Dark, Thomas Sr - Erie County

THOMAS DARK, SR., is one of the oldest and most prominent citizens of Buffalo, and as a builder, contractor and sanitary engineer has a record unsurpassed by any of its kind in Western New York.

Mr. Dark was born at Hanham Mount in the parish of Bitton, County of Gloucester, near Bristol, England, December 21, 1814, being the son of John Dark, a well-known builder and contractor. Thomas Dark received an elementary education, but his schooling ended when he was ten years old. The locality where he spent his boyhood was identified with the lives and the work of the Wesley’s, and he grew np under the influence of Methodism. Upon leaving school he began learning the mason's trade with his father, and finished his apprenticeship at Bristol." As a young man he became a building contractor, at first erecting dwellings, but presently becoming engaged in municipal work. He built the water works in Exeter and Bristol and a system of drainage for the city of Wells, and had some large contracts in coal mines. He successfully pursued the contracting business and the mason's trade in England for about twenty-four years.

In 1857 Mr. Dark came to the United States and settled in Buffalo, where, shortly after his arrival he was employed as foreman in the construction of the Custom House and old Post Office in Seneca street. He established himself as a contractor and builder and in this field quickly rose to a position of importance, later forming, with his sons, the firm of Thomas Dark & Sons. He devoted himself chiefly to public works, paved miles of Buffalo's streets, and built many of its sewers, bridges and other municipal structures, his operations always being carried on with conscientiousness and first-class skill. In 1869 he won, the $2,000 prize offered by the City of Buffalo for the best plans and specifications for a water supply plant and system. In 1895 he wrote and published a pamphlet in which he contended that the Buffalo water system is radically defective. Among Mr. Dark's notable achievements was the planning and building of the Titusville, Pa., water works. He has invented many tools and appliances, including some of the most excellent sewer apparatus yet devised. He retired from business in 1900. He is a great reader, has traveled much, and has published a narrative of a European trip made in 1893. In 1833 Mr. Dark married Eliza Willis of Kingswood, England, who was born September 2, 1814, and died September 2, 1892. Their children were: John, Thomas, Samuel, George, Thomas, Sarah B., Eliza, Mary and Albert, of whom George and Eliza are the only survivors.

SOURCE: Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York; Volume I