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

NY: The American Historical Society, Inc. 1920

p. 381 - 382:

ARNOLD BUFFUM CHACE  --  Three generations of the Chace family have been the owning and managing heads of the Valley Falls Company, a cotton manufacturing corporation of Valley Falls, R. I.  The brothers, Harvey and Samuel B. Chace, founded the business under the firm name H. and S. B. Chace in 1839, but on the death of their father, Oliver Chace, in 1852, they incorporated with another brother, Oliver Chace, and organized the Valley Falls Company, to hold the property left them by their father. They located the plant on the Cumberland side of the Blackstone, and also purchased property on the Smithfield side.  H. and S. B. Chace bought the Albion Mills, and by a division of the properties of the brothers in 1868, Samuel B. Chace became the owner of the Valley Falls property. He was succeeded by his son, Arnold Buffum Chace, the present treasurer of the Valley Falls Company.  And Edward Gould Chace is associated with his father as assistant treasurer of the company.

The earlier business experiences of Harvey Chace and his brother, Samuel B. Chace, included a failure with ability to pay but 80 per cent. of their liabilities, but with the founding of the Valley Falls Company came the restorations of their fortunes, and when they had fully regained their financial equilibrium, the old debtors were hunted up and the unpaid 20 per cent. was paid in full with interest.  There are other monuments standing to perpetuate the memory of the Chace brothers, but nothing finer than the foregoing.  It was under the superintendence of Samuel B. Chace that the curved stone dam across the Blackstone river at Valley Falls was built in 1854, a substantial work which will long stand as evidence of his thoroughness as a builder.  Another tribute to the memory is of a different type and offered by one of the great men of the Abolition movement of the ante-Civil War period, William Lloyd Garrison, who said in part at the funeral of Samuel B. Chace, who died December 17, 1870:

'Yet not ten but thirty-five years since one departed friend in the darkest and stormiest period of the Anti-slavery conflict gave his adhesion to the cause.  From that day his door and heart were open to the proscribed advocates of the oppressed, and in the face of the iniquitous Fugitive Slave Law, his home was converted into a station house on a branch of the underground railroad running from New Bedford to Canada, and no efforts were wanting on his part to make it a safe retreat; what a blending of moral courage with rare gentleness of disposition.'

Arnold Buffum Chace, of the eighth American generation of the family founded by William Chace, who came from England with Governor Winthrop and his fleet in 1630, is a son of Samuel B. and Elizabeth (Buffum) Chace, and a grandson of  Oliver and Susanna (Buffinton) Chace; Oliver Chace was a son of Jonathan Chace, son of William Chace, son of William Chace, the founder.  Arnold Buffum Chace was born at Valley Falls, town of Cumberland, R. I., November 10, 1845, and is yet (1919) an honored business man and citizen of Providence, R. I.  He began his education under private tutorage, then entered a Hopedale, Mass., boarding school, and under private teachers completed preparation for college.  He entered Brown University in 1862, pursued a full classical course, and in 1866 was graduated A. B., and the year following graduation he spent in study in the chemical classes of Lawrence Scientific School in Cambridge, Mass. The next year following, he was a student in the chemical laboratory of the Ecole de Medicine in Paris, France.  His next period of study was under Professor Shaler, of the Aggariz Museum of Cambridge, Mass. These years of study indicate the passion of his life, and years have not abated his thirst for study and research, although added business responsibilities have been carried constantly since the year 1869, when he was elected treasurer of the Valley Falls Company, founded and developed by his honored father and uncle.  He has now held that position for over half a century. He has been a director of the Westminster Bank of Providence since 1871; its president since 1894; is president of the Providence Land and Wharf Company, vice-president and trustee of the old Colony Co-operation Bank of Providence; was for years a director of the National Bank of North America, and is a director of the Manufacturers' Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Providence.

