This section contains articles of genealogical and historic
interest on Rhode Island in general, from old Rhode Island books and newspapers.
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The Narragansett Historical Register,
Volume VIII, No. 2. July, 1890.
A magazine devoted to the antiquities, genealogy and historical matter illustrating the History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. James N. Arnold, Ed.
Narragansett Historical Publishing Co., Hamilton, R. I.
E. L. Freeman & Co., Printers, Central Falls, R. I.
COL. GORTON ARNOLD who kept the celebrated 'Gorton Arnold Hotel', about
one mile north east of the village of Natic [sic], was long a resident
of the town of Cranston. He held important town offices, and represented
the Town in the Legislature. His Hotel was probably the most celebrated
of any rural Hotel in Rhode Island, and entertained more fashionable parties
than any other. It was a common occurrence for parties to go there
from Providence. They were always sure of having a good time, of
being well entertained, and went away well pleased and satisfied.
Col. Arnold acquired a handsome property while here, he sold out and went
to New York where he lost it in two years, returning to Rhode Island a
poor man to commence keeping his old hotel again, but never accumulated
again much wealth. He died November 9, 1845, aged 64 years.
His wife, Mrs. Waity Arnold, died July 4, 1850, aged 64 years. They
are buried in Grace Church Cemetary. [sic]
ELD. SAMUEL ARNOLD was the youngest son of Lory Arnold, and in his early manhood was engaged in manufacturing at what is now called Coventry Centre. At the same time he was an officer in the militia, and arose to the rank of Major, when he resigned. He kept a common country store at Coventry Centre. He was elected Town Clerk, an office he held for several years to the satisfaction of the Town being a handsome writer. He became religious at middle age, and soon felt he had a call to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, was ordained as a minister of the Six Principle Baptist Denomination, and preached in Scituate, Coventry and West Greenwich, until he was enfeebled by age. He moved into Providence where he lived a few years and died at the advanced age of 85 years. He left a son and a daughter. The daughter married Hon. John N. Francis, now a resident of Chicago, but was formerly in a lucrative business in this city, where he was elected a member of the City Council for a number of years, of which he was for several terms chosen President. In this position, as well as in his business he displayed superior abilities, to the satisfaction of all parties.
MR. LODOWICK BRAYTON resided in Cranston near the Cranston Furnace. He was born May 25, 1770, and died March 14, 1839. He was a man six feet two inches high, weighted 280 pounds, a giant in stature and strength. He was a well to do farmer and reared a family of thirteen children. His wife had fifteen but two of them died in early childhood. These facts ought to shame some of our modern women, who have only one or two children, and some of them none. According to Bonaparte's rule, Mrs. Lodowick Brayton was one of the great women of the world; for he said 'She is the greatest woman who has borne the most children.' But of these fifteen children there is but one now living, Mr. Samuel H. Brayton, who now lives near the place where he was born, Oct. 13, 1817. If he lives to the 13th, of next October, he will be 73 years old.
Rev. Jonathan Brayton, was born June 12, 1811 and died July 24, 1884, aged 73 years. He was the instrument in the hands of God, of founding the Phenix Baptist Church and producing a great revival of religion there, when some of the most substantial business men of the village and vicinity, came out bright in religion, and joined the church.
Mr. Lodowick Brayton Jr., was born Sept. 28, 1815. He first learned a blacksmith's trade which he carried on successfully a few years, then he purchased the Ore Bed or Cranston Furnace, and managed that successfully, and finally moved it to River Point, where he built a large machine shop and carried on these two branches of business there, in order to obtain railroad accommodations, which he could not have in Cranston. His two sons William and Robert Brayton & Co. continue the same business successfully.
Mr. Lodowick Brayton Jr., died in Providence, where he had been living some fifteen years or more, June 21, 1884, in his 69th year; about one month before his brother, Rev. Jonathan Brayton passed away. All this large family of boys made smart and successful business men. Mr. Lodowick Brayton Jr., was more than a common business man. He was President of the Union Horse Railroad Company, and the stock took a rise much above par, soon after he assumed the office. Notwithstanding the great depreciation of Real Estate, of which he held a large quantity, he left an estate to his five children, -- two sons and three daughters, -- worth probably from $200,000 to $400,000. None of these thirteen children of Lodowick Brayton Sr. were less than six feet high. Mr. Nehemiah Brayton was six feet six inches high. Although but one of this great family of fifteen children are now living, yet there is a numerous posterity of grand children and great grand children scattered over a number of States.
