Biography of Harry Parsons Cross

Toward the business and civic development of Providence, Rhode Island, as toward the conduct of his private affairs and his law practice, Harry Parsons Cross, of the firm of Greenough, Lyman & Cross, has always maintained an attitude of conscientiousness and efficiency. As a result, he is highly regarded as a lawyer and citizen. His influence on behalf of progress has been commensurate with his generous contribution of time and energy to public affairs.

Harry Parsons Cross was born in Wakefield, Rhode Island, son of Elisha Watson and Frances Cooper (Wright) Cross. The father was a merchant and in the Civil War defended the Union as an officer in the Northern Army. The family name derives from what was formerly usually a place name, indicating where a cross was erected or the intersection of two highways. Several persons bearing the name came to New England from England as early as 1615. Among the ancestors of Mr. Cross was the founder of the Hazard family, one of whom settled Newport. The boy enjoyed excellent educational advantages, for he was of cultured and intellectual stock. He graduated from South Kingstown High School in 1891, St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, in 1892, and attended Yale University, from which he was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1896. His law studies were pursued at the Harvard Law School, which bestowed on him in 1900 the degree of Bachelor of Laws. Admission to practice before the Rhode Island courts, in 1901, permitted Mr. Cross to begin his legal practice in Providence, where he has since continued, and his growing professional activity was made possible by his admission to the United States Supreme Court in 1909. His private practice has been large and his connection with one of the most important law firms in New England, Greenough, Lyman and Cross, has brought him into corporate and financial business of an intricate but significant kind. Mr. Cross represents the Lonsdale Company, the Preferred Accident Insurance Company, is a director of the Industrial Trust Company, of the Providence Journal Company, the Rhode Island Tool Company, the Builders Iron Foundry and the Calumet & Hecla Consolidated Copper Company.

These activities have by no means prevented his participation in public affairs. Mr. Cross was second assistant attorney-general of Rhode Island from 1907 to 1912, and first assistant in 1912, resigning from the post that same year. He was delegate-at-large from Rhode Island to the Republican National Convention in 1916, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Metropolitan Park Commission, from which he resigned in 1918. He was chairman of the commission to study the question of changing the representation in the State Senate in 1925-26, and also of the commission to draft and report an act to carry into effect Article XIX of Amendments to the Constitution of the State, and to reapportion the Representative Districts of the State. In non-political matters, Mr. Cross has also served the public. He was president of the Lincoln School until his resignation in 1925, after which he became a trustee, and he has been president of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children since 1923. He is a trustee and member of the executive committee of the Homeopathic Hospital of Providence, and treasurer of the Providence Music League, as well as director of the Providence Music Association. He served overseas with the Young Men’s Christian Association during the World War.

His college fraternity was the Psi Upsilon. He belongs to the Rhode Island Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the Association of the Bar, city of New York. His clubs are: the Agawam Hunt, Hope, the Squantum Association, the Jacobs Hill Hunt, and the Providence Art, of Providence; the Elihu, of New Haven; the Yale and Knickerbocker, of New York; the Somerset, of Boston; the Newport Fishing and Clambake, of Newport. He is also a member of the Society of Colonial Wars. His religious adherence is that of the Episcopal Church.

The children of Mr. Cross are: Lorania Carrington (Cross) Welsh; Harry King Cross; Frances King Cross; Hope Gammell Cross; Virginia Cross; and Eliza A. H. Cross.

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

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