Rhode Island Reading Room
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Industries and Wealth
of the Principal Points in Rhode Island, being the city of Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls, Woonsocket, Newport, Narragansett Pier, Bristol & Westerly.

New York: A. F. Parsons Publishing Co., 1892

p. 188:

THE CONGDON & CARPENTER COMPANY, Iron, Steel, Tin Plates, Metals, Hardware, Etc., Nos. 155 to 161 Canal Street and 102 N. Main Street.  --  It is not, of course, a matter of great surprise to find in the old world countries business establishments that have come down in direct succession through half a dozen or more generations of the same family. There are many such in England and Continental Europe.  But here in the United States a mercantile or manufacturing concern in continuous existence for a century is sufficiently rare to be worthy of special mention.  The number altogether is not very large.  Providence boasts a few such, distinctly notable among which is that of the Congdon & Carpenter Company, iron and steel merchants, Nos. 155 to 161 Canal Street and No. 102 North Main Street.  This is one of the oldest, if not the very oldest, house of its kind in the country, and is widely and favorably known.  It is the largest and leading establishment in the line indicated in this city, and its history has been an unbroken record of progress.  The company, who are New England agents for the R. I. Perkins Horseshoe Co., are wholesale dealers in iron, steel, tin plates, metals and heavy hardware, also carriage and saddlery materials, and their trade, which is very extensive, affords evidence of steady and substantial increase. This old-established and reliable house has a business connection which represents the results of one hundred and two years of honorable and successful effort.  It was founded in 1790 by Joseph Congdon, who was succeeded in turn by Jonathan Congdon, Jonathan Congdon & Son, Arnold Congdon & Co., Gilbert Congdon & Co., Congdon & Carpenter, Congdon, Carpenter & Co., until January, 1892, when the various interests involved were duly capitalized and the present company became incorporated under the laws of the State of Rhode Island, with a capital of $500,000.  F. W. Carpenter being president, J. H. Congdon, vice-president, A. C. Day, treasurer, H. C. Banks, secretary.  The business premises comprise three warehouses and part of a fourth, extending through the block, and giving unequaled accommodations for supplying the most extensive demand.  In the spacious and admirably arranged warerooms will be found an exceedingly large and complete stock of everything in the line of iron, steel, tin plates, metals, horse-shoes, nails, heavy hardware, etc.   They are also agents for mills making corrugated iron roofing, beams, and angle iron for structural purposes, the specialty of the house being iron and steel for shafting and machinery purposes.  In the carriage and saddlery department, which has been more recently added to the establishment, they also carry an extensive and first-class assortment, which includes light and heavy harness, horse-blankets, lap-robes, whips, and kindred articles in great variety; in addition a full and fine line of saddlery hardware and carriage builders' supplies.  These goods embrace all grades, and all orders are filled in the most prompt and trustworthy manner. The trade and public are supplied to the full extent of their wants, on the most favorable terms, and the business is broadly distributed over all the New England States, forming an important factor in the commercial activity of this city.  President Carpenter has been in the house for forty years, and is prominently identified with the material development and prosperity of the city and State, being president of the Rhode Island Perkins Horseshoe Co., President of the American National Bank, and a director of the Providence Washington Insurance Co. and other corporations.  Mr. Congdon, the vice-president, who is a great-grandson of Joseph Congdon, the founder of the business, has been connected with the house since 1869.  He has given the business the study of a lifetime, and is known as president of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, one of the trustees of the Rhode Island Hospital, and a director of the Mechanics' National Bank.  Mr. Day, the treasurer, came into the house in 1865, has been for a number of years a member of the city school board, and active in the Y. M. C. Association; while Mr. Banks, the secretary, who came into the house in 1874, is a member of the Business Men's Club and other local organizations.



p. 188:

THE H. B. SMITH CO. of Westfield, Mass., Manufacturers of Steam and Hot Water Heating Apparatus, J. M. Smith, Manager; Providence Office, No. 7 Leonard Street.  --  This company has been represented in this city for the past thirty years, and has its headquarters at No. 7 Leonard Street.  The leading specialty manufactured by this company is Gold's improved patent sectional low-pressure heating and ventilating apparatus for private residences and public buildings.  This system is absolutely unequaled by any other, and as proof thereof the company can point to the large number of plants in successful operation in Providence, including those at the State Normal School, Central Police Station, Children's Home, Cheapside Block, Butler Hospital, Bank of Commerce, Wheaton and Anthony Building, St. Xavier's Academy, St. Aloysius Asylum, Providence Washington Insurance Company, Rose and Eddy Building, R. I. Hospital Trust Company, Providence Gas Company, Providence and Springfield Passenger Depot, Elmhurst School, Elizabeth Block, Friends' School, Equitable Insurance Company, Brown and Ives Block, Bank of North America, Masonic Block, G. and S. Owen Block, Ebenezer Morgan Block, Durfee Building, Perry Davis & Son, and the residences of Bishop Hendriken, Henry Lippitt, G. P. Pomroy, Charles Warren Lippit, Dr. Geo. P. Baker, Dr. J. W. C. Ely, Dr. H. S. Flint, Prof. Wm. Gammell, John McAuslan, Marshall Woods, and hundreds of others in the city and State.  It is, in fact, in use in more first-class houses than any other heater before the public.  This company also manufacturers Mills' Safety Sectional Boilers, the Mercer Hot Water Boiler, Imperial and Champion Radiators, and Breckenridge's Automatic Air-valves. Branch houses are also operated at New York, Philadelphia, and New Haven, while the company's field of operations is the world.  They make more heaters than another concern extant, and can claim with mighty England that the sun never sets upon the products of their industry.  The Providence office and salesrooms are fortunate in being under the personal management of Mr. J. M. Smith, a son of H. B. Smith, the honored founder and moving spirit of the industry. Mr. Smith has been trained to the business from his early youth, and is a young man of large business experience and sterling personal worth.



p. 189:

PHENIX NATIONAL BANK OF PROVIDENCE.  --  It is a well-known fact that the United States is a 'country of banks'.  Like the seasons, however, banks come and go.  Few there are that stand the rigor of the panics, the stringencies, the failures, and the difficulties constantly arising on all sides.  When, therefore, any large institution is seen to stand firm and unshaken through the crucial test of abnormal depressions, it exhibits the keenest sagacity of those who hold the guiding hand.  An illustration in point is afforded by the Phenix National Bank of Providence. This bank was originally incorporated in 1835 as the Phenix Bank, and was reorganized in 1865, being the first bank in the city to so avail itself of the provisions of the National Banking Act.  It has a capital stock of $450,000, and is officered as follows, viz.: President, Jonathan Chace; Cashier, Geo. E. Martin.  Swinging a heavy capital, controlled by founders and promoters of long-tried ability and unquestioned integrity, it has not only proved a pillar of strength in times of great financial necessity and fear, but has upheld and fostered the material interests of the entire mercantile and manufacturing community.  Its watchwords have been prudence and economy - prudence in investments, economy in expenses of handling business - and from these two walls of strength has sprung a solid arch of prosperity and profit.  Its principle characteristics are those which tend to inspire and maintain success, to wit, ample capital, good connections, unlimited backing, the confidence of all in commercial circles, and the highest standing in the financial world. A bank so long established, and having gone so far in its career with ever-growing success, is naturally an assurance of permanency; but there is more than mere 'solidity', as the word goes, which has contributed to its prosperity and popularity.  Although founded upon a rock, it has each twelve months been raised above the level of the year before, and now has a surplus of $351,000, with undivided profits of $28,000, while its individual deposits average $600,000.  This institution does a regular legitimate banking business in deposits, loans, collections, and exchange; receiving the accounts of banks, bankers, corporations, firms, and individuals on the most favorable terms; discounting first-class paper, loaning on approved collateral, issuing sight drafts, dealing in foreign exchange and local securities, and making collections on all points at lowest rates through its chain of correspondents, which includes the Blackstone National Bank of Boston and the Fourth National and Third National Banks of New York.  Its banking rooms are the finest in the city, eligibly located under the Narragansett Hotel, and afford every modern convenience for the prompt and efficient handling of the vast volume of business offered. The executive officers of this bank are gentlemen with whom it is a pleasure to do business.  The president, ex-Senator Chace, is a native of Fall River, Mass., who has been a director of the bank since 1862 and was called to its head in 1881, succeeding Edward Pearce.  He is connected with The Albion Co., and prominently identified with the commercial growth and financial prosperity of the city.  The cashier, Mr. Martin, was born in this city, becoming connected with this bank in 1857, and its cashier in 1875, and is a financier of experience and sagacity whose opinions are of weight in banking circles.



p. 189:

WALTER COLEMAN & SONS, Edward J. F. Coleman, Proprietor, Manufacturers of Tackle Blocks, No. 106 South Water Street.  --  An historic and notable establishment - notable because it is the oldest house of the kind in the United States, and historic because its inception dates back into the last century - is that of Walter Coleman & Sons, manufacturers of tackle blocks, whose headquarters are at No. 106 South Water Street. The industry was founded in 1778 by Walter Coleman, and some years later, on the admission of his sons, Stephen G. and Wm. Coleman, to partnership, the present firm title of Walter Coleman & Sons was adopted. On the death of Walter Coleman Messrs. Stephen G. and Wm. Coleman succeeded to the control, and they, too, passing away, Stephen R., son of Stephen G. Coleman came into the ownership, continuing up to January 1, 1891, when he was succeeded by his brother Mr. Edward J. F. Coleman, the present proprietor and grandson of the founder of the establishment.  He is a native of Providence, was raised from youth to a thorough knowledge of the business in which he is embarked, and is amply qualified to successfully keep up the standard reputation maintained by his predecessors.  The factories, two in number, were built in 1821.  They have dimensions of 40 x 100 feet each, and are equipped with the most approved appliances for the manufacture of wood or steel tackle blocks of every description.  Twenty hands are employed, and the output is a large as well as a first-class one. The trade extends to all parts of the world, and the Coleman blocks are recognized everywhere as the best in the market.  In addition to the manufacture of blocks, Mr. Coleman also carries a full stock of nautical instruments of every description, and as a marine outfitter is prepared to fill orders upon the most liberal terms.



p. 189:

F. H. HULL, Dealer in Photographic Materials, No. 235 Westminster Street. --  One of the largest dealers in photographic materials and supplies in Providence is Mr. F. H. Hull, who controls a heavy volume of business with the better class of trade houses throughout the New England States. The house has been established for the past five years under the able direction of the present proprietor, and it has all along enjoyed a continuous prosperity, owing in a large measure to the reliable quality of the goods handled.  These latter comprise every requisite for the due conduct of a first-class photographic establishment, from a camera to plain card; and the utmost care is invariably exercised in obtaining each line of goods direct from the best manufacturers or other responsible sources of supply.  The office, salesroom, etc., on the second floor at the location named, are well fitted and arranged, and contain a large and very complete stock of photographic materials of every kind and of that high character as already hinted at.  An active traveler is retained to traverse the home districts and give the promptest effect to customers' orders and instructions. The experienced proprietor, Mr. F. H. Hull, is a native of Rhode Island and still a young man.  In addition to the Providence office a well-equipped laboratory is maintained in Bristol.



p. 190:

ISAAC L. GOFF, Real Estate, Mortgages and Insurance, Auctioneer, Corner Dorrance and Weybosset Streets.  --  The sense of security inherent to eligibly situated or improved real estate is nowhere more marked than in Providence and other places in Rhode Island.  Eagerly sought after as a permanent and remunerative form of investment, it likewise is the most acceptable form of security for loans, and the amount of money thus usefully employed must have attained proportions of great magnitude. It has necessarily enlisted the services of many of our most talented business men, in the buying and selling of real estate, and the recognized leader in this line is Mr. Isaac L. Goff, whose office is at the corner of Dorrance and Weybosset Streets.  Born in Taunton, Mass., in 1852, Mr. Goff came to this city in 1867, and graduated here from the business college of Bryant and Stratton.  Twenty years ago he established business as a manufacturing jeweler and as a real estate broker.  Ten years since he disposed of the jewelry enterprise, and subsequently has given his entire attention to the handling of realty.  Mr. Goff's sterling honor and integrity and his equitable methods are widely known throughout the community, and he has developed a very large and permanent business.  He transacts a general real estate business, and is noted for his accurate and intimate knowledge of present and prospective values, and of the advantages and disabilities of the surroundings to properties disposed of through his agency.  Special attention is given to the foreclosure of mortgages and to the transfer of real estate.  Mr. Goff also effects fire insurance at lowest rates, being agent for the following companies: American, of Newark; Sun Fire Office, of London; Northern, of London; Girard, of Philadelphia; Westchester, of New York; Providence Washington, of Providence; British America, of Toronto; and Rochester German, of Rochester.  Mr. Goff is one of the Republican leaders in this State, and an ardent upholder of the principals of that party.  He was one of the organizers of the Plumed Knights in 1884, and is commander of that organization.  In 1880 he became a member of the United Train of Artillery, enlisting as a private, and winning promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, when he resigned, and was later on appointed a member of Governor Wetmore's staff.  Mr. Goff is also secretary and treasurer of the Republican State Central Committee, and has always taken an active interest in every movement that had for its object the welfare and advancement of his fellow-citizens.

