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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.

Peter Kinnear

The history of Albany embraces the careers of many men who by their own indomitable pluck and perseverance have achieved success in one or more of the numerous industries, but probably none has won higher distinction as a manufacturer and promoter of manufacturing and other enterprises than Peter Kinnear, who has been actively associated with a number of the city's leading establishments for about forty years. Born in Dundee, Scotland, April 24, 1826, he early imbibed the sturdy characteristics of the land of Wallace, and Bruce, and Burns, and received a good practical education in his native town, where he subsequently served a six years' apprenticeship at the machinist's trade. His love for Scotland's banks and braes was strong, but his ambition to make a name and place among men was stronger still. In 1847, when scarcely more than a youth, he started for America, but at the very outset met with an accident which nearly cost him his life. Undaunted, however, he continued the journey and soon found himself a stranger in the metropolis of this country. He tried to obtain employment at his trade in New York, Rochester, and Toronto successively, but failed, and then turned to such work as came in his way. During one winter he was employed in cutting timber at a Canadian forest. Returning to the United States he again unsuccessfully sought employment at his trade in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica, but upon arriving in Albany he entered the employ of William Orr, proprietor of a foundry at No. 64 Beaver street. This establishment was started more than sixty years ago by Lewis Aspinwall, who was succeeded by Mr. Orr, who in turn was succeeded by Orr & Blair, with himself at the head of the firm. In 1873 Mr. Kinnear purchased Mr. Orr's interest and finally became the sole successor of the firm of Blair & Kinnear. In May, 1884, Mr. Kinnear bought two lots known as Nos. 64 and 66 Beaver street, corner of Grand, and made extensive improvements to the property. His business increased steadily, and the great variety of goods which he manufactured under the head of brass castings consisted of innumerable pieces of brass, bronze, composition, nickel, white, and other soft metal castings, steam cocks and valves, brass work for breweries, steam engine and plumber brass work, etc. His goods were used for countless purposes, and his establishment soon became the most important and extensive of its kind in Albany or Eastern New York.

Perhaps the most noteworthy industry with which Mr. Kinnear has been connected is the Albany Billiard Ball Company, the most unique and only one of its kind in the world. This company was organized by him in 1875 and was the legitimate successor of the Hyatt Manufacturing Company, which was formed in 1868, and which was the pioneer in the attempt to make composition billiard balls. It is not necessary to go into the details of the trials and failures of the original organization in its experiments to produce billiard balls by pyroxiline, and later celluloid, that would replace ivory. Suffice it to say that thousands of dollars and much valuable time were lost with little or no practical results until the present company was formed. Since then, by the use of perfected machinery invented by J. W. Hyatt, the company has successfully manufactured billiard balls more perfect than ivory and far less expensive. Mr. Kinnear's connection with the enterprise dates from a time when failure and disaster seemed imminent. He had faith in the industry, and mainly through his skillful business management and practical ability soon won the highest success. At considerable personal trouble and no small self-sacrifice he invested and induced others to do so, and the results have more than vindicated the wisdom of his advice and his sound judgment. He has been president and treasurer of the company since its organization, and has personally conducted its affairs.

Mr. Kinnear has also been prominently and officially connected with many other important manufacturing and commercial enterprises of Albany. No man has taken a greater or a more active interest in the city's industrial affairs, and no one has worked more steadily, more earnestly, and more effectively to advance them. He has ever been the first to welcome and encourage new industries, and through his efforts and advice many important manufacturing establishments have found a permanent home in the Capital City and are now contributing to its welfare and prosperity. He is an able business man, enterprising, public spirited, and progressive. In all movements which promise general benefits his counsel is sought and valued, while support is both substantial and effective. He was connected with the South End Bank and served as its president for three years.

Mr. Kinnear has also been an influential factor in politics and in the affairs of local government. Originally a Whig, he was one of the earliest to enlist in the cause of Republicanism, of which he has ever since been a staunch supporter. Imbibing from his native land a strong love of freedom he was a firm believer in American institutions before placing his feet upon American soil, and this belief and love early led him to take a foremost position among the abolitionists in the great slavery agitation. Before and during the war of the Rebellion he loyally supported the Union. He was for two years a member of the Board of Supervisors and has several times been the nominee of his party for alderman of his ward, which is overwhelmingly Democratic. Personally he is one of the most popular and best known men in Albany. He is a thorough going American, takes a deep interest in all public questions, and exerts his influence and freely uses his means to promote those industries which contribute to the support of the workingman, among whom he proudly numbers himself as a practical mechanic. While in Canada Mr. Kinnear was married in 1849 to Miss Annie Gilchrist, a native of Scotland.

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