pp. 110 - 117.
The history of this town is particularly interesting, from the fact that it was here, within the territory now embraced in the town of Cumberland, that the first white settlement was made in the State. William Blackstone came from Shawmut, the peninsula on which the city of Boston now stands, and located at a spot in the town of Cumberland, familiarly known as Study Hill. When he came over to this country is not definitely known. The Pilgrims found him in quiet possession of the point of land, as above stated, upon their first arrival, but when or how he came there is enshrouded in mystery.
As no history of the town of Cumberland would be complete without a brief sketch of the life and character of this celebrated personage, we give here, as a very appropriate introduction to the history of this town, some reminiscences of this remarkable personage; this pioneer settler and founder of two States, whose life was characterized by that love for seclusion and self-devotion that stamps it with a degree of romance, that renders its perusal both interesting and profitable.
The old town of Rehoboth, comprised in its greatest extent, Seekonk, Pawtucket, Attleborough, Cumberland, R. I., and that part of Swanzey and Barrington which was originally called by the Indians Wannamoisett. In 1641, the first purchase was made of Massasoit, and was, according to the measurement of those times, some eight miles square, although, by subsequent measurement, it was found to contain an area of ten miles square. This tract was what once embraced Rehoboth, Seekonk, and Pawtucket. The second purchase was the tract known by both the Indians and English as Wannamoisett, and formed a part of Swanzey and Barrington. The third and last purchase was called the North Purchase, and formed Attleborough, Mass., and Cumberland, R.I. This tract included within the limits of Cumberland, was formerly known as Attleborough Gore.
In 1667, the town of Swanzey was incorporated, and included Wannamoisett, Somerset, Mass., and a greater portion of Warren, R. I. The North Purchase was, in 1694, incorporated into a separate town, and took the name of Attleborough. This was also divided in 1746, and that which was formerly called the Gore, became Cumberland. Up to 1812, the original town continued, when it was again divided, and Seekonk became a separate township, retaining, however, its original Indian name. Again, in 1828, the town of Pawtucket was set off, which has since been enlarged by the addition of a portion of what was once North Providence.
It was within the limits of the original Rehoboth that the subject of this sketch first settled, after his departure from Shawmut, the peninsula where the city of Boston now stands. He settled in what is now known as Cumberland, R. I., upon the bank of the river that bears his name, and but a few miles distant from the thriving town of Pawtucket. He was an Englishman by birth, but how or when he first came to this country is not definitely known. Governor Winthrop and his colony, when they arrived at Charlestown in the year 1630, found this man in peaceful possession of the territory upon which the city of Boston now stands. The first record that appears in writing of this person, is in the year 1628. All that is known of his previous history is, that he was a non-conformist minister of the Episcopal Church of England, and not willing, as he says, to endure 'the tyranny of the Lord Bishops', he left the mother country, and sought a home in the wilds of America. The exact date of his settlement at Shawmut is a matter of some doubt, but is generally conceded to have been about the year 1625-26.
Upon the arrival of Winthrop and his company, they were at first disposed to oust this solitary occupant, by virtue of their grant to the territory by the then ruling king. Blackstone, however, claimed his title to the tract by virtue of his actual occupancy, and they at last agreed to purchase his lands, 'he reserving to himself six acres on the peninsula at Shawmut'. Blackstone's cottage stood near a spring on the south side of Charles River mouth, on the point of the peninsula. Here he cultivated a garden, and planted fruit-trees, the first planted in Massachusetts. His right to the soil by pre-occupancy was recognized to a certain degree by the Massachusetts Colony, and a portion of land at Boston was set off to him, comprising some fifty acres, which he was to have and enjoy forever. He subsequently transferred all of his right, title, and interest in the lands lying upon this neck of land, for the stipulated sum of six shillings for every household, reserving to himself, however, the six acres as above mentioned. This amount being raised, was paid over to him and the transfer made. Thus having disposed of all, or nearly all of his possessions on the peninsula at Boston, he began to look about for a new habitation.
