HON. GEORGE ALBERT WALES
State Representative, Stoughton Postmaster, and Manufacturer
Hon. George Albert Wales is one of the valued and well known citizens of Stoughton. He has been identified with its manufacturing interests, has served as postmaster and has also represented his district in the state legislature. He was born March 26, 1858, in the city which is still his home, his parents being George and Emily F. (Richards) Wales, the former a native of Stoughton, while the latter was born in South Weymouth, Norfolk county. The paternal grandfather, Martin Wales, was also a native of Stoughton, so that the family has been represented in the city through five successive generations. George Wales, Sr., engaged in the manufacture of boots and shoes and was also a retail shoe dealer of Stoughton, being thus connected with the commercial and manufacturing interests of the city throughout his entire life. He was regarded as one of the best judges of shoes and leather in the state and was also accounted one of the foremost salesmen in connection with the trade. He conducted an extensive business during the period of the Civil war but lost heavily through those to whom he had extended credit in the southern states. His wife's people were all manufacturers and leather dealers, so that the name of Wales has been long and closely associated with the leather trade and shoe manufacturing interests of eastern Massachusetts. George Wales, Sr., departed this life March 4, 1904, when he had reached the age of sixty-nine years, and his wife died in December, 1864, when but twenty-nine years of age. He later married again and by that union there was one daughter, Emily F., who still resides in Stoughton.
George A. Wales, the only child of the father's first marriage, was reared and educated in Stoughton and supplemented his public school training by a course in a commercial college at Boston, being thus thoroughly qualified for life's practical and responsible duties. He chose the occupation to which he had been reared. He went to work in a shoe factory and started out by mastering the tasks of the workman at the bench. In fact he learned the shoemaker's trade in every detail before leaving school. A year after leaving school he became ill and had to abandon work in the shoe factory. He then turned his attention to the grocery and provision business, which occupied his attention for two years. This enabled him to be out of doors much of the time and in that way his health became restored. He then returned to the shoe factory, entering the employ of Wallace & Elliott, with whom he continued for a year, at the end of which time he was given charge oŁ a department, being then but eighteen years of age. He continued to act in that capacity for twenty years and during that period the output was increased to one hundred dozen pairs of shoes per day. Desirous of engaging in business on his own account, however, he eagerly embraced the opportunity and formed a company under the style of the Wales-French Boot & Shoe Company, of which he became the president and manager. This business was continued for four years, at the end of which time they sold out. Mr. Wales then went to Campello, South Brockton, Massachusetts, where he was associated with the George Keith Shoe Company, manufacturers of the Walk Over shoes. His identification with that house covered two years.
On the expiration of that period Mr. Wales was appointed postmaster of Stoughton, which position he acceptably and creditably filled for thirteen years or until February, 1915. During that period the rural and city delivery was started and the business of the post-office at Stoughton was greatly increased. He was also in charge of the postal savings and of the city delivery and in fact the interests, of the office more than doubled during his administration. He proved adequate to the demands made upon him, however, and placed the business of the office upon a very substantial basis. In 1917 he was elected from his district to the state legislature, representing Randolph, Stoughton and Sharon in the general assembly. He made an excellent record and was connected with much constructive work of the house. He has long been actively identified with public and political affairs and his influence has always been on the side of progress and improvement. He has served on many important committees and no project or plan for the general good has sought his assistance in vain. His service in the state legislature in 1917 was not his first experience in this connection, for in 1895-6 he had also been a member of the house of representatives, having been sent from the district comprising Walpole, Sharon, Avon, Stoughton and Randolph. He continued his activity in connection with business interests of his town, becoming one of the organizers of the Stoughton Cooperative Bank, of which he remained a director and the auditor for many years. He is still one of the stockholders.
In May, 1881, Mr. Wales was united in marriage to Miss Mary Eliza Kellogg, a daughter of Thomas and Eliza (Capen) Kellogg, who were natives of West Brookfield and of Stoughton respectively. Mrs. Wales was born in Taunton, Massachusetts, where her parents had located in early life. Her father there worked at the trade of harness making and carriage trimming and afterward engaged in business along those lines on his own account. He died in May, 1875, and his widow survived only until December, 1880. Mr. and Mrs. Wales have become the parents of two children. The elder, Helen L., is the widow of Frank S. Farrell, a chemist of note and also a musician, who lived for only twenty-four hours after his marriage. Mrs. Farrell is a graduate of Wellesley and also took special work at Harvard University, Massachusetts Agricultural College, Boston University and Cornell University. This with two years of practical laboratory work as assistant chemist in a large chemical manufacturing company particularly fits her for her present position as instructor in science at Bradford Academy. The younger daughter, Ethel Frances, is the wife of Walter F. Edwards, who is a first lieutenant of the National Army, now stationed at Camp Devens at Ayer, Massachusetts. They have one child, Margaret Louise.
Mr. Wales has ever been most deeply and helpfully interested in matters of general concern in Stoughton and Norfolk county. He is a representative of one of its oldest and most prominent families and his ancestors have been prominent factors in molding public thought and action and in directing public interests here. His people for generations have been well known manufacturers of shoes and leather goods. At the time of his grandfather's death he was president of a railroad, president of one bank of Stoughton and director of two others. All this he had accomplished in the course of his life, for he started out in the business world empty-handed and it was through the force of his character, his determined purpose and his unfaltering energy that he gained the prominent position which he occupied in business and financial circles - a position which won for him the honor and respect of all who knew him. The house in which Mr. Wales' father was born is one of the old mansions of Stoughton and is situated in the heart of the town.
George A. Wales of this review has always been interested in the old Stoughton Grenadiers, one of the old-time military organizations of Norfolk county. He is also a member of the Stoughton Historical Society and is keenly interested in everything that has to do with the perpetuation of the records which mark the progress and upbuilding of this section of the state. Like his grandfather, he has become a factor in financial circles of his native city. He was one of the organizers of the Stoughton Cooperative Bank, served as one of its directors for a long period and was its auditor for many years. He still remains one of its stockholders. Fraternally he is connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and with the Masonic lodge and in his life exemplifies the beneficent spirit upon which these organizations are based. He is also a member of the Stoughton Board of Trade and has been interested in the many projects which the organization has put forth for the welfare of the city. He is a man of fine personal appearance, of genial manner, of cordial disposition and of genuine worth, and all who know him attest the fact that his friends throughout Stoughton and Norfolk county are legion.
1622-1918 (New York, S. J. Clark Publishing Co., 1918), 2:192-197.
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