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Biographical sketches, "Town of East Providence"
History of Providence County, Vol I & II
Ed. by Richard M. Bayles; W.W. Preston & Co., NY. 1891
p. 162 - 163: Andrew J. ANTHONY, son of David and Catharine (Barker) Anthony, was born in 1833, in Mendon, Mass., and was educated in the public schools. When he was very young his father moved to what is now East Providence. He first engaged in the cigar manufacturing business until 18 years of age, his father being then in that business. He afterward learned the mason's trade in Providence, and has followed it ever since, and for the past 25 years has had charge of all the Providence Gas Company's buildings. He was elected in 1874 to the town council, and has been a member each year with the exception of 1878 and 1886, until elected to the senate in 1889. He was also president of the council three years. He married Harriet, daughter of Joseph Martin of Seekonk, Mass.
p. 163: Henry F. ANTHONY, son of Andrew J. and Harriet (Martin) Anthony, was born in 1855, in what is now East Providence (then Seekonk, Mass.). He was educated in the public schools, learned the mason's trade, and for 10 years worked for his father. In 1881 he became assistant agent for the P. & W. railroad at East Providence, and in 1885 was made agent. He was elected to the town council in April, 1889, also elected president of the board. He was three years assessor of the fire district. He married Julia O., daughter of Williams A. Burt of Fall River.
p. 163: Francis ARMINGTON, son of Ambrose and Sally (Jencks) Armington, was born in 1820 in East Providence (then Seekonk), in the stone house on Pawtucket avenue, built by his father about 1810. He was educated in the public schools, and followed the business of pile driving and wharf building for 30 years. He married Caroline A., daughter of Jesse Medbery, Esq., of East Providence (then Seekonk). He represented the town of Seekonk in the legislature of Massachusetts, served as chairman of the boards of selectmen and assessors, and was overseer of the poor in that town. In East Providence he was president of the first town council, served three years in the senate, 12 years as town treasurer, also held the offices of assessor, probate judge, overseer of the poor and auctioneer. He enlisted the town's quota of 80 volunteers for the war.
p. 163: Charles C. BALCH, son of S. W. and Joanna (Perkins) Balch, was born in 1847 in Lyme, N. H., and was educated in the public schools. He came to East Providence in 1886. Previous to that he was in the produce business in Boston. He married Abby M., daughter of Oliver and Abby M. Chaffee, of East Providence.
p. 163: Daniel D. BARNEY, son of John and Ruth (Viall) Barney, was born in Seekonk, Mass., now East Providence, R.I., in 1823, and was educated in the public schools. He learned the stone mason's trade, following it with his father until he was 22 years of age. Since 1865 he has been with the Rumford Chamical Works as their farmer. His first wife was Henrietta A., daughter of Caleb Chaffee, of Seekonk. His present wife is Sarah, daughter of Silas Terry, of Fall River.
p. 163-64: John P. BARNEY, farmer and manufacturer of cider and vinegar, is a son of Perry and Rachel (Peck) Barney. He was born in 1851, in East Providence, in the same house where he has always lived and which was built by his grandfather, Jonathan Barney. He was educated at Mowry & Goff's and Bryant & Stratton's, Providence. He married Sarah E., daughter of James R. Hornby, of Pawtucket, R. I. Their children are: Perry James, born 1880, died 1883; Alice Teel, born 1884; Bessie E., born 1886; Earl Cliffor, born 1888.
p. 164: Nathaniel I. BISHOP, son of Phanuel and Betsey (Ide) Bishop, was born in 1829, in Seekonk, now East Providence, and was educated at the public school. He learned the carpenter's trade and always followed it. He moved to Providence in 1858, where he resided for about ten years, and was for 20 years partner with William C. Davenport, in the firm of William C. Davenport & Co., builders. He married Caroline, daughter of Asa Mason, of Seekonk.
p. 164: Frederick A. BRIGHAM was born in Shrewsbury, Mass., in 1835, and came to East Providence in 1872, where he has since followed the real estate business. He was in the council in 1888. He has been treasurer of Riverside Congregational church since its organization, and was first treasurer of the Riverside Free Public Library.
p. 164: Fred. I. CHAFFEE, son of Oliver and Abby Maria (Gray) Chaffee, was born in 1857, in East Providence, and was educated at public and high schools, East Providence, and at Mowry & Goff's, Providence. He served as deputy sheriff for two years. He married Inez, daughter of Alfred and Frances Griswold, East Providence. He was employed for seven years in the Rumford Chemical Works, and about 1881 began the manufacture of disinfectants. He was burned out, but immediately rebuilt and still carries on the business.
p. 164: J. Irvin CHAFFEE, son of Oliver and Abby M. (Gray) Chaffee, was born January 3d, 1861, in Seekonk, Mass., and was educated at Mowry & Goff's classical school and at Brown University, Providence, graduating in 1883. Before graduating he began to teach as principal in the Grove Avenue grammar school in the fall of 1882. In the fall of 1884 he started the East Providence high school, of which he had charge till the middle of November, 1889, when he resigned and went abroad for two months. After his return he taught until the following summer at Goff, Rice & Smith's school in Providence. In the fall of 1890 he entered the Johns Hopkins University to take the course in mathematics. In 1885 he married Bessie W., daughter of John C. and Frances A. (Peck) Marvel.