Having found the bigotry of his new companions equally adverse to the spirit of liberality and freedom of conscience which he fled from England to enjoy, he again resolved to take up his abode away from the scenes of civilization, and pushed his way once more into the gloomy solitudes of the forest, preferring the society of the untutored savage to the civilized bigotry of his own race. Hence he set out in search of a new home, and at last selected as a place best suited to his taste, and which proved to be his last retreat, 'Attleborough Gore', now called Cumberland, on the bank of the river that perpetuates his name. His house was called 'Study Hall', and stood near the east bank of the river, a little east of a knoll to which he gave the name of 'Study Hill', it being his favorite resort in times of deep meditation and study. Here he again built, dug a well, planted an orchard, married, and had at least one child. The place is to be found near the present Lonsdale Station, on the Providence and Worcester Railroad, about three miles from Pawtucket, a mile and a half above Valley Falls, and near where the new mill of the Lonsdale Company now stands. Its Indian name was Wawepoonseag.
In 1661 this name is first mentioned in the Plymouth records, in describing the boundaries of the 'North Purchase'; viz., 'From Rehoboth, ranging upon the Pawtucket River, to a place called by the natives Wawepoonseag, where one Blackstone now sojourneth.' The exact spot may be found in a meadow on the right of the intersection of the railroad with the public road leading to Valley Falls. It is near to a fine but steep wooded hill, on a gentle slope, which, in that early day, must have afforded a fine view of the winding river and its picturesque scenery. Here is the grave of this early pioneer, unmarked by any stone or slab that bears an inscription. The house, according to tradition, stood a little east of the grave, and the well was a few rods to the south. Here he lived alone, cultivating his garden, and attending to the growth of his young orchard, in the intervals of study, until 1659, when he married, upon the 4th of July of that year, Mrs. Sarah Stevenson of Boston, as appears from the Boston town records. She was the widow of John Stevenson of Boston, and was the mother of three children by this first marriage. After her marriage with Mr. Blackstone, she had one son, by name, John, although it has been stated that there were two offsprings from this second marriage, a son and a daughter, and it is alleged that she married one John Stevenson, the son by the first marriage. But this is probably a mistake, as the appellation applied to him, of son-in-law to Blackstone, doubtless arose from the fact of his marriage with his mother. No historical record is given of any children by this second marriage other than this son John. This son, by the first marriage, as above mentioned, resided with Blackstone, and after the death of his mother and step-father, he continued to live upon a part of the estate of William Blackstone, granted to him by the Court of Plymouth, for his 'faithful service in their declining years, and for the filial attention and kindness ever manifested toward them while living.'
His own son, John Blackstone, was born at Rehoboth, but the date is not known, as no record was made of his birth upon the town books. He grew up with his parents, and after their death, which occurred before he reached his majority, guardians were appointed him by the Court of Plymouth, as appears from the records under date of July 1, 1675. 'Lieut. Hunt, Ensign Smith, and Daniel Smith are appointed and authorized by the court to take some present care of the estate of Mr. William Blackstone, deceased, and of his son now left by him; and to see that at the next court he do propose a man to the court to be his guardian, which, in case he do neglect, the court will then see cause to make choice of one for him.' He continued to live on his paternal inheritance until 1692, when, having become addicted to the use of liquor, and intemperate in many other things, he was compelled to sell his estate, and it was purchased by one David Whipple. He soon after removed to Providence, where he engaged in the trade of boot and shoe making. He married while here, and continued to reside in Providence until 1713, when he returned to Attleborough; but, owing to some misdemeanor of himself and wife, they were legally warned to leave the town. They removed from there into Connecticut, and settled near New Haven. Here, tradition says, they left descendants, who inherited the peculiarities of the elder Blackstone, and cherished the same love of solitude. One of their sons, by name John, it is said, was a lieutenant in the French war, and fell at the taking of Louisburg.
