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

 Granville S.W. Olney Records

 Woolen manufacturer, of Smithfield, R.I.

 Records, 1816-1856.

 Size: .5 ft.

 Catalog number: MSS 1134

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, April 2004

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Brothers George Olney (c1778-1863) and Granville S.W. Olney (c1793-1871) were the sons of Elisha Olney (1756-1849) of Smithfield, R.I. They were apparently partners in a wool carding business from 1816 to 1820. On March 10 1820, they formed the partnership of Olney, Whipple & Co. with their first cousin Olney Whipple (1788-1855), who had also married their sister Fanny. This firm leased space at the Smithfield Cotton and Woolen Manufacturing Company, popularly known as "Sinking Fund Mill," which had been founded in 1809. It was probably identical to the "Whipple & Olney" firm mentioned periodically in the records.

            Granville S.W. Olney later went into business on his own account, possibly leasing a mill in 1826, and continuing to contract out wool carding through at least 1828. The Olney Manufacturing Company was apparently a separate business which ran from at least 1828 to 1835, engaged in manufacture of thread and yarn. According to historian Albert T. Klyberg, Granville Olney also ran a small machine shop, although none of these records seem to survive. All of these industrial sites were located in what was then Ashton Village in Smithfield on the west side of the Blackstone River. The village west of the Blackstone has since been renamed Quinnville, and that part of Smithfield has been set off as the town of Lincoln.


History of the State of Rhode Island, 163. Philadelphia: Hoag, Wade & Co., 1878.

Lincoln, Rhode Island Statewide Historical Preservation Report, 25. Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission, 1982.

Olney, James H. A Genealogy of the Descendants of Thomas Olney, 27, 45. Providence: Freeman & Sons, 1889.

Rhode Island Cemetery Database

1850 U.S. Census, R.I., Smithfield page 133

1930 U.S. Census, R.I. E.D. 230, page 20B

Rhode Island births, 1881, page 190

Rhode Island marriages, 1868, page 814

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Scope and content:

            These records were all apparently kept by Granville S.W. Olney for his various business concerns and partnerships. Determining which business each volume relates to has proven unusually difficult in this case, as none of the volumes are labeled, ,many volumes were put to multiple uses, and the dates overlap to a great extent. The records have been organized by first date, and the few direct connections between the volumes have been noted in the inventory.

            Many of the records name individual workers. Wool carding piece-work is shown in great detail in some of the ledger and daybook accounts. Other books show daily attendance by workers, and some volumes also track board bills due to Olney or his companies by the workers.

            Some of these records may relate to the Smithfield Cotton and Woolen Manufacturing Company, popularly known as "Sinking Fund Mill," which George Olney was a founding partner of in 1809, and sole proprietor in 1825. An 1825 labor book attributed to that mill survives in the Greene Family Papers (MSS 1043), but does not seem to correspond to the account books in this collection.

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            These records were apparently passed down from Granville S.W. Olney to his son George W. Olney (c1847-a1930), his daughter Claudia (Olney) Robertson (1881-?), and her son Alfred H. Robertson (1907-1975). They were donated to the Rhode Island Historical Society in 2004 by Alfred H. Robertson Jr., great-great-grandson of Granville S.W. Olney.

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Processing note:

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Folder 1. Account book, 1815-1822:

Penmanship book, Granville S.W. Olney, 1815

Wool card construction accounts, G.S.W. and George Olney, 6/20/1816 - 5/16/1817. 3+ pgs.

                        Account of work for the Smithfield Cotton and Woolen Mf'g Co., 1819. ½ pg.

                        Account of board with Benjamin Hill, 1819. 2 pgs.

Account of board with Whipple & Olney, 4/18/1820 - 5/26/1822. Shows daily meals consumed by G.S.W. Olney and others. 10 pgs.

                        Construction labor book, 1820-1821. 7 pgs.

Folder 2. Account book, 1817-1835:

                        Fictional training ledger/daybook, 1802.

                        Daybook, 6/4/1817 - 5/14/1820. General store sales.

                        Daybook, 8/9/1826 - 12/27/1828. Wool carding accounts.

                        Accounts with Olney Mfg. Co., 1828-1835. Kept by G.S.W. Olney.

Folder 3. Account book, 1817-1835:

Daybook, 6/17/1817 - 3/28/1826 (mostly 1817-1821). Wool carding.

                        Account with Welcome Sayles, 1834-1835. 1 pg.

Folder 4. Ledger, 6/17/1817 - 12/10/1823. Wool carding accounts; matches daybook in folder 3.

Folder 5. Ledger, 4/12/1820 - 3/2/1827. Carding, supply and other labor accounts. 9 pgs.


Folder 6. Labor account, 6/12/1822 - 11/30/1829. Shows daily attendance by individual workers. Some pages headed "Account of Labour for Granville S.W. Olney."

Folder 7. Account book, 1822-1837:

                        Daybook, 6/29/1822 - 10/5/1826. Wool carding.

                        Thread accounts, 1837. 2 pgs.

                        "Expenses of housekeeping", 1837. 2 pgs.

Folder 8. Ledger, 6/29/1822 - 7/11/1826. Wool carding accounts; matches daybook in folder 7.

Folder 9. Daybook, 4/15/1826 - 11/11/1828. General store sales.

Folder 10. Account book, 1829-1839:

                        "Account of stock and labor done on cards", 1829-1830. 5 pgs.

                        "Account of stock and labor done on drawing frames", 1829-1830. 2 pgs.

                        "Account of stock and labor done on spinning", 1829-1830. 4 pgs.

                        Account of yarn and thread reeled for the Olney Mfg. Co.," 1833-1835. 7 pgs.

                        Ledger, 7/21/1838 - 4/27/1839. General store sales.

Folder 11. One sheet:

                        Labor accounts, 12/1841

                        Account of board with Granville S.W. Olney, 1-4/1842

Folder 12. Account of board with Granville S.W. Olney, 1/1842 - 11/29/1856

Folder 13. Agreements:

Partnership agreement for Olney Whipple & Co., between Olney Whipple, George Olney, and Granville S.W. Olney, 3/10/1820. Fragile.

Lease of factory, to Granville S.W. Olney from the Smith Manufacturing Company, 4/1/1826. Apparently a draft copy.

Sale agreement, to Granville S.W. Olney from "the late owners of the Cotton Mill Estate in Smithfield, formerly the property of Charles C.P. Olney," 6/26/1850

Folder 14. Miscellaneous:

                        Receipt from G.S.W. Olney to Halsey Miller for carding, 1824

Olney Mfg. Co.'s account with G.S.W. Olney, 1828-1834. Largely duplicates account in Folder 2. 7 pgs.

                        Promissory note to Edwin Smith, 1830

                        Untitled accounts, 1834-1836. 2 pgs.

                        Account of cloth sent to Providence Dyeing, Bleaching and Calendaring Co., 1855

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General stores - Rhode Island - Smithfield.

Lincoln (R.I.) - Commerce.

Olney, George, c.1778-1863.

Olney Manufacturing Company (Smithfield, R.I.)

Olney, Whipple & Co.

Piecework - Rhode Island - Smithfield.

Smithfield Cotton and Woolen Manufacturing Company (Smithfield, R.I.)

Textile industry - Rhode Island - Smithfield.

Textile workers - Rhode Island - Smithfield.


Whipple, Olney, 1788-1855.

Wool-carding - Rhode Island - Smithfield.

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