CAPT. ELISHA BROWN was engaged in a sea-faring life in his early manhood and Captain of a vessel for several years. He accumulated some property and purchased a good farm in the the north-west part of the Town of Warwick, in the neighborhood of his friend, Judge George Burton; a farm which he managed as well, as he had skillfully navigated his vessel over the ocean. He was thought much of by his fellow townsmen and they chose him several times to represent them in the General Assembly. He was on very intimate terms with the senior Governor William Sprague and with Mr. Emanuel Rice. He had a large family of children, who took a high and honorable position in society. Some of the children are now living. The wife of Mr. Alvin Wickes of Anthony Village, Coventry, and Mrs. Phebe Baker of this city, are his daughters. Mrs. Augustus F. Lamb who resides on Angell street, in this city, is a grand-daughter. He, his wife, and several of their children, are buried in Greenwood Cemetery, half a mile south of Phenix Village.
HON. GEORGE BURTON was a well to do farmer, who resided in the south-western part of the Town of Cranston, was an influential man in his part of the town and one of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas for the County of Providence, for several years under the old Charter Government. He was a man highly respected by all who knew him. He reared a large family of children and his descendants are numerous. Mr. David Burton, who resides on Bassett street in this city, is a grand son of his. The wife of Dea. Almon Townsend, is his grand daughter.
DR. AMOS COLLINS lived in the westerly part of Cranston, and had an extensive practice. He was particularly celebrated in successfully treating cancerous sores. He was a member of the Society of Friends, and a man of influence as a physician and neighbor. He was born Feb. 20, 1773, and died about the year 1856.
CALEB CONGDON was one of the substantial farmers in the western part of Cranston. He held important town offices and represented the Town in the General Assembly. He was highly respected as a citizen, and was a kind neighbor. His daughter, Miss Victoria Congdon, died the past winter, and left most all of her property to the Episcopal Church at Phenix. She was a lady of fine attainments.
"The following sketch of Dr. Rowland Greene, was kindly furnished the writer by Ex. Gov. Howard, to whom also he is indebted for other favors in the preparation of this article.
DR. ROWLAND GREENE. In the early part of the century, few men were better known that Doctor Rowland Greene. He lived in a large and substantial house on the brow of the hill at Ore Bed now owned and occupied by Mr. Conly. He was the son of Thomas and Sarah Greene, was born Nov. 24, 1770, and received a thorough medical education. He had quite an extended practice which he retained until obliged to retire on account of advanced age.
He belonged to the Society of Friends, and was one of the most esteemed Ministers in that persuasion. He married March 31, 1791, Susannah Harris, the daughter of Joseph and Susannah (Bates) Harris, of Cranston; who was born June 15, 1768 and died June 21, 1851. He died August 19, 1859, and was buried at Oak Lawn.
Dr. Greene and wife Susannah had thirteen children, seven sons and six daughters. Their births &c. can be seen in the East Greenwich Friends Records.
In an article written for the Knickerbocker Magazine by Ex. Gov. Henry Howard, under the nom de plume of 'Paul Bernon', and published soon after the doctor's burial, he is thus alluded to:
'The old Doctor is dead.
'We have been anticipating the event so long, that we had almost forgotten that he yet remained; and his death, by calling men's attention to him, seems to have restored him to life.
'He was in his ninetieth year; and both in his life and the manner of his death, presented such a fulfillment of nature's laws as a community hardly witnesses in a century.
'Uniting the calling of a physician with the duties of a Minister of the Society of Friends, he was for three score years alike the intelligent guide and worthy example to all the country round, not only in matters of health and disease, but in moral and spiritual interests.
'I knew him in my boyhood; and he was then as venerable in appearance as he was at the time of his death. His pensive countenance and quiet manner, and the peculiarity of his dress; for he adhered to knee breeches and high stockings after all others had discarded them, for a picture easily impressed on the memory.
'Sedulouly abstaining from political discussions and from social and family bickerings, and prompt to administer counsel and afford assistance wherever needed, he secured the affection of all and incurred the enmity of none.
'Some five years ago, and shortly after the death of her who had been his companion for half a century, his mind began to wander; although he was favored with a remarkable exemption from bodily infirmity. He seemed to be communing with the spirits of deceased friends; often spoke of interviews with them. His visitors were not infrequently transformed in his imagination to long lost friends, and as such he would hold long conversations with them. With peculiar truthfulness might it be said of him 'His heaven commences ere the world be passed.'