The study of mathematics has been a favored one with Mr. Chace all his life, and one of his published works is a treatise upon 'A Certain Class of Cubic Surfaces Treated by Quarternions', which first appeared in the 'Journal of Mathematics'.  He was elected a member of the board of trustees of Brown University in 1876, was chosen treasurer in 1882, serving until 1901, and on October 9, 1907, was elected chancellor of the University, succeeding William Goddard.  He yet serves his alma mater in official capacity, and is a devoted friend of the University, from whence in 1892 he received his degree of Doctor of Science.  He is a member of the Review Club, formerly the Browning Club, and is an ex-president, and has contributed many articles on mathematical problems and subjects which were read before the club.  While in college he stood second in rank in his class, and all through his life he has retained that position among men of intellectual, scholarly tastes, his nature serious and thoughtful. His characteristics have stood the acid test of the years and high position, and no man in his city is more genuinely respected and honored.

Mr. Chace married, October 24, 1871, Eliza Chace Greene, daughter of Christopher A. and Sarah A. Greene, they the parents of three sons: Arnold Buffum, Jr., Malcolm Greene, Edward Gould, and a daughter, Margaret Lily. This review deals with the cause of the youngest son, Edward Gould Chace, of the nine American generation of this ancient and honorable family of New England, long seated in Rhode Island.  Edward Gould Chace was born in Providence, October 16, 1882.  After completing the courses of University Grammar School in Providence, he attended Morristown School, Morristown, N. Y., whence he was graduated in 1900.  He entered Yale University in 1901, continuing until 1903, and was a student at Williams College during the years 1904 and 1905.  He then selected a business course, entered the employ of the Valley Falls Company, of which his father is treasurer, as his assistant, so contiuing until 1910, when he formed a connection with the Fort Dummer Mills of Brattleboro, Vt., was elected treasurer of that corporation in 1911, a position he yet fills.  In 1913 he again became assistant treasurer of the Valley Falls Company, and still retains that connection.  In 1918 Edward G. Chace was elected a director of the Westminster Bank of Providence, being there again a contemporary with his father.  A Republican in politics, Mr. Chace served as tax assessor of the town of Lincoln, R. I., during the years 1903-08, but in 1912 he joined the progressive movement, and being then in Vermont served as chairman of the Windham County Progressive Committee.  He is a member of the Hope, Agawam, Rhode Island County [sic], Yale and Alpha Dela Phi clubs, the Alpha Delta Phi Greek Letter Society, and in religious faith is a Unitarian.

Mr. Chace married, at Newport, R. I., October 17, 1906, Christine MacLeod, daughter of Angus and Jessie (MacKenzie) MacLeod.  They are the parents of five children:  Christine, born April 14, 1909;  Eliza Greene, born June 20, 1913;  Jessie Macaulay MacKenzie, born Aug. 14, 1914; and Margaret Ward, born Dec. 20, 1917.

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George H. CorlissGEORGE HENRY CORLISS  --  The assertion is sometimes made that in spite of certain notable exceptions, the type of mind possessed by inventive geniuses is rarely capable of dealing with the commercial or business aspect of life, and we have the popular and familiar picture of the unsuspecting ingenuous inventor fleeced of the well-earned profit from his devices by the sophisticated and scheming business man.  If this be so it is strange enough, for, to the layman at least, there seems to be no incompatibility between the mind that can grasp the highly practical problems of physical and mechanical science and the very similar problems of everyday business relations, but rather a parity such as to suggest that they are of one and the same kind.  However this may be, it is certain that the remarkable group of American inventors of the generations just passed, whose achievements have given rise to the wide-spread respect for 'Yankee genius', were not afflicted with any such one-sidedness of character.  They, at least, were not deprived of their just deserts, and were quite equally capable of producing their masterpieces of mechanical skill and of marketing them to their own best advantage and to that of the world at large.  And if they thus prove this belief as to the one-sidedness of genius to be false, they no less dispose of another fallacy, the notion, namely, that such a union of abilities shows a man to have developed the material side of his nature at the expense of the spiritual.  Nothing could be further from the truth, as these men have well shown in their lives, wherein were displayed that essential spirit of democracy that is but another form of the Christian virtue of charity, and even those higher reaches of idealism expressed in religion and art.  Such, for example, was the character of the late George H. Corliss, of Providence, R. I., whose death there on February 21, 1888, deprived that community of one of its most prominent and highly honored citizens, and the world at large of a benefactor and one of its foremost inventors.  Mr. Corliss was sprung from one of the best and most ancient of the old Colonial families which had spent the years previous to the Revolution in New England, but after that epoch-making struggle lived in New York State.

