Rhode Island Reading Room
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History of the State of Rhode Island with Illustrations

Albert J. Wright, Printer
No. 79 Mille Street, corner of Federal, Boston.
Hong, Wade & Co., Philadelphia 1878.


The History of Providence.

pp. 253 - 259.

PROVIDENCE. (continued)

Prominent Business Firms of To-Day.
Agricultural Implements.  Of those engaged in this business the present establishment of W. E. Barrett & Co., No. 44 Canal Street, is one of the largest houses in New England.  It was founded in 1848, by Robert N. Burdick and W. E. Barrett.  In 1866, Mr. Burdick retired, and was succeeded by Amos Fuller and George W. Williams, under the firm-style of W. E. Barrett & Co.  In 1874, the business of this house (which had previously been confined to farming-tools and seeds), was enlarged by the purchase of the wooden-ware establishment of C. E. Gorham, No. 42 Canal Street, and the firm now occupy the two buildings for the transaction of their immense business.

Boot and Shoe Dealers.  This business is carried on to a considerable extent, there being four wholesale, and about forty-five retail dealers.  The wholesale establishment of Congdon & Aylesworth, on Pine, corner of Hay Street, dates its existence back to 1815, the year of the great September gale, when Daniel Cobb established, at No. 14 North Main Street, a wholesale and retail boot and shoe shore, and carried on the business until 1820, when he sold out to Charles Hadwin.  In 1826, Rufus Greene, Jr., and George Rice succeeded Mr. Hadwin, and carried on the business under the firm-style of Rufus Greene, Jr., & Co., until 1830, when they dissolved partnership by dividing the stock.  The present proprietors are Henry R. Congdon, who has been connected with the concern since 1833, and Mr. Hiram B. Aylesworth, who became a partner in 1857, and also Mr. F. H. Congdon, whose interest dates from 1875.  The original location was at no. 16 North Main Street, where it remained for more than  half a century, growing and prospering until it became one of the leading business interests in the thriving and populous city of Providence.  It removed to its present location in May, 1870.  Among the retail dealers, the house of Thomas F. Pierce & Co., Nos. 19, 21 and 23, in the Arcade, is of long established reputation, the business being established by Thomas F. Pierce & Son about 1850.  The present proprietors are:  Thomas F. Pierce, Isaac Liscomb, and Alonzo A. Greenman.  George W. Chaplin, No. 36 Arcade, retail dealer in boots and shoes.  His goods are manufactured in Pawtucket.

Carriage Makers' Supplies.  The present house of E. Winsor & Co., junction Cove, Eddy, and Fountain streets, was established January, 1869, by Colwell & Winsor.  Mr. Winsor has, since January, 1877, at which time Mr. Colwell withdrew from the concern, conducted the business very successfully, under the above firm-title.  Their stock consists of wheels, spokes, rims, shafts, seats, springs, axles, iron and steel.  They do a business of about one hundred thousand dollars per annum.

Clothiers.  This branch of business is well represented, and the quality and cheapness of gents' clothing and furnishing goods in the city of Providence is unrivalled in New England.  Among the most prominent and extensive clothing houses in Providence, if not in New England, is that of J. B. Barnaby & Co.  This mammoth establishment was established in 1852 by the present senior member of the firm, Mr. J. B. Barnaby, at No. 15 South Main Street.  The business was in successful operation here until 1869, when Mr. H. B. Winship was admitted into the firm, under the firm-name and style of J. B. Barnaby & Co.  The increase of business forced a removal to Wood's Building, corner of North Main and College streets, where they remained until 1876, when they again removed to the large and elegant building known as the Dorrance Block, located at the corner of Westminster and Dorrance streets.  This is, indeed, one of the finest commercial buildings in the State, and, situated as it is, in the very centre of  the business portion of the city, it forms a very desirable location for business.  The firm of J. B. Barnaby & Co., occupy four floors, of an aggregate floor-space of about thirty thousand square feet.  The upper floors are used for cutting, some twenty-five expert cutters and trimmers being employed, who cut into garments about two thousand yards of cloth per day.  Some of the goods are made up in the building, although the greater part are made outside.  The third floor is devoted exclusively to the wholesale trade, and jobbers find here the largest and best stock to select from that can be found in all New England.  Their full line includes men's, boys', youths', and children's clothing, together with ladies', misses', and children's cloaks.  Mr. Barnaby, from his long experience, is well fitted for the supervision of the manufacturing department, of which he takes the entire control, while Mr. Winship looks after the sales and other matters pertaining to this extensive business.  The entire record of this establishment is characterized by an integrity, that has won for it a wide extended reputation, and has placed it upon a foundation that entitles it to the respect and confidence of its thousands of patrons.

Dry-Goods.  The dry-goods trade of the city of Providence is quite extensive, there being five wholesale and about fifty retail stores.  Among the older and more prominent of the wholesale houses, is that of Dudley, Parkhurst & Co., whose business was founded by Mr. Charles Dudley, the senior member of the present firm.  About twelve years ago, Mr. Jonathan G. Parkhurst became associated with Mr. Dudley, and, later, the junior members, Messs. William A. Dudley and John Parkhurst, sons of the senior members, and Mr. Thomas A. Sweetland, were admitted to an interest in the business, under the firm-title of Dudley, Parkhurst & Co.  The house occupy two large floors, at Nos. 60, 62, and 64 Weybosset Street, where they carry a heavy stock of general dry-goods and tailors' trimmings.  The trade of this house extends over Rhode Island, Connecticut, and into Massachusetts, and they furnish many of the supplies to the principal dry-goods houses in the city of Providence.