HON. DAVID HOPKINS, son of Rufus Hopkins, was born in the town of Coventry in 1797. When fifteen years old his father commenced running a cotton factory and he went to work in it, thus learning the business. At the age of twenty-one he got married, removed to Noose Neck Hill, and commenced manufacturing cotton yarn on his own account. He pursued this business successfully for a great many years.
He paid strict attention to business, and gave none to politics. Major John James and his democratic friends had always carried West Greenwich for the Democratic Party; but Mr. Hopkins was of the opposite party, but paid no particular attention to politics except to vote, but later in life he began to think that West Greenwich might be brought around to give a majority for the Republican Party, and in a few years this was accomplished. He was chosen Senator to the General Assembly for five or six years in succession, but he never neglected his business to attend to politics or anything else. His business was always managed successfully, and he became the richest man in the town, and one of the rich men in Kent County; was probably worth over $200,000 when he died. This certainly showed remarkable business ability for one who had nothing but his own hands to begin with, and in such a retired part of Kent County. He was very prompt to meet all his engagements, and no man's credit was better than his, in the State. As an evidence of this the following circumstance will verity. A manufacturer of machinery was going away to be gone a few weeks. He charged his foreman to let no machine leave his shop unless it was paid for, except David Hopkins. If he called for his machinery, let him have it. His factory was a very plain concern without a steeple. One of his fellow townsmen called on him once, and said, 'Mr. Hopkins, why don't you put a steeple on your factory?' He replied, 'can you show me an instance where a steeple ever paid a dividend? If you can, I will put one on my mill.' In the latter years of his life, he removed to the town of Cranston, and was in Providence most every day. He was taken sick in March 1881, and felt that his end was near at hand, and sent for his sons and other children and told them how he had made his will and wanted that they should be satisfied with it. They promised that his will should be carried out strictly to his order. He talked about dying as calmly as ever he did in his palmest [sic] days on business matters. He was not the least excited at the great change in store for him, but prepared himself for it as calmly as if retiring for an evenings rest.
He died Mar. 17, 1881, aged 84 years.
HON. JESSE HOWARD was born April 14, 1793. He became well read in the law, but never practiced as a lawyer. He had the confidence of the public, was often chosen to settle estates, and as a guardian. He was chosen town clerk of Cranston, and cashier of the Cranston Bank for many years. He was frequently elected a representative from Cranston to the General Assembly, was a judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Providence County between the years 1830 and 1840, and treasurer of the Peoples Savings Bank, Providence from the time it was chartered almost to the time of his death. These facts of themselves, without any further testimony, are evidence enough to show the great confidence the public had in him. He was a man of a commanding presence and much above the ordinary size of men; being six feet two inches high in his stockings, and weighing over two hundred pounds. The strictest probity and justice actuated him through life. As a rule, he always gave more than he was obliged to, in order that he might be sure that he made full allowance. His judgment was remarkably correct, really judicial; and well fitted him to fill the office of judge which he did with honor. He would never express an opinion until he had carefully examined and weighed both sides of it. In politics he was formerly a Jeffersonian Democrat. He was nominated for Congress by the Democratic party on the ticket with the Hon. Dutee J. Pearce, in 1838, but was defeated by the Whig party that ran Robert B. Cranston of Newport and Joseph L. Tillinghast of Providence. When Gen. Jackson was President of the United States, he visited Providence. Judge Howard took his son Henry with him to Providence to introduce him to the President. The event vividly impressed the likeness of the General on his memory. Judge Howard left the Democratic party when that party became identified with the Suffrage or Dorr party. He had, to accompany him in this movement, such Democrats as Governor John Brown Francis, Gov. James Fenner, Hon. Elisha R. Potter, Judge Stephen Branch, and many others, who joined the Law and Order party, who afterwards acted with the Whig Party. When the Republican party was formed, he united with that party and adhered to it as long as he lived. He lived a quiet life and found his chief comfort in his books, and the bosom of his family. Being a good reader, he read aloud to them. He was mindful of his posterity and gave his two sons, Hon. Henry Howard and Hon. Albert C. Howard, a classical education; who have paid their father well for thus endowing them. Both have made upright business men, bearing unblemished moral characters, who follow the example of their honored father in trying to promote religion and morality.