The founder of the family in this country was George Corliss, a native of Devonshire, England, where he was born about 1617, a son of Thomas Corliss. The young man came to the colonies when about twenty-two years of age and settled at Newbury, Mass., in 1639.  This was but temporary, however, and he shortly after removed to Haverhill in the same colony, this town becoming the permanent home of the family until the time of John Corliss, five generations later, the grandfather of the Hon. George Henry Corliss of this review.  George Corliss, the immigrant, became the owner of a handsome farm at Haverhilland it was here that several generations of the family carried on the occupation of farming and finally died, George Corliss and his son and grandson by a very strange coincidence, meeting death while seated in the same chair.  The grandfather of Mr. Corliss, already mentioned, Captain John Corliss, as he was called, served with distinction in the Revolution and some years later, sometime in the early nineties, removed to the town of Easton, Washington county, N. Y. The depreciation of the currency following the Revolution made a great difference in his fortune and that which followed the War of 1812 proved another blow, but he and his sons were extremely energetic and enterprising and their fortunes were recouped.  His wife was Lydia Haynes, of Haverhill, and they had eleven children, of whom Hiram, the father of Mr. Corliss was the youngest.  Hiram Corliss was a physician and became a very prominent figure in Easton and the surrounding region, and practiced medicine until he was over eighty years of age.  He was three times married, but it was his first wife, Susan (Sheldon) Corliss, who was the mother of the Mr. Corliss of this review.

George Henry Corliss, the second child of Dr. Hiram and Susan (Sheldon) Corliss, was born June 2, 1817, at Easton, N. Y.  His educational advantages were decidedly meagre in the first instance, although he afterwards supplemented them, for the district schools of that period, especially in the rural neighborhoods, were anything but adequate.  An intelligent mind such as that of Mr. Corliss' did not take long to absorb all they had to offer, and he was but fourteen years of age when he turned from his studies and began his business career.  Like so many of the great Americans, Mr. Corliss made this beginning in the general store at Greenwich, as a clerk, and here remained for upwards of three years, a thoughtful, serious lad, with dreams of things beyond his horizon.  As he grew older he came to feel more and more the great need for further study and he determined at length to compass this ambition in spite of every obstacle. Accordingly, in 1834, he gave up his position in the store and entered an academy in Castleton, Vt., where he remained the full four years and proved himself a student of intelligence and a scholar of attainments. As yet, however, he had no idea in taking up the line of work in which he was later to become so famous, and with the exception of a youthful exploit in the planning and building of a temporary bridge across Batten Kill, had displayed no talent whatsoever in that direction.  And now, upon leaving his studies at the academy, and having attained his majority, instead of turning his thoughts and energies in what would natuurally be supposed a congenial direction, he returned to the business he had already attempted, only this time as an independent enterprise, and early in 1838 established a general store of his own at Greenwich, N. Y. For nearly three year he continued in this line with considerable success and actually passed his twenty-fourth birthday without ever having seen the inside of a machine shop.  In these years, however, he had begun to come to a more definite knowledge of himself, and his tastes and opinions began to form and crystalize.  More and more the mechanical side of every question interested him and he found himself solving mechanical problems and devising mechanical contrivances almost spontaneously.  Finally, about 1841, he decided to take up what was so obviously his bent, and in spite of the very uncertain character of the returns which a  young and unknown inventor can count upon, gave his whole attention to his new tasks.  His work during the better part of the following four years was upon the invention and perfection of a machine for sewing boots, shoes and heavy leather of all kinds.  But Mr. Corliss was laboring under the disadvantage that has beset so many young inventors, that of not having sufficient capital to place his device upon the market at the outset, and so it was that, although the machine itself was both ingenious and practical, he abandoned it and turned his attention to other things. How great a disappointment such seeming failure is, how it operates to discourage in spite of the knowledge that in the essential matter one has succeeded, no one can judge who has not passed through the experience, but Mr. Corliss' courage was not of the kind to fail him for discouragement, and he immediately set to work upon another matter that had long attracted his attention, namely, the improvement of the steam engine.  Bur Mr. Corliss possessed a faculty even rarer than courage, and in the matter of material success not less valuable, that is, he was able to persuade his fellows of the thing of which he was himself convinced and so enlist their sympathy and aid.  In the year 1844 he came to Providence, R. I., to live, the city which remained his home from that time up to the time of his death, and he there associated with two gentlemen, John Barstow and E. J. Nightingale, who felt so much confidence in his ability that a partnership was formed under the style of Corliss, Nighingale & Company, and for the next four years Mr. Corliss worked indefatigably upon his inventions. In 1848 these were practically complete and he was able to construct and operate an engine which, save for some minor improvements in application and finish, was essentially the famous Corliss engine of later years. Feeling now that the task was consummated and that all that remained was to reap the fruits of his endeavors, Mr. Corliss and his associates began the erection of the works of the Corliss Steam Engine Company on a scale, however, that gave but little indication of their later huge proportions. These works were sufficiently progressed for the production of the new engine by the early months of the year 1849, and on March 10 of that year patents were granted by the United States Government covering the improvements made.  The engine was then placed upon the market and from that time until after his death has held a foremost place in the engineering world. In 1856 the Corlisss Steam Engine Company was incorporated with Mr. Corliss as president, and his brother, William Corliss, as treasurer.  A modest factory at the time of its erection, the Corliss works grew rapidly until, at the time of the founder's death, in 1888, the floor space included in the buildings amounted to about five acres, and over a thousand hands were employed there.  The works grew in response to the great increase of the market for these remarkable engines, which in a few years had spread all over this country and reached to Europe.  Indeed, Europe eventually became a great purchaser of the Corliss engine and it was copied by the engine builders who placed upon their imitations the name of the American builder.

