History of Washington and Kent Counties,
Rhode Island

by J. R. Cole W.W.Preston & Co., New York, 1889


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF SOUTH KINGSTOWN.

p. 492:

THE HAZARD FAMILY. -- The Hazards are a numerous family.  Watson, in his "Historic Tales of Olden Times," says Mrs. Maria Hazard, of South Kingstown, R.I., mother of the governor, died in 1739 at the age of one hundred years, and could count up five hundred children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren -- two hundred and five of them being then alive.  A granddaughter of hers had already been a grandmother fifteen years.  "Probably," says Updike, "this instance of Rhode Island fruitfulness may match against the world."  The Hazards have descended from Thomas Hazard, who emigrated from Wales about the year 1630 to the Jerseys, and came to Rhode Island in 1639.  His name appears among the elders appointed April 28th, 1639.  Thomas Hazard died in 1677.  The Hazard family take their name, says Willis P. Hazard, from the two words "has," high, and "ard," nature, meaning of high disposition, proud, independent.  These two words are of the ancient British or Welsh language, spoken and written by the people of that name, and more nearly allied to the Gallic than the Teutonic.  The name was originally spelled Hasard.  As a race they are strongly marked, strong physically, of good stature, of vigorous frame, with rather a square head, high forehead and complexion fair, a little inclined to florid.  The coat of arms handed down through generations has three escalops and three bars, with an escalop rampant for a crest.  The motto adopted is "Sinceritas;" "Be just and fear not."

Thomas Hazard came over from Wales in 1630 or 1632.  He is said to have first visited Jersey, then to have gone to Boston, where he was made a freeman in 1636, then to Long Island, where he founded Newtown, then to Rhode Island.  His son, about four years old, came with him, and he was the only son who crossed the sea with him as far as can be ascertained.  His children were: Robert, George, Jeremiah, Benjamin, Stephen, Jonathan and Thomas.  From these sons a numerous issue have descended, and many of them distinguished men.  George Hazard, who was deputy governor of the colony from 1734 to 1738, was a [493] descendant of the first settler.  He lived and died in South Kingstown.

Thomas Hazard (College Tom) was a descendant of the first settler in the fourth generation.  He entered college, but having been early indoctrinated in the faith of the Quakers, he became conscientious respecting collegiate honors, and left the institution before the regular period of conferring degrees.  He married Elizabeth, the daughter William Robinson, and settled on his farm in his native town of South Kingstown, near Tower Hill.  Mr. Hazard was comely in person, large in stature, and of great physical strength.  He was a preacher of the Society of Friends for forty years before his death, and tradition speaks of him as a strong, forcible and argumentative speaker.  He was deservedly popular in his denomination, and was the first in his society that advocated the abolition of negro slavery, and traveled much as a public Friend, preaching the doctrine of emancipation among his brethren.

Mr. Isaac P. Hazard, in a communication to Mr. Updike, says: "My grandfather's mind had once (if not oftener) been turned to the subject of slavery when directed by his father to oversee some slaves at their labor on a very hot day.  He took a book and sat under the shade of a tree, but from the extreme heat he could not, even in that situation, keep comfortably cool.  This led him, while the laborers were toiling in the heat, to contrast slavery with freedom, and he became thoroughly convinced of the error of holding slaves.  This conviction he communicated to his father, and signified to him his intention of cultivating his farm by free labor.  His father at that time being the largest farmer and one of the largest slave holders in New England, and considering his son's views, if persisted in, would greatly injure if not ruin himself and neighbors, endeavored to dissuade him from it, but finding him determined, threatened to disinherit him if he persisted. The subject occasioned a coolness between them for some time.  Her persevered in what he believed to be his duty, expecting from the firm and unchangeable character of his father and family to be disinherited."

He commenced cultivating his farm with free labor, and labored himself in the cause of negro emancipation, visiting various parts of New England and New York to promulgate his views.  Mr. Jeremiah Austin was an overseer or manager of his farm.  He also shared the views of Mr. Hazard on the subject of [494] negro emancipation, and finding himself after the death of his father the possessor of a single slave, his sole inheritance, he freed him and worked himself as a day laborer.  In person Mr. Hazard was large, full six feet in height, and weighed about two hundred and fifty pounds, and possessed great strength both in body and mind.  He died at South Kingstown August 26th, 1795, aged about 76.  He lived on the farm owned by William T. Nichols, and was buried in the Friends' burial ground, near where the Tower Hill House now stands.  His children were Sarah and Rowland.  The daughter died young.

Rowland Hazard, the founder of the mills at Peace Dale, was born April 4th, 1763, and died at Washington Hollow, near Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 1835, aged 72.  He married Mary Peace, who died in 1853.  Their children were: Isaac Peace, born in 1794; Thomas Robinson, born in 1797; Elizabeth Gibson, born in 1799; Rowland Gibson, born in 1801; William R., born in 1803; Joseph Peace, born in 1807; Isabella Wakefield, born in 1810; Mary Peace, born in 1814; and Anna, in 1820.  Rowland Hazard engaged early in mercantile pursuits, but was finally ruined through the operations of Napoleon's Berlin and Milan decrees, under which there were no less than seven ships and other vessels confiscated of which his mercantile firm was sole or part owner.  He returned to South Kingstown and engaged in the manufacture of cotton and wool lindseys, about the beginning of the present century.

Thomas R. Hazard, the author of "Recollections of Olden Times," was a son of Rowland Hazard.  He was born in South Kingstown, R.I., January 3d, 1797, and married Frances Minturn, daughter of Jonas Minturn, of New York, October 12th, 1838.  Thomas R. Hazard wrote the work above referred to when over eight-one years of age.  "Recollections of Olden Times," besides giving a history of the Robinson, Hazard and Sweet families, and from which we have by consent copied freely, contains also a sketch of the romantic life of the unfortunate Hannah Robinson.  The narrative and genealogies first appeared simultaneously in the Newport Mercury and Narragansett Times, in the latter part of the year 1877 and early part of 1878.  Their perusal excited considerable public interest, which led to their publication in book form. The work was issued in 1879.  The style is vigorous, terse and healthful throughout, and the subjects under discussion very ably treated.  The author, in [495] speaking of himself, says: "Thomas R. Hazard, the compiler of these tables, has been an earnest worker in the cause of what is called modern spiritualism since the year 1856, and whatever may be his merits or demerits otherwise, he has no higher ambition than that his name should be handed down to coming generations associated with this fact alone."

