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

NY: The American Historical Society, Inc. 1920

p. 266 - 267:

MICHAEL W. NORTON  -- We are very properly full of praise in this country and time for the man who started at the bottom of the ladder and made his way by means of his own efforts to the top.  New England is full of such men, and certainly we are justified in adding to the long list the name of Michael W. Norton, born in 1867, in Country Limerick, Ireland.

When he was but eleven years of age his parents brought him to Somerville, Mass., where he continued his education, previously started in Ireland. His father, William Norton, a merchant by occupation, died, leaving the widowed mother to conduct the business, which soon deteriorated owing to poor advisers and lack of executive management.  This necessitated Michael W. seeking work, which he promptly did, securing a position in the famous Boston hostelry, 'The Parker House'. His willingness, his native Irish wit and shrewdness, and his most adaptable nature, made him a favorite with whomsoever he came in contact.  After a few years with this management he entered the employ of the Quincy House, in Boston, where he remained until March, 1893.  During all this time, having had to discontinue his day schooling, he supplemented his educational qualifications by night courses in a Boston Business College.

During the years of the Columbian Exposition at Chicago, the Raymond Whitcomb Company erected a magnificent hotel to care for clientele that had been booked long in advance.  For the management of a department of this splendid hostelry was sought a man of executive ability. Mr. Norton was chosen for this position and at last given his first real chance, which he eagerly seized.  In spite of his youth he grasped the situation and was quick to make good; with such ambition and perseverance as was his, he could not fail.  After the World's Fair he returned to New England, where he worked in various hotels until 1897, when he came to Providence, R. I., where he was employed as an assistant at the Narragansett Hotel.

During this period, starting with three horses and two wagons, he became interested in the livery and transportation business, later founding and operating the Trinity Square Stables on Trinity Square, Providence. These stables grew to a large and prosperous enterprise, requiring fifty-four horses and the services of thirty men to operate it. With the advent of the motor truck and the taxicab, Mr. Norton correctly diagnosed the situation, seeing the death of the livery business, and prepared to benefit through the same agency which had destroyed the profits of the Trinity Square Stables. These stables were sold in April, 1909.

It was on October 21, 1908, that Mr. Norton and Lincoln Lippitt, in association with well-known men, met at Boston and organized the Taxi Service Company, the second of its kind formed in this country.  The founders with Messrs. Norton and Lippitt were Henry W. Lewis, of the H. B. Lewis Company, Lawrence, Mass.;  George Smith, of the Smith Dove Company, of Andover, Mass.;  James J. O'Brien, a large cranberry grower, of Carver, Mass.;  John M. McCarthy, wholesale meats, Boston;  Belvidere Brooks, general manager of the Western Union Telegraph Company of New York; A. H. Whaley, vice-president of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company;  Benedict Lederer, now deceased, of Providence; A. W. Stuart, of Baltimore; and others.  The company began business in Boston, and its success was so marked that soon a similar company was formed to operate in Providence, R. I.  A third taxi service company was incorporated in New York; a fourth in Philadelphia, Pa.; a fifth in Baltimore, Md.  From the first, the New York Company controlled the taxi business at the Waldorf, Holland, Manhattan, Imperial, Martinique, Prince George, Seville and Marseilles hotels, the Colony Club and the Union League.  The companies are all prosperous and bring satisfactory dividends to the man who gave them birth.  Mr. Norton was vice-president of the New York Company for four years, also general manager of that branch which is capitalized at $2,000,000.  Of late years, however, he has devoted himself particularly to the management of the Taxi Service of Providence. He controls all the stock of that company which he serves as president and treasurer.

Upon the death of Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Norton purchased the Hopkins Transfer Company, which he added to the taxi business of his company, the combined working force then totaling one hundred men.  In addition to the foregoing interests, Mr. Norton organized a taxi company at Pawtucket, R. I., and one at Waterbury, Conn., both of which he brought to a successful plane of operation before disposing of them.  He is now a director of the Quaker City Cab Company of Philadelphia, the Taxi Service Company of Baltimore, the Taxi Service Company of Boston.  In 1918 he erected, on Page street, Providence, on his own account, the now famous 'Auto Hotel', which is the largest and best-equipped garage in the State of Rhode Island, having a storage capacity of one hundred and fifty cars.  Mr. Norton has also taken on the Richmond Street Garage adjoining.

