The history of Peace Dale clearly revolves around one famous family, the Hazards. Here is their story and the story of Peace Dale, as taken from the 1984 National Register for Historic Places nomination form titled "Historic and Architectural Resources of South Kingstown - a Preliminary Report."
During the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, South Kingstown and much of Washington County were dominated by a small group of families owning large plantations devoted to commercial agriculture that was export through nearby Newport. Among these "Narragansett Planters," the Quaker Hazards were the largest and most powerful clan.
In the late eighteenth century, Rowland Hazard I left Rhode Island to establish himself in the shipping business in Charleston, South Carolina. There he married Mary Peace, for whom Peace Dale was later named. In the 1790s, war in Europe played havoc with American maritime commerce, and in 1799, Rowland Hazard returned to South Kingstown with his wife.
In 1804, he purchased a 1/3 interest in a small wool-carding mill at a water power privilege on the Saugatucket River. During the next few years, his involvement in the business grew. He began putting out his carded wool to be spun in area homes, then taking the yarn produced and putting it out to be hand-woven into cloth by local weavers. Hazard purchased the mill privilege outright in 1812, and invested in experimental machinery including primitive power looms. By 1815, he ran a small, fully integrated manufacturing operation, going from raw material to finished goods. It is said to have been one of the first such textile plants in America.
Thus began Peace Dale, a mill village created by over four generations of the Hazard family. Named by the founder of the family woolens business, Rowland Hazard I, for his wife Mary Peace, Peace Dale bespeaks what was sought -- a community living in sweet harmony with itself.
In every sense, Peace Dale's prominence focuses on the mills and the adjacent facilities that were developed by the Hazards for commerce, recreation, education, relaxation, and worship. The Hazards' accomplishments as industrialists, both in terms of innovation and success, were matched by a dedication to an improved social order and the munificence of their philanthropy. Along with the sobriety, unity, and air of elevated amenity encountered in their village, the Hazards --Friends into the mid-nineteenth century, had about them a seriousness, ambition, and commitment that reflected Quaker attitudes.
During these early years, Peace Dale remained very small. In the early 1820s there were only 30 inhabitants, the wood-frame mill buildings, five dwellings, and a store. The mills had been taken on by Rowland Hazard's sons, Isaac P. and Rowland G. Hazard. By the end of the decade they had the operation fully mechanized, producing coarse kersey cloth and linsey woolsey. Little new development occurred until the Hazard mills burned in the mid-1840s. The brothers decided to begin anew. They rebuilt their hydropower systems to increase production capacity and in 1847 completed a fireproof stone factory with distinctive stepped gable and double-monitor roof. They incorporated the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company in 1848, and in 1849, started to produce woolen shawls in place of the cheap yards goods of former days. Peace Dale shawls gained a considerable reputation. From this period on, the company specialized in high quality products. Isaac P. Hazard served as company president until 1864. He took an interest in politics and repeatedly represented South Kingstown in the state General Assembly. Rowland G. not only helped operate the family textile business, he assumed a role in local and national affairs, and pursued broader moral and philosophical topics. He wrote extensively. His "Essay on Language" (1834) was highly regarded. While traveling in England, he met and befriended John Stuart Mill. He was staunchly opposed to slavery, helped found the Republican Party in furtherance of abolition, and in 1860 participated in the party convention that nominated Lincoln. During the Civil War, though a pacifist, he promoted the Union cause through published essays, bolstering Northern financial credit abroad. On a local level, Rowland G. built village schools and the South Kingstown Town Hall. He underwrote a library society and later published an essay on "The Duty of Individuals to Support Science and Literature" (1885).
Rowland G. Hazard's sons, John N. and Rowland Hazard II, ran the Peace Dale Mills in the late nineteenth century. It was the latter who had the greatest impact on development of the village. As a junior member of the firm in 1856, he designed a new stone waving mill and a stone building across from the mills to house offices, a store, the post office, and a pubic hall. Over the next four decades, as amateur architect and/or client, he saw to the building of over half the extant physical fabric of Peace Dale.
The Narragansett Pier Railroad of Peace Dale, Rhode Island purchased #11 in 1923 as a new locomotive. The NP was known for its corporate thrift and Henwood, in his book “Short Haul to the Bay” notes that the 11 was purchased without a great deal of research. Apparently the first time the 11 was fired up on the NP it wedged in a curve due to its long wheelbase. The New Haven was called to rescue the engine and the flange was cut from the center driver to alleviate the binding problem. The flange on center driver was restored by a subsequent owner. The 11 served the Narragansett Pier for 15 years and was sold in 1938 to Thomas Carey, a locomotive dealer in Elizabethport, NJ.
The 11 was purchased by the Bath and Hammondsport Railroad in 1939 to replace a former Erie camelback, purchased when the line became independent from the Erie in 1935. The engine served as the B&H’s primary locomotive until the arrival of the road’s 44-ton diesel-electric in October of 1949. Mr. U.S. Arland, General Manager of the B&H had a great affection for the 11 and kept her in reserve for another 7 years.
Dr. Stanley Groman, a Syracuse surgeon, purchased the 11 from the Bath and Hammondsport in June of 1955 for use at his “Rail City” museum in Sandy Creek, NY. The 11 was on hand for the grand opening of “Rail City” on July 4, 1955. The engine traversed the mile-and-a- half loop at “Rail City” for the next nineteen years until the museum closed in the fall of 1974.
The engine was re-purchased by its original owner, the Narragansett Pier Railroad in 1977 and returned to Peace Dale, Rhode Island. Dr. John Miller, a Connecticut Dentist and rail fan intended to restore the locomotive for excursion service. Dr. Miller’s people removed the jacket, lagging, accessories and a number of the locomotive’s flues before losing interest in the engine.
These were (from the top down): Longwear Worsted - "Longwear Worsted is what it's name implies." 44 cents per 4 oz skein Knitting Worsted - A splendid yarn for everyday sweaters" 42 c per 2 oz skein Germantown - "Wonderful quality yarn that made Peace Dale famous. Makes fine, soft sweaters." 49 c per 2 oz skein. Men's Sweater Yarn - "Extra heavy and makes warmest garment it is possible to knit" 98 c per 4 oz skein. Sicilian Worsted - "Makes fairly heavy sweaters. Beautiful lustrous colors." 38 c per 2 oz skein. Veronian Worsted - "for fine quality sweaters. Slightly lustrous in delicate shades". 42 c per 2 oz skein. Weaving Yarns - "Used by professional hand weavers. Also makes light weight sweaters." 49 c per 2 oz skein. Sicilian Floss - "Peace Dale's most popular yarn. Makes wonderful sweaters in our most beautiful colors." 19 c per 1 oz skein. Arolian Floss - "Slightly lustrous, light in weight." 42 c per 2 oz skein. Country Club Floss - "Fashionable colors , all worsted. Light weight." 21 c per 2 oz skein. Longwear Shetland - "A cheap, light floss. Very serviceable." 15 c per 1 oz ball. Iceland - "Our lightest weight. Used double is also cheapest." 17 c per 1 oz skein. Saxony - "Three-fold Saxony finest quality for infants' wear." 27c per 1 oz skein.
Peace Dale produced many yarns for their cloth, their shawls, and for hand knitting. These yarns were available by mail for a very small fee.Mailing costs were from 2 cents an ounce to 13 cents a pound. The yarns themselves sold for from 15 cents per 1 ounce ball for "Longwear Shetland" to 98 cents per 4 ounce skein for "Men's Sweater Yarn". There is also a chart showing how many balls or skeins to order for different items, like slip-on sweaters, and coat sweaters (cardigans).