Governor George Brown's house afterward became the homestead of Geoffrey Hazard, called Stout Geoffrey.  This house was in Boston Neck.  Mr. Hazard, in his "Recollections of Olden Times," in speaking of this giant in strength says: "Stout Geoffrey, if the half is told be true, must have approached nearer in physical strength to the fabled Hercules than almost any other man known in modern times.  I have heard old people say that Stout Geoffrey was remarkably broad across the shoulders and so thick through the chest than when he stood with his face fronting you his head looked as if it were set unnaturally far back on his shoulders, and that when his back was toward you it looked as though he stooped, his head seeming to project so far in the contrary direction.  Most marvelous stores used to be told and vouched for within my memory of the feats of strength performed by Stout Geoffrey, and also those of a sister who married a Wilcox.  There may now be seen on the lawn in front of Rowland Hazard's house at Peace Dale, in Narragansett, a blue stone weighing by the scales sixteen hundred and twenty pounds that Mr. Hazard had drawn with oxen some years ago from Stout Geoffrey's homestead in Boston Neck, with which the following tradition is associated.  Several negros were engaged in laying a wall on the premises when Stout Geoffrey, chancing to observe a large stone lying near by that they had neglected to build into a wall, asked why they had left it out.  'Cos, massa, it be too heavy,' was the reply.  Thereupon Stout Geoffrey stooped down, and taking the stone partly on his knees, carried it some twenty feet from the wall, and dropping it on the ground, said: 'Let that stone lie there until a man is found strong enough to put it back again.'"

It was said that Stout Geoffrey and his sister would alternately lift in playful sport, a full barrel of cider -- thirty one gallons -- by the chimes and holding it up drink at its bung; a thing hard to believe in these degenerate days.

[495]

ISAAC PEACE HAZARD was born October 3d, 1794, in South Kingstown, R.I., at the residence of his grandfather, Thomas [496] Hazard (known as "College Tom") on the southeastern slope of Tower Hill, near where William T. Nichols now lives.  He was the oldest of the nine children of Rowland Hazard and Mary Peace, his wife.  In 1789, Rowland Hazard had in connection with his cousin, Stephen Ayrault Robinson, established a mercantile business in Charleston, S.C. under the firm name of Hazard & Robinson.  As a consequence he spent much of his time in Charleston, though he did not make it his permanent residence.  The firm had consignments of merchandise from the North, and in looking after these business connections Mr. Hazard made his headquarters at his father's house in Rhode Island.

It was, however, in Charleston that he met and married his wife, Mary Peace, in 1793, and it is evidence that he still regarded South Kingstown as his home that he brought his bride to his father's house, and there his elder children were born, though the business in Charleston was continued for a number of years.  Isaac Peace Hazard was therefore a true South Kingstown boy; he grew to manhood amid surroundings which imbued him with the true Rhode Island spirit.  Throughout his long life he took great pride in his native state.  He particularly admired that independence in thought and judgment, that rugged individuality which is a most marked feature of Rhode Island character.

He had the advantage of attending the Friend's school at Westtown, near Philadelphia, Penn., an excellent institution, where the students were most carefully instructed in mathematics, and in all the English branches; foreign languages, ancient and modern, were not included in the course of study.

On leaving this school he returned to South Kingstown, and at once began to assist his father in business.  This was about 1810 or 1811.  Some years previous the business in Charleston had been broken up by heavy losses of vessels taken by French privateers; losses for which the United States government subsequently was paid by France, but for which nothing has ever been paid to the losers.  Rowland Hazard and his sons were, however, wise enough not to waste their energies in seeking redress from the government. They set to work to regain by labor the fortune which had been so unjustly taken away.  Manufacturing was in its infancy.  As early as 1750 there are indications that Thomas Hazard paid hand loom weavers for several kinds of cloth, both linen and woolen, which he had woven and kept for sale in his store, but not till about 1800 is there any intimation [497] of an organized industry.  At that time there was a fulling mill at Peace Dale, R.I., and Rowland Hazard bought an interest in it in 1802 and soon after set up a carding machine and a spinning jenny with Joseph Congdon and John Warner Knowles.  When Isaac and his brother Rowland returned home from school they found these machines in operation and the manufacturing industry actually begun.  Still much of the spinning was done by hand.  The rolls of wool were made on the card, they were put up in bundles and taken on horseback to the different families where spinning was done on the large hand wheel. Afterward the yarn was collected, arranged for weaving, and put out again to be woven on hand looms.  The attending to this work, involving as it did long hours in the saddle, in all weathers, gave ample occupation to the young men.

Isaac Peace Hazard may thus be said to have grown up with the manufacturing industry in the United States.  The year of his birth (1794) witnessed the starting of the first carding machine in this country.  This was by Schofield in Massachusetts.  He himself actually saw as a boy the starting of the first carding machine in Rhode Island between 1802 and 1804. Subsequently keeping pace with the inventions as they were made, he, with his brother, built up a large flourishing industry at Peace Dale.

It was at Peace Dale that the greater part of his life was spent.  He took a most kindly interest in the welfare of all his neighbors there.  He was constantly appealed to for advice and assistance, and no one whom he could aid ever applied to him in vain.  He possessed the confidence and esteem of all who knew him.

He never sought political power or office, but in response to the earnest solicitations of his townsmen he on six occasions represented the town of South Kingstown in the general assembly, vis.: August 28th, 1838, April 17th and August 27th, 1839, April 20 and August 30th, 1842, and April 5th, 1843, there being at that time semi-annual elections for the general assembly in Rhode Island.

He, in connection with his brother, Thomas R. Hazard, of Vaucluse, on the island of Rhode Island, became very much impressed with the necessity of improved and more humane methods in the care of the insane and of the poor. The personal investigations of Thomas R. Hazard and the reports he made brought about a revolution in the state and a very general [498] reform.  The two brothers, working together, were largely instrumental in securing the establishment of the Butler Hospital for the Insane, which Cyrus Butler liberally endowed.  Rowland G. Hazard also aided in obtaining the necessary funds, so that the three brothers are connected with the founding of that beneficent institution.

From the organization of the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company, in 1848, he was the president of the company until he retired in 1864.  His brother, Rowland G. Hazard, was the treasurer, but the names of the offices do not indicate with any exactness the duties which each discharged.  They divided the conduct of the business between them, working together harmoniously. After his retirement from active business in 1864 he went to live with his sisters in Newport, R.I.  He there was loved and honored by a large circle of friends and acquaintances, and as he entered into the decline of life, he appeared a striking example of a beautiful and happy old age.

He was never married, but continued to live in Newport with his sisters until he died on the 28th of March, 1879.  He lies buried at Peace Dale, in the Oak Dell Cemetery, among scenes with which he was so familiar, and among the people whose welfare he had so much at heart.  His monument bears the following inscription:

ISAAC PEACE HAZARD
BORN IN
SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I..
OCT. 3, 1794,
DIED IN
NEWPORT, R.I.,
MARCH 28TH, 1879.

He was a man of broad and active benevolence,
prompt to denounce injustice
and ever ready to befriend all whom he could serve.

