Rhode Island Reading Room
These documents are made available free to the public by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project

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

NY: The American Historical Society, Inc. 1920



p. 377 - 378:

HON. ARAM J. POTHIER  --  Ex-Governor of Rhode Island, twice mayor of Woonsocket, and twice commissioner to Paris.  That, in brief, is the story of the remarkable man's public career.  In the realm of finance he stands before the world as president of the Union Trust Company of Providence, and in connection with the development of the industries of Woonsocket his name stands without a peer in the history of the city.

Aram J. Pothier was born in the Province of Quebec, Canada, and is a son of Jules and Domitilde Pothier, both now deceased.  Aram J. Pothier received his preparatory education in the Canadian schools, completing his course of study at Nicolet College.  In 1870 Jules Pothier brought his family to the United States and to Woonsocket, and in 1875 Aram J. Pothier was engaged by the late Hon. Latimer W. Ballou to fill a clerkship in the Woonsocket Institution for Savings.  In the course of thirty-three years he filled every position a man might fill in a savings bank in a city of Woonsocket's size, and he is now president of the institution. So thoroughly identified with it has he become that the citizens of Woonsocket call it 'Mr. Pothier's Bank'.

In politics, Mr. Pothier has always been a Republican, and his public career began in 1885 when he was elected a member of the Woonsocket School Committee for three years.  In 1887-88 he represented Woonsocket in the General Assembly.  In 1889 he was appointed by Governor Taft commissioner to the Paris Exposition.  His report was singularly interesting, and Governor Ladd accorded it high praise in his annual message of 1890. At the inauguration of the Woonsocket city government in 1889, Mr. Pothier was elected city auditor and a member of the school committee.  The latter position he held for one year only, but the former he retained until January, 1894, when he became mayor of his adopted city.  From that time until May of the same year he directed the organization of public charities in Woonsocket, the period being one of exceptionally 'hard times'. For four months he worked almost incessantly along these lines, accomplishing, in association with a number of public-spirited citizens, an amount of good which baffles computation.  At a later period he served as treasurer of the Woonsocket Anti-Tuberculosis Association.  After holding the office of mayor in 1894 and 1895, Mr. Pothier decidedly refused to become a candidate for a third term, and on April 7, 1897, he was elected lieutenant-governor by a plurality of nine thousand and forty-eight, the largest ever given to a candidate for lieutenant-governor in the State of Rhode Island. On retiring at the end of a year, Mr. Pothier was not long permitted to remain in private life.  In 1900 he was appointed by Governor Dyer commissioner to the Paris Exposition, and while there he was particularly attentive to the interests of visitors from Rhode Island.  As on the former occasion his report proved a very valuable document.

In October, 1908, Mr. Pothier was nominated by the Republicans for governor of Rhode Island, and was elected by a plurality of seven thousand two hundred and seventy.  In 1909 he received the tribute of a renomination, and on November 2, of that year, was reelected by the largest majority ever given to a gubernatorial candidate in the history of the State.  A circumstance which renders this more noteworthy is the fact that this was an 'off year' in political circles.  The narrative of his administration, worthy of the man and his record, has now passed into the annals of a former period.

In 1912 Governor Pothier was chosen president of the Union Trust Company of Providence, an honor wholly unsought, but felt by all to be a fitting culmination to his thirty-seven years of distinguished banking service. In addition to his duties as a financier, he is treasurer of the Guerin Spinning Company, the Alsace Worsted Company, the Rosemont Dyeing Company, and the Montrose Worsted Company.  More than any other man in Woonsocket, Mr. Pothier has been instrumental in making the city a center of new industries, and it is an eloquent fact that, while he has done much to obtain tax exemptions for other plants, he has never sought this privilege in behalf of concerns in which he himself is specially interested.  While abroad he was ever on the alert for opportunities to advance the industrial standing of his city and State, and as a result Woonsocket is now one of the world's centers for the manufacture of woolen and worsted yarns by the French and Belgian processes.  He has been instrumental in obtaining for the French concerns, which have established themselves in Woonsocket since the beginning of the present century, an exemption from taxation which was often a determining cause of their decision to build there.  It was chiefly through him that the Lepoutre interests were induced to establish the Lafayette Worsted Company's big plant in Woonsocket and the city is indebted to him for the erection within its limits of the French Worsted Company's colossal yarn mills owned by the Tiberghiens of Turcoing, France. He was also the factor which brought the Desurmont worsted yarn mills to Woonsocket and Rhode Island.

