Thursday, June 20, 2013

Eastwood Eastwood (1834-1900)

Portrait from the Representative Men and Families of Rhode Island, Vol. III.

   The name would be Eastwood Eastwood. No, that isn't a typo!! This imaginatively named man was a resident of distinction in 19th century Rhode Island, serving as a member of that state's legislature and was elected as Mayor of Central Falls shortly before his death. The above picture of him (discovered recently in Volume III of the Representative Men and Families of Rhode Island) marks the first time I've seen a portrait of this obscure man......and I've been aware of him since 2002!!! I first located the name of this mysterious Rhode Islander on the Politicalgraveyard website over a decade ago, and I can honestly state that the decade-plus years of searching for information on him have finally paid off! Despite having few sources that mention him at any great length, Eastwood Eastwood will now have at least one proper biography of himself available online!
   While his odd name is one of the most unique in the annals of American politics, Mr. Eastwood wasn't born in the United States. Born into a family of 12 children in Clitheroe, Lancashire, Great Britain on December 28, 1834, Eastwood was the son of the Rev. John and Jane Eastwood and received his education at schools in his native county of Lancashire, attending the Cawthorne Academy. In 1857 Eastwood left England and relocated to seek a new life in the United States, settling in the town of Fall River, Massachusetts. After a short stay in that town, he removed to Providence, Rhode Island and then finally to the Lincoln/Central Falls area where he resided for the remainder of his life.
   Following his resettlement in Lincoln, Eastwood set about establishing his roots in that town's business community. He secured a position with the Robert Clews Manufacturing Company and later in 1874 company president George Gosling admitted Eastwood as a partner. The company was described by sources of the time as a "colossal enterprise" and was remarked in the Providence Journal as having "always done a large business in making textile appliances and is one of the best-known companies of its kind in this country." The company specialized in the production of a patented tin cylinder used in numerous factories and mills around the United States. Gosling and Eastwood would later become sole proprietors this company, with Eastwood serving as President and Gosling as Secretary-Treasurer. Their lucrative partnership lasted until Eastwood's death in December 1900.
   In addition to his extensive involvement in the milling industry, Eastwood Eastwood served as the President of the Moshassuck Cemetery Corporation and is recorded by his 1900 Providence Journal obituary as having had "other large and important business interests in other parts of the state."Although much information exists on Eastwood's public career and business activities in Rhode Island, his personal life is somewhat more difficult to research. He married his first wife, Jane Elliott, in England, and this union later saw the birth of one daughter, Sarah Jane. Following her death, Eastwood remarried to Sarah Rowse (1834-1908) on November 15, 1871. This marriage saw the birth of one son, Thomas Gosling, who died in infancy. In addition to this child, Eastwood is recorded as adopting Maude Rouse (1862-1943), Sarah Rouse's daughter from her first marriage.
   While Eastwood's business pursuits won him wide acclaim throughout Rhode Island, his activities weren't limited to just commerce. Prominent in local politics for a number of years, Eastwood won election to the Lincoln, Rhode Island City Council in the mid-1880s and also served as Sewer Commissioner of that town. In 1892 he won election as a Republican to the Rhode Island General Assembly from Lincoln and served during the legislative term of 1893-1895. A notice on his election appeared in the Pawtucket Tribune in April 1892, acknowledging that he was "elected by a larger majority than any of his associates." This same article notes that being the friendly public citizen that he was, Eastwood "left a box of cigars at Harrison's, and Phillips and Smith's news stores for all his friends to smoke." He went on to hold a seat on the committees on the Militia and Unfinished Business during his term, and in addition to his stint in the legislature, also served as an alderman for Central Falls in 1896 and was a past member of the Pawtucket Armory Commission.

                                        From an 1894 edition of Acts of the Rhode Island General Assembly.

   Eastwood refrained from political activity following his service as an alderman but was drawn back to the political stage in 1899 when he was nominated for Mayor of Central Falls. He won the election and in his inaugural address (published in the Providence News on January 4, 1900) remarked that 
"We are about to begin our labors for the year; let us bear in mind that we are only the servants of the people of our good city, and they look to us for a careful, a faithful and efficient administration of the trust they have confided to our keeping. May all our acts during the present year be of a nature that will advance the interests of the city, further the welfare of its people and redound to the credit of you, its servants. To obtain these results we must work in harmony and peace."
   On November 6, 1900, Eastwood was reelected as mayor "by a majority of some 600", but despite a resounding victory, Eastwood had little to celebrate about. A few weeks preceding the election Eastwood had undergone surgery on a corn that had developed on his foot, and, being a diabetic, needed a "cosmetic" to aid in stopping the flow of blood caused by the initial surgical cut. Newspaper reports of the time note that gangrene eventually set in and with that, blood poisoning. Throughout November Eastwood's health continued to sink rapidly, and on December 1, 1900, he died at his home in Central Falls as a result of blood poisoning. 

From the afternoon edition of the December 1, 1900 Providence Journal.

  The death of the 66-year-old incumbent mayor was major news in Rhode Island in 1900 and reports of the time show that he was widely mourned. The Providence Journal gave an extensive memorial to Eastwood, stating that "Words of sorrow are extended on every hand, for the Central Falls mayor had won a strong place in all the hearts of its people." This same paper also relates that "while a Republican in politics, he was not the offensive kind. He would do a kind act in his official capacity for anybody without regard to politics, and it was common talk on the streets that his popularity was such that there was no man who could defeat him for the office.
   Eastwood's funeral was first held at his home on December 4, 1900, and his remains were later relocated to the city clerk's office to lie in state. As a member of numerous fraternal organizations (including the Jenks Lodge Masons of Central Falls, the Royal Society of Goodfellows, the I.O.OF., the Washington Lodge Knights of Pythias and Providence Lodge of Elks), one can assume that a great many of his fellow club-men came to pay their last respects to one of Central Falls' most honored figures. Another funeral service took place at the Trinity Church in Pawtucket sometime later that day. Eastwood Eastwood was interred at the Mushassock Cemetery in Central Falls and was survived by his wife Sarah, who died in 1908 at age 74.

From the December 3, 1900 edition of the Providence Journal.

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