Rhode Island and Providence Plantations Biographical, 98
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History of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations: Biographical

NY: The American Historical Society, Inc. 1920

p. 433 - 434:

CHARLES FALCONER STEARNS  --  The elevation of Judge Stearns from the Superior to the Supreme bench of the State of Rhode Island was an act of the General Assembly, which met with popular approval, and was a graceful and well deserved testimonial to his just and upright service of twelve years as an associate judge of the Superior Court.  Judge Stearns is a twentieth century representative of the family founded in New England by Isaac Stearns (or Stearne), who came with Governor Winthrop and Sir Richard Saltonstall in 1630, and settled in Watertown, Mass.

Henry Augustus Stearns, of the seventh American generation, and father of Judge Charles F. Stearns, was the first  of this direct line to locate in Rhode Island, having come in 1861, where he had a successful business career.  He located in Pawtucket in that year, became associated with the Union Wadding Company, and for half a century was closely identified with that corporation, also becoming influential in public life and serving his adopted State as legislator, State official, and lieutenant-governor. His sons, Deshler Falconer, George Russell, Walter Henry, and Henry Foster Stearns, are all influential business men, Judge Charles F. alone choosing a professional career.  He has been a  member of the Rhode Island bar, and in active service as attorney and judge since 1893, a full quarter of a century, during which he has risen to the high judicial position.

The line of descent from the Pilgrim, Isaac Stearns, is through his son, John Stearns, born in Watertown in 1631, who was one of the earliest settlers of the town of Billerica, Mass.  He was succeeded by his son, Lieutenant John Stearns of Billerica, who was the father of John (2) Stearns, who died in Billerica, August 2, 1776, aged ninety.  John (3) Stearns married Esther Johnson, of Woburn, daughter of Captain Edward Johnson, granddaughter of William Johnson, and great-granddaughter of Captain Edward Johnson, author of a history of New England, entitled 'Wonder-Working Providence of Zion's Savior in New England'.

Captain Edward Stearns, son of John (3) and Esther (Johnson) Stearns, was born May 9, 1726, died in New Bedford, Mass., June 11, 1793, a brave officer of the Revolution at the Battle of Concord in 1775.  He was in command of the Bedford militia after Captain Wilson was shot, and afterward the command was made permanent, but he declined the honor.  Captain Edward Stearns married Lucy Wyman, and among their children was a son, Captain Abner.

Captain Abner Stearns was a farmer boy who became interested in mill work, was a wool carder, and also had a grist and paint mill.  He constructed the first machine for splitting leather and the first machine for dyeing silk was the invention of this rarely gifted country boy. At one time he held an option on the entire water power at Lowell, Mass., a supply which has since made that city great.  He was a soldier of the War of 1812, but came to his death by accident, December 11, 1838. He married (second) Mrs. Anna (Russell) Estabrook, daughter of Thomas Russell, whose father was shot by the British in their retreat from Lexington, April 19, 1775.  Captain Abner and Anna (Russell-Estabrook) Stearns were the parents of Henry Augustus Stearns.

Henry Augustus Stearns was born October 23, 1825, died October 8, 1910. He learned the shoemaker's trade in youth after finishing his studies at Andover Academy, joined his brother, George S., in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1846, and there started the first cotton wadding mill west of the Alleghenies. In spite of misfortune the business was successfully founded and is yet carried on under the firm name, Stearns & Foster Company, Inc. In 1850 he went to California, taking with him a boiler and machinery with which to start a steam laundry.  He had this machinery carried across the Isthmus of Panama on the shoulders of men, then loaded it on an old shaler, which was partially wrecked and adrift on the ocean four months, until San Francisco was reached, with crew and passengers in a starving condition.  Mr. Stearns soon rallied, erected his machinery, and developed a prosperous laundry business, which he sold to operate the first steam ferry across the bay, the first boat being the 'Hector', with Captain Stearns in command.  Later he operated a steam saw mill in the Redwoods district, the first, it is believed, also operated a general store in Gilroy, and slaughtered cattle for the market.  He returned to Cincinnati in 1853, and resumed the manufacture of cotton wadding on a large scale.  In 1857 failing health caused him to change his residence, and with a partner he began the manufacture of hardware in Buffalo, N. Y., losing nearly all his fortune in that venture.  He next bought a tract of timber in Sangamon county, Ill., set up a saw mill, and continued lumbering and farming until 1861, when he came to Rhode Island, and in Pawtucket spent the remainder of his life.