During the sojourn of William Blackstone of Rehoboth, he often went to Providence and preached for Roger Williams. He was accustomed to make the journey on horseback, but when deprived of this mode of conveyance it is said that he used to ride upon the back of a white 'Bull', which he had trained for this purpose. His appearance in the streets, astride of this 'bullgine', was, indeed, a marked event, and excited the merriment of many a youth. He used to bring along his pockets full of his fine 'yellow sweetings', and distribute them among the children. These were a curiosity to their youthful minds, and his coming was always a welcome occasion to these youngsters. Blackstone continued his hermit-like life for about forty years, when he died, upon the 26th of May, 1685 [sic - 1675], having survived his wife but two years, who died about the middle of June, 1673. He was buried on his farm, and his grave remains, unmarked by any inscription to the memory of this worthy founder of two States, or bearing tribute to his personal worth or moral excellence.
Location, Surface, Soil, &c.
The town of Cumberland is situated in the northeast corner of the State, about eight miles from Providence. It is bounded on the north and east by Massachusetts; on the west by Woonsocket and the Blackstone River, which separates it from Lincoln, and on the south by the same river. It is irregular in shape, resembling a gore, and was formerly known as 'Attleborough Gore'. Its surface is generally uneven, and somewhat rough, being hilly and rocky, and covered with forest-growth. A few portions of the town are more level, and afford some favorable facilities for cultivation. The geological features of the town are of an interesting nature, and it is rich in its mineral productions. Numerous ledges of a primitive formation are found here, interspersed with the many metals that form so distinguishing a feature in the town of Cumberland. The dip of the rocks is toward the east and northeast. The trees that cover the hills and lesser elevations are principally pine, white-birch, oak, and chestnut. The soil, in many sections, is comparatively fertile, and affords the various productions common to this locality.
The cultivation of the small grains does not receive much attention. The principal agricultural products are hay, corn, potatoes, and a few others. Fruit is cultivated to some extent, and proves to a considerable degree successful. The principal streams are the Blackstone, and numerous small streams, among which is Abbott's Run.
The town has excellent roads, and a special appropriation is made annually for the purpose of improving these public highways. Two beautiful and substantial iron bridges span the Blackstone, one at Manville, and the other at Valley Falls. These structures are fine specimens of architectural skill, and reflect great credit upon those who were engaged in designing and constructing these passage-ways over this large and important stream. The aim of the town seems to be to bring its avenues of communication with surrounding neighbors into as complete a condition as possible. No means are spared, by those in authority, for the thorough accomplishment of this end. The system adopted by the council, and so effectually put in operation, seems in every way adapted to the consummation of the desired object. Manufacturing is engaged in to some extent, additional history of which will be found under the head of Manufactures. The population in 1875 amounted to 5,688.
Town Organization, Town Meetings, Officers, &c.
Cumberland was one of the five towns received from Massachusetts in January, 1746-47. Until incorporated as a town in Rhode Island, it was known as Attleborough Gore. It derived its name from Cumberland, in England, and it is said that this name was bestowed because it resembled that place in richness of its minerals and geological features. It was annexed to the county of Providence on the 17th of February, 1746-47. In January, 1867, it lost a portion of its original territory, it having been incorporated as part of the town of Woonsocket. The freemen of the town assembled in town meeting, in February, 1746-47, for the purpose of electing town officers, deputies to the General Assembly, and transact such other business as should be consistent, with the organization of their town government. Job Bartlett, Israel Whipple, and Samuel Peck were elected deputies to represent the town in General Assembly. Job Bartlett was chosen moderator and town clerk. Job Bartlett, Joseph Brown, David Whipple, Jacob Bartlett, Jr., Nathaniel Ballou, and William Walcott were chosen councilmen; Samuel Bartlett, treasurer. This meeting was held at the house of Joseph Brown, on Cumberland Hill.
The first business recorded in the town books is an order to lay out a highway. Thus early did the inhabitants recognize the importance of good and safe communications with the surrounding country. The next is the granting of town licenses to Daniel Peck and Benjamin Tower, upon condition that they pay forty shillings, and give bonds to keep a respectable and orderly house. In January, 1748, the council passed a law against the running at large of sheep and rams, during certain seasons of the year, and is the first law passed by the selectmen. A dog-law was passed Jan. 8, 1754, in consequence of the great damage they often caused by killing sheep. Large flocks were kept in town at an early day, as it was admirably adapted to sheep-husbandry. In October, 1747, the first administration papers were granted to Thomas Lapham, on Abraham Billings' estate.
