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

NY: The American Historical Society, Inc. 1920

p. 387 - 389:

John Davis PeckJOHN DAVIS PECK  --  The surname Peck is local in dirivation and signifies literally 'at the peck', i. e., at the hilltop.  The form of the word in medieval English is pek, 'the hul of the pek' meaning in the Derbyshire dialect 'the hill of the peak'.  Another variant of the name which preserves completely the original form is Peak.  The first mention of the name on authentic records occurs as early as the thirteenth century, when we find the name of John del Pek, London, in the Hundred Rolls, 1273. The Pecks boast an ancient and honorable lineage, and from the pedigree of the English family, to be found in the British Museum in London, it has been established definitely that Joseph Peck, the immigrant ancestor of the American family herein under consideration, was of the twenty-first generation in direct descent from John Peck, Esquire, of Belton, Yorkshire, was baptized in England on April 30, 1587, and emigrated to America at the age of fifty years.

The following certificate of the Heralds accompanies the pedigree and arms of the Peck family in the British Museum in London:

'20 Nov. 1620.
Visum agnitum et in munimenta Collegii Heraldoru relatum die et anno suprascriptis.  Tesamur hoc.
Henry St. George, Richmond.
Henry Chitting, Chester.
John Philpott, Rouge Dragon.

This letter testifies in Latin, in which all offical documents of the time were written, that the undersigned men have seen, examined and acknowledged to be true the given pedigree and arms.

The American branches of this ancient English family form one of the largest, most influential and noteworthy of New England families of early Colonial date.  Descendants of the original Peck immigrants have figured notably in the history of practically every New England city of importance since the middle of the seventeenth century.  The late John Davis Peck, founder and head of the John D. Peck Hay & Grain Company, and one of the best known and ablest business men of Providence, R. I., for many decades prior to his death in 1919 was a member of the old Rehoboth branch of the Massachusetts Pecks, and a descendant in the eighth generation of Joseph Peck, the founder.

(I)  John Peck, of Belton, Yorkshire, England, married a daughter of ------ Melgrave.
(II)  Thomas Peck, married a daughter of --------- Middleton, of Middleton.
(III)  Robert Peck, of Belton, married  -------- Tunstall.
(IV)  Robert (2) Peck, of Belton, married  -------- Musgrave.
(V)  John (2) Peck, of Belton, married ----- Watford.
(VI)  Thomas (2) Peck, of Belton, married ------- Blazton, of Blazton. Children:  Thomas, mentioned below; Joseph, settled in Northamptonshire.
(VII)  Thomas (3) Peck, of Belton, married  -------- Littleton.
(VIII)  John (3) Peck, of Belton, married  --------- Carre.
(IX)  John (4) Peck, of Belton, married ------  Flemming.
(X)  John (5) Peck, married ----- Wembourne.  Their children were:  John, whose daughter, his sole heir, married John Ratcliffe, thus taking the estate of Belton out of the direct line;  Richard, mentioned below.
(XI)  Richard Peck, married ------ Brunning.
(XII)  Richard (2) Peck, of Hesden, married  ----- Savill.
(XIII)  Thomas (4) Peck, of Hesden, married  ------- Bradley.
(XIV)  Richard (3) Peck, of Hesden and Wakefield, Yorkshire, married a Hesselden.  Children:  John, mentioned below;  Richard, died young; Thomas.
(XV)  John (6) Peck, married Isabel Lacie, of Brombleton, and was a lawyer. Children:  Richard, mentioned below; Thomas, Catherine, Robert, John, Margaret.
(XVI)  Richard (4) Peck was of Wakefield.  He married Joan, daughter of John Harrington, of Wakefield.  Children:  Richard, mentioned below; Margaret, Isabel, Joan, Judith, Elizabeth.
(XVII)  Richard (5) Peck, married Alice, daughter of Sir Peter Middleton. Children:  John, mentioned below; Margaret, Ann, Elizabeth, Isabel.
(XVIII)  John (7) Peck, of Wakefield, married Joan, daughter of John Aune, of Trickley.  Children:  Richard, married Anne Holtham; John, Thomas, Ralph, Nicholas, Francis, Robert, mentioned below.
(XIX)  Robert (3) Peck was of Beccles, County Suffold, England. He married (first) ---- Norton; (second) ---- Waters.  Children: John, Robert, mentioned below; Thomas, Joan, Olivia, Margaret, Anne.
(XX)  Robert (4) Peck was born and resided all his life in Beccles, County Suffolk, England, where he died in 1593, at the age of forty-seven years. He married Helen, daughter of Nicholas Babbs, of Guilford, England. Their children were:  1.  Richard, died in 1615, aged forty-one, without issue. 2.  Nicholas, born in 1576, married Rachel Yonge, 1610. 3.  Robert, born in 1580; took degrees at Magdalen College, Cambridge, A. B., 1599, A. M., 1603; inducted over the parish of Hingham, England, January 8, 1605.  4.  Joseph, mentioned below.  5.  Margaret.  6.  Martha.  7.  Samuel, died in 1619.

