Joseph Peace Hazard (1807-1892) was one of at least 8 children born to Rowland Hazard I (1763-1835) and his wife Mary Peace Hazard (1775-1852).
IN 1802, Rowland Hazard I purchased a small mill in what is now Peace Dale and his older sons Isaac Peace Hazard (1794-1879) and Rowland Gibson Hazard (1801-1888) developed the mill business into a hugely successful enterprise. As a young man, Joseph worked in business alongside his brothers, but he wrote in his diary “I was incompetent to business. My brothers Isaac and Rowland aided me generously but this was unavailing.”
Like several of his brothers and sisters, Joseph never married or had children. He appears to have maintained cordial relations with his family throughout his life and his diary reveals his fond regard for his mother, siblings, and ancestors.
He is perhaps best remembered today for 3 properties in Narragansett which he developed over a long period from about 1840—1890: his “Castle” on Hazard Avenue, at what he called “Sea Side Farm” and which now houses the Middlebridge School; the stone house he called “Druidsdream” on Gibson Avenue in Narragansett; and the area across the street from that house that is now designated as a historical cemetery, which he called “Kendal Green”. He intended to be buried there but was interred in Portsmouth near the home of his brother Thomas R. Hazard (1797-1886).
Like his brother Thomas and many others in the 19th century, Joseph Peace Hazard was interested in spiritualism and his diary describes a number of experiences where he felt he was close to spirits.
His love of plants, gardens, nature, birds, and animals is also evident in the diary. He devoted many years and much money to developing gardens at the Castle and at Druidsdream.
Joseph traveled all over the world and had many unlikely adventures. Peace Dale Library has 3 of his traveling trunks.
He put up a large tombstone at Kendal Green which reads in part: “Whatever their mode of faith, or creed, who feed the wandering birds will themselves be fed.” The tombstone is no longer there but engraved granite posts memorializing his mother and other relatives remain today.
Peace Dale Library owns a 385-page diary he kept for recording expenses and experiences. With the help of Narragansett Historical Society, Middlebridge School, Prof. Richard Vangermeersch, and the Friends of the Peace Dale Library, it has been digitized. The difficult process of transcription is ongoing.
By Jessica Wilson, Local History Librarian, South Kingstown Public Library/Peace Dale