This brief record of the proceedings under the early government of the town, illustrates, to some degree, at least, the character of the selectmen of those times, and the interest they felt in the proper management of their municipal affairs, and the proper protection and development of all their varied interests.
Under this head we shall be able to give only a brief sketch of a few of those who early made a settlement within the limits of the present town of Cumberland. Dating back nearly two centuries, the history of those early pioneers, whose lives and deeds are so intimately connected with the scenes and events of the town's original settlement, has become more or less scattered, and, in many instances, entirely lost. No historical record has been preserved of the present town of Cumberland, as there has been of many other towns in the State.
During our brief stay in the town, we were unable to gather any considerable amount of information in regard to the early settlement of the town. Our time is necessarily limited, in the completion of this work, and hence we have been compelled to hasten over many items that doubtless would have been associated with more or less interest to the general reader; and especially to those residing in the town.
In the northern portion of the present town, adjoining Woonsocket, the Ballous settled, and to the south of them a family by the name of Cook. Around Diamond Hill, the Whipples first settled, and their descendants are found in this vicinity at the present time. To the south of them the Razees, while to the east, the Tingleys made a settlement. The Metcalfs took up a tract of land lying south of the village of East Cumberland. The Wilkinsons and the Pecks took up a section and made permanent settlements. There are many farms in the town to-day, that are still held in the name of the first settlers.
Perhaps no name has become more distinguished in the history of the town, and even in the State, than that of Wilkinson. Jeremiah Wilkinson was born July 6, 1741, and early developed a great inventive genius. He was not only a worker in iron and steel, but gold and silver as well. He made the first silver spoons used in this vicinity, and several of them are now in possession of some members of the family. At an early age he made hand-cards, and invented a machine for bending the wire and cutting it at the same time. He not only made cards for carding cotton and wool, but for carding horses and cattle. He afterwards invented a machine for punching holes in the leather, into which the wires were fastened. He often found it difficult to procure the wire, and he set himself about the construction of a machine for drawing it. In this he was successful, and it is said that this was the first attempt of the kind ever made in America. His invention of cold-cut nails is world-wide; and one of the original machines is now in possession of Mr. Albert O. Razee, at Diamond Hill. In April, 1776, he made tacks, with a machine of his own invention. Several pieces of furniture and machines made by him are still in existence. Among those is a tool-chest, of remarkable artistic design. He made molasses from corn-stalks. He invented a machine to grind the stalks, and the pomace was pressed in a common cider-mill. He made needles and pins, and sold darning needles, during the Revolution, for one dollar each. This man was indeed possessed of a remarkable genius, and the inventions he wrought will preserve his fame and memory forever bright in the annals of his country's history.
Jeptha Wilkinson was born in Cumberland April 23, 1791. He also was a man of extraordinary inventive genius, and his name is embalmed in the history of the celebrated reed-machine. He received for his patent in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, $17,777 in gold. He was mobbed in England by those whose occupation was materially affected by the introduction of his invention. The Colt revolver is said to be this man's invention, and that Mr. Colt obtained the patterns from a French officer, to whom Mr. Wilkinson had intrusted them for his own personal inspection. Mr. Colt, it is claimed, made a copy of these models and got them patented upon his return to America. However the case may be, Mr. Colt has at least reaped the greatest pecuniary benefit, and has the honor of the invention, although he himself lays no claim to being the original inventor of this celebrated instrument. After years of severe labor, and many disappointments, Mr. Wilkinson brought out his great invention, and one that stamps his name among the world's illustrious benefactors. The rotary cylindrical printing-press was the offspring of his genius, and although patented and claimed by other men, the honor belongs to Mr. Wilkinson, and justly merits the recognition its importance demands.
