Biography of Hon. Weaver Osborn
Bristol County, MA Biographies

HON. WEAVER OSBORN was for many years one of the most prominent mill promoters and bankers of Fall River. William Osborn (or Osband) his grandfather, was born August16, 1729, in Newport, R. I., removed to Tiverton, in the same State, in early manhood, and in 1751 married Elizabeth Shrieve, by whom he had six children: Weaver, a Revolutionary soldier, born April 17, 1756, who married Hannah Durfee in 1788, removed to Palmyra, N. Y., in 1791, and died in 1820; Wilson, who died aged twenty. five; Elizabeth, born June 7, 1758, married a Mr. Palmer, and died in 1785; Patience, who died young; Thomas, the father of the subject of this sketch; and William, born July 18, 1769, who married Mary Durfee. William Osborn died October 29, 1810. Thomas Osborn was born in Tiverton, R. I., March 31, 1766, became a ship carpenter and later a farmer, and died October 7, 1833. He was married in 1797 to Anna Durfee, whose father, Joseph Durfee, was a soldier in the Patriot army at the Battle of Bunker Hill. She died May 23; 1845, aged seventy two. Their children were William, born November 25, 1798, married Ruth Hambly in 1822, and died January 28, 1829; Thomas, born December 30, 1800, married Elizabeth Hambly in 1827; Joseph, born August 20, 1803, married Eliza Gardner in 1830; Ann, who died young; Wilson, born April 15, 1808, married Mary Allen in 1832; Eliza Ann, born May 25, 1810, married Rev. Alexander Milne, a Baptist minister, in 1837; Patience, who died young; Weaver, the subject of this memoir; and James M., born August 27, 1812, who is noticed at length in this volume.

Weaver Osborn was born in Tiverton, R. I., May 23, 1815. Remaining on his father’s farm until he was eighteen years old, be made the best of his meagre advantages and obtained a fair education in the common schools, supplemented by a few months’ attendance at the Little West Hill Seminary at South Kingston, R. I. In 1833 he went to Fairhaven, Mass., to learn the blacksmith’s trade, which he followed successfully until the engrossing cares of heavy cotton mill interests caused him to abandon it. In 1835 he purchased the blacksmith shop of Nathaniel Pierce in Tiverton, which he continued about eight years. He then spent a year in Providence, R. I, and on his return to Tiverton in 1844 associated himself with Andrew Robeson for a period of four years. In 1848 he resumed business in Tiverton, where he remained until his shop was burned in January, 1865, when he removed to Fall River River, Mass. In February of that year he formed a copartnership with his youngest brother, James M. Osborn, and bought the blacksmith shop of Gideon Packard, on Bedford street, which they successfully conducted for several years, doing a large machine and blacksmithing business. The firm of W. & J. M. Osborn continued until 1880, when it was dissolved.

In 1859 the firm became interested with others in building the Union Mill, which was the first cotton mill in Fall River that was operated by other than close corporations. They were subsequently interested in the Granite Mills, the Merchants Mill, the two Stafford Mills, and the Slade Mill. By this time the firm had discontinued its blacksmithing and machine business, and was devoting its chief energies to the promotion of its heavy mill interests, all of which proved successful. They were also interested in the Osborn Mills, the Fall River Bobbin Mills, the Union Belt Company, and other important corporations.

Mr. Osborn was a ruling factor in these as well as in other enterprises, and developed great business ability. He was the principal founder of the Osborn Mills, was chiefly instrumental in erecting the first building in 1872, and served as president and a director of the corporation until his death. Much of the success of that great concern is due to his executive management. He was also a director of the Montaup Mills for several .years from 1872. He was continuously a director and a member of the board of investment of the Pocasset National Bank from its organization in 1854, when it was known as the Pocasset Bank under the State laws, and was president and chairman of the board of investment of that bank from 1873 until his death in 1894. For many years. prior to his death he was also a trustee of the Citizens’ Savings Bank of Fall River and of the State Workhouses at Bridgewater and Tewksbury, Mass.

In politics Mr. Osborn was originally a Whig and cast his first vote for Henry Clay, but after the Republican party was formed in 1856 he was a staunch supporter of the principles of that organization. He was for several years a member of the Fall River Board of Water Commissioners, and always took a just pride in the advancement of his city. He was elected to represent the town of Fall River, R. I., in the Rhode Island State Senate in 1857, 1858 and 1859,: and served on the military and other committees, and was a member of the Massachusetts Legislature in 1868, 1869, 1871, 1873, 1876 and 1877, and of the State Senate in 1879. He became a captain in the old State Militia, and had much experience in the settlement and adjustment of estates.

Among Mr. Osborn’s chief characteristics were strict integrity, sound practical judgment, and unswerving fidelity to every trust committed to his care. As blacksmith, cotton mill promoter, banker, and legislator he achieved distinction and honor, and throughout an active career enjoyed the confidence, respect, and esteem of all who knew him. He was a man of decision, great force of character, and trnfailing resources, and in every sense a representative and enterprising citizen. His death occurred at Fall River on the 6th of February, 1894.

Mr. Osborn was married January 7, 1837, to Patience B. Dwelly, daughter of Daniel and Mary (Slade) Dwelly, of Tiverton, R. I., who survives him. Their children were Mary S., of Fall River; Daniel W., who died in his twenty third year; and Thomas F. and Anna Jane, both of whom died at the age of nine. Mrs. Osborn was born in Tiverton, on the 27th of May, 1817, and like her late husband is a member of the Baptist Church, which they joined in 1843.

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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