(I)  Joseph Peck, the American ancestor, was baptized in Beccles, County Suffolk, England.  In 1638 he and other Puritans, with his brother, Rev. Robert Peck, their pastor, fled from the persecutions of their church to America.  They came in the ship 'Diligent', of Ipswich, John Martin, master. The records of Hingham, Mass., state:  'Mr. Joseph Peck and his wife, with three sons and a daughter and two men servants and three maid servants, came from Old Hingham and settled in New Hingham.' He was granted a house lot of seven acres adjoining that of his brother, and he remained at Hingham seven years, and then removed to Seekonk. At Hingham he was deputy to the General Court in 1639.  He took an active part in town affairs; was selectman, justice of the peace, assessor, etc.  In 1641 he became one of the principal purchasers of the Indians of that tract of land called Seekonk, afterwards the town of Rehoboth, including the present towns of Rehoboth, Mass., and Seekonk and Pawtucket, R. I.  He removed, 1645, to his new home.  An incident of the trip is found in the town records of Rehoboth.  'Mr. Joseph Peck and three others at Hingham, being about to remove to Seaconk, riding thither they sheltered themselves and their horses in an Indian wigwam, which by some occasion took fire, and, although there were four in it and labored to their utmost, burnt three of their horses to death, and all their goods, to the value of fifty pounds.'  He was appointed to assist in matters of controversy at court, and in 1650 was authorized to perform marriages. He was second on the tax list.  In some instances land granted to him is still owned by his descendants.  His house was upon the plain in the northerly part of the 'Ring of the Town', near the junction of the present Pawtucket with the old Boston and Bristol road, not far from the Boston and Providence railroad station.  He died December 23, 1663. His sons united in the amplification of the written will which was made on his death bed, and the court accepted it as a part of the will. He married (first) Rebecca Clark, of Hingham, England, May 21, 1617. She died and was buried there, October 24, 1637.  The name of his second wife is unknown.

(II)  Nicholas Peck, third son of Joseph and Rebecca (Clark) Peck, was baptized April 9, 1630, in England, and was about eight  years of age when he came with his parents to this country.  He settled at Seekonk, now a part of Rhode Island, in the district known as Seekonk Plain, in 1645.  His home was in the southeastern part of the town, and he was active in public affairs, serving as rater (assessor) and selectman, and elected deputy in 1669.  With the exception of the years 1687-88, when the town did not elect any deputies, he continued to serve in that capacity from 1677 to 1690.  He was an officer of militia, serving as ensign from 1677 to 1684, was subsequently lieutenant, and later captain, and died May 27, 1710.  He married (first) Mary Winchester, eldest daughter of Alexander Winchester, of Plymouth colony, died November 6, 1657.  His second wife, Rebecca, died November 2, 1704.

(III)  Jonathan Peck, fourth son of Nicholas Peck, and child of his second wife, Rebecca Peck, was born November 5, 1666, in Seekonk, and settled at what was then known as Peck's Hill, two miles from the city of Bristol, on Warren road.  His landed possessions here were very extensive, including what was afterward several fine farms, and remained in the name until 1838. He died about 1717, as his inventory was presented to the Probate Court, July 3, of that year.  He married, March 31, 1695, Elizabeth Throope.

(IV)  Deacon Thomas Peck, son of Jonathan and Elizabeth (Throope) Peck, was born in 1711, near Bristol, R. I.  He settled in Swansea, where he was a prosperous farmer and land owner, and a leading church member until his death on February 9, 1770.  He married Mary Kinsley, only daughter of Jonathan Kinsley, of Rehoboth, who was a widely known and celebrated midwife, to which profession she devoted the greater part of her life. She died in Swansea, and her tombstone bears the following inscription: 'Here lied the remains of that religious and most faithful midwife Mary wife of Dea'n Tho's Peck died May 27 1804 aged 91 years.'

(V)  Jonathan (2) Peck, son of Deacon Thomas and Mary (Kinsley) Peck, was born January 17, 1734, and made his home in the southern part of Rehoboth, where he conducted a public house for many years.  On February 22, 1759, he married Ruth Wheeler, and among their children was Sylvanus, mentioned below.

