Rene James Wales

Item

Title

Rene James Wales

Position

Designer

Date

May 20, 1880 to December 17, 1963

Description

One of Stickley's earliest designers, René James Wales, has been largely lost to history and unrecognized in previous scholarship. Documented in Stickley's shop as early as 1899, he appears to have moved to Syracuse sometime in the prior year and appeared in the City Directory for 1899 as a "designer." By 1901 the directory noted he was removed to Oneida, probably to rejoin his family as his father DeFlorence Wales lived there.

The 1905 New York State Census recorded Wales as married, living in Oneida, and employed as the foreman of a casket factory. Although he continued to maintain a residence in Oneida, by 1910 he also appeared in Springfield, Massachusetts as the foreman of a "cas. shop," presumably the American Casket Company.

Wales’s later life is marked by frequent moves and a focus on mechanical items, rather than design and woodworking. By 1918, he was living in Philadelphia and working as an inspector of naval aircraft for the United States government across the Delaware River in Camden, New Jersey. In 1924, he was recorded in Rochester, New York and the following year was working for the American Machine Company as an inspector. Sometime between 1925 and 1930, he returned to Pennsylvania, where he lived in Upper Darby and worked as a machinery salesman. He moved to Pittsfield, New York by 1940 and was recorded in the census as a “demonstrator” of “heavy machinery.” In April 1942, he listed himself as self-employed, though provided no additional information on his World War II registration card. Wales died on December 17, 1963.