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

NY: The American Historical Society, Inc. 1920



p. 237 - 238:

WILLIAM D. CROSS  --  Well preserved family tradition affirms that the Cross family of Rhode Island descends from John Cross, who with his brother, Ralph Cross, came from Scotland to the American colonies in the seventeenth century.  The link connecting subsequent generations with the founder, however, is lost in antiquity.  Members of the family were early located in numerous towns of Rhode Island, and the name is inseparably associated with many sections of the early colony and State, especially with Washington county, where the family has played a prominent part in civil, official, social and business life for a century and a half. The late Hon. William D. Cross, of Carolina, R. I., was distinguished member of this family, a lineal descendant of Joseph Cross and of the founders, John and Ralph Cross.

(I)  Joseph Cross, the first of the direct line to whom it is possible to trace authentically, is first on record  in the town of Charlestown, R. I., where he settled in a locality which later became known as Cross' Mill.  He was twice married and was the father of fifteen children.

(II)  Samuel Cross, son of Joseph Cross and his first wife, was born in Charlestown, R. I., and was a life-long resident of that town. He married Ann Clarke, member of a prominent old Rhode Island family. Their children married into such notable families as the Babcock, Browning, Tucker, Clark and Perry.

(III)  Joseph (2) Cross, son of Samuel and Ann (Clarke) Cross, was born in Charlestown, R. I., May 19, 1775.  His entire life was spent in the town, and as a young man he rose to a place of prominence in its official life, which position he retained until his death.  Joseph Cross was for many years justice of the peace of Charlestown, and for a long period represented the town in the Rhode Island General Assembly. He was a prosperous farmer and land owner.  He married (first) Dorcas Reynolds; (second) Bridget Browning, daughter of Stephen Browning, of Charlestown, and a lineal descendant in the sixth generation of Nathaniel Browning, founder of the family in Rhode Island.  His third wife was Ruth Greene, also a member of a prominent family of the State.  The child of the first marriage, Mary A., is deceased. Children of the second marriage: 1.  George W., born May 12, 1821, died in South Kingston.  2.  Dorcas A., born Sept. 10, 1823, died in Providence; married William C. Tucker.  3.  Bridget B., born June 11, 1826, died Feb. 15, 1829.  4.  Samuel J., born Jan. 6, 1828, died in Pennsylvania.  5. Stephen B., born July 13, 1830, died Feb. 7, 1889.  6.  William D., mentioned below.  7.  Hannah W., born March 26, 1834, died July 6, 1835.

(IV)  Hon. William D. Cross, son of Joseph (2) and Bridget (Browning) Cross, was born on his father's farm in Charlestown, R. I., November 5, 1832.  He spent his boyhood on the farm.  He received his elementary education in the local district schools, and in 1857 became a student in the East Greenwich Academy, where he remained for a year.  On completing his studies he returned home, and until reaching the age of twenty-one years, he was his father's assistant in the management of the farm. On attaining his majority, however, he entered upon a business career, and for one year traveled in Georgia for a large publishing house. He then returned to Rhode Island, locating in Carolina, with which town he was identified almost continuously thenceforward until his death. Here he entered the cigar factory of Tucker, Pierce & Company to learn the trade.  Some of his time while learning was spent in East Greenwich. In 1868, Mr. Cross became manager of the cigar factory of L. W. Kingsley, of Providence, and remained in full charge of this enterprise for one year.  At the end of this time, having amassed a considerable capital, Mr. Cross established himself independently in the cigar manufacturing business at Carolina.  The venture, begun on a small scale, grew rapidly to large proportions through his judicious management, and was a success from the very outset.  In 1872 Mr. Cross relinquished all other business interests in order to give his entire time and attention to the affairs of his cigar factory.  He became widely known in manufacturing circles in Carolina and the surrounding county, and became a recognized leader in business interests.  Through prominence in business life he naturally was brought into the field of public affairs.

