Biography of James M. Osborn
Bristol County, MA Biographies

JAMES MUNROE OSBORN, one of the leading citizens of Fall River and for many years a foremost cotton mill promoter, was born in Tiverton, R. I., August 27, 1822, and is the youngest son of Thomas Osborn and Anna Durfee, his wife. His grandfather, William Osborn (sometimes spelled Osband), was born in Newport, R. I.,. August 13, 1729, came to Tiverton in early life, and married Elizabeth Shrieve in 1751. Their children were as follows: Weaver, born April 17, 1756, served seven months in the Patriot army during the Revolution, married Hannah Durfee October 16, 1788, moved to Palmyra, N. Y., in 1791, and died September 1, 1820; Wilson, who died at the age of twentyfive; Elizabeth, born June 3, 1758, married R. Palmer, and died December 15, 1785; Patience, who died young; Thomas, born March 31, 1766; and William, born July 18, 1769, married Mary Durfee, and had two daughters who died young. Thomas Osborn was a ship's carpenter and afterward a farmer, and died, where he bad always lived, in Tiverton, October 7, 1833, aged sixty seven. In 1797 he married Anna Durfee, whose father, Joseph Durfee, fought at the battle of Bunker Hill in the Revolutionary war and died soon afterward of typhoid fever while on his way home. He had nine children, viz.: William, born November 25, 1798, married Ruth Hambly, October 8. 1822, and died January 28, 1829; Thomas, born December 30, 1800, married Elizabeth Hambly in March, 1827; Joseph, born August 20, 1803, married Eliza Gardner, May 2, 1830; Ann, who died young; Wilson, born April 15, 1808, married Mary Allen, August 19, 1832; Eliza Ann, born May 25, 1810, married Alexander Milne, a Baptist preacher, January 4, 1837; Patience, who died young; Weaver, born May 23, 1815, married Patience Dwelly, January 7, 1837; and James M., the subject of this sketch. William Osborn, the grandfather, died October 29, 1810.

James M. Osborn was left fatherless when he was eleven years old, and thereafter his life was one of almost constant toil and manly industry. For six years he remained with his widowed mother on the farm, availing himself in the mean time of such educational advantages as were then afforded by the common schools of his town. Afterward he served a three years' apprenticeship at the blacksmith's trade with his brother, Weaver Osborn, and subsequently followed that business in Providence and other places until 1845, when he removed to Fall River, Mass., and entered the employ of John Kilburn, general machinist. Mr. Osborn continued in Kilburn & Lincoln's employ, in that establishment, until February, 1855, when, in copartnership with his brother Weaver, he purchased the blacksmith shop of Gideon Packard, at 44 Bedford street. The firm of W. & J. M. Osborn not only conducted the leading blacksmith and machine shop in the place, but in 1859 also became associated with other prominent business men in building the Union Mill, which was the first cotton mill in Fall River that was supported by the public generally, all previous mills having been operated by close corporations. Afterward the firm took stock and was interested in the Granite Mills, and in 1867 invested in the Merchants Mill, built by the Merchants Manufacturing Company, in which Mr. Osborn was made a director, and of which he has been president since 1895. The firm was also interested in the two Stafford Mills, and Mr. Osborn is now a director in that company.

In 1871 Mr. Osborn was elected a director and the treasurer of the newly organized Slade Mill, the building of which he superintended. By this time the firm had discontinued its blacksmithing and machine business, and was devoting all its energies and resources to the advancement of its extensive manufacturing enterprises, all of which proved successful from the start. They next became interested in the original Osborn Mill, to which another mill was subsequently added, and Mr. Osborn is now a director and the president of that company. They were also interested in the Union Belt Company, the Fall River Bobbin Mills, and other large corporations. The copartnership of W: & J. M. Osborn was dissolved in 1880.

In these and other enterprises Mr. Osborn developed strong executive ability and excellent judgment, and was everywhere regarded as a man of the highest integrity. His foresight and superior management soon placed him among the leading business men of southeastern Massaàhusetts. He was one of the original directors of the Globe Yarn Mill, and superintended the erection of Mill No. 3, and has been a stockholder in the Parker Mill since its organization. He has been a trustee of the Fall River Five Cents Savings Bank since its incorporation is now a member of its board of investment.

Mr. Osborn has long been prominent in public movements, having for their object the moral and spiritual advancement of the community. For many years he was active as a temperance worker in connection with the Sons of Temperance. He has served in both branches of the city government, and for many years he has been chairman of the standing committee of the Second Baptist Church of Fall River, of which he and his wife, are old time members. In 1859 he built his present comfortable home at 540 Cherry street.

On August 9, 1847, Mr. Osborn married Miss Mary B., daughter of Nathan and Elizabeth (Buffington) Chace, of Somerset, Mass., and they have had three children: Annie E. and Nathan C., who died young, and James E. The latter was born January 24, 1856, was graduated from the Fall River High School, and is now the treasurer of the American Linen Company of that city. He married Delia S., daughter of William and Elizabeth (Durfee) Carr, of Fall River, and has three children: Marion, Elizabeth Carr, and Richard.

As a citizen Mr. Osborn is universally esteemed and respected. His long and active career in connection with the cotton mill interests of Fall River, his prominence in advancing the general welfare of his city, his support of public charities, and his quiet, unostentatious display of the higher attributes of manhood have all won for him a special degree of distinction which he merits in the highest sense of the term.

Our county and its people
A descriptive and biographical history of
Bristol County, Massachusetts
Prepaired and published under the auspices of
The Fall River News and The Taunton Gasette
With assistance of Hon. Alanson Borden
The Boston History Company, Publishers, 1899.

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