This Day in Norwood History- August 12

LAST HONORS TO J.P. HAMLIN

Funeral of Richest Norwood Man.
First Traveling Salesman in Country Left Million.

Came to Boston When 16 With Only $5.

NORWOOD, Aug 11—The funeral of Joseph Perez Hamlin of Norwood, who Died Monday, was held this afternoon at his home, corner of Wilson and Bullard sts. Rev George W. Nead, an intimate friend of Mr Hamlin, officiating.

Interment was at Woodlawn cemetery, Everett.

Mr Hamlin was generally believed to be the wealthiest man in Norwood and was estimated by acquaintances as worth from $1,000,000 to $3,000,000, mostly to real estate. He started as a poor boy and his success was due entirely to his own efforts.

He was born June 9, 1832, in Sidney, Kennebec county, Me. the son of Wil-lim and Polennah Bacon Hamlin. His iducation consisted of a few short terms in the Sidney common school and at the age of 12 he started work, towing logs on the Kennebec river.

In 1846 he went to work in the Augusta Me, postoffice, remaining there for two years. At the age of 16 he came to Boston with only $5 in his pockets and for 10 days he walked the streets, vainly seeking work, until by good chance he obtained a position at the United States hotel. For some time he remained there, and from a scant salary of $10 a month made his first deposit in the old Suffolk savings bank. Turning then to the dry goods trade he worked. in succession for C. F. Hovey & Co, Mr Metcalf and W. W. Palmer of Salem.

Two years with Turner, Wilson & Co led in tne 50s, to his joining as junior partner the firm of White, Brown, Davis & Co. This partnership lasted for nine years, and during it Mr Hamlin conceived the idea of selling goods by sample as a traveling salesman.

The senior partners were at first incredulous. but permitted him to make the trial, and in the first year he demonstrated the practicability of the method by selling goods to the amount of $54,000. The honor of being the first traveling salesman and orignator of the practice was one which he set much store by.

In 1863 he left the firm and went into business on his own account in New York, where in half a year he did a business of $1,200,000. Selling out his business, he removed to Willimantic, Conn, buying large quantities of real estate which he sold four years later at large profit.

For three years he resided in Needham, but in 1871 removed to East Boston, which he had ever since made his legal residence. In 1880 and 1881 he was elected from ward 2 to the state legislature, twice carrying a strongly democratic ward on a republican nomination. Prominent politicians desired him to run for congress, but he was unwilling to remain longer in public life.

For the past 30 years he had lived a very retired life, dividing his time between his farm in this town and his real estate office at 122 London st. East Boston, and in spite of advancing years had continued active in business.

His wealth consisted largely of real estate, of which he owned a good deal and in many places. His holdings In Norwood alone were estimated to be worth the better part of $100,000. and those in Boston proper. East Boston and Chelsea must have been many times that figure. His personal property was also known to be very large and. while little is definitely known of the total amount of his wealth, it is popularly placed at several millions.

In all his business ventures Mr Hamlin was successful, and it was com-monly said that every dollar he made remained with him. Of recent years he had been assisted in business by his son, Edward K. Hamlin of Medford and. after the latter’s death last December. by his grandsons, Edward M. and Russell E. Hamlin.

Mr Hamlin’s personal life was a very simple one. He made his home to the old farmhouse at the corner of Wilson and Bullard sts in this town, living alone there with his housekeeper, his farm manager and the latter’s family. In the morning he was driven to the train, and the daytime he spent at his East Boston office or about the city, returning home late in the afternoon. With the town of Norwood, although he had owned a farm here for nearly 40 years, he had so little to do that nine of ten citizens did not know him even by sight.

He was an intimate friend of Rev George W. Nead, formerly pastor of the Norwood Baptist church, which Mr Hamlin had attended, as he had earlier attended the Bowdoin-sq Baptist church. He was also intimate with the late Dr Bates and assisted him in his charitable work. He took much interest, too, in the campaign of the latter’s son, Ex-Gov John L. Bates.

Although his educational opportunities had been limited, he was a close reader of the Bible and Shakespeare, and made frequent quotations from both. With many in the town he had the reputation of a hard dealer, but his friends held him in high esteem.

He was married June 11, 1857, to Elizabeth C. Sanderson of Boston, who died to 1880. He himself until less than a year ago was in the full enjoyment of god health and unabated physical and I mental activity, but after the death of hii son last December he failed rapidly. He is survived by a son. Joseph P. Hamlin Jr; a daughter, Mrs Elizabeth C. Fassett of New York, and four grandchildren, Edward Merritt. Russell Eustis. William Bates and Doris Hamlin, all of Medford, children of the late Edward K. Hamlin.

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