Mr. Cross became active at an early date in the civic interests of Carolina. He was a staunch believer in the principles and policies of the Republican party, but was never influenced against his better judgment by party precepts. He was a keen student of the affairs of the times, a man with an instinct for public service, which was backed by an unimpeachable moral and ethical code.  In 1872 he was first elected to represent his town in the Rhode Island House of Representatives.  In 1880-81 Mr. Cross was a member of the upper house of the Rhode Island Legislature.  In 1898 and 1899 he was again elected to the Assembly , and in 1900, 1901 and 1902 was returned to the Senate.  In 1869 he became a member of the Town Council of Carolina, which office he filled ably and well in 1870, 1871, 1879, 1880, 1883 and 1884; from the latter year up to and including 1902 he was president of the council, with the exception of the years 1891 and 1892.  From June, 1897, to June, 1903, he was town treasurer.  In 1873-74 he was commissioner of Indian schools for the Narragansett tribe, which was then living on the reservation in Charlestown.  In 1872, Mr. Cross erected Samoset Hall, the only public building in Carolina.  On the lower floor of the building he established his manufacturing plant.  Mr. Cross was widely known in fraternal and social circles in Carolina and the vicinity.  He was one of the pioneer members of the Washington County Agricultural Society, and for two years was one of its vice-presidents. He was a popular and influential member of Friendship Lodge, No. 16, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of Carolina.  Few men who were his contemporaries in the life of Carolina wielded a larger or more beneficial influence in its affairs than William D. Cross.  He was a leader of more than ordinary ability, inspiring immediate confidence, not only in his honesty and fairness, but in his wholehearted devotion to the interests, but in his wholehearted devotion to the interests of the town. He was identified prominently with every movement which had for its end the advancement of public welfare, a subject always close to his heart.  He was a gentleman of the old school, sincere in his friendships, kindly, courteous, and genial. His death was regarded as a personal bereavement by the entire community.

On May 22, 1869, Mr. Cross married Martha S. Fry, daughter of James and Eliza (Wilder) Fry, of Carolina, R. I.  They were the parents of the following children:  1.  Emma E., who became the wife of Frederick C. Barber, of Carolina.  2.  Mary D., born Nov. 14, 1875, died aged four years. 3.  George W., married Maria Grimes; they are the parents of one son, William D.  Mrs. Cross, who survives her husband, now at the age of seventy-six years, is the active manager of his business and estate. She is vigorous and active, and an able business woman, directing the affairs of the Cross manufacturing plant and supervising its books.  She is widely known and eminently respected in social circles of Carolina.  She is a member of the Free Baptist Church of Carolina.  Hon. William D. Cross died at his home in  Carolina, R. I., on January 14, 1916, in his eighty-fourth year.



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SIMEON P. CLARK  --  The surname Clarke is one of the most ancient of the early English patronymics.  It signifies literally 'the clerk', who under the English ecclesiastical law of the feudal period was any one who had been admitted to the ecclesiastical state, and had taken tonsure.  The application of the word in this sense gradually underwent a change and 'clerk' became more especially the term applied to those in minor orders. The word also developed a different sense. In medieval times the pursuit of letters and general learning was confined to the clergy, the only persons who could read and write, and who performed all notarial and secretarial work.  In time the clerk was not necessarily a clergyman, but one who performed the duties of notary, accountant, or mere penman, etc.  We therefore find the term widely applied, and the office well established at the beginning of the surname era, which accounts for the frequent recurrence of the surname in medieval registers, and for the fact that it ranks ninth among English surnames in point of popularity.  Whether spelled Clark, Clarke, or Clerk, the pronunciation is identical, and is always with the broad 'a'.

The Clarke and Clark families of America descend from several progenitors. The Rhode Island family of the name has played a most distinguished part in the affairs of the Colony and State for over two hundred and fifty years. With the exception perhaps of Roger Williams, no man figured more vitally in the affairs of the infant colony than Dr. John Clarke.  His brother, Joseph Clarke, first a resident of Newport, and later one of the early settlers of Westerly, also was active in the official life of the Colony; he was the progenitor of the Westerly Clarks, and the ancestor of the late Simeon Perry Clark, prominent manufacturer and well-known business man of Clark's Mills, R. I.

(I)  John Clark, the first of the direct line to whom it has been possible to trace, was of County Suffolk, England, where he was buried March 3, 1559.

(II)  John (2) Clark, son of John  (1) Clark, was born in February, 1541, and was buried in County Suffolk, April 7, 1598. He married Catherine Cook, daughter of John Cook.

(III)  Thomas Clark, son of John (2) and Catherine (Cook) Clark, was born on All Saints Day, November 1, 1570, died July 27, 1627. Thomas Clark married Rose Kerige.

(IV)  Joseph Clark, son of Thomas and Rose (Kerige) Clark, was born in England, December 9, 1618, and baptized at Westhorpe, December 16th, following.  He came to New England in 1637, in company with his brothers, Dr. John and Thomas Clark.  After a brief residence in Boston, he settled in Newport, R. I., in 1638, and in the same year was admitted an inhabitant of the Island of Aquidneck.  In 1640 he was present at the General Court of Elections, and in 1641 became a freeman. In 1644 he was one of the original members of the First Baptist Church. In 1648 he was a member of the General Court of Trials.  In 1655-57-58-59 he filled the important office of commissioner.  He was assistant in 1658-63-64-65-78-79.  The name of Joseph Clark appears in the charter granted Rhode Island by Charles II. under date of July 8, 1663.  He was deputy to the Rhode Island General Assembly from 1668 to 1672, and again in 1690, representing the town of Westerly.  In 1668 he was a freeman in Westerly, and in May, 1669, his name appears on a list of the inhabitants.  In 1677 he was a member of the Court of Justices of the Peace, chosen to attend to the matter of injurious and illegal actions on the part of the Connecticut Colony.  In 1680 he was again a resident of Newport, where the greater part of his old age was spent; he is said to have died at Westerly, on June 1, 1694.  He married for the first time in 1642; his second wife, Margaret, died in 1694.