p. 164-65: A. N. CUNNINGHAM, son of Joseph N. and Sarah A. (Bishop) Cunningham, was born November 5th, 1841, in Seekonk, Mass., now East Providence. He began with his father, who was a civil engineer, and who laid out the Boston & Providence road; was foreman on the Boston & Providence road, under Isaiah Hoyt, and afterward went on the construction of the Boston, Hartford & Erie, under E. B. Crane, for two years. He then returned to the Boston & Providence road, and built over the road, under Mr. Hoyt; then back to the Boston, Hartford & Erie, now known as the New York & New England road, under N. C. Munson, for two years. He then went to the Connecticut Valley road and took a contract to build three miles of road from Wethersfield to Rocky Hill, then went to work for Dillon & Clyde to finish the road. He was afterward made superintendent of the construction, under Hiram Fowler, and then appointed roadmaster and superintendent of bridges, remaining until the road changed hands. He is now an assistant roadmaster O.C. R.R. He was educated at Seekonk Academy, Opalic Institute, Attleboro; M. & E. Lyon's private school, Providence and at Brown University. He is chess editor on staff of 'Providence Daily Journal', is president of Spring Vale Cemetery, and moderator of Watchemoket Fire District, and also a member of the administrative board of that district. He served two years on school committee in Windham, Conn. He was senator from East Providence in 1887. He was quartermaster three terms of Bucklin Post, No. 20, G. A. R., and is now commander of Farragut Post, No. 8. He served in the early part of the rebellion in Company D, 2d R.I. Volunteers, was appointed second lieutenant 78th N. Y. Volunteers December 23d, 1861, and at the time of the consolidation of that regiment with the 102d N. Y. held by appointment the rank of captain in Company H; after the consolidation he returned to the 2d R.I. regiment, and was mustered out of service by order of the war department at Camp Hawes Hill, Va., July 31st, 1865. He married Hattie B., daughter of George W. Frink, of Windham, Conn.
p. 165: George S. DEAN, son of George B. and Sarah G. (Sisson) Dean, was born in 1832 in Providence, was educated in public schools and came to East Providence in 1874. He first engaged in the jewelry business in Providence, and for the past 23 years has been a repairer and finisher of painos, first with Henry E. Barney, then Henry E. Barney & Son, then James H. Barney, and now Ira N. Goff. He married Mary J., daughter of Henry E. Barney, of Providence. He was elected a member of school board in 1889.
p. 165: James DENNIS, Jr., son of James and Anna T. (Lockwood) Dennis, was born in 1842 in Pawtucket, R.I., and was educated at the Friends' School, Providence, and at Haverford, Penn. He came to East Providence in 1881. He married Laura, daughter of Oliver S. Curtis, of East Providence. He is engaged in the business of raising lettuce for the New York market.
p. 165: Jared Carrington DODGE, son of Hezekiah and Elizabeth (Dodge) Dodge, was born in 1820 on Block Island, was educated in the public schools, and learned the carpenter's trade. In 1866 he started in the sash, blinds and planing mill business in Providence, which he has carried on ever since at the same place. He married Olive Paine, a daughter of George Washington and Sarah Salisbury, of Barrington, Mass. Their children are: Horace H., born 1844; Francis H., born 1846, died 1853; Sarah Elizabeth, born 1848; Charlotte Shaw, born 1850; Frank H., born 1853, and Annie L., born 1859. Mr. Dodge served for 24 years in the volunteer fire department.
p. 166: William Wheaton ELLIS, son of William and Mary (Wheaton) Ellis, was born December 13th, 1838, in Seekonk, Mass., now East Providence, R.I., and was educated at the English and Classical school of East Providence. He learned the jewelry business and followed it three years, then was employed by the Rumford Chemical Works, remaining four years, then worked for the Boston & Providence railroad for seven years, and returned to the chemical works. He was elected on the school board for three years, and was for two years of that time chairman of the board. He was elected again in 1889 for three years, also elected superintendent. He is treasurer of Newman Congregational church, and has been for a number of years, also for 18 years a trustee, and is and has been for a number of years clerk of the society. He was chosen deacon May 30th, 1872, and has served in that capacity for more than 18 years. He married Sarah H., daughter of Hezekiah and Avis N. Blaisdell, of Providence.
p. 166-7: Joseph E. C. FARNHAM, son of William H. and Lydia H. (Parker) Farnham, was born January 18th, 1849, in Nantucket, Mass., and is one of 12 children on the paternal side, and one of nine on the maternal, his father having been twice married. He was educated in the public schools, and the Sir Admiral Coffin Academy of his native town, his 13th birthday being his last day of school. At that age he left home and lived on a farm for one year, and then entered the printing office of the 'Nantucket Mirror', remaining for one year. Then he came to Providence June 2d, 1864, was with A. Crawford Greene one year, and one year with Knowles, Anthony & Co. In March, 1866, he entered the employ of the Providence Press Compnay, continuing until March, 1869, then went with Millard & Harker for one year, returning in March, 1870, to the Providence Press Company. In June, 1883, he was appointed foreman of the book composition department, and continued with the company until October 1st, 1888, when with Edwin H. Snow, under the firm name of Snow & Farnham, he succeeded the Providence Press Company. Their printing establishment is one of the largest in the state, employing about 40 hands.