The first great international triumph of Mr. Corliss, when his success began to be recognized upon something like the scale that it deserved, was at the World's Exposition held at Paris in the year 1867, when he won the highest award that was granted in that department, the first prize in a competition of the one hundred most famous engine builders in the world. The words of J. Scott Russell, the designer and builder of the huge steamship 'Great Eastern', that afterwards laid the Atlantic cable, and who was sent by the English government as one of its commissioners to the exposition, deserve quotation, written by him, as they were, in the report sent by him to his government.  Speaking of the valve gear of the Corliss engeine Mr. Russell said:

'A mechanism as beautiful as the human hand.  It releases or retains its grasp on the feeding valve, and gives a greater or less dose of steam in nice proportion to each varying want.  The American engine of Corliss everywhere tells of wise forethought, judicious proportions and execution and exquisite contrivance.'

On January 11, 1870, just one hundred years after Watt had patented his first steam engine, Mr. Corliss was awarded the Rumford medals and it was upon this occasion that Dr. Asa Gray, the president of the academy that awarded the medals, remarked that 'no invention since Watt's time has so enhanced the efficiency of the steam engine as this for which the Rumford medal is now presented'.  In 1872 the State of Rhode Island appointed Mr. Corliss its commissioner to take charge of the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia, and he was chosen one of the executive committee appointed to look after the preliminaries.  Upon the great task of arranging the exposition, he worked with his usual indefatigable energy and it was his suggestion that the Centennial Board of Finance be organized, a body which had no little to do with the insurance of the financial success of the exhibition.  It was also in his own department as engineer that Mr. Corliss contributed largely to the success of the great fair, and it was he that supplied, after the plans of all other competitors proved inadequate, the great fourteen hundred horsepower engine which supplied the power used in Machinery Hall.  This engine, unequaled in size at that time, was installed by Mr. Corliss at a cost of one hundred thousand dollars to himself and without additional expenditure to the exposition. The great engine was afterwards used to operate the Pullman Car Works at Chicago.  The Corliss Company supplied the United States Government with machinery during the Civil War.  When the 'Monitor' was being constructed it was found that a large ring must be made, upon which the turret of the 'Monitor' could revolve, and the Corliss Engine Works was found to be one of the very few plants in the country that had the necessary machinery large enough to 'turn' up the large ring.  When Mr. Corliss found out what the work was for, he put aside other work, worked his plant day and night to get this important ring completed, which was done on time, sent to New York, placed on the 'Monitor' and the 'Monitor' was thereby enabled to go forth and meet the 'Merrimac' in that historical naval fight. Mr. Corliss always took pride in the fact that he was in no small measure responsible for the successful outcome of that historic fight.

