R. BLISS MFG. CO.
| Rufus Bliss, manufacturer,
son of Abiah and Rebecca (Kent) Bliss, was born at Rehoboth, Massachusetts,
March 7, 1802. His father was a prosperous farmer, and gave his large
family of eleven children a good common-school education. Rufus early
manifested great dexterity in the use of tools, but his father did not
sympathize with him in this propensity, and he was kept at work on the
farm, much against his inclination, until he was twenty-one years of age.
On attaining his majority he became an apprentice to a carpenter, and served
in this capacity for two years.
In 1825 he went to Pawtucket, Rhode Island,
where he was employed for several years in a machine shop. In
1842 having accumulated a sufficient sum to enable him to enter into business
on his own account, he commenced the manufacture of wooden screws for piano
and cabinet maker's use, and finally established the extensive wood-turning
business now known as the R. Bliss Manufacturing Company.
He was one of the pioneers in this country,
in this branch of business, in the development of which he exhibited remarkable
ingenuity. He invented a machine to facilitate the cutting of screws, which
greatly contributed to the superiority of his work. The honest machinist,
to whom was entrusted the model of this machine, when asked to make another
like it for an ambitious neighbor, replied, that he would make for him
anything for which he had a pattern; this he could not furnish, and the
method of cutting screws was for some time kept a secret.
At this time it was his custom to convey in his wagon
the products of his manufacture to Boston, where he made himself acquainted
with Jonas Chickering and other piano manufactures in that city, he had
access to their works; and having ascertained the wants of the workmen,
was enabled to devise and manufacture such appliances as would best aid
them in the prosecution of their work. In 1845 he returned to Pawtucket,
where he formed a partnership with his nephew, Albert N.Bullock, under
the style of R. Bliss & Co. In 1857 A.C.Bullock and E.R.Clark
were admitted to the firm.
In 1863 Mr. Bliss retired from active business
on account of impaired health. He had a fondness for traveling, and
not only visited many parts of our own country, but in 1872, at the age
of seventy, went to Europe, and traveled extensively through England, Ireland,
and Scotland, where he made many warm friends, with some of whom he carried
on a pleasant correspondence during the remainder of his life.
Mr. Bliss was twice married. His
first wife was Nancy Potter of Coventry, who died May 9, 1840, leaving
two daughters, Mary and Nancy. The latter died at the age of sixteen,
and the former is the wife of Daniel A. Clark , of Pawtucket. On
the 9th day of May, 1843, he married L. Emeline Ide, of Attleboro.
The children by this marriage were Ellen F., Edward Rufus, who died in
1873, aged twenty-five years, and Frederic Abbott, who died in infancy.
Mr. Bliss died, after a brief illness, in Pawtucket, October 18, 1879,
in the seventy-eighth year of his age. He was a man of generous impulses,
and heartily in the sympathy with reformatory movements.
The early days of the Anti-slavery struggle
he was among those who organized, for the purpose of uttering their protest
against the great evil, and earnestly labored for its overthrow when the
abolition sentiments were exceedingly unpopular. In September, 1838,
he was a delegate from Rhode Island to the Peace Congress in Boston, which
called together some of the most noted reformers of the time. As
one who knew him well has said, Mr. Bliss was one of the few men who dared
to do right because he was right, firmly holding to the faith that right,
not might, would prevail. He was unostentatious in his manner, thoughtful
for others, and thoroughly conscientious in his dealings with men.