Biography of Horace Arnold Kimball

The span of years in which Horace Arnold Kimball lived and took part in the large industrial affairs of New England was from 1837 to 1911. The American Woolen Company, the Clicquot Club ginger ale enterprises and other such groups were but a few of the nationally and internationally known undertakings with which he had to do; and it may be truthfully said that he added much to the development of these companies and their projects. A man of extensive interests, he yet had time for social and civic affairs, and was never too busy with his numerous activities to take part in the work of Rhode Island institutions. Kindly and generous by nature, eager to help others, and strongly civic-spirited, Mr. Kimball well deserved the honors that came to him; and while the family home was in Providence, Mr. Kimball’s labors were equally important in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, and other New England states.

He was born at Chepachet, Rhode Island, on November 1, 1837, son of Horace and Ann Phyllis (Arnold) Kimball, and a member of one of the oldest American families.

The name Kimball is of ancient English origin, and is found with great frequency in the county of Suffolk, where it is of notable antiquity. It appears in early records as Kembould, Kembolis, Kemboulde, Kemball, and Kimball, but only the two latter forms are still in use. The arms are described as: “Argent, a lion rampant gules, upon a chief sable, three crescents or”; and the crest: “A lion rampant holding in the dexter paw a dagger, all proper.” The American families of the name were established early in the seventeenth century by two brothers, Richard and Henry Kimball. The Rhode Island branch is an offshoot of the Massachusetts Kimballs, and has numbered among its members men who have been prominent in the industries and the public life of the State.

Richard Kimball, progenitor and immigrant ancestor, was born in Rattlesden, County Suffolk, England, and came to America in 1634 in the ship “Elizabeth” with his family, landing at Boston and going thence to Watertown, Massachusetts; he was made a freeman in 1635 and in 1636 or 1637 became a proprietor, and later moved to Ipswich, where he was a skilled mechanic and wheelwright; he married (first) Ursula Scott, of Rattlesden, daughter of Henry Scott. Their son, John, born in England in 1631, a wheelwright and a farmer, married, about 1655, Mary Bradstreet, born in England in 1633, who came to America in the same ship as the Kimballs; he died May 6, 1698. Their son, Joseph, born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, January 24, 1675, died in 1761; married Sarah -. Their son, Philemon, born at Ipswich, died at Marblehead, Massachusetts, where he was a farmer; married, March 3, 1734 or 1735, Katherine Lowen. Their son, Asa, born in 1 737 in Ipswich, removed later to Barton, Vermont, which town he once represented in the State Legislature, and served in the War of the American Revolution and was later lieutenant-colonel of the 2d Rhode Island Regiment of Militia; he married, January 14, 1762, Hannah Sweet, who died February 3, 1797, in Barton. Their son, grandfather of Horace Arnold Kimball, was Amherst Kimball, born at Glocester, Rhode Island, September 20, 1762, and died there in January, 1834; he married Jerusha Hoyt, a woman of education and piety and a member of the Universalist Church. Their son, Horace Kimball, father of Horace Arnold Kimball, was born at Chepachet, Rhode Island, on November 22, 1806, and became one of the leading business men of the town, where he was also postmaster and president of the Franklin Bank. He married, July 12, 1828, Ann Phyllis Arnold, descendant of a Colonial family.

Their son, Horace Arnold Kimball, of whom this is primarily a record, received his early education in the public schools of Chepachet, his birthplace, and of Warren, Rhode Island, a nearby town. Later he attended the Phillips Academy, at Andover, Massachusetts, and the Thetford Academy, in Vermont. Soon after completing his education he entered the business world as cashier of the Franklin Bank, at Chepachet, having been elected to that position when only twenty years old. For several years he continued in the bank until, becoming thoroughly familiar with finance, he left that field to become a manufacturer. Forming a partnership with Warren O. Arnold, of Chepachet, for the making of woolen goods, he remained in that business until 1867, when he disposed of his interest in the mill to Mr. Arnold and F. R. White and Company. In the period that followed, he was associated with several of the large manufacturing enterprises of Rhode Island and other parts of New England, and became the owner of several mills. Upon retiring from the first enterprise in which he had been interested, he bought the Lafayette Reynolds Mill at Pascoag, Rhode Island, which he operated until fire destroyed it in 1882. He also had a controlling interest in the John Chase Mill at Pascoag, and in mills at South Coventry, Connecticut, and Hampden, Massachusetts. He bought and operated the Manton Mill, in Providence, where he remained active until the formation of the American Woolen Company, of which he was one of the founders. The Manton Mill, with others over a widely scattered area, became a part of the gigantic combination of woolen interests that later came to be known as the woolen trust. Mr. Kimball was also owner of the Clicquot Company, of Millis, Massachusetts, manufacturers of the famous “Clicquot Club” ginger ale and similar products, and president of this company. He owned, too, the Rubdry Towel Company, of Providence.

