1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Joseph Peace Hazard Papers

 Textile manufacturer and gentleman, of South Kingstown, R.I.

 Papers, 1820-1891

 Size: 2 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 483 sg 13

 Processed by: Steve Dalpe and Rick Stattler, August 1998

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Joseph Peace Hazard (1807-1892) was born in Burlington, New Jersey, the son of Rowland Hazard I and Mary (Peace) Hazard. When he was only a few weeks old, the family relocated in Bristol, Pennsylvania to help care for his mother's ailing father. Hazard attended the Westtown School, a Quaker institution in Pennsylvania, from 1816 to 1820. He spent two years in Rhode Island before finishing up his education at the Westtown School from 1822 to 1824. He then settled in Peace Dale, Rhode Island, and became involved in the family textile mill owned by his brothers Rowland G. and Isaac P. Hazard. Joseph was admitted to the partnership of "R.G. Hazard & Co." in 1828; this business later became the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company.

            Joseph built an addition to the mill in 1835, and operated it for several years. He also built an axe factory just west of the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company, staffed mainly with workmen imported from Voluntown, Connecticut.In his latter part of his life, Hazard was instrumental in the development of Narragansett Pier as popular summer resort.

            Like his brother Thomas, Joseph was a dedicated spiritualist, and wrote an article titled "Dignified Versus Undignified" for the March 14 1857 issue of the Yorkshire Spiritual Telegraph and British Harmonial Advocate. In this article, he asserted that "spirits appear to be quite as anxious to communicate, as we are to hear."

            Hazard built a medieval-style structure known as the “Castle” on his Seaside Farm in Narragansett Pier. He spent most of his later years traveling throughout the world. He died in Peace Dale on January 18, 1892, in the home of his great-nephew Rowland Gibson Hazard II. Many of his charming eccentricities are recounted in an article by his great-grand-nephew Leonard Bacon in Harper's Magazine (January 1939), who recalled that "in him were concentrated, on Mendelian principles, all the queernesses that had at any time come into the family."


Cole, J.R. History of Washington and Kent Counties (New York: W.W. Preston & Co., 1889), 501-502, 602.

Hazard, Joseph P. Note on inside cover of 1822 cyphering book in this collection.

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Scope and content:

            This collection is divided into three series: personal correspondence; subject files; and memorandum books. The correspondence files are quite incomplete, with the bulk relating to various land disputes from the final years of Hazard's life. The subject files cover most aspects of his life, but especially spiritualism, genealogy and his property in South Kingstown.

            The memorandum books contain mostly a daily log of Hazard's expenses, but may contain virtually anything else. The later books, especially from 1885 and 1886, are primarily concerned with daily reports on Hazard's pocket watch, which he apparently believed was a medium for spirit communications. Typical is the October 28 1885 entry: "On retiring to bed last night at about 9:30 I laid my watch under my ear, and was mentally speaking to the watch (that was ticking entirely normally) and had been so doing some minutes when it suddenly gave two or three consecutive ticks that rang like a bell, as was its old wont. I think this ringing may have been an accident on part of my spirit friend who was then attending me."

            Eight additional boxes of Joseph P. Hazard's papers can be found in the archives of the James P. Adams Library at Rhode Island College. His diary from 1891 can be found at Harvard University's Baker Library (as of 1999 it was cataloged as volume 173).

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            These papers were donated by the Hazard family as part of the Hazard Family Papers in 1985. They had been deposited in 1975. An 1861 invitation issued by J. Francis Fisher was donated in 2001 by Oliver C. Hazard.

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Processing note:

            This collection is part of the Hazard Family Papers, which were processed with support from the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities, the Beinecke Foundation, and the extended Hazard Family.

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Series 1: Correspondence

Most of the earlier correspondence relates to the mundane daily affairs of R.G. Hazard & Co. and other textile businesses. The extensive files from 1886 to 1889 relate almost exclusively to Hazard's minor disputes over property boundaries with his Narragansett Pier neighbors.

Box 1, folder 1. 1828-1833

Box 1, folder 2. 1838-1841

Box 1, folder 3. 1842

Box 1, folder 4. 1843-1844

Box 1, folder 5. 1845-1846

Box 1, folder 6. 1847

Box 1, folder 7. 1850, 1857

Box 1, folder 8. 1861-1863, 1870

Box 1, folder 9. 1875-1878. Transcriptions of letters to cousin Edward Peace.

