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

NY: The American Historical Society, Inc. 1920

p. 195 - 196:

Robert ReochROBERT REOCH  --  The name of Robert Reoch, so long and intimately associated with the development of the cotton print industry in Rhode Island, has been for many generations a familiar one is Scotland, where also it has been associated with the same great industry as in the United States. Robert Reoch, late of Phenix, R. I., where his death occurred, November 9, 1918, was a native of Scotland, and both his father and grandfather bore the same name. The first Robert Reoch was a skilled calico printer of Renfrewshire and Sterlingshire, where he worked many years at Denny, a famous center for calico print. He married Bethia Tennent, of Sterlingshire, and they were the parents of eight sons and three daughters. One of these children, Robert Reoch, the father of Robert Reoch of this sketch, was born at Denny, Scotland, and there and at Paisley his life was principally passed.  He was, like his father, an expert calico printer, and was employed at mills in Denny and Paisley for many years.  He married Ann McNeal, a daughter of Daniel McNeal, of Paisley, and they had three children, as follows:  Robert, of further mention;  Archibald, now deceased; and Mary, deceased also.

Robert Reoch, eldest son of Robert and Ann (McNeal) Reoch, was born in Renfrewshire, Scotland, October 9, 1840. As a lad he went to live with his grandfather, and while an inmate at his house, attended school until he reached the age of fifteen years.  He then began a seven year apprenticeship with Thomas Boyd & Sons, the proprietors of Fereneze Print Works, at Barrhead, in Renfrewshire.  At the end of the seven years he was made assistant manager of their coloring department, in which position he continued three years more, so that he was associated with the Fereneze Print Works for ten years in all.  Mr. Reoch, in the meantime, had taken a special course in chemistry as applied to the coloring of textile fabrics under the famous Professor Penny, of Glasgow University, and had thus become an expert in his line of work.  After leaving the Fereneze Print Works, Mr. Reoch became connected with the works of Brown Muir & Company, of Glasgow, and served them in a similar capacity until 1876.  In that year he accepted a proposition which came to him from the United States, to become manager of the Clyde Bleachery & Print Works, located at River Point, in Kent county, R. I.  These large works were owned by S. H. Greene & Sons, whose judgment in bringing Mr. Reoch from Scotland was very soon demonstrated in his management of their affairs.  Not only was he exceedingly successful in time of business prosperity, but in several critical periods in the textile industry his quick grasp of the situation enabled him to put out new colors and designs, which kept his mill profitably running.  This was particularly true in 1876, the Centennial year of America's independence, when calico printing was in little demand, his bringing out a line of flags, printed in the colors and designs used by the United States, England, France and Germany, kept the plant running for months.  In 1878 the Clyde Print Works brought out a line of Turkey red hankerchiefs, this being their first appearance in the United States, and this venture proved the basis of a very profitable business, which continued highly remunerative for years.  Mr. Reoch, through the Clyde Print Works, is the pioneer of that branch of cotton manufacture which further laid the foundation for a large Turkey red trade both in plain and printed goods.  Under his guidance the Clyde Print Works increased its output of goods from eight thousand pieces a week to thirty-five thousand in the same period, the concern under his management becoming one of the most successful and steadily-running print works in the country.  It was through his foresight that the company was saved from making an assignment when its New York selling agent failed, Mr. Reoch having made contracts with jobbers calling for sufficient work to keep the plant in operation and thus weathered the storm, when the New York selling house of Coffin & Altemus was forced to the wall.  In the year 1894 the S. H. Greene & Sons Corporation was re-organized, and Mr. Reoch withdrew from the new concern to become manager of the Cranston Print Works, at Cranston, where he remained for six years.  Here he repeated the success that he had made at River Point, and continued in active management until about seventy-one years of age, when he retired from active life to spend the latter years of his life in well-earned leisure.  He had at that time been employed continuously in this line of business for fifty-five years.  In addition to the calico printing business, Mr. Reoch had become interested in the manufacture of lace in this country, and was one of the group of men who organized and incorporated the Warwick Lace Works, at River Point, and the Phenix Lace Mills, at Phenix.  He became president of the latter concern and continued to hold that position until his retirement.  He was also vice-president of the Pawtucket Valley Water Works, was one of the leading promoters, and was identified with enterprises in that section.  In politics Mr. Reoch was a Republican, but never sought public office, as his tastes were quite opposed to this.  In his religious belief Mr. Reoch was a Presbyterian, and since coming to this region has been a member of the Congregational Church at Riverpoint, and for many years its leading and most active member.  He was a man possessed of great musical talent, and was for forty years a chorister of the Riverpoint Congregational Church, and also president and conductor of the Choral Union.  He frequently served as delegate to church conventions, and was associated with a large number of prominent organizations, social and otherwise, in this section.  He was president of the Pawtuxet Valley Agricultural Park Association, the Howard Musical Union, and the P. V. Amusement Association.  Mr. Reoch had a strong fondness for travel, and made several trips abroad, visiting England, Scotland, France and Germany.  He was in England when the great European War broke out in 1914.