The practice, already noticed among some European manufacturers, of imitating the Corliss engine in their own shops and then placing the name on them led them to a remarkable and somewhat amusing event which redounded greatly to his honor.  This was the award to Mr. Corliss of the Grand Diploma of Honor by the Vienna Exposition at Vienna in 1873, although he was not even an exhibitor.  This surprising action was explained by the fact that the European manufacturers above mentioned, exhibited their engines with the Corliss name upon them, and displayed so great a superiority over all their competitors that the authorities held it to be fitting that the original designer should get the benefit of genius.  Another honor, perhaps the greatest of all done to Mr. Corliss, was the conferring upon him by the Institute of France by public proclamation, March 10, 1879, of the Montyon prize for the year 1878, the most coveted prize for mechanical achievement awarded in Europe.  He received this honor by a peculiar coincidence, on the thirtieth anniversary of the granting of his first patent.

Although it might be well supposed that the demands made upon his time and energies by the inventive work, the superintendence of the great industrial works, and the business with every part of the world would have been so exacting as to have precluded the possibility of Mr. Corliss taking part in any other activity, yet, as a matter of fact, he was keenly alive to everything that was going on in his adopted city and State and took a leading part in many movements undertaken there.  Especially was this true in the case of politics in which he was a leader in the Republican party, of the principles and policies of which he was a strong supporter. He was elected three consecutive times to the Rhode Island General Assembly as the Representative from North Providence, his term of service including the three years 1868-69-70.  In 1876 he was chosen presidential elector, casting his vote for President Hayes.  In the matter of his religious belief he was a Congregationalist, and attended the Charles Street Church in Providence from the time of its organization.  He was keenly interested in the cause of religion and gave liberally both to his own and to other churches.

Beyond doubt the service done by Mr. Corliss for the material advancement of his fellows was a great one; for the material advancement directly, and indirectly for the intellectual and spiritual advancement, for all material progress reacts upon the mind and spirit particularly such as tend to bring the ends of the earth into communication and teach strange people tolerance first, and then love for each other.  And truly there are few of the devices of men that have done more to bring this about than the steam engine.  Those men, therefore, who have labored at the perfection of this and the other wonderful contrivances of the great scientific epoch of history, may certainly lay claim to much of the credit for the growth of sympathy and understanding among people that has taken place during the same period and of these Mr. Corliss deserves to stand high in our regard.  Of him a local publication said, immediately after his death, that:

'The community loses one of its master minds and a man who has done more for the development of the steam engine than anyone who has yet lived in the country.  His fame was world-wide and his years were devoted to the very end to the one purpose of his life.  To say that he has left a void which it is impossible to fill is simply to reveal the poverty of language in the presence of an irreparable loss.'

But there was another manner in which the influence of Mr. Corliss was effective, namely, through the subtle medium of personality.  No one could look into the well marked, expressive face without feeling himself in the presence of a man of strength, of one who had fought and mastered difficulties which might have overcome another man, or without perceiving the still rarer quality of tolerance and charity for all men.  In his relations with his fellows was realized the earthly part of the message to the waiting shepherds of peace and good will toward men.  It has already been mentioned that he possessed the power of persuasion, but this was by no means confined to the realm of business, extending rather into every department of life so that others hearkened unto and believed him with an instictive dependence upon his wisdom and honor.

