Introduction to Joseph Peace Hazard and his Diary
This exhibit provides transcriptions of selected pages from a Diary of Joseph P. Hazard owned by the Peace Dale Library. The photograph shows Hazard at 82, the age he was when compiling this diary.
Joseph P. Hazard (1807-1892) was the fifth and youngest son of Rowland Hazard I (1763-1835) and Mary Peace Hazard (1775-1852). Born in Burlington, New Jersey, he attended the Quaker Westtown School in Pennsylvania, completing his education in 1824. He then worked about twenty years in various roles with his family’s Peace Dale Manufacturing Company (PDMC) in Rhode Island. Two ventures of his own during that time, an axe factory and a satinet mill, failed. Describing himself later as “incompetent to business”, Hazard essentially retired to pursue other interests by 1850, receiving lifelong financial support from the PDMC. He appears to have maintained cordial relations with his immediate and extended family throughout his life. He never married and had no children.
Hazard inherited land which he called Sea Side Farm in present-day Narragansett, Rhode Island. He took up residence there about 1850 and improved the property over many years, planting extensive gardens and building his “Castle”, his 1884 “Druidsdream” house, and “Kendal Green”, where he intended to be buried. The Diary contains numerous pages documenting the development of these sites.
Hazard also traveled extensively, throughout North America and internationally, visiting five continents. He made two trips around the world, heading east in 1856, returning in 1860; and going west from 1877 to 1879. Even within Rhode Island, he traveled frequently to Newport to visit his sisters and cousins, and to Portsmouth to see his brother Thomas, with whom he shared a deep interest in spiritualism. Philadelphia, Boston, and New York were other frequent destinations. His “last visit to Newport or anywhere else” came in 1885.
Hazard spent his last years in Peace Dale, Rhode Island, at the home of his grand-nephew Rowland Gibson Hazard II. With his mobility limited by illness, he spent time copying over his lifelong expense accounts and writing reminiscences in this diary. He died in January 1892, and is buried in the Hazard Family Cemetery in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
Occasional minor edits have been made for clarity.