(V)  William Clark, son of Joseph Clark, was born about 1645, and died September 30, 1683.  He was commander of a sloop taken by the government during King Philip's War (1676), and was also captain of a company of militia.  On August 1, 1679, he petitioned the Assembly concerning several Indians captured by him and his company in time of war.  The case was referred to the town councils of Newport and Portsmouth. In 1677 he purchased land in Boston Neck, North Kingston. William Clark married Hannah Weeden, daughter of William Weeden; she died in 1722.

(VI)  William (2) Clark, son of William (1) and Hannah (Weeden) Clark, was born at Newport, R. I.,  May 27, 1673, and died at Richmond, February 28, 1767.  He was a prominent resident of that part of Westerly which later became Richmond.  He was the owner of extensive farm lands in the vicinity of Westerly, and deeded farms to his sons, William, Robert, Elisha, Caleb, Jonathan and Thomas.  He also gave land at Jamestown and Dutch Island to his uncle, John Weeden.  In 1711, 1730 and 1739 he was deputy to the General Assembly.  He is called captain in the records.  His will, dated 1769, was proved March 7, 1770, at Richmond. On April 5, 1700, he married, at Newport, Hannah Knight, daughter of Jonathan and Hannah Knight; she was born May 3, 1680, and died in 1743.

(VII)  William (3) Clark, son of William (2) and Hannah (Knight) Clark, was born at Newport, August 26, 1701.  He was a resident of both Richmond and Charlestown.  On September 4, 1738, he was elected town clerk of Charlestown, and filled the office until September, 1747.  In 1742-44-46 he represented Charlestown in the Rhode Island General Court. On August 15, 1747, he was elected town clerk of Richmond, and in 1749 and 1756 was deputy.  He married, September 1, 1731, at South Kingston, Rebecca Wells, daughter of Peter and Ann (Watson) Wells, of South Kingston; she was born December 30, 1710.

(VIII)  Joshua Clark, son of William (3) and Rebecca (Wells) Clark, was born at Charlestown, R. I., on February 19, 1749. He settled at Shannock, where in 1771 he purchased a tract of land and the water privilege. This property has remained in the hands of his descendants in the direct male line to the present day, and the mill is now owned by his great-great-grandson, George P. Clark.  On February 26, 1769, he married Elizabeth Dodge, who died January 23, 1826.  He died July 7, 1796.

(IX)  Perry Clark, son of Joshua and Elizabeth (Dodge) Clark, was born in Richmond, November 21, 1780.  He inherited the property and water privilege of his father, and built a grist mill at Shannock.  He also erected the old fashioned overshot water wheel.  He operated both these mills for a number of years, carrying his products once a week to the markets of Newport and Providence.  Perry Clark also conducted a general store at Shannock, the first of its kind in the village.  He was one of the leading citizens of Shannock, and was long active in public life.  On April 16, 1815, he married Penelope Perry, who was born May 2, 1784, and died March 19, 1884, in her one hundredth year. Perry and Penelope (Perry) Clark were the parents of the following children: 1.  Perry, born Feb. 17, 1816, married, Sept. 13, 1837, Penelope Dodge. 2.  Charles, born Jan. 23, 1818, died May 25, 1870; married Mary Clark; their children were Charles P., who died unmarried on Dec. 25, 1870, and Martha.  3.  Simeon P., mentioned below.  4.  Mary, born Dec. 10, 1821.  5.  Penelope Congdon, born Feb. 7, 1825.

