Joel Douglas

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Joel Robert lee Douglas  


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Joel Robert lee Douglas, son of Andre Douglas, was  born in Plainfield, Conn., Feb. 23, 1812.

A very large part of his life has been spent in connection with manufacturing. When but seven years of age he entered the "Stone Factory " in Sterling, and from that time until 1856, with the exception of the time he passed at school, he was engaged in the same business. He passed successively through all the grades of work up to the highest position, thus becoming thoroughly acquainted with the minutest details of the business, and gaining much practical information, which he was enabled afterward, to turn to good account in the management of otlier mills.

In 1831, he removed to Plainfield, and in a short time was placed in charge of the Union mill at that place. Here he remained six years, giving unqualified satisfaction in the difficult position which he occupied. In December, 1837, he made an engagement with Comfort Tiffany to take charge of his mills at Danielsonville (Brooklyn side), and re- moved to that place. Mr. Tiffany's death, in 1847, interrupted an arrangement mutually satisfactory. A new company, the Quinebaug Manufacturing Company, was then formed, consisting of Warren Lippitt, his two sons, Robert and Henry, lately Governor of Rhode Island, Peleo- A. Rhodes and Mr. Douo;las. Under the new arrangement, the company, being unwilling to lose the benefit of Mr. Douglas's long experience, prevailed upon him to take the entire charge of the mills, indoors and out, he receiving therefor a fixed salary, in addition to his share of the profits as a holder of one- eighth of the stock.

Mr. Douglas continued these relations until the death of Warren Lippitt, in January, 1850, when he retired from the firm, and the management of the mills passed into other hands. In the spring of 1849, the company began the erection of the large stone mill, now known as the Quinebaug mill. The building was nearly completed at the time of Mr. Lippitt's death, but none of the machinery had been placed in it. Mr. Douglas had full charge of the build ing operations and of the running of the small mill, until he retired from the firm. He had now been iden tified with the manufacturing interests in Danielsonville for over sixteen years. In 1853, he consented to take charge of the mills in Rhodesville for a short time.

On the 15th of June, 1854, he married Miss Hannah Aldena Whitman, daughter of Alden and Hannah Whitman, of Thompson, where she was born Feb. 22, 1832. She was a lady of refined and cultivated taste, and the union proved a most happy one.

Mr. Douglas had now been engaged in active duties for over forty years and began to think of a less laborious life.

After some two years spent in charge of the mills at Rhoclesville, he resigned the position and purchased a farm in that part of the town of Thompson since included in Putnam. Mrs. Douglas was, however, much attached to Thompson village, and Mr. Douglas embraced the opportunity of purchasing the fine estate of Erastus Knight, which was then for sale, and the following year removed thither. The house, one of the finest in the village, was built by Mr. Knight, about 1830, and is delightfully located on the northern side of the village green which it overlooks. Here, pleasantly occupied with the care of his estate, enjoying the society of congenial friends, and surrounded by everything which refined taste could wish, or ample means supply, they passed seventeen delightful years. But the hand of Death at last intruded even here.

Mrs. Douglas, after a few months of lingering illness with a disease which they knew must in the end prove fatal, passed calmly away, Dec. 25, 1874. To unusual personal attractions she united a most amiable disposition and a gentleness and grace of manner which won a place in every heart. A woman who looked well to her household, gentle and dignified toward her servants, careful and loving to her family, she yet found time for the performance of numer- ous social and religious duties, and in all her relations of mother, wife and friend, was found ever faithful. None knew her but to love her.

Siiice the death of his wife, Mr. Douglas has continued to reside in Thompson, his time being occupied in the management of his estate and in the care and edu-cation of his only son, Joel. A man of tireless energy and unwearied industry since the years of childhood, his practised eye sees much which remains to be done where a less careful observer would detect nothing wrong. His habit is always to do in the very best manner whatever he does ; and his estate in Thompson exhibits the perfection of system and good order. Even at the present time of comparative leisure, he accomplishes more than many men who call themselves hard workers. His long life of industry, of uniform fairness and of unimpeachable integrity, furnishes a worthy example for any young man whose eyes may fall upon these pages.

He has had but two children : —
i. Hannah ALDENA^ b. and d. May 25, 1863.
ii. Joel Egbert Lee^ b. May 8, 1866.



Sources for this article include:
  • Family records and Biographical sketches by Charles Henry James Douglas

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