[498]

ROWLAND GIBSON HAZARD, the third son of Rowland Hazard and Mary Peace, his wife, was born in his grandfather's house on Tower Hill, South Kingstown, October 9th, 1801.  His family for several generations had been extensive farmers in the neighborhood.  Tradition asserts that the son of the first immigrant, who settled in Newport, came to Narragansett in 1671.  By a deed in the possession of the family, dated 1698, portions of the Pettaquamscutt purchase, amounting to nearly a thousand acres, were conveyed by Judge Samuel Sewall to Thomas Hazard, the grandson of the first settler.  These lands include the present [499] site of Peace Dale; the whole of Little Point Judith Neck, and the lands upon which Narragansett Pier now stands.  To this original purchase more land was added, until the Hazards were among the largest landholders in New England.

It was from such a vigorous race that Rowland Gibson Hazard sprung.  In early childhood he was taken to Bristol, Pa., to the home of his maternal grandfather, Isaac Peace.  He attended school in Burlington, N.J., across the Delaware, and in Bristol, and in 1813 was sent to Westtown school, an excellent school under the charge of the Society of Friends, of which society his parents were members.  Here he remained five years and developed a strong taste for mathematics, discovering some new modes of demonstration in conic sections.  This school gave him a thorough training in the branches it taught, and though he lamented his want of a classical education, yet by his own reading he early acquired a knowledge of classical history.

In 1819 Mr. Hazard returned to Rhode Island, and with his brother, Isaac Peace Hazard, took charge of the manufacturing business at Peace Dale, in which their father was engaged Linsey-woolsey and goods chiefly sold at the South were ten made. Under the management of the brothers, the business largely increased.  From 1833 to 1843 Mr. Hazard made yearly visits to the South, and had the opportunity to see the workings of slavery, an institution which he abhorred.  In New Orleans, through his efforts, many free negroes unjustly detained in the chain-gang were released.  His speech on the fugitive slave law in the Rhode Island legislature, in 1850, while generous and appreciative of the slave owners' position, is a powerful denunciation of the institution.

In 1835 Mr. Hazard published his first Essay on Language, though the title page bears the imprint 1836.  This was published anonymously, and attracted the attention of Dr. William Ellery Channing, who discovered the author and came to Peace Dale to see him.  This acquaintance ripened into friendship, and acting on the advice of Dr. Channing, Mr. Hazard began to reflect upon the problems of free will and necessity, which finally led to the publication of the book on The Will in 1864.  Of this book Dr. E.G. Robinson remarks: "For subtle analysis, or originality of argument, for lucidity of statement, for ingenuity and freshness of illustration, and for conclusiveness of reasoning [500] from its premises, no book yet written on the Will is entitled to take precedence."

A visit to Europe in 1864 enabled Mr. Hazard to make the acquaintance of John Stuart Mill, and conversation and correspondence with him gave rise to the book on Causation and Freedom in Willing, published in 1869.  This is regarded by competent critics as his ablest book, and as the best refutation of the Hume and Mill doctrine of causality that has yet appeared.

This metaphysical work was carried on in the midst of pressing business. Mr. Hazard perceived the necessity for regulating the powers of railroad corporations, and in speeches in the legislature, in 1851 and 1854, enunciated principles which have since passed into the inter-state commerce law.  The adjustment of the tariff and national finance occupied his mind. During the war he rendered important service in inspiring confidence in the national credit.  After the war the construction of new railroads occupied him.

In town affairs he took an active interest, delivering addresses on public questions, such as bribery and temperance and public schools, before the local societies.  He represented the town in both house and senate on several occasions from 1850 to 1880.  He gave the present town house to the town in 1877, and took an active interest in the building of the Narragansett Pier railroad.

He married, September 25th, 1828, Caroline, daughter of John Newbold, of Bucks county, Pennsylvania.  He died June 24th, 1888, beloved and respected by his neighbors.

The following list of published writings shows the extent of his work in various directions:

  • Complete Works of Rowland Gibson Hazard.  Edited by his Granddaughter, Caroline Hazard.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1889.
  • Vol. I. -- Language, 1835; The Adaptation of the Universe to the Cultivation of the Mind, 1841; Intemperance, 1843; The Philosophical character of Channing, 1845; Public Schools, 1845; character and Writings of Chief Justice Durfee, 1848; The Duty of Individuals to Support Science and Literature, 1855; To Write Well, Write about What You Know Little or Nothing about, 1864.
  • Vol. II. -- Freedom of Mind in Willing; or, Every Being that Wills a Creative First Cause.  First published in 1864.[501]
  • Contents: Of the Existence of Spirit; Of the Existence of Matter; Of Mind; Liberty or Freedom; Of Cause; Of the Will; Of Want; Of Matter as Cause; Of Spirit as Cause; Freedom of Intelligence; Instinct and Habit; Illustration from Chess; Of Want and Effort in Various Orders of Intelligence; Of Effort for Internal Change; Conclusion.  Review of Edwards on the Will.  'Edwards' Definition of Will; Liberty as Defined by Edwards; Natural and Moral Necessity; Self-Determination; No Event without a Cause; Of the Will's Determining in Things Indifferent; Relation of Indifference to Freedom in Willing; Contingence; Connection of the Will with the Understanding; Motive; Cause and Effect; God's Foreknowledge; Conclusion.
  • Vol. III -- Two Letters on Causation and Freedom in Willing, addressed to John Stuart Mill.  With other Papers.
  • Contents: Letter on Causation; Letter on Freedom in Willing; The Existence of Matter; Our Notions of Infinite Space, 1869; Animals not Automata, 1874; Letter on Causation to Francis Wharton, LL.D., 1878; and Man a Creative First Cause, 1883.
  • Vol. IV. -- Economics and Politics.  A Series of Papers upon Public Questions, written on various occasions from 1840 to 1885.
  • Contents: The Decline of Political Morality, 1840; Letter on Specie Payment, 1843; Speech on the Fugitive Slave Law, 1850; Railroad Corporations and the Public, 1849; Speech on a Bill to Equalize the Charges for Carrying Freight, 1851; Speech on the Railroad Bill, 1854; Bribery, 1854; The Narragansett Speech, 1856; Address to Republican Electors, 1860; Duties on Wool, 1864; Additional Arguments before Committee of Ways and Means, 1864; Woolen Manufactures as Affected by the Tariff, 1866; Our Resources, 1864; Letter to President Lincoln, 1864; Hours of Labor, 1866; How to Resume Specie Payments, 1866; Reconstruction, 1866; Union Pacific Railroad Circular, 1867; Payment of the Five-twenty Bonds, 1867; Inflated Currency, 1868; Our Finances, 1868; letter on Woman's Suffrage, 1868; Grant and Colfax Speech, 1868; Argument on Constitutional Rights, 1873; The Tariff, 1865.
  • [501]

