The Peace Dale Library owns a small publication in the Rhode Island History collection titled Some Notes Upon on the Introduction of the Woolen Manufacture into the United States, by Royal C. Taft, published in Providence, 1882, by Sidney S. Rider. It contains the text of a paper read before the Rhode Island Historical Society on April 18 of that year.
The paper traces the roots of woolen manufacturing enterprises, and the development and spreading use of machinery for that purpose, in New England by a number of people. Sources are not listed, but of significant local interest is the following section (starting on page 39) outlining the role taken in Peace Dale by Rowland Hazard (1763-1835):
“The first attempt at woolen manufacture in Rhode Island, was at Peace Dale, by Joseph Congdon and John Warren Knowles, who set up a carding machine in 1804, and soon afterward sold out to Rowland Hazard. This machine simply carded the wool into rolls which were put out to be spun by hand.
“About 1812, Thomas R. Williams invented a power-loom or weaving saddle girths and other webbing, and probably in 1813, and certainly not later than 1814, these looms were started at Peace Dale. After they had been fully tested, Rowland Hazard purchased four of them for $300 each, and 1814 or 1815, they were in successful operation.
“The operation of power-looms at Peace Dale antedates those started in Judge Lyman’s mill at North Providence, in 1817, by at least two years, and it is most probable that they were the first power-looms successfully operated in America, unless exception be made in favor of Francis C. Lowell, at Waltham, in 1814.
“It is the opinion of James Scholfield, that the first application of water-power in this country for operating the spinning-jenny was by Mr. Hazard at Peace Dale. Isaac P. Hazard and Rowland G. Hazard, sons of Rowland Hazard, took charge of this business in 1819, and they with their successors in the family, have made many additions to the property, until, from this small beginning it has grown into the present extensive establishment of the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company, and has continued in the ownership of the family for nearly eighty years.”