Thomas Williams Bicknell.

The history of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (Volume 7) online

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history of Rhode Island and her public men shall have
been written, its pages will bear no more illustrious
name, and record no more distinguished career than
that of the Hon. D, Russell Brown. If "Biography is
the home aspect of history," as VVilmott has expressed
it, it is certainly within the province of true history
to commemorate the lives of those men whose careers
have been of signal usefulness and honor to the State,
and in this connection it is not only compatible but
absolutely imperative that mention be made of Ex-
Governor D. Russell Brown, who was one of the fore-
most figures in the public and business life of Rhode

Hon. Daniel Russell Brown was the thirty-ninth gov-
ernor of Rhode Island, president and treasurer of the
Brown Brothers Company of Providence, and one of
the most influential citizens of this State. He was a
native of Bolton, Tolland county, Conn., where his
birth occurred March 28, 1848, a son of Arba Harrison
and Harriet M. (Dart) Brown. On both sides of the
house Mr. Brown was descended from old and dis-
tinguished families, many of whose members have
become conspicuous in different callings throughout the
southern portion of the New England States. The
Brown family was founded here in early Colonial days
and three of Mr. Brown's ancestors came over in the
famous band of Pilgrims who landed from the "May-
flower" on Plymouth Rock, in 1620. The Dart family
was founded by Richard Dart, who settled at New
London, Conn., and purchased land there in 1664. His
son, Daniel Dart, removed to Bolton, Conn., in 1716,
and was the founder of the branch which has resided
at that place ever since.

The paternal great-grandfather of ex-Governor
Brown was John Brown, whose son, also John Brown,
married a Miss Perkins, whose ancestry goes back to
the "Mayflower." Among their children was Arba
Harrison Brown, father of e.x-Governor Brown, who
resided at Bolton, Conn., most of his life, and there
successfully followed the occupation of farming. His
death occurred at Manchester, Conn., in 1887, where
the latter part of his life was spent. He married Har-
riet Marrilla Dart, who was a woman of unusual intel-
ligence and character and was one of those prominently
connected with the Abolitionist movement in Connec-
ticut. Her death occurred in 1864 while the Civil War
was still in progress, so that her material eyes never
looked upon the complete fruition of her hopes. Her
faith in the eventual outcome, however, was sure, and
frequently during her last years she made with the
utmost assurance to her friends the statement that "the
war will not end until slavery has been abolished.''
Arba H. Brown was a Baptist in religion, and his wife
a Congregationalist; the former joined the Republican
party at the time of its organization, and he continued
a staunch advocate of its principles to the end of his

life. He and his wife were the parents of eleven
children, of whom Daniel Russell Brown was one.

The childhood of Daniel Russell Brown was passed
among the healthful surroundings of his father's farm,
and as a lad he attended the public schools of his native
Bolton. From there he went to the .Academy at Man-
chester, and still later studied at Hartford, Conn. Dur-
ing his early youth he assisted his father with the work
on the latter's farm, and there gained, besides a strong
taste for the beauties of nature and a rural type of life,
the splendid health which had stood him so well during
his arduous career subsequently. Upon completing his
studies at the Hartford School, he secured a position as
clerk with the firm of Trumbull & Newcomb, large
hardware dealers at Rockville, Conn. During his em-
ployment by this concern he showed unusual ability,
and two years later was offered the position of head
salesman for the hardware firm of Francis & Company
of Hartford. He remained with this concern until
1870. and in the month of January in that year came
to Providence, with which place his career has ever
since been identified. Although but twenty-one years
of age at the time, he had been offered a position as
head of the supply store connected with the mills of
Cyrus White. It was his desire, however, to become
independent in business, and in less than three months
after reaching Providence had formed an association
with William Butler & Son, who had purchased Mr.
White's business, and the firm became known as Butler,
Brown & Company. In the year 1877 Mr. Brown and
his brother purchased the interest of the other partners
and organized the well-known firm of Brown Brothers
& Company, which not long afterwards became the
largest establishment of its kind in the United States.
This business was incorporated in the year 1893 as the
Brown Brothers Company, and is still in active oper-
ation to-day, ex-Governor Daniel Russell Brown's son,
Milton Barrows Brown, being -'.s secretary. In addition
to his management of this great concern, Mr. Brown
was also associated with a number of other important
financial and business institutions here, and became
president of the Old Colony Cooperative Bank, vice-
president of the City Savings Bank, a director of the
old National Bank, and of many other concerns.