    JOSEPH PEACE HAZARD was born February 17th, 1807, in Burlington, N.J., from whence he a few weeks after removed with his parents to Bristol, Penn., and remained until his thirteenth year, when Peace Dale became his home.  At the age of nice years he was placed in school at Westtown, Penn., and pursued his studies at this point until the age of fourteen.  He then [502] busied himself in the mill owned by his eldest brother, and in 1835 erected a woolen mill at Peace Dale, which was operated for several years and subsequently leased, after which he abandoned business.  Having a taste for travel, Mr. Hazard acquainted himself thoroughly with the land of his birth, and in 1856 made the tour of Europe, spending much time in the cities of London and Rome, which with their historic and antiquarian associations, proved especially attractive to him.  For many years much of his time was spent abroad until 1879, when he returned to his native land.  During the last two years of his tour he made the circuit of the globe, including the islands of Japan and Iceland, and many other interesting but less frequented points.  His home for the past three years has been chiefly at Peace Dale.

    Mr. Hazard was among the first to foresee the advantages possessed by Narragansett Pier as a popular resort, and at an early day furnished means to aid in its development, and promote its growth as a business center.  He is still a considerable holder of land at that point, and in 1846 began the erection of what is known as the "Castle," a picuresque structure surmounted by two towers.  Mr. Hazard is in no sense a politician.  His sympathies are with  the prohibition party, though ever opposed to the claims of a candidate whom he deems an improper person, regardless of party.

    ROWLAND HAZARD, eldest son of Rowland Gibson Hazard and Caroline Newbold, his wife, was born in Newport, R.I., August 16th, 1829.  His parents moved to Peace Dale, R.I., in 1833, and it was in Peace Dale that he grew to manhood. He attended Nine Partners' School in Dutchess county, N.Y., in 1835-6, the Kingston Academy in 1836-7, and later studied Latin and mathematics with the Reverend Thomas Vernon, then living on Kingston Hill.  In 1845 he went to the Friends' College, at Haverford, but upon the temporary suspension of that place of learning, concluded to enter Brown University.  In the autumn of the same year he entered the Sophomore class in mathematics, and the Freshman in other studies, intending to take only a partial course, as he was not fully prepared in Greek.  He soon, however, determined to fit himself for the full course; and by entering the Freshman class gained time from the mathematical work, in which he was in advance, to devote to the study of Greek.  He graduated in 1849, ranking in the first third of the class.  In the department of mathematics he showed ability, having taken [503] the first prize for three years, and a second prize the fourth year.  He also took the philosophical prize for the best essay in that department.

    At this time threatening of serious trouble with the lungs obliged him to seek a milder climate, and the winter of 1850-1 was spent at the South with his friend and classmate, Mr. James B. Angell.  The winter of 8152-3 was passed with the same companion in Europe, chiefly in Italy.

    In 1854 Mr. Hazard married Margaret, daughter of the Reverend Anson Rood, of Philadelphia, and built his house at Oakwoods, in Peace Dale, which has since remained his home.

    He has always been active in village and town affairs.  At the time of his marriage there was no church in Peace Dale, and one of his first cares was the organization of a Sunday school in the school house.  February 13th, 1857, in response to his invitation, thirteen people met at his house, and the Second Congregational Church of South Kingstown was organized.  In the autumn of the previous year the large stone building, in which is the Peace Dale hall, had been finished from his plans, and the little church worshipped in that.  In 1872 he built the present stone church, drawing the plans himself, down to the minutest detail, and almost standing by at the laying of every stone.  With the exception of a few contributions, Mr. Hazard bore the expense of the building, and it was presented to the society, free from debt, at its dedication.  Mr. Hazard has always had great interest in architecture, and made careful study of the laws of construction.  He built the bridge over Pettaquamscutt river, in 1867.  The large worsted mill was built after his plans, in 1872, the weaving shed at a later date, and the stone bridges about Peace Dale are all of his building.  One bridge of a single stone arch, with a span of forty feet, is said to be the largest single arch in the state.  He was largely instrumental in establishing the Narragansett Library, in 1855. In the organization of the High School he was greatly interested, giving the land for the building, and assisting in its maintenance.  In everything relating to the improvement of the village and town he has had an active part, suggesting and planning measures for the good of the people.  He laid out Oak Dell cemetery, has opened roads through his own lands and those of the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company for the convenience of the public, drew the plan of the town house in Wakefield, and throughout his life has [504] been active in everything which could promote the welfare of his town.

    The well-being of those in his employ he has had closely at heart.  From 1855 to 1860 he acted as superintendent of the Peace Dale mills, and became thoroughly acquainted with all the details of the business, and the needs of the operatives.  In 1864 he became treasurer and senior partner of the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company.  He remodeled the tenement houses, and inaugurated a policy of building single houses for the operatives, which they were encouraged to buy on easy terms of payment.  A system of public gardens had been in vogue, each occupant of a tenement being entitled to a certain amount of land to cultivate.  But these before long were abandoned, as each became possessed of his own land.  The personal interest o f Mr. Hazard in the welfare of all in his employ has had much influence in making Peace Dale an exceptional community, free from strikes and other disquieting influences with which many manufacturing villages are inflicted.

    The distribution of profits and the question of the relation of capital and labor has received his earnest attention.  After much study of the subject, and after a personal inspection of the cooperative establishments at Rochdale, England, and elsewhere, he decided to introduce a system of profit sharing into the Peace Dale mills. The plan proposed was set forth in the following circular, which with the consent of his brother, John N. Hazard, he wrote and issued in 1878:

    "For some years past the subject of co-operation has been attentively considered by the members of the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company.  The great depression which has, during that time, existed in the shawl trade has prevented the adoption of any special plan.  It would have been useless to offer co-operation to laborers when there was prospect of loss instead of profit.  Just here observe that labor can not run the risk of loss, the argument seems sound that it should have the advantage of corresponding gain. However just the principle, there has been developed in practice, particularly in Europe, a tendency to bring labor and capital into antagonistic relations. This is a false position. Capital and labor are inter-dependent.  Their interests are identical.  Neither is [505] of value without the other, and only when they work together in harmony are the best results attainable. In view of these facts several systems of co-operation have been devised, by which the laborer may obtain a larger share of the product of his labor than usually falls to his lot.  The only one which seems to be applicable to the circumstances of the case of the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company, is that which the company has adopted as follows:

    "The Peace Dale Manufacturing Company proposes, in each year in which there are surplus profits, to divide a sum among all its employees, which sum shall depend upon the results of the year's business.  This sum cannot under ordinary circumstances be very large.  Before anything can be set apart for it, wages must be paid, interest must be paid, and profit on capital must be paid.  Then an amount must be set aside to make good wear and tear of buildings, to replace worn out machinery, and to strengthen the reserve funds, that the company may be able to pass through a year, or a series of years of depression.  The importance of this last is seen in the experience of the past five years, when but for the existence of such reserve funds the mills would have been obliged to stop.  Out of what is left after all these things are provided for, the bonus for labor must be taken.   "Under present conditions the items before mentioned, on the average absorb nearly all the profits, leaving little or nothing out of which to pay this proposed bonus; whatever is left will, however, feel the full effect of any extra care and attention on the part of the employees.  If they prevent waste of material, if they save the wear and tear of machines, if they are diligent so that a large amount of work is performed, the sum out of which the bonus is to be paid will be enlarged.  Indeed, in proposing this bonus the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company confidently expects that the increased care and diligence which it will thus be the direct interest of each employee to exercise, will result in a saving which will go far toward providing the means of payment.