Furniture Dealers and Manufacturers.  Among the twenty-five or thirty houses engaged in this branch of trade, is the well-known establishment of William Sweeney, Nos. 163, and 173 North Main Street.  In 1855, Mr. Sweeney commenced, at No. 116 Canal Street, the manufacture of mattresses.  In 1868, he added to  his business that of furniture.  His business, up to 1872, was almost entirely confined to the wholesale trade, but, upon his removal to his present location, he opened one of the finest retail stores in New England, where goods in his line can always be had at the lowest market prices.

Flour and Grain.  Borden & Keep, No. 19 Exchange Place.  Business established about 1850, by James W. Winsor, who was subsequently succeeded by the following firms:  Knowles, Fenner & Sheldon, in 1852;  W. H. Sheldon & Co., in 1854;  Whipple, Weeden & Co., in 1862;  Whipple & Keep, in 1864, and the present firm in 1867.  The business of this house has increased from year to year, during each succeeding change, and to-day it is considered one of the best and most reliable firms in Rhode Island.  McCullis, Harris & Co., Nos. 5 and 6 Exchange Street, commission merchants, and wholesale dealers in flour and grain; established about 1833, by D. Willard & Co., as wholesale and retail grocers.  In 1848, their business was made exclusively wholesale.  In 1867, Mr. Willard was succeeded by Mr. Elisha Harris, under the firm-style of McCullis, Harris & Co.  Mr. Harris died in April, 1876, since which time the business has been carried on by the surviving partner, under the same firm-name.

Grocers.  The business directory, for 1877, gives the names of seventeen wholesale and three hundred and sixty-eight retail grocers.  Prominent among the wholesale houses are the following:  E. M. Aldrich & Co.  On the 29th of December, 1857, Messrs. E. M. Aldrich, E. S. Aldrich, and Charles A. Hubbard formed a copartnership under the firm-name of E. M. Aldrich & Co., for the carrying on of a wholesale and retail grocery business.  The firm, first established at Nos. 6 and 8 Pine Street, removed in January, 1865, to corner of Pine and Dyer streets, and again in April, 1877, to their present location, corner Dyer, Peck, Orange, and Page streets.  There have been but two changes in the firm since its first establishment.  Mr. Hezekiah Potter entered the firm in 1865, and Mr. E. M. Aldrich retired in 1870, the firm-name remaining the same.  Their trade is extensive, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

Parsons, Cady & Washburn, Nos. 26 and 31 Canal Street, is a firm conducting one of the oldest established grocery houses in Providence.  The present firm was organized Dec. 1, 1877, and consists of the following members: Henry L. Parsons, John H. Cady, and Roscoe S. Washburn.

Waldron, Wightman & Co., corner of Pine Street and Harkness Court.  This house was established, in 1858, by N. B. Waldron and W. B. Wightman, under the firm-style of Waldron & Wightman, on Weybosset Street, where they remained about four years, when, needing more room, they removed to the corner of Dyer and Pine streets, where they remained until January, 1869.  This firm now occupy one of the finest business blocks in the State.  This is one of the largest grocery houses in New England,  they are doing a business of from $1,500,000 to $2,000,000 per annum.  The present firm consists of the following members:  N. B. Waldron, W. B. Wightman, and Nelson W. Aldrich.

Whitford, Aldrich & Co., No. 105 Dyer, and 16 Pine streets, wholesale grocers and commission-merchants, and importers of West India goods.  This house was established in 1815 by Captain Samuel Wheaton and Thomas Truesdel, who carried on the business until 1823, when Mr. Truesdel was succeeded by Henry Anthony.  In 1828, Captain Wheaton retired, and was succeeded by his son, Samuel Wheaton.  In 1842, Mr. Anthony was succeeded by Thomas Jackson, who, in 1858, was also succeeded by George B. Whitford and Robert Wheaton.  Samuel Wheaton died in 1864, but the business continued under the same firm-title until 1871, when the present company was organized, consisting of George W. Whitford, Edward S. Aldrich, and W. F. Aldrich.  In the early history of this house, it  used to import largely from Spain and Porto Rico, and the firm of Wheaton & Jackson, at one time, was largely engaged in manufacture and the cotton-trade.

Work & Reed, No. 47 Pine Street, wholesale dealers in groceries.  Established June 1, 1845, by G. Work, who has been succeeded by the following:  Work & Whitford, in 1847;  Work, Shaw & Co., in 1853;  G. & H. Work, in 1855;  and the present firm, which was organized in 1875.

Buffington & Greene, wholesale flour dealers.  This house was established by Messrs. G. W. & A. S. Buffington as wholesale and retail grocers about the year 1833.  About 1853, the partnership was dissolved, and A. S. Buffington continued the business a few years, when he sold out, and A. S. Buffington continued the business for a few years, when he sold out, and removed to Oregon.  Their place of business was at 7 Exchange Street.  Mr. G. W. Buffington shortly after opened another store, with George A. Whipple as partner.  They continued business for some three years, when Benjamin Hall succeeded Mr. Whipple, the firm assuming the title of Buffington & Hall.  After a year, Mr. W. A. Greene entered the firm, taking the place of Mr. Hall, and the firm became Buffington & Greene.  They were located at 33 Custom-House Street, but were burned out in the great fire of September, 1877.  They opened, after the fire, at No. 7 Exchange Place, but intend to return to their former location as soon as suitable warerooms are completed.  Since 1860, the business has been that of wholesale and retail flour only.  George E. S. Buffington succeeded to the business upon the death of his father, in 1876.