(VI)  Sylvanus Peck, son of Jonathan (2) and Ruth (Wheeler) Peck, was born April 21, 1784, in Rehoboth, Mass., and resided there during his entire lifetime, in the vicinity of the Orleans Factory, so called. He married Charlotte Wright, daughter of Joseph Wright.

(VII)  Albert G. Peck, son of Sylvanus and Charlotte (Wright) Peck, was born in Rehoboth, October 29, 1805.  He was educated in the Rehoboth schools, and at an early age learned the trade of ship caulker which he followed during the early part of his life in the ship yards of Mason Barney, at Barneyville, and at Nantucket.  In later life he was connected with ship building firms in Providence, R. I.  He maintained his home in Rehoboth, however, near the Elisha Davis and Sylvanus Peck farms, but never engaged actively in farming.  In early life he was deeply interested in military and naval affairs, and was a member of the companies in Rehoboth, whose training ground was situated on the west side of the road from the Sylvanus Peck farm.  He held a commission as ensign from the governor of Massachusetts.

Albert G. Peck married, on October 12, 1857, Patience Davis, daughter of John and Nancy (Davis) Davis, who was born in Rehoboth, June 30, 1827. She was a sister of the Hon. John W. Davis, twice governor of the State of Rhode Island, and founder of the business to which his nephew, the late John Davis Peck, succeeded, and incorporated under the name of John D. Peck Hay & Grain Company.  Albert G. and Patience (Davis) Peck were the parents of two children:  1.  John Davis, mentioned below.  2.  Mary Charlotte, who was born Sept. 25, 1866, and died in Providence, March 13, 1893.  The mother of these children died in Rehoboth, March 8, 1879.  Albert G. Peck died November 26, 1886.

(VIII)  John Davis Peck, son of Albert G. and Patience (Davis) Peck, was born in Rehoboth, Mass., October 13, 1862.  He was educated in the schools of Rehoboth.  At the age of sixteen years he came to Providence to enter business life, and here became a member of the family of his uncle, ex-Governor John W. Davis.  During the two years following he was employed as a clerk in the hay and grain business of his uncle at the corner of South Water and Crawford streets.  He then entered the Bryant & Stratton Business College, where he studied for a year. On graduating from there he spent another two year period with his uncle, and at the age of about twenty years went to Madison, Ill., with his cousin, E. T. Davis, for the purpose of buying eggs for his uncle, Daniel N. Davis, of Providence.  A year later his return was made necessary by the ill health of his father and the death of his mother, and once again he resumed his connection with ex-Governor Davis, for a time working with his uncle, Daniel N. Davis.  In 1888, John W. Davis retired from active business life, turning the management of his hay and grain establishment over to his nephew.  Mr. Peck succeeded to the business and shortly afterward admitted to partnership Mr. William A. Black, the firm name become Peck & Black.  Under the sagacious management of these two able business men, the new firm flourished  from the outset, increased its business largely, and in July, 1903, leased the Reliance Elevator in Warren, R. I.  The venture proved a great success, and increasing the scope of the firm's activities, made Peck & Black one of the largest and most flourishing enterprises of its kind in Providence; Mr. Black died in 1911.  In 1918, the business was incorporated under the name of the John D. Peck Hay & Grain Company, with Mr. Peck as president, and he continued as its executive head and controlling spirit until his death. He was widely known and eminently respected in business circles in the city of Providence.

Mr. Peck was an enthusiastic yachtsman, and was well known in the yachting circles of Narragansett Bay and in fact of New England.  In the nineties he raced the catboat, 'Marguerite', and later the 'Bother', and other yachts with great success, and was the winner of numerous trophies in the Narragansett Bay races.  He was a member of the Rhode Island, Edgewood and Corinthian Yacht clubs.  These constituted his club affiliations, for all of his leisure time was given to his favorite sport.  He was prominent in business organization, however, and was a member of the Providence Chamber of Commerce, and the Boston Chamber of Commerce.  His summer home was at River View, R. I., and he was president of the River View Improvement Society.  For several years he was active in Democratic politics, and on three elections was the candidate of his party for the office of city councilman.

On April 8, 1891, Mr. Peck married (first) Louise Ginand, of Providence. Their children were:  1.  Marguerite Davis, born March 22, 1892. 2.  Marion C., born Oct. 9, 1899, died in July, 1901.  3.  Charlotte L., born March 16, 1903.  On October 23, 1907, Mr. Peck married (second) Mary C. McCann, and they were the parents of a daughter, Ruth M. Peck.  John Davis Peck died at his home in Providence, January 6, 1919.

p. 389 - 392:

JOHN W. DAVIS  --  Opinion concerning the origin of the surname Davis is varied.  While at one time it was thought to be exclusively Welsh, antiquarians are now agreed that the name sprang simultaneously into use in England, Scotland and Ireland in the early part of the surname era. Families of the name have figured prominently in the history of Great Britian for several centuries.