    "The mode of distributing this bonus will be by making a dividend of so much per cent. upon the amount  of wages earned during the year by the persons entitled to receive the bonus.  This percentage will be fixed by the directors of the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company, in view of the year's results, and if in their judgement, after providing for all other contingencies, there is not enough left to make a dividend of one per cent., no dividend will be made for that year.

    [506]
    "In case of a dividend it will be paid on and after the 20th day of March in each year, to all employees who were in the employ of the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company during the preceding month of January, and who were in said employ for at least seven months out of the twelve next preceding the first day of February.  The amount of wages earned by each employee during the twelve months next preceding the first day of February, shall be taken (to the nearest whole dollar), as the amount upon which the percentage is to be calculated to ascertain the amount of dividend to be paid each said employee.

    "Employees who have been discharged for cause, who have not worked at least seven months during the year ending January 31st, or who have voluntarily left the employ of the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company previous to that date will not be entitled to any dividend.  This plan of co-operation is adopted as an experiment only.  If after trial it fails to accomplish the ends proposed, among which greater neatness, care, and attention in all departments of the works are especially desirable, it will be abandoned.  The Peace Dale Manufacturing Company expressly reserves to itself the right to modify or discontinue the plan, whenever it shall deem proper; but it also expresses the hope that its continued working will be productive of only good results."

    Mr. Hazard has also been much interested in agriculture and the improvement of breeds of cattle, and is the president of the Washington County Agricultural Society, to which office he was elected at the organization of the society in 1876.  Before this society he has annually (with the exception of one year) delivered an address, in which he has discussed not only agricultural topics, such as the different breeds of cattle, the raising of various crops, dairy farming, ensilage and other cattle foods, but questions of general interest, a sound currency, taxation, the tariff and civil service reform.  These and kindred topics have been treated with great fairness and ability, Mr. Hazard making it his aim to convince his hearers, among whom are many farmers, of their vital interest in all that pertains to good government.  Some of these addresses have been published and widely circulated, and have attracted the attention of scholars.

    [507]
    Mr. Hazard served the town of South Kingstown as moderator for several years, and in the state legislature as representative in 1863, and as senator in 1867 and 1868.

    He was the independent candidate for governor in 1875, receiving the plurality of votes, but failed of election in the legislature.  His candidacy was regarded at the time as a severe rebuke to party methods of management, which had corrupted the people to an alarming extent.  In politics he has always been a republican, but not one who yielded the right of private judgment.  In late years, therefore, he has been an independent, voting when it was possible with the republicans, but for the best candidate without regard to party lines.

    Mr. Hazard has been interested in the production of lead.  He took charge of Mine La Motte, Missouri, in 1875, when the estate was badly run down, and it has required much attention to make it productive.

    His active mind has naturally been interested in all new industries.  In 1881 he took steps to introduce the manufacture of soda ash into this country.  Previously nearly the whole supply had been imported and none had been made by the ammonia process.  He was instrumental in organizing the Solvay Process Company of Syracuse, N.Y., and became its president.  The first soda ash made by the ammonia process in America was produced by this company in January, 1884, and Mr. Hazard's large experience and practical wisdom have greatly aided the infant  industry.  The works have grown from a production of forty tons of ash a day to one hundred and fifty tons a day.

    [507]
    THE ROBINSON FAMILY. -- Rowland Robinson built his house before the middle of the last century.  It stood about one mile west of Narragansett bay and a half mile north of the old Colonial highway that leads to and from the South Ferry.  It was a gambrel roofed house, and including negro quarters was one hundred and five feet in length, but was subsequently cut down to fifty-four feet front.  The house has been occupied of late years by Rowland F. Gardiner.  The timber for this structure was cut on the estate, and the house was elaborately finished.  Mr. Hazard says: "In a recent visit to these premises I took especial note of the middle cross beam that supports the chamber floor over the west front room (this room is 20 by 20 feet).  It is twenty feet long and twelve inches square, and is without support underneath its full length; yet I could not perceive that in the century and more that had passed since it was placed there it had sagged or bent in the least degree.  All the rooms in the house are finished after the same costly pattern, and most of the fire places ornamented [508] with the old-fashioned Chinese tiles.  The dining room is 22 by 20 feet in dimensions.  On the panel over the fire place, in a back room on the ground floor, is a large, ancient painting in which the artist has in a more graphic than finished style sketched in oil, a stag or deer hunt that occurred on the premises while the house was being built.  The huntsmen are depicted fully accoutered in their sporting costumes, with high flap boots, and sitting or rather standing very erect in their stirrups.

    "The chamber over the west room was occupied for some time during the revolutionary war by the Marquis Lafayette, and has ever since been designated by the successive occupants of the premises, the Lafayette chamber.  In making some repairs some two ounce bullets were found imbedded in the plank in front of this room.  Whether there is any historical significance attached to this incident, I have not learned."

    A large apartment over the dining room is called to this day the "Unfortunate Hannah's Chamber," from its having been occupied by a beautiful daughter of Mr. Robinson by that name, whose tragic story is told at length in Hazard's "Recollections of Olden Times."  The cupboard is still shown in which her lover used to retreat when the steps of her irascible father were
    heard on the stairs.

    Rowland Robinson, the first, ran away from his parents and escaped on board a ship from England to the colonies, and bound himself to a carpenter. By good behavior he soon got advanced in business, and bought from the Indians large tracts of land on which he built partly with his own hands the homestead in Point Judith.  He married a rich farmer's daughter, had many children, and from his eldest son, William, the Robinson family are descended.  Rowland Robinson was born in 1654 at or near a place called Long Bluff, in Cumberland, England.  He came to this country in 1675, and in 1676 married Mary, the daughter of John and Mary Allen, who were from Barnstable, England.  Rowland Robinson died at his residence, situated near the pond or cove of Pettaquamscutt river in 1716, aged 62 years.  He and his wife were both buried in the Narragansett Friends' burial ground, South Kingstown, about two miles south of Tower Hill village.  Mr. Robinson's lands were purchased of the Narragansett Indians.  He also purchased largely in the Pettaquamscutt and Point Judith lands.  On these lands he built several houses, and sold farms containing from one hundred and fifty to three hundred acres each.