Mr. Brown had become even better known in his con-
nection with the public affairs of Rhode Island than as
a merchant and business man, and was one of the fore-
most figures in the political life of the community.
From his earliest youth he was keenly interested in
public affairs, and followed his father in his strong
adherence to the principles and policies of the Repub-
lican party, While still a very young man he began
to take an active part in politics, and in the year 1880,
when but twenty-four years old, was elected to the
Providence Common Counci'. In this body he again
displayed his marked ability in dealing with practical
affairs and served thereon for four years. In the year


1885 the Republican party nomiiuited him as its candi-
date for mayor of Providence, hut this honor he de-
clined in order to continue in control of his private
interests. He became one of tlie presidential electors
for Rhode Island in 18)^8, and four years later was the
successful Republican candidate for governor of tlie
otate. The campaign of that year was a very interest-
ing one and out of the total vote of fifty-four thousand
six hundred and seventy-nine, the largest ever cast in
the history of the State up to that time, he received
twenty-seven thousand four hundred and sixty-one
ballots as against twenty-five thousand four hundred
and thirty-three cast for \V. T. C. Wardwell. the Demo-
cratic candidate. In tlie next campaign, that of 1803,
he was again the Republican candidate, being opposed
by David S. Baker, Jr., of the Democrats, and Henry
B. Metcalf, of the Prohibitionists. Once more there
was a closely contested campaign, and once more Mr.
Brown was the successful candidate, receiving twenty-
two thousand and fifteen votes, as against twenty-one
thous.-.'.nd eight hundred and thirty, and three thousand
two hundred and sixty-five for the other two candi-
dates respectively. The election laws of Rhode Island,
however, require a majority of the total vote cast in
order to elect, and accordingly, there being no legal
choice, the election devolved upon the General Assem-
bly of the State. An exceedingly close and hard-fought
political battle followed, in which great corruption was
char;;ed against the Democratic members of the As-
sembly. It appears that at the opening of the May
session the Democrats were in a majority in the House,
and proceeded to unseat two Republican members in
order to gain control of the grand committee which had
the election of the governor. The House then pp.ssed
a resolution inviting the Senate to join the House in
grand committee to count the ballots and proclaim the
result. The latter body, however, recognized at once
that this project was an innovation of a distinctly illegal
character, and promptly declined the invitation. They
followed this up by a resolution of adjournment until
January, 1894, which was not concurred with in the
House, the resolution being laid on the table. The upper
body at once communicated with Governor Brown to the
effect that a difference of opinion existed between the
two branches of the Legislature as to the date of ad-
journment. Governor Brown's action was characteristic
of him in its courage and promptness, and the Assembly
was adjourned at once by his order until the following
January. This, the Democrats of the Lower House
declared to be illegal, and they continued to hold rump
sessions until the Assembly was reconvened in January,
1804. At once they resorted to every device and plan
in order to entrap the governor, but Governor Brown
was as shrewd as he was fair-minded, and in every
case avoided the trap. The Democrats, as a last resort,
laid their case before the Supreme Court of the State,
which, however, unanimously sustained Governor
Brown, with the result that the unwarrantable procedure
of the House was brought to naught, and the matter
went back to the people. Intense interest had. been
awakened throughout the State by the long political
controversy, and in April, 1894, an election was held
which brought out the largest vote ever cast in Rhode
Island. The result was never in doubt, however, and

Governor Brown was returned to office with a plur-
ality of six thousand two hundred and fifty-five votes,
his total vote being twenty-nine thousand one hundred
and seventy-nine, as against Mr. Baker's twenty-two
thousand nine hundred and twenty-four. Mr. Brown,
perceiving the evils necessarily attendant upon the old
system, had been very active in the meantime to alter
the constitution of the State so as to insure elections
by plurality. This he was successful in accomplishing,
and he also exerted strong influence in favor of bien-
nial elections, as against the former one year term.
Among other valuable services performed by him for
the State w'as the securing of the passage of what was
known as the free text book law and of measures pro-
viding for the improvement of highways and other re-
forms, including those regulating the business of surety
companies and building and loan associations, and the
factory inspector's law. Governor Brown, during the
three years of his administration, proved himself to be
a most capable and disinterested executive, and gained
the approval not only of his own political followers,
but also of all right-thinking men in the State. This
approval was expressed before the Republican National
Convention in 1896 by making him the State's candidate
for the vice-presidency.