Box 1, folder 10. 1879-1884

Box 1, folder 11. 1885

Box 1, folder 12. 1886

Box 1, folder 13. 1887

Box 1, folder 14. 1888

Box 1, folder 15. 1889

Box 1, folder 16. 1890 (copies of outgoing)

Box 1, folder 17. 1891 (copies of outgoing)

Box 1, folder 18. 1890-1891 (received)

Series 2: Subject Files

Box 1, folder 19. Agreements re satinet production, 1830-1832

Box 1, folder 20. Annotated art gallery catalogues, London, 1856-1857

Box 1, folder 21. Annotated copy of A Discourse of the Function of a Teacher of Religion by Theodore Parker, 1855, with a long note on visit by Parker's ghost.

Box 1, folder 22. Annotated copy of Christianity's Challenge by Herrick Johnson, 1881

Box 1, folder 23. Annotated copy of obituary by Thomas Vernon, ca. 1888.

Box 1, folder 24. Autobiographical notes, circa 1883

Box 1, folder 25. Catalogue of books lent to Rowland Hazard II, 1856

Box 1, folder 26. Cyphering book, Westtown School, 1820

Box 1, folder 27. Cyphering book, Westtown School, 1822

Box 1, folder 28. Cyphering book, Westtown School, 1823, with sketches of Peace family estate in Pennsylvania.

Box 1, folder 29. "Dignified versus Undignified", in the Yorkshire Spiritual Journal 3/14/1857

Box 1, folder 30. Financial - Miscellaneous loose bills, 1828-1888

Box 1, folder 31. Genealogy - Miscellaneous memoranda on the Hazard family

Box 1, folder 32. Genealogy - Notes on Thomas Hazard I (1610-1680), done 1877

Written in the rear of an unidentified account book, apparently kept by a Newport lawyer, 1812-1823.

Box 1, folder 33. Genealogy - Rubbing of 1879 monument to Jane Gibson of Barbados                         (d.1831)

Box 1, folder 34. "Incidents, Spiritual and Others", 1881-1890

Box 1, folder 35. Lawsuit, Hazard vs. Bigelow & Hart, 1830

Box 1, folder 36. Memorandum re J.J. McCarter, 1869-1875

Box 1, folder 37. Notes on Euclid, 1822

Box 1, folder 38. Notes on J.R. Cole's History of Washington and Kent Counties, 1889

Box 1, folder 39. Notes on travels in the South, 1841-1842

Box 1, folder 40. Property - "Abstracts from the Records of South Kingstown, R.I. Concerning the Estates of the Hon. Joseph P. Hazard", 1890

Box 1, folder 41. Property - Lawsuit, Francis Wharton vs. JPH, [1884?]

Box 1, folder 42. Property - Lawsuit, JPH vs Simon S. Bucklin, re Narragansett land, 1866-            1871

Box 2, folder 1. Property - Lake Shore Farm accounts with Stephen Knowles, 1875-1885

Box 2, folder 2. Property - Lake Shore Farm loose bills, 1875-1881

Box 2, folder 3. Property - Seaside Farm history and memoranda circa 1889

Box 2, folder 4. Property - Miscellaneous, 1837-1891 (all South Kingstown)

Box 2, folder 5. Reminiscences re friends in South Kingstown and Narragansett, 1889

Box 2, folder 6. Reprints of newspaper re Great Gale of 1815 - List of recipients, 1890-1891

Box 2, folder 7. "Spiritual Experiences of Jos. P. Hazard", 1889

Box 2, folder 8. Spiritualist memoranda, circa 1887-1889

Box 2, folder 9. Town tree nursery article, 1883

Box 2, folder 10. Will and related notes, 1885-1891

Series 3: Memorandum books

The memorandum books contain mostly a daily log of Hazard's expenses; all expenses, even as small as a penny, are recorded. The books also may contain virtually anything else. The later books, especially from 1885 and 1886, are primarily concerned with daily reports on Hazard's pocket watch, which he apparently believed was a medium for spirit communications.

Box 2, folder 11. 1842-1845; 1845-1849; 1850-1851

Box 2, folder 12. 1856; 1856; 1856-1857; 1858 (all in Europe)

Box 3, folder 1. 1859 (Europe); 1860 (Europe); 1863

Box 3, folder 2. 1864-1870 (re Foddering Farm)

Box 3, folder 3. 1866-1868; 1870; 1870 (California trip)

Box 3, folder 4. 1871; 1871; 1872-1874

Box 3, folder 5. 1875-1876 (Barbados trip), plus accounts with brother Isaac, 1856-1859

Box 3, folder 6. 1875-1876; 1877; 1877-1879

Box 3, folder 7. 1884; 1885; 1886

Box 3, folder 8. 1890

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This listing may appear to be a complete index to the correspondence, but it is not. While the collection was being organized, certain particularly interesting items were noticed. Rather than lose this important information, the following notes were compiled. Other important letters can be found by browsing through the files. This listing will provide an impression of what can be found in the collection, and perhaps save some time for those interested in specific individuals.