    [509]
    Rowland Robinson's  children were as follows: John, who married Mary Hazard in 1703; Joseph, who died in infancy; Elizabeth, married William Brown in 1698; Margaret, who married Thomas Mumford in 1703; Sarah, who married James Barton in 1712; Rowland, who died at the age of five years; Mercy, who married Colonel John Potter in 1714; William, who married Martha Potter in 1717; and his second wife, Mrs. Abigail G. Hazard in 1727 or 1728; Mary, who married Thomas C. Hazard in 1727; Rowland, who died in infancy; Sarah who married Charles Babcock in 1725; and Ruth, the twelfth and youngest child, who married Robert Underwood in 1728.

    Governor William Robinson was the eighth child of Rowland.  By his first wife, Martha Potter, was born Rowland, who married Anstis Gardiner in 1741. The children of Rowland Robinson were: Hannah, born in 1746, married Peter Simons in 1773, who went to Europe after the death of this celebrated beauty; Mary; William R., who married Ann Scott in 1784.

    John, the second child of Governor William Robinson, died in 1739, a youth of eighteen years; Margaret married William Mumford in 1745; Elizabeth married Thomas Hazard in 1745; Martha married Latham Clarke in 1747.

    Christopher, the first child of Governor William Robinson by his second wife, married Ruhama Champlin in 1752; William married Hannah Brown in 1752; Thomas married Sarah Richardson in 1752; Abigail married John Wanton in 1751; Sylvester married Alice Perry in 1756; Mary married John Dockray in 1756; James married Nancy Rodman; John married Sarah Peckham.

    The above gives the heads of families only, but is sufficient in a sketch of this character to show the relationship of the Robinson family to innumerable other ones in South Kingstown who are in one way or another connected.

    Following we give the sad circumstances connected with the unfortunate Hannah Robinson.  Rowland Robinson was the eldest son of Governor William Robinson by his first wife.  He was a gentleman of opulence, and sustained many responsible offices under the state government.  His noble mansion is still standing in a good state of preservation, and is one of the remaining memorials of the aristocracy of the past ages.  His children were Hannah, Mary and William.  Mary died single, at middle age; William married Ann the daughter of George [510] Scott of Newport, and died a short time previous to his father, without issue.  Hannah was styled "The unfortunate Hannah Robinson."  She was the celebrated beauty of her day, and if unbroken tradition is sufficient authority, the appellation was justly bestowed.  The late Doctor William Bowen, of Providence, frequently conversed about her and observed that Miss Robinson was the most perfect model of beauty that he ever knew, and that he frequently visited at her father's; that her figure was graceful and dignified, her complexion fair and beautiful, and her manner urbane and captivating; that he was passionately fond of her, and proposed to her a matrimonial union.  She replied that his wishes to promote her happiness were highly flattering; that as a friend she should ever entertain for him the highest respect, and in that character should ever be extremely gratified to see him; but that she was bound to disclose to him, however reluctant she felt to give him pain, that she was engaged.  He further observed that though disappointed in the hope he had so ardently cherished, the refusal was imparted with such suavity and tenderness, united with personal respect, that though disappointed, he felt consoled.  The late Hon. Elisha R. Potter, Judge Waite and others who knew Miss Robinson, fully confirmed Doctor Bowen's testimony in respect to her personal beauty and accomplished manners.

    Mr. Peter Simons, a young gentleman of Newport, became early attached to Miss Robinson; they had been schoolmates and the attachment was reciprocal. Her father, without any apparent reason, was hostile to the connection, and his efforts were unwearied to prevent their union.  Mr. Robinson in temperament was constitutionally irritable, rash and unyielding.  His antipathies, when once fixed, no reason or argument could remove.  Mr. Simons had early in life become attached to Miss Robinson; it had been reciprocated; their disposition were congenial; time had cemented their affections; she had plighted her faith, and no promise or threats could induce her to violate the vows she had made; she could become a martyr; she could suffer, but she could not betray her own heart or the faith that another had reposed in her.  As might have been expected, the violent and unreasonable measures adopted by her father, instead of subduing, only increased the fervor of their attachment.  Her conduct was constantly subjected to the strictest scrutiny. If she walked, her movements were watched; if she rode, a servant was ordered [511] to be in constant attendance; if a visit was contemplated, he immediately concluded it was only a pretense for an arranged interview; and even after departure, if the most trifling circumstance gave color to the suspicion, he would immediately pursue and compel her to return.  In one instance she left home to visit her aunt in New London.  Her father soon afterward discovered from his windows a vessel leaving Newport and taking a course for the same place.  Although the vessel and the persons on board were wholly unknown to him, his jealousies were immediately aroused, conjecturing it was Mr. Simons intending to fulfill an arrangement previously made.  He hastened to New London, arrived a few hours only after his daughter, and insisted on her instant return.  No persuasion or argument could induce him to change his determination, and she was compelled to return with him.

    Her uncle, the late Colonel John Gardiner, commiserated the condition of his unfortunate niece.  He knew her determination was not to be changed or her resolution overcome by parental exaction, however severe; and aware that the wrongs she had already undergone had sensibly affected her health and would soon destroy her constitution, with a generosity and disinterestedness that belonged to his character, contrived interviews between Mr. Simons and Miss Robinson unknown to her father.  The window where she sat and the shrubbery behind which his person was concealed at these evening interviews are still shown by the family residing there.  These were perilous meetings, for such was the antipathy of the father, that detection would probably have resulted in instant death for Mr. Simons; but as usual in such cases, their precautions were in proportion to the imminence of their danger.

    All efforts to obtain the consent of her father, aided by the influence of her mother, having proved unavailing, and seeing no prospect of his ever becoming reconciled to their union, she abandoned all further efforts to reconcile him to her wishes, and consented to make arrangements for an elopement.  Having obtained her father's consent to visit her aunt Updike, near Wickford, she left home, accompanied by the servant who usually attended her.  On arriving at the gate that led to her aunt's house Mr. Simons was in waiting with a carriage, as had been previously arranged, and disregarding the expostulations of the servant, who feared for his own safety should he return without [512] her, she entered the carriage, and that evening they were married in Providence.  The intelligence of the elopement, when communicated to Mr. Robinson by the servant, roused all the fury of his ire. He offered a reward for their apprehension, but no discovery could be made. Every friend and relative became accessory to their concealment.  Even the name of the clergyman who performed the nuptial ceremony could never be ascertained, but the anticipated happiness of the beautiful and ill-fated lady was destined to be short lived.  The severity with which she had been treated, the unkind and harrowing perplexities she had endured, has do materially affected her health and preyed upon her constitution, that in a few short months the fairest of her sex exhibited evident symptoms of a speedy decline.  At the urgent solicitation of her mother, Mr. Robinson finally permitted the daughter once more to return; but it was too late, the ceaseless vigils of a mother's love could not restore her, and in a few short weeks this beautiful and unfortunate woman, the victim of a father's relentless obstinacy, expired in the arms of her husband.