(X)  Simeon P. Clark, son of Perry and Penelope (Perry) Clark, was born at Clark's Mills, R. I., February 19, 1820.  He was educated at Bacon Academy, at Colchester, Conn., and at the early age of fifteen years succeeded his brother, Charles Clark, to the management of their father's mercantile and milling enterprises.  For several years he filled the position of bookkeeper for R. G. Hazard, who operated the mills at Carolina at that time.  In 1849, in partnership with his brother, Mr. Clark erected a mill and began the manufacture of cotton yarn, laying the foundations of the successful business in which his son and grandson succeeded him.  The venture proved highly profitable, and the partnership continued until 1870, when the death of Charles Clark dissolved it. Purchasing his brother's interest, Simeon P. Clark became sole owner of the flourishing concern, and continued as its head until 1885, when he disposed of it to his son and retired from active business life. The location in Clark's Mills of industries of the size controlled by the Clarks did much to advance the village to a position of importance among the mill villages of Rhode Island.  The welfare of the village was always close to Mr. Clark's heart, and although he remained strictly aloof from political circles, he was always prominently identified with movements which had for their end the furthering of civic interests. No man among his contemporaries occupied a more enviable position in the life of Clark's Mills than he did.  He was not only honored and respected for the blameless integrity of his life, the unimpeachable honesty and fairness which characterized his every business dealing, but he was loved by the people in whose life he had been such a dominant figure for nearly forty years.  Simeon P. Clark was a member of the Baptist church in early life, but later became an Adventist.  He died at his home in Clark's Mills, December 4, 1887.

On November 8, 1843, Simeon P. Clark married Catherine Perry, who was born at South Kingston in 1819, daughter of Walter Perry, and a distinguished member of the South Kingston Perrys.  She was her husband's companion and confidant, knew the most involved details  of his business, and was frequently his counsellor and advisor.  To her he attributed a large part of the responsibility for his success in life.  She was a devout Christian, a loving mother and a cultured gentlewoman.  As a charter member of the Clark's Mills Woman's Christian Temperance Union she worked earnestly and effectively for its success.  Catherine (Perry) Clark died on February 22, 1897.  Simeon P. and Catherine (Perry) Clark were the parents of the following children:  1.  George Herbert, born Aug. 6, 1847; president of the Columbia Narrow Fabric Company, of Shannock; one of the leading business men of Richmond; he married, December 26, 1877, Celia E. Carr, daughter of Peleg C. and Catherine (Weeden) Carr; their children are:  i.  George Perry, born Jan. 13, 1879; treasurer and director of the Columbia Narrow Fabric Company; married Annie Mary O'Neil, daughter of Eugene O'Neil, of Westerly.  ii. Harriet Sumner, born Jan. 15, 1880; a graduate of Smith College; president of the board of trustees of the Free Public Library at Shannock.  iii. Henry Garfield, born May 28, 1881; graduated from Brown University in the class of 1907, with the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy; secretary and director in the Columbia Narrow Fabricc Company of Shannock.  iv.  Florence, born May 3, 1883; graduate of Wellesley College, and of the teacher's course at Columbia College; now teaching at West New York, Hudson county, N. J. 2. Catherine Perry, born Aug. 7, 1848.  3.  Nellie Augusta, born March 25, 1850.  4.  Julia Wells, born Nov. 23, 1854, who resides on the old homestead at Shannock.  5.  Harriet Sumner, born April 22, 1856, died April 11, 1874.



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WALTER ACKMAN PRESBREY, one of the most prominent and influential citizens of Providence, where he holds the office of chairman of the Board of Police Commissioners, and is engaged in manufacturing on a large scale, is a native of this city, born July 19, 1867, a son of Allen A. Presbrey, himself the subject of extended mention elsewhere in this work, and of Nellie A. (Peckham) Presbrey, old and highly respected residents of Providence.  Mr. Presbrey, Sr., has been engaged in business at Providence for many years in association with his son, Walter Ackman Presbrey, the firm being conducted under the name of A. A. Presbrey & Son Company.