Mr. Corliss married (first) in January, 1839, Phebe F. Frost, a native of Canterbury, Conn., and a daughter of Daniel and Louisa (Clark) Frost, of that place.  Mrs. Corliss died on March 5, 1859, and in December, 1866, he married (second) Emily A. Shaw, of Newburyport, Mass.  Mr. Corliss was the father of two children, both of whom were born to his first wife.  They are Maria Louisa, now residing in Providence, and George Frost, who makes his home in Nice, France.

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JEREMIAH LEWIS DIMAN  --  According to tradition the Diman family is of French Huguenot origin, and the name was spelled Diamond or Diament until 1750.  It was changed by some of the Bristol family in the seventh generation from the settler to Dimond, and is also written Diman by one branch of the family.  For quite two and a half centuries the branch of the Bristol family of this name has dwelt in New England, and for two centuries and more in the town of Bristol, where it has figured prominently in the town's social and business life and as well in the public affairs of the State.  A number of the name have represented the town in the General Assembly of the State, among these Hon. Hopestill P. Dimond; Hon. Byron Diman, who was for many years in the Lower House, served as Senator, Lieutenant-Governor, and as well as United States Consul at Port au Prince and at Vera Cruz, Mexico; and Hon. Henry Wight Diman, who also served as United State Consul, at Oporto, Portugal.  This Bristol stock of Dimans, too, has given to the State one of the country's eminent scholars and educators, the learned divine and late professor of history and political economy in Brown University.

It is the purpose of this article to refer briefly to the lives of these men and to their pedigree, and as well to their posterity, some of whom are yet in the old Plymouth town of Bristol and in other portions of the State.

(I)  Thomas Diamont, the first known American ancestor, moved from Farmington, Conn., to East Hampton, Long Island, in 1660.  In 1645 he  married Mary Sheaffe.  He died in 1682.

(II)  James Diamont, son of Thomas Diamont, born in 1646, married Hannah James, daughter of Rev. Thomas James, of Charlestown, Mass., in 1677.  He died in East Hampton, Long Island, December 13, 1721.

(III)  Thomas Diman, son of James Diamont, born about 1680, in East Hampton, Long Island, left that place in 1712, and became a resident of Bristol, R. I.  In 1706 he married Hannah Finney, who died in 1744.

(IV)  Jeremiah Diman, son of Thomas Diman, married, May 13, 1733, Sarah Giddings.  Jeremiah Diman and his wife were admitted to the Congregational church in Bristol, May 13, 1741.  Mrs. Diman died October 13, 1790, aged eighty-one years, and Mr. Diman, November 10, 1798, aged eighty-eight years.

(V)  Nathaniel Diman, son of Jeremiah and Sarah (Giddings) Diman, of Bristol, born January 20, 1734, married, October 18, 1756, Anna Gallup (or Gallop), daughter of Samuel and Mary Gallup, and granddaughter of Samuel Gallup, one of the first settlers of Bristol, and his wife, Elizabeth (Southworth) Gallup, daughter of Constant Southworth, treasurer of the Plymouth Colony. Nathaniel Diman died May 24, 1812, and Mrs. Diman, March 7, 1791.

(VI)  Deacon Jeremiah Diman, son of Nathaniel Diman, born January 4, 1767, was a cooper and gauger, and was interested in shipping.  He married, November 6, 1794, Hannah Luther, daughter of Barnaby L. Luther, of Swansea. Mr. Diman died August 10, 1847, aged seventy years, and Mrs. Diman, June 7, 1840, aged seventy years.

(VII)  Hon. Byron Diman, son of Deacon Jeremiah and Hannah (Luther) Diman, was born August 5, 1795.  He married (first) June 1, 1823, Abigail Alden Wight, who was born October 21, 1802, daughter of Rev. Henry Wight, D. D., for more than forty years pastor of the Congregational church in Bristol, and Clarissa (Leonard) Wight, his wife, who was a daughter of Zephaniah Leonard, of Raynham, Mass.  Mrs. Abigail Alden (Wight) Diman was a descendant in the fifth generation of John Alden, of Plymouth, Mass.  Byron Diman married (second) May 2, 1855, Elizabeth Ann Wood, who was born in Warren, October 11, 1816, daughter of Thomas Baker and Sarah (Hawkins) Wood. Mrs. Diman died October 13, 1881.

