Archiver > RIGENWEB > 2002-04 > 1018130171

From: Beth Hurd <>
Subject: [RIGENWEB] Robert REOCH
Date: Sat, 6 Apr 2002 16:56:11 -0500

History of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
NY: The American Historical Society, Inc.

pp. 195 - 196:

"ROBERT REOCH -- The name of Robert Reoch, so long and intimately
associated with the development of the cotton print industry in Rhode
Island, has been for many generations a familiar one is Scotland, where also
it has been associated with the same great industry as in the United States.
Robert Reoch, late of Phenix, R. I., where his death occurred, November 9,
1918, was a native of Scotland, and both his father and grandfather bore the
same name. The first Robert Reoch was a skilled calico printer of
Renfrewshire and Sterlingshire, where he worked many years at Denny, a
famous center for calico print. He married Bethia Tennent, of
Sterlingshire, and they were the parents of eight sons and three daughters.
One of these children, Robert Reoch, the father of Robert Reoch of this
sketch, was born at Denny, Scotland, and there and at Paisley his life was
principally passed. He was, like his father, an expert calico printer, and
was employed at mills in Denny and Paisley for many years. He married Ann
McNeal, a daughter of Daniel McNeal, of Paisley, and they had three
children, as follows: Robert, of further mention; Archibald, now deceased;
and Mary, deceased also.

Robert Reoch, eldest son of Robert and Ann (McNeal) Reoch, was born in
Renfrewshire, Scotland, October 9, 1840. As a lad he went to live with his
grandfather, and while an inmate at his house, attended school until he
reached the age of fifteen years. He then began a seven year apprenticeship
with Thomas Boyd & Sons, the proprietors of Fereneze Print Works, at
Barrhead, in Renfrewshire. At the end of the seven years he was made
assistant manager of their coloring department, in which position he
continued three years more, so that he was associated with the Fereneze
Print Works for ten years in all. Mr. Reoch, in the meantime, had taken a
special course in chemistry as applied to the coloring of textile fabrics
under the famous Professor Penny, of Glasgow University, and had thus become
an expert in his line of work. After leaving the Fereneze Print Works, Mr.
Reoch became connected with the works of Brown Muir & Company, of Glasgow,
and served them in a similar capacity until 1876. In that year he accepted
a proposition which came to him from the United States, to become manager of
the Clyde Bleachery & Print Works, located at River Point, in Kent county,
R. I. These large works were owned by S. H. Greene & Sons, whose judgment
in bringing Mr. Reoch from Scotland was very soon demonstrated in his
management of their affairs. Not only was he exceedingly successful in time
of business prosperity, but in several critical periods in the textile
industry his quick grasp of the situation enabled him to put out new colors
and designs, which kept his mill profitably running. This was particularly
true in 1876, the Centennial year of America's independence, when calico
printing was in little demand, his bringing out a line of flags, printed in
the colors and designs used by the United States, England, France and
Germany, kept the plant running for months. In 1878 the Clyde Print Works
brought out a line of Turkey red hankerchiefs, this being their first
appearance in the United States, and this venture proved the basis of a very
profitable business, which continued highly remunerative for years. Mr.
Reoch, through the Clyde Print Works, is the pioneer of that branch of
cotton manufacture which further laid the foundation for a large Turkey red
trade both in plain and printed goods. Under his guidance the Clyde Print
Works increased its output of goods from eight thousand pieces a week to
thirty-five thousand in the same period, the concern under his management
becoming one of the most successful and steadily-running print works in the
country. It was through his foresight that the company was saved from
making an assignment when its New York selling agent failed, Mr. Reoch
having made contracts with jobbers calling for sufficient work to keep the
plant in operation and thus weathered the storm, when the New York selling
house of Coffin & Altemus was forced to the wall. In the year 1894 the S.
H. Greene & Sons Corporation was re-organized, and Mr. Reoch withdrew from
the new concern to become manager of the Cranston Print Works, at Cranston,
where he remained for six years. Here he repeated the success that he had
made at River Point, and continued in active management until about
seventy-one years of age, when he retired from active life to spend the
latter years of his life in well-earned leisure. He had at that time been
employed continuously in this line of business for fifty-five years. In
addition to the calico printing business, Mr. Reoch had become interested in
the manufacture of lace in this country, and was one of the group of men who
organized and incorporated the Warwick Lace Works, at River Point, and the
Phenix Lace Mills, at Phenix. He became president of the latter concern and
continued to hold that position until his retirement. He was also
vice-president of the Pawtucket Valley Water Works, was one of the leading
promoters, and was identified with enterprises in that section. In politics
Mr. Reoch was a Republican, but never sought public office, as his tastes
were quite opposed to this. In his religious belief Mr. Reoch was a
Presbyterian, and since coming to this region has been a member of the
Congregational Church at Riverpoint, and for many years its leading and most
active member. He was a man possessed of great musical talent, and was for
forty years a chorister of the Riverpoint Congregational Church, and also
president and conductor of the Choral Union. He frequently served as
delegate to church conventions, and was associated with a large number of
prominent organizations, social and otherwise, in this section. He was
president of the Pawtuxet Valley Agricultural Park Association, the Howard
Musical Union, and the P. V. Amusement Association. Mr. Reoch had a strong
fondness for travel, and made several trips abroad, visiting England,
Scotland, France and Germany. He was in England when the great European War
broke out in 1914.