Ex-Governor Brown had for many years been prom-
inent in fraternal and club circles in Providence, and
especially so in the Masonic order, having taken his
thirty-second degree in Free Masonry. He was a
member of Adclphoi Lodge. Ancient Free and .\ccepted
Masons; the Royal Arch Masons; the Roy?.l and Select
Masters; St. John's Commandery, Knights Templar;
and the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic
Shrine. Mr. Brown was also prominently affiliated
with the Young Men's Christian Association in this
State; the Art Advance; the Talma, West Side and
Squantum clubs; the Providence Press Club, the Rhode
Island Press club, the Rhode Island Historical Society,
the Rhode Island Society Sons of the .\merican Rev-
olution, the Rhode Island Art Institute, the Provi-
dence Board of Trade, the Providence Business Men's
•Association, and many other social, benevolent and
literary organizations. He was also president of the
Pine Ridge Camp for Consumptives. Mr. Brown was
eligible to membership in the Society of Colonial Wars,
and the Society of Mayflower Descendants. In his
religious belief Mr. Brown was a Congregationalist,
and had for many years attended the Beneficent Church
of that denomination at Providence.

Daniel Russell Brown was united in marriage, Oc-
tober 14, 1874, at Providence, with Isabel Barrows,
daughter of Milton and Mary (Guild) Barrows. Three
children have been born of this union, as follows: Mil-
ton Barrows, who is mentioned above as secretary of
the Brown Brothers Company; Isabel Russell and
Hope Caroline. L)aniel Russell Brown died at his home
in Providence, February 28, 1919.

FREDERICK S. PECK— On May 22, 1639, the
Great and General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony
met at Boston, electing John Winthrop governor, and
other Colonial officers. The name of Mr. Joseph Peck,
of Hingham, stands at the head of the list of deputies,
twenty-eight in number, who met to make Puritan laws


for a Puritan Colony. In that historic assembly of
legislators were John Endicott. Richard Bellingham,
Simon Bradstreet, Israel Stoughton and Richard Salton-
stall, while Humphrey Atherton, noted in Rhode Island
history. Robert Keayne, Thomas Mayhew, Simon Wil-
lard, Edward Rawson, William Hawthorne, and others,
were of the legislative group that were destined to win
high honors in civil life in the Bay Colony. On May
13, 1640. the Great and General Court met at Boston
and again the name of Mr. Joseph Peck leads the dep-
uties, now thirty-one in number. Of this number
twenty-three bear the title "Mr.," four are captains,
one lieutenant, one ensign, and two carry no title. In
1641 the General Court of Elections met at Boston, on
January 2, and Mr. Joseph Peck is still a deputy from
Hingham, with distinguished associates, over whom
Richard Bellingham was chosen as governor. Among
them are William Carpenter. Henry Smith, William
Cheesbrough, Alexander Winchester, Stephen Paine,
and others, who, in 1641, through the agency of Captain
Myles Standish and Mr. John Browne, purchased a
township of land, eight miles square, of Massassoit, and
later called it Rehoboth.

(I) Mr. Joseph Peck, who, with his brother. Rev.
Robert Peck, Jr., were the founders of the Peck family
in .America, was the son of Robert Peck, a resident of
Suffolk county, England. The son Joseph was baptized
in Beccles, Sufifolk county, April 30, 1587. Robert
Peck, Jr., received his Master's degree at Cambridge
University in 1603; was a Puritan minister in Hingham,
England, and, with his brother, Joseph, came to New
England in 1638, settling at Hingham, in the Bay Col-
ony, where English settlers of Norfolk county had
founded a new Hingham on the Bay coast. Robert and
Joseph took the freeman's oath, March 13, 1638-39, and
Robert was ordained teacher of the church at Hingham,
Mass., 1639. On October 27, 1641, Robert, his wife and
son, Joseph, embarked from Boston for his native land,
having been invited, says Cotton Mather, to renew his
pastoral office over the Puritan Church in Hingham,
England, "where he was greatly sen-iceable for the
good of the Church." He died in 1656, in the midst of
a loved and beloved people. Concerning Mr. Joseph
Peck and his family, Mr. David Gushing, town clerk
of Hingham, Mass., has this record : "Mr. Joseph Peck
and his wife and three sons and daughter, and two
men servants, and three maid servants, came from old
Hingham and settled at New Hingham."

