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Company History

R. Bliss

The firm was founded by Rufus Bliss in 1830 (Grieve) or in 1832 (Hall, p241).

Goodrich provides a charming picture of the early years:

Mr. Rufus Bliss started years ago by picking out choice pieces of hickory wood, carrying them to a convenient lathe, ... converting them into screws. After accumulating a little stock he would set out for Boston in a wagon, and sell them along the way. In this manner he formed an acquaintance with cabinet makers and pianoforte manufacturers, and learned from their workmen what kinds of screws and like articles were needed by them.

The family genealogist, in 1880, described Bliss as

a man of indomitable energy and perseverance, who has worked up a successful business in spite of all the obstacles thrown in his way by jealous and unrelenting rivalry.

R. Bliss and Co.

In 1845, Rufus Bliss sold half his interest to cousins. The partnership thus formed took the title of R. Bliss and Co...A.N. Bullock was the first partner; and in the course of a few years, E.R. Clark and A.C. Bullock became associated, and Mr. Bliss withdrew.

Historical Sketches of Pawtucket (1876) has some details on activities: in 1845, a single room was occupied, but in '53, one story in D.D. Swett's old building was hired. The present building was built in 1866. Employment in '52 was ten, in average times in the '70s, sixty, using 500, 000 [board] feet of hard wood annually. In 1869, Bliss produced wooden hand and bench screws, tool handles, and croquet sets, at Main near Cemetery. In 1873, the city directory described the firm as "wooden hand and bench screw manufacturers."

R. Bliss Mfg Co.

In 1874, the firm re-organized as a stock company, and took the name of R. Bliss Mfg. Co. Their address changed as Pawtucket renumbered its streets: 1875, 225 Main; 1876, 301 Main. In 1879, their products included archery. The Rhode Island Historical Society has a '82 trade catalog for tennis rackets. In 1892, their address changed again, from 525 Main to 535 Main. They were famous at the turn of the century for their children's toys. In 1901, they were capitalized for 150, 000$, employed 350 hands, and were one of the most substantial manufacturing concerns in Rhode Island.

In the early years of the century, the firm experienced difficulties, and sought solutions in a series of associations.  From 1904 to 1907, the City Directory listed the firm as a branch of National Novelty Corp. From 1908 to 1912, they were a branch of Hardware and Woodenware Mfg. Co. In 1913, these alliances ceased. Their products were listed as wooden screws, toys, etc.

From 1915 through 1918, J. H. ONeil of Pawtucket Rhode Island advertised itself as the successor firm, with products "wood screws and wooden specialties".

R.Bliss Mfg. Co. (again)

In 1921, R. Bliss Mfg. Co reappeared in the City Directory, as manufacturers of screws and mill supplies. In 1925, they were manufacturers of screws and wooden hardware. In 1934, they listed themselves as screw, clamp, and woodwork manufacturers. The last entry in the City Directories was 1935.

Personal History of Rufus Bliss

Note that there were several periods of street re-numbering; changes in address may not signify changes in location.

Rufus Bliss was born on 07 March 1802 to Colonel Abiah Bliss and Rebecca Kent, and died in 1880. On 10 March 1831, he and Nancy R Potter of Warwick RI were married; they had two children Mary Smith and Nancy Potter. His wife, Nancy, died on 9 May 1840; on 9 May 1843, he and Lydia Emeline Ide of Attleboro MA were married; they had three children: Ellen Francis, Edward Rufus, and Frederick Abbott.

In 1869 he lived at Church, near George, with Edward R; in 1873, Ellen F., teacher, boarded there, too.   Thereafter, Mrs. Rufus Bliss (Lydia E) (b 15 Jan. 1812, d 1903?), lived at 24 Church, with Miss Ellen F.

Questions and Further Research


Company History

The firm came into existence in 1915, the successor of R. Bliss Mfg. Co., and it lasted until 1918.

Its address was Pawtucket, RI, using the facilities of its predecessor, and apparently making the same major products.

 In 1921, the successor firm was R Bliss Mfg Co.

Personal History

There is no personal history of J H ONeil, to my knowledge.  He does not appear in the city directories of the area.  I have not had the chance to check the Census Returns of 1910 or 1920.


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