A Republican in politics, he has long been an important figure in public affairs, although caring nothing for active party work. He has a deep interest in all that pertains to the public good, and when the Pathology Bill was being discussed he threw his influence in favor of its passage. He is a member of Cathedral Parish of the Roman Catholic church, and a member of the Knights of Columbus.

Such is the life of Michael W. Norton, a self-made man, starting in this country poor in finances but rich in shrewdness and foresight, traits which go to make up a man among men.  Quick to grasp the necessity of mingling with the nation's successful men, he adapted himself to circumstances and took advantage of every opportunity which would bring him in contact with the worth-while things in life.  To-day he stands as one of the most prominent and respected business men in Rhode Island, a shining example to the youth of America, a product of Democracy's free institutions.

Mr. Norton married, at Somerville, Mass., in 1895, Elizabeth Quinn, born in Cambridge, Mass.  They are the parents of John S., now associated with his father in business, and of Claire, who is a student in the Providence High School.

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COLONEL WILLIAM M. P. BOWEN  --  Seven generations of Bowens had made New England their home before Colonel William M. P. Bowen, who, choosing the legal profession as his lifework, made Providence the seat of his activity, and in law, politics, and society, has won high rank and honorable position. The line of descent from Richard Bowen, of Rehoboth, Mass., is through their son, Thomas Bowen, and his wife, Elizabeth (Fuller) Bowen; their son, Dr. Richard Bowen, and his wife, Mercy (Titus) Bowen; their son Dr. Jabez Bowen, and his wife Joanna (Salisbury) Bowen; their son, Nathan Bowen, and his wife, Lettice Millard (Miller) Bowen; their son, Nathan (2) Bowen, and his wife, Patience (Lindley) Bowen; their son, William Bradford Bowen, and his wife, Hannah Boyd (Miller) Bowen; their son Amos Miller Bowen, and his first wife, Caroline Mary (Perez) Bowen; their son, William Manuel Perez Bowen, of Providence R. I., whose career is herein traced.

Amos Miller Bowen was born at Providence, R. I., January 22, 1838, died at his home in Providence, June 3, 1907, and is buried in Lakeside Cemetery, Rumford, R. I.  He enlisted from Brown University as private, Company A, First Regiment, Rhode Island Detached Militia, April 17, 1861, was mustered in May 2, following, taken prisoner at Bull Run, July 21, 1861; paroled, May 22, 1862, at Salisbury, N. C.; discharged July 22, 1862. He reenlisted and was commissioned first lieutenant, Company C, Second Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry, February 10, 1863, and was acting aide-de-camp to Brigadier General Eustis, September, 1863, until May, 1864; honorably discharged and mustered out, June 17, 1864.  For six years he was a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, and for nineteen years member of the Providence school committee.  Lieutenant Amos M. Bowen married (first) Caroline May Perez, born April 13, 1842, died November 12, 1867, daughter of Manuel Perez, of San Jose, Cuba, and Mary F. (Witherell) Perez, of Attleboro. Manuel Perez, maternally, was a member of the Capote family, of Cuba, and his father was a Spanish sugar planter there.

William M. P. Bowen, eldest child of Lieutenant  Amos M. Bowen and his first wife, Caroline Mary (Perez) Bowen, was born in Attleboro, Mass., his mother's home, September 8, 1864, but Providence has ever been his home, and his education, primary, preparatory, collegiate, and professional, was obtained in the institutions of that city.  He passed the graded and high schools, was graduated from Brown University, A. B., class of 1884, and A. M., 1887.  He studied law while performing the duties of assistant clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, and of the Common Pleas Division of the Supreme Court of Providence county, R. I., an office he held from 1884 to 1901. After admission to the bar in 1900, he began the practice of law in Providence, and has won his way to the confidence of an influential clientele, his specialty, corporation law. He is a member of the Rhode Island and American Bar associations, and is highly regarded by his professional brethren. He has contributed to the literature of his profession, and has delved deep into its technicalities and intricacies. Outside his profession he has business interests, and is president of the U. S. Ring Traveler Company, of Providence.