For about forty years he occupied a prominent position in New England manufacturing circles, and was regarded as one of Rhode Island’s ablest business men. A supporter of the Democratic party, he was one of the organization’s leaders, and at one time was State Senator. In 1880, 1881 and 1SS2, he was his party’s nominee for Governor of Rhode Island. In 1900 he was appointed one of the commissioners of the State House. He was a charter member of the Pomham Club, and a member of the West Side Club and the Rhode Island Historical Society. He attended the Central Congregational Church in Providence. Into all of these varied activities, as into his own business affairs, he put his fullest measure of enthusiasm, with the result that he was esteemed in a wide circle of acquaintance. He continued active until his death at Belgrade Lakes, Maine, on September 1, 1911. His passing came as a cause of widespread sorrow and regret in Providence, as well as in business and industrial circles wherever he was known, for he had contributed richly to the well being of Rhode Island and its institutions, and to the prosperity of New England. He is remembered as one of the kindly and generous men of his time, and his memory serves to encourage and inspire those whose privilege it was to know him.

Horace Arnold Kimball married, on October 17, 1877, Sarah Ella Merewether, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Jane (Hicks) Merewether, who survived her husband and, in 1930, was a resident of Providence.

Her family is an old and honored one, the name being one of the most ancient of pure English cognomens, owing its origin to a nickname, “merry weather,” and meaning a happy, genial, sunshiny fellow. The arms of the family are described as: “Or, three martlets sable; on a chief azure a sun in splendour, proper, for Merewether,” and the crest as: “An arm embowed in armour garnished or, holding in the hand proper a sword argent, hilt and pommel or, entwined with a serpent vert.” The motto was: “Vi et consiUo.” Many of the New England line are descended from Nicholas Mereweather, of England and Wales, who died in England on December 19, 1678. A tradition handed down through generations of the Virginia branch of the family is that he held a large land grant in the Colony of Virginia, given by Charles II of England in payment of a money loan. One of his five sons, also named Nicholas, married Elizabeth Crawford, daughter of David Crawford, of New Kent County, Virginia; and another, Thomas, born in England, married and had children. One of Thomas’ children was William, born in England May 21, 1780, who was early orphaned, came to America, settled at Providence, Rhode Island, and married, July 4, 1803, Betsy Gilmore, born June 25, 1782, died February 23, 1846, in his sixty-fourth year, daughter of Nathaniel and Eliza (Crompton) Gilmore; William Merewether died at Providence on May 28, 1856, aged seventy-six years. His son, Thomas, born there May 21, 1820, educated in the city of his birth, was engaged in the grocery business until his retirement in 1885, having passed in those years from employee to executive, and also was active in other phases of business life; he was a supporter of the Republican party and took an intense interest in civic affairs, though he never was active in lodge or club work; his religious faith was of the Universalist denomination; he married Sarah Jane Hicks, daughter of Ranson and Nancy (Tompkins) Hicks.

And it was their daughter, Sarah Ella Merewether, who became the wife of Horace Arnold Kimball. Mrs. Kimball has long been active in the Society of the Mayflower Descendants; the Society of Colonial Dames in Rhode Island; the Daughters of the American Revolution, in which she is affiliated with the Independence Chapter; and the Rhode Island Woman’s Club. Mr. and Mrs. Kimball had children:

  1. Bessie Merewether, born February 24, 1879, died March 8, 1889.
  2. Horace Earle, born at Providence March 17, 1881, now active in the Clicquot Company, and treasurer of the W. and K. Mills, Nasonville, Rhode Island; he lives in Providence with his mother, at No. 142 Angell Street.
  3. Edith Phyllis, born in Providence June 18, 1885, educated at the Lincoln School, this city, and Mrs. Hazen’s School, Pelham Manor, New York; she became, on November 18, 1914, the wife of Chester Dunning Johnstone, of Henderson, Kentucky; they now live in Providence.

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

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