Simon Wilkinson was born in Cumberland, Sept. 24, 1743, and died July 9, 1819. He was a great mathematician, and was conversant with the science of astronomy. He could repeat the names of the principal stars, and explain many of the principles of that intricate science to his less educated neighbors, who regarded him with admiration. He was a surveyor, and was frequently called upon to settle disputes growing out of the settlement of boundaries, &c. He filled the position of justice of the peace for many years, and was considered authority upon all questions of law, and died bearing the enviable appellation of the 'Peace Maker'.
James Wilkinson was born Oct. 8, 1788, and died July 19, 1862. He early developed an inventive turn of mind, and many of his productions were executed with remarkable skill and have made his name famous in New England history. Specimens of wire are said to be now in existence at the wire-works at Winchester, Mass., drawn by him, and are so fine that the orifice through which the wire was drawn will scarcely admit the rays of light. He was also an excellent mathematician and was exceedingly skillful with the pen and pencil. As a designer he had few equals, and many of his works were exceedingly curious, as is evidenced from the minute trap he made, from steel, for catching flies. It was so small that it could be covered with a common writing-pen, and was quite successful in the accomplishment of the purpose for which it was designed.
Jemima Wilkinson was born in Cumberland, Nov. 19, 1752, and is, without doubt, the most singular as well as celebrated female character Rhode Island has ever produced. When she was about eighteen years of age, she became very much impressed with matters of a religious nature. A great religious excitement prevailed about this time in the county of Providence, and soon spread itself all over the State, through the efforts and preaching of George Whitfield. Jemima became very much interested and a great change came over her life. From a gay, spirited girl she became a sort of recluse, and spent her time in the study of the scriptures and deep meditation.
In 1775 she was stricken with a severe fever, and during her illness she pretended to have a vision from on high, and received a call, as she was pleased to term it, to go out and preach to the sin-burdened world. She arose suddenly one night, demanded her clothes, and appeared to be in a trance. The next Sabbath she preached her first sermon under the old oaktree we have mentioned in another part of this work. Her words made a decided sensation upon her hearers. She styled herself the 'People's Universal Friend', and ever afterward was known by that appellation. She travelled through the country preaching her peculiar doctrine and soon surrounded herself with many devoted followers.
For some six years she made her home at Judge Potter's, in Kingstown. The Judge was a wealthy land-holder and became one of her most devoted admirers. When others began to desert her and cry her down as an imposter and a selfish, scheming woman, the Judge became all the more infatuated, and no means were spared to sustain her cause and protect her from the calumnies of her enemies. Wherever she went, the Judge was her companion, and when she finally resolved to leave her native State and settle in the wilds of western New York, Mr. Potter was among the most prominent advocates of this movement.
He at last became embarrassed financially, and his fine estate was sold, and in his old age he was compelled to live in straitened circumstances, a victim of infatuated devotion to this artful adventuress. She claimed for herself supernatural powers, and great crowds often congregated to witness some of her wonderful performances. She several times attempted to raise the dead, and her failures were attributed to want of faith in those who had assembled to witness the verification of her pretended supernatural powers. She removed with a few followers to Yales County, N. Y., and settled at a place which they called New Jerusalem. Here she spent the remainder of her eventful life, and died July 1, 1819. After her death her followers remained for several years and kept up their peculiar organization.
The history of this woman has been written by several different parties, and the fallacy of her pretended inspiration received the verdict it so justly merited. And yet, that she was a woman possessed of more than ordinary abilities and some admirable traits of character it would be more than folly to deny. She lived in an age when ignorance and superstition in matters of religion were more prevalent than now, and it is not strange that she drew to her faith many good and honest people. Experience teaches that there is no creed without its believers and no delusion without its dupes. The saying that 'murder will out' is accepted as truth, and the excitement attending the supposed celestial powers of this artful woman was shrewdly turned to account, and avarice preyed upon credulity. A great revolution is silently making its way through the world by the developing influences of education, the freedom of thought and the press, and will end in promoting the highest interests of the race, and remove forever the last vestige of religious superstition and fanaticism.