Colonel Bowen has devoted much time to the public service. In 1899 he served on the Providence school committee, and during the years 1902, 1905 and 1906 he was a member of the Rhode Island  House of Representatives.  In 1909 and 1910 he represented Providence in the State Senate, his career in both Houses being marked by the passage of many valuable laws, including an act regulating common law assignments, a State highway act, a meat inspection act, and a large variety of acts pertaining to judicial procedure.  He served in 1909-12 on the special taxation committee, which revised the tax laws of the State.  For a number of years he has been chairman of the Republican city committee of Providence.

Colonel Bowen is a member of the Sons of Veterans, and has served as division commander; from his honored father he inherits membership in the Massachusetts Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States; is a member of the United Train of Artillery; Rhode Island Society, Sons of the American Revolution; was Colonel (1911-13) of the First Light Infantry Regiment, Providence; and is now on the Rhode Island militia retired list with the rank of colonel.  He served in Plattsburg military camps, in 1915 and 1916, and has engaged in various war activities. His Masonic membership is found in Corinthian Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons; Providence Chapter, Royal Arch Masons; Providence Council, Royal and Select Masters; Calvary Commandery, Knights Templar; Palestine Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine; and Rhode Island Consistory, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.  He is also an interested member of the Providence Rotary Club, Providence Chamber of Commerce, the Young Men's Christian Association and the Rhode Island School of Design.  His club is the University of Providence, his Greek letter fraternity, Delta Upsilon.  He is a member of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, and intersted in all good works.  He took a deep interest in athletics in his younger years, was secretary of the Providence Athletic Association during its existence, and an editor of the club organ, 'The Triangle'.  He was long a member of the Narragansett Boat Club, and is a life member of the League of American Wheelmen, his interest in good roads first arising from his love of cycling. The work he did in behalf of good roads bore fruit later in the Legislature, and is seen now in Rhode Island's splendid thoroughfares.

Colonel Bowen married, August 4, 1900, Lucie (McMahon) Carpenter, a widow, the daughter of a New York lawyer.

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Herbert HarrisHERBERT HARRIS, owner of the Harris Lime Rock Company, and a prominent business man of Lincoln, R. I., was born at this place, February 18, 1851, before Lincoln had been separated from the town of Smithfield, and has always lived here.  He is a son of Ira and Fannie (Clarke) Harris, old and highly-respected residents of this region.  Ira Harris was a wheelwright and farmer and had a shop at Lime Rock.  He was active in the affairs of the community and took a keen interest in the progress of his home town until his death, which occurred in the month of February, 1901, at the age of eighty-five years.  His wife died when sixty-nine years old.

Herbert Harris received his education at the local public schools, and while still a mere youth began work as a teamster.  He was ambitious and full of enterprise, however, and in 1890 leased the Harris Lime Rock Company from Robert Harris and continued that business very successfully. Eleven years later, in 1901, he was able to purchase the business outright and at the same time he purchased the controlling interest in the Dexter Lime Rock Co., which he is working at the present time.  He also purchased the Stephen Wright lime kilns and quarries.  He built three new kilns and put in modern machinery and equipment, and has now developed a business in which he employs from twenty to twenty-five men and which produces an output of thirty-five to fifty thousand barrels of lime a year.  His business is the only one of its king in Rhode Island, and Mr. Harris has established a position for himself as one of the substantial manufacturers of the community.  In addition to his lime plant, he has also three fine farms, which he has improved and where his home is situated.   Like his father before him, he has always been keenly interested in local affairs, and has been a prominent figure in the politics of this region. He is a staunch supporter of the principles and policies of the Democratic party, has held a number of public offices, serving five years on the Town Council of Lincoln, and in January, 1917, was elected to represent this town in the State Legislature.  He was active in Lime Rock Grange, No. 22 and was master thereof for nine years.  He has been extremely interested in the subject of good roads for the community and has done much in this connection.

