(Rhode Island – Business History)
Incoming Business Correspondence to William L. Richmond & Co., textile manufacturer, Richmond, Washington County, Rhode Island, 1840-1850

62 incoming letters, 74 pp., folding letter-sheets, written to Wm. L. Richmond, of Brands Iron Works, Richmond, Washington County, Rhode Island; letters dated 9 December 1840 to 7 August 1850; plus 24 printed receipts, dated 9 June 1843 to 6 March 1849; the correspondence includes incoming business letters from various other businesses from different locales including: Providence, Rhode Island (39); Hopkinton, Rhode Island (1); Lippitt, Rhode Island (1); Newport, Rhode Island (1); Boston, Massachusetts (7); Methuen, Massachusetts (4); Fall River, Massachusetts (1); North Stonington, Connecticut (4); Peekskill, New York (3); and New York City, New York (5).

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     William L. Richmond (1814-1896)

    William Leavens Richmond was born in 1814, the son of Silas Richmond (1788- ) and Marcia Leavens his wife. Silas Richmond resided at different times at Richmond, Hopkinton, and Charlestown, Rhode Island, and in Putnam, Connecticut. He was a member of the firm of Olney & Richmond, in the town of Richmond, RI and later kept the books in the cotton mill at Hope Valley, Rhode Island. The last year of his life was devoted to farming in the town of Killingly, Connecticut, between Putnam and Dayville, where he died. After the death of his first wife, he married her sister, Laura Leavens, in 1843.

   Silas Richmond’s wife, Marcia Leavens (1790-1842), was the daughter of Roland Leavens of Killingly, Connecticut. Together Silas and his first wife had at least nine children: 1. William Leavens Richmond, born on 6 November 1814, at Pomfret, Connecticut; died at Holyoke, Massachusetts, 1896; he was listed as a manufacturer in the 1850 Census for Hopkinton, Washington Co., Rhode Island., living with his brother Samuel; 2. George Waldo Richmond, born 7 Apr 1817, at Providence, Rhode Island; died 1880 in Connecticut; listed next to his brother William in 1850 Census; 3. Mary B. Richmond (1818–1833), born in Falmouth, Massachusetts; 4. Nancy B. Richmond (1820–1823), born in Falmouth; 5. Angeline Perrin Richmond (1822–1893), born in Seekonk, Massachusetts; 6. Henry Huntington Richmond (1823–1862), born in Seekonk; 7.Samuel Newel Richmond (1825 - ), born in North Providence, Rhode Island; listed in 1850 Census next to his brother George; 8.Hannah W. Richmond (1827–1837), born in North Providence; and, 9. Silas R. Richmond (1829 - ) born in North Providence, Rhode Island.

    The area in Rhode Island where the Richmond family lived was in, and near, Wyoming Village, settled in 1757 it was the site of industrial activity early in its history due to the ready availability of hydro-power from the Wood River. Brand's Iron Works existed on the Hopkinton side of the river by 1787, and Brothers Cotton Mill was established on the Richmond side of Wyoming in 1814. The New London Turnpike (Rhode Island Route 3) was built through the area in 1815. Also, in 1815 a tavern was established on the Richmond side of the river to serve travelers on the turnpike. Two more textile mills were built on the Richmond side, circa 1830 and 1845. Hopkinton once featured a number of industrial villages, such as Locustville, Moscow, Centerville, and Wood River Iron Works, each being named after the mill which they surrounded. Brand’s Iron Works, was no exception, and the community that developed around it was called Brands Iron Works. The works was established as a bog-iron works. The appearance of “Brand’s Iron Works,” on the letters addressed to William L. Richmond & Co., indicates that they were mailed to him at the village, and not necessarily the business of the iron works. While Richmond does turn up as a manufacturer in the 1850 Census, he does not appear to have owned, or operated the Brands Iron Works, rather the correspondence reveals that he was a textile manufacturer. The letters are all related to his business.

     Examples of Letters:


“Boston, June 1st, 1844,

William Richmond, Esq.


Dear Sir,


Since you were here, we have found a customer for your looms at Methuen and if you will have one of them brought down here so as to show what they are we think we can sell them. The writer will be absent from the city next week and would like to have you call at our store when you are next in town & oblige.


Yours respectfully,

Tenney & Cowles,

73 Water St


P.S. Not having your son’s address in full we take the liberty to direct to you, yours T & Cowels

To Silas Richmond, Esq.”