Aaron White was quite a celebrated character and lived for many years on Cumberland Hill. He was a lawyer by profession and manifested not a little degree of ability. He was quite eccentric and possessed a strong dislike for the female sex. So far did he carry this feeling of enmity toward women, that he received the appellation of the 'Woman Hater'. He lived alone and did all his own cooking and other household work. He afterwards removed to Connecticut, and it is said that there a gushing widow made an attack upon the fortress of the old man's heart, and, although stoutly defending it from this assault of the enemy, an entrance was finally effected and he married the fair captor.
Dr. Belchor resided about midway between Hawkins' mill and Abbott's, on the west side of the Lanesville road. The old house stands to-day in comparatively good repair, and is the oldest house in the town. The doctor settled here at an early day, and enjoyed an excellent reputation as a practitioner. The house is still in possession of the Belchor family, and was erected soon after King Philip's war. Among the other physicians that have practiced here, were Doctors Whitaker, Lamb, Tyler, Mason and Cleveland. The present practicing physician in this vicinity is Dr. Henry W. Stillman, who settled here in 1858. All these gentlemen have borne an excellent reputation, not only as skillful practitioners, but as worthy and respected citizens.
Incidents of Early Times.
In July, 1754, George Denning of Mendon, but a native of Devonshire, Eng., asked the privilege of remaining within the limits of the town for a short time, and John Allen of Bridgewater presented a like petition; which the council granted, on condition that they behave themselves in a quiet and orderly manner. The time allowed them was six months. These persons were poor, and this fact undoubtedly aroused a suspicion in the minds of the selectmen that they might become a public charge. In order to avoid any such catastrophe, the town fathers resorted to these rigorous measures, and thus limited the time of their residence.
The house now owned and occupied by Liberty Jencks was, in the time of Philip's war, a block-house, to which the people were accustomed to flee for protection, when pressed by their savage foes. Upon one occasion, Simon Wilkinson and family were driven there by the Indians. They came up to where Wilkinson lived, but finding that the family had fled, they wreaked their vengeance upon a hog they found comfortably housed in a pen close by. They then set out in pursuit of the family, but they had succeeded in reaching the old block-house, and were safe from the bands of the dusky savages.
In the extreme northwestern part of the town is a celebrated place known as Beacon Hill. It derives its name from the following incident: In Revolutionary times a beacon-pole was set up on the top of this hill. The pole was some seventy feet high, to the top of which was hoisted a kettle of tar. This was fired, as occasion demanded, for a warning to the people. It served as a signal of danger, and the people would at once prepare themselves for the emergency, and usually rendezvoused at the old Belchor house. Every man in the town capable of bearing arms fought in that early struggle for the establishment of American Independence, save one, and he was a man by the name of Inman, who has been so unfortunate as to lose his reason. The women attended to the duties of the farm, while the men were at the front battling for home and country. Those were indeed 'times that tried men's souls', and it may, with all propriety, be added, and women's too.
Duel Hollow is located about a mile north of Cumberland Hill. This spot is celebrated as being the place where two Boston men fought a duel in 1833. They arrived on a Sunday, and the seconds placed the combatants in position, and gave the order to fire. The result was the wounding of one of the contestants in the knee, after which this party of Bostonian chivalry returned from whence they came. The bullet was afterwards found, and carried to the hill and preserved as a relic of those chivalrous days, when a personal insult or injury was avenged at the muzzle of a pistol. The sheriff, Amos Cook, Jr., and Fenner Brown were sent to Boston to arrest the parties, but the expedition proved unsuccessful. From this incident the place took the name of 'Duel Hollow', which appellation it has retained even to the present time.
During the Dorr rebellion this town was one of his strongholds, and when the time came for action, his friends banded themselves together under Nathan Whipple, and proclaimed themselves ready to defend the principles of their chosen chief. This attempt to revolutionize the government of the State by means of physical force, met the fate it justly merited, and yet we can but admire the principle that was thus attempted to be established. While we applaud the liberal sentiment involved in the movement, we condemn the means resorted to for the accomplishment of its ends.
