate for member of assembly in Oswego with a view to aiding the cause he espoused. He was defeated and Daniel G. Fort was elected. This episode terminated Littlejohn's public career. During that campaign he was ahso active on the stump, making political speeches which attracted wide attention. He had previously had, from youth up, considerable experience as a public speaker and debater, and his talents now formed a wider field as a campaign orator and correspondent.

Late in the year 1872 Mr. Van Wormer came to Albany (where he had spent much time since 1868) and remained here in the employ of the Western Union Telegraph Company until January, 1878, doing also considerable newspaper work and stump speaking and taking an active part in Republican politics. When Hon. George B. Sloane was elected speaker of the Assembly in 1876 Mr. Van Wormer became his private secretary. In the fall of 1877 he was appointed the Albany correspondent of the New York Evening Post, but in January following he resigned this position to become private secretary to U. S. Senator Roscoe Conkling and clerk of the Senate committee on commerce, of which Mr. Conkling was chairman. He filled these positions for about one year. Early in 1879 he was made chief clerk of correspondence in the New York post-office under Postmaster Thomas L. James, and in 1881, when the latter was appointed postmaster-general, he became his private secretary and soon afterward chief clerk of the post-oflfice department at Washington. On January 1, 1882, Mr. James resigned and returned to New York with all the glory and distinction he had won in the famous Star route cases, which he had successfully carried through, and in the credit for doing which Mr. Van Wormer shared as the active executive officer of the Post-office Department during this trying period. Mr. Van Wormer returned also, and was made teller of the newly organized Lincoln National Bank, which commenced business January 12, 1882, in a building opposite the Grand Central, depot. This bank now has deposits aggregating about $10,000,000. The Lincoln Safe Deposit Company was organized and in July, 1883, occupied the substantial building erected for the purpose at 32-38 East 42d street, New York city, and since then Mr. Van Wormer has been its secretary and general manager. Hon. Thomas L. James is president of both institutions, which now occupy the same structure. The Deposit Company, which has a capital of $10,000,000, was the pioneer in the United States in the construction of absolutely fire-proof safe deposit and warehouse buildings. Besides the building containing the huge deposit vaults they have four large warehouses, erected in 1884, 1891, 1894, and 1896 respectively.

Mr. Van Wormer, as general manager of this immense property, has shown marked business ability, and has won the confidence and respect of all with whom he has come in contact. During an active life he has enjoyed the acquaintance and confidence of the leading men of the country of statesmen, financiers, authors, newspaper men, lecturers, politicians, etc. He achieved distinction as a correspondent and no little renown as an orator, especially on political subjects. He is the vice-president and a director of the Brooklyn Warehouse and Storage Company, which was organized in 1893, and which has a large building on the site of Dr. Talmadge's original tabernacle at Schermerhorn street and Third avenue, Brooklyn. He is also a director of the Schermerhorn Bank of Brooklyn, and a member of the Union League Club, of which he was secretary in 1892 and 1893, and of whose house committee he is now chairman. He is a member of the Lotos Club, the Republican Club, and the New York Athletic Club, all of New York city, being a member of the finance and building committee of the latter organization, which is erecting a handsome new club house at 59th street and Sixth avenue. He is also a member of the St. Nicholas, the Holland, the New England, and the Albany Societies, all of New York, and the Sons of the American Revolution.



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