Robert Reoch married (first) in Scotland, March 31, 1865, Helen Stewart, daughter of William Stewart, of Barrhead, and they were the parents of the following children:  1.  Lillias, who resides at home.  2.  Robert A. S., now superintendent of the Pacific Mills Print Works, of South Laurence, Mass., the largest establishment of its kind in the world; married Jeannette Macready, of Providence, in 1905, by whom he had one daughter, Mary Macready Reoch.  His wife survives him and now resides at Providence.  4.  Helen M., who became the wife of William Russell Fessenden, of Saylesville, R. I., to whom she has borne one daughter, Helen Stewart.  Mr. Fessenden died June 3, 1917.  5.  Archibald T., now a resident of Phenix, R. I.  6.  Mary E., who became the wife of Frederic T. McAuslan, of Providence, to whom she has borne two children, Frederic T., Jr., and Lillias R.  7.  Dr. Norman Greene, D. D. S., well-known dental specialist of Boston; married in 1915, Helen Baker, of Boston, where he practiced until his death, May 25, 1915.  His wife died May 26, 1918.  8.  John Stewart, who died in 1886.  The first Mrs. Reoch died May 3, 1894, and Mr. Reoch married (second), June 3, 1896, Lillias Stewart, a sister of his first wife.

Mr. Reoch occupied a very conspicuous place in the history of the development of calico printing in this country, and is justly regarded as its principal pioneer.  He was himself the inventor of many processes now in use in this industry, and contributed a number of brochures to the literature of the subject, which are now regarded as authoritative statements, marking definite epochs in its development in this country.  He was treasurer of the New England Lace Manufacturers' Association, a member of the Rhode Island Fruit Growers' Association, of the Horticultural Society, and of the Congregational Club of Providence.  He was also president of the British American Club of Kent county.

It will be appropriate to close this brief sketch of Mr. Reoch with the resolutions passed on the occasion of his death at the annual meeting of the New England Lace Manufacturers' Association, held at New York City, December 12, 1918.  They are as follows:

'Be it Resolved, The New England Lace Manufacturers in annual meeting assembled missing the genial presence of its treasurer, the late Mr. Robert Reoch, whom it has pleased Almighty God to take from our midst, desire to place on record the high esteem in which our departed officer was regarded by all of the members, and to tender to the family who suffer the greater loss the sympathy of the members of this Association; and be if further  Resolved, A copy of these resolutions be fowarded to the family of the departed Robert Reoch and a copy thereof to be spread upon the records of this Association.'

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BENJAMIN FRANKLIN ARNOLD  --  One of the most distinguished families of Rhode Island is that of Arnold, an offshoot of one of the great English houses of which there are branches in many parts of both countries.  The name can be traced to very ancient times and had its origin among the ancient princes of Wales, according to the pedigree recorded in the College of Arms.  Ynir, the King of Gwentland, was their progenitor, who reigned about the middle of the twelfth century, and who in his turn traced his descent from Cadwalder, one of the early Kings of the Britains.  The evidence seems to be in favor of its derivation from the word Arn, meaning an eagle, its original significance being in this case eagle holt or grove. The Rhode Island branch of the family is descended from the line which had its seat in Dorsetshire during the sixteenth century.  Here is found record of Thomas Arnold and of his marriage to Agnes, the daughter of Sir Thomas Gammage, Lord of Cpytey.  From him the line runs through Richard and Emmate (Young) Arnold, and Thomas and Alice (Gully) Arnold, to William of that name who founded the family in this country.  The coat-of-arms is as follows:

Arms - Gules a chevron ermine between three pheons or.
Crest - A demi-lion rampant gules, holding between its paws a lozenge or fire ball.
Motto - Mihi gloria cessum.
(IV)  William Arnold, son of Thomas and Alice (Gully) Arnold, was a native of of Cheselbourne, Dorsetshire, England, born June 24, 1587.  Before coming to the New England colonies, he had married Christian Peck and had lived for some time at Leamington, Warwickshire, England, where there were a number of children born to them, the second of whom was Benedict Arnold, later Governor of Rhode Island.  The Arnolds came to the colonies in 1635, and landed at Hingham, Massachusetts Bay Colony.  They were followers of Roger Williams and accompanied him to Rhode Island, being among the pioneer settlers of that region and of the original proprietors of Providence plantations in 1637.  To them and their fellow settlers is due the distinction of having founded the first Baptist church in America.

(V)  Benedict Arnold, second child and eldest son of William and Christian (Peck) Arnold, was born at Leamington, England, in the month of December, 1615.  He, with his brothers and sisters, accompanied his parents to America in 1635, and two years later is recorded as the head of one of the thirteen families who, upon settling in Newport, R. I., signed the agreement which instituted majority rule in the settlement.  He was a man of great energy and strong character and rapidly rose to a place of prominence among his fellow-colonists.  In 1654 we find him 'assistant' for the town of Newport, and in 1657 he was elected president of Rhode Island to succeed Roger Williams, who had retired from public office.  He was twice reelected to this office and in 1663, the last year of his presidency, was appointed first Governor of the Colony of Rhode Island, under the Royal Charter granted by King James.  His first term as Governor terminated in 1666, but he was reelected four consecutive times to the office.  It was during his administration that the Colony of Rhode Island established relations with the Providence plantation colony, which eventually led to a union of the two.  On December 17, 1640, Governor Arnold was married to Damaris Westcott, a daughter of Stukely Westcott, of Salem, Mass.   Like himself, his wife was a native of England, born in 1592, and accompanied her parents to the colonies while a young girl.  Governor Arnold's death occurred June 20, 1678, and that of his wife in 1679.  They were the parents of twelve children, as follows:  Josiah, Benedict, Jr., Godsgift, Freelove, Lester, Caleb, Damaris, Priscilla, Penelope, John Golding, Elizabeth and Absalom.

(VI)  Caleb Arnold, a son of Governor Benedict and Damaris (Westcott) Arnold, was born at Newport, December 19, 1644. He was a physician and surgeon, and a prominent man in the community, being deputy to the General Assembly for a number of years.  He was also a captain of a military company which served in the Colonial Wars with the Indians, and his death occurred February 9, 1719.  He married Abigail Wilbur, June 10, 1666, and among his children was Samuel, of whom very little is known.

(VII)  Samuel Arnold, son of Caleb and Abigail (Wilbur) Arnold, was born in 1679, and seems to have played a less prominent part in public affairs than most of his ancestors or descendants.  The name of his wife is not even known, but it is known that Joseph Arnold, next in line of descent, was his son.

(VIII)  Joseph Arnold, son of Caleb Arnold, is also a somewhat obscure figure, though more is known of him that of his father.  With the date of his birth, however, we are not acquainted, but we know that he died in 1776, and that he was twice married, the first time to Abigail Gifford, November 23, 1732, and the second time to Hannah Gifford, in August, 1737.

(IX)  Peleg Arnold, son of Joseph Arnold, was born February 15, 1749, and died in 1839 at the venerable age of ninety years.  He made his home at North Kingston, not far to the southwest of Allentown, R. I., where he was engaged in farming during his entire life and where he eventually died.  He married, April 26, 1778, Margaret Slocum, and they were the grandparents of Benjamin Franklin Arnold, with whose career this sketch is particularly concerned.