Joseph Peck married Rebecca Clark, at Hingham,
England, May 21, 1617. .After being the mother of five
children, she died October 24, 1637, when Mr. Peck

married • , who gave him three sons. The

baptismal names and dates of the children were : Anna,
March 12, 1617-18, died July, 1636; Rebecca, May 25,
1620; Joseph, Aug. 23, 1623; John, about 1626; Nich-
olas, April 9, 1630; Samuel, Feb. 3, 1638-39; Nathaniel,
Oct. 31, 1641 ; Israel, March 4, 1644.

Mr. Joseph Peck was nearly fifty-two years of age
when he settled, with others of his old town, as a co-
founder, in New Hingham, New England. He was in
the full maturity of physical and mental power, was
well-to-do in worldly possessions, and belonged to the
superior class of English settlers in America. Whether

aware of his lineage or not, he really had the blood of
an early Sa.xon and Norman nobility in his veins, the
proof of which was manifest in his own excellent and
well-ordered life, and in the long lines of good men
and women who gladly trace their ancestry to Joseph
Peck of Hingham and Rehoboth. The election of Mr.
Peck as a deputy to the General Court of the Bay Col-
ony from Hingham, only a few days after taking the
freeman's oath, and his repeated elections to the same
office, are proof of his social and political standing,
while the other offices of trust and honor from town
and colony confirm the record; he was a trusted man in
the Bay Colony.

Mr. Peck was a pioneer as well as a founder. Reports
came to him of unoccupied lands in the Narragansett
Bay comitry. Boston had just sent a ship-load of
three hundred people to found towns and a colony on
Aquidneck. Miles Standish had preempted Sowams
(Barrington). At Mt. Hope (Bristol) were Indian
lands, the home of King Philip. Men of vision saw
in the field attractive territory for new settlement, and
"in the year of our Lord 1O41, Governor Bradford of
Plymouth granted to Joseph Peck, Stephen Paine,
Henry Smith, Alexander Winchester, Thomas Cooper,
gent., and others with them, and such others as they
should associate to tliemselves. a tract of land for a
plantation or township formerly called by the natives
Secunke, for which the purchasers paid Massassoit ten
fathoms of beads and a coat." Most of the settlers
were from Hingham and Weymouth, and as lands were
apportioned according to estates, we have in the Reho-
both Proprietors' Records, Vol. I., p. i, the estimated
estates of the founders of ancient Rehoboth, in 1645.
Richard Wright stands first with £834; John Browne
second with £600; and Joseph Peck and Stephen Paine
next with £535 each. Mr. Joseph Peck and family
moved from Hingham to Rehoboth in 1645, thereby
entering the new plantation as purchasers and founders.
The first Peck home was in "the Ring of the Town,"
and was located not far from the railroad station at
Rumford, in East Providence. Here Mr. Peck lived
an active, useful and honored citizen until his death,
December 23, 1663, in his seventy-seventh year.

(II) Joseph (2) Peck, first son of Joseph (l) Peck,
baptized in 1623, settled near his father at Seekonk
Plain, but, about 1660, removed to Palmer's river sec-
tion of Rehoboth. He died about 1701.

(II) John Peck, second son of Joseph (i) Peck,
settled near Luther's Corners, on the east side of
Bowcn's river. He was a representative from Rehoboth
to the General Court of Massachusetts in 1700. He died
in 1713.

(II) Nicholas Peck, third son of Joseph (i) Peck,
settled in the southern part of Rehoboth, near
Munroe's Tavern. He represented the town of Reho-
both as deputy to the General Court at Plymouth for
the years 1669-78-83-98, a period of nine years. He
rose to the rank of captain in the Colonial militia. He
died May 27, 1720.

(II) Samuel Peck, fourth son of Joseph (i) Peck,
remained at tlie homestead on Seekonk Plain. He was
a deputy from Rehoboth to Plymouth for two years,
and one of the first representatives of tlie town to the


Massachusetts Col. my, after the union with Plymouth.
He was also a deacon of the Newman Congregational
Church. He died in 1708.

