The Hazard Family Letters 1832-1950
History of the Hazard Family of Peace Dale, Rhode Island 

The Hazard family of Peace Dale Rhode Island were among the original settlers in Rhode Island. The first Hazard in America was Thomas Hazard who emigrated from Wales around 1630. He originally settled in the colony of New Jersey and then moved to Boston, Massachusetts in 1636. Sometime in between 1636 and 1638 he founded Newtown on Long Island, New York and then moved to Rhode Island in the spring of 1639. The Hazard Family motto is "Be Just and Fear Not."

Thomas had 7 sons; Robert, George, Jeremiah, Benjamin, Stephen, Jonathan and Thomas.

A Great-Grandson of Thomas known as "College Tom,"  (born 1719 - died 1795) was the first of the Hazard Family to attend college. Thomas married Elizabeth Robinson and was the father of Roland Hazard who originally established the mills at Peace Dale.  Thomas was also Quaker preacher for over 40 years and was noted for his speaking ability. 

Roland Hazard was born on April 4, 1763 in Peace Dale, Rhode Island. He was married to Mary Peace and was the father of Isaac P. Hazard, Thomas "Shepherd Tom," Elizabeth, Rowland G. Hazard, William, Joseph P. Hazard, Isabella, Mary, and Anna. Roland originally was engaged in the shipping business, but after 7 of his ships were confiscated during the Napoleonic Wars, he returned to Peace Dale and entered the textile manufacturing trade. 

Three of Roland's sons; Isaac Peace Hazard, Roland Gibson Hazard, and Joseph Peace Hazard continued in the family textile business. Around 1810 Isaac began assisting in his father Roland's mill and in 1819 Roland turned over the business to his sons Roland Gibson and Isaac Peace who operated the firm as I. P. & R. G. Hazard.  In 1828 a third brother, Joseph Peace joined the firm and the partnership assumed the name R. G. Hazard & Company

Isaac P. Hazard never married, however Roland Gibson Hazard married Caroline Newbold on September 25, 1828 and it is for his wife that the town of Carolina Mills is named. Joseph Peace Hazard was the builder of Hazard's Castle in Narragansett, Rhode Island. He was among the first to see the potential of Narragansett Pier as a Popular Resort.

During the years 1833 to 1843, as indicated in several of the letters and correspondences in this collection; Roland Gibson Hazard made annual trips to New Orleans. Roland was a member of the Society of Friends (Quaker) as were most of the Hazard family and was adamantly against the institution of slavery. Roland took on an active role in the efforts to release the Free Blacks who were unjustly imprisoned in Louisiana chain gangs and many of them were freed through his efforts. His speech concerning the Fugitive Slave Law before the Rhode Island legislature in 1850 was a powerful denunciation of the institution of slavery. 

In 1848 Roland and Isaac incorporated the business as the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company with Isaac acting as president and Roland as Secretary/Treasurer. John N. Hazard became president in 1864 upon the retirement of Isaac. Roland Hazard II was president from 1892 to 1898 and Roland G. Hazard II was president from 1898 to 1918. After the death of Roland G. II in 1918 the company was sold to M. T. Stevens & Sons who continued to manufacture textiles until 1930. They closed the doors to the mill for the final time in 1947 and moved the firm to North Carolina.

The Hazard family were ahead of their times in employer/employee relationships and in 1878 they began what was one of the very first plans to share a percentage of the company's profits with their employees. In 1876, the family also constructed the railroad line that served Narragansett Pier. The 8 mile long line began at the New York, Providence and Boston Railroad's - Kingstown Station and ended at Narragansett Pier. The family sold the line in 1946 and passenger service ended in 1952.

One final note that I found of interest, is that the son of Roland Gibson II and Mary Bushnell Hazard; Roland III, born in 1881 was a recovering alcoholic who underwent treatment by the noted psychiatrist Dr. Jung in Zurich, Switzerland in 1931 and was instrumental in the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. Roland joined the Oxford Group in the latter part of 1931, which was a forerunner to AA. It was through this association that he met Edwin "Ebby" Thatcher in 1934. 

Ebby was facing a six month prison term in Bennington, Vermont for drunkenness and alcoholic insanity. Roland and Cebra Graves, another member of the Oxford Group attended Ebby's sentencing and asked the Judge to release Ebby to their custody. Ebby began attending the meetings with Roland and after being sober for two months, he met with his old friend Bill Wilson and related the message of Recovery from Alcoholism in Bill's kitchen at 182 Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights, NY. This would lead to the founding, seven months later of Alcoholics Anonymous by Bill Wilson and Robert "Dr. Bob" Smith.

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Hazard Family Letters I

Hazard Family Letters II 
Hazard Family Letters III

Hazard Family History