The American Davises spring from several unrelated progenitors, and were found in all the New England colonies from Virginia to Maine before the end of the seventeenth century.  Massachusetts and Rhode Island have been the homes of several prominent branches of the family since the earliest period of New England history.  The family herein under consideration, which in the eighth American generation produced the late Hon. John W. Davis, twice governor of Rhode Island, and one of the foremost figures in the public and business life of the State in the last half of the nineteenth century, comprises the descendants of James Davis, of Haverhill, an Englishman of birth and breeding, whom both tradition and history assert to have been a man of parts, eminently fitted for the position of leadership which he occupied in the early affairs of Haverhill.

(I)  James Davis, immigrant ancestor and founder, was born in Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, in 1585-1586.  With his wife and children he came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony about 1630, settling first at Newberry, where he was admitted a freeman, November 14, 1634.  In 1640, James Davis, Sr., with several others from Newberry and four from Ipswich, desiring more land and timber, went up and across the Merrimac river at a point of land called Pentucket, and there located.  Later, with the consent of the General Court, they settled the town of Haverhill.  In 1641 he brought his family to his new home and was joined by his brother, Thomas Davis, and subsequently was appointed by the commission to take a deed of the township lands from Passaquo and Saggahew, agents of Passaconaway, chief of the aboriginal owners of the country.  Upon the political organizations of the town in 1643, both James Davis, Sr., and Thomas Davis were of the five chosen to constitute the first Board of Selectmen, and in the same year they were both assessed upon estates valued at two hundred pounds.  They, with James Davis, Jr., who was assessed upon one hundred and fifty pounds, were the three largest individual tax payers in the town. They were extensively engaged in farming and lumbering, and were the principal contributors to the property of the settlement.  They are called in contemporary records planters and sawyers. James Davis, Sr., died in Haverhill, January 29, 1679.

(II)  James (2) Davis, son of James (1) and Sissilla Davis, was born in Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, in 1608-09, and accompanied his parents to America in 1630.  He removed to Newberry, where he was made a freeman, May 13, 1640.  He was among the pioneer settlers of Haverhill, and subsequently became one of the leading men of the town. He was a prosperous planter and business man, and an exemplar of the settlement which both he and his father had helped to build, and to which he and his wife Elizabeth, being emigrants of Puritan predilections, were principal contributors and partakers in its accomplishments and disappointments. The abundant fruits of their toil, and the loss of sons in the terrible Indian wars, testify to this, and in this connection it is to be remembered that the family has never failed to perpetuate from generation to generation the names and deeds of John and Daniel Davis, who were slain in battle.

James Davis, Jr., married (first) December 1, 1638, Elizabeth Eaton, who was born in England in 1620-1621, and died in Haverhill, Mass., January 21, 1683.  After her death he married a second wife, to whom in his will he made bequests 'to my beloved wife Mary', but of whom we have no memoranda.  He died in Haverhill, July 18, 1694.

(III)  Elisha Davis, son of James (2) and Elizabeth (Eaton) Davis, was born in Haverhill, Mass., August 30, 1670, and died there January 18, 1739.  He was honored among his townsmen for gallantry displayed n defense of Haverhill, and was mentioned in chronicles as the intrepid Davis. Numerous well authenticated anecdotes are told, and the local histories of Haverhill corroborate them, of his bravery in the border warfare with the French and Indians.  Elisha Davis married, intentions published in Rehoboth, June 19, 1694, Grace Shaw, daughter of Thomas Shaw, of Rehoboth. Among their children was Daniel, mentioned below.

(IV)  Daniel Davis, son of Elisha and Grace (Shaw) Davis, was born in Haverhill, December 2, 1697, and died in Swansea, Mass., November 11, 1773. He married his cousin, Esther Barney, daughter of Joseph Barney, of Rehoboth, and Constance (Davis) Barney, daughter of James Davis, Jr., of Haverhill.  They settled first in Haverhill, but subsequently removed to Rehoboth, where they occupied part of the Joseph Barney farm until 1749. In the latter year they bought the place east and south of Myles bridge, and there brought up their children and grandchildren.

(V)  Daniel (2) Davis, son of Daniel (1) and Esther (Barney) Davis, was born in Haverhill, September 20, 1736, and died in Rehoboth, June 23, 1817.  He was a lifelong resident of Swansea, and in 1773 received from his father a deed to the homestead near the Myles bridge, in Swansea, which a few years later he sold to his cousin, Daniel Barney.  Daniel Davis, Jr., married his cousin Patience Barney, daughter of Joseph, Jr. and Joanna (Martin) Barney.