Hardware and House-Furnishing Goods.  The first general hardware store, in the city of Providence, was kept by Peckham & Barker, about the year 1776, on Weybosset Street, near where the Arcade stands.  This firm was succeeded by Cyrus Barker, who was subsequently succeeded by Brown & Barker, as jobbers, in 1830.  In 1846, William Whitaker was admitted as a partner, under the firm-style of Brown, Barker & Co.  In 1849, Mr. Brown retired.  In 1852, F. A. Barker was admitted to the firm, and the firm-title changed to Barker, Whitaker & Co.  In 1855, Joseph A. Barker was succeeded by his brother, William Cyrus Barker, the firm-style remaining the same.  In 1867, Mr. George H. Chadsey was admitted to the concern.  The business of this house has increased from year to year, and the present firm rank among the leading business institutions in the State.  They are located at Nos. 22 and 24 Westminster Street, and are importers and jobbers of hardware and cutlery, and dealers in manufacturers, machinists, and builders' supplies.

Anthony & Cowell, Nos. 189 and 191 Broad Street, wholesale and retail dealers in carpets, furniture, stoves, and general house-furnishings goods.  Established in 1872 by Lowe, Anthony & Cowell.  Mr. Lowe retired in 1876.

Ballou, Cram & Markham, Nos. 101 to 109 Eddy Street, dealers in furniture, carpets, and general house-furnishing goods; also jobbers of crockery, glass, tin, and wooden-ware.  Established in 1872 by Henry Cram, who was soon after succeeded by the present firm.

Flint & Co., Nos. 132 and 136 Broad Street.  Established in 1864 by H. S., Alonzo, and Ezra H. Flint, in a building on a lot where the Narragansett Hotel now stands.  Ezra H. Flint died in 1867, since which time the business has been successfully carried on by the surviving partners, under the same firm-title.  In 1869, they purchased the large house-furnishing establishment of B. P. Cunningham, and moved to their present location, since which time their business has increased until it has become the most extensive in Rhode Island  of this particular branch of trade.  The specialty of this house is the selling of goods upon the instalment-plan.  In 1875, they established a branch store at 193 Broad Street, under the style of the Providence Furniture Co.  Flint & Co. also manufacture what is known as the 'Quaker Bitters', they being the sole proprietors, which business they established in 1865.  Manufactory located at No. 189 Broad Street, Providence.

Iron and Steel.  Congdon, Carpenter & Co., Nos. 81 to 85 Canal Street.  This is one of the oldest houses of its kind in the State, having been established by Mr. Joseph Congdon about 1790, at the corner of North Main and what is now known as Waterman Street.

Nightingale & Kilton, wholesale and retail dealers in iron and steel.  This house dates its existence back to about 1820, when Messrs. Dyer & Brown established a general hardware store, and carried on the business until 1826, when they were succeeded by Olney, Dyer & Co., who were in turn succeeded by Dyer & Stead in 1836, who continued the business until 1840, when the firm again changed to Mason & Waterman.  In 1845, Henry T. Cornett was admitted as a partner, under the firm-title of Rufus Waterman & Co.  July, 1848, Horatio R. Nightingale purchased the interest of Mr. Waterman, and the firm-title changed to Cornett & Nightingale.  In 1864, John B. Kilton was admitted to the business, and in April, 1872, upon the death of Mr. Cornett, the business passed into the hands of the present surviving partners, Messrs. Nightingale & Kilton.

Ice-Dealers.  The first ice delivered to people in the city of Providence was in the year 1820, by Mr. Samuel Greene.  In 1822, Earl Carpenter founded the business now represented by the firm of Earl Carpenter & Son.  This is one of the most extensive ice-firms in New England.  The history of the ice-business, in and about Providence, has been a somewhat checkered one, and much opposition has been, from time to time, introduced, that has materially affected the profitableness of the enterprise.  Notwithstanding these occasional rivalries, the above firm have continually prospered, and by their prompt attention to business, and the delivery of a first-class article, have commanded the confidence of the citizens, and a consequent large and liberal patronage.  The amount of ice put up for this market by all the different companies, in 1877, was about 75,000 tons, the above firm holding about three-quarters of the entire amount.

Cyrus O. Keech, No. 373 High Street, wholesale and retail dealer in ice; ice-houses at Long Pond, foot of Henry Street, and on Ten-Mile River, at Attleborough, Mass.  Mr. Keech first established himself in the business in Providence in 1870.

Narragansett Ice Co., Ellery Sears, Treasurer;  office, No. 7 Canal Street.  This company was established in 1874, by H. B. Franklin, Ellery Sears, and B. S. Hopkins.  In 1874, they built two houses at Georgiaville, and in 1875, business continuing to increase, two more were added, making a capacity of some 12,000 tons.  The ice furnished by this company is said to be of the very best quality.

Somewhere about 1835, two new coal-yards were opened in Providence.  The first was started by Captain Mathewson, near where the steam-mill now is, and was the first coal-yard on the west side of the river.  The other yard was opened by Captain Thomas Peirce, on the wharf now occupied by the elevator of S. S. Sprague & Co.  In 1838, Captain Samuel R. Jackson opened a coal-yard at the corner of Charles and Smith streets.  About 1840, Captain Jackson sold his coal-yard to Greene Jackson, who established another yard on South Water Street, and for some time ran the two.  In 1844, Greene Jackson sold his up-town coal-yard to Peck & Salsbury, now the oldest firm of coal-dealers in the city.