Herbert Harris married (first) in the year 1873, Mary D. Keene, who died in 1881, and they were the parents of two children, Sarah Jane, who became the wife of E. A. Knight, of Lime Rock, to whom she has borne one child, Irma; Georgiana, who became the wife of A. P. Holly, of Lime Rock. Mr. Harris married (second) in the year 1884, Lena Kulz, of Providence, and they are the parents of three children, as follows:  Carrie, who died at the age of three years, Bert K., a graduate of Kingston College, and now first lieutenant in a battery of heavy artillery in service in France with the United States Army;  Gertrude, who became the wife of A. M. Capron, of Centerdale, R. I.

A word concerning the family and ancestors of Mr. Harris will be here appropriate.  He is a descendant of Thomas Harris, who with his brother, William, came from Bristol, England, to Boston in the year 1630 in the company of Roger Williams.  William Harris was one of the six persons who arrived in 1636 at Providence, R. I., and founded that city.  He was also one of the twelve to whom Roger Williams deeded land that he had bought from the Indians, and one of the twelve original members of the First Baptist Church in 1639.  Thomas Harris was one of the thirteen signers of the compact of 1637, incident to their inhabiting the town of Providence, and he and William were among the thirty-nine signers of an agreement in 1640 for the formation of a government.  Thomas Harris was a prominent man in the youthful colony and held a number of positions including that of commissioner, deputy, member of the Town Council, assistant, etc.  He was the ancestor of numerous Harris families who have lived in and about what constituted the told town of Smithfield, and to one of which families Jeremiah Harris, grandfather of Herbert Harris, was a member. Jeremiah Harris was a great-grandson of the original Thomas Harris, and was a native of the town of Burrillville, R. I., where he learned the trade of shoemaker. He later came to Herring Pond, where he made his home and followed this trade, being the owner of a small tract of land in that vicinity. From there he moved to Slaterville and from there again to Cape Cod, Mass. He maintained, however, a home at Smithfield and it is said frequently walked from Cape Cod to the latter place, a distance of seventy miles, to cast his vote.  He married (first) Rhode Young, a native of Burrillville, and a daughter of Othniel Young, a soldier of the Revolutionary War.  Mrs. Harris died at Cape Cod and was buried in the Acotes Hill Cemetery. Mr. Harris married (second) Mary (Adams) Daniels, the widow of Bena Daniels. Jeremiah Harris' children were all born of his first marriage and were as follows: Ira, father of Herbert Harris of this sketch; Eliza, who became the wife of Allen Bishop, of North Scituate, R. I.;  William, who died in service in the Civil War;  Sarah, who became the wife of John Barker, of East Providence; Henry, who died in Montana;  Jeremiah, who met his death by drowning and was a soldier in the Civil War;  Abby, who became the wife of Talcott Curtis; Lucy, who married George Buxton; Rhoda, who became the wife of Amasa Esten; Thomas, who died in early youth; and Orin, a civil war veteran, who made his home at Buzzard's Bay, Mass.

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TRISTAM DICKENS BABCOCK  --  In 1883 Tristam D. Babcock bought the Paul Babcock farm on the Watch Hill road near Westerly and laid the foundation for his future business of which he has been the executive head since 1900, the Watch Hill Ice Company.  Progressive and public-spirited, he has not only been successful in his own private business enterprises, but has won high rank as a citizen.  He is a son of Oliver and Martha (Dickens) Babcock, his name Tristam being that borne by his maternal grandfather, Tristam Dickens.

(I)  The Babcock family trace descent from James Babcock, born in County Essex, England, in 1612, died June 12, 1679, in Westerly, R. I., he moving to that town in 1662.  He was made a freeman, February 25, 1665.  His first wife Sarah died in 1665, and in 1669 he married Elizabeth March.

(II)  John Babcock, son of James Babcock, was born in Portsmouth, R. I., in 1644.  Tradition says he eloped with Mary Lawton from Newport and settled on the east bank of the Pawcatuck river near what is now Avondale, near Massatuxet Cove in the town of Westerly, and many romantic stories in verse and prose are founded upon this tradition.  He died in 1685, and some of the land which he owned is still held in the family name.

(III)  Captain John (2) Babcock, son of John (1) Babcock, was born at Westerly, R. I., in 1669, and died March 28, 1746. He was made a freeman, February 13, 1689, was a captain of militia, held many town offices, and was held in the highest respect and honor.  He married, in 1700, Mary Champlain.