From 1877 to 1883 he was a member of the Providence school board, serving on the committees on by-laws, music and evening schools. His term would not have expired until 1886, but in 1883 he moved to East Providence. He was appointed on the school board of East Providence in June, 1889, by the town council ito fill the vacancy caused by the death of Miles H. Lawson, and was immediately elected clerk of the board by the committee. At the annual town election in April, 1890, he was re-elected a member of the school committee for a period of three years. At the organization of the school board, immediately following the election, he was re-elected cler, and was also elected superintendent of schools of the town. He is a member of Franklin Lodge of Odd Fellow, No. 23, of Providence, and past grand of the same, has been for a number of years a trustee of his Lodge, and was district deputy grand master for two years over four of the Lodges of the city of Providence. He is also a member of Fraternity Encampment, No. 17, of East Providence, and is a past chief patriarch in this higher branch of Odd Fellowship. He was in June, 1887, a charter member of Providence Council, No. 1096, of the Toyal Arcanum, of East Providence, and was made the first past regent of that organization. He was prominently connected with the Hope Street Methodist church, Providence, for 16 years, and for nearly eight years was Sunday school superintendent. He united with the Haven Methodist church, East Providence, the first Sunday in November, 1883, was soon after elected a member of the official board, and is now steward, class leader, treasurer and president of the board of trustees of that church. He was one of the organizers and founders of the Methodist Social Union of Providence and vicinity, elected secretary at the organization January, 1881, and continued in the office until January, 1888, when he was elected president, declining a re-election at the following annual election. He was again elected secretary in January, 1891. He has been for some years a member of the executive committeee of the Providence Branch of the Indian Rights Association, which embraces in its membership many of the leading citizens of Providence.
He joined the Young Men's Christian Association in 1867, was twice vice-president, and is now, and has been for ten years, a member of the board of directors. He is chairman of the membership committee, and has been a member of the lecture, missionary, publication, finance and the library committees. Being deprived of those educational privileges enjoyed by most boys, he was led to adopt early in his career a system of self improvement, which has always been maintained. With a natural thirst for knowledge, he was fortunate in the selection of the printing trade-- a school in itself-- added to which an early formed habit of reading and study has served to more than make up for the loss of earlier advantages. It may be said of him that, so far as the practical uses of education can go, he is a well-educated man. Thus has he been able to fill every position to which he has been called, with ability, and has added grace and dignity to every occasion upon which he has been selected to preside over and address an audience. As a speaker he has few equals among those of his circle, and never fails to entertain and interest his hearers. He married, October 11th, 1871, Laura S., daughter of Solomon and Nancy B. (Manchester) Greene of Providence. Their children are: Emma Ellouise, born August 30th, 1875, died July 10th, 1876; and William Ellis, born July 5th, 1878.
p. 167-8: Joseph B. FITTS, son of David and Delia (Bucklin) Fitts, was born in 1818, in Seekonk, Mass., now East Providence, R. I., and was educated at the public schools. He learned the tanning trade which he followed in his early days, his father being a tanner and currier. About 1847 he began farming and afterward turned his attention to gardening, which he has followed for over 20 years. He served in the town council in 1887. He married Elizabeth, daughter of William Dennis, of Sandwich, Mass.
p. 168: David GLOVER, son of Thomas and Sarah (Hughes) Glover, was born in 1832, in Prince Edward's Island, and was educated in public schools. His father was a native of Scotland and his mother a native of Massachusetts. He learned the carpenter trade in 1849, came to Providence in 1863, moving to East Providence in August, 1887. He has always followed the building business. He was one of the early members of the Mechanics' Exchange of Providence. He married Catharine, daughter of David Creighton, of Prince Edward's Island.
p. 168: David F. GOFF, son of David and Clarissa (Stacy) Goff, was born in 1849, in Taunton, Mass., was educated in the public schools of his native town and in Rehoboth, and came to East Providence in 1868. He was for a time in the contracting business with George H. Read in building bridges and wharves, and started in the real estate business in Providence in 1874. He served on the board of assessors anumber of years. He married Rachel I., daughter of John Greene, of Worcester.
p. 168: Ira D. GOFF, son of Cyrillus and Mary A. (Monroe) Goff, was born in 1852, in Providence, was educated in the public schools of Providence, and came to East Providence in 1878. He has always followed the jewelry business, and also established a periodical store at Riverside in 1886. He married Annie L., daughter of Henry S. Pine, of Attleboro, Mass. He was elected a member of the school board in 1888. a member of the town council in 1889, and foreman of Narragansett Fire Company No. 2, in March, 1889. He was clerk and treasurer of the latter for seven years previous.
p. 168: Isaac L. GOFF, son of David and Clarissa (Stacy) Goff, was born in 1852 in Taunton. Mass., was educated inthe public schools of East Providence and Bryant & Stratton's College, Providence, and came to East Providence in 1869. He started in the real estate business in Providence in 1871, and has also been engaged in the manufacturing jewelry business since 1879. He married Ada J., daughter of William R. Richards, of Providence.
p. 168: Osmond C. GOODELL, son of Chester and Betsey (Fuller) Goodell, was born in 1835 in Readsboro, Bennington county, Vt., and was educated in the public and select schools of Vermont and Massachusetts. He came to East Providence in 1864 for two years was employed in a fruit store in Providence, and afterward kept a restaurant on Canal street for six years. He was appointed town sergeant and served about 18 years, and deputy sheriff about 17 years. He was also deputy U. S. marshal under Marshal Coggesall, and was an auctioneer a number of years. He married first, Rosa F., daughter of Ansel Hicks ofVermont. His present wife is Eliza B., daughter of George and Sarah Read of East Providence.