Byron Diman received his early education in excellent private schools, principally under the tuition of the late Bishop Griswold.  At sixteen years of age he entered the office of the late Hon. James DeWolf, where he continued until that gentleman's death in 1837, and until after the settlement of his estate.  For years he was extensively engaged in commercial business, both in the whale fisheries and West Indies trade. He was at one time treasurer and subsequently president of the Bristol Steam Mill.  He was a director of the Pokanolet Mill, and for many years president of the Bank of Bristol.  In various ways he was closely identified with the business interests of Bristol.  Mr. Diman was an enthusiastic Whig of the Henry Clay school.  For many years he was a member of the General Assembly, and was a delegate to the Harrisburg Convention in 1840 which nominated General Harrison for the Presidency. He was a member of the Lower House from Bristol for the years 1829, 1837, and 1838, and of the Senate for 1850, 1851 and 1852.  During the Dorr troubles in 1842 he was a member of the Governor's Council, and was one of a body of men who shouldered a gun and marched on Chepachet.  He was Lieutenant-Governor of the State for the years 1843, 1844, and 1845, and Governor in 1846.  'No persuasion could induce him to hold the office longer than a year, and he was deaf to all solicitations to accept a higher position, even that of United States Senator.'  The only official connection that he retained with the State was as commissioner of the indigent blind, deaf and dumb.  Mr. Diman issued the call for the first meeting held in Bristol for the organization of the Republican party, and he gave to the policy of President Lincoln a cordial and unhesitating support.

Governor Diman always took an interest in church affairs, and was remarkably punctual in his attendance on public worship.  He was for several years president of the Catholic Congregational Society.  He was a man of open hospitality, the poor who appealed for a share of his bounty never being sent away empty handed.  He was a genial, kind hearted man, a prudent counsellor and a true friend.  He retired from active life at sixty and passed his remaining years in the quiet of his family, library and native town. 'Up to a late period in his life he was a diligent reader, and few men not belonging to the class of professed students possesed more varied and accurate information.  He was well versed in English literature and general history, and especially at home in topographical and antiquarian lore.' Hon. Byron Diman died August 1, 1865.

(VIII)  Professor Jeremiah Lewis Diman, son of Hon. Byron and Abigail Alden (Wight) Diman, was born May 1, 1831, in Bristol, R. I., married, May 15, 1861, Emily Gardner Stimson, who was born March 4, 1837, daughter of John J. and Abby M. (Clarke) Stimson, of Providence, the former a son of Dr. Jeremy Stimson, a physician of Hopkinton, Mass.

Jeremiah Lewis Diman was prepared for college under the direction of Rev. James N. Sikes, a Baptist minister settled over the church at Bristol, entered Brown University at sixteen, and was graduated in the class of 1851. As a boy in his native town he prepared a number of historic articles entitled 'Annals of Bristol', which were published in the 'Phoenix' of that town.  During the later years of his college course, it was evident that in literary, historical and philosophical studies, his tastes and superior abilities would in after life assert themselves.  At the time of his graduation there was assigned to him 'The Classical Oration'. This theme was 'The Living Principle of Literature'.