(IV)  Lieutenant Ichabod Babcock, son of Captain John (2) Babcock, was born November 21, 1703.  During the years 1734-35-36 he was lieutenant of the First Company, Westerly Militia.  He married, December 1, 1731, his cousin, Jemima Babcock, both members of the Seventh Day Baptist Church at Ashaway, R. I., where he died in 1768.

(V)  Joseph Babcock, son of Lieutenant Ichabod Babcock, was born February 3, 1735, and died in March, 1804.  He married (first) March 31, 1765, Hannah, daughter of Samuel and Hannah (Clark) Champlin.  She was born in South Kingston, R. I., December 9, 1747, died in 1767.  He married (sceond) in 1771, Hannah, daughter of John and Hannah Ross, of Westerly.

(VI)  Captain Daniel Babcock, son of Joseph Babcock, was born September 20, 1777, and died in 1860.  At one time he was a master mariner, but later bought a farm in Westerly, and in 1821 was a captain of the militia there. He married, October 29, 1801, Nancy Babcock, born in Westerly, December 19, 1778, daughter of Colonel James and Joanna Babcock.  Children: Nancy, born Nov. 29, 1803, married John Hall;  Emory, born Feb. 6, 1806, died June 29, 1892;  Oliver, of further mention;  Joseph, born Dec. 24, 1813, died May 12, 1892;  Ezra, born Jan. 16, 1816, married Eunice Palmer.

(VII)  Oliver Babcock, son of Captain Daniel Babcock, was born June 26, 1811, and died at Westerly, October 22, 1900. For many years he was captain of the whaling barque, 'Fellows', which sailed from Stonington, Conn.  He was a typical mariner, bluff, hearty and honest, making friends wherever known and holding the esteem of his community as long as he lived.  He married, March 27, 1837, Martha Dickens, born September 9, 1817, died March 10, 1888, daughter of Tristam and Desire Hannah (Ross) Dickens.  Children: Mary Esther, born May 28, 1838, died April 7, 1841;  George, born June 10, 1841, died Dec. 28, 1842;  Tristam Dickens, of further mention;  Nancy, born Sept. 20, 1852, married, Aug. 20, 1884, John Tourjee, and located in East Greenwich, R. I.;  Daniel, born March 28, 1857, died Sept. 13, 1858;  James Oliver, born Dec. 15, 1859, and resides in Avondale, R. I.;  Daniel Courtland, born Aug. 14, 1863, married, at Brooklyn, N. Y., Dec. 10, 1896, Margaret Stillman Burke, born March 6, 1868, and resides in New York City.

(VIII)  Tristam Dickens Babcock, son of Oliver and Martha (Dickens) Babcock, was born December 10, 1842, at Avondale, R. I., obtaining his education in the schools of Westerly.  He resided in Avondale until 1879, twelve years of that period being spent in the employ of his uncle, Captain James R. Dickens, who ran a steamboat between Westerly and New York.  He continued in that service  from 1860 until 1872, when he retired from that line, and was otherwise employed until 1883, when he bought the Paul Babcock farm on the Watch Hill road, erected large ice houses and entered into the ice business on an extensive scale.  He ran the business as a private enterprise until 1900, when he incorporated the Watch Hill Ice Company, of which he is president.  He also owns and operates a dairy farm, and in association with his brothers is interested in the fish business.  In 1905 he was the Democratic candidate for Town Council and was elected by an unusually large majority.  He was a member of the State Board of Agriculture for four years, has been cattle commissioner for Washington county for more than thirty years, becoming widely acquainted all over the State.  He has been a member of the Westerly Water Commission since its establishment.

Mr. Babcock married, August 3, 1868, at Stonington, Charlotte Irish, born October 28, 1843, daughter of Rev. James R. and Charlotte (Babcock) Irish, and granddaughter of George and Betsey (Babcock) Irish.  Rev. James Irish was born in North Stonington, Conn., December 18, 1811, and died in Rockville, R. I., March 3, 1891.  Mr. and Mrs. Babcocok were the parents of a son, William Tristam, born July 5, 1869, died February 17, 1899.  He married, September 27, 1892, Minnie Austin, daughter of James and Sarah (Gavitt) Austin, and left a daughter, Martha, born June 30, 1899.