As a lad Walter Ackman Presbrey attended the public schools of this city. He entered Brown University, where he took the usual scientific course. He graduated from the last named institution with the class of 1890, taking at the same time the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy.  Eight years previous to his graduation, however, Mr. Presbrey, although then a mere youth of fifteen years of age, had entered the employ of the city government, being given work to do in the city engineer's office, and there he remained continuously during his college course, until 1895, doing a great deal of valuable work to the department and proving eminently satisfactory to his employers.  In 1895 Mr. Presbrey was transferred to the Board of Tax Assessors, where he served as surveyor to the board of six months, and then purchased the interest of his father's former partner in the manufacturing plant founded by the elder man.  The name was then changed to that of A. A. Presbrey & Son Company, and under that style the business has continued successfully to the present time.  Mr. W. A. Presbrey was elected its secretary and continued to hold that office with high efficiency, the present prosperity of the concern being due in no small degree to his keen business judgment and foresight and his wide grasp of political affairs. The same qualities that Mr. Presbrey has exhibited in the conduct of his own business he has also shown in that of the city administration which he has served for so long and so efficiently.  Mr. Presbrey has been active in other branches of the city government and has served both on the City Council and the Board of Aldermen for a number of years. On these two bodies he also displayed great disinterestedness and ability in dealing with city affairs, and has gained for himself the reputation of a most spirited public servant, and in 1908 was appointed a member of the Board of Police Commissioners.  He gave the utmost care and attention to this extremely important work, and proved himself so valuable and gained so much with the work of the department that in 1914 he was appointed the chairman and continues to hold that office at the present time.  The service that Mr. Presbrey has done for the city in his very able administration of the police department can scarcely be overrated, the police force under his guidance and control having become one of the finest in New England, its general management and discipline being a credit not only to the Board of Commissioners but to the public-at-large. He has also worked continuously to remove all political corrupting influences from the conduct of the department, and has done good work towards purifying city affairs in this direction. Mr. Presbrey indeed has always been very active in politics hereabouts and is justly regarded as one of the leaders of the Republican party here, to whose principles and policies he is a staunch adherent.  He takes a most keen interest in the work of the police department and no one in the city is better acquainted with conditions than he.  He enjoys a wide and well-served popularity and the entire community, without regard to party differences, has expressed itself eminently satisfied with his work.  In addition to the police department which he so ably heads, Mr. Presbrey is a well-known figure in the general life of Providence and is a member of many important organizations of various natures here. He is an honorary member of the International Association of Chief of Police, and is also prominent in the Masonic order, having taken his thirty-second degree in Free Masonry.  He is affiliated with St. John's Lodge, No. 1, Free and Accepted Masons, of which he was master in 1894; Providence Chapter, No. 1, Royal Arch Masons; St. John's Commandery, No. 1, Knights Templar; and the Rhode Island Consistory, Sublime Princes of the Royal Secrets.  In the year 1906 he held the office of grand master of the Rhode Island Lodge, and is at the present time commander of St. John's Commandery, No. 1.  In his religious belief Mr. Presbrey is a Universalist and attends the Church of Mediator of this denomination at Providence.

Walter Ackman Presbrey was united in marriage, January 5, 1892, at Providence, with Ada Helena Moore, of this city, a daughter of John and Charlotte (Ramsden) Moore.  To Mr. and Mrs. Presbrey three children have been born, as follows:  Helen, born Feb. 20, 1893, at Providence, educated in this city, and became the wife of Arthur W. Cate; Louise A., born Nov. 16, 1897, educated in the schools of Providence and at the Boston School for Physical Education; Walter A., Jr., born June 27, 1904; now a pupil in the Technical High School at Providence.



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George Palmer PierceGEORGE PALMER PIERCE  --  The late George Palmer Pierce, former superintendent of construction for the Lonsdale Company at Lonsdale, R. I., and for many years a prominent figure in official life in the town, was a native of Somerset, Mass., and a descendant both paternally and maternally of several of the foremost families of Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The Pierce family is of great antiquity and historic importance both in England, where it dates to the time of Galfred, and in America. The families of the name in America are numerous, and from the earliest days of the New England Colonies have been prominent in official life. Among the pioneers who settled in America in the early decades of the seventeenth century were Abraham, of Plymouth, 1623, who became one of the original purchasers of Bridgewater; Daniel, of Newbury; John, of Dorchester; Thomas, of Charlestown; and Captain William, of Boston.  From Captain Michael Pierce, hero of King Philip's War, in which he lost his life, the late George P. Pierce, of Lonsdale, descended in the ninth generation.

George P. Pierce was born in the town of Somerset, Mass., in 1848, the son of Andrew T. Pierce, and grandson of Ezrikum Pierce.  He was educated and grew to manhood in Rhode Island.  On completing his studies he apprenticed himself to learn the trade of mason and bricklayer with Hiram Read, of Providence.  He later became connected with the firm of Read & Richards, of Providence, with whom he remained in the capacity of foreman for many years. He was highly successful from the very outset, and had charge of building several important structures in Providence and vicintiy, among them the Dorrance Hotel and the Court House.  About 1878 he was retained by the late Gilbert W. Pratt, of the Lonsdale Company, as superintendent of construction for all the company's plants.  In this capacity he directed the construction of all of the Lonsdale Company's establishments at Lonsdale, Berkley, Ashton and Blackstone.  He was widely known in the contracting circles of Lonsdale and Providence, and eminently respected, not only for his consummate ability, but for the fairness and equity of his business principles.  Mr. Pierce remained at the head of the construction department of the Lonsdale Company until 1913.