With Darius Goff, Mr. Stearns began the manufacture of cotton wadding, a business which developed into the Union Wadding Company, Inc., in 1870, with two and a half millions of dollars capital, the largest cotton waste business in the United States.  Mr. Stearns was superintendent of the company from 1870 until 1891, then was elected vice-president, an office he ever afterward held.  He inherited the inventive genius of his father and several patents of value were issued to him.  He represented the town of Lincoln in the State Legislature in both branches, was school trustee, and in 1891-92 Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island.  He was a member of lodge, chapter, council and commandery of the York Rite of Freemasonry, and in the Scottish Rite held the thirty-second degree. He was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, and the Society of Colonial Wars, also for many years was a director of the Franklin Savings Bank.

Henry A. Stearns married, in Hamilton, Ohio, June 25, 1856, Kate Falconer, daughter of J. H. and Charlotte (Smith) Falconer, their home being in Pawtucket from 1861 to 1862, then at Central Falls, R. I., where Mr. Stearns possessed a fine library, and when his years grew heavy he gave himself to his books and his home, taking a deep pride in his large and capable family. Mr. and Mrs. Stearns were the parents of:  Deshler Falconer, George Russell, Walter Henry, Kate Russell, Charles Falconer, of further mention; Henry Foster, Anna Russell, who died in infancy; and Caroline.

Such was the lineage of Charles Falconer Stearns, of the eighth American generation.  He was born in what is now Central Falls, R. I., July 27, 1866.  He began his education in the public schools, passed to Mowry & Goff's English and Classical School of Providence, entered Amherst College, completed the full course, and was graduated, A. B., class of '89.  He prepared at Harvard Law School, was awarded his L.L. B. in 1893, and in the fall of that year he was admitted to the Rhode Island bar.  He opened law offices in Providence, and soon became well established in practice, gaining a reputation as being one of the able young lawyers of the Rhode Island bar.  He continued in private practice in Providence until 1897, when he was appointed Assistant Attorney-General, serving three years, 1902-05.  In 1905 he was the nominee of the Republican party for judge of the Superior Court, the nominating speech being made by Senator Kane, of Narragansett.  He was elected and sat upon the Superior bench for twelve years, then, in 1916, was a candidate for associate justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island.  Judge Stearns was elected by the General Assembly, and now sits with his colleagues of the Supreme Court, honored for his learning, his justice, consideration, and strict impartiality.

Judge Stearns was a member of the General Assembly from Central Falls in 1894, and served on the Committee of Education.  He is a member of the American Bar Association; the Rhode Island Bar Club; is a Mason, belonging to lodge, chapter, council and commandery; also a member of Hope, University, Agawam Hunt and Providence Art clubs.

Mr. Stearns married, June 30, 1904, Amelia F. Lieber, of Washington, D. C., daughter of General G. B. Lieber, of the United States army.

p. 434 - 436:

T. B. StowellTHEODORE BARROWS STOWELL  --  There is no more vital factor in community life than that of public education.  The training of the youthful mind in the formulative stage along those lines which will prove most beneficial to it in later life is a task which to the community is a large and life-size problem.  The more progressive the community, the greater the care and attention given to education.  The more intelligent and capable the men into whose hands the direction of education is given, the greater the value to themselves and the world are the recipients of the training. It is admitted that a sound education is the best basis on which to begin a career in any walk of life.  This fact is especially true in the business world.  The sending of a youth into the battle of life equipped poorly or without the tools necessary for combat is no less criminal than the sending of an ocean liner on a voyage unequipped with life-savers sufficient for its passengers.  The element of chance that the ship will sink is no less great than that the man will fail.  The improvement in the quality of business education and preliminary training has increased a hundredfold within the past few decades, due to an awakening on the part of the people to the absolute necessity of a good foundation on which to begin a career, and due also in a large degree to the demand for specially trained experts.  Specialization along one particular line of effort has characterized the industrial world for a considerable period, and has been the cause of the existence of schools wherein men can be especially trained for work.  In every city throughout the entire country are to be found schools devoted solely to education along sound business lines, and at the head of these schools are to be found educators of the highest order, men of keen business perceptions, the highest intellectual ability, able students of the times and the demands of the times in the world of commerce, finance, the industries, etc.  It is becoming more and more impossible for the unskilled and untrained worker to find a place in the business world, which now demands the trained and efficient specialist in one line of work.  The business schools and special schools of the country are fulfilling a well-defined need in preparing those who come to them to better cope with the existing industrial conditions.  The higher grade of these schools are of the greatest importance in the fields to which they minister, and the men who direct and manage them are of a recognized and high status in the ranks of educator.