(VI)  Daniel (3) Davis, son of Daniel (2) and Patience (Barney) Davis, was born in Swansea, May 31, 1763, and died in Rehoboth, November 2, 1803.  He married, April 18, 1794, Anna Bullock, daughter of Stephen and Mary (Horton) Bullock.  Like all his ancestors, he took a lively interest in military affairs, and was captain of a militia company in Rehoboth. In 1778, while yet a lad of fifteen years, he assisted his uncle, Captain Joseph Barney, who was aide in the quartermaster's department of General Sullivan's army in the campaign against the British in Rhode Island, in the care and transportation of horses and forage.  He was later the captain of a military company in Rehoboth, as both his father and grandfather had been before him in Swansea.  He and his family resided in the house with his parents in Rehoboth, as did his brothers, Moses and Elisha, and in the fall of 1803 all three died of a contagious fever contracted in unloading a West Indian vessel  at Bristol, R. I.  Anna, widow of Daniel Davis, married again in later life, after her children had grown to maturity, Jonathan Barney, and died at Barrington, June 12, 1850.

(VII)  John Davis, son of Daniel (3) and Anna (Bullock) Davis, was born in Rehoboth, January 28, 1795, and died there May 20, 1861. John Davis was a man of more than ordinary energy, intelligence and industry, and through a life of many vicissitudes kept the paternal homestead intact, adding to it from time to time, and eventually taking rank as one of the foremost farmers of the countryside.  An especial characteristic of the man was the tenacity with which he clung to old methods and habits, and to the traditions of the past.  Nevertheless he was progressive and broad-minded in religious and political views, kind hearted and neighborly in thought and habit, successful in business, and an excellent type of the 'old New England' citizenship.  From 1840 to 1860 he was almost constantly in office in his town, holding in turn almost every position of trust and responsibility in the gift of his fellow townsmen.  He was often deputed to look after the interests of Rehoboth before committees of the General Assembly, and had charge of its cases in litigation before the judicial courts.  He was appointed a commissioner with Colonel Worcester Carpenter and Dr. Johnson Gardner, of Seekonk, to sell the last of the town's commons or public lands, and with them closed up the real estate interests of the old town of Rehoboth on the identical spot where their ancestors had settled more than two centuries before.  His services were often sought as executor and administrator in the settlement of estates in probate.  He traveled extensively in America.  The winters of 1838-39 and 1841-42 he spent in New Orleans, La., and Tallahassee, Fla., making the first journey by sea on account of his health, and the second to settle the estate of his brother, D. M. Davis.

John Davis married (first) October 11, 1818, Nancy Peck, daughter of Ambrose and Polly (Lyndon) Peck, who was born in Swansea, August 27, 1791, and died in Rehoboth, November 14, 1823, the mother of two daughters. Mr. David married (second) January 16, 1825, Nancy Davis, daughter of William and Mary (Peck) Davis, born in Rehoboth, July 20, 1795, and died there February 12, 1878.  They were the parents of four distinguished sons: Hon. John W., mentioned below;  Hon. Elisha, Daniel Nelson, and Darius Bullock.  Their daughter Patience is mentioned below.

(VIII)  Hon. John W. Davis, son of John and Nancy (Davis) Davis, twice governor of Rhode Island, and for many years a substantial business man of Providence, was during his busy career as  merchant and political leader one of the best known men in this State, if not in New England. His name stands high on the roll of those who have given their services to the people without thought of personal gain.  As a public man his course was unique. Politics did not appeal to him until the demand of his fellow citizens for a respected leader and a strong guiding hand made his duty apparent.  Then he applied himself to public duties with the strength of judgment and high principle which had characterized his business life, and for about fifteen years was a power in the Democratic party. That personal ambition had no part in his activity was clearly shown when he voluntarily withdrew from public life at the height of his fame, at a time when higher honors would have been easily attained.

John W. Davis was born March 7, 1826, in Rehoboth, and passed his early life there.  He was educated in local schools, and afterwards learned the trade of mason.  He also studied civil engineering.  For several years he was engaged as a journeyman at his trade, working in the cities of the North and South, and in 1850 settled down to business life in Providence, where he became a grain dealer.  He was in partnership with his brother, and continued in active business for a period of forty years, until 1890, during the greater part of that time on Dyer street.

