A Lively Experiment

Notes on collections and events at the RIHS

Wonderfully Weird Wool

Ask any staff member of the Rhode Island Historical Society “What’s the weirdest thing you have seen while working here?” and I am sure we would each give an extremely interesting answer. Since you asked me (I know, you really didn’t….) here is the weirdest thing I have seen since assuming my new position as Research Associate/Special Collections…Hazard MSS 483 Wool Sample CLOSE UP
It’s wool. More specifically, one sample is “Buenos Aires wool (sent from Couldin) cotton, short Canton waste”, the other is “calfs hair (1/4), wool* (2/6) waste (1/2), cotton (1/6)”. Manufacturers were always trying new mixtures and combinations of ingredients when creating their textiles. We are lucky enough to have in our collection The Hazard Family Papers which contain documents from family members as well as business related materials from the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company and Carolina Mills.
The samples seen above were discovered in a letter written from Isaac Peace Hazard to his brother, Rowland Gibson Hazard in 1830.
A few weeks ago we had a new patron researching sheep, wool, and wool production in Rhode Island in the early 1800’s. While he was going through a box of correspondence from the Hazard papers, a nearby researcher (a regular patron, who has worked extensively with the collection) offered to show him an interesting find in that box. He asked me to pull out folder 5 and below is the letter he shared, which included the two wool samples. I immediately knew I had to share it in a blog!!! (See the NOTES section below for more information on the people mentioned in the letter.)

Hazard Letter with Wool Sample pg 1

Rowland G. & Caroline (Newbold) Hazard Papers MSS 483 Subgroup 5 Box 2 Folder 5 Correspondence 1830

Peace Dale 9 Mo. 3rd. 1830

Dear Brother(1),

I forgot to leave Richd. Bushs Bill with R. R. S.(2) therefore enclose it.
The bag he packed a part of the wool in belongs to John Farnum & should be returned soon.
I shall send up the bags the Boston Black wool came in by Watsons boat.
We are colouring a bale of wool from Thomas(3) which proves to be of very good quality.
Sam(4) is now mixing some calfs heir bought of Metcalf yesterday with some waste wool & cotton.
Nearly all J.D.W.’s(5) negro cloths are sold (they are much lighter than ours) at 45 cts per yard.
Father left here last third day & carryed Sam Miles with him.
Wm Vernon told me last fourth day in Prov. that Aunt Cole was to leave Newport the next day.
I think thee had better come here before it is too cold with Caroline & Rowland(6) so as to bathe in the surf.
I did not receive the shearing machine or waste from Holbooks or thy factory before I left Prov.
Intend going to Newport tomorrow & embark in the Fulton next day if the weather is fine for New York.
Thy affectionate Brother
I.P. Hazard(7)

Joseph(8) paid {Witchell}(9) bill for thou in Newport amounting to $26.00.

Hazard Letter with Wool Sample pg 2_3

9 Mo. 4th. 1830

If the knows of any 4lb weights cheap any where would wish to have them for the new frames.
Saml. Rodman thinks the cards R.R.S. sent will prove bad but if good he will want another sett.

I enclose a sample of what we are now working in the condenser- Buenos Aires wool (sent from Couldin) cotton, short Canton waste.
The calfs hair (1/4), wool* (2/6) waste (1/2), cotton (1/6), works better than could be expected. I shall enclose a sample of that also – It cards very well but the difficulty is to spin it. Intend to sett Joseph to work on the new spinning machine with it.
The hair I think should be coloured to prevent its showing & if drawn between rolles (on the wool spinner) more cotton can be used – dull shears will cut off or draw out all the coarse hair & the cotton & fur or fine hair will make the knapp. I find much of the calfs hair is as fine as S. wool.