The late Professor Theodore Barrows Stowell, well-known educator and principal of the Bryant & Stratton Business College, of Providence, R. I., was one of the most prominent educators in the field of business of the past few decades.  His prominence in Providence, however, extended beyond this field, for he was a well-known figure in the public life of the city and also in its club and social life.

Arms  --  Gules, a cross masculy argent.
Crest  --  A dove, wings expanded argent, holding in the beak an olive branch proper.
Theodore Barrows Stowell was a native of the State of Connecticut, and a member of the prominent old Stowell family of New England.  Immigrants of the name were among the earliest in the New World, and their names are found on the early Colonial register of most of the colonies of New England. Professor Stowell was a descendant of the Connecticut branch of the family, and was the son of Stephen Sumner and Cornelia Williams (Stebens) Stowell, old and highly respected residents of the town of Mansfield Center, Tolland county, Conn., where he was born on July 8, 1847.  Stephen Sumner Stowell was the owner of large property holdings in Mansfield Center, and a farmer on a large scale there.  Here young Stowell grew up amid the healthful surroundings of the country life.  He early evinced a strong taste for study, and was unusually proficient in his school training. He found a deep interest in literature, but with all his scholarly inclinations had in his nature the thrift and practical ability of the true New Englander - a keen business sense.  Both of these elements were strong in his nature, and his life-work proved to be a harmonious combination of the two.

He received the elementary portion of his education at the Woodstock Academy, in the town of Woodstock, Conn.  His was a nature which never ceased to strive after learning, and though he completed his formal schooling early in life, he continued an eager scholar to the time of his death. After his graduation from the Woodstock Academy, he entered the Connecticut State Normal School at New Britain, Conn., with the intention of preparing himself for the profession of teaching.  The Connecticut State Normal School, at that time the best institution of its kind in New England, offered an exceptional course in the line which he intended to pursue for his life's work.  Upon completing a course there, during which he showed himself to be a student of more than ordinary ability, Professor Stowell went to Bridgeport, Conn.  Here he became a teacher in the Toilsome Hill District. His ability in handling pupils of a school soon brought him to the notice of educational authorities in the city, and he came to have the reputation of being unusually qualified in the teaching profession.  He gradually assumed a place of greater importance in the ranks of the educators of prominence  in the city.  In 1870 he received an offer from the Bristol Ferry School of Portsmouth, R. I.  This offered him greater opportunities for advancement and he accepted it, remaining at the above mentioned institution for two years.

The demand for an institution which would offer an adequate course for preparation for the business world was gradually increasing and assuming the proportions of a necessity in Rhode Island, and more especially in the city of Providence, and in 1863 the Bryant & Stratton Business College was established in Providence by H. B. Bryant and H. D. Stratton of that city.  The college filled a well-felt need in the community, and was successful from the very beginning, gradually increasing its teaching staff and broadening the scope of its curriculum.  This period of gradual development covered nine years.  In 1872 Professor Stowell received an offer from Bryant & Stratton Business College to become a member of its staff of teachers, and in this year he began his connection, which continued until the time of his death, a period of forty-four years. For six years Professor Stowell remained one of the teaching staff of the institution, and in 1878 was chosen its president, which office he filled until 1916.  Under the direction and management of Professor Stowell, the school was brought to a higher standard of efficiency than any other of its kind in the city of Providence and assumed a very high status among the schools of its kind in the country.  With the gradual change in business conditions during the several decades in which he was at the head of this institution, he added to its curriculum many different branches of work for which a demand had heretofore not existed, but which the development of industrial, commercial, and financial organizations now made necessary. The unwillingness on the part of the employers to accept unskilled and untrained workers and to spend time and money in the process of fitting them for their places in their  establishments, and the gradually increasing demand for specialized labor and technically trained workmen, brought to the school a vast number of pupils.