Mr. Davis took no special part in politics or public affairs until the year 1882, when he was elected a member of the Town Council, of which he became president upon its organization.  In 1885 he was again elected to the Council and again became its president, during that term rendering special service which his irreproachable character and politic manner made possible. The Town Council was then an important factor in general political affairs as well as in local interests, and Mr. Davis was successful in handling some sharp and trickery in which that body had become involved. In 1885 he was also elected to the State Senate, in which he served a year. In 1886 he was appointed appraiser for Providence by President Cleveland, and in 1887 he became a candidate for governor.  The Democrats felt it necessary to nominate a man who was free enough from factional spirit to hold the party together, as they were particularly anxious to prevent the reelection of Governor Wetmore and deal a much needed rebuke to the perpetrators of the 'May deal'.  Mr. Davis was entirely familiar with the requisites for a successful candidate, from a personal standpoint, and he fought a winning battle, being elected by a majority of over a thousand votes, though the candidates for lieutenant-governor and secretary of state were chosen by the General Assembly and not by popular vote.  In 1888 Mr. Davis was again the nominee of his party, but was defeated by Hon. Royal C. Taft, of Providence. In 1889 he was again nominated and received a plurality, but could not claim the office, and when he ran again, in 1890 he did not receive a majority of the popular vote, but was elected by the General Assembly.  Again in 1891 he received the nomination and a plurality, but lost his seat because of the Republican majority in joint convention.  In 1892 Mr. Davis was elected State senator from Pawtucket, in 1896 became mayor of the city, his term in that office terminating his political career.

At the time of his death the Pawtucket 'Gazette' referred to Mr. Davis' public career in the most flattering terms, and closed its editorial article with the following tribute:  'As an official Mr. Davis was always highly respected.  He was of exemplary character and his private and political life was entirely consistent.  He was not a fluent debater or speaker, but he was possessed of common sense views of his duty and the functions of the State, and he voiced these wherever he was called upon to make himself heard or felt.  He was a handsome man, and his State house portrait singles him out in that quality beyond the other governors of his time.'

After retiring from the mayorality of Pawtucket, Mr. Davis lived retired until his death, which occurred January 25, 1907, and he was laid to rest in River Side Cemetery, the funeral services being marked by many evidences of the high esteem in which the former governor was held, both within and without his own community.

The Pawtucket 'Chronicle' expressed the general opinion in its editorial:

'The death of Hon. John W. Davis, a former governor of the State and a former mayor of this city, occurring, as it did, just as the last issue of the 'Chronicle' was put to press, impressed the whole people with the common feeling that one of the best men of the city and State had been called home.

It is not too much to say that the death of no other citizen of Rhode Island could have more keenly touched the heart strings than has the passing of 'Honest John'.  This cognomen was applied to him when in life by those who advanced him for political honors, and never were words more fitly directed. He was the soul of honor, and there was not any exception to his integrity in the acts that he was called to perform duirng the years he was in public life.  He was not one of that too common class who affect to believe that all means are fair in politics, for with him political acts were under the same restriction as any other act that has to do with one's fellow man.  In all that was upright, noble, good and for the betterment of the people, 'Honest John' was a true exemplar.  He was noble, yet humble; a ruler in every sense of the term, yet at no times autocratic in the authority vested in him.  As governor and mayor, and in every office he held, as the gift of his constituents he was the faithful, brave-hearted American citizen, true to what was right as the needle is to the pole.

He was an honored name, and his own acts made it so.  He was held in the highest affection and esteem by the people of the State, who never paused to ask as to his politics.  In him they recognized one to trust, and to love, one whose words were as good as law, and whenever he advocated any measure it required few additional champions to convince one of its merit.  His long and admirable life was one that has told for the good of his State and the community, and it will live as long as the memory of one so noble and praiseworthy as he shall be cherished.  As neighbor, friend and public official, John W. Davis met all the requirements of one who lives in accord with the best that a noble nature and honesty of purpose can provide.'

On September 18, 1855, Mr. Davis married (first) Lydia Wilbur Kenyon, who was born in Hopkinton, R. I., October 20, 1825, daughter of John T. and Sarah S. Kenyon, of North Providence, R. I.  Mrs. Davis died in North Providence, April 29, 1859, the mother of a daughter, Annie Elma, who was born in Providence, July 7, 1857, and died in North Providence, September 13, 1857.  On December 10, 1862, Mr. Davis married (second) Emily Potter Goff, who was born March 8, 1828, daughter of Sylvanus and Ann (Davis) Goff, of Providence, and died in Pawtucket, July 11, 1885. They were the parents of the following children:  Frank Ellsbree, Annie Elizabeth, Mary Emily. Mr. Davis married (third) February 18, 1895, Marietta P. Pearce, who was born July 12, 1844, in New York City, daughter of Alfred W. and Marietta (Williams) Pearce, and died in Charleston, S. C., May 10, 1902.