Between 1844 and 1851, several new firms came into the coal business.  In 1851, in addition to those already named, Hill & Peirce, J. Hodges & Co., Scott Smith, A. B. Pope, Seth Scott, N. D. Peirce & Co., and Manchester & Hopkins were selling coal in Providence.  The 'Journal' has kept, since 1770 [sic], a record of the receipts of both foreign and domestic coal at this port, which, taken by years, gives the following:  In 1870, the receipts for both domestic and foreign coal, were 469,367 tons.  In 1877, the receipts were 613,295 tons.  Of this amount, about 214,000 tons were used in and around the city of Providence.  There are now about thirty-five firms engaged in the coal trade in the city.  Among the prominent coal-dealers now doing business we note the following:

Hopkins, Pomeroy & Co., No. 330 Eddy Street, 184 Dyer Street, and 35 Weybosset Street.  Established in 1847, by Messrs. Manchester & Hopkins, on Dorrance Street, for the sale of brick, lime, cement, &c.  In 1855, they purchased an estate on Eddy Street, erected their buildings, and in 1856 commenced there the business in which they are now engaged.  In 1864, G. P. Pomeroy and J. H. Hopkins were admitted as partners, under the firm-style of Manchester, Hopkins & Co.   In 1871, Mr. Manchester died, and the business was continued by the surviving partners until March 1, 1878, when E. A. Hopkins was admitted, forming the present firm of Hopkins, Pomeroy & Co.  They give employment to one hundred and twenty-five men and one hundred horses.  This is by far the most extensive establishment of the kind in the State.

E. M. Hunt, the practical coal-dealer.  He first engaged in the business at the corner of Canal and Smith streets, in the year 1865.  Afterwards he admitted two partners.  Mr. Hunt sold out to his partners, and started a new yard in February, 1871, at the corner of Dyer and Orange streets.  Soon finding this yard not sufficient for his increasing business, he removed, in 1873, to his present location, 117 South Water Street.  Mr. Hunt sells his coal at retail, at the yard, for cargo price, charging extra for handling and delivery only.  By this plan he has built himself up a fine business, handling yearly over twenty thousand tons of 'black diamond'.  Office, No. 10 Weybosset Street.

B. W. Persons, No. 39 Weybosset Street, broker and wholesale dealer in anthracite and bituminous coal, and Sunnickson & Co.'s Franklin coal.  Mr. Persons was associated with Mr. Joseph Hodges, on South Water Street, in the coal business, from 1863 to 1869, when he withdrew, and established himself in the wholesale coal trade.  In 1870, he extended his business, and was the first in the city to open an office and make a specialty of the sale of pig iron.  Sales reach from thirty to fifty thousand tons per annum.

W. H. & E. A. Elliott, South Water Street, corner Transit, and No. 31 Weybosset Street, wholesale and retail dealers in coal.  Business established in 1872.  Sales about fifteen thousand tons per year.

George H. Newhall, Nos. 95 to 99 South Water Street.  Mr. Newhall, in 1844, opened a yard for the sale of wood, which business he carried on until 1848, when he connected with it the wholesale and retail coal trade.  Gives employment to fifteen men, his sales amounting to about ten thousand tons per year.

Joseph Olney, opposite 112 South Water Street, wholesale and retail dealer in coal, wood and kindlings.  Established in 1865.  Sales from eight to ten thousand tons per year.

A. B. Pope, No. 219 Dyer Street, dealer in coal and wood.  Mr. Pope first commenced the business in 1849, with a Mr. Richmond, under the firm-style of Richmond & Pope.  Mr. Richmond died in 1860, and was succeeded in the business by S. A. Edmunds, who was in turn succeeded by Thomas H. Pope, when the firm-title was changed to A. B. Pope & Son.  The business is at present conducted by A. B. Pope.  Robert E. Smith & Co., No. 78 South Water Street, and 5 Weybosset Street, dealers in all kinds of wood and kindlings.  Established about 1852, by Joseph Hodges.  In 1863, Robert E. Smith was admitted as a partner, under the firm-title of Joseph Hodges & Co.  Mr. Hodges retired in 1869, and was succeeded by W. V. Phillips, who also retired in December, 1873.  Jan. 1, 1876, Edwin L. Spink was admitted, forming the present firm.  Employ from thirty-five to forty men.

Concrete Paving.  The Rhode Island Concrete Paving Company was formed in 1867, and laid the first of this kind of pavement in Rhode Island, using what was then known as 'Scrimshaw Patent Pavement'.  In 1877, the company purchased the 'Abbott Patents', which possess all the merits of the 'Scrimshaw Patents', with many needed improvements, especially in immediate hardening, rendering this pavement as now laid by this company the popular pavement for economy and durability.  The company have laid since 1867, up to Sept. 30, 1877, 4,050,000 square feet.  This company, since its organization, has been under the superintendency of Mr. Ezra D. Smith.  Office, No. 70 Weybosset Street.

Liquors, Wines, &c.    J. G. Eddy & Co., No. 14 Custom-house Street, importers of and wholesale dealers in wines and liquors of all descriptions.  Established in 1852, by Albert & James G. Eddy, under the firm-style of J. G. Eddy & Co.   The present company was organized in January, 1874, and consists of Jesse P. Eddy and Rowland L. Rose.   Thomas Furlong, No. 177 North Main Street, wholesale dealer in imported wines and liquors.  Established in 1860.    Palmer & Maddigan, importers of and jobbers in foreign and domestic wines and liquors, and also ales of the best brands.  Business first established in 1860, on the corner of Pine Street and Harkness Court.  Moved to their present location, corner of Hay and Friendship streets, September, 1877.  John W. Greene, Nos. 44 and 46 Exchange Place, wholesale and retail dealers in wines and liquors, tobacco, cigars, &c.  Established in 1849; moved to present location in 1860.  S. A. Wesson, No. 45 Dyer Street, importer of and wholesale dealer in wines and liquors.  Business established by Hudson & Baker, in 1838, who were succeeded in 1847 by Baker & Wesson.  Since 1857, Mr. Wesson has successfully conducted the business alone.