“Hopkinton, Dec 10th 1844

Mr. Wm. L. Richmond,

Dear Sir,

By the request of Miss Laura Teffit, I write a line to you for her. She says her brother was at the cotton mill yesterday and wanted her to come and work for you, and said a great deal to her to persuade her to come, with some threats, &c., at length. She told him she would give her notice and come if nothing else would do, but upon reflection she concludes not to come as she has previously promised to work for C. Shepardson until Spring so this is to inform you so that you will make no dependence on her.

Yours affectionately, Joseph T. Barber”

“Providence Feb 5, 1845

Messrs. Wm. L. Richmond & Co.,

Gent, I have sold 7 bales of your goods at 6 cents per yard and have but 4 bales here and want you to send three bales by the firs team as the purchaser wants them immediately.

Respectfully yours,

Oliver Johnson

By Daniel Remington”

“Providence, May 14th 1845

Messrs. Wm. L. Richmond & Co.

Gent., I want you to send seven bales of goods to the rail road directed to the Narragansett Print Works…Want you to send them tomorrow if you can in time for the cars Friday morning. I thought the last lot of goods sent were not so handsome as the lot before. They had some thin pieces in them. I would recommend for you to put 60 picks in them all if possible. The above goods are sold for 6 cents and I think they will continue to bring that price if you are careful and make them even.

Respectfully yours,
Oliver Johnson

By Daniel Remington”


“Lippitt, R.I. Nov 24th, 1845

Messrs. Wm. L. Richmond & Co.,

Dear Sir,

I received a small lot of waste from you this morning weighing 1657 lbs., all that I have received from you since June 8th more than five months. I want to know whether this is all the waste that you have made for the last five months if not I should like for you to send the rest of it according to contract. I stand ready to fulfill my part of the contract and expect the same from others. The strippings and flyings were not to be sent unless you saw fit to send them at 3 cts pr lb, you sent me word that you did not conclude to send them, but the other waste I was to have all that you made for one year as you will find by reference to your contract.

Respectfully yours, Wm. B. Spencer”

“Providence May 28, 1846

Messrs. Wm. L. Richmond & Co.

Gent., I have h ad two calls for printing goods they wanted 52 &56 and I showed your goods and they both called them 52 & 48 and I have examined them and find they count from 48 to 52 the most of them 48. I should advice you to make your good 56 when I say 56 picks, I mean that none of them shall go under if they do the printer will call them all as thin piece count. If you will make your goods even and put in 56 picks that is not let a piece go under that they will answer for steam prints…I think print goods will begin to sell soon. There have been a few sales of 60 & 64 very low at 5 ½ cts., 6 months. I think that 52 & 56 made handsome will be wanted as much as any style of printing goods.

Respectfully yours,

Oliver Johnson

By D. Remmington”



“[New York, Jan’y 18, 1848]

Messrs. Wm. L. Richmond & Co.


The next day after I left this city for your place my family received a letter from Father, requesting me when I went to R.I. to not come back until I either received my money or put it in such a way that it could be got. Gents it was my intention. When I left here for your place to either have the money, or sue the note, but my courage failed, in consequence of not wishing to have you suffer, but wish you well. Gents, as I told you when I saw you, I am suffering much in consequence of the disappointment of not receiving the same. When my father comes in the city, which will be the last of this month and finds that I have been to your place and not done anything, he will be hopping mad. I called on E. Lewis of Brooklyn and presented your order he stated that the had received an invoice but not the bales, so you see what luck I have, I had promised to pay a bill, one of groceries as soon as I returned, what will I do. When I left G.K. Thayer he had seen his partner at Stonington and he thought that George had better go to new York and bye the first bale of cotton so they thought they should go on Monday of next week, I wish you would get the amount of Wheeler and send it by him to me, I likewise wish you to make arrangements soon for the amount of note, for it is impossible and unjust for you to think that I can wait much longer. In connexon with the above I wish you to be sure and see Wheeler on Saturday or Monday and send Six hundred dollars by George or if he does not come send a draft. Please let me hear immediately concerning the above and address me at the corner of 9 Avenue and 24th Street, New York.

Yours Respt’ Lewis Leavens”


“Providence June 5, 1848

Mess. Wm. L. Richmond & Co.



We have examined the 52-60 goods and find they count but 48 in the warp and 56 to 60 in the filling, which will not answer and we fear will be the means of giving the whole contract the go, by which will be a misfortune as the contract could not be made so favorable again. The person will certainly claim a deduction. You must not fail of making them count up fully. Will send your account tomorrow.


Resp Yrs., John H. Mason & Son”