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History of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations: Biographical

NY: The American Historical Society, Inc. 1920

p.  24 - 25:

Dr. William GrosvenorDR. WILLIAM GROSVENOR was born in Killingly, Conn., April 30, 1810.  He was the son of Robert and Mary Beggs Grosvenor, and a descendant in the fifth generation through Robert, Joshua, and Colonel Thomas, from John and Esther Grosvenor, who came from Cheshire, England, in 1680, and settled in Roxbury, Mass., where three more children were born to them.  In 1686, John Grosvenor, with John Chandler, Samuel Ruggles, Benjamin Smith, Joseph Griffin and Samuel Ruggles, Jr., purchased 15,000 acres of wilderness land in the Wabbagnassett country from Major Fitch.  This tract included the territory afterwards occupied by the towns of Killingly, Pomfret, Woodstock and Thompson, and was given by Uncas, Sachem of the Mohegans, to his son Oneco, who sold it to Major Fitch.  John Grosvenor died at Roxbury, September 26, 1691, and in 1692 his widow traveled with the rest of the owners of 'The Wilderness Tract' to Connecticut, accompanied by all her children with the exception of the eldest, who remained in Massachusetts.

William Grosvenor, the subject of this sketch, was educated in the Providence schools, and then pursued the study of medicine at the Pennsylvania Hospital, with the object of succeeding his father, who was a distinguished physician.  Having taken his degree, he returned to Killingly, where for several years he was associated with his father in the practice of medicine and surgery.

August 22, 1836, Dr. Grosvenor married Rosa Anne Mason, daughter of Gen. James B. and Alice (Brown) Mason, daughter of Hon. John Brown, of Providence, and removed to that city, where he began the practice of medicine.  His taste for a mercantile life, however, led him to enter the commercial world as a wholesale dealer in drugs and dyestuffs.  He carried on this business successfully for five years, and during this period was brought in contact with cotton manufacturers.  He thereby acquired a knowledge of textiles, and until 1860 was engaged in calico printing.  In 1848 he was appointed agent of the Masonville Mills, on the retirement of his wife's uncle, Amasa Mason, and from that date became controlling spirit of the company.  He infused it with new life, and started it on a career of continuous prosperity.  Meanwhile he kept strengthening his position by purchasing shares of stock at every opportunity.  In five more years he was so large an owner that he had it in his power to consummate important changes, for which his sagacity had led him to make the preparation.  In 1857 the stone and brick mills of the company were united by the construction of a middle section, forming what was for years operated and called Mill No. 3, but which in 1916 was used for storage purposes only.

In 1862, notwithstanding the serious cloud of depression which affected the business of the country, owing to reverses suffered by the Northern arms, Dr. Grosvenor began the construction of Mill No. 4, furnishing the larger part of the capital himself.  The new mill proved profitable and further enlarged the capacity of the manufactory in 1864 by the purchase of the Fisherville property, and of another large water privilege lower down the stream, which was name 'Grosvenor'.  The different interests being now consolidated under one management, Dr. Grosvenor began to lay the foundations of the present Mill No. 2, and the huge structure was finished and equipped with machinery in 1872.  Meanwhile, in 1868, the amalgamated plant was renamed Grosvenor-Dale Company, Dr. William Grosvenor then owning three-fourths of the stock, William Grosvenor, Jr., one-eighth, James B. M. Grovenor, one-sixteenth, and Lucius Briggs, superintendent, one-sixteenth. In 1883 Mr. Briggs resigned, and the entire property passed into the hands of the Grosvenor family.

Dr. Grosvenor was a man of tremendous ability, genial and courteous in his manners, and highly esteemed throughout New England as a man of integrity and enterprise.  He was a member of the State Senate during the Civil War, and was also chairman of the finance committee.  He was very largely influential in securing prompt and effective legislation, which gave to Rhode Island a prominent place as one of the first States to respond to President Lincoln's call for troops.

For forty years, he personally conserved the financial interests of the Grosvenor-Dale Company, and aided his eldest son, William (2) (see sketch, ibid), upon whom rested the responsibility and the attention to detail in the general management of the steadily growing manufacturing interests.

