Hazard family

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Members of the Hazard family were among the first settlers of the State of Rhode Island. Descendants have been known for military achievement, business success, philanthropy, and broad social activism spanning such causes as abolition of slavery, treatment of the insane and alcoholics, family planning, and innovative employee programs.

The family fortune derived largely from its textile manufacturing business at Peace Dale, Rhode Island, mining, railroad, and chemical interests, including the Solvay Process Company.


Hazards have been known through generations for many contributions:[1]

Social activism[edit]

The family in Central New York was long active in May Memorial Unitarian Church, Syracuse, which linked many social activists. The family has been known especially for social concerns such as abolition of slavery, treatment of the insane and of alcoholics, as well for innovative employee programs. Guild Hall, built in 1890 by the Solvay Process Company to serve as a community center, provided the first public library facility which served the high school as well. Guild Hall was the first of five such buildings the company constructed for health and recreational use of the entire community.

The family's Peace Dale textile manufacturing company was one of the first in America (1878) to distribute a percentage of profits to employees. Mrs. Frederick R. Hazard (Dora G. Sedgwick) of Solvay was daughter of the prominent Syracuse lawyer and abolitionist Charles B. Sedgwick. The Sedgwick residence was a landmark designed by important American architect, Alexander Jackson Davis. Dora Sedgwick Hazard was an early American proponent of family planning, an organizer in central New York of the National Women's Party, and of programs for African-American young people (which evolved into the Dunbar Center). Mrs. Hazard founded the Solvay Guild in 1887 and was instrumental in establishing its many local programs in areas of education, public health medical and dental clinics, day care center, sewing, cooking and Americanization classes, and the first kindergartens not merely in Solvay but in Syracuse. The Hazard Branch of the Onondaga County Library System contains a memorial plaque recalling the public service of Dora Sedgwick Hazard.

The Hazard family has been culturally oriented. Historic artifacts collected by Rowland G. Hazard II (1855–1918) became the Museum of Primitive Culture Records at Peace Dale, The family commissioned architects to design their projects. Douglas Smyth designed the company headquarters (1888) and probably designed nearby Guild Hall (1890), both of which are now razed.

Notable homes[edit]

Upland Farm, the Frederick R. Hazard residence built in 1899; Joseph Lyman Silsbee, architect

The Hazards contributed land and resources for the Village of Solvay to grow. The residential neighborhood of Piercefield was developed as Upland Farm, the Hazard estate. The landmark Hazard mansion, designed by the nationally distinguished architect, Joseph Lyman Silsbee (1848–1913), unfortunately was demolished about the time of World War II. Silsbee also designed a fine residence and carriage house for Solvay Process Company engineer Edward N. Trump (1889), extant at 1912 West Genesee Stree, Syracuse. Trump was one of the first company engineers, hired in 1882. Silsbee is well known for his landmark Syracuse Savings Bank building on Clinton Square, Syracuse. After moving his practice to Chicago, Silsbee employed the major American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.

Two architecturally notable homes of Hazard daughters remain nearby in Piercefield, the Edwin Witherby House, c. 1912 (515 North Orchard Road) and the Martin Knapp House, 1910 (404 Piercefield Drive) Taylor and Bonta, architects, New York City. They were also architects of the University Club (extant, Washington Street on Fayette Park) and YWCA building (East Onondaga Street, demolished), both in Syracuse, New York.

Offspring and Marriages[edit]

Dorothy Hazard and husband Edwin Chaplin Witherby had three children: Constance Witherby, Thomas Hazard Witherby, and Frederick Roland Hazard Witherby, all born at Solvay. Edwin Chaplin Witherby died at Boston. Dorothy Hazard remarried at Narragansett, Rhode Island and with second husband, Stephen Foster Hunt, had a daughter, Deborah Hunt. Sarah Hazard and husband Martin Hobart Knapp moved from Solvay to Cazenovia, New York There were four Knapp children: Robert Hazard Knapp, Peter Hobart Knapp, Sarah Knapp Auchincloss, Judith Knapp. Hazard family houses at Upland Farm, Piercefield in the Village of Solvay appear in that article.

Through the marriage of Commodore Mathew Hazard Perry's daughter Caroline Slidell to financier August Belmont the extended Hazard family includes brothers Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont (1858–1908), American socialite, United States Representative from New York, and builder of Belcourt Castle, Perry Belmont (1851 – May 25, 1947), United States statesman, and August Belmont, Jr. (1853–1924), American financier, builder of New York's Belmont Park racetrack, and major owner/breeder of thoroughbred racehorses.


  1. ^ "Hazard Family - Home". hazardfamily.weebly.com.
  2. ^ http://www.clayfox.com/family/individual.php?pid=I737&ged=bradleys.ged


External Links[edit]

  • ^ Hazard, Whitney. "Hazard Family". Retrieved 6 March 2015.