Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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WILSON, George Francis, manufacturer, born in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, 7 December, 1818; died in East Providence, Rhode Island, 19 January, 1883. He was apprenticed to the trade of wool-sorting at the age of seventeen, and at the end of three years became an expert in the business and familiar with all the machinery in the mill. Being ambitious of obtaining a better education, he entered the academy at Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, where he subsequently became a teacher. In 1844 he removed to Chicago, where he opened an academy that soon became a flourishing institution. He returned to the east in 1848 and settled in Providence, where he devoted himself to the manufacturing business. In 1855, with Eben N. Horsford, he began the manufacture of chemicals, under the style of George F. Wilson and Co., and two years later their establishment became known as the Rumford chemical works. The direct management of the works was controlled by him, and by his knowledge of mechanics he was able to devise various improvements in the machinery, resulting in the more economical manufacture of the goods. He also invented an improvement in the manufacture of steel, a revolving boiler for paper manufacture, and several improvements in illuminating apparatus for light-houses. Mr. Wilson devoted considerable attention to agriculture, to methods of fertilization of soils, and to the breeding of stock, while the range of his scientific knowledge was unusual for one whose life was almost entirely devoted to business pursuits. The degree of A. M. was conferred on him by Brown in 1872. He was a member of the city school committee, and was twice elected to represent Providence in the general assembly. During his residence in East Providence, whither he removed in 1861, he was for many years associated with the management of municipal affairs. He left $100,000 to Brown university, and $50,000 to Dartmouth college, to be used for scientific purposes.
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