(X)  George Arnold, son of Peleg and Margaret (Slocum) Arnold, was born May 23, 1785, at North Kingston.  During his life he removed from Kingston to Charlestown, R. I., where he made his home until the death of his first wife.  He then returned to North Kingston, where he eventually died August 28, 1853.  Like his father he was a farmer by occupation and was well known and highly respected in the community.  He was twice married, the first time to Jeannette Gardiner, a daughter of Amos and Abby Gardiner, whose death occurred March 28, 1822.  They were the parents of the following children: George Collins, Jane Elverton, William, Abby, Welcome and Susan.  After the death of his first wife, George Arnold married, February 18, 1823, Charlotte Gardiner (a sister of his first wife), who survived him and who died December 30, 1859.  They were the parents of the following children: Margaret Slocum, Peleg Amos, Josiah Gardiner, James Alford, John Francis, Benjamin Franklin, mentioned below, Alexander, Warren Gardiner, Charlotte and Caroline.

(XI)  Benjamin Franklin Arnold, son of George and Charlotte (Gardiner) Arnold, was born April 8, 1834, on the old Burke farm at South Kingston, R. I.  Here he spent his childhood among the wholesome surroundings which have proved the cradle of so many of our best and greatest Americans, and there gained the heritage of strength and health which served him so well in after life.  He obtained his education at the Moorsfield School, where he continued his studies until he had reached the age of seventeen years.  He then went to Allenton, where he remained until 1853, and then, on September 26 in that year came to the city of Providence to accept a position as clerk in the office of his brother-in-law, George W. Haszard [sic], of Smith Hill. He worked for him for a period of some two years, and then returned to North Kingston, remaining for a short time.  In the year 1860 these two young men opened an establishment on Carpenter street, Providence, and there continued in business for some eight years.  John Arnold withdrew from the firm, however, about 1864, selling his interest to his brother, who became its sole owner, continuing for the following four years.  In 1868 he went to Allenton, where he ran a general store for about two years, and in 1870 returned to Providence, where he once more engaged in the same business, with an establishment on the corner of Pine and Dorrance streets.  In 1874 he became associated with Herbert E. Maine, a brother-in-law, and purchased a handsome store at Nos. 99 to 101 Weybosset street, Providence.  This firm, which did business under the style of Arnold & Maine, became very well known and was one of the largest establishments of its kind in the city. Eventually the name was changed to the New England Grocery Store, and under this name began a period of expansion which continued until their retirement from business.  In 1891 a branch store was established at Pawtucket, and in 1894 a similar branch was opened in Worcester, Mass.   On January 15, 1906, the partners sold out their business and retired.  Among other enterprises in which Mr. Arnold was interested should be mentioned the John H. Althans Company of Providence, and in all his associations he was regarded as one of the most substantial and honorable merchants of the city.

Throughout his long career of forty-six years as merchant, Mr. Arnold always displayed the most disinterested public spirit and always worked energetically for the advantage of the community in which he happened to be dwelling.  For a number of years, while still a young man, he had been a member of the Boston Chamber of Commerce, and the energetic work that he had done in this capacity he afterwards continued for Providence, although in a more private role.  He was a strong churchman and devoted to the interests of the Baptist church, to which his family has belonged ever since the days of Roger Williams.  Mr. Arnold always attended the Cranston Street Church of this denomination in Providence, and was a deacon there for ten years.  He was also president of the church society for twenty-seven years and chairman of the executive board.  Another institituion, semi-religious in character, in which Mr. Arnold took a deep interest, was the Young Men's Christian Association, the interests of which in Providence he did much to advance, giving liberally of his time and fortune.  He served as president of it for two years, and it was very largely due to his efforts that the present handsome club house on the corner of Westminster and Jackson streets was undertaken.  He was a member of the Rhode Island Baptist State Convention, and served for many years as a member of its finance committee.

