John Moore Corliss
John Moore Corliss

Information on this page is from History of Rensselaer Co., New York by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, published in 1880.

JOHN MOORE CORLISS was born in Oxford, N. H., June 7, 1813, and is a lineal descendant of the sixth generation from George Corliss, the founder of the family in America, who was born in the county of Devonshire, England, about 1617, came to this country in 1639, and settled the same year at Newbury, Mass., but soon after moved to Haverhill, Mass., where he resided until his death, in 1686. The farm purchased by him at Haverhill, 1640, has remained in the family ever since, and is now owned by Charles Corliss, of the sixth generation. The descendants of that ancestor have been numbered among the foremost in many of the great enterprises connected with the growth and prosperity of this country. They have been found, as historical records show, in defense of the settlements of white men against the attacks of the natives of the soil, as staunch supporters of the war for independence with sword and influence, and especially are their numbers and records conspicuous in defense of the Union cause in the late Rebellion in both the army and navy. Its members are noticed in history as minute-men, volunteers, and officers of rank in the wars of 1757, 1775, 1812, and 1861.

Mr. Corliss was the second son in a family of four children of John Moore and Rosamond Corliss, the former a native of Alexandria, N. H., and the latter born at Deerfield, same State. His minority was mostly spent at home on the farm. At school he received a fair education at the Bradford and Haverhill Academies, and for some five terms was a teacher. In 1836 he permanently settled in Troy, and in the spring of 1837 established himself in the grocery business; one year later, with Mr. Holdridge as a partner, he began the manufacture of linen collars and shirtfronts. The firm continued only one year, when Mr. Corliss in 1839 became sole owner and manager. In 1840, anticipating the prospective importance and advantages of the growing trade in the manufacture of linen collars and shirtfronts, as one of the earliest pioneers, he, with John W. White, under the name and firm of Corliss & White, devoted his energies and skill exclusively to that branch of the business for two years. From 1842 to 1846 he was alone in the business, and from the latter time to 1868, Hiram House was associated with him, under the firm name of Corliss & House; since which time his sons have been connected with him, under the well-known firm name of J. M. Corliss & Son, and join in perpetuating the excellent and skilled reputation which attaches to that house.

At the time of writing this sketch (1879), Mr. Corliss is the oldest man in the collar and cuff business in Troy, and has been the longest connected with that interest. Many of the present prominent manufacturers of first-class goods have received their business education, and acquired a familiarity with the nice details of the trade, by a long service in some department of Mr. Corliss' large and successful collar business, which, in its various branches, has extended through a period of forty-one years. Mr. Corliss has lived to see the gradual development of the small work which he in a great measure inaugurated extended into the largest industrial interest of the city, his own carefully managed business increasing from a manufactured value of a few thousand dollars to large and extensive operations. As early as 1860 he established a branch business in New York City, which is now in charge of his son, Wilbur F. Corliss, his two other sons, Charles H. and John A. Corliss, being associated with him in business in Troy, and the former a partner in the concern.

Mr. Corliss has been very little connected with business operations outside of his own particular branch of trade. Since 1853 he has been a director of what is now the Union National Bank, and since 1871 has held the office of vice-president. In early life he became firmly fixed in the principles of the Democratic party, but since the election of Abraham Lincoln, he has as unswervingly supported the Republican party, as far better representing the vital and business interests of the country. He is unpretentious, unobtrusive, reliable, and a man of strict integrity, and possessed of that sagacity in business operations characteristic of most men who gain opulence by their own exertions.

Mr. Corliss has been twice married, - first, in 1839, to Mary H., daughter of Rev. Benjamin R. Hoyt, of Newbury, Vt. She died in 1842. In 1848 he married Antoinette H., daughter of Alfred Masher, of Lenox, Ohio.

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