Rhode Island and Providence Plantations Biographical, 106
Rhode Island Reading Room
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History of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations: Biographical

NY: The American Historical Society, Inc. 1920

p. 459:

RT. REV. PETER E. BLESSING, D.D., LL. D., V.G.  --  As pastor of St. Joseph's, one of the oldest established and most prominent Roman Catholic parishes in the city of Providence, and vicar-general of the Providence Diocese, Monsignor Blessing is well known as a zealous, learned and eloquent divine and public-spirited, patriotic citizen.  He is the son of James E. and Mary (McNiff) Blessing, who, coming from Ireland in their early youth, were married in Providence, where they spent the remainder of their lives.

Peter E. Blessing was born in Providence, R. I., February 13, 1873. He received his early education in the parochial schools of that city. After finishing at LaSalle Academy he attended Mount St. Mary's College, Emmitsburg, Md., and the North American College, at Rome, Italy, where, after taking the degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology at the Propaganda University, he was ordained priest, May 27, 1899, in the Cathedral of St. John Lateran.  The first assignment he received after his return to this country was assistant pastor at St. Theresa's Parish, Providence, but after a few months service there was transferred to the Providence Apostolate, a body of priests then being organized in the diocese of Providence, whose work was to be preaching and giving missions.  In 1905 Dr. Blessing became director of this work and remained at its head until 1912.

In 1905 he was appointed rector of St. Edward,'s Providence, where he built a modern school building for the accommodation of the children of the parish and a commodious convent for the sisters who taught in the school. In 1906 Dr. Blessing became editor and manager of the Providence 'Visitor', a publication devoted to Catholic interests in Rhode Island.  During the five years he spent in this work the Providence 'Visitor' took a leading place among the Catholic publications of the country.  In 1912 he was appointed rector of the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul, Providence, where he remained until 1916, when he became the irremovable rector of St. Joseph's, Providence.

Monsignor Blessing has always been a close student of questions of current interest and has lectured extensively on social, historical and religious topics.  He has been closely identified with the educational and charitable institutions under the direction of the Catholic church in Rhode Island, and is a member of  many organizations for the civic and social betterment of the community.  During the recent period of war with Germany he was most active in his support of the cause of the allies and intimately connected with the different movements having for their object the welfare of the men in the service.

He received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Notre Dame, Ind., in 1917, and in the same year, because of distinguished service, was elevated by Pope Benedict XV, to the dignity of Prothonotary Apostolic, with the title of Monsignor.

St. Francis Cemetery, Pawtucket, RI
Rev. Blessing's Grave

p. 459 - 460:

Rev. William HickeyRT. REV. WILLIAM A. HICKEY, D. D., was born in Worcester, Mass., May 13, 1869. He is the son of William and Margaret (Troy) Hickey.  His father, who died two years ago, was a veteran of the Civil War, having served in both the army and navy throughout the entire duration of the war. A military funeral was accorded his remains on January 2, 1917, at Worcester.

Bishop Hickey's early education was obtained in the public schools of his native city, and in the fall of 1883 he entered the Worcester Classical High School.  Upon graduation from here he completed his college course at Holy Cross College, graduating with honors.  He then went abroad and after a three years' course at the Grand Seminary at St. Sulpice, Paris, went on to Rome and was favored with an audience with Pope Leo XIII. Returning to his native land, after a few weeks of immediate preparation of Brighton Seminary, he was ordained to the priesthood by the Most Rev. John J. Williams, D. D., Archbishop of Boston, at Holy Cross Cathedral, Boston, for the diocese of Springfield, Mass.  His first curacy was Whitinsville, following which Bishop Hickey served as assistant pastor at Brookfield, Blackstone, Holyoke, and Clinton.

In 1903 he was assigned by Rt. Rev. Thomas D. Beaven, D.D., Bishop of Springfield, to the pastorship at Gilbertville, where he labored thirteen years.  Here his work won recognition from his superiors, and appreciation and love from his parishioners.  The success of his pastorate may be realized by the fact that the sermons of his church were preached every Sunday in English, French, Polish, and Lithuanian.  His transfer as pastor to St. John's parish, Clinton, Massachusetts, came on January 24, 1917, a few months before the war, and the energy and zeal for God's glory manifested at Gilbertville found here a larger field.  Here he built the new parochial school, a splendid modern twelve room building with a large parish hall, erected in a fine location in the very center of the town at an estimated cost of $150,000.  He was supported in this work by his parishioners with hearty cooperation, and the school has been praised as one of the best examples of the most improved school architecture and construction in the State.  Bishop Hickey's parish work did not lessen his value as a citizen.  A remarkable orator, his services were sought in every patriotic movement.  As a 'four minute man', when orator on Liberty Day,  Bishop Hickey showed a patriotism for his country surpassed only by his zeal for the advancement of God's kingdom. Of his work and life during his two years at Clinton, Senator Walsh, of Massachusetts, said:  'Father Hickey has worn the black cassock of Christ.  He has been a soldier camping in the homes of the sick and the poor under the white banner of the church, fighting for salvation; has battled for Christ in the trenches of humanity.  Not a day has passed over his head since our boys first left Clinton that he has not prayed for his people.'