Pianoforte Dealers.  James H. Barney, No. 188 Westminster Street, dealer in pianofortes, organs, &c.  This house dates its existence back to 1820, when Mr. Henry E. Barney settled in Providence, and commenced the business of tuning instruments, and selling, when an opportunity presented itself.  In 1842, he opened a salesroom on Broad Street, in 1859, his son, J. H. Barney, was admitted as partner, under the firm-style of H. E. Barney & Son.  In 1873, Mr. H. E. Barney retired, and the entire business passed into the hands of the present proprietor, Mr. James H. Barney.

Cory Brothers.  No. 120 Westminster Street.  Importers and dealers in all kinds of musical merchandise, pianos, organs, &c.  Instruments tuned and repaired to the entire satisfaction of patrons.  They are agents for the celebrated Chickering & Sons pianofortes; also Smith's American organs.  This house has an excellent reputation, and commands the respect and confidence of the public generally.

Drugs and Dyestuffs.  Among the eighteen different establishments in the city engaged in this branch of business, the one of Chambers, Calder & Co., No. 10 Exchange Place, has long held a prominent place.  The business was established in 1837, by Mr. A. F. Adie, who continued in business up to 1853, when he was succeeded by the firm of Chambers & Calder.  Subsequently a partner was admitted to the business, and the firm became Chambers, Calder & Co.  They do a heavy wholesale business in drugs, chemicals, dye-woods, paints, oils, varnish, window-glass, &c.

Rice, Draper & Co., are also extensively engaged in this particular branch of business.  The business was established in 1861, by C. E. Boone and J. Williams Rice, who operated together for some ten years, when the firm of Rice, Draper & Co., succeeded them.  They occupy the fine, large store at 25 and 27 Exchange Place, and do a wholesale business in drugs, chemicals, dye-stuffs, paints, oils, glass, &c.

William B. Rider, located at Nos. 365 and 367 Eddy Street.  The business of grinding dye-woods, drugs, and grain, dates from 1846, and during the period of thirty-two years Mr. Rider has devoted all his time to its successful prosecution.  His mill is supplied with all the necessary machinery for grinding, &c., and is complete in all its appointments.  Of the long list of articles which he grinds to order, we may mention alum, beans, chalk, copperas, indigo, nut-gall, red-lead, vitriol, sumac, &c.  He also deals in and keeps for sale a large variety of cut and ground dye-woods.  He also grinds grain for the accommodation of the farmers in the immediate vicinity.  His reputation is conspicuous for integrity and fair dealing.

S. S. Sweet, Nos. 16 to 22 Charles Street, manufacturer and wholesale dealer in pure dye-woods, grain, salt, &c.  Business established in 1840, by Jesse B. Sweet, who carried on the manufacture of flour until 1849, when H. J. Angell was admitted as a partner, under the firm-style of Sweet & Angell, and the manufacture of dye-woods added.  In 1864, Mr. S. S. Sweet succeeded Mr. Angell, and the firm-style changed to J. B. & S. S. Sweet.  In 1872, the entire business passed into the hands of the present proprietor, by whom the business is now in successful operation.

Lithographers.  The Providence Lithograph Co., dates its existence back to 1866, when they began business in one small room, with three presses.  Business continued to increase, and soon they were compelled to increase their facilities.  They now occupy two spacious floors in the large three-story building at 24 Callender Street.  They operate two large English presses, besides ten hand-presses.  They employ three accomplished artists and one designer.  Messrs. J. & G. Harris, the proprietors, are both young men of enterprise and business ability, and the success of the business is attributable to these qualities.

L. Sunderland, at 61 Peck Street, is engaged in a general lithographic business, operates by steam power, and makes a specialty of calendered bronze work.  He has just added to his establishment one of Hoe's best presses, and is now prepared to do all kinds of lithograph work at short notice and upon the most favorable terms.

Photographers.  The first successful artists who engaged in taking daguerreotypes in Providence were Luther and Charles Daboll, who occupied rooms in the Washington Building in 1841.  The oldest firm now engaged in the business is Manchester Brothers, located at 73 Westminster Street.  Mr. H. N. Manchester, the senior member of the firm, settled in Providence in 1845, and formed a co-partnership with Samuel Masury.  A few months after, he withdrew, and formed, with his brother, E. H. Manchester, the present firm of Manchester Bros.  The first photographs taken in Providence were by this firm, about twenty years ago.

Provision Dealers.  There are about one hundred and twenty-five establishments of this description in Providence.  Among those most prominent we find the following firms:  H. B. Franklin, at No. 5 Canal Street, known as the Narragansett Market.  Mr. Franklin commenced business in 1867, at No. 51 Canal Street.  July 6, 1877, he removed to his present location, where he keeps, in every respect, a first-class market.

Leonard Brothers, at No. 5 North Main Street, also keep one of the best markets in the city.  Honorable in all their dealings, with an integrity beyond reproach, they command the respect and confidence of their numerous patrons, and are doing a large, safe and profitable business.