(VIII) Patience Davis, daughter of John and Nancy (Davis) Davis, and sister of the late Hon. John W. Davis, governor of Rhode Island, was born in Rehoboth, Mass., June 30, 1827, and died there March 8, 1879. She became the wife of Albert G. Peck, of Rehoboth, on October 12, 1857, and was the mother of the late John Davis Peck, of Providence.  (See Peck VII and VIII).

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Joseph DavolCharles J. DavolJOSEPH DAVOL, late founder and head of the Davol Rubber Company, a figure of prominence in the history of the rubber industry in New England in the latter part of the last century, died in Providence, July 5, 1909.  He was succeeded in the management of the large Davol interests by his son, Charles J. Davol, present head of the firm and a leader in business and financial circles in Rhode Island.  The family is of ancient date, and traces from William Davol, who settled in New England in 1640.  The name is French in origin, and had it source in the village or district of France termed 'Deyville'.

(I)  William Davol, the American ancestor, is first of record in Duxbury, Mass., in 1640.  In 1643 he removed to Braintree, and two years later appears in Rehoboth, where he was active in official affairs. On May 17, 1653, he was made a freeman of Newport, and subsequently purchased land there.  He died in Newport after 1680.

(II)  Jonathan Davol, son of William (2) Davol, was one of the forty-eight original grantees of the tract of five thousand acres which later became East Greenwich.  He never settled there, however, but resided in Newport, and in Dartmouth, Mass., in which latter town he died after 1709.  He married Hannah Adley.

(III)  William (2) Davol, son of Jonathan and Hannah (Adley) Davol, was a resident of Dartmouth, Mass., where he died in 1772.  He married Sarah Sisson, daughter of James and Lydia (Hathaway) Sisson, who was a lineal descendant of Richard Warren and Francis Cooke of the 'Mayflower'.

(IV)  William (3) Davol, son of William (2) and Sarah (Sisson) Davol, was born in Dartmouth, Mass., September 18, 1716.  He married, March 6, 1737 or 1738, Abigail Hix.

(V)  Pardon Davol, son of William (3) and Abigail (Hix) Davol, was born in Dartmouth, Mass., March 5, 1743.  He settled in Freetown. His home there, according to contemporary records, was 'the gambrel roofed house' near the North Cemetery on the North Main road.  Here he died on Novmeber 22, 1808. He figured actively in the life of Fall River in his day.  Pardon Davol married, in 1768, Priscilla Read, who was born November 21, 1746, and died January 13, 1830, the daughter of Samuel and Mercy (Sawyer) Read.

(VI)  Stephen Davol, son of Pardon and Priscilla (Read) Davol, was born in Freetown, Mass., January 29, 1782.  He married, October 20, 1803, Polly Bowen, daughter of Jeremiah and Lillis (Haile) Bowen, of Warren.  She was born April 3, 1784, and died July 3, 1823.  Stephen Davol died October 17, 1848.

(VII)  Joseph Bowen Davol, son of Stephen and Polly (Bowen) Davol, was born in Warren, R. I., September 5, 1804.  He married there, March 23, 1828, Mary Little Sanders, who was born October 2, 1807, daughter of Daniel and Polly (Barton) Sanders.

(VIII)  Joseph Davol, son of Joseph Bowen and Mary Little (Sanders) Davol, was born in Warren, R. I., in 1837.  He was educated in the schools of Warren, and later attended high school in Brooklyn, N. Y., to which city his parents removed during his boyhood.  At the age of sixteen years he entered the employ of a wholesale dry goods house in New York City.  Having shown a decided business talent, he was successively promoted, and shortly prior to his return to Providence held a position of importance with the firm.  Soon after, he removed with his family to Providence.   Here he became interested in the rubber industry, foreseeing the great possibilities of the business, then in the early stages of development.  For some years he devoted much time to experimenting and succeeded in evolving many successful formulas. In 1870 he deemed the time ripe for the beginning of his venture, and having patented and copyrighted his inventions, he began the manufacture of rubber goods on a small scale, not far from the site of the present great plant. The enterprise was a success from the very outset, and grew rapidly, keeping pace with the ever increasing demand for rubber products.  Joseph Davol foresaw early the great field which was opened by the drug trade, and the needs of the surgical and dental professions, and limited the product of the firm largely to this line in the early days.  He later began the manufacture of stationers' articles and other allied lines.  He was the pioneer in a field hitherto exclusively controlled by foreign manufacturers, but within a short period, through the uniform excellence and impeccable quality of his products, successfully met foreign competition, and placed the product of the Davol Rubber Company at the head of the industry.  The name is now known in every part of the civilized world.