Benjamin Franklin Arnold was united in marriage, January 1, 1868, at North Stonington, Conn., with Elmina Catherine Maine, a daughter of Ephraim W. and Catherine (Thompson) Maine.  Mrs. Arnold is a member of one of the distinguished families of New England, and is a descendant of Ezekiel Maine, who came to Stonington, Conn., in the year 1670, where he had received large grants of land.  From that time her family was as closely associated with Stonington as the Arnolds have been with Rhode Island.  To Mr. and Mrs. Arnold three children were born, as follows:  1.  Kate, deceased.  2. Margaret, who became the wife of J. D. E. Jones, of Providence, and the mother of four children:  J. D. E., Jr., Arnold Wheeler, Meredeth Whorton, and Katherine Luella.  Mr. Jones is vice-president and general manager of the Puritan Life Insurance Company of Rhode Island.  3.  Franklin Herbert, married Esther Hanson and they reside in Boston, Mass.

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Abbott PhillipsABBOTT PHILLIPS  --  Since his admission to the Rhode Island bar in 1906, Mr. Phillips has been active in both professional and public life, his achievement in both have been most satisfactory.  In the law he is a member of the eminent law firm, Green, Hinckley & Allen, admitted January 1, 1910. In public life he is an ex-member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, and First Assistant Attorney-General of the State of Rhode Island.  He has many outside interests, but is first and last the lawyer and advocate, a profession for which he prepared at Harvard. He is an ardent devotee of out-of-door sports, and keeps himself fit for his important duties by strenuous hours of physical exercise.  He is a son of Charles Phillips, a prominent merchant, and his wife, Sarah (Abbott) Phillips, who survives him, a resident of Providence.  Mr. and Mrs. Phillips were the parents of two sons, Abbott, of further mention; and William Abbott, a graduate of Harvard University, A. B., 1905, now representative of the banking house of William A. Read & Company, New York City; he resides at Short Hills, N. J.

Abbott Phillips was born in Danielson, Conn., November 20, 1880, and completed grammar school and three years of high school study.  From Danielson High School he passed to Worcester Academy at Worcester, Mass., completing study there with graduation, class of 1898.  From Worcester Academy he went to Brown University, and was graduated in 1902.  He was prominent in athletics, being on the varsity baseball and hockey teams.  He was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa and president of his senior class.  After completing his college course, he entered upon a business career in connection with a large cotton mill, but one year decided him that he was temperamentally unfit for a manufacturing life, and that he ought to study law.  He resigned his position, entered Harvard Law School at the beginning of the next school year, and in June, 1906, was graduated L.L. B.  He began practice in Providence, R. I., in the same year, in the office of Comstock & Canning, then became associated with the law firm, Green, Hinckley & Allen, being admitted to a partnership in that firm, January 1, 1910.  In 1912 he was appointed Second Assistant Attorney-General, and in 1915 was made First Assistant Attorney-General, his present position.   He is a member of the Rhode Island Bar Association, and one of the strong, forceful men of the Rhode Island bar.

A Republican in politics, Mr. Phillips represented a Providence district in the General Assembly of the State in 1912, and during his term served on the committee on corporations and on the joint committee of accounts and claims. Since 1916 he has been chairman of the Second Ward Republican Club.  Other clubs of which he is a member are the East Side Tennis, of which he is president; Seaconnet Golf; Agawam Hunt; chairman and treasurer of East Side Skating; Turks Head, charter member; and the Noonday Club, of which he was a founder.  His favorite recreations may be determined by the above list of clubs, and little skill is required to see that golf, tennis and skating are favored sports with him.  Other organizations to which he owes allegiance are the Brown Alumni Club, Delta Phi Fraternity and Club, Phi Beta Kappa Fraternity, and the Masonic order.

Mr. Phillips married, in Boston, Amy Emily Habich, of Brookline, Mass.; they have two children:  Catherine, born July 31, 1910; Francis Abbott, July 13, 1912.

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FREDERICK E. PERKINS, late president of the Rhode Island Perkins Horseshoe Company, and for many years a notable figure in business, financial and sporting circles in the State of Rhode Island, was a member of the Taunton branch of the old New England family.  He was born in Taunton, Mass., December 25, 1849, the son of Charles H. Perkins, founder of the Rhode Island Perkins Horseshoe Company, and his wife, Frances Lucretia (Bundy) Perkins.