(H) Nathaniel Peck, lifth son of Joseph (l) Peck,
is the ancestor of Frederick S. Peck, the subject of
this sketch. Nathaniel and his brother, Israel, settled in
Barrington, then Swansea, Mass., on lands, a part of
which are now owned by Frederick S. Peck, and are
styled the Ousamcquin Farm. This farm is a part of
ancient Sowanis (Harrington), which was purchased of
Massassoit (Ousamequin), in 1653, by Governor Brad-
ford, Governor Prince. Miles Standish, and others of
old settlers of Plymouth, in 1653, for £35 sterling. A
pioprietary was formed by the purchasers, the territory
was surveyed and plotted, roads laid out, and the lands
were sold to the dwellers in the towns of Rehoboth and
Swansea. As early as 1655, Joseph (i) Peck had
secured an interest in the Sowams proprietary by a
purchase of certain lands of the original Sowams pro-
prietors. These proprietary lands, with certain salt
meadows. Mr. Joseph (l) Peck gave, by his will, to his
sons Nathaniel and Israel. After their marriage these
the two brothers settled in Barrington, building houses
and rearing families, the land remaining undivided as
one farm, until after Nathaniel, of the third generation,
was inarried. Nathaniel Peck, father of Nathaniel and
Israel Peck ali'Ve mentioned, died in 1676, at the age
of thirty-five, and his wife. Deliverance, in 1678. leaving
one son, Nathaniel, as heir to all his father's estate.

(HI) Nathaniel (2) Peck, son of Nathaniel (i)
Peck, born July 26, 1670, married (first) Christian Allen,
of Swansea, Tvlarch 8, 1695-96. Three children were
born of this marriage: Ebenezer, Nathaniel and
Thomas. Nathaniel Peck married (second) Judith
Smith, of Rehoboth, July 18, 1705, of whom were born
seven children : Daniel, David, Abigail, Bathsheba, Sol-
omon, of further mention; John, John. Nathaniel
Peck was a prominent citizen of Barrington, holding
various public offices; was an officer in the Colonial
militia and a deacon of the Congregational church. He
died August 5, 1751, in his eighty-second year,

(IV) Solomon Peck, son of Nathaniel (2) Peck, was
born November 11, 1712, married Keziah Barnes, De-
cember 29, 1737, and settled upon a part of his father's
estate. Eleven children were the fruit of their mar-
riage. Mr. Peck was a useful and respected citizen,
and Mrs. Peck a devoted wife and mother. On his
tombstone are the lines:

On hers :

My flesh .shall rest in hope to rise
Waked by His powerful Voice.

A faithful Wife and Mother dear,
Sueh she was who now lies here.

(V) Solomon (2) Peck, son of Solomon (l) Peck,
was born October 29. 1738; married Mrs. Abigail Bar-
ney (born Peck), his cousin, December 8, 1763. He
lived in the house which is now known as the Ousame-
quin farmhouse, w-here six children were born : Abi-
gail, Keziah, Solomon, Darius, Ellis, of further men-
tion; and Bcebe. Solomon Peck died August 22, 1814;
his widow, June 16, 1821.

(VI) Ellis Peck, son of Solomon (2) Peck, was
born in Barrington, August 2, 1774, and died July 27,

1854. He married Sarah Hill, daughter of David Hill, I
who gave him seven children: Sarah, .\bigail, Ellis (2), !
Hannah, Asa. of further mention; Hannah and Wil-
liam. No children were born by a second marriage to
Lucy Bliss, in 1818. Ellis Peck and family lived at the
homestead of his father, Solomon (2) Peck.

(VII) Asa Peck, son of Ellis and Sarah (Hill)
Peck, was born in Barrington, .\pril 7, 1812, and mar-
ried Lucretia S. Remington, daughter of Enoch and
Phebe (Short) Reinington, March 4, 1839. Mr. Peck
inherited a part of the ancestral acres bought of the
Pilgrim proprietors of Sowams by Joseph (i) Peck,
and was liorn and spent his life in the house occupied
by his father, Ellis Peck, and his grandfather, Solomon
Peck. It is probable that the house of Nathaniel (2)
Peck stood on or near this site, as a stone garrison
house stood in front of the Peck house, in the center
of the eight-rod way that ran from the north end of
the iTiiddle eight-rod highway to the Barrington river.
Asa Peck was a farmer by home occupation, but an
energetic body, a resolute spirit and an acquisitive
nature led him into other fields, at first as a inarket
drover and trader, and later as a dealer in wool-waste,
establishing, with his son. Leander R. Peck, a success-
ful business on Canal street, in Providence, under the
name of Asa Peck & Company, into wdiich he later
introduced his son Walter A. Peck. Mr. Peck's busi-
ness enterprises, honorable dealing and strict integrity

Online LibraryThomas Williams BicknellThe history of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (Volume 7) → online text (page 1 of 124)