wood screw & clamp

      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.