p. 169: Joseph B. GURNEY, son of Harris and Eliza (Shaw) Gurney, was born in 1830 in Dorchester, Mass., came to Providence about 1840, and was educated in the public school. He moved to East Providence in 1865, and about that time established the lumber business. He was at one time clerk for his uncle, Austin Gurney, one of the oldest lumber dealers in the city. He served for nine years as a member of the town council, one year on board of assessors, and eight years in the volunteer fire department. He married Susan A., daughter of David Gale of Providence.
p. 169: Charles F. HARRIS, son of Otis G. and Louise (Bicknell) Harris, was born in 1857 in Barrington, R. I., was educated at Barrington high school and in Providence, and came to East Providence in 1882. He was for nine years bookkeeper for the Union Eyelet Company, Providence. Since living in East Providence he has followed farming. He married Esther M., daughter of William Whitcomb of Providence.
p. 169: Albert Pierce HOYT, son of D. W. and Mary E. (Pierce) Hoyt, was born November 29th, 1857, in Brighton, Mass., came to Providence in 1864, and was educated in the public grammar and high schools of the city. He entered Brown University in 1874, graduated in 1878, and from July, 1878, until his death was connected with the First National Bank, and teller of the same from December, 1880. He moved to East Providence in 1884, was elected a member of school board in 1885 for two years, and at that time was clerk of committee on schools. He was appointed in 1887 to fill an unexpired term, and in 1888 was elected for three years as chairman of committee. He married Annie L., daughter of J. C. Dodge, of Providence, April 15th, 1884. He died October 7th, 1890.
p. 169: Isaiah HOYT, son of Benjamin and Sally (Adams) Hoyt, was born in 1812, in Bradford, N. H. At the age of 21 he went to Boston and was employed as foreman by the Boston & Providence railroad in the work of constructing the road. He was soon after made roadmaster of Fourth division. He continued with the corporation until September 1st, 1888, when he resigned. At the close of his 50th year of service the corporation presented him with a check for $500. September 12th, 1886, he was presented by his employees of the railroad with a Waltham gold watch, valued at $100, as a token of their esteem and regard. He has always lived in East Providence since he started with the railroad company. He married Mary Ann Janet, daughter of Ebenezer Bishop, of Seekonk, Mass.
p. 169: Edward S. JUDKINS, son of Nathaniel T. and Chloe C. (Brown) Judkins, was born in 1858 in Seekonk, Mass., now East Providence, and was educated in the public schools. He began manufacturing show cases in East Providence in 1883, and is the only one in that business between New York and Boston. He married Corabell, daughter of Winslow Hall, of Dover, N. H. His father manufactured carriages, and carried on a blacksmithing business on the same place for over 20 years.
p. 170: Alfred J. KENT, son of Isaac B. and Hannah (Kent) Kent, was born in 1849 in Seekonk (now East Providence), and was educated in the public schools. He married Ella, daughter of James Turner, of Portsmouth, R.I., and has always followed farming. He was collector of taxes in 1873.
p. 170: Timothy A. LEONARD, son of Carlton R. and Sarah (Cox) Leonard, was born in 1822 in what is now East Providence, on the farm where he now lives. At the age of 14 he went to Central Falls. He learned the house carpenter's trade in Providence, and in 1847 returned to the old place, where he has since lived. His business has been carpentry and pile driving. He was elected to the senate in 1869, served two years, and was again elected in 1875, serving one year. He was also representative from 1887 to 1889, served a number of years in the town council and as assessor of taxes. He married Martha, daughter of William Jones, of Seekonk, now East Providence.
p. 170: Joseph J. LUTHER, son of Joseph and Fidelia (Niles) Luther, was born in 1834 in Warren, was educated in the public schools of his native town, and came to East Providence about 1859. He has always been identified with the jewelry business, and was in business under the firm name of J. J. Luther and Co. in Providence for five years. He has for the past six years been with Tilden & Thurber. He has served on the town council. He married Sarah T., daughter of C. C. Godfrey, of Providence. His father was a cabinet maker by trade, went to California in 1849, and died there in 1850.
p. 170: William H. McTWIGGAN, son of James and Sarah (McGill) McTwiggan, was born in 1841, in Johnston, R.I., and was educated in the public schools of Providence. His parents came to this country in 1841, locating in Providence, where his father followed the mill business. William H. also operated in a cotton mill a few years, afterward learning the machinist trade, which he has followed since 1866. In 1861 he went West and engaged in the hotel business, remaining there until 1865, when he returned to Providence, and in 1867 he moved to East Providence. He served first in the Second Nebraska Cavalry, and afterward enlisted in the Third Iowa Battery, serving most of the time in Arkansas. His father served in the Twelfth R. I. regiment. He was elected a member of board of assessors in 1889, and re-elected in 1890. He married Ellen M., daughter of Frink U. and Mary Dorrance of East Providence.
p. 170: Benjamin MARTIN, son of George and Maria (Medbery) Martin, was born in 1847, in East Providence, then Seekonk, Mass. He was brought up on his father's farm, and at the age of 21 learned the carpenter's trade, which he has always followed. He married Ella L., daughter of John A. Wood of East Providence. He was elected to the town council in 1889.
