Biography of Joseph T. Perry

A member of one of the old and prominent Rhode Island families, Mr Perry is a native and lifelong resident of Newport and is one of this city’s oldest and best-known coal merchants. In this business he has been engaged for many years as a member of the firm bearing the family name and dating back over a period of more than half a century.

Joseph T. Perry was born in Newport, January 21, 1857, a son of the late George W. and Josephine S. (Stevens) Perry, both natives of Newport. He is a direct descendant of Oliver Hazard Perry, famous for his defeat of a British force on Lake Erie, in 1813, during the War of 1812, and for his historic dispatch announcing this victory and reading: “We have met the enemy and they are ours—two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop.” This famous ancestor of Mr. Perry is buried in Newport, where a bronze statue was erected in his honor in 1885. Mr. Perry’s father was for many years and until his death engaged in the hay and grain business in Newport. Mr. Joseph T. Perry was educated in the public grammar and high schools of his native city and, having graduated from Rogers High School, became connected with the Newport Post Office, with which he remained for five years. At the end of this period he entered the coal business as a partner of Perry Brothers Coal Company of Newport, the firm consisting of himself and his brother. This partnership continued until 1908, when Mr. Perry’s brother retired from active business and Mr. Joseph Perry continued the business alone until 1924, when Samuel N. Booth, Jr., became Mr. Perry’s partner, under which arrangement the business is still conducted. The business was established under the name of Perry Brothers in 1879. Its offices and yards are located at No. 197 Thames Street, Newport. Mr. Perry served at one time for five years as a member of the Newport Artillery Company. For two years he was also on the staff of Governor Ladd with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. His religious affiliation is with the United Congregational Church. In politics he is a supporter of the Republican party.

Mr. Perry married, in 1878, Susan Ryder, like himself a native of Newport. Mr. and Mrs. Perry have no children.

Source: Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.

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