also on page 190: Photographic portrait of Isaac L. Goff



p. 191 - 192:

PROVIDENCE WORSTED MILLS, No. 166 Valley St., Olneyville.  --  The history of the Providence Worsted Mills and the National Worsted Mills, not-withstanding the fact that they are two distinct incorporated companies and their products are entirely different from each other, is so closely interwoven the one  with the other, that for the purpose of this article they may be considered as one grand industry, and this is further the more appropriate as both companies owe their existence to the efforts of the same enterprising and energetic projector, Mr. Chas. Fletcher, who is president of both, and one is the natural outgrowth of the other. This, then, great enterprise had its origin in 1875, when Mr. Chas. Fletcher commenced the manufacture of worsted yarns in an old stone mill, which, until its destruction by fire a few years ago, formed the nucleus about which has since grown up the most extensive single plant in the world devoted to the production of worsted yarns and worsted goods.  Mr. Fletcher is a native of England, where from an early age he had been connected with the manufacture of worsted yarns.  He is probably the most scientific, practical, and thoroughly expert worsted yarn manufacturer in the country to-day, and his modest venture soon felt the impetus given it by his experience and knowledge.  It grew rapidly, and before many months had passed the demands upon its facilities were far beyond its ability to produce the goods; hence enlargements were made to the plant, new buildings were erected, and new machinery and more operatives were set to work; and each year has been but a repetition of the previous one, until the plant now numbers six mills and covers an area of about ten acres, which is almost completely covered with buildings, the only open space being that between the mills necessary to give ample light and ventilation.  The main buildings, seven in number, are all modern in construction, erected of brick, and form one of the most conveniently arranged and perfect milling concerns in America.  They consist of six mills, which are known for convenience of management as Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and the 'Saranac'. No. 1 is a four-story structure, 280 x 100 feet, and four stories high; No. 5 is two stories high, 320 x 36 feet; and the 'Saranac' is a four-story structure, 280 x 100 feet, with a three-story 'L' 120 x 80; the main storehouse is a three-story building 180 x 80 feet; No. 2 storehouse is two stories and 120 x 36 feet; the dye-house is one story, 200 x 36 feet, and the machine-shop is two stories high, 75 x 80 feet, besides which there are several minor buildings, a handsome and well-arranged office, etc., the whole having a floorage area of a little more than twelve and one-half acres. The mechanical equipment of the plant is the latest improved and best known to modern manufacturers.  It embraces the most costly machinery of both American and foreign invention, the larger part having been imported from England, Scotland, and France.  It consists in the main of the wool washers, drying machines, worsted cards, combing machines, preparing machines, drawing frames, twisting and doubling frames, dresser spoolers, and other spinning machinery, looms, and finishing machines.  The motive power for driving the large number of different machines in use is derived from eight large Corliss steam-engines, having an aggregate of 2600 horse-power, besides which there is a water privilidge of 65 horse-power, which, however, is used only in case of necessity.  The plant is divided into six main departments, and these again into several subdivisions, each being controlled under the supervision of competent and experienced foremen, who are all in turn responsible to and closely looked after by the master mind by whose energy and superior talents this great enterprise has been made possible.  Each of the six mills is independent of all the others as far as its power and machinery is concerned, and the shutting down of any of them in no wise affects the continued operations of the others. Hydraulic and steam-power elevators are provided for each mill, and four complete electrical plants furnish an abundance of light, both the arc and incandescent systems being in use.  In the Saranac Mill alone there are 300 arc-lights, and the management is equally lavish of this and other conveniences in all the mills.  Every care has been used in the construction of the mills to provide the most advanced sanitary conditions, ventilation, and comfort for the operatives, and the great banks of boilers furnish steam for heating purposes as well as power and mechanical uses.  Every operation from the receipt of the raw wool direct from the sheepfolds of Australia and America to the shipment of the finished fabrics to all parts of the Union, is accomplished on the premises.  The wool is washed, scoured, dried, spun into yarn, dyed the several required colors, then woven into the finest fabrics, rendering the plant the most complete of its kind anywhere.  At the present writing 2000 operatives, male and female, are employed in the several mills. The policy of the management with relation to their small army of wage-earners has always been such that they are enabled to have and retain the very best and most intelligent class of labor, with a result that the products of the company are of the most superior character.  Kindness and a solicitious interest in their welfare have always been used in all dealings with their employees, and gentle persuasion for their own good to thrifty ways; and it is a pleasant fact to contemplate that not only have these mills been erected and successfully operated from the legitimate profits of a carefully and intelligently managed business, but that hundreds of homes have been erected and are owned by the employees of the mills from the wages they have been able to receive under the beneficent protection of wise tariff laws, and that otherwise would have left the plats of land upon which these mills and houses are erected the barren swamp waste they were once in Valley Street, Olneyville.  The products of these mills are divided into two classes, those of worsted and mohair, which are finished to take the place of silk, and fine worsted yarns, which are also finished for the same purpose.  These are made in white, mixed, and fancy colors, and are furnished to the trade on bobbins, dresser spools, and in skeins, as may be desired. They are sold direct to the trade in all parts of the country, and are also largely used by the National Worsted Mills.  The Saramac Mill produces fine overcoatings, cloakings, etc., to take the place of similar goods now imported, and has 100 looms in operation and a capacity for 400 looms.  Their worsted suitings are in great demand by the trade throughout the country, and are also being made through the great New York commission houses of  F. Victor & Achelis; Otheman, Dyer & Southwick; Whitman & Phelps, and C. A. Auffmordt & Co.  In connection with the plant two complete and well-equipped machine shops are operated, where repairs of all kinds are made to the machinery.  The name of the founder of this enterprise, Chas. Fletcher, will ever be inseparably connected and identified with the social and industrial advancement of Providence, with the production of the most carefully manufactured worsted goods on the American market, and with developing a great establishment, which shows the possibilities at command where industry, skilled and organized labor, and the highest order of investigation and executive management are brought together in such happy combinations as at the Providence Worsted Mills.  The large measure of success which has attended the operations of this enterprise in such a comparatively short time from its inception is but the just reward of lofty aims and the pursuit of a highly enlightened policy with ceaseless vigilance.  Other great industrial establishments of the country are the results of the labors of two to four generations, covering from fifty to one hundred years, in placing them in their present positions.  To-day this one, but little over fifteen years from its modest beginning, stands as a noble, modern, industrial giant, proving unmistakably the ability, enterprise, and skill of the master who so guided its infant footsteps in the right path, that in its youth it already overtops its seniors, and finds itself planted on sure foundation, with a future before it upon which no man can set the limits.