As has already been stated, Professor Stowell was a man of keen business instinct, thoroughly well acquainted with the happenings in the business world, and able to perceive the change of conditions which later proved the cause of financial success for the institution.  From the very beginning of his connection with it, it prospered financially.  In 1878 he bought out the interests of Mr. Bryant and Mr. Stratton and became sole owner of the college, which still continued to be known, however, as the Bryant & Stratton Business College.  Six months before his death, Professor Stowell's health began to fail, and during the term of 1915 and 1916 he was able only occasionally to leave his home and attend the school.  It was then that negotiations were entered into with the Rhode Island Commercial School for the consolidation of the former institution with the Bryant & Stratton Business College.  Negotiations were completed in the latter part of April, 1916, and the two became one. Professor Stowell was chosen the president emeritus of the college, but he held this honorary title for only one month.

The position which he occupied in the educational circles in the city of Providence was the highest.  He was recognized by Brown University in the month of June, 1915, when he received the honorary degree of Master of Arts.  In addition to his interests in the world of education and literature, Professor Stowell was also a well-known figure in public life in the city of Providence.  He was for several years a member of the Providence Chamber of Commerce, and in this capacity brought about many needed reforms.  He was also prominent in many societies and clubs, among which were the Barnard Club, the Eastern Commercial Teachers' Association, the Congregational Club of  Rhode Island, the Town Criers, and the Rhode Island Rotary Club.  His religious affiliations were with the Congregational Church, and both he and Mrs. Stowell attended the Beneficent Congregational Church of Providence.

On January 1, 1871, Theodore Barrows Stowell was married to Florence A. Taylor, a daughter of Charles L. and Ruth E. (Dailey) Taylor, of Plymouth, Conn.  Mrs. Stowell survives her husband and resides at No. 13 Pallas street, Providence, R. I.

(The Taylor Line).

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Crest  --  A demi-lion rampant sable, holding between the paws a ducal coronet or.
The Taylor family of the State of  Connecticut, of which Mrs. Stowell is a member, is one of the oldest and most distinguished in that region, and ranks among its members, in present and former generations, men who have brought honor on the family name in the field of public affairs, in the professions and in business life.  The family was established in America in the early part of the seventeenth century.

Taylor is an English surname of the occupative class, and signifies 'the taylor', a cutter-out of clothes, a maker of clothes.  The medieval English form of the word is tailor or taylor; the old French form, tailleur, a cutter, and it is from this latter form that the English took its origin. The trade-name now used the English form tailor, while the surname is universally spelled Taylor and Tayler.  The name enjoyed a great popularity during the earlier centuries following the adoption of surnames throughout England, and is found often in the early rolls, the Hundred Rolls of 1273 having fifteen different spellings of the name.  In England to-day Taylor is the fourth commonest patronymic, preceded only by Smith, Jones and Williams.

Charles L. Taylor was born in Warren, Conn., the scion of an old and well-known family of that place.  Left an orphan by the death of both his parents in his early childhood, he was thrown absolutely on his own resources, and in early youth left Warren and went to Plymouth, Conn. Here he served a term of apprenticeship as a mechanic, shortly qualifying as an expert mechanic.  He became superintendent of one of the largest lock factories at Plymouth, Conn.  He possessed mechanical and inventive genius in a large degree, and rendered services of a nature which made him one of the most valued men in his line of work in the establishment. Charles L. Taylor died at the early age of forty-one years.  He married Ruth E. Dailey, of Connecticut.  They were the parents of two children: 1.  Florence A., of further mention.  2.  Lillian, who married Ferdinand Lotus, of Bristol Conn., and died aged fifty-one.

Florence A. Taylor, daughter of Charles L. and Ruth E. (Dailey) Taylor, married January 1, 1871, Theodore Barrows Stowell, of Providence, R. I.


These documents are made available free to the public for non-commercial purposes by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project. Transcription and pictures 2001-2 by Beth Hurd

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