Frederick E. Perkins was educated in the schools of Taunton, and on completing his studies secured his first employment with the Sprague Mowing Machine Company.  He later became connected with the Comstock Foundry Company.  In 1867 the late Charles H. Perkins discovered an entirely new method for making horseshoes, and commenced their manufacture under the name of the Rhode Island Horse Shoe Company, with A. & W. Sprague as financial backers, at the same time accepting the office of manager of the Sprague industries.  With the failure of the Sprague interests in 1873, Charles H. Perkins with F. W. Carpenter and R. W. Comstock purchased the Rhode Island Horse Shoe Company.  In 1874 the works were removed from Providence to Valley Falls, where a large establishment was erected to meet the demands of the rapidly growing business, the product having increased from half a ton to over sixty tons a day.  The company, which was reorganized in 1891 is known internationally for the manufacture of the Perkins horseshoe and other accessories of a similar nature.  In 1874 Frederick E. Perkins entered the employ of the company in the capacity of purchasing agent and for several years visited Europe annually to secure metals.  He did not confine his attention solely to this department of the company's affairs, however but made a comprehensive study of every phase of the working of the huge concern.  Later he was chosen president, which office he held at the time of his death.  He was an able executive, a man of considerable genius in the handling of large affairs, and he was widely known in business and financial interests in the city of Providence.  He did not, however, limit his activities solely to the business world.  Mr. Perkins was long prominent in light harness and automobile racing in Rhode Island.

A lover of fine horses, he was an enthusiastic devotee of horse racing and a leader in the sport of Rhode Island until its decline with the advent of the automobile racing, and in 1890 acquired the Narragansett Park track, which was second to none in the country.  Here for several years were held light harness races of the finest calibre.  The growing prejudice against horse racing led Mr. Perkins to dispose of the Narragansett Park track to a corporation, under a mortgage to hold running races.  The decline of the sport made it impossible for the owners to keep the terms of the contract and the property reverted to Mr. Perkins, who built an automobile race course.  Here he staged the first automobile race in America, and subsequently engaged several meetings at which the leading drivers of the country participated.  He was also the founder of the Rhode Island State Fair Association, and was the first to present vaudeville as an attraction at an agricultural fair.  He was an excellent marksman, and his favorite sport was quail shooting.

Mr. Perkins was an expert on road building and was twice appointed a member of the State Board of Public Roads, representing Providence county. His keen interest in the work and a desire to obtain the highest degree of efficiency caused him to tour Europe at his own expense for the purpose of studying at first hand the methods of road building used in England and on the Continent.  Mr. Perkins later resigned his office because of a disagreement over the policy then being pursued by the State.  In May, 1909, he was appointed by Governor Aram J. Pothier as honorary vice-president for Rhode Island of the International League of Highway Improvement, which had for its object the building of a system of connecting highways throughout the United States.

Mr. Perkins married Ella J. Walden, who survives him.

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ALBERT FERDINAND HILL  -- The Hill family has figured prominently in the life and affairs of Foster and surrounding townships for nearly two centuries.  Members of the family have played important parts in civic, official, and business life in this section for several generations, and have made the name honored and respected by Rhode Islanders. The Hill family is among the most numerous in New England, tracing its origin in the early Colonial period to several immigrant ancestors and progenitors, between whom in most instances no relationship has been discovered. The name itself is one of the oldest of English surnames, local in origin, signifying literally 'at the hill'.  As every village required its smith, and thus made Smith the great English national occupative surname, so almost every small district had its rising ground called 'the hill', residents thereon taking their surname from it.  Early instances are found in the Hundred Rolls, 1273.

The line of ancestry herein under consideration is that of the late Albert Ferdinand Hill, for more than half a century prior to his death in 1918, one of the vital figures in business, political and fraternal circles in the Pawtuxet Valley.  Albert Ferdinand Hill was born in Foster, R. I., October 31, 1844, the son of the late Allen and Clarissa Williams Hill, and grandson of Captain Jonathan and Hannah (Gorton) Hill. He was descended in both the paternal and maternal lines from several of the foremost families of Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts.

Allen Hill, son of Captain Jonathan and Hannah (Gorton) Hill, was born in Foster, R. I., and was a lifelong resident and well-known citizen of the town.  He married Clarissa Williams, a lineal descendant of Roger Williams, and they were the parents of the late Albert F. Hill, mentioned below.