When Mr. Pothier's first nomination for governor was a subject of agitated discussion, he was thus described in an article entitled 'New England's Future Governors', which appeared in the 'New England Magazine':

'Mr. Pothier is a typical citizen of foreign birth, proud of his ancestry, but American to the core.  The foremost leader of his race in this country, he has been a faithful exponent of that broad and healthy Americanism which underlies the very foundation of our Republican institutions, and under his wise leadership the French Canadians of Rhode Island have become honored members of the community.

Being well read, a linguist of unusual attainments, Mr. Pothier is a power with pen and work alike.  He ranks high as a writer on economics and sociology, and his speeches are always worth hearing. In fact, few men can hold the attention of their hearers as closely as he has done many a time at large and enthusiastic gatherings.'

Mr. Pothier married, April, 1902, at Bridgeport, Conn., Mlle. Francoise De Charmingny, whom he met while representing his State at Paris. A man of strong domestic tastes and affections, Mr. Pothier's few hours of leisure are most frequently passed in his home.

The article quoted above says of Mr. Pothier that 'through his well directed efforts he has brought to his home city millions of foreign capital and helped to build several large mills which give employment to thousands of operatives.  Mr. Pothier has succeeded admirably in those great enterprises owing to his sound judgment, his profound knowledge of men and things and his fine sense of diplomacy.  He is a born diplomatist and leader of men.' Truly he has proved himself so and not in one sphere only, but in several, always using his talents for the benefit of his fellow-citizens and the enlightenment and uplifting of humanity.

p. 378 - 379:

Alfred M. CoatesALFRED M. COATS  --  The family of Coats, long conspicuous among the leading thread manufacturers of the world, is an anient one in Scotland, its representatives holding important offices at Glasgow in the sixteenth century.  The American history of this branch of the family dates from 1854, when Sir James Coats, Bart., came to the United States. Sir James Coats was a son of Sir Peter Coats, Knt., of Auchendrane, Ayrshire, and Campagne du Sahel, Mustapha Superieur, Algeria, J. P. and D. L. and Commissioner of Supply for Ayrshire, and J. P. Renfrewshire, F. R. S. E. The coat-of-arms of the Coats family is as follows:

Arms  --  Or three mascles sable, a chief engrailed azure semee of fleurs-de-lis of the field.
Crest  --  A stag's head erased proper, charged on the neck with an escarbuncle or.
Motto  --  Coeur fidele.
Sir Peter Coats, of the ninth generation in descent from David Coittis or Coates, of Barnhill, in the parish of Blantyre, born about 1545, died October 12, 1607, was educated at the Paisley, Scotland, Grammar School and Glasgow University, and was, with his brother, James Coats, founder of the famed firm, J. and P. Coats.  He was knighted in 1869.  He married, November 5, 1832, Glorianna, daughter of Daniel McKenzie, of Sand Bank, Holy Lock, Argyllshire, lieutenant of the Seventy-fourth Regiment, and she died April 21, 1877, his death occurring March 9, 1890.  They were the parents of eight children, the eldest James, of whom further.

Sir James CoatesSir James Coats was born in Paisley, Scotland, April 12, 1834, and died there January 20, 1913.  As a young man of twenty years he came to the United States, and married in New York City in 1857.  He returned to his native home, and in 1871 again came to the United States, residing in Providence, R. I.  For many years he was senior member of the firm of J. and P. Coats, Ltd.  Soon after J. & P. Coats became the controlling factor in the Conant Thread Company, founded at Pawtucket, R. I., by Hezekiah Conant in 1868, and Sir James Coats became the representative of the Coats interests in this large enterprise.  In 1891 the Conant Thread Company was dissolved and the plant has been subsequently operated as a branch of J. & P. Coats, Ltd.   Sir James Coats was the directing spirit in the vast expansion and development of this important business, which employed more than two thousand hands, giving to its management the benefit of long experience in the industry and making its weighty affairs his greatest care. In 1901 he returned to Scotland, where his death occurred. He was a business man of splendid parts, complete master of every branch of thread manufacture, and was held in high regard in his adopted home. He was interested in matters of public concern, and public-spirited in his support of movements of progress and betterment, while many charitable institutions and organizations knew him as a generous sympathizer. Diplomatic, tactful, and a trained executive, he soon familiarized himself with American methods of business procedure, and was widely known both for business sagacity and constant adherence to lofty principles. Sir James Coats was justice of the peace of the counties of Ayr and Renfrew, and was at one time captain of the Second Battalion of Renfrewshire Rifles (volunteers).  He was created a baronet, December 7, 1905.

