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George West (February 17, 1823 - September 20, 1901) was a U.S. Representative from New Yorkmarker. Born in Bradninch, Englandmarker, West attended the common schools. West immigrated to the United States in February 1849 and settled at Ballston Spa, New Yorkmarker. He engaged in paper manufacturing; served as member of the New York State Assembly from 1872 to 1876; was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1880, and was president of the First National Bank of Ballston Spa.

West was elected as a Republican to the Forty-seventh Congress, holding office from March 4, 1881 to March 3, 1883. He was an unsuccessful candidate for re-election in 1882 to the Forty-eighth Congress.

West was elected to the Forty-ninth and Fiftieth Congresses, holding office from March 4, 1885 to March 3, 1889. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1888 and resumed his former business activities.

West was called "The Paper Bag King" because he was one of the first men in the country to manufacture paper bags at a time when most bags were made from cotton. In 1869, he and the few other bag manufacturers in the country joined with Francis Wolle, inventor of the first paper bag machine, to form the Union Paper Bag Machine Company. Its only purpose was to "buy and fight patents." This early trust was highly successful, as each member had access to all of the earliest paper bag patents and agreed not to compete with each other.

West manufactured bags from manila paper made of inexpensive jute butts from India. Thus, he was able to sell them at a much lower cost than cotton sacks. They became extremely popular, and he sold millions per week. His paper bag factory in Rock City Fallsmarker was one of the first in the country to manufacture bags with machinery.

The success of his bags compelled West to purchase or build additional paper mills. By 1880 his mills consisted of the Union, Union Bagmarker, Island, Eagle, Pioneer, Glen (pulp), Empire, Excelsior, and Middle Grove Upper and Lower mills, all situated on the Kayaderosseras Creek in Milton , New Yorkmarker. He also purchased his largest mill in the town of Hadley, New Yorkmarker on the Hudson River.

West was also known as a philanthropist, donating funds to build a museum in Round Lake, New Yorkmarker, a Methodist Church in Ballston Spa, and contributed liberally towards the two soldiers' monuments in Saratoga Countymarker (at Ballston Spa and Schuylervillemarker).

West sold his paper mill empire to the Union Bag & Paper Company in 1899 for $1.5 million. His original residence in Rock City Falls still stands on Route 29 as The Mansion Inn.

West died at his mansion in Ballston Spa in 1902 with a fortune that would today be worth $75 million. His remains were interred in the Ballston Spa Cemetery.

References

Source

  • Lost Industries of the Kaydeross Valley: A History of Manufacturing in Ballston Spa, New York; Timothy Starr, 2007
  • The Paper Bag King: A Biography of George West; Timothy Starr, 2009


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