also on page 192: Etching/illustration of the Providence Worsted Mills, est. 1876, inc. 1883 Charles Fletcher, President and Treasurer; Joseph E. Fletcher, Secretary and Ass't Treasurer



p. 193:

RHODE ISLAND BREWING COMPANY, Brewers of India Pale and Canada Malt Ales. --  The opinion once prevailed among certain classes of the community that first-class ale and porter could not be brewed in America. This sentiment is now confined solely to Anglomaniacs, who obtain their clothes from England, and all they can of what they eat and drink.  The skill and energy of American brewers have entirely destroyed this idea by producing ale and porter quite equal to that brewed by Bass or Guinness of Great Britain and Ireland.  An illustration of the truth of this statement is afforded right here in Providence, in the products of the Rhode Island Brewing Company, whose brewery is situated on Jackson, corner of Fountain Street.  This company are extensive brewers of ales and porter, which are noted throughout New England for their purity and excellence.  Their India Pale Ale is equal, if not superior, to any Bass of Allsop pale ale ever imported, while their Canada malt ale is very rich in nutriment, a delicious family beverage, and especially adapted for invalids.  Their stock ales and porter cannot be excelled by any brewery in the country. The business was founded here in 1867, by Mr. John Bligh, who was succeeded in turn by Corney & Hanley in 1876, and by James Hanley & Co. in 1879; and in 1886 the present company was incorporated with a capital stock of $500,000, and with James Hanley, president and treasurer.  This gentleman is an authority on everything pertaining to brewing, and he is constantly effecting improvements which serve to place him in a position to promptly meet the growing demand for his justly celebrated ale, and to maintain its high standard and superiority. The plant comprises a ground area of 25,000 square feet, on which are erected a series of five-story brick buildings, all equipped with modern appliances, apparatus and machinery, while the mash tubs, vats, settling tanks, pumps, refrigerators and storage vessels all bespeak the watchful care and intelligent enterprise of the management.  The brew kettle has the capacity for brewing 200 barrels at a brew, while there is storage room for 8,000 barrels, and the annual productive capacity of the brewery is 100,000 barrels. The brewery is a model of order, neatness and good management, and has no superior in these respects in the country.  The best malt and hops are utilized, and these are handled in such a manner as to result in the production of ale and porter which for purity, flavor and quality are unexcelled in this or any other market.  An inferior grade of ale or porter is never permitted to leave the premises; hence its excellent reputation with retailers, families and connoisseurs.  A splendid line of stock ale is kept on hand, and the trade is large and influential all through New England.  Mr. Hanley, the moving spirit of the enterprise, has resided in this country since childhood, and commands the respect and confidence of the entire community.

also on page 193: photograph of the Rhode Island Brewing Company.



p. 194 - 195:

AMERICAN ELECTRICAL WORKS, Insulated Electric Wires.  Office and Factories, 67 Stewart Street, Providence, RI; New York Office: 10 Cortlandt Street; Montreal Branch: Eugene F. Phillips Electrical Works, Limited; Manufacturers of Railway Feeder and Trolley Wire, Electric Light Wire, Incandescent and Flexible Cords, Americanite, Magnet, Office and Annunciator Wires, Faraday Cables, Etc., and Flexible Gas Tubing.  --  This house was established in 1870 by Mr. Eugene F. Phillips, and in 1882 a stock company was formed under the present name, and was duly incorporated under the laws of the State of Rhode Island.

The present capital stock is $500,000 and the chief executive officers are Eugene F. Phillips, president; W. A. Hathaway, treasurer; W. H. Sawyer, secretary.

The main factory fronts on Stewart Street, Warner's Lane, Summer and Conduit Streets, covering an area of 60,000 square feet, while a branch factory, with an area of 19,000 square feet, is operated on Westfield Street.

600 hands are employed in the business in Providence; and a branch factory operated at Montreal, supplies the provincial trade.

The industry of insulating electrical conductors started by this house at the era when electricity was first practically introduced into the commercial world, has steadily grown and developed under the varied calls which the ever new and increasing applications to which the science has been directed have made upon it.

At its beginning, it depended chiefly upon the telegraph for the consumption of its production; later, the district telegraph and the telephone made new and larger demands; while, with the advent of electric lighting and motive power, department after department has been added to their works, which are to-day probably the most thoroughly equipped establishments of this kind in the world.

illustration on page 195: American Electrical Works.



p. 196:

BUGBEE, THOMPSON & CO., Stationers, Blank-book Manufacturers, Printers and Lithographers.  Dealers in Rich Fancy Goods, No. 67 Westminster Street.  -- Of the many noteworthy concerns in the stationery line in this city, there are none more worthy of special mention in a review of the representative business houses of Providence than of Bugbee, Thompson & Co., No. 67 Westminster Street.  It is one of the leading and best known establishments of the kind in the state, and has an extensive patronage.  The firm are stationers, blank-book manufacturers, printers and lithographers, also dealers in rich fancy goods, art novelties, etc., and their trade, already of a very substantial character, is steadily growing. This flourishing business was established some twenty-three years ago by John E. Bugbee, and in 1879 the firm name was Bugbee & Hall, who were succeeded in a short time by Bugbee & Kelly, who were in turn succeeded by Bugbee & Thompson.  In 1891 the present style was adopted, and under this name the concern has since been conducted with uninterrupted success, although the senior partner was removed by death in December, 1890.  Mr. Walter F. Thompson, now the head of the establishment, is a gentleman of middle age, born in Warren, R.I., and has been connected with the house since its inception.  He has been a member of the firm for the past ten years; and Mr. Henry B. Simmons, his partner, who is a native of this city and a man in the meridian of life, acquired an interest in 1882.  Both are men of energy and excellent business qualities, as well as thorough experience, standing high in the community as merchants and citizens alike; and all the indications are that the popularity and prosperity of the concern are bound to endure and increase under their efficient management.  The premises occupied by them comprise a fine 25 x 125 feet store and basement, well ordered and equipped in every department, and eight assistants are in attendance here, the manufacturing, etc., being done by contract.  An exceedingly large and comprehensive stock is constantly kept on hand, and includes office ledgers, and account books in a great variety; writing pads and tablets, copying presses, letter files, and office supplies generally; a full and fine line of mercantile stationery and sundries; also exquisite productions in plush and leather specialties, art novelties, and a multifarious assortment of elegant fancy articles. Blank-books are made to order, likewise, at short notice, while printing, engraving, and lithographing are attended to in the promptest and most superior manner, and the prices charged are extremely moderate - exceptionally low, in fact.



p. 196:

FRANK L. THORNTON, Jobber of Grocers' and Bakers' Cereal Supplies, No. 13 Sabin Street.  --  The only house in all of Rhode Island engaged exclusively as a jobber of oat, corn, wheat, rye, and buckwheat products is that of Frank L. Thornton, located in this city at No. 13 Sabin Street, which has for some few years past been the leading source of supply for the goods handled, and now controls a trade of considerable magnitude and importance, reaching all over this section of New England. Moreover, the house is widely known among dealers, bakers, grocers, and others handling only the finest grades of cereals on the market; the facilities possessed being complete for procuring these direct from manufacturers upon the best terms, so as to admit of its offering the trade substantial inducements as to prices, qualities, delivery, etc.  Of the several lines of goods dealt in the chief are bakers' and family flour, wheat germ meal, wheat farina, buckwheat and groats, Thornton's prepared buckwheat, ground and rolled oats, corn meal, fine hominy, corn flour, rye meal and rye flour, barley, Scotch oatmeal, and steam-dried provender for horses, composed of a mixture of corn meal and oat meal.  The business was established seven years ago by the present proprietor, Mr. Frank L. Thornton, who keeps in close, constant touch with his customers by himself traveling and calling upon them in rotation, so as to insure accurate and prompt effect being given to their orders and detailed instructions.  The premises utilized comprise three floors, each 20 x 80 feet in size, well fitted and equipped for the purposes of the business, and containing a heavy and complete stock of the several kinds of cereals, etc., handled. Mr. Frank L. Thornton, who is a member of the Universalist Church, is a native of Rhode Island, as also were his ancestors in direct line for two hundred and twenty years back.


Continued With Pawtucket

Our Police - A History of the Providence Force
From the First Watchman to the Latest Appointee

ed. Henry Mann. J. M. DeBeers, Providence, RI:  1889. Chapter VI.


pp. 98 - 126.

facing page: Engraved portrait of Gilbert F. Robbins

The Hon. Gilbert F. Robbins, Mayor of Providence, was born in Burrillville, R.I., August 26, 1838.  His parents belonged to the farming class, and were persons of sterling worth, and held in much esteem in the community.  'In his early home life', wrote that popular and sterling minister, the Rev. Henry W. Rugg, in the 'Freemason's Repository', 'Mr. Robbins had the benefit of excellent influences and helps, which were not without their good effect in after years.  He was sent to the public schools of his town at an early age, and profited by the instruction there received, as also at a later period, by attendance at the Academy in East Greenwich.  When he was about seventeen years of age his parents removed to Providence, and the youth entered upon a course of commercial training, preparatory to starting out in a business career to which he was specially inclined.  Soon after completing his course of study, he became associated with his brother-in-law, Mr. Serril Mowry, of Providence, in the clothing business.  The firm prospered from its establishment, and now, under the name of Mowry, Robbins & Co., holds a leading place among he enterprising houses engaged in this branch of trade.

Mr. Robbins, while yet a young man, became interested in public affairs, and has been frequently called to serve his fellow citizens in offices of rust and responsibility.  He was elected a member of the Common Council of Providence, in 1879, and re-elected the two years next following.  His business capacity and devotedness to the duties of the office he had accepted were fully shown during those years.  In 1882 Mr. Robbins was elected Alderman, and being re-elected in 1883, he was chosen President of the Board, holding this position until the death of Mayor Doyle, June 9, 1886, when, by virtue of his office, he became Acting Mayor, and continued so to act until the close of the year.  At the city election in December, 1886, Mr. Robbins was the successful candidate for the mayoralty, and his inauguration took place on the first Monday in January of that year.  In this important and honorable trust Mayor Robbins displayed the same business qualifications, and hearty interest in the public welfare, which had characterized him in the Council and Aldermanic Chambers, and also in the General Assembly, of which he was a member in the years 1880 - '81 and 1882, as a representative from Providence.

Mayor Robbins, it may be properly mentioned here, has been for a good number of years identified with the Masonic Fraternity, his membership being in St. John's Lodge, Providence, Providence Royal Arch Chapter, and St. John's Commandery, also of the same city.  In Odd Fellowship he is deservedly prominent; he was Grand Master in 1875 - 76, and has since been Grand Representative from Rhode Island to the general Grand Body.

The powers of the Mayor of Providence are very extensive.  He is the chief executive officer of the city, and, ex-officio, a Justice of the Peace within the city.  He may commit to prison for purposes of prosecution, and for a term not exceeding twenty-four hours, any dissolute person detected revelling in the streets or behaving in a disorderly manner.  He is also empowered to enter any house or building which he has reasonable cause to suspect to be inhabited by persons of ill-fame or to which persons of dissolute, idle, or disorderly character are suspected of resorting, and to command the inmates to disperse, and if they refuse to obey commit them for prosecution.  He must 'inspect the conduct of subordinate officers, and cause all negligence, carelessness, and violation of duty to be duly prosecuted and punished.'  He may call meetings of the City Council at any time, and shall communicate to both branches of City Council all such information, and recommend all such measures as the business and interest of the city may, in his opinion, require.  Every ordinance, resolution, and vote requiring concurring action of both branches of the City Council must be submitted to the Mayor, and a three-fifths vote of all persons elected to each Board is necessary to pass over a veto.  If any bill is not returned by the Mayor before the end of the meeting next after that at which the bill is presented it becomes a law without his express approval.

The Mayor has power to discontinue any actions brought in behalf of the city for the violation of any ordinance; and to order the discharge of the party complained of before, as well as after conviction.  This jurisdiction is exercised by the Mayor mainly with the object of saving the city from the expense of boarding prisoners for the benefit of the State.

Other powers are conferred on the Mayor by special provision in various statutes, and, in addition, like the President of a Town Council, its spokesman when not in session, he exercises a broad and undefined authority in all matters pertaining to the public welfare.

Mayor Robbins' first inaugural spoke the character of the man, and the single purpose which animated him as a public official: 'Elected without pledge or stipulation', he said to the City Council, 'I am left free and untrammeled in the discharge of duty, and my policy will be that which, in accordance with my best judgment, will contribute to the welfare of the people.  I ask your aid and assistance in the discharge of the multifarious duties appertaining to the office, and tender you my hearty cooperation in all efforts that shall have in view the proper administration of the trust that has been committed to us.'

Facing page: Photo of Charles F. Sampson, Alderman, Fourth Ward.  See p. 109.

The new Mayor found himself confronted by problems of the gravest nature.  Happily all doubt had been settled as to the legal relations between the Mayor and the police.  Mayor Robbins found in Chief Child an official ever ready to pay due deference to the city's Chief Executive, and Chief Child found in the Mayor a magistrate ever ready to advise and suggest, but careful not to over-step the bounds of his chartered authority.  Thanks to this attitude and sentiment, the police department, under Mayor Robbins, has not only been maintained in a high state of efficiency, but has been able to devote its energies, without discord or distraction, to the service of the municipality.