I. M. Lincoln & Co., corner of Friendship and Peck streets, butchers and wholesale dealers in fresh and salt beef.  Established by I. M. Lincoln, Oct. 1, 1870.  Edwin Tetlow was admitted as a partner, Oct. 1, 1874.  They slaughter about one hundred head of cattle per week.

Undertakers.  The first regular undertaker in the city of Providence was Gardner T. Swarts, who, in 1833, opened a room on Pine, between Dorrance and Orange streets.  At this time Mr. Swarts carried on a general livery business.  In 1861, he erected a large building on the corner of Pine and Dorrance streets, where he carried on a very extensive business until his death, which occurred in 1875.  Among the prominent undertakers of to-day are James Boyce, at Nos. 202 to 206 Broad Street;  Horace B. Knowles, Nos. 95, 97 and 99 North Main Street;  and B. P. Swarts, No. 139 Pine Street.

Wooden Ware.  John H. Eddy & Co., Nos. 5 and 7 Exchange Street, wholesale dealers in wooden ware, willow ware, cords, brushes, &c.; also manufacturers of brooms.  Business established, in 1849, by John H. Eddy, who carried it on alone until 1876, when J. H. Eddy, Jr., and Samuel Boyd, Jr., were admitted as partners.

Wool-Pullers.  R. W. Bush & Co., No. 81 North Main Street, wool-pullers and manufacturers of sumac and bark sheep-skins; also dealers in leather and findings.  Established by R. W. Bush about 1828, at No. 25 Charles Street.  In 1864, his son, R. S. Bush, was admitted as a partner.  R. W. Bush died, October 24, 1875, since which time the business has been successfully carried on by the surviving partner, under the same firm-title.

Wool and Wool Waste.  P. Kenney, office, No. 109 Canal Street, dealer in wool and wool waste; also manufacturer of all grades of felt.  Mills located at Atlantic.  Mr. Kenney commenced this business in 1867, and is the first person in Providence to make this business a success.  The first year the business amounted to only $20,000.  Since that time Mr. Kenney has done a very extensive business, his sales amounting to nearly $700,000 in a single year.

Manufacturing.
Rhode Island is eminently a manufacturing State.  The capital employed; the diversity of its production; the skilled labor which it requires, and the superiority of its special manufactures, give this little Commonwealth a relative position, which, among the manufacturing districts of the country, is acknowledged to be of no insignificant importance.  In proportion to the population, the industries exceed those of any other section of the country, and the products of the various establishments are such as tend, in the consumption, directly and largely to the welfare of mankind.

Immediately after the Revolution, the attention of enterprising men in Rhode Island was turned to manufacturing cotton-cloth in the old way, which was attended with varying degrees of success.  In 1790, Samuel Slater started his mill at Pawtucket, and applied water-power to the manufacture, which gave a new impulse to all manufacturing enterprises.  In 1791, Almy & Brown, William Potter, Lewis Peck, Andrew Dexter, and James McKennis were engaged in the manufacture of cotton-goods..  Besides these, various other kinds of manufactures were carried on in town, including hats, boots and shoes, leather, saddles, and harness, nails, edge-tools, chocolate, silver and plated ware, soap, candles, and paper.

In 1809, sixteen cotton-mills were in operation in the State, and seven others erected, but not at work.  In 1811, there was only one cotton-mill in Providence, and that was operated by Jacob Whitman, and contained but five hundred spindles, giving employment to only fifteen operatives, and a capital of $15,000.  In 1815, in and near Providence, there were five mills;  viz., Moshassuck, Wheaton & Adie, Williams & Tripp, Cushing & Thurber, and Thomas Greene.  The census of Providence for 1820, returns five cotton-mills, two woollen-mills, two bleacheries, three dye-houses, one grain-mill, one oil-mill, two clothiers' works, three rope-walks, one gin-distillery, and four rum-distilleries.

In 1812, a machine-shop was put in operation by Samuel Ogden on Bark Street, where cotton-machinery was made.  The old Wanskuk Mill was among the first cotton-mills operated in this vicinity, and was the first mill and first building lighted by coal-gas.  The first calico-printing in Providence was by the firm of Schaub, Dubosque & Tissot, in 1794.  They commenced the business in the old Newell Chocolate Mill building, then occupying the site of the present Franklin Foundry.  The enterprise did not prove a success, and, the year following, Mr. Tissot set up the dyeing of European blue linen and cotton-yarn at the house of Mr. Nehemiah Smith, on the west of Mill Bridge.

Mr. S. G. Reynolds invented the first machine ever used in this country for cutting common wrought nails.  This machine was made in the old Slater Mill, in Pawtucket, about 1830.  Horseshoe nails were made by machinery in Providence about 1848.  Mr. S. G. Reynolds was the inventor of the first successful machine for the manufacture of pins;  and he was also the inventor of numerous other important machines.

Since 1820, Providence exhibits an extraordinary growth in all departments of industry.  From the official report of 1875 we find the number of manufacturing establishments in Providence city to be 940, employing 20,271 hands; amount of capital invested, $16,393,734;  the products amounting to $52,782,875.  The number of establishments for the special manufacture of cotton goods we find to be ten, with a capital invested of $1,246,047, employing 1,537 operatives, and producing goods to the amount of $1,874,300.  There are also seven establishments in the city of Providence for the special manufacture of woollen goods.  Amount of capital invested, $1,342,700;  hands employed, 1,858;  value of products, $4,291,574.  We briefly note some of the manufacturing enterprises of Providence; and mention first in the list ---

Allen's Print-Works, formerly called the Providence Woollen Mill, which was built in 1813.  In its day it was deemed the most perfect in New England.  Fine broadcloths were made here, which were sold as high as ten to twelve dollars per yard, during the war with Great Britain, in 1813-14.

