1853: Rowland Hazard to Margaret Anna Rood

Rowland Hazard in 1892

This letter was written by Rowland (“Rowlie”) Hazard (1829-1898) of South Kingston, Washington county, Rhode Island (Peace Dale P. O.). Rowlie was the son of the highly successful textile manufacturer, Rowland Gibson Hazard (1801-1888) who with his brother, Isaac, took over the business in 1819. That cotton production was essential to his textile business and therefore indirectly supported slave labor was a point not lost on Rowlie’s father who eventually  “responded to the urgings of his conscience and became a voice for abolition, speaking and writing in opposition to the peculiar institution.” A piece by Linda Mac published on Find-A-Grave gives a very thorough biographical sketch of Rowlie’s father.

In his early years, Rowlie attended the Rev. William Vernon’s school in Kingston and the West Town School in Pennsylvania. He enrolled at Haverford College in autumn of 1845. Haverford temporarily closed that winter due to lack of funds, and Hazard finished his course of study at Brown University in 1849, making him the first Hazard in his line to receive a college degree. He then entered the family woolen business, the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company. In 1855 he became the superintendent of the mill, and then worked under his father as assistant treasurer beginning in 1860. When his father retired in 1866, he became treasurer, working closely with his brother John Newbold Hazard (1836-1900), who served as president. In the early 1890s, Rowland assumed presidency of the company, and retained it until his death.

From 1863 to 1868, he was a partner in T. R. Hyde & Co., which leased the Carolina Mills complex from his father. In 1874, he went out to Missouri to supervise operations at a lead mine the family had recently acquired, called Mine la Motte. In 1881, with Mine la Motte manager William Cogswell, he helped found the Solvay Process Company, which was the first company in the United States to use an ammonia process to produce soda ash. He served as president of Solvay from its founding until his death in 1898. He also invested in railroads, especially the Hudson Highland Bridge and Railway Company. Other businesses with which he was closely involved included the Providence Saw Works and the Narragansett Pier Railroad.

Hazard was also involved in the political and civil affairs of Peace Dale and Rhode Island. He donated land to build the Peace Dale High School, the Peace Dale Congregational Church and the Hazard Memorial Building. He help found the Washington County Agricultural Society in 1875 and served as their president until his death. He served as a trustee of Brown University from 1875 to 1889, and a fellow from 1889 to 1898. In 1883, he was president of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He was also active in state politics, as a state representative from 1863 to 1864, and in the state senate from 1867 to 1869. In 1875, he was a Republican candidate for governor of Rhode Island and received a plurality of votes in a three-way race, but not a majority, and lost the election when it went to the General Assembly. Though he did not see active duty during the Civil War, he did serve as clerk of the 13th Regiment of the Rhode Island Militia, a home guard unit. He was an active member of the first state monetary commission in 1897. He died on his 71st birthday on August 16 1898 in Watkins, New York.

Hazard was married to Margaret Anna Rood (1834-1895), daughter of Anson Rood and Alida G. Ogden of Philadelphia, in 1854. That year, they built the Oakwoods house in Peace Dale. The Hazards also maintained a Providence residence at 45 Williams Street, and a vacation home in Santa Barbara, California. [Source: Rowland Hazard II Papers, Rhode Island Historical Society Manuscripts Division]


Addressed to Miss Margaret A. Rood, Care of Messrs. Small & Healy ¹ Mr. Ogden N[icholas] Rood, 5 Ferry Street, New York New Haven, Connecticut
Mr. Leggit, please deliver
Postmarked Peace Dale, Rhode Island & New York City

Peace Dale [Rhode Island]
October 4th 1853

My dear Maggie,

I cannot tell you how glad your letter received today has made me. I did not know that you would express my feelings so exactly in relation to the opera. I believed you would not like some of it. I knew so in fact, but I did not know but in your appreciation of the music — an appreciation which I am afraid but half understand — you might be led to overlook what strikes me so unpleasantly. If you had written to me, delighted with what you saw & heard, I should have been disappointed, but i should not have lessened my faith in you; I should have charged it to your musical taste & sighed that I could not follow you. But dear Maggie, you have said & felt just what I wold have you say & feel. Often & often before I knew what it was to love, I have asked myself if what I saw represented was a caricature or a true representation, & since, I have not seen any, but I loathe the remembrance. Perhaps that is too strong a word for I never allowed the question to enter as truth into my soul & consequently it took but a little experience to throw it entirely on side.


The last time I went [to the opera] was to hear Madam [Anna] Bishop. I was disgusted. The opera was Linda. I am glad you never heard it. “Ah would that happy day was near,” was the only piece which I liked at all. To that even then my heart responded — how much more now! And then, Maggie, they not only profane love but they profane higher things. The appeals to Heaven & prayers — dramatic prayers which you see & hear — are to me shocking in the connection in which you hear them preceded & followed by words & actions which indicate anything but a serious desire for God’s presence. But Maggie, I see from your letter that we think, as we do on all important points, alike & I am thankful that it is so — not that I could not endure a difference of opinion on such a matter but it adds a pleasure to me & draws the cords of love closer. You nestle very close to my heart, dearest, and you ever may & will.

Were you somewhat surprised at my sudden termination yesterday? The stage was about 7 minutes ahead of time & I came near losing the mail but I got your letter in. I was telling you about my speech on the question, “Is the condition of the North American Indian driven from his home worse than that of the African slave? I spoke in the negative. I had never spoken extemporaneously on a subject before in my life. I did not do much though I think my showing a willingness to mingle with the people in such a thing & to do what I could to aid in carrying it on may be of use. They want me to deliver a lecture to them soon & perhaps I may. I have thought of one or two subjects which we will talk over when I come in & you shall help me choose one.