In his first message the Mayor spoke with approval of the sanitary arrangements of the new model station completed on the fifth of October, 1886, for the Fifth Police District, and he urged that the matter of providing single beds for the patrolmen in other stations should, wherever possible, receive attention.  He urged the necessity for a new station in the Sixth District, and he added:  'The number of the force is 198, and is entirely inadequate for proper care of the city.  The insufficiency of the number has rendered the work of the department less satisfactory than might have been otherwise fairly expected.  There has been added to the duty of detecting, preventing and punishing other crimes, the necessity of enforcing the liquor law, so called.  This duty has been well performed, both officers and men having been active and earnest.  The enforcement of all the laws against the commission and for the punishment of crime has been the aim of the police, and their work is entitled to commendation.'  In accord with the Mayor's recommendations, steps were taken by the Council toward providing the Sixth District with a new police station.  In his inaugural address for 1888 the Mayor again urged prompt and decisive action, adding that 'the needs of the department in that district are imperative.  The building which is now used is wholly inadequate for the section in which it is located, while the accommodations  for the patrolmen are greatly inferior to those of other stations.  There should be no further delay in securing a proper site, and building thereon a suitable station.'

The extensive and disastrous conflagration on the fifteenth of February last, which destroyed the buildings in the square bounded by Fountain, Cove, Worcester, Eddy, Washington and Union streets, was a most severe test of the efficiency, not only of the fire department, but also of the police.  The fire at the Theatre Comique building, but three days after, and that in the Daniels building, on Custom House street, the day following, were fortunately confined to the buildings in which they originated.

Facing page: Photo of Henry C. Armstrong, Alderman, First Ward.

These calamities, so bravely and faithfully combatted by the city's servants, called special attention to the fact that there is no fund provided by law for the relief of policemen and firemen injured in the discharge of their duty.  A few days after the fire Mayor Robbins sent a message to the City Council suggesting that a provision be made.  'In my first inaugural message', he said, 'I alluded to the danger to which the firemen are exposed in the fearless performance of their duty, and suggested that some plan should be devised by the municipality to provide for a fireman in case of his injury, and to some extent the family of the killed.  If a fireman had the certainty that exposure, should it be attended by injury, would not deprive him of support or bring immediate want upon his family, it would stimulate him to greater exertions in meeting the demands upon him in the saving of life and the preservation of property from fires.  Fortunately at the recent fires no serious injury was sustained by any of the firemen, but the liability of such injury was great.  I trust that this matter will receive the consideration of the City Council, and that some provision will be made for such firemen as may be injured in the service of the city.'

'In this connection I shall call the attention of the City Council to another department, the members of which are liable to injury in the performance of their duty, and who would more fearlessly perform that duty were the assurance given them that they would receive material support from the city should they be incapacitated from further service.  The police are, with the firemen, equally exposed to danger, and the same encouragement for a fearless performance of duty should be given to them.  The liability from exposure and the danger to which the policemen were subjected at the recent fires, when it might have occurred that they would be called upon to risk life and limb in the saving of life and property, equally with the firemen, suggests that substantial recognition on the part of the City Council should be made to them.'

The Mayor's message was duly referred, and there is no doubt that the administrators of city affairs will act favorably upon the important subject thus brought to their attention.  As Mayor Doyle once remarked in an address to the City Council, many years ago, on the subject of a fund for the relief of disabled officers:  'It is true that the officer has only done what he is paid by the city to perform, but he would patrol none the less vigilantly, because his watchfulness has secured an addition to the fund to which he looks for relief when disabled, or worn out by service.'

The administration of Mayor Robbins is witnessing the first operative steps toward the accomplishment of certain great and long needed public improvements.  The City Council has resolved that the Cove Basin, once a thing of beauty-- 'the apple of the eye of Providence', as the late Chief Justice Bradley gracefully put it, but for nearly two decades an open cesspool shall be filled, and the railways thus given an opportunity to extend their facilities for passenger and freight transportation.  The pollution of the harbor, by city sewage at least, is to cease, and a sewage disposal system to be established, which will be a model for the continent.  Mayor Robbins has the honor and credit of witnessing their practical inception.

First after the Mayor comes President of the Board of Aldermen, Mr. Charles F. Sampson, the present cashier, and for over twenty years connected with the Eagle National Bank.  Mr. Sampson is a native of Bridgewater, Mass., where he was born in 1833.  He came to Providence while yet in early manhood, and for over thirty years has been identified with the growth and interests of the city.  In 1875, Mr. Sampson was elected to the Common Council from the Fourth Ward, and held that office until 1880, when he was chosen to the Board of Aldermen.  When Mayor Robbins accepted the chair made vacant by the death of Mayor Doyle, Alderman Sampson was unanimously chosen President of the Board, and still holds that important position.  As President it is his duty to preside in the absence of the Mayor, and to act as Chief Executive when the Mayor is absent from the city.  Alderman Sampson is one of those men, highly valuable in any legislative body, whose minds are stored with well-digested knowledge of the more important subjects coming, and likely to come under legislative and executive action, and who, therefore, never act without due and thorough information of the premises.  His natural caution is seasoned with an enlightened sense of the needs and requirements of a growing city; every step of real progress commands his welcome support.  For this reason he is a valued member on important committees, commanding, as he does, the confidence not only of the city, but of those with whom he has to deal on behalf of the city.

facing page:  Photo of Charles Dake Rogers, Alderman, Second Ward.

Alderman Henry C. Armstrong was born in Chepachet, R. I., March 22d, 1847.  When he was five years of age his parents removed to Providence.  In 1855 he went to Grand Rapids, Michigan, remaining there until 1860, when he returned to Providence where he has since resided.  He was educated in the public schools, and began his business career in 1863 at the Providence Tool Company's Armory as time-keeper, afterwards becoming book-keeper.  In 1865 he entered the employ of a prominent firm in this city as book-keeper, and remained in that position until 1880, when he became a commercial traveler.  In this capacity he has had extensive opportunities for travel, which he has not failed to improve, although travel does not prevent him from giving due attention to his duties as a public official.  He has been prominently identified with Masonic and various social and beneficial organizations.  He was first elected a member of the city government as a Common Councilman from the old Third Ward for 1886, was re-elected to the same position for 1887, and is now Alderman of the new First Ward.