*chiefly goats wool, a little coarse, B.A.(10)
Hazard Letter with Wool Sample Address

~Jennifer L. Galpern, Research Associate

NOTES

hazards1

From Left to Right: Rowland Gibson Hazard (1), Samuel Rodman ( 4), Isaac Peace Hazard (7), Joseph Peace Hazard (8)

1- Rowland Gibson Hazard (1801-1888) was a Rhode Island renaissance man. He was significant on the national scene for both his financial activities and his work in philosophy. He also played an important role in state politics and was a dominant force in the industrialization of the southern part of the state. He was a vocal critic of slavery, corruption and railroad monopolies, and was one of the few investors to emerge from the Credit Mobilier railroad scandal with his reputation unscathed. Hazard was born in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, the fourth of nine children of Rowland and Mary (Peace) Hazard. He was raised a member of the Society of Friends, more commonly known as the Quakers. He attended Quaker boarding schools in Pennsylvania through 1818, and developed a taste for abstract mathematics. This was the full extent of his formal schooling, though he received an honorary L.L.D. from Brown University in 1845. In 1819, he returned to South Kingstown and with his brother Isaac P. Hazard assumed control of their father’s small woolen mill in the village of Peace Dale, and did business under the name of “R.G. & I.P. Hazard”. With the addition of a third brother, Joseph P. Hazard, this partnership became “R.G. Hazard & Co.” in 1828. Rowland seems to have had primary responsibility for marketing products to southern plantation owners in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. Inexpensive shoes, cotton bagging, pre-cut garments and raw “Negro cloth” for slave use were the primary products sold. He wintered in New Orleans from about 1833 to 1842. His experience in the south, and his Quaker faith led him to work on behalf of kidnapped free blacks in Louisiana. He managed to secure the freedom of several unfortunate captives, which he regarded as the greatest of his many accomplishments. The partnership was incorporated as the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company in 1848, which became one of the largest businesses in the southern part of the state. Hazard eventually expanded his operations to another mill in the western part of the state, naming it Carolina Mills in honor of his wife. Other accomplishments to his credit were his role in the foundation of the Butler Hospital in Providence, and his endowment of the Hazard Professorship of Physics at Brown University. He also provided steady financial support to Rhode Island’s temperance, free woman’s suffrage movements. Rowland G. Hazard married Caroline Newbold (1807-1868) in 1828. She was a native of Bloomsdale, Pennsylvania, and the daughter of John Newbold. They had two sons: Rowland Hazard II (1829-1898) and John Newbold Hazard (1836-1900). http://www.rihs.org/mssinv/Mss483sg05.htm
2- Robert Rhodes Stafford (1791-1879) Providence merchant, who, with his partner Lathrop, were agents for the Hazard brothers.
3- Thomas Robinson Hazard (1797-1886) also known as “Shepard Tom”. He was an author, historian and spiritualist; brother of Isaac, Rowland and Joseph. http://www.rihs.org/mssinv/Mss483sg14.htm
4- Samuel Rodman (1800-1882) Son of Robert Rodman and Elizabeth Hazard. In 1830 he had charge of the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company’s mills. In 1835 he purchased the Rocky Brook Mills, to which he added, until, in 1860, he was owner and operator of five mills, and one of the largest manufacturers in the state. Liberal and tolerant to all religious denominations, he was, until his death, a consistent member of the Baptist Church. In 1841 he became interested in the temperance cause, and the great reformation in his neighborhood was largely due to his zeal and efficiency. He was a man of great physical strength and power of endurance, of energy and force of character, of mental and moral courage; but these were so united to an active benevolence to all, a generous and conscientious consideration for the rights of others, that his rounded and symmetric personality commanded alike the respect and the love of all who knew him. The relations between him and his employees were those of mutual confidence. No strike was ever meditated in his mills. He perceived that the truest method of elevating the laborer was by making him independent; and to this end, by the sale of land to them at nominal prices, encouraged his laborers to become land- owners. His character cannot be better summed up than in the words of one who knew him well: “A larger-hearted, more whole-souled man Rhode Island has never produced.” He married 1st, July 15, 1821, Mary Peckham, daughter of Benjamin Taylor Peckham and Abigail Oatly his wife. She was the mother of all his children. He married 2d, Feb. 15, 1854, Mary Anstiss Updike, daughter of Hon. Wilkins Updike, author of “History of Narragansett Church,” and other works. He and Mary had 16 children; two of their sons were named after the Hazard brothers, Isaac Peace Rodman (1822-1862) who married Sally Lyman Arnold & Rowland Gibson Rodman (1828- ) who married Mary Macy Durfee. Genealogy of the Rodman Family 1620-1886 by Charles Henry Jones CS 71 .R693 1886