From early manhood he was deeply interested in civic welfare, and for many decades was identified with practically all movements for the advancement of Lonsdale.  Not until 1903, however, did he accept nomination to public office, which had long been urged upon him.  In this year he was elected a member of the Town Council of Lonsdale.  He was a Republican in political affiliation, but was never swayed by party lines against the dictates of his better judgment.  For four years he was returned to the Town Council, at the end of his last term refusing renomination.  In 1910 he became a member of the Board of License Commissioners, of which he subsequently was made chairman.  This office he filled  until the time of his death.  Mr. Pierce was also active in the Prospect Hill Fire District, and for many years was a member of the Board of Fire Wardens.  In 1911 and 1912 he was moderator of the district.  Mr. Pierce was well known in fraternal and social circles in Lonsdale.  He was a member of Mayflower Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and of the Royal Arcanum.  He was an active member of Christ Church of Lonsdale, and for many years served it as vestryman.

In 1883, Mr. Pierce married Mary Boardman, daughter of James and Elizabeth (Howard) Boardman, of Lake Windemere, Westmoreland, England, who came to the United States on their wedding trip, and remained, settling in Rhode Island, where Mr. Boardman became connected with the Saylesville Mills, and later with the Lonsdale Company.  He was one of the first members of the Lyceum, a man of studious inclinations, and was a lover of Shakespeare.  Mrs. Pierce, who survives her husband, resides at the Pierce home at No. 97 Grove street, Prospect Hill, Lonsdale.  She is a member of Christ Episcopal Church, and active in its charitable and benevolent efforts.  George P. Pierce died at his home in Londsale, August 17, 1913.



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STEPHEN HENRY CLEMENCE, JR.  --  The Clemence family in Rhode Island dates from the middle of the seventeenth century, and while not large has been prominent in the history of Providence county since that date.  Thomas Clemence, the founder, rose to a place of importance in the official life of the early settlement at Providence.  His descendants have made their home for the greater part in the vicinity of Providence, and in the towns which from time to time have been created out of it.  The name first appears on Revolutionary rosters, and is well represented in the annals of business and finance.  The late Stephen Henry Clemence, Jr., for many years one of the foremost residents of Johnston, and a man well known in business circles in the city of Providence, was a lineal descendant of the founder, Thomas Clemence.

(I)  Thomas Clemence, immigrant ancestor, was in all probability an Englishman.  He is first of record in Providence, R. I., on November 3, 1649, when he was granted twenty-five acres of land, and all former grants made him were annulled.  This indicates the fact that he was in Providence before 1649.  On April 20, 1653, he endorsed the interesting document entitled 'Salus Populi'.  On January 9, 1654, he puchased of Wissawyamake, an Indian, linving at Sekescute, near Providence, eight acres of meadow. Thomas Clemence became a freeman in 1655, and subsequently became active in public affairs.  On February 19, 1665, in a division of lands he drew lot 90.  On June 12 of the same year he and his wife sold John Scott twenty acres.  From 1666 to 1672 he held the office of deputy to the Rhode Island General Assembly, and in 1667 was town treasurer for Providence.  He was one of those 'who staid and went not away' in King Philip's War, and subsequently had  a share in the Indian captives whose services were sold for a term of years following the cessation of hostilities.  Thomas Clemence married Elizabeth ----- , who died after 1721.  He died in 1698.

(II)  Richard Clemence, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Clemence, was a resident of Providence, where he was a prosperous land owner and farmer.  His name appears with considerable frequency in the land records.  Richard Clemence married Sarah Smith, who died October 14, 1725, daughter of John and Sarah (Whipple) Smith.  He died Oct. 11, 1723, and his will, dated January 2, 1721, was proved December 9, 1723.  Richard and Sarah (Smith) Clemence were the parents of six children, of whom two were named Thomas and Richard.  The descendants of Thomas Clemence, the immigrant, trace their ancestry through these two.

(III)  Thomas or Richard Clemence forms the next link in the chain.  Paucity of data and lack of early records make it impossible to establish which of the two sons of Richard and Sarah (Smith) Clemence carried on the line herein under consideration.

(IV)  Richard Clemence.

(V)  Richard (2) Clemence, known in the records as 'Richard Clemence, Jr.', married, according to Johnston records, on October 16, 1760, Alney (Olney) Wright, daughter of Stephen Wright.  They were the parents of Wright, mentioned below.

(VI)  Wright Clemence, son of Richard (2) and Alney (Olney) (Wright) Clemence, was a resident of the town of Burrillville, R. I., where he died. He was a prosperous farmer and a large land owner.  He married, November 1, 1788, Sarah Crossman, daughter of Elam Crossman, of Glocester, R. I.