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George D. LansingGEORGE DOW LANSING  --  The capable, successful and even the most prominent men are not always those who start out with the ambition to achieve something, especially great and famous, but often they are the men who at the outset of life place a just valuation upon honor, integrity, industry and determination. With those qualities only as a capital, George Dow Lansing entered upon a business career, and in the course of years has won for himself a notable name in the business circles of Providence.  He is a direct descendant of Gerrit Frederick Lansing, the progenitor of the family in America.

(I)  Gerrit Frederick Lansing was the son of Frederick Lansing, of the town of Hassel, in the Province of Overysell, Holland. He came to New Amsterdam and probably settled at Rensselaerwyck, about 1650, and afterwards removed to Albany, where his death occurred October 3, 1679.  He was the father of six children, three sons and three daughters, all of whom were born before leaving Holland, as follows:  Gerrit, Hendrick G., mentioned below; Johannes, Aeltie, Gysbertge and Hilletie.

(II)  Hendrick G. Lansing, second child of Hendrick G. Lansing, was born probably at Hassel, and came to this country with his father. He was the father of five children, as follows:  Libbitis, Jacob H., mentioned below; Hendrick G., Jr., Alida and Maria.

(III)  Jacob H. Lansing, second child of Hendrick G. Lansing, married Helena Pruyn, daughter of Frans Janse and Alida Pruyn, September 27, 1701. They were the parents of the following children:  Alida, Hendrick, mentioned below;  Elizabeth, Franciscus, Jacob J., Anntye, Johannes, Abraham.

(IV)  Hendrick Lansing, second child of Jacob H. and Helena (Pruyn) Lansing, was baptized December 1, 1703.  He married (first) Anneye Onderkirk, a daughter of Isaac Onderkirk (of Kinderhook in 1709 and Half Moon in 1720) and Mayke (Vanness) Onderkirk.  They were the parents of four children, as follows:  Lena, Isaac, Jacob H., mentioned below, and Mayke.  The first wife of Hendrick Lansing died and he probably married (second) Anna Onderkirk, daughter of Abraham and Metty Onderkirk. One child was born of this union, Abraham.

(V)  Jacob H. (2) Lansing, son of Hendrick and Annetye (Onderkirk) Lansing, was baptized, April 4, 1742.  He made his home at Watervliet (Cohoes), N. Y., where his death occurred February 7, 1826.  The house in which Mr. Lansing made his home was still standing in 1904.  Jacob H. Lansing married, about 1763, Maria Onderkirk, daughter of Johannes and Helena (Fonda) Onderkirk, and they were the parents of the following children: Annatie, who became Mrs. Van Der Worken, Maria, Helena, Elizabeth, and William, mentioned below.

(VI)  William Lansing, youngest child of Jacob H. (2) and Maria (Onderkirk) Lansing, was born May 12, 1774, at Cohoes, N. Y.  He moved from that place to Mayfield, in the same state, in 1828, and died there January 23, 1853. He married Alida Fonda, who was born March 28, 1775, and died March 10, 1858.  They were both buried at Mayfield. To William Lansing and his wife the following children were born: Jacob W., mentioned below;  Henrietta, who became Mrs. Van Demark; Abram Fonda, Isaac W., Maria, Dow Fonda, Sarah Ann, who became the wife of ----- Putnam; and William.  All of these children were born at Cohoes, N. Y.