This afternoon I attended a meeting of the building committee of the new Bank & we decided on buying a lot & estimated the cost of a building &c. There are a couple of rather queer sticks (very sensible men) on the committee with whose manner of expressing themselves I have been much amused. I was rather surprised to find that my knowledge of building &c. was nearly equal to some other peoples. I often make such remarks to you Maggie — why should I? There is no other person in the world that I would say so to. But I do say such things to you naturally as I would to myself. In fact, I say so to you as I think it, not after I have thought it. Do you understand me? Do you not sometimes speak to me & know not exactly what you are saying until it is said? I frequently do to you. I follow up a train of thought as fearlessly as if I were not thinking aloud & you hear & know it as soon as I do. I must always feel so dearest & you will not think me vain or silly. No dearest, I know you will not. It is not very often that I feel so nor on many subjects. I have a way of weighing what I am about to say — a “cautioneness” — which is valuable often, but may be entirely dispensed with, with you & I trust will be more & more continually.

But I have not yet told you how I liked your account of the concert. I was much pleased that you enjoyed it so much, but I am afraid I should not have felt your enthusiasm — at least that I should not have quite satisfied you. Your appreciation of the emphasis of passages of music you speak of as I would speak of the emphasis of a sentence in an oration. To me no such clear & definite idea is conveyed. I heard Gungle [Jungle?] Band & the Steiermarkische Band & liked them both exceedingly. I appreciated the time & the melody of many pieces. But frequently when the whole band were in full blast & the director in a perfect fury of gesticulation, there was nothing to my ear but a volume of sound to which I little cared to listen & which confused me. The waves on the sea shore or the sighing of the wind in the pines affect my soul much more. But my love, you shall teach me to appreciate it more & I certainly have no wish that you should appreciate it less such concerts & concerts generally I shall be only to glad to take you to, if for nothing else to see you enjoy them. Do you know now why I said I did not care much to go to the opera with you? Tell me if you think I am foolish. The feeling extends to other things. Books & paintings that I would not care to read or look at with you. I could break through the feeling if it were necessary directly because I have confidence in you but I have it. We shall never fear to look at & read each other dearest. But it is late. Good night. I must go to bed.

Wednesday. My dear child I have got a steel pen & it is very awkward for me to write with, so please excuse me if the remainder of the letter is more than usually crabbed. Everything here is moving on regularly & fast. I reproach myself sometimes that the time is so short away from you & that I am so contented, but Maggie it is a necessary consequence to being busy. I get up in the morning & from then until 8 o’clock in the evening, my time is fully occupied. I write your letters as you see on a regular system, commence the evening before it is to go, leave a page or so for last thoughts, & finish about noon, generally at which time I have least to do. Thus the days fly round & my day to visit you comes almost before I am aware. Very different would it be if I had nothing special to take up my attention. I know it from the feeling I have on Sundays. Then I think of you & long for you perhaps too much. I remember too how it was when I was at Brattleboro & how much would that feeling be multiplied now.

There is another thing which makes the time pass quickly — the building of our house. They do not get as much work done as they ought because it is exceedingly difficult to procure men. Consequently I begrudge every week that brings us closer to cold weather when we cannot work. I am beginning to be afraid the contractor will not finish it as soon as he said. However, they will be through the worst part of it this week, I think, & then he says he can get on rapidly as he has succeeded in getting some workmen.

I have been thinking seriously of a European trip in the spring & think it may be feasible. I have said nothing to father yet on the subject & shall not until we talk about it over more fully & I think about more & see if I can manage for the house to go on without troubling father about it. I think I can make all the contracts before I go & then there will be nothing to do but see that they are fulfilled & Bucklin can attend to that. We might be about 3 months — not longer — say April, May & June — return by the middle of July. We could sail for Haver (if it were not for time, I should prefer a sailing packet. Copes’ line in Philadelphia are very handsomely fitted up), then take the trip via Raven & Paris to Marseilles, then around the head of the Gulf through Nice to Florence, Rome & Naples. Back to Venice & Turn & cross the Alps down the Rhine over to England & home. We could do it & not travel very fast. A month after leaving New York we could be in Naples & stop a week in the road at different places. Then a month more would bring us to the foot of the Alps & give good time for seeing Rome, Florence, & Venice & incidentals. Then a week for Switzerland & the Rhine (in one day you see the Rhine) as well as you could at all without stopping at half a dozen places & exploring the country round which would take a month. Two weeks or three for England & we could get home at the time proposed. Now I am aware that this is a pretty large castle & as yet the foundation is unstable. Therefore, we had better keep it to ourselves as yet. We may give it stability after awhile.

Dear Maggie, would it not be pleasant? We should go over a good deal of ground that I have been over and I could point out to you things & scenes that I saw before I saw you & tell you how they affected me then & how now. Ogden & Helen would probably go with us. It would be entirely delightful & the very thought of it makes my heart bound. But there, I think how will my business go on? And I am doubtful. We will see.

Mother is in the midst of dress making & I suppose you can sympathize with her. However, she gets on without much trouble. She sends her love.

My next missive to you will be myself which will arrive in New Haven next Saturday unless prevented by something unforeseen.

Give my love to Mrs. Leggett and the rest of my (because your) friends. I suppose I shall see Ogden in New Haven when I come on.

Dear Maggie, we shall be together soon, not to part. Six months more. I begin to count it as six months two weeks ago & it still drags on six months. From this point of view, I don’t begrudge the velocity of time. However the two together tend to preserve my equilibrium. Dear Maggie, one sweet kiss now, but I cannot have it. Goodbye. Blessing on you.

Your own, — Rowlie

¹ The firm Small & Healy was formed in 1852. They were in the leather import business in New York City.





Griff View All →

My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries.

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