Henry H. Plumb
City of Troy

This biography is from Troy and Rensselaer County, New York, Volume III, by Rutherford Hayner, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., New York and Chicago, 1925. It was submitted by Debby Masterson.

HENRY H. PLUMB—The Henry H. Plumb Company, optometrists and dealers in optical goods, which is now such an extensive one, is the product, in its present development, of the able management of Henry H. Plumb, who in 1899 took over the business of the firm, which was then known as Roarke & Plumb, dealers in books and optical goods, of which he was a member. The business at that time was operating in a modest way, and the task of developing it was not one which any man could have undertaken and carried through. Mr. Plumb, however, put his shoulder to the wheel, pressed unflinchingly ahead, his efforts being rewarded with a success that was as abundant as it was well-deserved. Today the Plumb Company does a very large business, and from its strategic location in Troy, it has been reaching out for, and obtaining, business from practically every section of the northern part of New York. Energetic, determined and thoroughly capable, Mr. Plumb is the kind of man who compels success, and without slacking his devotion to his business, he expresses a most pleasing personality that attracts and holds the friendship and respect of a very large circle of acquaintances and Iriends.

Mr. Plumb is of English parentage, the family being of Norman descent, traced in Normandy to the year 1188 and in England to 1272. The name is found in varied forms of Plumb, Plumbe, Plume, Plum, and the ancient arms of the family are thus described:

Arms—Ermine, a bend vaire or, and gules cottised vert.
Crest—Out of a ducal coronet or, a plume of ostrich feathers argent.

Charles W. Bardsley, M. A., in his "Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames," assigns the origin of the name Plumb to a local source. The name signifies literally "at the plum," i. e., plum tree, the "b," of course, being superfluous. Plumb, or one of its variants, was in use in England among the earliest family names, the name, Robertus Plumme, appearing in the great roll of Normandy in 1180. John Plume was living in Hertfordshire, England, in 1240, and in 1274 the surname was found in Somersetshire, Cambridge, Norfolk, Essex, and later, in Nottinghamshire.

Thomas H. Plumb, born and educated in Nottinghamshire, England, came to the United States in 1855, a young man and a machinist by trade. He located in Peekskill, New York, where for ten years he followed his trade, early in life manifesting such fine capacities for executive direction that he became foreman of the largest machine shop of that town before a considerable period had elapsed. About 1870 he moved to Troy, where he found even more lucrative employment, and for years his special work there consisted in the supervision and erection of machinery used on the sugar plantations of Cuba and elsewhere. He was skilled as a mechanic, forceful as an individual, capable as a business man and as a manager of men, and esteemed and respected wherever known. For forty years he was a member of the Masonic order, being a past master of Courtland Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, of Peekskill. In religious sentiment he was an Episcopalian. Thomas H. Plumb married Lucy Pateman, of Nottinghamshire, England, and they were the parents of five children: 1. Elizabeth, married Edward Dunwoody, of Waterford, New York. 2. Henry H., of further mention. 3. Lucy, married Hultman Shires, of Troy. 4. Charles, deceased. 5. Walter D., living in Bennington, Vermont.

Henry H. Plumb, eldest son and second child of Thomas H. and Lucy (Pateman) Plumb, was born in Peekskill, New York, January 1, 1857, and there passed the first thirteen years of his life. He attended Peekskill Public School until the removal of the family to Troy in 1870, and there his early education was completed. He was yet a boy when he began working with a maternal uncle, Josiah Pateman, a miller, who was then operating the old Crystal Palace Mills of Troy. As he grew older he began seeking for more profitable avenues for his energies, and in the course of time he became a partner in the firm of Roarke & Plumb, booksellers and dealers in optical goods. The firm continued in business in Troy under that name until 1899, when Mr. Plumb became the sole owner of the business, and it received its first impetus toward growth and development. He had become well versed in the ways of the mercantile world during the years of his business life in Troy, a training school of many successful men, and had attained the age of forty-two when, in 1899, he found himself the sole owner and managing head of a business. From that time until 1911 his rise was steady and uninterrupted, his business continuing up to that time as an individual one in ownership and management. In that year, however, finding that it had grown to such proportions that it was difficult for one man to look after its varied departments unaided, he incorporated the Henry H. Plumb Company, of which he was made president and treasurer, which office he still holds. He has an able corps of associates, and the affairs of the company are conducted on a high plane of modern efficiency. In addition to the large business which he so ably manages, Mr. Plumb is a director of the People's National Bank.

Civic, fraternal and charitable enterprises have not looked in vain toward Mr. Plumb, who is connected with many representative organizations. He is a director of the Leonard Hospital, of Troy, and the Moses Luddington Hospital, of Ticonderoga, New York. For forty years he has been a member of King Solomon's Lodge, No. 91, Free and Accepted Masons, and is a companion of Phoenix Chapter, Royal Arch Masons. He holds membership also in the Troy Chamber of Commerce; is an honored member of the Troy Exempt Firemen's Association, and of that valuable modern association of business men, the Rotary Club. Other fraternal orders with which he is affiliated are the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He is a member of the Republican Club, the New York State Automobile Club, St. Joseph's Club, Trojan Rod and Gun Club, Troy Automobile Club, the Masonic Veterans' Association, the New York State Fish, Game and Forest League, and the Eastern New York Optometrical Society. In politics he is a Republican, serving Lansingburg as a member of the school board; and in religious sentiments he is an Episcopalian.

Mr, Plumb married, at Loudonville, Albany County, New York, October 1, 1890, Mary E. Tinley, daughter of Charles and Sarah Ann Tinley, of Loudonville, and they are the parents of two children: 1. Phoebe M., born January 29, 1894, a graduate of Lansingburg High School and Syracuse University, now with the Bender Laboratory, Albany, New York. 2. Thomas C, attended public schooLs, a graduate of Lansingburg High School. He was a sophomore at Syracuse University when he enlisted for service in the war against Germany, 1917-18. He enlisted in Troop D, but was assigned to the aviation squadron, and when the armistice was signed, held the rank of sergeant, being stationed at the American base on the south coast of England. After his return to the United States, he pursued courses of study in optometry at the Mechanics' Institute, Rochester, New York, whence he was graduated June 9, 1921. He is now associated with the H. H. Plumb Company, as manager and assistant treasurer.

Such has been the career of Henry H. Plumb, now a veteran of the business world, in which he holds an honored place. His rise has been achieved almost exclusively through the exercise of those sterling qualities, industry, energy and thrift, upheld by excellent business and executive qualifications. The Troy home of the family is at No. 118 Fifth Avenue, and their summer home at Fort Ticonderoga, New York.



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