p. 171: Daniel MEDBERY, son of Arnold Rhodes and Keciah (Peck) Medbery, was born in 1827 in what is now East Providence, and was educated in the public schools. He married B. Maria, daughter of Edmund S. Comstock of East Providence. Mr. Medbery is the sixth generation from Medberys, eighth generation from Pecks, and ninth generation from Roger Williams on his father's mother's side. His grandfather was Josiah, son of John, son of Thomas, son of John.
p. 171: Jesse MEDBERY, son of Jesse and Elizabeth (Viall) Medbery, was born in 1832, in Seekonk, Mass., now East Providence, and was educated in the public schools. He served as a member of the town council in 1878. His grandfather was John. His great-grandfather, Samuel, was killed in the revolution.
p. 171: James P. MILLARD, son of Nathaniel and Huldah (Peck) Millard was born in 1827, in Rehoboth, Mass., and was educated in the public schools. He was brought up on a farm until 15 years of age, then learned the mason trade, worked at journey work until 1862, and since that time has carried on business for himself. He married first, Sarah, daughter of William Foster of Seekonk, and afterward married Mrs. Mary A. Dawley of Providence. His third wife was Mrs. Phebe R. Carr, of Tiverton, R.I., daughter of Robert and Hannah Tripp. His father was a mason by trade, doing his last work on the old Arcade building.
p. 171: William W. MUNROE, son of Burden and Lydia (Baker) Munroe, was born in 1837, in Rehoboth, Mass., and was educated in the public schools. He came to East Providence in 1863 and established himself in the grocery and provision business. In 1865 his brother became a partner, and the firm has since been known as W. W. Munroe & Co. He was elected town treasurer in 1888. He married Ellen M., daughter of Deacon Isaac Goddard of Providence.
p. 171: George J. NORTON, son of George J. and Ann W. (Smith) Norton, was born in 1848, in Swansea, Mass., and was brought up on a farm. At the age of 16 years he enlisted in the United States service, December 12th, 1864, at New Bedford, Mass., in the 26th Massachusetts Volunteers, and was discharged May 12th, 1865, at close of war. He was educated in the public schools at North Swansea, then learned the carpenter's trade in Pawtucket of Lewin & Kenyon, came to Providence and entered the employ of Peabody & Wilbur, now Fitz Herbert Peabody & Son, where he remained for 15 years. He was afterward for a short time with Dexter Gorton, the contractor, and since 1886 has been foreman at City planing mill, E. R. Randall, proprietor. He came to East Providence in 1870. He has served on town council, was elected in 1886 one of the water commissioners, and still holds that office. He married Emma C., daughter of Welcome and Abbie W. (Carpenter) Barney of Rehoboth.
p. 172: Horace T. PECK, son of Bela and Lemira Ann Wheaton (Peck) Peck, was born in 1839, in Seekonk, now East Providence., R. I., was educated in public schools, and always followed farming. His father bought the place in 1824 and lived there until he died. His grandfather was Joel Peck. Mr. Peck married Mary E., daughter of Samuel Humphrey of Swansea, Mass.
p. 172: James G. PECK, son of Samuel C. and Betsey H. (Chidsey) Peck, was born June 27th, 1844, in Milford, Conn., was educated in the public and private schools of Connecticut, and came to East Providence in 1871. He first engaged in the boot and shoe business under the firm name of Peck & Bartlett, and continued about three years, after which he was for two years bookkeeper for Paine & Sacket. He was then salesman for F. H. Richmond & Co., wholesale paper dealers, and since 1879 has been with C. Sydney Smith, manufacturer of gold chains, Eddy street, Providence. He has been postmaster in East Providence since January, 1886. East Providence was at that time a fourth class office. It was promoted to a third class office August, 1888. Mr. Peck married Frances H., daughter of Mrs. Susan L. Bartlett, of East Providence.
p. 172: Thomas S. PECK, son of Asa and Betsey (Hale) Peck, was born in 1827 in Providence, was educated in the public schools, learned the mason trade with his father and has followed it since he was 15 years old. He came to Seekonk, Mass., now East Providence, when he was one year old. He married Jane, daughter of Lloyd Sutton. He served in the town council and on the board of assessors. His father also followed the mason business.
p. 172: Henry J. PICKERSGILL, son of William C. and Laura L. (Francis) Pickersgill, came to America when a child with his parents, who located at Lowell, Mass. He was educated in the public schools. He is a machinist by trade, but for the past twelve years has followed farming. He came to East Providence in 1877. He served in the First New York Infantry two years, and one year and six months in the 16th Massachusetts Battery. He married Elizabeth P., daughter of Joseph Copeland of Bridgewater, Mass. His father was a civil and mechanical engineer and moved from Lowell to Manchester, N. H., and from there to Providence at the close of the war. He was superintendent of the Providence Tool Company from 1866 to 1874. He then returned to England and died there in October, 1887.
p. 172-73: Galen PIERCE, son of Jeremiah and Candis (Wheeler) Pierce, was born in 1824 in Rehoboth, Mass., and was educated in the district schools. He was first employed as clerk in a grocery store for C. C. Godfrey in Providence, where he remained two years, and was for four years clerk for I. T. Tillinghast in same business, whom he afterward bought out and carried on the business for himself for 37 years at India Point. He came to East Providence about 1878, and was for a few years interested in the grocery business under the firm name of Pierce & Rich. After giving up the grocery business he was in the dry goods and shoe business three years, then retired and gave the business to his son, W. B. Pierce, who still carries it on. He has served in the town council. He married first Phebe Barney, of Providence. His present wife is Emily F., daughter of Samuel Wilmouth, of East Providence. His father was a carpenter by trade and carried on a large business for a number of years.
