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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1893.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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WILLIAM E. SYMS, a prominent paper manufacturer of Michigan, and the owner of a large mill at Watervliet, was born in Litchfield, Kennebec County, Me., October 29, 1838, being the son of John and Clarissa (Blake) Syms, both natives of Maine. In his youth he was a stage-driver, but later in life followed the occupation of a teamster. He inherited the perseverance and energy of a long line of English forefathers. In his religious views he was a Free-will Baptist, and took an active interest in the welfare of that denomination.

In the parental family there were four sons and one daughter, William E. being the third son. He received a high school education at Gardiner, Me., to which place his father had removed in his boyhood. At the age of sixteen he commenced to work as a ship-joiner, and followed that occupation for one season, after which he entered a paper-mill, owned by Richards & Hoskins, at Gardiner. Three years afterward he resigned that position, and, removing to Lawrence, Mass., became an employe in the paper-mill owned and operated by S. S. Crocker, where for six years he filled the position of foreman. Thence he went to Westminster, Mass., and spent three years in, that city, going from there in 1870 to Holyoke, Mass., and filling the position of Superintendent of the Crocker Manufacturing Company until 1881.

Forming a business connection with George E. Dudley, under the firm name of the Syms & Dudley Paper Company, Mr. Syms erected a mill at Holyoke, Mass., and for a number of years successfully conducted this enterprise. In 1892 he disposed of his property, and, coming to Watervliet, built a large mill for the manufacture of writing and book paper. This he still operates, and with continually increasing success. In his political opinions he is a Republican, and has served as Alderman and in other positions of trust, where his high talents were utilized for the benefit of his fellow-citizens. Socially, he is connected with the Masonic fraternity. Knights Templar, and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The lady who presides over Mr. Syms’ pleasant home was known in former years by the name of Lucinda A. Harriman, and is the daughter of Ransom and Sallie Harriman, prominent residents of Lawrence, Mass. One child has blessed the union, Bert L. Socially, Mr. and Mrs. Syms are highly regarded in the village of Watervliet, and have a host of warm personal friends in this community. In the Baptist Church they are active and earnest workers, and contribute with generosity to religious and benevolent projects. As a business man, Mr. Syms possesses the traits of character which are conducive to success, and through excellent management he has already secured a position among the successful manufacturers of the State.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published in 1893. 

View additional Berrien County, Michigan family biographies here: Berrien County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Berrien County, Michigan here: Berrien County Michigan Map

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