    [512]

    SYLVESTER ROBINSON was born in South Kingstown, R.I., July 16th, 1798. He was great-grandson of Governor William Robinson, grandson of John, and son of Benjamin Robinson.  His mother was daughter of Governor George Brown.  In the Newport Herald, March 19th, 1791, published by Peter Edes, in Thames street, Vol. V., No. 211, is found this quaint notice of the marriage of his father: "At South Kingstown, Mr. Benjamin Robinson to Miss Elizabeth Brown, eldest daughter of Mr. George Brown, -- a young lady of singular merit, and highly adorned with every social and domestic virtue."  Modest and unpretentious, she was yet a woman of fine intellect and integrity of character, softened and blended with a large charity.  In her gentle ministrations to the sick or poor neighbor, shame even did not restrain the kind hand from helping.  Her example and influence in the early training of her sons was so potent and long-abiding, that it would be difficult to find four men in one family who throughout life exhibited finer moral characters; their names were synonyms for honesty and truthfulness.

    Sylvester, the third son, received a common school education only.  He was, however, ambitious from a boy, of an inquiring mind, that seized every opportunity for improvement.  A good reader, he became well informed upon the topics of the day, and [513] in advancing years was the trusted friend and adviser of may of his townspeople, with whom he had seen the town, with its few scattered houses, rise into flourishing villages.

    At the age of fourteen he entered the store of his uncle, Rowse Babcock, of Westerly, and there was carefully trained in the routine of business.  To this training he owed the success that he afterward obtained.  In 1821 he returned to his native town and bought of Christopher Congdon a small property in Wakefield, where he opened a store, the second in the place. Being content with a small store and comparatively small profits, his motto being "make haste slowly," his success was uninterrupted from the first, and in 1846 he erected the large building, where he continued the business until his death, and where his son and grandson succeeded him.  The homestead, with its large and somewhat quaint arrangement of rooms, was built in 1831.

    In 1841-2 he became interested in the temperance movement, known as the "Washingtonian," first started in Baltimore, Md.  In this he worked with the zeal and ardor that characterized any enterprise in which he took part.  This work was so thorough that soon there was a marked change in the town; the drunken father became a respected citizen, the children decently clothed and sent to school.  For a number of years it was impossible for a man to obtain an intoxicating drink nearer than the next town of Charlestown.

    In 1841 he was chosen president of the Wakefield Bank, a place made vacant by the retirement of William A. Robinson.  He held this position until his death, in 1867.  How well he performed the duties of the place can be best shown by an extract from a set of resolutions adopted by the board of directors:

    "Resolved, That this Association has sustained a very great loss in the death of our much esteemed and lamented president and friend, Hon. Sylvester Robinson, who for nearly twenty-four years, has filled that office with faithfulness and ability, and although his wisdom and fidelity in the administration of its affairs have ever been appreciated by this Board, were never so fully realized as now, when we are forever bereft of his presence and counsel."
    Mr. Daniel M.C. Stedman, cashier of the Wakefield National Bank, and treasurer of the Savings Bank for many years, in speaking of Sylvester Robinson, says: "He was a man of positive convictions.  Whatever he undertook was with his whole heart.  I well [514] remember the persistency and anxiety with which he labored to extricate the banks from the embarrassments they suffered in 1857. We worked almost day and night to save them from utter failure; and I now look back over those years of incessant toil and anxiety with the greatest satisfaction. There was never any misunderstanding or unkind word between us in all that time. It is a pleasant thought to me that he lived to see the desire of his life accomplished -- the banks and the church free from embarrassment, with bright prospects for the future."

    He represented his town several times in the general assembly, being sent as senator. Although often urged to accept of this position, when a nomination was equivalent to an election, his party being in power, it was rarely he could be persuaded.

    Quoting again from Mr. D.M.C. Stedman, and old friend and co-laborer, who knew and loved him well: "Although he was not early connected with the abolition cause, yet we all remember with what enthusiasm he entered the republican party, and raised a flag for John C. Fremont. From that time, and during all the dark days of the war, no man was more hopeful and confident of its final success. He had no soft word for 'copperheads,' but was always true and loyal to his country. Such a man and such a life, is worthy to be kept in remembrance by any community."

        He united with the Baptist church in December, 1838, and from that time until his death was an honored member. "No one loved the old church better than he, always trying to do something for its prosperity. Some of its best social meetings were held in his own home, nearly always attending the noon-day prayer meetings that were held in the room over what is now Mr. Robert Rodman's counting room, and also the west room of the bank. He paid at one time nearly $4,000 to free the church from an old and oppressive debt."

    He filled a large place in the growth, and advancement of his town, early identifying himself with all its interests. He was exceeding liberal in his views; a man of ready sympathy and charitable to the poor; his friendships firm and lasting. Undeniably there was in his tastes and manner a trace of the patrician, inseparable possibly from his birth, training and precedents. The native refinement and courtliness was an outgrowth of he holiness and purity of his life. He was a kind and considerate husband, a tender and indulgent father.

    He married October 9th, 1822, Eliza, daughter of Joseph Noyes and granddaughter of Colonel Joseph Noyes, an officer in the army during the war of 1776. They had three children: Benjamin F., born January 9th, 1824; Eliza Anne, born 1826; and Hannah Babcock, born 1833.

    Benjamin F. Robinson alone survives his father, after whose death he was made president of the Wakefield National Bank, a position he has held ever since. At twenty-one years of age he entered his father's store as a partner. Like his father he has always been greatly interested in the advancement of his town and the best good of his townspeople. He has a persistent energy of character that works in a quiet way, working for results and not for honor for himself. There has been small place for the "Ego" in his labors or character. He could say with Abou Ben Adim, "Write me as one who loves his fellow men."

    Indirect results of his persistent working upon the intelligence of the people can be seen in our Riverside Cemetery, our Narragansett Pier Railroad, stone roads and many other important works. He married in 1854, Caroline, daughter of Hon. Samuel Rodman, and has three sons: Benjamin F. Robinson, Jr., in business with his father in Wakefield; Samuel Rodman Robinson, a cattle man in Colorado, and Rowland Rodman Robinson, M.D., a graduate of Harvard University.