p. 173: David S. RAY, son of Robert and Mary P. (Graham) Ray, was born in 1840 in Gilford, Ireland, came to America with his parents (who located in Providence, R.I.) when about six months old, and to East Providence about 1860. He was in the First R.I. Cavalry during the rebellion, going out as a private and returning as a quartermaster sergeant. He was first lieutenant of Company A, of the First Battalion of Cavalry in 1877, and in 1879-80 succeeded to command as captain. He was four years commissary on Major George N. Bliss' staff, First Battalion Cavalry, R. I. Militia. He served with rank of colonel in the department of Rhode Island G. A. R., and served with the same rank on the national commander-in-chief's staff. He was the original commander of Bucklin Post, G. A. R., and is now the department quartermaster general of the state of Rhode Island for the second term. He was three times elected commander of Bucklin Post. He was elected to the state senate in 1888, refusing to accept the nomination in 1889. He married Mary H., daughter of Miles B. Lawson of Providence, formerly of Newport, R.I.
p. 173: Thomas H. RAY, son of Robert and Mary P. (Graham) Ray, was born in 1842 in Providence. He was educated in the public schools of Providence and Swansea, Mass. He was brought up on a farm and afterward learned the carpenter trade. He followed the contracting business for about six years, but of late years has turned his attention more to the real estate business, doing considerable building. He came to East Providence about 1866. He has served on the board of assessors and is one of the building committee of the new town hall. He was delegate to the republican convention in New York in 1887, also delegate to the state convention from East Providence in 1888. He served in Battery L, Rhode Island Light Artillery. He married Jennie, adopted daughter of Abel Sherman, of Middletown, R.I.
p. 173-74: S. S. RICH, son of Thomas and Sarah (Sherman) Rich, was born in 1846 in Millville, Mass., and came to Providence when two years old. He was educated in public and high school, and graduated in the class of '66. He was first engaged as clerk in the grocery business for one year. He then established for himself under the firm name of Balcom & Rich, continuing for one year, then with his father went into the wholesale grain business under the firm name of Thomas Rich and Son for one year, and in 1870 came to East Providence, starting in the grocery business under the firm name of Pierce & Rich, which continued about five years, and since 1878 he has carried on the business alone. He married Eugenia, daughter of Galen Pierce of East Providence.
p. 174: William E. RIPLEY, son of Charles B. and Mary I. (Medbery) Ripley, was born in 1843 in Pawtucket, and was educated in the public schools of Pawtucket and at Bryant & Stratton's commercial college, Providence. He left school when 16 years of age, and went into a grocery store as clerk, remaining four years. He then entered college, and in 1864 entered the employ of the Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company of Providence, where he has remained ever since. He married Alice S., daughter of Henry T. Cheetham of Providence.
p. 174: Edwin S. STRAIGHT, son of William P. and Sarah T. (Gardiner) Straight, was born in 1838 in West Greenwich, R.I., and was educated in the public schools. He was brought up on a farm, afterward worked for about seven years in a mill, and then at the sash and blind business, and afterward the carpenter's trade. He has been in the contracting and building business since 1867. He came to East Providence in 1862, the year the town was organized. He married Lucinda, daughter of Benjamin West of Rehoboth, Mass. He was once overseer of the poor.
p. 174: Albert F. SUTTON, son of Captain William and Elizabeth (Mathews) Sutton, was born in 1839 in Seekonk, now East Providence, and was educated at Seekonk academy and Scholfield's commercial school, Providence. He built his present house about 1873. He has followed the gardening business, and has also turned his attention considerably to real estate. He followed the sea about ten years. He married first Phebe, daughter of George Rice of North Providence. His present wife is Elizabeth, daughter of William L. Williams of Providence. His father was a sea captain. His grandfather, Robert Sutton, was one of the twelve men who, disguised as Indians, helped to burn the "Gaspee", as Gaspee Point. His grandmother on his mother's side was a Lawrence, of a family of tories, located at Rehoboth, Mass.
p. 174: Thomas A. SWEETLAND, son of Daniel and Mary (Arnold) Sweetland, was born in 1829 in Providence, and was educated in the public schools. He first engaged in the dry goods business as clerk in Providence, and afterward established himself in the retail business, and then in the wholesale business under the firm name of Dudley, Parkhurst & Co., from 1869 to 1879. He was elected town clerk in April, 1888, and was for nine years previous town treasurer. He was reelected town clerk in April, 1889. He married Charlotte C., daughter of Elisha C. Wells of Providence.
p. 174-75: George W. WHELDEN, son of Samuel and Lavina (Burgess) Whelden, was born in 1837 in Providence, was educated in the public schools, came to East Providence about 1882 and established himself in the general merchandise business. He was previously in the business in Providence. His trade was machinist, which he worked at for about six years. He was elected to the town council in 1888 and 1889. He served in the Tenth R. I. Infantry. He married Ella A., daughter of Amos Clark of Cumberland.