Albert F. Hill was educated in the elementary schools of Foster, but at an early age quitted his studies and went to Providence, where he learned the trade of general contractor and builder, in which he engaged as a journeyman for several years.  In 1870 he removed to Phenix, R. I., with which town he was identified until his death.  Here he established a general contracting business, which within a short period grew to very large proportions. Mr. Hill was highly successful in business, and was rewarded the contracts for many of the largest  and most important business blocks and public buildings erected in the valley during his active business career.  He built the Spencer block, and old and the new Card buildings, the Hoxsie building, the Music Hall building, the Phenix Hotel, the Lawton block (now the Barber building, and numerous small business blocks and private residences. In conjunction with his work in Phenix he also carried on extensive operations in outlying towns.  Mr. Hill was awarded contracts taking seven years for the completion at the State Institutions; he erected several of the stone buildings of the old hospital for mental diseases, the chapel, and several of the cottages of the Boys' Reform School.  He was a member of the commission which built the West Warwick High School, Robert B. Treat, and the late General Charles R. Brayton (whose biography may be found elsewhere in this work) having been associated with him in supervising the construction of that structure.

Despite the constant demands of his large business upon his time, Mr. Hill maintained always a deep interest in local political affairs. He was in no sense of the word an office seeker, however.  For many years prior to his retirement from public life, Mr. Hill was active in the interests of the school system of the old town of Warwick.  Under the district system he served for a long period as a trustee of the Phenix Grammar School.  He was one of the first to support the consolidation of the schools under the town control and served for more than twenty years consecutively as a member of the Warwick School Committee. His tenure of office expired in 1909.  In political affiliation he was a Republican, and for several terms served as a member of the Warwick Town Council, filling the office of president of that body for one term.  His earnest and disinterested efforts throughout a long term of years in the service of the people of the town of Warwick brought him still further recognition. Some time prior to 1900 he was elected to represent the town in the General Assembly of Rhode Island.  Mr. Hill served in this capacity for two years, in which time he was influential in securing the passage of much beneficial legislation.  It was largely through his efforts that interest in the building of a high school for the Town of Warwick brought about the erection of the high school building at Westcott. Mr. Hill was the first chief of the Phenix Fire department.  He was a director of the Pawtuxet Valley Public Library, in which he took an active interest. He was one of the pioneer promoters of the Pawtuxet Valley Water Company, one of its pioneer stockholders, a member of the board of directors and its superintendent for more than fifteen years.  Failing health compelled his resignation from this post in December, 1917.  His business genius and great executive and organizing ability were in a large measure responsible for the success of the enterprise, and his retirement from the office of superintendent was widely regarded as a deep misfortune.  Mr. Hill wa a business man of keen foresight, a close student of conditions, familiar with every phase of the extensive interests which he handled.  He was entrusted with a great responsibility which he discharged with such unimpeachable integrity as to win for himself a most enviable and spotless reputation.  His death was deeply mourned throughout the Pawtuxet Valley.

Mr. Hill was well-known and influential in fraternal and social circles. He had attained to the thirty-second degree in the Masonic order, and was a member of St. John's Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Landmark Chapter, No. 10, Royal Arch Masons, St. John's Commandery, Knights Templar, and of Palestine Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. For many years he was active in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and in the New England Order of Protection.

Albert F. Hill married (first) in 1871, Mary I. Nicholas, daughter of John and Lydia Nicholas.  Mrs. Hill, who was the mother of Walter Allen Hill, mentioned below, died in Phenix, R. I., in 1908.  Mr. Hill married (second) in 1910, Flora M. (Hill) Wooddell, of East Killingly, Conn., daughter of Job Hill, of Foster, R. I.  Mrs. Hill, who survives her husband, makes her home in Phenix, R. I.  She is well-known and eminently respected in the more conservative of the social circles of the town.  Albert F. Hill died July 21, 1918, in his seventy-fourth year.  A man of generous impulses, kindly, courteous and firm in his friendships, he had endeared himself to hundreds to whom his death was a shock and deep grief.