While in college Mr. Diman united with the Congregational church in Bristol. He chose the Christian ministry as his life work, and he went to reside as a pupil in the family of Rev. Dr. Thatcher Thayer, of Newport, R. I., under whom he pursued a course of philosophy, theology and classics. For two years, beginning in the fall of 1852, he was a student in Andover (Mass.) Theological Seminary.  Deciding to further his studies in the German universities, he went abroad in the summer of 1854, traveled on the Continent and studied theology, philosophy and history under the great teachers of Halle, Heidelberg and Berlin, and for a short time during one of his vacations was a student of art at Munich.  Returning to America in the spring of 1856, he again took up his studies at Andover and was graduated that summer.  In the same year he was installed pastor of the First Congregational Church at Fall River, Mass., where he remained until 1860. He declined in 1868 an invitation to become the colleague of the celebrated Dr. Horace Bushnell over a Congregational church at Hartford, Conn.  In 1860 he accepted a call to the Harvard Congregational Church at Brookline, Mass. In 1864 he returned to Providence to fill the chair of History and Political Economy, in Brown University, and this position he held until his death, receiving from his alma mater the degree of D. D. in 1870.  In this new and important position he soon distinguished himself by devotion to his work and by his rare scholarship and attainments, being, in the words of his eulogist, 'the embodiment of what the occupant of the chair of history in our leading colleges should be.'  Possessing an enlarged and comprehensive conception of the philosophy of history and of the relation of divine to human affairs, and being withal 'apt to teach', he magnified his office until his department became without question the best and most effective of any chair of history in all the institutions in the land.

Professor Diman's work was not confined to the class room.  For many years he was a contributor to the Providence 'Journal', the New York 'Nation', the 'North American Review', the monthly 'Religious Magazine' and other periodicals.  He was elected a corresponding member of the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1873.  Among his published sermons, addresses, etc., may be mentioned a sermon delivered October 16, 1867, in the chapel of Brown University, at the request of the faculty, in commemoration of Rev. Robinson Potter Dunn, D. D., for many years Professor of Rhetoric in the University; 'The Method of Academic Culture', an address delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Amherst College, July 6, 1869, and afterward published in the 'The New Englander'; 'Historical Basis of Belief', one of the Boston lectures delivered in 1870; 'The Alienation of the Educated Class from Politics', an oration before the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Cambridge, Mass., delivered June 29, 1876, and afterward published by Sidney S. Rider; an address delivered at Portsmouth, R. I., July 10, 1877, at the Centennial Celebration of the capture of General Prescott by Lieutenant-Colonel Barton, which was afterward published, with notes, forming No. 1 of Rider's Rhode Island Historical Tracts; an address delivered October 16, 1877, at the request of the municipal authorities of Providence,  upon the occasion of the dedication of the monument in commemoration of the life and services of the venerated founder of the State, in Roger Williams Park; an address at the dedication of the Rogers Free Library, at Bristol, delivered January 12, 1878.  He delivered before a great gathering the historical address at the two hundredth anniversary of his native town, in 1880, which address has since been published with the proceedings.  He was frequently called upon to supply pulpits in both his own and the Unitarian denominations.  For some years before his death he was an attendant at St. Stephen's Protestant Episcopal Church, Providence, though he never left the Congregational denomination. In 1879 he delivered a course of lectures before Johns Hopkins University upon the subject of the 'Thirty Years War', and the following year's course before the Lowell Institute of Boston on 'The Theistic Argument as Affected by Recent Theories'.  The latter lectures were edited after his death by Professor George P. Fisher, of Yale, and were published in 1881. In 1882 appeared his 'Orations and Essays with Selected Parish Sermons', with the commemoration address by Professor James O. Murray, of Princeton, and in 1887 his 'Memoirs, Compiled from his Letters, Journals and the Recollections of his Friends', by Caroline Hazard, now president of Wellesley College, including a complete list of his publications.

Professor Diman died after less that a week's illness, February 3, 1881. A memorial service in honor of him, under the auspices of the University, was held in the First Baptist Meeting House on May 17, 1881, when an impressive commemorative discourse was delivered by his intimate friend and associate in college, Rev. James O. Murray, D. D., Professor in the College of New Jersey at Princton [sic].  Mrs. Jeremiah Lewis Diman died March 21, 1901.

Professor Jeremiah Lewis and Emily Gardner (Stimson) Diman were the parents of the following children:  1.  Maria Stimson, born Feb. 12, 1862, died suddenly April 29, 1881.  2.  Rev. John Byron, born May 24, 1863; a well known educator, founder and head master of St. George's School in Newport until his resignation in 1917.  3.  Louise, born Dec. 23, 1869; Miss Diman makes her home in Providence. 4.  Emily, born April 8, 1873.


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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