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

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 Thomas R. Hazard Papers

 Manufacturer, author and spiritualist of Portsmouth, R.I.

 Papers, 1811-1886

 Size: 1.25 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 483 sg 14

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, July 1997

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Thomas Robinson Hazard (1797-1886) was the second son of Rowland Hazard I (1763-1835) and Mary Peace Hazard. He was raised in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, in the Quaker faith, and spent three years in a Quaker school in Westtown, Pennsylvania from 1808 to 1811. He began his adult life in the textile industry, first in his father's mill in South Kingstown, and then after 1821 on his own account. He also farmed and raised sheep, which earned him the nickname "Shepherd Tom". In 1838, he had amassed a sufficient fortune to enter a state of quasi-retirement at his estate in Portsmouth, R.I., which he titled "Vaucluse".

            In his later years, he was a frequently published author on topics as diverse as capital punishment, local history, African colonization, and sheep raising; he acted as a civic advocate for the poor and mentally ill. Among his books were a collection of political essays titled Facts for the Laboring Man by a Laboring Man (1840); A Family Medical Instructor: Civil and Religious Persecution in the State of New York (1876); and a collection of South Kingstown folklore entitled The Jonny-Cake Papers (1888, reprinted 1915). In 1858, he became heavily involved in the defense of a poor distant cousin, Charles T. Hazard, who was being sued in a complex land case by the wealthy Robert Hale Ives; this case was summarized by Shepherd Tom in Extraordinary Legislative and Judicial, Official, and Professional Proceedings in Rhode Island in the Nineteenth Century, Fished from Dark Waters (1865).

            Even more than his brothers Rowland and Joseph, his primary interest was the Spiritualist movement. After the death of his wife, he wrote countless newspaper articles on the subject, and held frequent seances at Vaucluse. In his published genealogy, he wrote of himself that he "has been an earnest worker in the cause of 'Modern Spiritualism' since the year 1856, and whatever may be his merits or demerits otherwise, he has no higher ambition than that his name should be handed down to the coming generations associated with this fact alone." (Recollections of Olden Times, p. 192). He died in New York City in 1886.

            Hazard married Frances Minturn (1812-1854), daughter of Jonas Minturn of New York, in 1838. They had five daughters (all predeceased Hazard) and one son:

1) Mary Robinson Hazard (1839-1842)

2) Frances Minturn "Fanny" Hazard (1841-1877)

3) Gertrude Minturn Hazard (1843-1877)

4) Anna Peace Hazard (1845-1868)

5) Esther Robinson Hazard (1848-1880), m. Edwin Dunning, d. Santa Barbara, Cal.

6) Barclay Hazard (1852-1938), m. Alida Blake


Hazard, Rowland G. II. Introductory sketch in Thomas R. Hazard's The Jonny-Cake Papers of "Shepherd Tom"... (Boston: Reprint, 1915)

Hazard, Thomas R. Recollections of Olden Times: Rowland Robinson of Narragansett and his Unfortunate Daughter; with Genealogies of the Robinson and Hazard Families of Rhode Island (Newport: 1879).

Robinson, Caroline E. The Hazard Family of Rhode Island (Boston: 1895), 121

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Scope and content:

            This is not a complete collection of Thomas R. Hazard's papers; it includes only a small sampling of his correspondence and accounts. There are also account books for much of Hazard's working life. The collection also includes extensive documentation of Hazard's involvement with the Spiritualists, including several folders of records kept from seances held at his home. They include transcriptions of communications received during seances, and a collection of spiritual biographies. For example, the Biblical Adam is described as "a well proportioned man with a very large physical body as I should think about twelve feet high. He says he was not the first man created & that the people he sprung from were long anterior to him. He avers that he strayed away from his tribe to the locality where he was found by Eve." Another note describes the fate of the late military tactician Marshall Blucher, who "has made fair progress in the spirit life & is anxious to go on."

            The Newport Historical Society has an original manufacturing partnership agreement that Thomas made with Jonathan N. Hazard in 1838. Brown University has his scrapbook of newspaper clippings dated 1874 to 1879 concerning spiritualism and the Jonny Cake Papers; the scrapbook also includes a few original letters by Hazard.

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            The bulk of these papers were donated from the estate of Barclay Hazard in 1941. They do not appear in the accession books, but a gift of "Shepherd Tom" Hazard's manuscript papers is mentioned in the July 1941 Collections of the Rhode Island Historical Society (page 96). Seven letters written by Hazard to Ralph Wheeler were purchased for a mere five dollars from Jack Neiburg of Boston in 1955. In addition, some of these papers may have been donated by the Hazard family as part of the Hazard Family Papers in 1985. Oliver C. Hazard donated the 1811 commonplace book in 2001.

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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.

            This collection was given a preliminary arrangement in 1985, and was reprocessed in 1997 with the assistance of the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities.

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Series 1: Correspondence

Box 1, folder 1. 1828-1829. With Cranston Gardiner. Shipping cotton.

Box 1, folder 2. 1831. Letters to Russell Wheeler of North Stonington, Conn. re business.

Box 1, folder 3. 1833-1840. Business, misc.; also from Caulo Enriette requesting employment as servant; and from B. Hazard listing private library for sale.

Box 1, folder 4. 1853. With John Latrobe of Baltimore, re recolonization of slaves in Africa.