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WALTER ALLEN HILL, former postmaster of Phenix, R. I., and for several decades a prominent figure in public life in the town, was born in Phenix, March 12, 1872, son of Albert F. and Mary I. (Nicholas) Hill.  He was given excellent educational advantages, and attended the noted Mowry & Goff English and Classical School of Providence.  Determining on a business rather than a professional career on completing his studies at the above institution, Mr. Hill entered the Bryant & Stratton Business College of Providence, where he spent a year.  After a short business experience he was made agent of the Adams Express Company at Phenix, which position he held for several years, resigning to enter the fire insurance business in Providence, in which he engaged successfully until 1904. In the latter year, under the administration of President McKinley, he was appointed postmaster of Phenix, which at the time was a post office of the fourth class.  It was subsequently changed to a postoffice of the third class.  Mr. Hill was retained in office under the administrations of President Roosevelt and President Taft, retiring in 1912 to devote his time thenceforward to his business interests.  Mr. Hill is widely-known in business and official life in Phenix, and for many years has been actively identified with civic and educational interests.  He was clerk of the school district of Phenix, and a member of the Phenix Fire Department, of which he has been elected treasurer thirty-two times.  A Republcian in political affiliation, Mr. Hill has been influential in party councils for a long period, and is now treasurer of the Governor Beekman Republican Club of Phenix.

On November 21, 1894, Mr. Hill married Ruth Mabel Williams, daughter of Otis Williams, Jr., of Foster, R. I.  Mrs. Hill descends lineally from several of the foremost of Rhode Island Colonial families, among them the Williams, Graves and Tourtellot families, the last named one of the most  notable of the French Huguenot families which sought refuge in America after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.

Otis Williams, Sr., grandfather of Mrs. Hill, was of the sixth generation in direct descent from Roger Williams, founder of Providence Plantation; he married Maria Tourtellot, daughter of Roger Williams Tourtelott, and granddaughter of Gabriel and Elizabeth Tourtellot.  Their son, Otis Williams, Jr., was born in Foster, R. I., in 1827, and died after a lifelong residence in the town in the town in 1879.  He was successfully engaged in the lumber, shingle and grain business in Foster on a large scale during the greater part of his life, operating extensive mills by water power on the original homestead of Otis Williams, Sr.  He was a staunch Baptist, prominent in religious activites in Foster, and for many years a leader in town life.  Otis Williams, Jr., married Ruth Graves, daughter of Elisha and Lucretia (Tripp) Graves.  Their children were: 1.  Henrietta M., who became the wife of E. B. Shippee, and died in 1914.  2.  Clara D., wife of E. W. Phillips, died in 1900. Edgar L., a resident of Smithfield, R. I.  4. Charles S., died in 1883.  5.  Cora Ellen, wife of Frank A. Phillips, died in 1914. 6.  Ruth Mabel, wife of Walter Allen Hill.

Mrs. Walter Allen Hill received her early education in the schools of Foster, subsequently preparing for the profession of teaching.  She attended the East Greenwich Academy, and graduated from the Rhode Island Normal School in June, 1891.  On completing her studies she taught in the schools of Gloucester, R. I., and in Phenix, where she taught the sixth and seventh grades for one year.  Mrs. Hill later was instructor of English and history at the State College at Kingston, R. I., resigning her post there shortly before her marriage.  Following her marriage and her removal to Phenix, Mrs. Hill found it difficult to abandon her profession.  She became deeply interested in educational problems in her new home, and was eventually prevailed upon to help out in the Phenix schools and to lend the support of her experience and wisdom in the settling of difficulties arising in the schools.  From year to year she continued her connection, substituting at intervals in the Warwick High School in the departments of English, history and mathematics.  Mrs. Hill has been a prominent figure in club life in the Pawtuxet Valley for many years; she has also been active in civic endeavors. She is a member of the Coventry Women's Club, and held the office of president, and in 1916 and 1917 served as its director in the Rhode Island State Federation of Women's Clubs. She has been for several years State treasurer of the King's Daughters, for a like period treasurer of the Fresh Air Board of Managers of the Society. She was head of the Literary and Social Department of the Epworth League of the Methodist Episcopal church of Phenix for many years, and is a member of the Philomathian Literary Society of Phenix.  She has held all offices in the Rhode Island Normal Club, and is its perpetual president. She is a director of the Pawtuxet Valley Library Association.  Mr. and Mrs. Hill make their home in Phenix, R. I.


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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