Afro-Americans - Rhode Island - Narragansett. Memorandum that reads as follows: "Samuel Niles - a mulatto who was born without a hair upon his head, and now lives at Narragansett Pier and keeps a restaurant and is highly esteemed as an honest, useful and respectable citizen. He was a servant of my late father...until my father left Narragansett..." Niles was apparently given a copy of a newspaper on January 21, 1891. In box 2, folder 6.

Champlin, Joshua. Of South Kingstown, R.I. Letter, 11/29/1841, re road Champlin was building to Narragansett Pier.

Cyphering books Three school copy books used by Hazard at the Westtown School in Pennsylvania, 1820-1823.

Diaries - 1885-1886. A series of memorandum books dated 1842-1890, including some diary-like entries. The 1885 and 1886 books in particular resemble diaries, and feature detailed descriptions of Hazard's communications with his pocket watch.

Dorr Rebellion. Long letter from JPH to Richard K. Randolph of Newport regarding Dorr Rebellion, 5/10/1842. Suggests confiscating property of rebellion's leaders, "and thus reduce their various executives to a list of mere beggars... Property every where is on our side, despite democracy and its father, devil."

Earle, Edward (1849- ). Of Narragansett Pier, R.I. Frequent correspondence re street on property, 1887-1889.

Hazard, Isaac P. (1794-1879). Brother, business partner. Two business letters, 1841. Letter re Peace family, 5/7/1863.

Hazard, Rowland II (1829-1898). Nephew. Several letters, 1888-1891, including a draft of a May 1890 letter from JPH, accusing RH of abusing his power of attorney. JPH was apparently engaged in building a new tower for his castle, and RH questioned "whether anyone has a moral right to sink capital in such a useless way", and suggesting instead the repayment of an 1844 debt against RH's branch of the family that had been settled in bankruptcy. Also, catalogue of books lent to Rowland Hazard II, 1856

Hazard, Rowland G. (1801-1888). Brother, business partner. Several business letters from RGH, 1841-1842, 1847.

Hazard Family. Genealogical and biographical notes, some of potential value, extending back to the settler Thomas Hazard I.

Knowles, Stephen. Of South Kingstown, R.I. Accounts and correspondence as tenant of Hazard's Lake Shore Farm, 1875-1885.

Narragansett, R.I. - Social life and customs. Personal papers of long-time resident of Narragansett Pier who died in 1891, before Narragansett was incorporated as a town.

Parker, Theodore (1810-1860). Theologian, of Boston, Mass. annotated copy of his A Discourse of the Function of a Teacher of Religion, 1855, with a long note by JPH on a visit by Parker's ghost.  

Peabody, Elizabeth Palmer (1804-1894). Educator. Letter from JPH in response to request for funds, 9/14/1883, with Peabody's response dated 9/21/1883 on the reverse.

Peace Dale Manufacturing Company (South Kingstown, R.I.). JPH was a partner in the firm of R.G. Hazard & Co. that preceded the PDMC from 1828 to 1848. This collection includes a fairly small amount of correspondence relating to the firm, especially from circa 1841.

Peace family. Letter from brother Isaac P. Hazard re Peace ancestors, 5/7/1863. Correspondence with Edward Peace of Philadelphia, 1875-1878.

Point Judith Pond (South Kingstown, R.I.). Essay on natural beauty of the pond, in letter dated 5/18/1883.

Randolph, Richard K. (1781-1849). Of Newport. Long letter from IPH regarding Dorr Rebellion, 5/10/1842. Suggests confiscating property of rebellion's leaders, "and thus reduce their various executives to a list of mere beggars... Property every where is on our side, despite democracy and its father, devil."

South Kingstown, R.I. - Social life and customs. Personal papers re life in Peace Dale and Narragansett Pier, 1828-1891, including extensive personal reminiscences of friends and family.

Spiritualism - Rhode Island. Much of this collection deals with Hazard's belief in spirits, seances and premonitions. In the correspondence series, see the correspondence with Edward Peace, 1875-1878; and many of the letters in the 1890-1891 files.

Textile industry - Rhode Island - South Kingstown. A small amount of correspondence and accounts re firm of R.G. Hazard & Co. and related firms, 1828-1844.

Wharton, Francis (1820-1889). Lawyer and clergyman, of Philadelphia. Extensive correspondence re land dispute in Narragansett, 1884-1887.

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