5- John D. Williams was a Southern contract weaver for the Hazard brothers who is mentioned in multiple letters from Isaac to Rowland. Complaints from plantation owners about the variation in the contents of the bales of cloth they received were common, and Isaac wrote home that, John D. Williams (who by 1845 owned two mills making slave cloth), “does not twist enough or let the wool lie long enough in the die [sic]” and that the slaves held by rice planter John Potter “did not complain much but exhibited their clothes to him, some were as thin as baize, threads not beat close together, others split all to pieces… .”
http:/www.mesdajournal.org/2012/slave-cloth-clothing-slaves-craftsmanship-commerce-industry/
6- Rowland’s wife, Caroline Newbold (1807-1868) and son, Rowland Hazard II (1829-1898) http://www.rihs.org/mssinv/Mss483sg06.htm
7- Isaac Peace Hazard (1794-1879) was the eldest of the nine children of textile manufacturer Rowland Hazard I and Mary Peace of South Kingstown, R.I. He attended the Friends School in Westtown, Pennsylvania through 1810 before returning to South Kingstown to help run the family textile mill. In 1819, his father retired from active business, and Isaac took control of the mill with his brother Rowland G. Hazard I (1801-1888). They did business as I.P. & R.G. Hazard until 1828, when they added a third brother, Joseph P. Hazard, and became R.G. Hazard & Co. From about 1820 to 1824, Isaac also had a side partnership with Aza Arnold, acting under the name Hazard & Arnold. He was also in a partnership with a distant cousin, Jonathan N. Hazard, until 1826. Isaac served as president after the partnership with his brothers was incorporated as the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company in 1848 through his retirement in 1864. He also served intermittently as a representative in the state General Assembly from 1838 to 1843, and as a state senator in 1853. Among his other activities, he helped found Butler Hospital for the Insane, and also played a major role in founding the Charleston and Augusta Railway Company. Circa 1849, he moved from Peace Dale to Newport, where he lived with four other unmarried siblings: his brother Joseph and his three sisters Eliza, Mary and Anna. The 1870 census of Rhode Island lists him as a woolen manufacturer with a personal estate valued at $115,000. He was raised as a Quaker, but in 1841 purchased a pew in the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Wakefield, R.I. He never married or had any children, and died in 1879. http://www.rihs.org/mssinv/Mss483sg12.htm
8- Joseph Peace Hazard (1807-1892) was born in Burlington, New Jersey, the son of Rowland Hazard I and Mary (Peace) Hazard. When he was only a few weeks old, the family relocated in Bristol, Pennsylvania to help care for his mother’s ailing father. Hazard attended the Westtown School, a Quaker institution in Pennsylvania, from 1816 to 1820. He spent two years in Rhode Island before finishing up his education at the Westtown School from 1822 to 1824. He then settled in Peace Dale, Rhode Island, and became involved in the family textile mill owned by his brothers Rowland G. and Isaac P. Hazard. Joseph was admitted to the partnership of “R.G. Hazard & Co.” in 1828; this business later became the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company. Joseph built an addition to the mill in 1835, and operated it for several years. He also built an axe factory just west of the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company, staffed mainly with workmen imported from Voluntown, Connecticut. In the latter part of his life, Hazard was instrumental in the development of Narragansett Pier as popular summer resort. Like his brother Thomas, Joseph was a dedicated spiritualist, and wrote an article titled “Dignified Versus Undignified” for the March 14 1857 issue of the Yorkshire Spiritual Telegraph and British Harmonial Advocate. In this article, he asserted that “spirits appear to be quite as anxious to communicate, as we are to hear.” Hazard built a medieval-style structure known as the “Castle” on his Seaside Farm in Narragansett Pier. He spent most of his later years traveling throughout the world. He died in Peace Dale on January 18, 1892, in the home of his great-nephew Rowland Gibson Hazard II. Many of his charming eccentricities are recounted in an article by his great-grand-nephew Leonard Bacon in Harper’s Magazine (January 1939), who recalled that “in him were concentrated, on Mendelian principles, all the queernesses that had at any time come into the family.” http://www.rihs.org/mssinv/Mss483sg13.htm
9- {Illegible}
10- Buenos Aires
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One comment on “Wonderfully Weird Wool

  1. Richard Slaney
    30 June 2016

    Great job Jennifer in giving life to society’s collections.

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This entry was posted on 30 June 2016 by in Collection Notes and tagged , , .

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