p. 175: Benjamin WILSON, son of Benjamin and Elona (Carpenter) Wilson, was born in 1833 in East Douglass, Mass., and educated in public and high school, came to East Providence in 1864, and since that time has served as probate judge, was president of the town council nearly ten years, and at present is a member of the board.
p. 175-78: George Francis WILSON, founder of the Rumford Chemical Works, was a man whose life proved a blessing to the country in which he lived. It was well for the greater prosperity of the country that he did live, and no greater eulogy than this can be passed upon any man. He was a man of strong physique, tremendous energy, and inflexible purpose, and not more distinguished as a successful manufactuer than for general culture and energetic discharge of duty in business aand official life. He was born in Uxbridge, Mass., December 7th, 1818, and was the oldest son of Benjamin and Mercy Wilson, and a lineal descendant of Roger Wilson of Scrooby, England, who in 1608 fled with the Puritans from religious persecution, and settled in Leyden. Roger Wilson undoubtedly transmitted much of his sterling intelligence and force of character to his descendants, Mr. George F. Wilson bearing in his person the evidences of a robust and unconquerable stock. Roger Wilson was a silk and linen draper, a man of wealth, and was the bondsman of the only men among the Puritans who ever obtained the freedom of the city of Leyden -- Governor Bradford, Isaac Allerton, and Deggory Priest; and it is recorded that the fitting out of the "Mayflower" was greatly due to his liberality and enterprise. He was one of the joint stock company which equipped and started for the new world that famous vessel, though he did not make the voyage in her as he intended. His son John came to America in 1651, from whom George F. Wilson was descended.
George lived upon a farm, attending district school winters, until at the age of 17, he injured his hip while at the plow so as to affect his gait for life, and was apprenticed to Welcome and Darius Farnum, of Waterford, Mass., to learn the trade of wool sorting. The reason he gave for selecting this trade was characteristic of the man. 'That kind of work cannot be done in the night, and I shall have all my evenings for study.' At the end of three years he had mastered his trade and also had made drawings of every machine in the mill, and fully understood the entire business. Frederick M. Ballou and John W. Wheelock were apprentices with Mr. Wilson, and they fitted up a room, where they passed their evenings together in study. He received flattering credentials from his employers and a valuable testimonial, but he wished for a better education before commencing in earnest the work of his life, and having added to previous savings by a year of bookkeeping for Squire Bezaleel Taft, of Uxbridge, he entered the academy, at Shelburne Falls, Mass., as a pupil, and afterward became a teacher there.
In 1844 he went with his newly-married wife to Chicago, traveling by canal to Buffalo and by schooner through the lakes. Here they opened the Chicago Adademy, in the Methodist Episcopal church, at the corner of Clark and Washington streets, commencing with three scholars, and ending in 1848, when they decided to return East, with 225 pupils, among whom were many who have largely contributed to the wonderful important discoveries in illumination, and concerning the effect of heat upon oils susceptible of use for that purpose, particularly as applied to the lighthouse illumination, and also patented apparatus in connection therewith, and a lens of refracting power much supoerior to those then in use by the government. He was not unmindful of the probable future of Chicago, and did much by his collection of statistics, by his writings, and by personal effort toward securing the commencement of her first railroad. Considering it time to engage in business pursuits he sold out his school and turned his face eastward to the field of manufacture.
From 1848 to 1854, he was successively in the employ of the late Governor Jackson at Jackson, the elder Spragues at Quidnick, and the Atlantic Delaine Company at Olneyville. In January, 1855, his studies having led him to a love for chemistry, he entered into a partnership with Professor E. N. Horsford, of Cambridge, Mass., who then held the Rumford professorship at Harvard, for a purpose which is best expressed, perhaps, in one clause of their agreement made at that time, somewhat quaint for these modern days, and well worthy of record. This clause declares their purpose to be that of 'building up a chemical manufacturing establishment of respectability and permanency, such as shall be an honor to ourselves and our children, and a credit to the community in which it is located, and which shall afford us a means of reasonable support.'
How well their intentions were realized all know who are familiar with the manufacturing interests of this vicinity. In 1856 or '57, the business was moved from Providence to what was then Seekonk, but which, by change of the state line, has since become East Providence, and the firm of George F. Wilson & Co. became, and has since continued to be, the Rumford Chemical Works, and the names of its productions are now household words in this country from one ocean to the other. Of Professor Horsford's profound knowledge and research as a chemist, were born the preparations which bear his name, while to Mr. Wilson's genius and indomitable energy are due the credit of inventing the unique apparatus and machinery for their practical production, the creation of a demand for articles hitherto unknown, and the buiding up of a successful business in their manufacture.
How much this means is comprehended by few. The man who decides to enter upon the manufacture of cotton or woolen goods, iron or steel, or the countless articles into which they are wrought, leather goods, or any of the many staples with which our markets teem, finds ready to his hand the necessary tools and machinery, and has for his product a market among a people already educated to its use. With Mr. Wilson none of these conditions existed. He started out to make an article hitherto unknown, and every piece of apparatus or machinery necessary for its production, from the furnaces that received the raw material, to the machines which filled the finished packages, including even the mill that ground the product, were the results of his marvelous ingenuity, his intelligent thought and patient experiment. And while he struggled with and conquered these problems, hampered by insufficient capital, he had to find time to make known to the consumers a new article, and to create among them a demand for it that would warrant the dealer in adding it to his stock. One has only to call to mind the countless names of articles and preparations, many, if not most, of them of undoubted merit, that have from time to time started from advertising pages and dead walls are are now seen no more, to begin to appreciate the effort and outlay necessary to establish public confidence in new goods. Mr. Wilson succeeded where many fail, and lived to see the works which he founded give support to more than 1,200 people, and the land in the vicinity to their location increase in market value twenty fold in consequence thereof.
