Simeon Hazard, 1817–1855


Occupation

upholsterer; cabinetmaker

Place of work

Newport, Rhode Island

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Biography

Simeon Hazard, son of George Hazard (1774–1836) and Content Wilbur (ca. 1781–1833), was born in Rhode Island in 1817.(1) His paternal grandparents were Simeon Hazard (1725–1790) and Abigail Mumford, and his maternal grandparents were Anthony Wilbur (1759–1826) and Grace Shaw (1759–1837).(2) On November 15, 1838, he married Mary Ann Stevens (1819–1900).(3) The couple had six children: Sarah W. (1839–1918), Elizabeth S. (1841–1842), Elizabeth S. (1843–1846), George S. (b. 1846), Annie W. (b. 1849), and William S. (b. 1853)(4).

By the 1840s, Hazard had established a "Furniture and Upholstery Warehouse" located at 1 Church Street. His label, preserved on a circa 1845 workbox, announced that he had "on hand" and was "constantly manufacturing every article in the/Cabinet and Chair line./Upholstery Goods/of all kinds, and the business as usual attended to in all its branches."(5) He employed at least two of his brothers, James Lawrence Hazard (b. 1818) and George AugustusHazard (b. 1819), who worked for him for twenty years and would eventually take over his business.(6) In 1846, Hazard purchased the "entire Furniture Establishment" of Robert P. Lee and Co., a partnership between Robert Lee and Adam S. Coe that was dissolved.(7) Hazard was listed as a cabinetmaker in Newport in the 1850 United States Census. Hazard’s real estate was valued at $3,500, on par with that of his neighbors.(8)

In 1853, Hazard sought to modernize his shop through the introduction of steam power. The Newport Mercury announced that "On Church Street . . . Mr. Simeon Hazard has added quite a piece to his establishment and has introduced a steam engine which increases greatly his facilities for business."(9) It is unclear which tasks Hazard chose to mechanize, but other mid-nineteenth-century woodworkers harnessed the power of steam to operate lathes, circular and upright saws, and tenoning and planing machines.(10)

Hazard was only thirty-eight when he died in 1855 of a "short and distressing illness."(11) His estate was declared insolvent, and, on September 6, 1856, land "belonging to the estate of the late Simeon Hazard, containing from one to one and a half acre, situated on the Hill near Fillmore House," was offered at public auction.(12) The same year, James and George Hazard announced that they had taken over Hazard’s Cabinet & House-Furnishing Ware-House, located at 23 Church Street. They referred to their late brother as having been "so long and so well known to their fellow citizens for his integrity and superior workmanship," assuring their clientele that they would "continue to furnish highly finished Cabinet Furniture, Draperies, Hangings and Embroideries of the most fashionable styles and after Parisian models, which they regularly import." The brothers then asserted that "Their work can be seen in nearly all the mansions and cottages of Newport, and in every part of the country," implying that the scope of the business established by Simeon Hazard had been impressive, catering to the needs of both wealthy and middle class.(13)

BWC and JNJ


1. Caroline E. Robinson, The Hazard Family of Rhode Island, 1635–1894 (Boston: Printed for the author, 1895), 82; Thomas R. Hazard, Recollections of Olden Times . . . With Genealogies of the Robinson, Hazard, and Sweet Families of Rhode Island (Newport, R.I.: John P. Sanborn, 1879), 203, 206; Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Transcription Project, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~rigenweb/Cemetery2/cemindex.html.

2. Robinson, The Hazard Family, 40–41. For the life dates of Anthony Wilbur and Grace Shaw, see Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Transcription Project.

3. Hazard, Recollections of Olden Times, 206. For the life dates of Mary Ann Hazard, see Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Transcription Project.

4. Robinson, The Hazard Family, 126.

5. Christopher P. Monkhouse and Thomas S. Michie, American Furniture in Pendelton House (Providence, R.I.: Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1986), 75.

6. The Newport Mercury, January 19, 1856, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

7. The Newport Mercury, "Notice," April 4, 1846, http://infoweb.newsbank.com. A sofa signed by Coe is in the collection of Winterthur Museum, see, Nancy E. Richards and Nancy Goyne Evans, New England Furniture at Winterthur: Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods (Winterthur, Del.: Winterthur Publications, 1997), 183–185, no. 98, ill.

8. U.S. Bureau of the Census, United States Federal Census, 1850. Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, National Archives, Washington, D.C, www.Ancestry.com.

9. "Walks About Town," Newport Mercury, June 25, 1853, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

10. Nancy Goyne Evans, Windsor-Chair Making in America: from Craft Shop to Consumer (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 2006), 103–104.

11. According to his obituary, he was "much esteemed by a large circle of relatives and friends, who will most deeply mourn his loss." The Newport Mercury, August 25, 1855, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

12. Hazard was referred to as a cabinetmaker in a series of newspaper notices announcing the insolvency of his estate, see The Newport Mercury, "Estate of Simeon Hazard," October 6, 13, 20, 27, 1855, http://infoweb.newsbank.com. For the auction notice, see The Newport Mercury, "Auction Sales," August 16, 1856, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

13. The Newport Mercury, "Furniture," January 19, 1856, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.