(VII)  Jacob W. Lansing, eldest son of William and Alida (Fonda) Lansing, was born September 7, 1795, at Cohoes, N. Y., and his death occurred at that place, November 5, 1848.  Mr. Lansing married Helena Wynkoop, born January 13, 1794, and died December 23, 1843, and they were the parents of the following children:  John Wynkoop, mentioned below;  Alida M., born at Cohoes, N. Y., July 28, 1815, became the wife of Mr. Becker, of Mayfield, and died at that place, May 17, 1853;  William J., born Aug. 6, 1819, at Cohoes, and died at Champion, N. Y., Jan. 29, 1864; Abraham J., born Aug. 27, 1821, at Cohoes, N. Y., and died at Gloversville, N. Y., April 29, 1888; Isaac J., born at Cohoes, Oct. 28, 1823, and died in Mayfield, Oct. 12, 1844;  Harriett A., born Aug. 30, 1825, at Cohoes, and became the wife of Mr. Gray;  Sarah J., born Aug. 23, 1827, and died at Mayfield, April 19, 1831;  Helena N., who became the wife of Mr. Hodder, was born June 5, 1830, at Mayfield, and died at Gloversville, N. Y., March 16, 1887;  Jacob N., born Aug. 3, 1832, at Mayfield, died at sea off Cape Horn, Oct. 19, 1855; Douw J., born June 23, 1834, at Mayfield, died at that place, June 30, 1845; James W., born Dec. 23, 1836, at Mayfield, died in a Confederate prison, July 10, 1864.

(VIII)  John Wyncoop [sic] Lansing, eldest son of Jacob W. and Helena (Wynkoop) Lansing, was born September 5, 1814, at Cohoes, N. Y., and died in Swansea, Mass., July 10, 1875.  He married, May 1, 1837, Martha Hymes Arnold, who was born at Exeter, R. I., April 10, 1812, and died October 18, 1900, at Providence.  They were the parents of the following children: Sarah Jane, born May 12, 1838, died July 12, 1838; John Arnold, born April 29, 1840;  Willard U., born July 30, 1841; George Dow, mentioned below; and Isaac J., born Oct. 3, 1846.

(IX)  George Dow Lansing, fourth of the five children born to John Wynkoop and Martha Hymes (Arnold) Lansing, was born November 18, 1843, at Cohoes, N. Y.  While yet a youth, his parents removed to Rhode Island, his mother's native State, purchasing a small farm, his father continuing his trade as a blacksmith together with farming on a small scale. Here as a lad he attended the old-fashioned country school of the neighborhood, comparing favorably with the average graded schools of to-day, devoting all his spare time in assisting his father on both the farm and in the shop.  His youth was spent in the usual manner largely among country boys, and being an ambitious youth, and always determined to learn a trade, he left his father's home at the age of seventeen, with the intention of seeking his fortune.  He was the only one of the four boys who wished to learn a trade or later did so.  The young man was slightly acquainted with the family of Benjamin Brightman, of New Bedford, Mass., and he first made his way to that place in search of employment and a trade.  New Bedford being then, as it is now, a center of various seafaring interests, it was quite easy for him to secure a position as ship carpenter's apprentice in the employ of Mr. Brightman.  After remaining at New Bedford for about a year, becoming somewhat dissatisfied with conditions, he removed to Providence, where a cousin, by marriage, one Israel Newman, a contractor and builder, offered him a position as apprentice to learn the regular carpenter trade.  He served out his full time as an apprentice and continued to follow the trade of carpenter as a journeyman for several years, as it was his wish to develop his knowledge of, and his skill, in technical lines and mechanical work.  With the same end in view, he later secured a position in the flour mill of Knight, Cutler & Company, of Providence, as a specialist on wood and machinery, and he continued with this company until October 19, 1872. Unfortunately, Mr. Lansing was not in very robust health from over-application, and it became necessary for him to give up his position on the above date, much against the wishes of his employers, the senior of whom, Mr. Dexter Knight, gave him a splendid letter of recommendation which he still retains and values highly. Although never intending to follow a mechanical career, Mr. Lansing always believed that it would be of value to him, in his subsequent life, and it was this which impelled him to persevere so long in this kind of work. Upon recovering from his serious illness, Mr. Lansing accepted an offer from his brother, Willard U. Lansing, of the firm of Angell & Lansing, lumber dealers, of Providence, to take an office position with that concern, they offering him a weekly wage of only twelve dollars, which amount was about one-half of what he had formerly received from Knight, Cutler & Company, as a mechanic.  He was impressed, however, and believed that he would find in the lumber business a line in which he could succeed, his trade being so directly related to the same, and he willingly began at this low salary as it offered him the opportunity for advancement. As  his health returned, Mr. Angell, of the firm, offered him an advanced position as salesman in the yard, which he  gladly assumed, and from the first, because in part of the kind words said to his encouragement, he seemed to have found his real place for advancement in the business world, his sales soon aggregating nearly eighty per cent, of all made in their extensive business.