(VII)  Richard Wright Clemence, son of Wright and Sarah (Crossman) Clemence, was born in Burrillville, R. I., February 8, 1791.  At an early age he learned the carpenter's trade, and subsequently established himself in business as a carpenter and contractor.  He was highly successful, and developed his business to a considerable size, employing many workmen.  He furnished, and drew with oxen, the lumber for the old Red Bridge at Providence.  He also built a house, still standing on Broadway, which is regarded as a landmark.  After his retirement from active business life, he devoted his time to the management of his farm at Glocester.  Mr. Clemence was a Democrat in political affiliation, punctilious in the performance of his duties as a citizen, but in no sense of the word an office seeker.  He was an able business man, and ranked prominently in his trade.  Richard Wright Clemence married Mary Place, who died May 16, 1866, aged seventy-one years; she was the daughter of Reuben Place.  Richard Wright Clemence died at his home at Glocester, R. I., November 28, 1873.

(VIII)  Stephen Henry Clemence, son of Richard Wright and Mary (Place) Clemence, was born in Glocester, January 13, 1834.  He was given excellent educational advantages, completing his studies in the Smithfield Seminary at North Scituate, then under the preceptorship of the noted educator, Hosea Quimby.  For a short period he taught a select school at Glocester, but abandoned this profession to engage in farming.  In 1864 he removed to Johnston, R. I., and settled on the Pardon Sweet homestead, which he had previously purchased.  On this property, which is located on Greenville avenue, about one mile west of Manton village, Mr. Clemence has since been engaged in farming and scientific dairying.  After his removal to Greenville, he became actively interested in local affairs, and has since been one of the most valued members of the community.  For many years he has been a director of the National Exchange Bank at Greenville.  He is a member of the Democratic party.

On January 11, 1860, Mr. Clemence married in Smithfield, R. I., Elsie A. Paine, daughter of Mathewson and FiDelia (Darling) Paine, who was descended both paternally and maternally from Rhode Island families of early Colonial date.  Mr. and Mrs. Clemence were the parents of the following children: Mary A., born April 4, 1862; Ida M., born Feb. 18, 1864; Stephen Henry, mentioned below; Richard R., born March 24, 1870.

(IX)  Stephen Henry (2) Clemence, son of Stephen Henry (1) and Elsie A. (Paine) Clemence, was born at Glocester, R. I., June 24, 1867.  He was educated in the local district schools and attended the private school of Mowry & Goffs, and on completing his studies became his father's assistant in the management of the farm and dairy, succeeding the elder man on his retirement from active business life.  Mr. Clemence was successful in building up the large dairy product business of which he was the head until his death.  He was a business man of the most progressive type, and was an able organizer.  Mr. Clemence was widely known in business circles, and was active in the public affairs of Greenville, although he remained strictly outside the field of politics.  In 1893 he purchased property within a short distance of the old Clemence homestead on the Greenville pike, and there erected a home.

On March 16, 1893, Mr. Clemence married Susan Alice Cary Flint, daughter of William H. and Frances J. (Brown) Flint, and a lineal descendant of several notable old Rhode Island families, among them the Brown family.  Mrs. Clemence, who survives her husband, conducted his business for nearly two years following his death.  She is prominent in social life in Greenville, and has been active for many years in charitable efforts.  She is a member of the Rhode Island Society of Daughters of the American Revolution by virtue of descent from John Flint, who served in the Revolutionary War. Noadiah Flint, grandfather of Mrs. Clemence, marry Sarah Cary, a native of Johnston, R. I., and desendant of Cary, Viscount of Falkland, of the counties of Divon and Somerset.  William H. Flint, father of Mrs. Clemence, was a native of Windham county, Conn., and in early life taught school in the town of Thompson.  He later settled in Smithfield, R. I., with his wife, Frances Janette (Brown) Flint, who was a native of Smithfield, R. I.  They were the parents of three children:  Edith M., Mrs. G. O. Ross, of Putnam, Conn.;  Mary F., Mrs. J. M. Anthony, of Providence, R. I.; Susan Alice Cary, Mrs. Clemence.  Mr. and Mrs. Clemence were the parents of the following children:  1.  Elsie Frances, born April 25, 1895, a graduate of Bryant & Stratton's Business College of Providence, and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  2.  Alice May, born March 25, 1900.  3.  Bernice Emily, born June 20, 1906.  Stephen Henry Clemence died October 4, 1916.



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James O. DraperJ. O. DRAPER COMPANY, Incorporated  --  After his experiences as a 'forty niner' which furnished the 'sinews of war', James Otis Draper returned to his native New England about 1855 and in Foxboro began the manufacture of soap.  A few years later, 1858, he established the same business in Bedford, Mass., having his brother-in-law, Abner Atwood, of Pawtucket, R. I., as his partner.  In 1860, Draper & Atwood came to Pawtucket, and inaugurated the business which from 1867-1904, was conducted under the name J. O. Draper & Co., the firm and since 1904, as the J. O. Draper Company, Incorporated, manufacturers of olive oil; English fig soaps for washing wool, woolen, worsted and silk goods; white chipped soap for finishing plants, printworks, steam laundries, etc.; palm oil, bleaching, fulling and scouring soaps; soap powders for all factory uses; also a complete line of family soaps and crude glycerine.