Alderman Charles Dake Rogers, of the Second Ward, was born at New Hartford, N. Y., July 15, 1827, and received the advantages of an academic education.  Finishing his studies he immediately entered the machine shop of his father at Willowdale, N. Y., a place built up and principally owned by Mr. Rogers, Sr., as a manufacturing village.  Here for upwards of twenty years the young man devoted his time in learning the details of the manufacture of cotton and woolen machinery, agricultural implements, and firearms.  During the war, to use Mr. Roger's own words, he sent a substitute, in the way of firearms, which were made under his general supervision.  Just after the close of the war he accepted a position with the Utica Screw Company, of this city, and Mr. Rogers was obliged to seek employment elsewhere, which he shortly did with the Continental Screw Company.  The American Company also purchased this plant, and it being decided to continue the Continental works, Mr. Rogers was retained as the superintendent.  In 1870 he was transferred to this city to take general superintendence of the extensive works of the American Screw Company where he has been in continuous service ever since.

Mr. Rogers never sought or desired any public office, but, in 1884, the citizens of the First Ward elected him as their Councilman, re-electing him the following year, and in 1887 and 1888 promoting him to a place in the Board of Aldermen.  He has been an earnest advocate of a public market, and a speech by him on this subject, when in the Common Council, attracted favorable comment and attention.  He has consistently supported public improvements, with a due regard for the interests of his local constituency, and of taxpayers in general; and, as Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Fire Department, he has displayed a sound and judicious discretion in the direction of that important section of the municipal service.

Alderman Fergus J. McOsker, of the Third Ward, is an example of what pluck and perseverance will do for a man who has grit, integrity, and the ability not only to grasp but to make opportunities.  Mr. McOsker was born of respectable parents in Tyrone County, Ireland, November 8, 1836.  In May, 1840, his parents emigrated to this country and took up their residence at Lowell, Mass.  The climate seems not to have agreed with them, for less than four years later, Mr. McOsker, with two brothers and one sister, were sent back to the old country, orphans, both father and mother having died.  In June, 1845, the future Providence Alderman, scarcely more than eight years of age, crossed the Atlantic a third time, and settled in this city, taking up his abode with an uncle, who sent him to school, giving him a liberal common school education until he was fifteen years of age.  About this time the sea-fever struck young Fergus, and he ran away from home, and in company with two other lads, somewhat older than himself, he walked to Warren, R.I., a distance of about ten miles.  Arriving here his companions were allowed to ship, but Fergus was rejected as being too young.  Nothing daunted, however, he walked to New Bedford where he shipped aboard a whaling vessel.  Being naturally a bright lad he soon attracted attention of the captain, and before the end of the cruise, which lasted twenty-five months, he had become an experienced navigator, so that at the age of nineteen he became mate of a West Indiaman.  From that time until 1864 he made numerous voyages, circumnavigating the globe on several occasions.  From 1862 to 1864 he was mate of one of the vessels engaged in the transportation of Union troops.  During his entire life Mr. McOsker has never, under any circumstances, used intoxicating liquors in any form, and frequently he gave temperance lectures to his shipmates.  In 1866 he returned to this city, married and settled down, and opened a grocery-store and meat market on Cross street, where he has since continued to do business.

Mr. McOsker's first appearance in public affairs was in 1881, when he was called upon by the voters of the old Tenth Ward to represent them in the Common Council.  Here he continued to follow the motto of his life, 'never to do anything by halves', and by his zealous and conscientious service he held the solid support of his constituents, and was re-elected each year until 1888 when he was rewarded for his faithful service by a seat in the Aldermanic Board.

facing page:  Photo of Fergus J. McOsker, Alderman, Third Ward.

Few men are better known in Providence than Alderman Edward G. Burrows, of the Fifth Ward.  Born in Providence, R. I., May 14, 1828, Mr. Burrows enjoyed the educational advantages open in Rhode Island at that period, to the youth of our town.  Of these he took the fullest advantage, and, by industry, thrift and energy, he worked his way up to an honorable place among Providence business men.  As appraiser of the port for nearly eighteen years, Mr. Burrows showed, by a thorough discharge of his duty, that the office was far from being a sinecure, and that while Providence, as a seaport, no longer held the supremacy which it did, when the house of Brown and Ives was reaping a golden harvest from the sea, yet that its foreign commerce was far from being unimportant.  So faithfully did he perform his difficult and often delicate task that he remained in office a long time after his party had gone out of power.  When he retired, it was with the intention of abandoning public life; but his fellow-citizens would not consent to it, and in 1886 he was elected to the Common Council, and to the Board of Aldermen in the following year.  Mr. Burrows is one of those men who think geniality entirely compatible with official trust, and that official dignity can be maintained without a stern and forbidding exterior.  In city affairs he is, as in private business he was, entirely practical, without personal grievances to gratify, or personal hobbies to maintain, his sole hobby being to do what is best for the city.  His thorough knowledge of the city, whose growth he has watched with the deepest interest, and of whose history he is a part, makes him a most valuable member of the Joint Standing Committee on City Property.  Mr. Burrows is far from being an old man, but he is one of the few survivors of that genial circle in which Henry B. Anthony shone as the central star, and the fact that he enjoyed the late Senator's intimate friendship is the best guarantee of his worth.

Alderman Robert Ezekiel Smith, of the Sixth, is a lineal descendant of Roger Williams, the founder of Providence.  He was born in the village of Pawtuxet, town of Cranston, Rhode Island, March 22, 1837, and there he spent his earlier days attending the best public school in the vicinity.  At the conclusion of his school days he became a grocer's clerk, and in April, 1859, he entered the coal office of Joseph Hodges & Co., with whom he remained until about the first of November, 1867, when he became a partner in the firm.  On January 1, 1875, however, he entered into business for himself, opening a coal yard on South Water street, under the firm name of Robert E. Smith & Co.

facing page:  photo of Edward G. Burrows, Alderman, Fifth Ward.  (See page 114)

Mr. Smith began his public career in 1877, when elected as a member of the Common Council.  Here he proved himself worthy of the trust and confidence reposed in him, and in the following year he was sent to the Board of Aldermen from the Seventh Ward, being re-elected to that body in '79, '80 and '81, the latter year serving as President of the Board.  At the conclusion of the year 1881 he retired from active public life, only to be returned, however, to his old seat in the Board in 1887, as representative from the Ninth Ward, and in 1888, in a similar capacity from the Sixth, having thus been the chosen representative from three different wards during ten years.  It is rarely that one man proves satisfactory to so many different constituencies, especially in Rhode Island, and the fact that Alderman Smith has done so, indicates that, in the discriminating judgment of Providence electors, he possesses peculiar qualifications  for this trust.  His official career has witnessed signal changes in our city affairs, and, never an obstructionist, his vote has always been in the interest of wise and prudent reform.  At present he is a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Accounts and the Joint Standing Committee on Highways and Railroads.