American Enamel Company.  This company was organized in 1866, with ample capital for the enameling in all branches of what is known as Patent Wrought-Iron Enamel Water-Pipe.  The business also extends to the ornamentation of almost every description of work.  The original factory, built of brick, is one hundred feet long, and two stories in height, with other buildings attached.  These buildings are located on Warren Street.  The branch works are at Mashapaug Lake, and cover about two acres of ground.  Officers:  John L. Draper, President;  Charles A. Gamwell, Secretary and Treasurer.

S. W. Baker Manufacturing Company, office 73 Weybosset Street.  This company was organized in 1875, with a capital of $200,000, for the manufacture of double woven fabrics for various uses.  The mills of the company are located at Olneyville.

Barstow Stove Company, located at Point, corner of Chestnut Street.  Among the many varied industries of Providence, none enjoys a greater commercial reputation than the Barstow Stove Company, whose vast works cover a space of 90,000 square feet.  The business of this corporation was first established by Mr. A. C. Barsow, in 1836.  The present company was organized June, 1858, and the present officers are:  A. C. Barstow, President;  A. C. Barstow, Jr., Treasurer.  The company employ about 200 hands.  E. A. Stevens is the Boston agent, at 56 and 58 Union Street, and E. W. Anthony, corner of Beckman and Water streets, in the city of New York.

Browne & Sharpe Manufacturing Company.  This business was established in 1833, by David Browne and his son, Joseph R., and has been conducted since under the firm-style of David Browne & Son, until the organization of the present company.  In 1866, the rule and gauge making branch of J. R. Browne and Sharpe's business combined with Samuel Darling, adding the business formerly known as Darling & Schwartz of Bangor, Me.  The new firm adopted the style of Darling, Browne & Sharpe, and have since carried on the manufacture of United States standard rules, Ames's universal squares, patent hardened cast-steel try-squares, the American standard wire gauge, bevel protractor, hardened T squares and bevels, and a great variety of steel and box-wood rules and also scales, and other small tools for machinists, draughtsmen, and wood-workers' use.  The building is located on Promenade, near Park Street, and is, in all respects, fire-proof.

City Machine Company.  This company is engaged in the building of cotton machinery.  It began business in 1865, and was incorporated in 1867.  Early in the following year they organized under their charter with a limit of capital of $200,000.  They purchased the works formerly occupied by the Union Screw Company, located at the corner of Harris Avenue and Acorn Street, and commenced at once upon the development of a new style of patterns for the above-named machines, of which the first were completed in 1869, and placed in the mills of the Lonsdale Company, where they have since been in continuous operation.  Its officers are:  R. A. Peck, President;  Almon Wade, Treasurer;  C. L. Eaton, Agent;  S. A. Hazard, Secretary.

Corliss Steam-Engine Company.  This establishment for the manufacture of the Corliss Steam-Engine, is situated in the norther part of the city, just above the Charles Street Railroad Crossing, on the line of the Boston and Providence and Providence and Worcester railroads.  The buildings cover an area of several acres, and, in good times, several hundred operatives find here employment.  These engines have a world-wide reputation, and find a ready sale in the principal markets of the world.

The Corliss Engine received the first premium at the Paris Exposition in 1867, and also at the Vienna Exposition.  Mr. George H. Corliss, the inventor, whose engine only appeared through the agency of European builders under his patent, received one of the eight grand prizes, or medals of honor.  The immense engine which supplied the power for the machinery department of the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia, was constructed by this company, under the immediate supervision of Mr. Corliss, the inventor.  This elegant piece of mechanism was the most prominent feature of the entire exhibition, and won the praise and admiration of the countless thousands who looked upon its giant form, beautiful in its symmetry, and grand in its conception.

The Providence Tool Company.  This company began its work in 1845, with a capital of $50,000, and was incorporated in 1847.  In 1853, Richard Borden of Fall River, became president of the company, and John B. Anthony its treasurer and general manager.  On the death of Mr. Borden, in 1874, Mr. Anthony became president, and William B. Dart was appointed treasurer.  At the beginning of the war, in 1861, they commenced the manufacture of Springfield muskets for the government, and turned out upwards of 80,000 stands of arms.  In 1865, the manufacture of the Peabody breech-loading rifle was begun, of which 150,000 have been made.  The Martini-Henry system, adopted by Great Britain in 1871, was based upon the 'Peabody' principle, and was known as the 'Improved Peabody'.  The tool-company, under this patent, are able to control the manufacture of that gun in this country, as well as secure royalties in England.  Probably no government has ever awarded so large a contract to any private factory as that of the Turkish Government, given to this company in 1875.  The contract was for 600,000 rifles, amounting in value to nearly $10,000,000.

The early branch of the tool-company's business has continued, and many other articles have been added from time to time.  In 1871, the manufacture of sewing-machines became an important branch of their business.  The buildings of this company are numerous, and cover more than six acres of ground.  They are mostly of brick, and the main buildings are three and four stories in height.  They are four in number, and there is telegraphic communication between them.  Five steam-engines, with an aggregate of one thousand horse-power, propel the machinery of the works.  There are twenty-seven boilers used in making steam, and ten thousand tons of coal are annually consumed in the establishment.  The sales of the company in 1847, amounted to $70,000, and forty men were employed.  The total sales in 1875, reached about $4,000,000.  The number of persons employed was about 1,800, and the monthly pay-roll is $100,000.