In 1881 the business was incorporated under the name of the Davol Rubber Company, with Joseph Davol as president, treasurer and general manager He remained the active head of the organization until his death, dictating its policies, and laying the foundations for still greater expansion after his demise.  He was also an active factor in numerous commercial and financial enterprises, and was a director in the Industrial Trust Company and the Phoenix National Bank of Providence.  He was a member of several of the leading clubs of the city.

In 1862 Mr. Davol married Mary E. Turner, daughter of Captain Joseph and Mary A. (Simmons) Turner.  Mrs. Davol is a lineal descendant of Catain William Turner of King Philip's War fame.  They were the parents of two sons:  George A. Davol, the elder, died in 1913, leaving one son, Walter L. Davol;  Charles Joseph, the younger, is president, treasurer and general manager of the Davol Rubber Company.

Joseph Davol died at his home in Providence, July 5, 1909, in his seventy-third year.  His name stands out notably in the history of the rubber industry in New England.  For thirty-five years he was intimately connected with the manufacture of rubber as one of the captains of the industry. He was not only a man of considerable inventive genius, but he was an executive and an organizer of more than ordinary talent, to which fact the Davol Rubber Company, one of the greatest establishments of its kind in the world, testifies.  Providence has profited by his connection with its business interests, and the reputation and standing of the city as a commercial and manufacturing center has been greatly enhanced by the operation of the Davol Rubber Company.  In this age of manufactured rubber goods in every conceivable form, it is difficult to realize that half a century ago the chemistry of rubber was but little understood.  Years of experiment and countless sums of money were employed in causing the raw rubber to divulge its secrets.  When in 1870 Joseph Davol felt warranted in the beginning of a manufacturing plant, it was a very small and feeble one, strong only in the genius, courage and faith of its founder. The history of all the men who have devoted themselves to the subjugation of raw rubber is a story of hard work, disappointment, privation and often signal failure. But it is also a history of success, fame and recompense. Goodyear but paved the way with the immortal discovery that the sticky, refractory, unmanageable stuff could be tempered, vulcanized and made into water resisting articles.  Those who have followed him with their discoveries of the countless ways of washing, breaking, combing with other materials, rolling, pressing, molding and reducing it to any required thickness, shape or size, and to employ it in the thousands of ways in which rubber as a base is now employed, are equally deserving of undying remembrance, as it is to these persevering, unconquerable, investigating, inquisitive men, that the world owes perhaps its greatest industry.

illustrations on facing pages: photo, Joseph Davol. photo, Chas. J. Davol.

p. 393:

CHARLES JOSEPH DAVOL, president, treasurer and general manager of the Davol Rubber Company, son of the late Joseph and Mary E. (Turner) Davol, was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., April 14, 1868.  He was educated in the schools of Providence, and in 1885 was graduated from Mowry & Goff's English and Classical School.  Choosing business rather than a professional career, he entered his father's employ at the age of eighteen and for several years was closely associated with him in the various departments of the Davol Rubber Company.  He familiarized himself thoroughly with every department of the business and in 1899 was made general manager, in which capacity he acted until the death of his father, in 1909, when he succeeded to the office of president and treasurer.  Since that date the business has assumed even greater proportions, and is now the foremost establishment producing druggists', surgical, dental and medical rubber goods in the United States.

Mr. Davol is a well known clubman and an enthusiastic sportsman. His clubs are the New York Yacht Club; Eastern Yacht Club; Larchmont Yacht Club; Rhode Island Yacht Club; Rhode Island Country Club; Agawam Hunt Club; the Circumnavigators Club of New York; and the Rocky Mountain Club of New York. He is a member of the Rhode Island Historical Society; the Providence Athenaeum; the Rhode Island Hospital Corporation; the National Audubon Association of America; and a life member of the Navy League of the United States, and the National Geographic Society.  Mr. Davol is a director of the Rubber Association of America, and chairman of the Rubber Sundries Manufacturers' Division.  He is a member of the Rhode Island Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Rhode Island Society of Colonial Wars, the Society of 'Mayflower' descendants, and the Roger Williams Family Association.  His home during the greater part of the year is his estate, 'Wildacres', at North Kingston [sic].  Mr. Davol has traveled extensively in Europe and America, and twice has circumnavigated the globe. His yacht, 'Paragon', is well known on the Atlantic coast.

Mr. Davol married, in 1914, Lillian Amy Baldwin, of Fall River, Mass.


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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