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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 R. DOUGLAS, who owns and conducts the largest grocery, crockery and queensware house of Westfield, was born in county Down, Ireland, January 30, 1847, and is a son of Thompson and Anna J. (Shaw) Douglas. His parents were both born in county Down and became members of the Presbyterian church. His father was engaged in the grocery business and in farming, and died in 1889, at eighty years of age. His mother is a daughter of James Shaw, who was a prominent linen manufacturer of Ireland (see sketch of Robert Shaw). She is now in the seventy-fifth year of her age and resides on the home farm in county Down.

William R. Douglas passed his boyhood days on the farm and attended the national schools at Ireland. At sixteen years of age he left his native land and came (December, 1863) to Westfield, where he learned the trade of stone and marble-cutter, which he had to abandon at the end of his apprenticeship, on account of ill health, occasioned by the stone dust. He then learned the trade of moulder, which he followed in the Lock factory until it shut down in 1870. During this same year he secured a clerkship in a grocery store, where he remained until 1874, when he became a partner with Robert Shaw and J. R. S. Cosgrove in the grocery business, under the firm name of R. Shaw & Co. The firm was changed several times during the next eight years, but he remained a member of it during all of that time. In 1882 he purchased the interests of all his partners, and since that year has conducted a very extensive and lucrative business. His establishment is at No. 3 and 4, on Main street, and is divided into two large departments. His trade is now of such proportions as to require the service of five clerks. He deals largely in groceries, provisions, glassware, china, crockery, standard proprietary medicines and notions. Mr. Douglas has been a republican since coming to this country, and is now serving as a member of the school board of Westfield. He is a member and deacon of the Presbyterian church. In addition to his mercantile interests, he owns some valuable real estate, is a stockholder of the “Pulley Works” and has a promising young vineyard. Nov. 19, 1874, he united in marriage with Mary Winsor, daughter of David Winsor, of Westfield. To their union have been born seven children: John R., Harry W., William M., Elizabeth A., James R., Alice R., and Grace.

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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

View a map of 1897 Chautauqua County, New York here: Chautauqua County, New York Map

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