When James O. Draper and Abner Atwood established their plant in Pawtucket, they at once obtained a foothold, and in 1867 had expanded to an extent that a third partner, Augustus Crowell, was admitted, the firm name then changing to Draper, Atwood & Co.  A few months later Mr. Draper purchased his partners' interest, and for a few years conducted the business alone.  In 1871 he admitted his nephew, Arthur W. Stanley, J. O. Draper's son, George B. Draper, and Frank W. Mason, men who had stood with him and made success easier, were qualified and willing to step into the leadership in the various departments, and there was no change in the business management. Incorporation followed in 1904, and the officers then elected to manage the J. O. Draper Company, Incorporated, are still  filling the same positions: Arthur W. Stanley, president, treasurer;  George B. Draper, secretary, manager;  G. Bradford Draper, superintendent;  Frank W. Mason, sales agent.

James O. Draper, the founder, was a son of Ebenezer and Beulah (Bradford) Draper, of Attleboro, Mass., and a descendant of James Draper of Yorkshire, England, who died in Roxbury, Mass., in 1694.  James O. Draper was born in Attleboro, June 29, 1818, and died in Pawtucket, R. I., October 14, 1891. He attended school and helped in the work of the home farm until he was sixteen years of age, then began learning the shoemaker's trade at Abington. After four years there he and his brother-in-law, J. H. Stanley (father of Arthur W. Stanley, of previous mention), went to Mobile, Ala., there engaged in the produce business for a time, but later returned to Massachusetts, working at his trade in Wrentham, until 1849, when he joined a company of 'gold seekers', and in the ship 'Areatus' sailed around Cape Horn, and six months later arrived in California.  He returned to Massachusetts the next year but in 1852, again sought fortune in the placer mines of California, was successful in his search, and in 1855, returned to Attleboro, paid all claims against him, and had sufficient capital remaining to finance the business with which his name has ever since been connected, and which he personally managed until his death.  He married, November 18, 1840, Mary G. Carpenter, born November 18, 1817, at Wrentham, Mass., died in Central Falls, R. I., April 10, 1866.

This brief review of the founder and of the business he developed to such a degree of profitable productiveness reveals a man of energy, courage, initiative, not afraid to trust his own judgment, nor to lead when that judgment dictated.  Success attended the enterprise from the first, a three-story building (still the main structure), 60 x 90 feet, was erected in 1869; and not long afterward another three-story building, 60 x 80 feet, was added.  The works are well equipped with the best in modern machinery and appliances, the annual output running into the millions of pounds. The products are known everywhere for their excellence, present customers of the house having in some instances been purchasers from the first founding of the company.  During a life of nearly sixty years neither the firm nor corporation has missed meeting a weekly payroll.

Supplementing this account, it may be of interest to give briefly some of the conditions affecting this business, during the war of the Central and Allied Powers, from 1914 to November 11, 1918, when the armistice was signed.

The soap business conducted by J. O. Draper Co. was affected by the scarcity of materials as well as excessive demands for textile soaps.

Fats and oils increased to three or four times their normal prices. The alkalis used for saponification were very much higher in cost. Potash, which was sold at four cents per pound, commanded one dollar per pound during the war.  To make a more impressive illustration on the potash situation, let us point out that before the war one drum of caustic potash, containing seven hundred pounds, cost twenty-eight dollars, and after 1914 the same drum of seven hundred pounds sold for seven hundred dollars.

The principal source of potash was in Germany.  Naturally with the cost of soap making materials multiplied four or five times their pre-war prices, the selling price of soaps was very much increased.  If it were not for the glycerine, a by-product in the manufacture of soap, the prices for soap would have been much higher.

The glycerine that is recovered is known as soap lye glycerine and is sold on a basis of eighty per cent. glycerine.  This reached a value of fifty cents per pound, nearly all being converted into explosives.

Quickly following the armistice, soap lye glycerine was sold for ten cents per pound and tallow and other fats have declined to thirteen and one-half cents at this time, January 21, 1919, after having reached twenty-one cents in November, 1918.

Olive and palm oils for soap making were embargoed, and olive stocks on our side of the Atlantic sold as high as four and one-half dollars per gallon.

Palm oil, which comes from Africa, was not brought in and stocks on hand were sold as high as forty-five cents per pound.


Continued


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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