Judge Howard died April 6, 1881, aged 88 years. He was a good neighbor, a devoted husband, a kind father, and, an 'honest man, the noblest work of God.'
JOSEPH HOXSIE was quite a noted man in West Greenwich; was appointed a Justice of the Peace, when a very young man, and fulfilled with ability other town offices, and has represented the Town in the General Assembly.
DR. SAMUEL HUDSON was an eminent physician of Cranston, and in some lines of practice he had no superior in the State. Not perhaps as well educated, or as refined as physicians at the present time; yet he succeeded well in his profession, and in some branches of his practice had a great reputation. He was a man above the common size and of a commanding presence. While in the practice of his profession he was accidentally thrown from his carriage and so badly hurt in his life side, that he never practice any more. He was sick with the injury three years; and died about 1836, aged 80 years.
SILAS JAMES was a soldier in the Revolutionary Army that achieved our independence as a nation. He was from the town of West Greenwich, a town that sent its full share of men to fight our battles in that ever memorable contest. An anecdote is related of him. When Washington with our Army was blockading the British Army in Boston. It was at the time of high tide and the water covered the path, or road that Gen. Washington was going to take to visit another detachment of our Army, as he was not mounted and for some cause was in a great hurry to get over, Silas James, who was a very large strong man, offered to carry him, Gen. Washington, over the water on his back. As the distance was short the General accepted the offer and Mr. James carried him over on his back. Mr. James died about 1836, over 80 years of age. He was the father of Dr. Silas, John and Gen. Charles T. James. Dr. James received his academical education in Plainfield Academy, Connecticut; his medical education he acquired at Yale College New Haven. He settled in his native town, West Greenwich, where he was very popular as a physician, a politician and neighbor. He represented the Town in the General Assembly, and was one of the Surgeons in the Ninth Regiment of the Rhode Island Militia for several years. Soon after the death of his father he removed to Hamburg, N. Y., in 1836 or 1837; but got tired of his practice there in a few years; returned to Rhode island and settled in Providence; where he died in 1851. He was a brilliant man in his manners and personal appearance. He, his father, and brothers, were attached to the Democratic Party; and very warm and ardent supporters of General Jackson's administration.
John James was the next brother to Dr. James and during his life filled most every important office in the Town, was once Town Clerk, Chairman of the Town Council, and one of the most influential men in the Town. He arose to the rank of Major in the State Militia and might easily have been a Brigadier General; but resigned, not desiring any further military honors. He died about the year 1875.
Gen. Charles T. James was the youngest of the three sons of Silas James. He was born in 1804. His last attendance at school was in Plainfield Academy, where Dr. James and many of the smart men of our country have been educated, or prepared there to enter our higher institutions of learning. He removed to Providence when a young man and superintended the Steam Cotton Mill, on Eddy street, then considered one of the large mills of the country. He was all the while acquiring additional scientific information respecting the building and operating cotton mills. While at this mill he was made Major General of the Militia of the State of Rhode Island. He was much of a sportsman, especially with a rifle, and had acquired the reputation of being one of the best shots in the State or perhaps in the Country. He left Providence in 1837, removing to Massachusetts, where he built large cotton mills in Salem, four in Newburyport, some in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, likewise in New Jersey and Indiana. He returned to Providence in 1849. One of the last great mills he built was the Atlantic DeLaine Mills in Olneyville. He was elected United States Senator by the Legislature Jan. 30, 1851, for six years the term expiring in 1857. When the War of the Rebellion broke out, he set his inventive genius to work, to invent a more destructive cannon and bombshell, and lost his life by an accidental discharge of a shell in Sag Harbor, N. Y., Oct. 16, 1862, and died the next day from the injury, aged 58 years. His body is reposing in Swan Point Cemetery by the side of his son-in-law, Col. John S. Slocum. He left one son and four daughters. The daughters are all living. The son followed his father to the grave some years ago. One of his daughters married Col. John S. Slocum, who was killed at the first battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861. He fell in the same battle with Major Sullivan Ballou, Captain Tower, Lieutenant Prescott and many other brave Rhode Island men, who were greatly lamented. Gen. James had planned and built more large cotton factories than any other man up to his time or perhaps since. He prided himself in starting and operating the mills which he had planned; to show better work and greater production than mills planned and built by others.