After a time his ambitions were such as to lead him to sever his pleasant relations with this firm to engage in a wholesale commission business on his own account, which continued for several months with fair success. Then the firm of C. H. and F. F. Carpenter offered him inducements so favorable that he closed up his then business and accepted the management of one of their yards, located at 32 Branch avenue, in Providence, which had been opened about one year previously and had not yet proven a paying investment. By hard work, early and late, as his motto, he soon built up a remunerative and paying business.  In April, 1885, he formed a partnership with the junior member of the firm, F. F. Carpenter, which continued until November 5, 1887, when it was mutually dissolved, conditional that he continue to operate the business, which he finally agreed to do.  Mr. Lansing overcame many difficulties during this period of time, and it was due entirely to his own initiative and his intelligent handling of the situation that the foundation of the present large business was built up and increased many hundred-fold in the course of the intervening years.  Wishing to continue the enterprise under his own name, he finally purchased Mr. Carpenter's interest in the same in 1887 and admitted his son, Willard I. Lansing, as an equal partner with himself.  The firm then became known as George D. Lansing & Son and continued under that title until November 21, 1908, when the present name of Lansing Lumber Company was substituted, with George D. Lansing as president and Willard I. Lansing as secretary and treasurer.  Since the year 1897 the business has had a successful and continuous growth and the firm has handled all grades and kinds of lumber, doing both a wholesale and retail business. In addition to this, it has also controlled and sold large quantities of Portland cement, nails and builders' materials generally.  In the year 1913 a handsome new office and storage building was erected at No. 824 North Main street, Providence, for the use of the concern, and it is here that it now has its headquarters.  In recent years Mr. Lansing has relinquished very largely the active management of the concern to his son, Willard I. Lansing, who has in the past twenty-one years of association with his father mastered every phase of the lumber industry and is known as one of the foremost lumbermen in the State of Rhode Island.

A man of quiet and retiring disposition, Mr. Lansing has found little time to devote to public affairs, yet he has not been able wholly to keep aloof from political life and has served in the Second Ward, where he has lived for more than forty years, in the City Council during the years 1889 - 1896. During these years he served on important committees and installed the first 'Police Signal System' placed in the streets of Providence. He is a staunch Republican in politics, and is regarded as one of the reliables of the party in his ward.  Mr. Lansing is active in the Masonic fraternity, and is a member of What Cheer Lodge, No. 21, Free and Accepted Masons, and is a past master; The Masonic Veteran Association; Providence Chapter, No. 1, Royal Arch Masons; Providence Council, No. 1, Royal and Select Masters; St. John's Commandery, No. 1, Knights Templar; and the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States, thirty-second degree.  He is a member of Eagle Lodge, No. 2, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of which he is past grand, and of the Grand Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of the State of Rhode Island, of which he is a past grand master.  In his religious belief Mr. Lansing is a Methodist and attends the Mathewson Street Methodist Episcopal Church of this city.

George Dow Lansing was united in marriage on Christmas Day, 1865, with Elizabeth Davis, a daughter of Thomas and Mary Davis, who were natives of England, came to this country, and settled in Providence in about the year 1846.  Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Lansing, as follows: Willard Irving, born Nov. 22, 1868, and Charles Wesley, born Jan. 13, 1872. Both attended the public grammar and high schools of Providence. The eldest son, Willard Irving, became associated with his father, as an equal partner in his business in the year 1897, and married Rillie Augusta Eager on December 13, 1894, who has borne him one son, George Dow Lansing, 2d, born Dec. 12, 1895.

Mr. Lansing is a man of strong domestic instincts, of a quiet and unassuming nature and exceedingly kind and generous impulses.  In his seventy-sixth year, he has passed man's allotted time of three score years and ten is still the possessor of fine physique and strong constitution.  It is with keen comfort and satisfaction that he can and does look back upon and review an active, successful and honorable business life of more than fifty years, and no man deserves better than he the typically American epithet, a 'Self Made Man'.


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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