Biography of Russell H. Handy

Russell H. Handy, president and general manager of the Contrexeville Manufacturing Company, and a political leader of influence, is well known in Manville.

Since the early seventeenth century, there have been representatives of the Handy family engaged in furthering the history of New England. Details regarding the early members of the family are given in the sketch of Thomas Henry Handy, uncle of the subject of this record. The great-grandfather of Russell H. Handy was typical of the early Americans who faced the difficulties of a more primitive day and proved ingenious and hardworking enough to carve success out of the most difficult circumstances. He finally settled in Manville and was identified with the growth of the town. Russell Handy, son of Stephen Handy, and grandfather of the present subject, who bears his name, was a genius. With meager educational advantages he rose rapidly to a controlling position with the Manville mills. He then established a manufacturing business of his own at Kinderhook, New York, which was operated by his two sons until its destruction by fire. The father of these sons was the father of the present president of the Contrexeville Manufacturing Company. Father and sons started this business in 1887, and it has since become one of the outstanding plush manufacturing enterprises in the country.

Edwin E. Handy, son of Russell and Euphemia (Ketcham) Handy, was born in Wilkins Falls, New York, October 2, 1858. He began his education in the Manville public schools and later attended the Mowry and Goff English and Classical School of Providence, after which he became associated with his father in the manufacture of plush. He was in charge of the Kinderhook plant until it was destroyed by fire. In 1887 he joined his father in the organization and upbuilding of what is now known as the Contrexeville Manufacturing Company, and after the death of the father a few months later, he became president and general manager. He was largely responsible for the success and expansion of the business in its early years. Edwin E. Handy married Eliza C. Howard, a native of New York State, and they were the parents of the following children: Ruth Louise, deceased; Russell Howard, of further mention; Edwin Rogers; John Ketcham.

Russell H. Handy, son of Edwin E. and Eliza C. (Howard) Handy, was born in Manville, Rhode Island, December 17, 1882, and was educated in the local schools, in the Moses Brown and the Owen Goff Schools. He attended Brown University in Providence for two years, but when his father died he left college to take over the manufacturing business headed by his father. He is president and general manager and has almost doubled the growth of the plant during his control. The enterprise is now some forty-two years old and recognized as one of the solid and prosperous plants of Rhode Island.

In addition to his business, Mr. Handy has found time for active participation in local and State politics. A Republican, he has been on the Town Council for fifteen years, and he has served three terms in the State Senate. He is a member of the Free and Accepted Masons and in this order he is affiliated with all the Scottish Rite bodies, including the Consistory in which he has attained the thirty-second degree. In addition to this he belongs to several clubs, including the Rhode Island Country, the Cumberland Golf, and the Manhattan of New York City. He is also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, and of the Providence Chamber of Commerce. He attends the Episcopal Church.

Russell H. Handy married Caroline Vose, born in Manville, daughter of Everett and Nellie (Marble) Vose. Her father is a member of the firm Vose Brothers, conducting a general store in Manville.

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

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