A telling incident is related showing Bishop Hickey's facility in languages and his quick comprehension.  During a reception tendered by the Knights of Columbus to the noted Father Cabanel, chaplain of the French Battalion of 'Blue Devils', Colonel Azan, the officer in charge of the French Military Mission stationed at Harvard University and engaged in officers' training at that place, made a twenty minute speech entirely in French.  At the conclusion of this speech, at the request of Father Cabanel, Father Hickey gave a translation, and it is said by those who understand both languages that the pastor's translation was a marvel in accuracy and embraced the whole talk.  This facility is especially noted in his translation of Bishop Le Camus' 'Life of Christ'.  The book has been recommended by the Biblical Institute at Rome as one of the best lives of our Lord. It is one of the most popular works of its kind in America to-day.

On January 16, 1919, Bishop William A. Hickey received notification from Rome that Pope Benedict had appointed him coadjutor-bishop with right of succession to Bishop Harkins, of the Diocese of Providence.  His consecration as bishop took place on Thursday, April 10, 1919, in Sts. Peter and Paul's Cathedral, Providence, with Rt. Rev. Thomas D. Beaven, D. D., Bishop of Springfield, Mass., officiating, assisted by Rt. Rev. Louis S. Walsh, D. D., Bishop of Portland, Me., and Rt. Rev. Daniel F. Feehan,  D. D., Bishop of Fall River, Mass., assisting.  On the day of his consecration, by an act of Rt. Rev. Matthew Harkins, D. D., which was later ratified by the Sacred Consistory at Rome, Bishop Hickey was made Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Providence.  Bishop Hickey was one of the examiners of the clergy in the Springfield diocese, Worcester county chaplain of the A. O. H., and a fourth degree Knight of Columbus in the Bishop O'Reilly Assembly, of Worcester, Mass.

Life holds no more beautiful relationship than that which a Catholic priest bears to his people and his people bear to him.  From the cradle to the grave he is one who never falters, whose helping hand is never withdrawn, whose patience is without end, and whose heart is ever true.  For through sunshine and rain, through happiness and disaster, through peace and war, through virtue and misery, come what will within the range of human experience, in its midst you will find the priest toiling, not for himself, but that those he loves and for whom he stands ready to die may have happiness both here and hereafter.  This is the type of priest, this is the manner of friend, this is the kind of pastor Bishop Hickey is to all with whom he comes in contact; a noble man full of courage, zeal, and devotion, with deep and abiding religious faith.

p. 460:

CLARENCE M. DUNBAR  --  Among all the industrial enterprises of the city of Providence, R. I., the operations of which produce so large a proportion of the wealth of this region, there is none more representative of the high standards of commercial ethics and business management, which are the proverbial characteristics of New England industry, than the Seamless Wire Company, of No. 85 Sprague street.  This large and successful concern was founded and developed by three business men of this city, namely: Charles D. Cook, Clarence M. Dunbar and Robert O. Smith, who were associated under the firm name of Cook, Dunbar, Smith Company, Inc.  It was incorporated under the laws of Rhode Island with a capital of fifty thousand dollars and has carried on its business since 1906, when the charter was given it.  Charles D. Cook is president and director, Clarence M. Dunbar, treasurer, general manager and director, and Robert O. Smith, secretary and director.  The concern which was started in a small way has developed under their capable management to its present great proportion, the plant having been added to until there is now some thirty thousand square feet of floor space, in which are employed on an average seventy hands. It is equipped with every modern appliance and device and operated by electrical power, the product of the mill being of the finest grade of workmanship and material of their kind.  The concern is engaged in the manufacture of seamless rolled gold wire, rolled gold plate, and rolled gold tubing, and the output is sold by travelling representatives not only throughout New England but also in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and other States, as well as a large portion of it being exported to foreign countries.  It is the owner of many valuable patents and is one of the largest and most prosperous concerns of its kind in the country.


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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