He married Sarah Ann Auchincloss, daughter of John and Elizabeth (Buck) Auchincloss, the ceremony performed October 15, 1857, and they were the parents of:  Elizabeth W., married Thomas Glen Arthur, deceased, of Barshaw, Renfrewshire, and is now a resident of Algiers, Algeria; Annie M., married George Gordon King, of Newport, R. I.;  Alice D., deceased, married Theodore Frelinghuysen, of New York City, son of Frederick Frelinghuysen, a former Secretary of State of the United States; Sir Stuart A., Bart., resides in London, married Jane Muir, daughter of Thomas Greenlees, of Paisley, Renfrewshire;  Alfred M., of whom further; J. Munro, married Anne Baldwin, daughter of Edward Thompson Caswell, of Providence, R. I., and resides in London, England.

Alfred M. Coats was born in Paisley, Scotland, April 12, 1869. He was brought to Rhode Island by his parents when a child of eighteen months, and obtained his preparatory education in St. Paul's School, at Concord, N. H., then entered Yale University.  He was graduated A. B. in the class of 1891, and the following year entered the service of J. & P. Coats, Ltd., in the Pawtucket plant.  He learned all departments of the business, and was advanced through positions of increasing responsibility to the great managership of the plant, an important post he filled from 1902 to 1910.  In the latter year he retired from active affairs, limiting his participation in business to his duties as director of the Industrial Trust Company, the Slater Trust Company, of Pawtucket, and the Lorraine Manufacturing Company, and as trustee of the Pawtucket Institute for Savings, although he has wide interests.  The period of the United States active participation in the World War found him giving unreservedly of all his resources, time, effort and funds, to the Allied cause.  In 1917 he was chairman of the first Red Cross war fund campaign for Rhode Island, and in August of that year was appointed federal food administrator. He discharged the burdensome duties of this office with an efficiency that won him high commendation and secured the cooperation of the citizens of the State to such a degree that comparatively little friction arose from the beginning of his administration until the office was discontinued, January 31, 1919.  His gifts of labor, personal convenience, and money, valuable as they were, were but the smallest of his contributions to the cause of victory, for he lost his only son, Lieutenant Archibald Coats, in the service, seventeen days before the armistice ended the conflict. Mr. Coats was appointed by Mayor Gainer a member, and became chairman, of the Providence Citizens' Committee, whose object was to aid returning soldiers and sailors in securing employment and adjusting themselves to civil life.  He served in this capacity until June 1, 1919, when he resigned his office.

Mr. Coats is a member of numerous social organizations, including the Squantum Association, the Agawam Hunt, Rhode Island Country, Hope, and Turk's Head clubs, and many out-of-town clubs.  He is a popular member of the Providence community, and although retired from industrial and business affairs, is intimately concerned in all that affects his city's welfare. From 1912 to 1916 Mr. Coats resided in New York City, but since the latter year Providence has been his home and his associations extend into many channels of the city's life.

Mr. Coats married, September 4, 1895, Elizabeth, daughter of Morris Barnewall, of Flushing, Long Island.  Children:  Lieutenant Archibald, served with Battery D, Nineteenth Field Artillery, with the American Expeditionary Forces, and died in the service at Toul, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France, Oct. 25, 1918;  Mabel;  Elizabeth.



p. 379 - 380:

REV. EDWARD HOLYOKE, D. D., L.L. D.  --  There is no way by which the value of a life to a community can be estimated, and especially is this true of the life of a minister of the Gospel.  When Rev. Edward Holyoke accepted a call in 1887 from Friendship Baptist Church, of Providence, now Calvary Baptist Church, the congregation numbered 267 communicants. The membership is now 1350, who worship in the beautiful temple dedicated in 1907.  All departments of the church have advanced in like degree, but these are but the tangible evidences of the value of his thirty years pastorate, and constitute but a part of the real benefit his pure life and inspiring leadership has meant to the church he has served so long and devotedly.  The spiritual advancement cannot be measured or told, only the great record will ever reveal what the life of this eloquent, devoted divine has meant to his own people and to his city.  He is a grandson of William E. Holyoke, a carriage manufacturer, born in Salem, Mass., a man of influence and means, who left the Massachusetts home of his ancestors and journeyed West to the States of Ohio and Illinois, there becoming a supporter of educational institutions, and through his connection with Oberlin College, Ohio, as trustee, and with Knox College, Galesburg, Ill., as one of the original board of trustees, accomplished a great deal for the cause of higher education.