CAPT. LAWTON JOHNSON, who died at his daughters Mrs. Hannah Brayton, in Cranston, some fifteen years ago, was a resident of Coventry the greater part of his life. He was a real Jeffersonian Democrat, and voted that ticket all through his life. When Gen. Jackson was President, he warmly espoused his cause and believed him to be a model President. He was an honest, upright, moral man. He was well versed in the New Testiment, and almost always carried that sacred book with him. It was the 'man of his council', and the guide of his life. He prized it higher than any other book. He is one that the righteous may expect to meet in heaven. He married a daughter of Elder Thomas Manchester, so highly spoken of in a farmer paper, (see July 1889, number of this magazine, page 239.) He has three children now living. Dea. Edwin Johnson, of Phenix; Dea. William Johnson, who resides near Danielsonville, Conn., and Mrs. Hannah (Johnson) Brayton, the widow of Nehemiah Brayton, who died a few years since.
ELDER RICHARD KNIGHT lived in the westerly part of the Town of Cranston, near the town line of Scituate. He was pastor of the Six Principle Baptist Church in Scituate for fifty years, an influential minister of that denomination, a very acceptable preacher, and rather better informed than most of the ministering brethren of that persuasion. He wrote an able History of the Six Principle Baptist Denomination. In this work he manifested the ability of a well informed man, and much laborious research. It was a history worthy of being consulted in compiling every religious history. He likewise compiled a Hymn Book, and wrote and published some pamphlets for his denomination. The History of the Baptist was published in 1827. He was a man full six feet high, well formed, and presented a fine physique. He lived an exemplary life and was honored and respected. He was ordained to the ministry Oct. 19, 1809, when he was 38 years old, preached the Gospel of Christ 50 years, without compensation, as other ministers of the same denomination did, obtained his living and supported his family laboring as other men on his farm, and as a land surveyor, for which he was reputed to be one of the best in the State. Elder Knight had three wives; by the first and third he had no children, but by the second he had ten. Her maiden name was Rebecca Brayton. Two of these children are now living, one, Mrs. Juan Tillinghast, who now resides in East Greenwich, and is in the 74th year of her age. She has a son, Mr. A. K. Tillinghast, who is Freight Agent for the New York Providence and Boston Railroad Company. There are a large number of grand children, and great grand children of Elder Knight in this and other States. Mrs. Albert Briggs living at 55 Parade street in this city is a grand daughter of his. Elder Knight died April 10, 1863, at the advanced age of ninety one and a half years. He seems to have fulfilled his mission and
'Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
Around him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.'
GEN. CHRISTOPHER LIPPITT was a lineal descendant of John Lippitt, one of the first settlers of Rhode Island and one who aided in organizing the government of 1647, under the Patent. Gen. Christopher Lippitt was born in 1744 and lived in the south-westerly part of Cranston. He represented Cranston in the General Assembly when he was only twenty-one years of age and continued a member until the Revolutionary War commenced. He was made a Captain of a Militia company at the age of twenty-two years and a Justice of the Peace at the same time. When the Revolutionary War commenced, he was chosen Lieutenant Colonel of a Rhode Island Regiment, and before the year 1775 closed he was chosen Lieutenant Colonel of a Regiment of minute men. Commodore Wallace, with a British Squadron landed on Prudence Island and burnt a number of dwelling houses there. Col. Lippitt, with several companies of his Regiment, was sent there to defend the Island. He moved the inhabitants with their property to the mainland. In 1776, he was chosen Colonel of the Regiment to protect the State. Col. Babcock, the commander was dismissed for bad conduct. Gen. Washington ordered the Regiment to join the Regular Army, and he, and the Field Officers then received Continental Commissions. The Regiment left Rhode Island September 1776, and he led it to Washington's encampment at Harlem Heights, New York. He was in the battle of White Plains, under Maj. Gen. Lee. He soon after crossed the North River into New Jersey. Gen. Lee carelessly slept some distance from his Army, the British found it out, surprised, captured and made him a prisoner. Gen. John Sullivan then assumed command of his division of the Army, and crossed the Delaware River. Col. Lippitt was with Washington in the battles of Trenton and Princeton. He behaved very gallantly in both of these battles. He went into winter quarters at Morristown. In the spring the Regiment's term of enlistment expired, he dismissed and sent them home. While Col. Lippitt was with Washington, he gave him Brigadier General's Commission by brevet. When he returned to Rhode Island, he had a Brigadier General's Commission of the Rhode Island Militia of the County of Providence. He held that rank in the battle on Rhode Island under Maj. Gen. Sullivan.
After this battle and the army retreated from the Island, Gen. Lippitt was again chosen a member of the General Assembly and continued a member, and still held his General's Commission until 1783, the close of the war, when he was appointed Judge of the Superior Court. A political revolution took place in the State in 1787 and 1788, and General Lippitt was dismissed from public life; but was chosen a delegate to Congress but declined it. He says he was cried down because he was a zealous supporter of and advocate of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States which was formed by the Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. It will be remembered that Rhode Island was the last of the thirteen original States, that adopted the Constitution. We can see by the life of Gen. Lippitt, how bitter was the opposition against the Constitution. This opposition to that instrument, was really the first movement towards forming the Jeffersonian or Democratic Party.
Gen. Lippitt lived in quiet retirement from public life ever after this affair, and when he made this statement, was about seventy-nine years old. He was a very religious man and built a small meeting house for the Methodists, almost of his own expense; of which church he was a devoted member. His house was the home of the itinerant methodist preachers of the State. About this time he joined the Peace Society.
Gen. Lippitt married March 23, 1777, Waite Harris. She died Sept. 8, 1836, aged 81 years old. She had twelve children, (another of Bonaparte's great women,) seven of them lie buried with their ancestors on Lippitt Hill. Gen. Lippitt seemed to be a pattern of all the noble virtues that adorn human nature. As an evidence of this, his sense of justice, and his affectionate regard for his kindred; at the death of his father, he waived his right of inheritance; which belonged to the oldest son, by the law of primogeniture then in force in Rhode Island, (an old English law,) and shared equally with the rest of the children in the distribution of the estate.
Gen. Lippitt superintended the building of the Lippitt Cotton Mill, in Warwick; the third or fourth cotton mill built in the State, which his descendants held until 1889, when B. B. & R. Knight bought it. As an officer in the army, he was brave, energetic, prompt in obeying orders and executing them, and prudent in all his movements. As a civilian he was enterprising and public spirited, heartily in sympathy with the best interest of humanity. Major Christopher Lippitt, who removed to Jewett City, Conn., some over sixty years ago: where he operated a small cotton mill many years, was a son of Gen. Lippitt. Two of Major Lippitt's sons are now living in Elmwood, this city; Mr. P. W. and Albert Lippitt and they have a sister now living on Knight street. Another son of Gen Lippitt, was William, who resided in the western part of Cranston. He was a man of very decided opinions, never held an office and never seemed to want one. He was the father of Mr. Christopher Lippitt, a successful manufacturer, who resides at 193 Hope street, in this city. I suppose he was named after his noble and honored grand father, Gen. Christopher Lippitt.
THE PHENIX. There is no village on either branch of the Pawtuxet River, that has maintained a steadier and more healthier growth than the wide awake village of Phenix. When we speak of Phenix, we include Lippitt and Harris villages, for they are really all one, as they are so closely connected. As we have said before, so say we again, a person can obtain there most anything he wants, without going to Providence for it; in groceries or dry-goods. The clothing store of Mr. Lawton, will compare favorably with those in Providence. James P. Arnold, as an undertaker, will likewise bear comparison with those in the same business in the city. Phenix, although it has been badly damaged by fire some four times, yet like the fabled bird, the Phenix, rises brighter and more beautiful than before. This trait of not being discouraged; but rising with renewed energy, was displayed again, when the Spring Lake Reservoir gave way; they with renewed energy went immediately to work to build another. It is this perseverance, and indomitable resolution that has built towns, villages and cities. It is this spirit that has built up our great western cities, and has made the city of Chicago what it is today.
JUDGE OBADIAH POTTER was a resident of Coventry and one of the leading politicians for many years in that town and the county. In early life he was a strong Jeffersonian Democrat, and acted with that party when Jackson was President. When quite a young man was chosen one of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas for the County of Kent; but later in life he joined the Whig Party, which party elected him to the General Assembly for two or three terms in succession. He manifested much ability as a debater when in the Assembly, and showed himself to be one of the ablest debaters in the House. He was always ready when a question came up to give his views. His speeches read as well as those of any other member. This was under the old Charter Government, before we had a Constitution.
He was a lawyer who was never admitted to the Bar, but plead before Justice Courts. He was always a match for the ablest lawyers who met him in those Courts. Witty, and ever ready to answer when attacked, and when there was anything like a fair chance, he generally got his cases. It was said that he bore a strong resemblance to President Van Buran. If the pictures of Van Buran looked like him, he certainly did, for they looked very much like Judge Potter. He lived to the common age of man.
DEA. ORIN SPENCERS SONS. This whole paper is a chapter of accidental omissions. In speaking of the leading men of Washington Village, Dea. Orin Spencer was spoken of, and three of his sons. Harvey L. Spencer, his third son, was accidentally omitted. His four sons were: Joel Mann, Orin S., Harvey L., and Jonathan. The last named died some years ago. Harvey L. Spencer has always followed the business of his father, viz; monumental stone cutting. He is now located just on the southern outskirts of Phenix Village, on the Levalley farm, where he is ready promptly to wait upon his customers. I never think of this family, but what I am reminded of the 22d. chapter of Proverbs [sic], 6th verse. 'Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it.' Dea. Spencer was a devoted christian, a strong temperance advocate and in favor of all moral reforms. Every one of his four sons follow in his footsteps.
ASA STONE was born in Coventry in 1789. He was one of the best and most respected citizens of the town. He was Town and Probate Clerk, and Town Treasurer many years; as a Justice of the Peace, often called on for advice and council. He was Town Clerk for sixteen years. He was a faithful and devoted member of the Baptist Church for more than fifty years. Mr. Perez Peck, an influential and leading member of the Society of Friends, once said to me that 'Asa Stone was one of the best men in the world.' He died in 1865, aged 86 years, and was buried with his ancestors in Coventry. He has a son bearing the same name now living on Academy Avenue in this city.
"ELDER THOMAS TILLINGHAST, M. D., was born Nov. 14, 1772. He was the son of the Hon. Thomas Tillinghast who was a member of Congress from this State from 1797 to 1799, and from 1801 to 1803; a brother of that good man Rev. Pardon Tillinghast, and Judge Joseph Tillinghast, of East Greenwich, and Mr. Allen Tillinghast of Wrentham, Mass. Both of these last named gentlemen were cotton manufacturers. Rev. Dr. Tillinghast was the father of ten children, two sons and eight daughters. Four of his daughters are now living. He was baptized in 1808, and ordained to the Gospel Ministry in 1816 when he was 44 years old. He had been a practicing physician twenty years when he was ordained. He received most of his education in Newport, but studied medicine with Dr. Turner of East Greenwich, the Town he settled in to practice his profession. He received no pay for his preaching, but supported himself and family by his profession as a physician. As has been said, the Six Principle Baptists did not believe in paying for preaching the Gospel. Dr. Tillinghast was very popular as a preacher and physician, in which latter profession he had a large practice. Besides he was one of the foremost preachers of his denomination, and people came in large numbers to hear him. He would often in the pulpit, while preaching of the goodness and sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the sins of mankind, be so overcome with emotion as to weep. Many have been led to the Saviour by his earnest and pathetic appeals. The good man now 'rests from his labors and his works do follow him.' He died July 18, 1826.
Some over fifty years ago while residing in Washington Village, Coventry, Col. Peleg Wilbur said to me; 'Now I suppose you are striving to obtain a distinguished name, that you may be remembered hereafter?'
My reply was; 'That sir is very desirable, and I own that this is one of the stimulants that governs my actions. That the thought of being remembered by posterity was very pleasant.'
'Well', says he; 'if you obtain it, it will not be worth anything. For after you have been dead twenty years, and perhaps sooner, you will be forgotten. Now you think Judge Whipple and myself, will go down to posterity; but we will not. When we have been dead twenty years, or before, our names will not be mentioned. We will be forgotten. Now I can prove this to you by an example. Did you ever hear the name of Mr. --------- -------- , a very distinguished man in this town once, more so that any man in the town at present, and he has not been dead but about twenty years.'
I answered that I never had heard his name mentioned before. 'This proves my statement is true, for he was the most noted man in this town for twenty or thirty years. He was Town Clerk, was one of the Council, and represented the Town in the General Assembly; was more spoken of than any man in town, has not been dead more than twenty years and you never heard of him before! Such will be the fate of Judge Whipple and myself, in less, perhaps than twenty years after we are dead. Such too, will be your fate, if you arrive to the position you aim to attain. Such is the end and nothingness of common fame.'
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The Newport County Reading Room Index More Biographies & History .