Philo Remington


Source:  "History of Herkimer County, New York," Edited by George A. Hardin, assisted by Frank H. Willard, Syracuse, N.Y., D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1893, pages 473-475

The story of the inception and development of the great industries founded in Ilion by Eliphalet Remington and perpetuated by his sons, Philo, Samuel, and Eliphalet, jr., has been told in detail in the preceding history of the village of Ilion.  On that account this sketch of Philo Remington may be principally confined to his personal life.  He was born on the 31st of October, 1816, and died on the 4th of April, 1889, at Silver Springs, Florida, whither he had gone in quest of better health.

Philo Remington's business career was intimately associated with the manufacture of fire arms, sewing machines and agricultural implements by the famous firm of which he was a moving spirit and in many respects the head.  Founded by his father on his home farm a few miles south of the site of the village, the industry grew space between the years 1817 and 1830, when it was removed to Ilion where the elder Remington had purchased a large tract of land of John A. Clapsaddle.  The settlement then comprised only seven dwellings, two storehouses and a school-house.  The little hamlet took the name of "Remington's Corners," which was afterwards changed, as related in the history of Ilion village in this work.  The business grew in its new location and in 1861, Eliphalet Remington died leaving as a heritage a good name and a well-established industry.  From that time until 1865 few great industries in this country were more prosperous or attracted more extended attention than that of the Remingtons in Ilion.  In the year last mentioned the works were incorporated, with Philo Remington as president; Samuel Remington, vice-president, and Eliphalet Remington, secretary and treasurer.  The business was marvelously successful for many years, and embraced the establishment of the manufacture of agricultural implements, sewing machines and finally of typewriters, all of which industries are still in existence and a great source of growth and prosperity in Ilion, but all in other hands than those of the men who built them up.  It was in the year 1866 that the combination of circumstances and conditions which has been explained, brought down the great house in financial disaster.

During all of this varied career - in the development and final height of prosperity as well as in the days of adversity which followed, - Philo Remington remained the same unostentatious, gentle-mannered, unselfish, honorable Christian man that he had always been.  For nearly fifty years he was a conspicuous figure in Ilion through his connection with the great industry, but in all that time he never acted or spoke in any manner to aggrandize himself, or to gain fame or authority, or wealth.  His modesty was proverbial, and equaled only by his unselfishness.  His thoughts while the great factories were being built and equipped were given fully as much to the benefits likely to be conferred upon thousands of needy workmen, as to what would possibly accrue therefrom to himself and his brothers.  While his business sagacity was unquestioned and hi prudence and wisdom remarkable, these attributes were so tempered by kindliness, gentleness and unselfishness, that his character was made a remarkable one thereby.

Residence of Philo Remington, Ilion, NY

In politics Mr. Remington was a Republican, but he had a decided distaste for active partisan methods and never sought or accepted public office.  If it can be said that a man of his temperament had a hobby, it was the advancement of the temperance cause.  It was his most earnest desire that the village of Ilion should be practically free from the vice of intemperance, and that the cause at large should be promoted.  To this end he gave much time and liberal means.  And so gentle and forbearing was his nature that he could throw his influence strongly against such an evil and make less of enmity than most reformers.  He was emphatically the friend of humanity and ever in full sympathy with the oppressed and suffering.

A memorial service was held in the opera house at Ilion a few days after his death, which was largely attended, a part of the exercises consisting of the preparation and reading of a series of resolutions eulogistic of the deceased, as follows:

Whereas, by death of our esteemed citizen, Philo Remington, the village of Ilion has lost a wise counselor and a life-long friend; therefore, be it

Resolved, that we, the citizens of this place, by these resolutions bear a fitting testimony to the high and noble character of the deceased.

Resolved, that his consistent and exemplary Christian deportment and philanthropic nature; his generous, humane and democratic spirit towards the people with whom he lived as a citizen; that the marked desire for justice which controlled his actions in the distinguished and responsible duties he was called upon, by circumstances and by the expressions of his fellow citizens, to perform; and that his manly qualities have endeared him to the people of the place, and be it further,

Resolved, that we recognize his eminent and sincere services as a leader in the industry and prosperity of this village, for to him more than others is its thrift due.

Mr. Remington was an active and honored member of the Methodist church, and the official board met and adopted a series of resolutions expressing their estimate of Mr. Remington's character and their appreciation of his Christian work.  From these resolutions it is fitting to make the following extract:

"That while we make record of our sense of personal loss in the death of our brother, and would fain mingle our tears and our sorrows with those of his immediate family and friends, we yet counsel for ourselves an humble recognition of the Divine Father who thus with severe stroke and in love and for wise purposes adds another to the countless hosts composing the church triumphant above.  That we do but voice the general sentiment of the membership of our large society in making recognition of Brother Remington as one of the earliest adherents of the Ilion church; one who aided in its planting and cultivated it in its growth; who, as president of the board of trustees for many years, and in other relations as well, not only devised broad plans and gave wise counsel for the help of his associates year by year, but who in seasons of emergency was ever ready to assume the heaviest burdens of personal labor and to make the largest contributions to the general good.  That, while in memory we shall henceforth think of Brother Remington as a central figure among us for many years, passing and repassing before our eyes with quiet step and modest demeanor; as a man of kindly, sympathetic and generous nature; a man who long commanded the deference of a leader in every line of educational, moral and religious improvement, by reason of the quiet forces of his own nature, rather than by an aggressive, ostentatious exercise of power; a man not without faults, but whose virtues shone more brightly because multiplied and strengthened and illumined by Christian faith, and hope and love; while in retrospect we shall revere his memory for these things, we shall yet turn our eyes with chastened gaze and see in him a good man gone to his rest, a faithful Christian pilgrim at the end of his toilsome journey, a redeemed soul at the gates of the eternal city listening to the rapturous welcome, "enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

In the year 1841 Mr. Remington married Caroline A. Lathrop, of Syracuse.  She was born in 1825 and died 14 Apr 1906.  Their children are Ida R., now wife of W. C. Squire; and Ella, wife of H. C. Furman, of New York city.

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