Samuel Greenleaf Holyoke, son of William E. Greenleaf, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1824, and died in April, 1914, at the home of his son, Edward, in Providence, R. I.  He was an expert pattern maker and house builder, who, from the year 1836 until 1904, was a resident of the city of Galesburg, Ill.  In 1904 he came to the city of Providence, and in the home of his son, Dr. Edward Holyoke, spent the last ten years of his long and useful life, which covered a period of ninety years.  Samuel G. Holyoke married, in Galesburg, Ill., in 1846, Amanda L. Hoag, born in Oswego county, N. Y., in 1824, died in Harvey, Ill., in August, 1902.

Edward Holyoke, son of Samuel Greenleaf and Amanda L. (Hoag) Holyoke, was born in Galesburg, Ill., October 7, 1858, and until his ninth year knew no other teacher but his mother.  He then spent three years in the public school of Galesburg, this completing his preparation for admission to Knox College, Galesburg, whence he was graduated with honors, A. B., class of 1871, delivering the philosophical oration.  He then took courses in the theology at Hamilton Seminary, a department of Colgate University, and was ordained a clergyman of the Baptist church, in September, 1884. In the latter year he received the degree of Master of Arts from Knox College, and the same year he accepted a call from the Baptist church of Pittsfield, Mass., this being his first pastorate, although while at Hamilton as a theological student, he had filled the pulpit at Bainbridge, N. Y.  He remained at Pittsfield for three years, then, accepting a call from Friendship Street Baptist Church, of Providence, R. I., he came there in May, 1887.  This church is now Calvary Baptist Church, but there has been no change in the pastoral head, Dr. Holyoke still remaining with the congregation to which he came thirty-one years ago, a young, enthusiastic pastor.  Enthusiasm has given way to earnest, settled purpose and mature judgment, which render him valuable in counsel and leadership. He is an eloquent, pleasing orator, greatly in demand, and in addition to safely guiding his own church to great heights of Christian usefulness, has labored abundantly in behalf of the church at large.  A new chapel was dedicated at Calvary, in 1897, the new temple in 1907, and at no time has the spiritual or material welfare of the church faltered.

Outside of Calvary Church, Dr. Holyoke has actively aided in those State movements which are a part of the history of the Baptist church. He is a past president of the Rhode Island Society of Christian Endeavor; past president of the Rhode Island Baptist Educational Society; member of the board of administration of both the foregoing societies for many years; president of the Rhode Island Sunday School Association; and for two terms, member of the educational committee; past vice-president and secretary of the Rhode Island Federation of Churches, also chairman of the committee on Comity for several years; and chairman of the committee on Union of Baptist and Free Baptist denominations in Rhode Island, a committee which saw its labors crowned with success, when in 1916, the two branches of practically the same faith united.  He is a member of the Baptist Theological Club, has been visitor to Brown University in the philosophical department for fifteen years; and bore a still heavier share of official responsibility than the foregoing indicates.  In 1904, Colgate conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity, and in 1918, Brown University conferred the same degree.



p. 380 - 381:

Charles F EddyCHARLES FREDERICK EDDY, for many years one of the most prominent business men of Rhode Island, is a direct descendant of William Eddye, of Cranbrook, County Kent, England.  The Eddy family has figured prominently in the history of the early colonies and States of Rhode Island and Massachusetts since 1630, never relinquishing the prestige and influence which came to it in the infancy of the colonies through the distinguished service rendered by its earliest members.

William Eddye, A. M., was vicar of the Church of St. Dunstan, of the town of Cranbrook, County Kent, England.  He was a native of Bristol, and received his education at Trinity College, Cambridge, England. He was vicar from 1589 to 1616.  He died November 23, 1616, and was buried in the Cranbrook churchyard.  He left the financial affairs of his parish in better order than before, and collected and arranged the loose registers dating back from 1588 in a new parchment book, beautifully engrossing about eighty of the pages and illuminating three title pages, one for births, one for marriages and the third for deaths.  The book is still in existence at the vicarage. He married (first), November 20, 1587, Mary Foston, daughter of John Foston, who died in September, 1573. She died in July, 1611, leaving an infant son, Nathaniel, who died nine days after she died.  He married (second) in 1614, Elizabeth Taylor, widow.

