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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.

Josiah G. Root

Josiah Goodrich Root, manufacturer, was born in Pittsfield, Mass., May 28, 1801. He was descended from an old Northamptonshire (England) family. His father being a farmer, the boy worked on the farm in the intervals of attendance at the town schools. At this period Pittsfield was becoming a home of woolen manufacture, looms for the making of broadcloth having been setup there in 1804. Mr. Root entered one of these mills and soon acquiring a practical knowledge of the business he started for himself, setting up a small mill for dyeing and finishing goods. When wool spinning and weaving were transferred from the homes of the people to large establishments, Mr. Root devoted himself to setting up machinery and starting mills for other parties.

In 1833 he was employed to set up the machinery of a new woolen mill at Watervliet, N. Y. , of which he became manager, operating it with success for the next three years. This was the nucleus of the extensive establishment of James Roy & Co. In 1836 Stephen Van Rensselaer of Albany, the patroon, who had been running flour mills, desired to engage, instead, in woolen manufacture, and built the Tivoli Mills, engaging Mr. Root as manager, a position the latter continued to hold until 1839, when he became proprietor. For sixteen years thereafter he was well known as a woolen manufacturer. Then the city of Albany purchased the control of the water of the patroon's creek for the purpose of supplying the city of Albany with pure water, and this necessitated the closing of his mills.

He purchased the hosiery business and machinery of Thomas Fowler, at Cohoes, about the same time and became the largest manufacturer of knit underwear in the United States. He made many improvements in this manufacture by the introduction of new machinery, and about 1859 erected a new and larger building, called the Tivoli Knitting Mills, one of the best appointed in the country, and received his sons, Andrew J. and Samuel G., into partnership under the firm name of J. G. Root & Sons. In 1869 the senior partner retired, the business being thereafter continued under the firm name of J. G. Root's Sons. Samuel Gilbert Root, the elder son, was born in Pittsfield, Mass., June 26, 1826, and Andrew Josiah Root, the younger, in Albany, January 13, 1834.

The panic of 1857 caused a general stoppage of the cotton and hosiery mills at Cohoes, but only for two weeks. In 1874 the firm suffered a loss of nearly $200,000, as well as a grave interruption of their business by the complete destruction of their mills by fire. This fire occurred when the operatives, about 350 in number, were all at work, but fortunately the fire escapes proved entirely adequate, and no employee was in any way injured. A new building was immediately erected, called like its predecessor, the Tivoli Hosiery Mill. It was built in the most substantial manner, provided with every reasonable safeguard in case of fire, and furnished with all the improved appliances for heat, light and ventilation.

January 1, 1875, the concern was reorganized as a corporation under the name of the Root Manufacturing Company, with Josiah G. Root president; Andrew J. Root, treasurer and general manager; Samuel G. Root, superintendent; George Waterman, Jr., secretary. New facilities have since been added through the purchase of the Mohawk mill.

The subject of this sketch established, in 1859, the bank which is now the National Bank of Cohoes; he was one of the original directors and afterwards vice-president and acting president. He enjoyed in the highest degree the respect of the community in which he resided. Josiah G. Root died February 2, 1883.

In 1881 S. G. Root withdrew and A. J. Root succeeded to the entire business, which has since been again enlarged by the addition of another mill to the plant, making in all three mills with an annual production of $1,000,000, and giving employment to 550 operatives. The Root Manufacturing Company manufactures extensively the famous "Tivoli Standard" all wool and merino knit underwear, which is unrivalled for quality, finish, durability and uniform excellence, and has no superior in the American or European markets. The present officers of the company are Andrew J. Root, president and treasurer; Charles H. Douglas, secretary; Charles F. Root, superintendent.

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