Dr. William Grosvenor died August 17, 1888, his wife having pre-deceased him in 1872.  He had seven children:  William, see below; James Brown Mason, the founder of the house of Grosvenor in New York, who was the chief agent for the sale of goods of the Grosvenor-Dale Company; Amasa Mason, who died in infancy; Alice, who became the wife of Dr. John J. Mason, of New York; Robert, a graduate of Norwich University in the class of 1868, and until his death, July 19, 1879, was associated with his brother William in the home office of the Grosvenor-Dale Company; Eliza Howe, who died in infancy; and Rosa Anne.

p. 25:

William GrosvenorWILLIAM GROSVENOR, eldest son of Dr. William Grosvenor and Rosa Anne Mason Grosvenor, was born in Providence, R. I., August 4, 1838.  On his father's side he was a descendant of John Grosvenor, who came from England in 1640 and settled in Massachusetts; while through his mother he was a descendant of John Brown, of Revolutionary fame, who led the expedition which ended in the burning of the British ship of war 'Gaspee'.  William Grosvenor went to a Providence day school and then to Brown University, where he was graduated in the class of 1860.  At both the school and college he did well with his studies.  He early won a reputation for being a hard and conscientious worker, and the great trait of his character which stood out very prominently was that of 'perseverance' and ability to ultimately achieve his purpose.

In 1861 he entered the Grosvenor-Dale Company, at the head of which was his father, and in 1883, when the company was incorporated, he was elected treasurer and served in this capacity until 1905, when he also became president.  From 1883 until his death in 1906, he was the controlling factor in the company.  His policy was always progressive along the most  modern lines.  Backed from the first by the strong financial condition of the company, he always bought for it the most up-to-date machinery, regardless of the cost.  He believed that the best was the cheapest in the end, and thus the equipment of the Grosvenor-Dale Company plant was ever kept up to a high standard.  William Grosvenor was a distinct force in his community, and was widely known as a man of sound business judgment and remarkable ability. He was a director of several large corporations, and was a trustee under his father's will for his sister, Rosa Anne Grosvenor.

In 1882, Mr. Grosvenor married Rose Dimond Phinney.  They had seven children, three sons and four daughters:  Alice Mason, wife of Dudley Davis, Harvard '05, of New York; Caroline Rose, wife of Gilbert Maurice Congdon, Yale '09, of Providence; William, Harvard '09, president of the Grosvenor-Dale Company, of Providence; Rose, wife of George Peabody Gardner, Jr., Harvard '10, of Boston; Robert, married Aerielle Frost, of Chicago, May 23, 1918; he died October 27, 1918; Anita Deidamia, wife of Richard Curtis, Harvard '16, of Boston; Theodore Phinney, Harvard '20.  His wife and these children survived him when he died, June 20, 1906. During the last few years of his life, Mr. Grosvenor spent a great deal of his time in taking care of the immediate interests of his family, to all of whom he was most devoted.

Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, RI
William Grosvenor
2 Nov. 1886 - 2 May 1972
his wife Mary Burnett
21 Aug. 1895 - 6 Aug. 1976
Grosvenor Grave Stones,
Swans Point Cemetery
William Grosvenor
born April 30, 1810, died August 10, 1888
Rosa Anne Grosvenor, daughter of
Hon. James B. and Alice Mason
and wife of William Grosvenor
born November 10, 1817, died April 12, 1872
James Brown Mason Grosvenor
son of William and Rosa Anne Grosvenor
born Feb. 12, 1840, died Sept. 25, 1905
Minna Jeanne Ludeling
wife of James Brown Mason Grosvenor
and daughter of John Theodore and Maria Copley Ludeling
born March 25, 1868, died Sept. 12, 1916
Amasa Mason, infant son of William and Rosa Anne Grosvenor
Died Sept. 11, 1842, aged 3 months
Eliza. Howe, daughter of Wm. and Rosa Anne Grosvenor
she died in the second day of May 1853
in the 5th year of her age
Robert Grosvenor, son of William and Rosa Anne Grosvenor
born Nov. 2, 1848, died July 19, 1879
William Peace Hazard,
born 15 August 1912, died Oct. 18, 1992
Mary Burnett Grosvenor
beloved wife of William Peace Hazard,
born 11 July 1915, died 28 June 1981
William Grosvenor
beloved husband of Lucy Esther Pitts
born 7 March 1920, died 11 May, 1980
Rosa Ana Grosvenor
beloved wife of William Chapin Tourlt and James Alexander Briggs
born 22 October 1916, died 10 July 1996
Alice Grosvenor Mason, 1843 - 1886 Robert Grosvenor
born in Providence April 9, 1892
died in New York October 27, 1918
Rose Grosvenor Davis
beloved wife of Henry Sanford, Jr.
and beloved daughter of Dudley Davis and Alice Mason Grosvenor
April 14, 1911 - May 29, 1938
Dudley Davis, Jr., beloved son of Dudley Davis and Alice M. Grosvenor Davis
June 13, 1909 - April 13, 1930
Fellowes Davis, January 11, 1920 - Oct. 15, 1997


These documents are made available free to the public for non-commercial purposes by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project. Transcription and pictures 2001-2 by Beth Hurd

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