Gorham Manufacturing Company.  This is one of the most interesting establishments of Providence, and is the ripened fruit of long experience and cultivated taste.  The business was founded by Jabez Gorham in 1831, and has grown since that time to be the leading silver manufactory in the world.  The works of the company are located in the heart of the city, bounded by North Main, Steeple, and Friend streets.

Miles's Alarm-Till Manufacturing Company, No. 406 Main Street.  This enterprise was first started by Mr. A. O. Miles, the inventor, in the year 1850, at Nashua, N. H.  In 1867, he removed his business to Providence, and in 1869 the present company was incorporated.  It is the largest establishment of the kind in the world, and the goods manufactured bear an excellent reputation.

Nicholson File Company.  This company was organized in the spring of 1865, with Mr. W. T. Nicholson, the inventor of their machinery, at its head.  Their substantial brick buildings are located No. 111 Acorn Street, and were planned to admit of enlargement from time to time as might be required.  Their goods are almost wholly made by machinery under the several improvements and patents of Mr. Nicholson, the founder, and under whose management the company has achieved great success.  The manufacture is a patented article, and known as the 'Increment Cut'.  It is owned exclusively by this company, and sold largely to jobbers of hardware, being sent into every State in the Union, as well as a portion of Canada.  The capital stock is $417,000.  W. T. Nicholson, President and Agent;  and William Metcalf, Treasurer and Secretary.

Phenix Iron Foundry.  These extensive works were first started April 1, 1830, and were chartered as the Phenix Iron Foundry, June, 1832.  The company are engaged in the manufacture of hydraulic presses, dyers, printers, and bleachers' machinery, castings, shaftings, &c.  The company have constantly extended their business since its first inception to the present.  The extensive buildings are of stone and brick, and located at the corner of Elm and Eddy streets.  They employ some one hundred and seventy-five men, and, notwithstanding the depression of the times, are doing a large and profitable business.  Officers, James S. Anthony, President;  George B. Holmes, Treasurer.

Providence Machine Company.  About forty years ago, Mr. Thomas J. Hill commenced the machine business at his present location on Eddy Street.  This business has been constantly extended, until now it is one of the most extensive shops in the city of Providence.  A charter was obtained in 1866, under the firm-name of the Providence Machine Co.  The buildings are of brick, and have a capacity for three or four hundred operatives.  The company are also proprietors of the Rhode Island Malleable Iron Works.  Mr. Thomas J. Hill is President and Treasurer of both establishments.  Mr. G. J. Hazard, Agent of the Providence Machine Co., and Mr. S. W. Kilvert, Agent for the Malleable Iron Works.  The office of both of these extensive establishments is at No. 564 Eddy Street.

Providence Steam-Engine Company.  Located at Nos. 373 to 379 South Main Street.  This is one of the oldest establishments of its kind in New England, the company having commenced the manufacture of steam machinery in 1821.  In 1845, the works were destroyed by fire, but were immediately rebuilt.  During the war, they furnished the government with four large marine engines, with boilers complete.  This company have built a large number of steam-engines, which are in operation in nearly every State in the Union.  The works employ about three hundred operatives in the various departments, and have special facilities for the repairing of marine and stationary engines and boilers.  The present officers are:  Henry W. Gardner, Agent and Treasurer;  T. W. Phillips, Secretary.

Rhode Island Braiding-Machine Company.  The manufacture of braiding-machines, for the production of worsted dress-braids, was begun in the United States in 1861.  About this time, Mr. G. K. Winchester of Providence, R. I., succeeded in perfecting the braider to its present standard.  Previous to this time, braiders were run, in New England, on whips, hoop-skirt coverings, shoe and corset lacings, and a few other small notions.  The braider of Mr. Winchester is a great improvement upon the English braiders, and has, in general, superseded the English machine.  Mr. H. N. Daggett is the pioneer of this industry, having operated the first machine at Attleborough, Mass.  The principal braid-factories in America are at Attleborough, Lawrence, and Lowell, Mass.;  Providence, Pawtucket, and Woonsocket, R. I.;  Hartford, Conn.; and Philadelphia, Penn.  These machines are manufactured at No. 89 Aborn Street, Providence, where are also made other braiders for all kinds of fancy-work.  Among these, may be mentioned the cocoa, or coir braider, for working cocoa, or coir in braids for matting.  These braiders are already introduced into all the principal braid-factories through the United States.

The American Screw Company was organized in 1860, with a nominal capital of $1,000,000, and it immediately purchased the property of the Eagle and New England Screw Company, which had been in existence for over twenty years.  This is by far the largest manufactory of this kind in this country, if not in the world.  It has a capacity for producing, each working day, about forty thousand gross of wood screws, several tons of rivets, large quantities of machine screws, &c., and gives employment to some two thousand five hundred operatives.

Leather Belting, &c.  There are two quite extensive establishments in the manufacture of leather belts, &c.  That of A. Burgess & Son, No. 692 North Main Street, is one of the oldest institutions of the kind in this country, having been established in 1835, by the senior member of the firm.  Previous to this time, the most of the mills were driven by gearing, and what few belts were required, were made by hand in the different establishments where they were used.  The work is now, however, done almost exclusively by machinery, and the products of the different establishments in the country amount to millions of dollars annually.  This firm also manufacture looms, pickers, fire-engine hose, picker and lace leather, and deal in manufacturers' findings.  General office at No. 39 Weybosset Street.


Continued

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Transcription 2004 by Beth Hurd, Images by Beth Hurd 2004
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