August 24, 1769|
|Died||May 21, 1852
Tiverton, Rhode Island
|Resting place||North Burial Ground, Providence, RI|
|Known for||Early Textile Mill Owner|
Oliver Chace (August 24, 1769 – May 21, 1852) was the founder of several New England textile manufacturing companies in the early 19th century, including the Valley Falls Company, the original antecedent of Berkshire Hathaway, currently one of the largest companies in the world.
Chace was born on August 24, 1769 in Swansea, Massachusetts to Jonathan Chace and Mary Earle, members of well known Yankee families in New England who had come from England in 1630 in the Puritan fleet with Governor John Winthrop. Chace and his family were Quakers (Society of Friends).
Oliver Chace married Susanna Buffington on September 15, 1796. They had seven children together. Oliver's two eldest sons, Harvey (born 1797) and Samuel Buffington (born 1800) would later follow their father into the textile business. Susanna Chace died on July 30, 1827. Oliver's second marriage was to Patience Robinson. They had no children.
Manufacturing career and legacy
As a young man, Chace worked as a carpenter for Samuel Slater, who established of the first successful textile mill in the Americas at Pawtucket, Rhode Island in 1793. In 1806 Chace eventually started his own textile mill in Swansea, Massachusetts and then the Troy Cotton & Woolen Manufactory in 1813 in Fall River, Massachusetts and the Pocasset Manufacturing Company in 1821, also at Fall River. He later acquired and reorganized the Valley Falls Company in Valley Falls, Rhode Island in 1839.
In 1929, the Valley Falls Company, and others would combine with the Berkshire Manufacturing Company of Adams, Massachusetts to become Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates. In 1955, Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates would merge with Hathaway Manufacturing Company of New Bedford, Massachusetts to become Berkshire Hathaway.
Chace's descendant Malcolm Chace, Jr. was chairman of Berkshire Hathaway when investor Warren Buffett began buying stock in 1962. When Buffett took control of the company in 1965, Chace refused to sell his share and remained on the board of directors.
Malcolm Chace Jr.'s son (and Oliver Chace's great-great-great-grandson), Malcolm Greene Chace III (1934-2011), was a director of Berkshire Hathaway from 1992 until 2007, when he was replaced by Susan Decker.
- Oliver Chace's Thread Mill
- Valley Falls Company
- History of Fall River, Massachusetts
- Elizabeth Buffum Chace
- "Oliver Chace". Find A Grave. Retrieved September 29, 2012.
- Elizabeth Buffum Chace, 1806-1899: Her Life and Its Environment, Volume 1 By Lillie Buffum Chace Wyman, Arthur Crawford Wyman (W.B. Clarke Company, 1914), pg. 21
- History of Bristol County, Massachusetts, J. W. Lewis & Co., 1883
- New England families, genealogical and memorial, Lewis historical publishing company, 1915
- A Centennial History of Fall River
- Elizabeth Buffum Chace and Lillie Chace Wyman: A Century of Abolitionist
- Oliver Chace Family Tree
- Setton, Dolly (12 October 1998). "The Berkshire Bunch". Retrieved 19 August 2015.
- "CHACE, MALCOLM G.". New York Times. 30 June 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
- John Kostrzew, "Rich and richer: Berkshire, Buffett and R.I.'s Chace family," Providence Journal, 7/10/2006
- Chace Family
- History of Valley Falls
- Information on Oliver Chace, with portrait
- Oliver Chace at Find a Grave