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Below is a family biography included in Book of Biographies: Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens, Cortland County, New York published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1898.  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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E. H. BREWER has the distinction of founding and building up what has become one of the heaviest industrial establishments in Cortland, and which is, in its particular line, the largest manufactory in the United States. This enterprise is the Cortland Harness and Carriage Goods Co., and its specialty is the manufacture of steel and leather-covered bow sockets for carriage tops.

Mr. Brewer himself started this business in a modest way in 1880. After a little he associated with him Mr. D. H. Brown. Under their joint management the undertaking has grown to such an extent that, at the present writing, a mammoth four-story factory building, 201 x 50 feet, most thoroughly equipped with all kinds of modern conveniences and improvements, together with a complete line of labor-saving machinery can hardly keep pace with the orders, which come from all parts of the world. This factory was erected in 1891 to meet the demands of a business which in eleven years had outstripped the fondest hopes of the founder. Besides the main building, there are several annexes, which comprise two japanning and separating rooms, each about 40 x 20, a dipping room of the same dimensions, steam oven 20 x 20, seven hot-air ovens each 4x4, an engine room 60x35, and a wide extending forging shop, originally 50x75, but to which there has been added since a building 50x80. The whole plant is lighted by electricity, and heated by the exhaust steam from a magnificent two hundred horse power Corliss engine, built by the celebrated Edward P. Allis Co. of Milwaukee, Wis. This engine furnishes ample motive power to the diversified machinery of the factory, in addition to supplying power for the company’s own electric light plant. Much of the machinery is of the company’s own design, and was built for their special purposes. They plan to make from raw material every item that is used in their product, even to the packing cases in which the goods are shipped. Besides being the heaviest manufacturers in the country of bow sockets before referred to, the company is second to few concerns in the quantity and quality of harness which they turn out. They make everything in the harness line, from the lightest driving harness to the heaviest coach rig, and their output ranges in price from $3.00 to $500.00 per set. They also make a large line of specialties, which come in the line of carriage hardware and findings, and supply most of the leading carriage makers in this country and abroad. They also make and sell a vast quantity of harness fittings, and are owners of many valuable patents on specialties in all their lines. The factory has space sufficient to keep 150 men constantly employed. Throughout the factory special attention has been had to light and ventilation, and as the buildings are of the most approved type of modern construction, they are in great part fire-proof. Besides being of slow-burning construction, with three inch floors, the factory is equipped with a complete sprinkler system and the best fire extinguishers.

Mr. Brewer is a native of the village for which he has done so much. His father, Henry Brewer, came to Cortland from the State of Connecticut at an early age, and when still a young man was superintendent of the old paper mill. He learned harness making of William Bartlit, and in 1834 he started in business on his own account. He toiled faithfully and well at his chosen calling, and prosperity crowned his efforts. He retired from active life with a good competence laid by, and lived until he attained the good old age of eighty-two years. His wife, Mary, daughter of Lemuel Lee of Connecticut, bore him five sons, of whom our subject is the sole survivor. The children were named: Henry L.; Charles L.; Richard W.; Joseph E.; and Edward H. Henry Brewer was a man of sterling parts. Industrious, thrifty, and of the utmost probity, he was most thoroughly respected by the whole community. He was active in the affairs of Cortland, was a Democrat of the stanchest kind, and a director of the savings bank and of the rural cemetery.

E. H. Brewer, the son, learned the craft of harness-making from his father. The business principles that have guided and shaped his successful career were also taught him by his honored sire. The years that intervened between his arriving at man’s estate and his embarking in the enterprise that has brought him into such great prominence were spent in toiling at the trade, and of the highest order was his preparation. Mr. Brewer married the daughter of Morris Ainsley of Onondaga Valley, N. Y., Eda A. by name, and they are the parents of five, as follows: Mabel A.; Robert L.; Eda A.; Donald A.; and Leigh.

Not only has Mr. Brewer been able to attend to the constantly increasing cares as a manufacturer, but he has also found time to do much for his native village. He has erected a very handsome residence, which he makes his Cortland home, and is the owner of a Florida estate, where he and his family often spend the winter season.

In business circles his name stands exceedingly high all over the country. At home as a citizen, no one is more popular or has more friends. He is a plain, unassuming man, and is as kind and approachable in the days of his extreme prosperity as he was when he toiled with his own hands. He feels that the credit of his most important industry belongs quite as much to his honored father and preceptor as to his own talents and abilities.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in Book of Biographies: Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens, Cortland County, New York published in 1898. 

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

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

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