Robert Reoch married (first) in Scotland, March 31, 1865, Helen Stewart,
daughter of William Stewart, of Barrhead, and they were the parents of the
following children: 1. Lillias, who resides at home. 2. Robert A. S.,
now superintendent of the Pacific Mills Print Works, of South Laurence,
Mass., the largest establishment of its kind in the world; married Jeannette
Macready, of Providence, in 1905, by whom he had one daughter, Mary Macready
Reoch. His wife survives him and now resides at Providence. 4. Helen M.,
who became the wife of William Russell Fessenden, of Saylesville, R. I., to
whom she has borne one daughter, Helen Stewart. Mr. Fessenden died June 3,
1917. 5. Archibald T., now a resident of Phenix, R. I. 6. Mary E., who
became the wife of Frederic T. McAuslan, of Providence, to whom she has
borne two children, Frederic T., Jr., and Lillias R. 7. Dr. Norman Greene,
D. D. S., well-known dental specialist of Boston; married in 1915, Helen
Baker, of Boston, where he practiced until his death, May 25, 1915. His
wife died May 26, 1918. 8. John Stewart, who died in 1886. The first Mrs.
Reoch died May 3, 1894, and Mr. Reoch married (second), June 3, 1896,
Lillias Stewart, a sister of his first wife.

Mr. Reoch occupied a very conspicuous place in the history of the
development of calico printing in this country, and is justly regarded as
its principal pioneer. He was himself the inventor of many processes now in
use in this industry, and contributed a number of brochures to the
literature of the subject, which are now regarded as authoritative
statements, marking definite epochs in its development in this country. He
was treasurer of the New England Lace Manufacturers' Association, a member
of the Rhode Island Fruit Growers' Association, of the Horticultural
Society, and of the Congregational Club of Providence. He was also
president of the British American Club of Kent county.

It will be appropriate to close this brief sketch of Mr. Reoch with the
resolutions passed on the occasion of his death at the annual meeting of the
New England Lace Manufacturers' Association, held at New York City, December
12, 1918. They are as follows:

'Be it Resolved, The New England Lace Manufacturers in annual meeting
assembled missing the genial presence of its treasurer, the late Mr. Robert
Reoch, whom it has pleased Almighty God to take from our midst, desire to
place on record the high esteem in which our departed officer was regarded
by all of the members, and to tender to the family who suffer the greater
loss the sympathy of the members of this Association; and be if further
Resolved, A copy of these resolutions be fowarded to the family of the
departed Robert Reoch and a copy thereof to be spread upon the records of
this Association.' "

illustration on facing page:
photo, Robert Reoch

for more info:
Biographical Sketches of the Town of Warwick

from the RI Historical Cemeteries Database Index:
REOCH, ROBERT 1840 - 9 NOV 1918 CY059
REOCH, HELEN (STEWART) 1838 - 3 MAY 1894 CY059
REOCH, LILLIAS S 1866 - 1952 CY059
REOCH, ROBERT A S 1867 - 1949 CY059
REOCH, ARCHIBALD T 1879 - 3 MAY 1894 CY059
REOCH, NORMAN GREENE 1878 - 25 MAY 1916 CY059
REOCH, JOHN STEWART 1881 - 23 JUL 1885 CY059

REOCH, LILLIAS (STEWART) 1843 - 17 DEC 1922 CY059

Beth Hurd
Johnston, RI USA


This thread: