Rhode Island Reading Room
These documents are made available free to the public by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project

This section contains articles of genealogical and historic interest on Rhode Island in general, from old Rhode Island books and newspapers.



History of Woonsocket


by E. Richardson
Woonsocket: S. S. Foss, Printer, Patriot Building, Main Street, 1876.

page before introduction (not numbered):

STATE OF RHODE ISLAND, Etc. In general Assembly, January Session, A. D. 1876.

Joint Resolution of the Celebration of the Centennial in the several Cities and Towns.

Resolved, the House of Representatives concurring therein, that in accordance with the recommendation of the National Congress, the Governor be requested to invite the people of the several towns and cities of the State, to assemble in their several localities on the approaching Centennial Anniversary of our National Independence, and cause to have delivered on that day an Historical Sketch of said town or city from its formation, and to have one copy of said sketch, in print or in manuscript, filed in the clerk's office of said town or city, one copy in the office of the Secretary of State, and one copy in the office of the Librarian of Congress, to the intent that a complete record may thus be obtained of the progress of our institutions during the First Centennial of their existence; and that the Governor be requested to communicate this invitation forthwith to the several Town and City Councils in the State.

I certify the foregoing to be a true copy of a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the State aforesaid, on the 20th day of April, A. D. 1876 Witness my hand and the Seal of the State, this 27th day of April, A. D. 1876.
Joshua M. Addeman, Secretary of State.

State of Rhode Island.
Executive Department.

Providence, April 27, 1876
To the Honorable Town Council of the Town of Woonsocket.

Gentlemen:
I have the honor herewith to enclose a duly certified copy of a Resolution passed by the towns and cities of the State, to assemble in their several localities on the approaching Centennial Anniversary of our National Independence, and cause to have delivered on such day an Historical Sketch of said town of city from its formation.

By pursuing the course suggested by the Resolution of the General Assembly, the people of the State will derive an amount of information which will be invaluable to the present generation, as showing the wonderful progress of the several towns and cities since their foundation.

It will also be of great value to future generations when the materials for such sketches, now accessible, will have been lost or destroyed by accident, or become more or less effaced and illegible from time.

Therefore, in pursuance of the request of the General Assembly, I respectfully and earnestly, through you, invite the people of your town to carry out the contemplated celebration of the Fourth day of July next.

Henry Lippitt, Governor.

Copy of a Resolution passed by the Town Council of Woonsocket, June 8, 1876.  In pursuance of chapter 565 of the Public Laws, passed at the May Session, 1876, by the General Assembly of the State, RESOLVED:  That a sum not to exceed $825 be appropriated for a proper celebration of the approaching Anniversary of our National Independence, and also for the purpose of printing and putting into book form the "History of the Town", as prepared by Erastus Richardson, Esq., said sum to be expended under the direction of the following committee:  George A. Wilbur, John H. Sherman, George S. Read, Amos Sherman and L. C. Tourtellot.

It moved down Clinton street, through Cross and Main streets, returning to Market Square; then through Bernon, Bridge and Greene streets, and through Centre Avenue to the Grove, where the literary exercises were held.  The order of exercises at the Grove was as follows:

Song.
Prayer by Rev. Mr. Talbot.
Song.
Reading of the Declaration of Independence.
Oration.
Recitative and Chorus.
Benediction.

After which the line reformed and marched to 'Liberty Hall'.  (This was a spare room in a new mill of Mr. Edward Harris.)  Here the guests, consisting of about six hundred ladies and gentlemen, partook of a collation.  After the feast came the toasts and the speeches.  The exciting theme of the day was the Temperance question, and King Alcohol and the late King George were berated with extraordinary vehemence.  The toast master was Colonel Edward H. Sprague, without whom no literary exercise in Woonsocket, in those days, was complete.  The thirteen regular toasts were as follows, each being accompanied, of course, with pertinent and pointed remarks:

  1. 'The Event and the Day which we Celebrate.'
  2. 'The Constitution.'
  3. 'The President of the United States.'
  4. 'The Army and Navy.
  5. 'Agriculture, Manufacturers and Commerce.'
  6. 'The White Banner of Temperance.'
  7. 'The Public Schools of New England.'
  8. The Memory of Washington.'
  9. 'The Surviving Soldiers of the Revolution.'
10. 'Liberty of Conscience.'
11. 'The American Flag.'
12. 'Rhode Island.'
13. 'Our Fair Countrywomen.'

After which came volunteer toasts by the guests.  That of Colonel Tourtellot bore off the palm, and was: 'Rhode Island - Small in territory and in nothing else.'  L. W. Ballou (now our Hon. Representative in Congress) was present, and gave one of his characteristic addresses, which then, as now, was received with respect and applause.

The next grand celebration in Woonsocket was in 1848, and occurred (by the way) on the same day of the week as that of this Centennial year (Tuesday).  The chief marshal was Colonel Arnold Briggs.  The place of the literary exercises and of the collation, the reader of the Declaration and the toast master, were the same as before.  But the orator was a young man who has since become widely known throughout Rhode Island, and to whom I am largely indebted, not only for much valuable historic material, but for many other favors of a personal nature - I refer to Hon. Thomas Steere.  The oration received the applause which it merited, and was referred to by the press in flattering terms.  At the banquet were the thirteen regular toasts and the customary speeches.  The wit of the day was P. P. Todd, Esq.   Two of his toasts given on the occasion are worth preserving:  'Thomas Steere, the orator of the day, though a Steere in years, he is a real ox for Fourth of July celebrations.'   'Henry Clay (the country's Harry) and Edward Harris (our Harry) - the one in favor of home producers, the other ever ready to furnish this hall for home consumers.'   In the evening there were fire-works, given on rafts anchored on the Bernon Pond.

There have been many celebrations in Woonsocket quite worthy of mention, but I pass on to that of last year.  This was quite unique in its character, and partook more of the nature of a fair than of a celebration.  But as it was a sort of introduction to the Grand National Centennial Celebration, our citizens were enthusiastic in its observance.  The exercises took place on the farm of Mr. Rensalier A. Jillson.  It was gotten up by the ladies for the purpose of raising money in furtherance of the national project.  The President was Mrs. Cyrus Arnold, assisted by almost every other woman in town.  After the 'clam-bake', which was served in a capacious tent, came the literary exercises, which were conducted by Hon. L. W. Ballou.  The Declaration was read by Charles F. Ballou.  The oration was given by Erastus Richardson, and was in rhyme.  Following the 'Centennial Epic' were eloquent and stirring speeches by Hon. L. W. Ballou, Rev. F. Denison, Colonel Amos Sherman, Colonel James W. Smyth, Hon. A. J. Elwell, Hon. Thomas Steere, Edwin Metcalf, Esq., and Rev. C. J. White.  Between the addresses the Glee Club enlivened the occasion with spirited and appropriate songs.



p. 5 - 7:

INTRODUCTION.

Among the requirements of the American citizen, is that of celebrating the natal day of his Country's Independence.  It being a requirement which requires no sacrifice, it is generally performed with commendable zeal.  He may be remiss in the discharge of many other of his obligations as a freeman and a patriot, but the observance of the Fourth of July is seldom overlooked.  He must either see or participate in a parade of some kind; and if he is denied the ecstasy in his own neighborhood, he seeks it elsewhere.

The first public demonstration in Woonsocket, that is worthy of mention, took place in 1833.  The literary exercises were held in the Baptist Meeting House.  The dinner was eaten and the toasts drank in the Woonsocket Hotel, then kept by Mr. Cephas Holbrook.  The orator of the day was Christopher Robinson.  That there was the requisite amount of 'spread eagle' in this oration of Mr. Robinson, I have no doubt, for at that period the American people required it in large doses at their Fourth of July celebrations.  But I am equally confident that his oratorical flights were tempered with wit, good judgment and learning, for in all the town, State and national affairs in which our distinguished townsman has been a prominent actor during his long and useful life, these have been his distinguishing traits.

The next celebration in Woonsocket was what is remembered to this day as the 'Roaring Celebration'.  This occurred in 1835, and was indeed a 'roaring celebration', for reasons which the dignity of history prevents me from recording.  The literary exercises were held in the Episcopal Meeting House.  Jonathan E. Arnold was orator of the day.  A booth was erected on Arnold street, where the toasts were to be drank.  Tristam Burgess and Henry Y. Cranston were present.  The guests had comfortably seated themselves in the 'booth', Tristam Burgess had just arisen to respond to a toast, when a storm suddenly arose, and the company adjourned in a hurry to the Woonsocket Hotel, then kept by Messrs. Whitcomb Brothers.  The rooms were close, and the wine flowed freely.  Many of the guests rolled under the table; and one of them jumped on top of the table, and sang the 'Star Spangled Banner'.

In 1838 there was another 'glorious' celebration.  The oration was given by Edward  H. Sprague in the Baptist Meeting House, and the Declaration was read by Christopher Robinson.  The dinner and toasts were discussed in a vacant room of a building owned by Messrs. W. & L. A. Cook, on Main Street.  It was at this celebration that a certain dignified citizen of the village honored the American Eagle with a toast and a speech which brought down the house.  The escort duty to these celebrations was performed by the Bellingham Rifles, under the command of Abiram Wales, assisted by Lieutenant Landers.

In 1846 occurred what is remembered to this day as the 'Temperance Celebration'.  The church bells were rung at sunrise and sunset, and during the day the usual national salutes were fired.  At ten o'clock a procession was formed on Market Square by Lyman A. Cook, Chief Marshal, assisted by Arnold Briggs and Peleg W. Lippitt.  The line was as follows:

Chief Marshal.
United Brass Band.
Woonsocket Guards.
President (John Boyden, Jr.)  Chaplain (Rev. Mr. Talbot).
Orator (James W. Smith).  Reader (L. W. Ballou).
Vice-Presidents: (Samuel Greene, George S. Wardwell, Samuel F. Man, Eli
Pond, Jr., George C. Ballou, Nelson Jenckes and Dr. H. A. Potter).
Committee of Arrangements.
Revolutionary Pensioners.
Choir.
Members of General Assembly.
Town Councils of Smithfield and Cumberland.
Other Town Officers.
Martha Washington Society.
Woonsocket Total Abstinence Society.
Hamlet Temperance Society.
Woonsocket Young Men's Temperance Society.
Woonsocket Fire Department.
Odd Fellows.
Delegation from Neighboring Towns.
Citizens and Strangers.



p. 8 - 10:

Finally comes the Grand Centennial Celebration of 1876.  This celebration of the Fourth of July began on the 3d.  There was probably more noise put into a given space on the eve of the Fourth than was ever before accomplished in the same period since the settlement of Northern Rhode Island.  Tin horns were tooted, cannon fired, Roman candles and sky-rockets were sent up in all directions, houses were illuminated, and a grand torch-light procession of our firemen, headed by the Cornet Band, paraded the streets.  On the morning of the Fourth, the Antiques and Horribles, under the command of Grand Mogul Frank M. Cornell, came out in full force and costume.  It was the most horrible display that ever limped and hobbled through a civilized community.  The grand civic and military procession moved from Greene street about ten o'clock A. M., passing direct to Cold Stpring Grove, where the literary exercises were held.  The procession was as follows:

Platoon of Police, in charge of Sergeant Allen
Chief Marshal L. C. Tourtellot.

First Division.
Aids: Captain Charles M. Arnold and Major S. H. Brown.
Woonsocket Cornet Band, B. W. Nichols leader, twenty-five pieces.
Escort:  Co. A, Third Battalion, John R. Waterhouse commanding, twenty-nine muskets.
Committee of Arrangements.
Orator.
Reader of the Declaration of Independence.
President of the Day and Chaplain.
Honorable Town Council, Senator, and Representatives of General Assembly.
Members of Congress, Clergy of the Town and vicinity.
Disabled Soldiers.
Press.
Thirty-eight Young Ladies, representing the States of the Union.
St. John Society, Jos. Danis, President, seventy members.

Second Division.
Division Marshal, Michael Baggan.
Aids:  William Powers and Daniel Ahearn.
Union Brass Band, twenty-five pieces, Professor Leavy leader.
National Flags.
Civic Societies: Temperance Cadets, fifty members.
Father Mathew Temperance Society, thirty members.
No. 2, Benevolent Aid Society, fifty members.
A Jaunting Car, in which five Young Ladies represented the four Provinces of Ireland and the Goddess of Liberty.
No. 3, Shamrock Society, forty members.
No. 4, Ancient Order of Hibernians, eighty members.
No. 5, Christian Doctrine Society, forty-five members.

Third Division.
Marshal:  Frank Cornell.  Aid: O. Roberts.
Woonsocket Steamer Co. No. 1, Richard Barnett captain, twenty members, with machine trimmed with evergreen and a profusion of flags and flowers, two large flags bearing dates, representing 1776 and 1876.
Social Steamer Co. No. 2, James Pickford foreman, eighteen members, with machine trimmed with red, white and blue, and a beautiful bouquet of flowers in smoke stack.
Old Rotary, dated 1825.
Elliott Hook and Ladder Co., fifteen members, William H. Smith captain.
And a long Line of Citizens in carriages and on foot.

Arriving at the Grove, where platforms had been erected for those who took part in the exercises, the Choir, consisting of one hundred voices, assisted by the Cornet Band, and under the direction of Prof. S. N. Lougee, sang 'Old Hundred' with grand effect.  After which, Judge George A. Wilbur, chairman of the Committee of Arrangements, introduced the Hon. Francello G. Jillson, President of the Town Council, as President of the Day, who opened the exercises by saying:

'Fellow Citizens:  -- I congratulate you upon being permitted to witness this centennial anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of the thirteen Colonies, upon which Declaration was founded our national existence and Government, and from which thirteen Colonies have arisen thirty-eight great, powerful and wealthy States, bound together for each other's welfare and protection - then rebels, now one of the most powerful nations of the globe.  Representatives of the various nations of the earth have assembled to-day in the very city and upon the very spot where that memorable Declaration was adopted and signed, to congratulate us as a nation upon our successful existence and wonderful progress, at the same time exhibiting to us as peace-offerings the products of their lands, industry and skill.  Therefore, it is indeed fitting that the people of these United States should assemble together in their various towns and cities, and thank the God of nations for the protection, guidance and progress which He has vouchsafed to us in the past hundred years, and pray for the continuance of His favor and blessing in the century upon which we now enter; to review our history, both as a nation and as towns and cities; to take fresh courage, and strengthen and enlarge our purpose for the coming years; but, above all, to thank God that we are now in very deed united, free and independent, and that not the clank of the chains of a single slave is now heard within our borders, but all, whether of high or low estate, equally enjoy the rights of personal liberty.  Let us, therefore, attend with reverent hearts to prayer by the Chaplain of the Day, Rev. J. E. Hawkins.'

After the prayer by the Chaplain of the Day, the Choir sang the 'Angel of Peace'.

Mr. Jillson then followed with an eloquent and stirring speech, in which he briefly recounted some of the Revolutionary scenes in which our State took an active part.  He then introduced Colonel Henry Holbrook Robinson, the reader of the Declaration of Independence, who put a meaning and a soul into his rendering of this immortal document which awakened a thrill in the breasts of all.



p. 10 - 12.

An original piece, entitled 'Columbia's Flag', composed by Prof. Spencer Lane for the occasion, was then sung, and received a well-merited applause.

Next came the oration by Erastus Richardson, which consisted of extracts from the following 'History'.

After the oration the 'Centennial Hymn' was sung, and the exercises at the Grove were closed with benediction by Rev. J. L. Miller.  The line then reformed, and completed the route of march to THE SOLDIERS' MONUMENT.

The young ladies representing the thirty-eight States of the Union encircled it, and the various organizations, civic and military, massed.  The Hon. Latimer W. Ballou, M. C., was called upon by the President, and taking position at the base, said that it was very appropriate that on this day we should come here and gather about the monument, in memory of those who had given their lives for freedom, and acknowledge that all are now equal, with no East, no West, no North, no South.  He was glad that on this occasion it had been deemed appropriate that the young and beautiful should come and sing songs of praise.  He hoped that on the Fourth of July, 1976, the country will bear the same relative progress in wealth, prosperity and greatness that the present bears to 1776.  The young ladies then united in singing 'America', accompanied by the Cornet Band, with impressive effect, after which Chief Marshal Tourtellot announced the parade dismissed.

AFTER THE PARADE.

Social Steamer Co., No. 2, Captain James Pickford, invited Steamer No. 1 and Elliot Hook and Ladder Co. to a grove near their engine-house, where a model Rhode Island clam-bake was enjoyed by the firemen and families, with the Board of Engineers and a few friends as invited guests.  Some two hundred sat down at the long tables, which were laden with a tempting display of native bivalves in every conceivable shape, with fruit and ice-cream as a sequel.  After justice was done to this pleasant episode of the day, an hour was given over to greetings, song and sentiment, and the bond of unison and fraternal love was firmly cemented.  The Woonsocket Guards, and invited guests, dined at the Woonsocket Hotel, and made merry for an hour or more in an informal, social way.  The Mitchel Guards had a target-shoot on the island, and participated in the merry scenes at the picnic.  The picnic by the societies of St. Charles parish was very liberally patronized, some two thousand people attending, and a series of athletic sports kept up the interest till dark.  Among the attractions was a base-ball contest, in which the Oceans, of Providence, defeated the Mutuals, of this town - 13 to 4.  Excellent order was maintained, and all who attended seemed to regard the picnic as the most enjoyable of any ever held in town.

THE FIREWORKS.

In the evening were a disappointment to some who did not take position near enough to fully enjoy the display, but the programme was carried out, terminating with a huge bonfire that lit up the country for miles around.

IN CONCLUSION,

it may not be amiss to say that the Committee of Arrangements - Judge George A. Wilbur, Major George S. Read, Councilman J. H. Sherman, Colonel Amos Sherman and General L. C. Tourtellot - are entitled to much consideration for their faithful, successful and gratuitous services.

The following was the Introduction to the Historical Sketch:

'Two hundred years have rolled away since the axe of the pioneer first broke the solitude of these regions.  While the first settlers were erecting their rude cabins and struggling with Nature to unveil her hidden charms, King Philip, with the remnant of his tribe, was marching up the Valley of the Blackstone, on his terrible mission of revenge.

A century passed.  The red-skinned enemy had long since ceased to be an object of terror, and the red-coated enemy was just making his appearance.  In the meantime, a saw-mill, a corn-mill, an iron-mill and a meeting-house had found a nestling-place among these hills; the hum of the spinning-wheel and the clink of the farmer's scythe upon the meadow had hushed the war-whoop of the savage, and the nucleus of a busy hamlet had taken root in these parts.

Another century.  The spinning-wheel is draped with cobwebs in the ancient attic; the scythe hangs rusting upon the dying apple-tree; the meadow is submerged beneath the waters of the river; the busy hamlet has outlived its usefulness, and a new order of things has been inaugurated.

Amid the strange events which have crowded themselves into the last two centuries, Woonsocket has played no unimportant part.  In the political, the industrial, the religious and the educational questions which have arisen from time to time, her voice has not been silent, and her influence has not been powerless.

It will therefore, be a pleasant and a profitable task to trace the progress of our busy hamlet from its rude beginning to its present incompleteness.' [end - introduction.]



p. 13 - 14.

HISTORY. CHAPTER 1.

UP THE LEFT BANK OF THE RIVER, FROM REHOBOTH TO WOONSOCKET.

About the year 1641 a company was formed at Weymouth, Mass., consisting of the Rev. Samuel Newman* and a part of his congregation.  They purchased a tract of land of Massasoit, and three or four years afterwards removed to their new purchase, which at the time was called 'Seacuncke', which being interpreted, means 'Black Goose' - a name applied by the Indians to the locality from occasional settlers on the adjacent river, rather than the Rev. Mr. Newman and his flock.  Here around** the Great Plain (Seekonk Plain) they erected their dwellings, with their meeting-house in the centre, and named their settlement after one of the cities of Edom - a name selected by Mr. Newman, for, said he, the Lord hath made room for us - the word Rehoboth being from the Hebrew work 'rehob', signifying a broadway, plateau or forum.

*Mr. Newman was born at Banbury, England, in 1600.  He was educated at Oxford, and began his ministry in his native country.  He emigrated to America, arriving at Dorchester about the year 1638.  The following year he removed to Weymouth, and about the year 1644 came to Rehoboth, where he passed the remainder of his days.  He died July 5, 1663.  He is spoken of as a 'deep student, an animated preacher, and an excellent and pious man'.  Among his works was a 'Concordance of the Bible', which far surpassed any that hitherto appeared, and was the basis of the celebrated 'Cambridge Concordance'.

**The proprietors first selected their lots, and erected their dwellings in a semi-circle, the circle opening towards Pawtucket, or Seekonk river, with their parsonage and meeting house in the centre.  The circle was called the 'Ring of the Town'.  It can still be seen in the present location of the houses, in an eastern view from the meeting house.

The first settlers of Rehoboth had pitched their tents in a barren spot.  Previous to their coming the Indians had so nearly exhausted the natural fertility of the soil, that after a short residence of about twenty years, they were forced to look about them for more fertile fields, on which to pasture their cattle and plant their corm.  Thereupon Capt. Thomas Willitt* was employed by the town, and empowered by the court, to make a new purchase from the natives.  This was consummated in 1661; and Wamsutta, the son of Massasoit, and brother of King Philip, yielded the large territory which was afterward known as the REHOBOTH NORTH PURCHASE.**

*This man deserved more than a passing notice.  He was born about the year 1610.  He arrived at Plymouth when in his twentieth year.  Previous to this he had spent the greater part of his life in Holland, where he acquired the intimate knowledge of the language, manners and customs of the inhabitants, which in after times made him 'so acceptable' to the Dutch of New York.  In 1647, he succeeded Miles Standish as military commander at Plymouth.  In 1651 he was elected one of the Governor's assistants, which office he retained fourteen years.  In 1660 he became an inhabitant of Rehoboth.  After the surrender of New York to the English in 1664, he was elected the first English Mayor of the city.  He was twice chosen to the position.  So much confidence had the Dutch in his integrity that he was by them chosen umpire to determine the disputed boundary between New York and New Haven.  He returned from New York to Rehoboth, where he passed the remainder of his days.  He died August 4, 1674.  His remains now lie buried and neglected, at the head of Bullock's Cove.  He was the original purchaser of the Taunton North Purchase (now Norton, Mansfield, and Easton), of Wollomonopaug (now Wrentham), and of the Rehoboth North Purchase.

**The description of this purchase is as follows:  From the bounds of Rehoboth ranging upon Pawtucket river, unto a place called Waweypounshag, the place where one BLACKSTONE sojourneth, and ranging along said river unto a place called Messanegtacaneh; and from this upon a straight line crossing through the woods unto the uttermost bounds of a place called Mamantapett or Wading River (probably the source of the Ten Mile River), and from said river one mile and a half upon an East line, and from thence upon a South line unto the bounds of the town of Rehoboth.

p. 14 - 17.

That portion of this territory which afterwards became Cumberland, was for many years 'in controversy' between Rhode Island and Massachusetts; indeed, the jurisdiction of the northern portion thereof, and which includes Eastern Woonsocket, is an open question even to this day.  To the ignorance and the carelessness of the English Sovereigns these troubles are mainly due.  Probably supposing that the Narraganett (Blackstone) river flowed due South, they bounded Plymouth Colony on the west side of the river, and Rhode Island on the cast by a line extending due North from the Pawtucket Falls to the southern line of Massachusetts.  They defined the southern line line of Massachusetts to be a line from a point 'three miles south of the southernmost waters of the Charles river', overlooking the difficulties which might arise were one party to construe the 'waters of the Charles river' to be the main stream, and another party to define them as the waters which ran into it.  As might have been anticipated, this carelessness resulted in Massachusetts claiming her southern line to be nearly as far south as where the village of Manville now is, and in Rhode Island claiming her northern line to be even further north than where it is now established.

But this dispute was not the source of much difficulty until about the year 1694, when the 'Rehoboth North Purchase' was incorporated into a township and named Attleborough.  It had then become thickly settled enough to reward the tax-gatherer for his annual visit, and the dispute begun in earnest.  The locality became famous as 'disputed territory', and was known as the 'Attleborough Gore'.  As the inhabitants of the 'Gore' were more in sympathy with their neighbors of Rhode Island, the officers from Massachusetts were frequently sent away with empty hands and with sore heads.  At the annual Rhode Island elections officers were appointed for the territory, which tended to increase the strife, and conveyances of real estate thereon were placed both upon the records of Rhode Island and of Massachusetts, containing the clause, the 'Gore of the land in controversy between Massachusetts Bay and Rhode Island'. *

*The deed of John Arnold to his son Anthony, given August 24, 1733, and which conveyed what is now the most valuable portion of our town, namely, the estates between Market and Monument Squares, reads as follows: 'Thirty acres in the township of Smithfield, on the cast of the Great River, and is a part of the Gore of land in controversy, etc.' (Smithfield Records, Book 1, page 72)

Whether the Rehoboth North Purchase extended as far north as Woonsocket, I shall not venture to discuss.  It is one of the many questions which have taxed the legal skill of centuries without avail, and I am content to leave it where it is - in the courts.  Committees were appointed from time to time by Rhode Island and Massachusetts to run our northern line.  On one of these was Richard Arnold, and on another was his son John, of whom I shall have much to say in succeeding chapters.  But the point, 'three miles south from the southernmost waters of the Charles river', could never be satisfactorily found, and thus the case rests to-day.  Petitions were frequently and numerously signed by the inhabitants of the 'Gore', praying to be set off to Rhode Island.  Indeed, in 1729 Attleborough herself prayed to become a member of our little colony.  At last, in 1746, by a decision of George II in Council, the 'Gore' was detached from Attleborough, annexed to the county of Providence, and named in honor of Prince William, Duke of CUMBERLAND.

The first election of officers for the new town of CUMBERLAND was made February 10, 1746-7.  For one hundred and thirty years the inhabitants of Woonsocket, who lived east of the river, participated in its annual elections, until at last they were permitted to set up housekeeping for themselves.  This act was consummated January 31st, 1867.

Although that portion of Woonsocket which lies east of the river is an offspring of old Cumberland, it is a curious fact that the territory which eventually became the property of the Arnold family, and which now comprises the chief business portion of the town, is now held under the Mendon instead of the Rehoboth proprietary.  Whether the lands were not deemed worth quarreling over, or whether the Mendonites had become too firmly fixed thereon to be easily removed, at all events, the claim of Mendon (Note: this word 'Mendon' is crossed out in pencil, and notated as 'Rehoboth' in this volume), if she ever made any, was never conceded, and MENDON* may now be fairly considered as the parent of the most valuable portion of Eastern Woonsocket.

*The Indian name for the large territory which afterwards became Mendon was Qunshapauge or Squnshopog.  It was purchased of the Indians by Moses Paine and Peter Brackett, of Braintree, April 22, 1662.  The consideration therefor was 24 pounds.  The witnesses to the instrument were John Elliott, sr., John Elliott, jr., and Daniel Weld.  The purchase was incorporated May 15, 1667, and May 12, 1670; the original purchasers assigned their rights to the selectmen of the town.

A line running nearly south from a stone now standing a little east of Jenckesville, to its intersection with the river near the Hamlet mills, was claimed by Mendon as its eastern boundary, and the river as its southern and western boundaries.  I will now briefly follow down the land titles of this territory from its original Mendon proprietors to the ARNOLD FAMILY.

p. 17 - 19.

May 19, 1669, the General Court at Boston granted two hundred acres of land to Samuel Chapin, of Springfield, for 'services rendered'.  From a plat of this estate, now in the archives at Boston - a copy of which was kindly furnished me by Dr. J. F. Metcalf, of Mendon - I judge this land to have been in the vicinity of the 'Falls'.  This man never came here to reside; and in 1716 the Court granted two hundred acres to his son, 'in lieu of the two hundred acres granted to his father.'  But I think that the first grant, or a portion of it, was retained in the possession of the Chapin family until November 15, 1710.  On that day Capt. Seth Chapin conveyed the following described estate to John Arnold:*

*I am indebted to Moses Roberts, Esq., for the original document.  It is copied among the papers of Suffolk Co., Mass., Book 65, page 31.

Forty-two acres and eighty rods, bounded on the east by the Great (alias the Nipmuck) River, by the saw-mill; southerly, upon said river; westerly, part on said river and part on land of Capt. Richard Arnold (the father of John); northerly on Common, by a direct line one hundred and twenty rods; and easterly upon Common down to the river, with an allowance for a roadway down to the saw-mill and to the Wading Place below the 'Falls'.

A straight line, from a point near where 'Dr. Ballou's bridge' is now located, to a point on the river near the Clinton mill, and the winding course of the river from one point to the other, will encircle the above-mentioned estate.

This was conveyed in after times by John Arnold to his son Anthony, by Anthony to his brother Seth, and by Seth to his son James, who, in the last generation, disposed of it to various parties.

May 20, 1711, twenty-five acres were laid out by the proprietors of Mendon to James Bick.  About the same time lands were laid out to Jonathan Sprague and Thomas Sanford.  These three estates were probably adjoining.  Bick's homestead was a little above 'Dr. Ballou's bridge'.  Sprague lived near the new mill of Harris Woolen Co., at Mill river, but probably owned lands in the vicinity of what is now Monument Square.  The residence of Sanford I am unable to locate.

William Arnold (the son of John) purchased the whole of the Bick and Sanford estates and a portion of Sprague's, thus becoming the proprietor of a belt of land adjoining the section before described, and extending from the river above 'Dr. Ballou's bridge' acroos the country to the river again below the Clinton mill.  That portion of this estate which was situated in the vicinity of the Monument House was conveyed August 12, 1747, by William Arnold to his nephew Moses.  The heirs of Moses sold a part of their inheritance to Joseph Arnold, the grandson of Daniel, who was the brother of William aforesaid, and another portion to Prince Aldrich, a negro.   Cato street, named in honor of one of the heirs to this last-mentioned property, passes through the centre thereof.  The remainder of William Arnold's estate, extending from where the Providence Railroad now is, to the river above 'Dr. Ballou's bridge', eventually passed into the hands of Darius D. Buffum, where I will leave it for the present.

In 1719, and again in 1749, lands were laid out to Ebenezer Cook.  He probably increased his estate by purchasing the lands which were laid out to Samuel Thayer, July 6, 1705, consisting of forty acres 'on both sides of Mill river near the Great River'.  August 19, 1721, fifty-five acres were laid out to Jonathan Richardson, 'beginning at James Bick's land, then by Ebenezer Cook's land, and so running near where John Sprague did live' (at Mill river, as before mentioned).  The lands of Cook and Richardson were adjoining.  Cook lived at the Social, and Richardson somewhere in the vicinity of the Harris homestead.

This belt of land, extending from the river at Cold Spring across the country to the river again at the Social, was conveyed by the original proprietors to Daniel Arnold, the son of John and brother of William before-mentioned.  Daniel bequeathed this large estate to his grandson Joseph.  Joseph conveyed the Social portion to his sons, Joseph P. and Smith, and gave his son Benjamin that portion which extended to, and included, the Cold Spring Grove.  There are many now living who remember the farm-house of Benjamin Arnold, and locate the well thereto where the front yard of  Smith Brown's residence now is.

March 19, 1705, lands were laid out to Nicholas Cook on the east of the Great River and on both sides of Peter's river.  The larger part of this outer belt of land, and which was originally owned by Cook, Boyce, Sewell, Chace, and perhaps others, eventually became the property of the Aldrich family.

[end chapter 1]



p. 20 - 24.

HISTORY. CHAPTER 1.   (APPENDIX).

A LIST OF CUMBERLAND TOWN OFFICERS, from its incorporation, in 1747, to the incorporation of Woonsocket, in 1867.

The first town officers were chosen February 10, 1746.  The year at that time began in March, so that it was really 1747.  These officers served until the regular election in June.  The reader, will, therefore, understand that while I use the date 1746, it is simply as a matter of convenience.  For instance, David Raze was elected Town Sergeant, February 10, 1746.  On the following June he was succeeded by Uriah Jillson.  My record will read:  David Raze, 1746; Uriah Jillson, 1747.
 
 

TOWN CLERKS.
Job Bartlett 1746 **John Rogers 1799
Daniel Peck 1748 Stephen Joslin 1804
John Dexter 1751 Pardon Sayles 1830
David Dexter 1766 Lewis B. Arnold 1842
John Dexter 1768 Pardon Sayles 1854
*John Singer Dexter 1785 William G. Arnold 1855
Jotham Carpenter 1791 F. G. Jillson 1865

*John S. Dexter was chosen in November, 1785, upon the decease of his predecessor.
** John Rogers was chosen in February, 1799, upon the resignation of his predecessor.
 
 

TOWN TREASURER
Samuel Bartlett 1746 Stephen Joslin 1799
Uriah Jillson 1755 Isaac Raze 1804
Abner Lapham 1764 Ariel Cook 1814
Isaac Kelley 1769 Isaac Raze 1815
Abiel Brown 1770 Ariel Cook 1816
Philip Capron 1775 Isaac Raze 1818
Nathan Staples 1778 Arnold W. Jenckes 1821
Abner Lapham 1783 Barton Cook 1838
Elijah Brown 1788 Gladding O. Thompson 1842
Col. Simon Whipple 1790 William Whipple 1852
Elijah Brown 1794 George Cook 1855
John Rogers 1798

TOWN SERGEANTS
David Raze 1746 Amos Arnold 1803
Uriah Jillson 1747 David Bartlett 1805
Jonathan Armsbury 1748 Elihu Darling 1812
Abiel Brown 1759 Jabez Armsbury 1813
Isaac Kelly 1762 Fenner Brown 1817
John Fisk 1765 Ezekiel B. Brown 1818
Rufus Bartlett 1775 Olney Ballou 1819
Benjamin Ballou 1779 Jonathan Sweet 1821
William Sheldon 1781 Amost Cook, jr. 1828
Gilbert Grant 1782 Ariel C. Whipple 1842
Jeremiah Armsbury 1785 Lucien J. Arnold 1855
Elijah Brown 1786 George C. Wilder 1856
Capt. Amaziah Weatherhead 1787 Horace M. Pierce 1857
Barney Clark 1791 Elijah B. Craig 1859
Jeremiah Armsbury 1793 Horace M. Pierce 1860
David Bartlett 1797

PRESIDENTS OF THE COUNCIL
Job Bartlett 1746 Levi Ballou 1829
Jos. Brown 1747 Davis Cook 1835
Job Bartlett 1748 Jos. A. Scott 1839
Jeremiah Whipple 1754 Davis Cooke 1840
Nathaniel Robinson 1764 Jos. A. Scott 1842
Jeremiah Whipple 1767 Olney Ballou 1846
Daniel Wilkinson 1770 Abner Haskill 1849
James Dexter 1771 Lyman Burlingame 1852
John Lapham 1779 Fenner Brown 1854
Levi Ballou 1789 Willard H. Whiting 1855
John Lapahm 1790 Davis Cooke 1856
Davis Cooke 1816 Turner Haskell 1861
Levi Barlett 1818 William E. Hubbard 1862
William Whipple 1819 Nathaniel Elliott 1863
Jabez Armsbury 1821 James M. Cook 1864
Levi Cooke 1823 J. B. Aldrich 1865
Levi Ballou 1824 James C. Molten 1866
Job Jenckes 1828

SECOND COUNCILMEN
Jos. Brown 1746 Levi Cooke 1818
Josiah Cook 1747 Levi Ballou 1821
Nathaniel Jillson, jr. 1748 Amos Whipple 1824
Daniel Wilkinson 1754 Levi Cooke 1828
Nathaniel Jillson 1755 William Whipple 1829
Daniel Jenckes 1764 Levi Cooke 1830
Nathaniel Robinson 1767 Mowry Taft 1839
James Dexter 1768 Jervis Cooke 1841
Nathan Staples 1771 Columbia Tingley 1842
Daniel Jenckes 1772 James Wilkinson 1844
Nathan Staples 1776 Abner Haskill 1845
John Lapham 1777 George L. Dana 1849
Enoch Weatherhead 1779 George L. Dana 1850
Levi Ballou 1780 John A. Cory 1853
Capt. Stephen Whipple 1789 Willard H. Whiting 1854
Elisha Waterman 1793 Lovet Haven 1855
Jason Newell 1794 Abner Haskill 1856
Jesse Brown 1796 Olney B. Scott 1857
Stephen Whipple 1801 Elijah B. Newell 1860
Levi Ballou 1802 Nathaniel Elliott 1861
Elisha Waterman 1806 Olney B. Scott 1863
Nathaniel Scott 1808 Clinton Puffer 1865
Levi Cooke 1811 James F. Smith 1866
Stephen Whipple (2d) 1816

THIRD COUNCILMEN
David Whipple 1746 Nathaniel Scott 1818
Nathaniel Ballou 1747 Pardon Sayles 1820
Gideon Tower 1748 Levi Ballou 1821
Daniel Jenckes 1754 Amos Whipple 1823
Job Bartlett 1757 Jos. Whipple (2d) 1824
Daniel Jenckes 1760 Levi Cooke 1826
James Dexter 1764 Abner Haskill 1828
Daniel Jenckes 1767 Jonathan Sweet 1829
James Brown 1768 Jere. Whipple 1830
Nathan Staples 1772 Nathan Harris 1837
Peter Darling 1776 Ezra Blake 1839
Jos. Raze, jr. 1779 Alfred Arnold 1841
Capt. James Lovett 1781 Jos. C. Aldrich 1842
John Bartlett 1782 Abner Haskill 1844
Nathaniel Shepherdson 1785 Leonard Wakefield 1845
Stephen Whipple 1786 George L. Dana 1847
Capt. Elisha Waterman 1789 John E. Brown 1849
Jos. Raze 1793 Lyman Burlingame 1850
Benjamin S. Walcott 1795 John A. Cary 1852
Absolom Ballou 1796 James R. Case 1853
Stephen Whipple 1799 Alfred Hixon 1854
Abner Ballou 1796 Christr. C. Gates 1855
Jason Newell 1803 Bailey E. Borden 1856
Absolom Ballou 1804 Elisha Gaskill 1857
Levi Cooke 1810 William O. Mason 1860
William Aldrich 1811 Warren J. Ballou 1861
Abner Ballou 1814 Ellis L. Blake 1863
William Whipple 1815 James W. Taft 1865
Bennett Whipple 1816 James F. Smith 1866

FOURTH COUNCIL MEN
Jacob Bartlett, jr. 1746 Abner Ballou 1816
Nathaniel Jillson, jr. 1747 Levi Ballou 1818
William Walcott 1748 Amos Whipple 1821
David Whipple 1750 Jos. Whipple (2d) 1823
Robert Aldrich 1752 Nathaniel Aldrich 1824
Ichabod Peck 1754 Palemon Walcott 1825
John Nicholson 1755 William Whipple 1826
Daniel Jenckes 1758 Jeremiah Whipple 1828
Gideon Tower 1760 James Whipple 1829
Nathaniel Robinson 1762 James Weatherhead 1830
Peter Darling 1764 Nathan Harris 1833
James Dexter 1767 James Weatherhead 1837
Daniel Jenckes 1768 Nelson Jenckes 1838
Peter Darling 1772 Jervis Cooke 1839
Levi Ballou 1776 Tyler Daniels 1841
Stephen Whipple 1779 James Weatherhead 1842
Capt. Elisha Waterman 1780 Jerry A. Olney 1844
Nathaniel Shepherdson 1783 George L. Dana 1845
Capt. Amos Whipple 1785 Abner Jillson 1847
Amos Whipple 1786 Lyman Tourtellot 1848
Jos. Raze 1788 Lyman Burlingame 1840
Jason Newell 1793 John A. Corry 1850
Benjamin S. Walcott 1794 James R. Case 1852
Nathaniel Jillson 1795 Willard H. Whitney 1853
Stephen Whipple 1796 William C. Crapon 1854
John Walcott 1799 Thomas Carpenter 1855
Absolom Ballou 1801 William H. Pierce 1857
Jacob Smith 1803 Potter G. Hazard 1859
Abner Ballou 1806 William M. Rawson 1860
William Aldrich 1810 William E. Hubbard 1861
Enoch Arnold 1811 Turner Haskell 1862
Samuel Grant, jr. 1814 James F. Smith 1865
Reuben Whipple 1815 Batavia Matthewson 1866

FIFTH COUNCILMEN
Nathaniel Ballou 1746 Oliver Harris 1816
William Walcott 1747 Amos Whipple 1818
Daniel Wilkinson 1748 Nathaniel Scott 1821
Charles Capron 1752 Palemon Walcott 1823
Benjamin Tower 1754 Levi Cooke 1824
Gideon Tower 1758 Job Jenckes 1826
Elisha Newell 1760 Oliver Harris 1828
Ariel Ballou 1762 Fenner Brown 1829
James Dexter 1764 Olney Mason 1830
Peter Darling 1766 Nathan Jenckes 1832
John Gould 1768 Dexter Ballou 1833
Nathaniel Carpenter 1769 James Weatherhead 1835
Robert Aldrich 1772 Nelson Jenckes 1837
Nathaniel Jillson 1773 Abner Haskill 1838
Amos Arnold 1775 Columbia Tingley 1839
Roger Sheldon 1776 Abner Haskill 1840
Thomas Joslin 1779 Jos. Jacobs 1841
Capt. Jos. Tillinghast 1781 Stukely S. Waterman 1842
Simon Whipple 1782 Leonard Wakefield 1844
Jos. Raze 1785 Linus M. Harris 1845
Thomas Joslin 1788 Abner Jillson 1846
Jesse Brown 1789 Jeraul O. Willcox 1847
Jason Newell 1792 John A. Cary 1848
Holomon Potter 1793 James R. Case 1850
Nathaniel Jillson 1794 Willard H. Whiting 1852
David Sayles 1795 Alfred Hixon 1853
Benjamin Tingley 1796 Arnold Carpenter 1854
John Walcott 1798 Osmond S. Fuller 1855
Abner Ballou 1799 John L. Clarke 1856
Abner Ballou 1801 Daniel Wilkinson (2d) 1857
Levi Cooke 1804 William O. Mason 1859
Enoch Arnold 1810 Daniel C. Mowry 1860
Jos. Whipple (2d) 1811 Batavia Matthewson 1862
Absolom Ballou 1814 James W. Taft 1866
Nathaniel Scott 1815

SIXTH COUNCILMEN
William Walcott 1746 Levi Ballou 1775
Daniel Wilkinson 1747 Sam Whipple 1776
John Dexter 1748 Capt. Reuben Ballou 1779
Samuel Bartlett 1749 Daniel Jenckes 1782
Jos. Brown 1751 Gideon Sprague 1783
John Nicholson 1852 Jos. Raze 1784
Obadiah Ballou 1754 Christr. Whipple 1785
Gideon Tower 1755 Jotham Carpenter 1787
Elisha Newell 1758 Jesse Brown 1788
James Dexter 1760 Levi Arnold 1789
Peter Darling 1763 Jason Newell 1791
Abner Ballou 1764 Holomon Potter 1792
Nathan Staples 1765 Thomas Joslin 1793
Gideon Tower 1767 Jesse Brown 1794
Nahan Arnold 1768 Benjamin Tingley 1795
Ezekial Ballou 1771 Abner Ballou 1796
Nathaniel Shepherdson 1772 Absolom Ballou 1799

In 1799 there were seven Councilmen, the seventh being Elisha Waterman.

In the year 1800 the number was reduced to five, and continued so to the present time.

[End - Chapter 1]


Continued

These documents are made available free to the public for non-commercial purposes by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project. Transcribed 2001 by Beth Hurd
Mail