In the earlier days of his business career, Mr. Wilson manufactured a general line of chemicals for the use of calico printers and paper makers, in addition to the specialty for which the works have since become famous, but the production of these articles was discontinued after a few years, and the business of the works became the manufacture of pulverulent acid phosphate, commonly known as Horsford's Cream of Tartar. This is sold under that name in bulk in large quantities, but the greater portion of this article which the works produce is put up by them in the form of Horsford's Baking Powder and Rumford Yeast Powder. A little later they commenced the manufacture of the medicinal preparation known as Horsford's Acid Phosphate, one of the few proprietary preparations of which the formula is published, and which receive the endorsement of physicians, and today these articles are household necessities throughout this country, while the Acid Phosphate is sold all over the civilized world.
Mr. Wilson's thorough knowledge of mechanical principles and appliances was well known, and was practically exemplified in his own business. His opinion was constantly sought upon new inventions, and his advice by inventors struggling with mechanical difficulties in their road to success, many of whom left him with substantial assistance in addition to advice. His own inventions both of processes and appliances were numerous, as the files of the patent office will show. Outside of the business of the works, some of the most important are an improvement in the manufacture of steel, a revolving boiler for paper manufacturers, and important discoveries in illuminating apparatus for lighthouse use, before mentioned. Mr. Wilson resided in Providence from 1852 to 1861, during which time he was for many years a very prominent member of the school committee, and for two terms served the city in the house of representatives, in 1860 and 1861. In 1861 he removed to East Providence, where he resided until his death on the 19th of January, 1883. He was four times elected a member of the school committee, and was also one of the town council of 1873.
In 1872 the honorary degree of Master of Arts was conferred on him by Brown University. He was a member of the R. I. Historical Society, the Franklin Lyceum, the Franklin Society and the Rhode Island Society for the Encouragement of Domestic Industry, and for many years actively participated in the proceedings of all of them. His interest in agricultural matters was always great, and the contributions of the works under his direction, to the fairs of the latter society, both of stock and farm products, were remarkable for excellence and quantity. He was an extensive reader, a deep thinker, possessed of a mind and memory of no common order, and his universal and thorough acquaintance with all current and scientific subjects and with literature, astonished all who knew what a busy life he led. Mr. Wilson was married in 1844 to Clarissa Bartlett, daughter of Prescott and Narcissa Bartlett of Conway, Mass., a lady of fine culture and intelligence and of lovely character. To her is attributed a large measure of the success of the academy at Chicago, in which they were both teachers, and she was indeed a helpmeet to him in the days of his early struggles as a manufacturer. Her memory is held in loving reverence by many of the employees of her husband, among whom she went with open hand, and to whose necessities in sickness and trouble she so often ministered. Her death occurred in 1880.
In his will Mr. Wilson bequeathed to Dartmouth College the sum of $50,000 for erection of a library building, and to Brown University the sum of $100,000 for the erection and equipment of the Physical Laboratory known as Wilson Hall. He left two sons: Ellery Holbrook Wilson and George Francis Wilson; and three daughters: Clara Frances Penny, Mary Augusta Wilson and Alice Louise Wilson.
[facing page: 'artotype' portrait of Geo. F. Wilson]
p. 178: Ellery H. WILSON, son of George F. and Clarissa (Bartlett) Wilson, was born in 1848 in New Britain, Conn., and was educated in the public schools. He was a delegate to the national republican convention of 1880. He was representative from 1883 to 1887, and speaker of the house from 1885. He was again elected representative in 1889. He is a member of board of state charities and corrections.
p. 179: Levi S. WINCHESTER, son of Monroe and Nancy (Flagg) Winchester, was born in 1847 in Lancaster, Mass. He was educated in public school, and was brought up on his father's farm. He came to East Providence in 1872, and established himself in the grocery business. He was burnt out February 17th, 1877. The building was immediately rebuilt, and he continued to carry on the business until he sold out in 1887. Since that time he has turned his attention to the insurance business. He was the first postmaster appointed at Riverside, and has continued to serve ever since. He was a member of the town council a number of years at different times, and one year assessor. He was elected foreman of the Narragansett Fire Company, No. 2, in 1878, to succeed Samuel English, and served as foreman until March, 1889. He married Lizzie S. Walcott, of Grafton, Mass.
p. 179: John A. WOOD, youngest son of Seth and Lois (Luther) Wood, was born in 1824, in Swansea, Mass. When he was one year old his father moved to Seekonk, Mass., now East Providence. He has served on town council, and on board of assessors. He married Cynthis E. Daughter of Seril Reed, of Seekonk.
p. 179: Seth WOOD, son of Daniel H. and Martha H. (Bliss) Wood, was born in 1859 in Seekonk, Mass., now East Providence, R.I., and was educated at public school and University grammar school, Providence. He has always followed farming. He married Clara E., daughter of William Brown, of Providence.
The Newport County Reading Room Index More Biographies & History .