Samuel Eddy, son of William and Mary (Foston) Eddye, was born in May, 1608, died 1685.  He was the immigrant ancestor.  On August 10, 1630, with his brother, John, he left London, England, in the ship 'Handmaid', Captain John Grant, arriving at Plymouth, Mass., October 29, 1630. He settled in Plymouth, and on January 1, 1632, was made freeman. On November 7, 1637, three acres of land and thirty acres of meadow were set off to him.  On April 3, 1645, he sent his son John to live with Francis Gould until he should come of age.  His wife was fined, October 7, 1651, for wringing  out clothes on Sunday, but later the fine was remitted.  She was summoned before court, May 1, 1660, to answer for traveling on Sunday from Plymouth to Boston, and she declared that she went there on that day because of the illness of Mistress Saffin. She was excused, but admonished.  On May 9, 1631, Samuel Eddy purchased a house at Spring Hill at the end of Main street, in Plymouth, of Experience Mitchell, and his sold it in 1645.  He was one of the original purchasers of Middleboro, Mass., and owned much land in other places.  In 1631 his assessment was half that of Captain Standish, and in 1633 it was the same.  He married Elizabeth ------ , who died in 1689.

Charles Frederick Eddy, of the ninth generation of this honorable family, and son of Ferdinand S. and Amey (Dexter) Eddy, was born in Providence, R. I., February 5, 1847.  He attended the public schools at North Providence, finishing the grammar courses, then at the age of fourteen years began his business career; for two years he was employed in a Westminster street mercantile house.  He then supplemented his education with a course in bookkeeping at the Bryant and Stratton Business College and then secured a bookkeeping position with Governor James Y. Smith, with whom he served for nine years.  At the age of thirty, in the year 1877, Mr. Eddy entered the business world as senior member of the firm of Eddy & Street, dealers in cotton yarns; their office was located on South Water street, and for nearly a third of a century was well known throughout the textile world.  Mr. Eddy continued active in the business until 1909, when he retired from active business, although he still continues his office at No. 17 Exchange street, Providence.  The many years of business success brought with them a high
sense of personal honor that gave Mr. Eddy the respect and confidence of all who were associated with him.  He developed sound quality and ability as a business man, yet did not regard life as a mere money-making opportunity, but in all departments of the city was interested and helpful. Although of a quiet, unassuming nature, he has been an active factor in the commercial growth of Rhode Island.  He retains his interest in the social side of life, and is a member of the Central and Pomham clubs of Providence.  He keeps in touch with the business world through membership in the Chamber of Commerce, and is a member of the Central Baptist Church.  In politics he is a Republican.

Charles F. Eddy married, in Providence, November 24, 1868, Louise S. Purshouse, and they are the parents of three children:  Mrs. William B. Smith;  Mrs. William C. Johnson; and Charles Summer Eddy. They have one grandchild, William R. Johnson.

Mr. Eddy, on his maternal side, is a grandson of Nathaniel Gregory Balch Dexter, of Providence, R. I.  Mr. Dexter was born June 25, 1788, in Grafton, Mass.; married, in November 1808, Amey Jenckes, born in 1788, in Pawtucket, R. I., daughter of Jerahmeel Jenckes.  Mr. Dexter removed with his father's family in 1797 to Pawtucket.  He was educated by his parents and never attended school a day in his life.  He early entered the counting room as a clerk to Samuel Slater, the first manufacturer of cotton yarn by machinery in America.  While in his employ he opened the first Sunday school in the United States, and taught it himself. The scholars were children who worked in the cotton mill.  Captain Dexter (as he was familiarly called), with the exception of a short time, about 1810, when he resided in Slatersville, was a resident of Pawtucket, where he had a good estate.  For many years he was a manufacturer of cotton yarn on an extensive scale, and most of his sons and their sons and grandsons in turn succeeded to the business.  He was one of the main pillars of the Universalist denomination in Pawtucket.  He maintained through life the reputation of an upright, prompt and energetic man in his business, and in his civil and social relations he was generous, benevolent, frank, affable and kind.  He was ever active in the pursuit of something.

Captain Dexter died April 8, 1866.  The children of Captain and Mrs. Dexter were:  Jerahmeel J., born in 1809;  Lucy W., born in 1811, married William Fletcher;  Nathaniel, born in 1814; James Gregory, born in 1817;  Simon Willard, born in 1820; Daniel S., born in 1822;  Amey, born in 1825, married Ferdinand S. Eddy, of Providence;  and Samuel Slater, born in 1827.


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


Mail e-mail