Box 1, folder 5. 1855-1860:

            1855. From brother Isaac re spiritualism.

            1856. From brother Joseph re spiritualism.

            1860. From sister Eliza re growth of his daughters.

Box 1, folder 6. 1863-1867. From Joseph M. Blake of Providence, re politics.

Box 1, folder 7. 1866-1878.

            1866-1867. From son Barclay Hazard.

            1868. From Cousin Rowland Robinson.

            1870. From clairvoyant J.C. Grinnell.

            1877-1878. Misc., including letter from Hazard to children.

Box 1, folder 8. 1879. All from daughter Esther in Santa Barbara, California.

Box 1, folder 9. 1880-1883. Miscellaneous, including letters to children.

Series 2: Financial records

Series 2, subseries 1: Daybooks.

Oversized volume 2. Daybook C, 1825-1831

Oversized volume 3. Factory daybook 1, 1825-1828

Oversized volume 4. Newport store cash journal, 1839. Also scrapbook on Hazard vs. Ives, 1858-1862; and undated extracts from Ranke.

Series 2, subseries 2: Ledgers. Running accounts, mostly re estate at Vaucluse.

Oversized volume 1. Factory ledger 1, 1826-1828. Used as scrapbook, 1847-1868.

Box 1, folder 10. 1844-1856, indexed. With business letter book, 1838-1839.

Box 1, folder 11. 1857-1863, indexed. With memoranda, 1844-1855.

Box 1, folder 12. 1863-1871, indexed in rear. Several pages torn out from front.

Series 2, subseries 3: Loose accounts.

Box 2, folder 1. 1818-1832

Box 2, folder 2. 1833

Box 2, folder 3. 1837-1838

Box 2, folder 4. 1839

Box 2, folder 5. 1839

Box 2, folder 6. 1840

Box 2, folder 7. 1854, 1869, 1876-1880

Box 2, folder 8. 1881

Box 2, folder 9. 1882-1884

Series 3: Spiritualism.

Box 2, folder 10. Transcriptions of messages from seances, 1856 and undated. Including George Fox, John Woolman, Benjamin Franklin and Henry Clay.

Box 2, folder 11. Spiritual biographical notes, circa 1870? Including John the Baptist, Adam, Guy Fawkes, John Wilbur, etc.

Box 2, folder 12. Spiritual biographical notes, undated (separate series).

Box 2, folder 13. Diary of spiritual encounters, 1/30/1884 - 4/24/1884

Box 2, folder 14. Newspaper clippings on spiritualism, 1881-1882.

Box 2, folder 15. Newspaper clippings on spiritualism, 1882-1884.

Box 2, folder 16. Business cards of "Jay J. Hartman, Spirit Photographer" and "Prof. Calvin Cooper Bennett, M.D. of the Institute of Psychical Science of the City of New York, for Transmitting Psychic Influence".

Box 2, folder 17. Phrenological reports, 1837 and 1854.

Series 4: Miscellaneous.

Box 2, folder 18. Agreement with Sea Isle Manufacturing Co. (woolen mill), undated

Box 2, folder 19. "Collection of Scientifical Names of Quadrupeds", Weston School, 1811

Box 2, folder 19a. Commonplace book, 1811, including some pieces signed by Hazard

Box 2, folder 20. Deeds, 1834-1838

Box 2, folder 21. Drawings, including one of young Afro-American children staring at a goose, titled enigmatically "Honi Soit Oui Mal y Pense - of the Gander which was Roasted for a House Full of Quakers, as he Appeared in his Youth."

Box 2, folder 22. Genealogical notes and correspondence, 1878-1885

Box 2, folder 23. Hazard vs. Ives scrapbook, 1858-1863

Box 2, folder 24. Hazard vs. Ives newspaper clippings, 1858-1862

Box 2, folder 25. Leases, 1879-1883

Box 2, folder 26. Memoranda books:

            Bank account, 1863-1867. With memoranda and clippings, 1872-1873.

             Memoranda book, circa 1868-1869

            Memoranda book, circa 1876-1878

            Memoranda book, circa 1883-1886

Box 2, folder 27. "Mrs. Brown on the Coal Question" (undated humorous essay)

Box 2, folder 28. Newspaper clippings, miscellaneous

Box 2, folder 29. Poetry, miscellaneous (some copied)

Box 2, folder 30. Power of attorney to E.R. Potter, 1838

Box 2, folder 31. Report cards of Esther Hazard, 1865-1866

Box 2, folder 32. Scrapbook of clippings, 1874-1882

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Afro-Americans - Colonization - Africa

Afro-Americans - Rhode Island - South Kingstown

Blake, Joseph M. (1809-1879)

Diaries - 1884

Dunning, Esther R. (Hazard) (1848-1880)

Hazard, Barclay (1852-1938)

Hazard, Charles T. (1806-1888)

Hazard, Isaac P. (1794-1879)

Hazard, Joseph P. (1807-1892)

Ives, Robert H. (1798-1875)

Latrobe, John H.B. (1803-1891)

Occultism - Rhode Island

Phrenology - Rhode Island

Poetry - Rhode Island

Portsmouth, R.I. - Social life and customs

Sea Isle Manufacturing Company

Spiritualism - Rhode Island

Textile industry - Rhode Island - South Kingstown

Vaucluse Estate (Portsmouth, R.I.)

Wheeler, Russell (1796-1856)

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