Alderman Henry T. Root, of the Seventh Ward, was born at Augusta, Oneida County, N. Y., October 5, 1830.  He was educated in the public schools of that place and early began training himself for a successful mercantile life.  Removing to Hartford, Conn., about 1854, he at once opened a stove and house furnishing goods store, which at the end of four years he sold, with the purpose of removing to a larger field in Providence.  In 1858 he started in the same line of business here, and continues it successfully at the present time.  He began public life as a Councilman from the Ninth Ward, in 1869, and was re-elected continuously in 1872.  He represented the Ninth Ward as Alderman, 1872 - '73, and from 1885 to 1887, when the ward lines having been changed, he was elected Alderman from the Seventh Ward.  Mr. Root represents a section deeply interested in public improvements, and his re-elections bear evidence that the interests of the annexed district have not been neglected at his hands.  Since he was first chosen to represent the old Ninth Ward, that region has become a garden spot, a centre of attractive suburban homes, as well as of prosperous and efficient representation in the City Council, and Mr. Root should receive due credit for his share in what has been accomplished.  While there may be something of destiny in the westward march of empire and improvement, it should be needless to add that the progress of a locality materially depends upon the prescience and activity of its representatives.

Alderman John Casey, of the Tenth Ward, is a successful Irish business man.  He was born at Ross Common (sic), Ireland, November 8, 1846, and enjoyed the varied educational advantages afforded by the school system of that country to the children of the well-to-do farmers.   In 1863, his father having died five years previously, Mr. Casey removed to this country accompanied by his mother.  He first settled at Brooklyn, Conn., where he took charge of a green-house.  At the end of eighteen months he went to Brooklyn, N. Y., where he found employment in a government cotton warehouse.  In 1866 he came to this city, entering the employment of the Nicholson File Company.  There he had charge of several rolling machines.  In 1870 he opened a small grocery store on Putnam street, where he is now established, his fair, honest dealings gaining him popularity and custom.  From time to time he has found it necessary to enlarge his store, and five years ago he opened a branch store at Pawtucket under the firm name of Casey and Mulleedy.  Mr. Casey estimates that the two stores do a retail business of upwards of a quarter of a million dollars annually.  He also has been extensively engaged in real estate transactions.

In 1886 the Democratic voters of the Tenth Ward placed Mr. Casey's name upon the ticket for Councilman, and he was elected.  The following year he was re-elected to the Council, and in 1888 he was the Aldermanic candidate from that section.  During his service in the City Council, Mr. Casey has earned and maintained the esteem of his colleagues as a faithful and conscientious public official, and he holds a place on the Joint Public Committee on Claims.

facing page:  Photo of Robert E. Smith, Alderman, Sixth Ward.  (see page 117).

As the Aldermen who constitute the Police Committee of the Board will be mentioned in a subsequent chapter, it may be well here in include the City Clerk, and the Clerk of the Board, ex-officio, Mr. Henry V. A. Joslin.  Mr. Joslin has the affairs of the municipality at his fingers' ends, and everyone, be he or she a resident or a stranger within the gates, who has a problem to solve, or a date to unearth, relating to the municipality, resorts to Clerk Joslin for the solution or the date.  And Mr. Joslin is always courteous and always patient, whoever the visitor may be.  Mr. Joslin was born in Exeter, Rhode Island, April 24, 1846.  He is the son of John H. and Julia A. (Vaughn) Joslin.  As the parents of our City Clerk removed to Providence in 1848, his recollections of Exeter are quite rudimentary, and to all intents and purposes he is a Providence boy.  Mr. John H. Joslin was a member of the Common Council from the Seventh Ward from 1869 until 1873, and Alderman from June until July 24, 1873, the date of his death.  He was the first Providence Alderman to die in office, and Mayor Doyle and his Aldermanic associates paid a fitting tribute to his worth, while they deeply regretted his loss.

Mr. Henry V. A. Joslin graduated from Brown University in the class of 1867, and engaged in the lumber business with his father until the latter's death.  He had not fully determined what course to pursue after being thus bereft of a sagacious partner and a devoted parent, when he received a message from Mayor Doyle requesting  him to call at the Mayor's office.  There Mr. Joslin was asked to undertake the duties of the newly created office of Mayor's Clerk.  It was not without diffidence that the young man accepted the confidential relation to an official for whom he had always entertained the highest regard, and it may be worthy of note in this connection that the first paper handed to the new clerk related to the police.  At that time the Mayor was in supreme command of the force, and much of the business of the office consisted  of orders and communications regarding the department.

Mr. Joslin so faithfully and efficiently fulfilled the duties of Mayor's Clerk that in January, 1879, he was judged by the City Council to be best fitted for the more important office of City Clerk, made vacant by the retirement of Mr. Samuel W. Brown, who had held the position nearly twenty years.  Upon accepting this office Mr. Joslin resigned the place on the School Committee, which he had held from 1870.  He also resigned the office of Major commanding the First Battalion of Cavalry, which he had occupied for five years.  It was Mr. Joslin's view that the City Clerk should hold no other office, but devote his time altogether to the service of the city.  He had always felt and exhibited an active interest in the public schools, and in military matters, and both the School Committee and his command appreciated his value, and regretted his departure.

The City Clerk is required by the charter to perform all such duties as may be prescribed by the City Council, or by the Board of Aldermen.  He must also discharge the duties and exercise the powers incumbent by law upon town clerks, excepting matters of probate, the duties of City Registrar, and the recording of conveyances.  He is likewise Clerk of the Board of Aldermen.  Among the well-known duties of a town clerk is the annual registration of voters, posting of warrants for elections, etc., and these require the careful attention of an experienced mind, versed in the law, and rapid in analysis.  These qualifications Mr. Joslin possesses in a prominent degree.  He is soundly discreet, without being narrowly technical, and he does not stand upon ceremony when the interests of the public are to be protected, or the rights of the individual secured.

Among Mr. Joslin 's more prominent services, outside of his regular duties, was the preparation of the reports of the dedication of the City Hall - a work undertaken at the request of the Committee which had charge of the celebration, and most satisfactorily performed.  Mr. Joslin compiled the volume on the unveiling of the monument of Roger Williams, a memorable event in the history of the city which Roger Williams founded.  He prepared the valuable report on the Dexter Donation Fund, the history of which had before been difficult to arrive at.  Mr. Joslin's report places all matters in relation to the Fund within ready access.  The Doyle memorial volume was prepared by Mr. Joslin, who also prepared the handsome book which perpetuates the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Providence.  For his services in connection with the obsequies of Mayor Doyle Mr. Joslin received a testimonial in the form of a handsome gold medal, suitably inscribed, and purchased with the individual contributions of the committee.

end Chapter VI.


These documents are made available free to the public for non-commercial purposes by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project. Transcribed 2001 by Beth Hurd


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