    [515]

    JEREMIAH P. ROBINSON. -- The subject of this biographical sketch began his business life as a poor boy. He had, it is true, the advantage of a long line of ancestors noted for honorable and praiseworthy conduct, and this alone always endows the youth about entering upon the career of manhood with an independent and fearless spirit. Among the first settlers of Rhode Island, those ancestors were contemporaneous with Roger Williams, who settled in Providence in 1636, since which time their descendants have been known in all parts of the land, in the pulpit, the forum, on the bench and in almost every branch of business. On the paternal side, William Robinson, six generations removed from the subject of this sketch, was a prominent man in Rhode Island. Sturdy and industrious, he became well known in the province as one of its valued citizens, and was frequently called to positions of high responsibility. Governor William Robinson was the great-grandfather of Christopher Robinson, a prominent and wealthy man of his time in the state. The latter was the father of George C. Robinson, the father of the subject of this biography. George C. Robinson was a man of great energy and commercial [516] enterprise.  He followed the sea as a profession, and so great were his ability, integrity and manly qualities, that he soon became captain of a ship in the East India trade, and pushed his prow to the shores of countries as remote from his native land as any who sailed the then almost unknown seas. He married the daughter of Jeremiah Niles Potter, while quite young, and was suddenly stricken down, while at Canton, China, at the age of thirty-two, leaving five small, fatherless children without direct parental means of support.  Of these Jeremiah P. was the eldest.

    The American progenitors of the families of Niles and Potter were among the first settlers of Rhode Island and of the highest respectability and standing.  Jeremiah Niles was a man of large possessions, and for many years was judge of the superior court, holding commissions from both kings, George II. And George III., some of which are still in possession of the family. Beside this he held other positions of trust.  John Potter, whose family was also among the original settlers of Rhode Island, was a man of wealth and high character.  One of his sons married into the Niles family, and had a son named Jeremiah Potter Robinson.  It will thus be seen that Mr. Robinson traced his lineage on both sides, through many generations of honorable men and women, and his christian names are taken from the two distinguished families on his mother's side.  The family on his father's death having been left in straightened circumstances, Mr. Potter, quite a landed proprietor, took his daughter and her children to his home in South Kingstown, near the present village of Wakefield, and give his grandchildren such advantages as the locality afforded until able to undertake the struggle of life for themselves, the mother remaining on the homestead until her death.

    Jeremiah Potter Robinson was born August 18th, 1819, in South Kingstown, R.I., and early developed an independent and fearless spirit.  When about twelve years of age, having been used to labor and toil on the farm, and having enjoyed but limited advantages of education, he went to Newport and entered the grocery store of his uncle, Stephen A. Robinson, where he attained the position of accountant.  Here he remained about two and one-half years, when he for a short time returned to his grandfather's farm.  In 1836, at the age of sixteen, he went to [517] New York, determined from that time to "paddle his own canoe."  New York was then a comparatively small city, but to the adventurous boy it was his ideal of an opportunity to make himself a man.  He applied to various business houses for employment,. Visiting nearly all parts of the city, but failed to discover anything that met his idea of properly starting on his business career, until, after long and weary search, he was employed by the firm of E.P.&A. Woodruff, jobbers in fish, salt and provisions.  Under this arrangement he was to be boarded in the family of his employers, for which he was to give his labor for two years, he clothing himself.  He soon exhibited those qualities which, as he advanced through life, bore him ever on to success.  His pay was steadily increased, and by strict attention to business, steady habits and pleasing demeanor, he drew the attention of many leading business men, and flattering offers were made him to leave his old employers.  He, however, stood by them, and attended to their affairs so faithfully that at the end of the fourth year he was offered and accepted a partnership in the firm.  From that time he held a high place in the commercial world.  He immediately took charge of some of the most important interests of the concern.  On the death of Mr. E.P. Woodruff, the style of the firm was changed to A. Woodruff & Robinson.  This firm soon added the warehousing and storage departments to their other business, thus becoming the pioneers in this line.  Mr. Woodruff later retired from the house, and the business was continued by Messrs. J.P. & G.C. Robinson.  Thus in a comparatively short time, Mr. Robinson rose from a boy working for his board, to the head of one of the largest and most prosperous houses of its kind in the metropolis.  It is a fact that, with the exception of two years spent in Front street, his business desk stood for almost half a century on nearly the same spot, and business was transacted on what is practically the site of the old house whose service he entered as a poor boy.

    Sometime about the year 1843 Mr. Robinson began to look with much interest across the East river from his then home in New York upon the growing city of Brooklyn, and soon purchased large blocks of real estate on the Brooklyn river front, improving the same by building upon them warehouses and piers.  He was thus among the pioneers of the great warehouse system of that city.  A few years later, with William Beard, he became interested in the water front in South Brooklyn, and began [518] the work of planning and constructing the great Erie basin and the adjoining basins, building piers and warehouses, until at this time there is a wharfage and dockage of several miles where vessels are laden and unladen.  It is the largest and most comprehensive dock system in the world, and destined to play an important part in the commercial interests of both New York and Brooklyn.  Mr. Robinson was ever watchful of the rights of laboring men, and both in theory and practice indicated a desire to ameliorate the condition of the honest laborer.  In his great business projects much care was taken to pay each laborer  liberally for extra service,  the result being great faithfulness to the interests of their employer.  Mr. Robinson was one of the prominent supporters of the great East river bridge enterprise, and as a bridge trustee gave intelligent attention to all the details of its progress and management.  He honorably filled the position of president of the board of trustees through the most trying period of the work.

    Mr. Robinson was married at the age of twenty-four to Miss Elizabeth Dewitt, of Cranberry, N.J., the children of this union being two sons and three daughters.  One of his sons, Mr. Isaac Rich Robinson, resides on the homestead, which is retained in the family as sacred to the memory of his grandfather Potter, six hundred and fifty acres adjoining being also in possession of the family.  His son Jeremiah P. Robinson is largely interested in the business his father established.  Mr. Robinson and his family worshipped at the Church of the Pilgrims, Brooklyn, of which Reverend Doctor Richard S. Storrs is pastor, and were liberal contributors to its support as well  as to all its charities.  Personally Mr. Robinson was a popular and liberal-minded gentleman.  He was courtly but not ostentatious, and not fond of pomp and parade, but rather of modest comfort and real social entertainment among men and women of brains and heart.  In politics he was accredited to the democratic party, but political garments sat so loosely upon him that he found no difficulty in throwing them off when the party went astray, either in men or measures.  He was often importuned to run for office, but persistently declined.  Successful for himself, kind, helpful, generous to the poor, and useful in the community, his death, which occurred in Brooklyn on the 26th of August, 1886, was universally regretted.


    South Kingstown Biographies Continued


    These documents are made available free to the public for non-commercial purposes by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project.
    Transcribed by Tricia Autry, <PJAutry@aol.com>, 1999.



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