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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Chautauqua County, New York published by John M. Gresham & Co. in 1891.  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 BROADHEAD was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, England, February 17, 1819. While still a lad he was apprenticed for a year to learn the trade of a weaver. At the end of that year he began working in the smithy with his father, and continued with him until he became of age.

In January, 1843, being dissatisfied with his prospects in England, he emigrated to America, going first to Busti, where his uncle, the Rev. John Broadhead, was living. Seeing that Jamestown offered a much more favorable opening to a young man, he sought employment there and found it in the shop of Safford Eddy. But he was too ambitious to remain a day laborer long. Ever on the lookout for something more profitable, he soon found the opportunity of forming a partnership with Adam Cobb, whose daughter Lucy he had married in 1845. The firm of Cobb & Broadhead, scythe snath manufacturers, continued in existence for nine years, and was then dissolved, Mr. Cobb continuing in the manufacture of snaths and grain cradles and Mr. Broadhead in that of axes and forks.

When his eldest son, Shelden, was about twenty years old, Mr. Broadhead opened a clothing store, taking this son into partnership with him, and a few years later he gave his younger son, Almet, an interest in the business. Under the firm-name of William Broadhead & Sons their business increased rapidly, until they soon had the largest merchant tailoring establishment in Jamestown or the surrounding country.

In 1872, Mr. Broadhead, accompanied by his wife and eldest daughter, visited his native home. Great changes had taken place during his thirty years absence, especially in the neighboring city of Bradford, which had become the centre of the worsted manufacturing interests in England. His early interest, awakened when as a boy he learned to weave at a hand-loom, was now re-kindled by the signs of prosperity and success due to these mills. He returned to Jamestown thoroughly imbued with the idea that the establishment of a mill for the manufacture of dress goods in Jamestown, was feasible and would be most beneficial to the town as well as profitable to the owners. While he had by industry, economical habits, close attention to business and successful investments in real estate acquired a considerable sum, he felt that so large an undertaking demanded more money than he could personally command, and so he set about to interest some of his moneyed townsmen in his project. The result of his efforts was the formation of the firm of Hall, Broadhead & Turner; Mr. William Hall to assist him in furnishing the money, and Mr. Joseph Turner, of England, who had had some experience in the business.

The alpaca mill erected by the firm in 1873, continued for one year and a half to be owned by them, and then Mr. Broadhead withdrew. A short time afterward he erected another mill, for the manufacture of similar cloths, this time having for partners his two sons. When the business was well established, William Broadhead & Sons disposed of their clothing store and turned their entire attention to the manufacture of ladies’ dress goods. The mills have been enlarged from time to time as the business demanded.

Early in the spring of 1880 Mr. Broadhead again visited England for the purpose of buying some of the latest improved machinery for his mills.

The mills in their present condition consist of six large buildings, covering about four acres and giving employment to seven hundred operatives. Their salesmen traverse nearly every State and territory in the Union, and such is the reputation of their goods that it is at times difficult to supply the demand.

As Mr. Broadhead foresaw, these mills have contributed immeasurably to the growth and prosperity of the city. Much of the steady increase in population is due to their continued demand for skilled workmen. The good wages and constant employment have attracted hither family after family of intelligent and industrious English people, who have proved themselves most acceptable citizens.

Mr. Broadhead is politically an ardent republican and a strong protectionist, believing that policy to be even more necessary for the welfare of his employees than for himself.

In his native town Mr. Broadhead was a member of the Wesleyan Methodist church and a superintendent in its Sabbath school. On settling in Jamestown, he joined the Methodist Episcopal church as the denomination nearest like the Wesleyan. Before the war, when the Methodist church was divided on the subject of slavery, quite a number of abolitionists, among them Mr. Broadhead, left the Methodist church and formed a Wesleyan organization which continued in existence until 1862, when the church building was destroyed by fire. Since then Mr. Broadhead has been an active member of the First Congregational church, contributing liberally to its support.

To William and Lucy Broadhead six children have been born: Sheldon Brady, associated with Mr. Broadhead in business, who was married in 1870 to Mary Woodworth; Herwood, who died at the age of seven years; Almet Norval, also a partner with his father, who was married in 1886 to Margaret Allen Bradshaw; Mary T., who married Adna H. Reynolds and now resides in Tacoma, Washington: Stella Florine; and Mertie M., who reside with their parents.

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This family biography is one of 658 biographies included in Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Chautauqua County, New York published in 1891. 

View additional Chautauqua County, New York family biographies here: Chautauqua County, New York Biographies

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