In the early history of the town, the town meetings were held at private houses. This often created a sort of jealousy among many of the citizens, who were desirous of having their places honored with this distinguished and important assembly. In order to allay any bitterness of feeling, it was finally agreed to put up the meeting at public auction, and it was knocked down to the highest bidder. Thus was obviated all spirit of rivalry, and whenever these meetings occurred a general good time was indulged in. The poor were also put up at auction and sold to the lowest bidder. This system prevailed until the erection of the present town asylum, where they are cared for at the expense of the town.
Perhaps the most interesting, as it certainly is the saddest incident that occurred in the early history of the town, is the tragic scene enacted at what is familiarly known as 'Nine Men's Misery'. Here on this spot was enacted one of the most tragic scenes that occurred during the whole campaign of Philip's war. It is located in the town of Cumberland, R. I., near the place called 'Camp Swamp', and on the farm now owned by Amasa Whipple. A pile of stone marks the spot, and calls to memory the sad event of nine men cruelly murdered by the Indians. There are several traditions given of this affair, among which are the following: --
'Daggett's History of Attleborough' gives this account of the event, which we give in full:
'A company of nine men were in advance of, or had strayed from their party for some purpose, when they discovered a number of Indians near the spot, whom they immediately pursued and attacked; but a large number of the enemy rushed out of the swamp and surrounded them. The whites, placing their backs to a large rock near by, fought with desperation until every one of them was killed on the spot. The rest of their party, who were in hearing of their guns, hastened to their succor, but arrived too late to render them any assistance. Their bodies were buried on the spot, which is now designated by a large pile of stones.'
Another tradition says, that these nine men were a part of a company sent out from Providence, to assist Captain Pierce and his brave little band, in the terrible struggle with the Indians, in which they were overpowered, and the brave captain and nearly all of his men perished in this tempest of blood. They did not reach the scene of engagement to render any assistance, and these nine men being in advance of the main party, were set upon by the Indians and cruelly butchered.
Still another version of the affair, and the one undoubtedly the best authenticated, is, that these nine men were a part of Captain Pierce's forces, and that they fell into the hands of the Indians as prisoners, and were set apart for the gratification of their barbarous torture. They were conveyed by the savages to this spot, and, as a preliminary ceremony, before entering upon their work of torture, they commenced a war-dance around their victims. In the course of their wild antics, a disagreement arose among themselves, when some of the Indians immediately set upon their unfortunate captives with their tomahawks, and slew them. Their bodies were mutilated, and left upon the spot, until discovered a few days afterwards by the English, and buried in a common grave.
This version of the affair appears to be the most probable, and substantiated by all the circumstances preceding it. They all agree as to its being about the date of 'Pierce's Fight, and the latter version of the story was related by an Indian that was captured soon after by the English. This fact, together with corroborative circumstances, seems to indicate this as the more probable and best entitled to credit. The place remains to-day, marked by a pile of stones, and is known as 'Nine Men's Misery'
Early Mills and Manufactures.
Among the early sites of manufacturing in this town, was what is called Robin Hollow, on the Abbott Run River. The first manufacturing done here was in the time of Charles II., when a royal license was obtained to manufacture tar. At this time there was a large, dense forest of pine in this locality, and great quantities of pitch were easily obtained for the manufacture of this product. The establishment continued in existence for many years.
In 1797, Benjamin Walcott erected a mill for the sawing of marble, which he operated for several years. In 1806-7, Elisha and Richard Waterman built a mill upon the site of the old marble works, and commenced the spinning of cotton-yarn. The cotton was picked by hand, then spun and put out to weave. Boys used to whip the cotton as it was taken from the bales. After the introduction of the cotton-gin, this labor was obviated.
This was the second cotton-mill in America, the first being at Pawtucket, an account of which will be found in the history of manufacturing in that town. It was situated on the east side of the river, opposite the present mill. This factory was a two-story building, 40 x 60 feet. The original mill was torn down in 1850. A building is now standing in Valley Falls, built out of materials taken from this old mill, and is familiarly known as Greenbush. Looms for weaving were introduced here about 1819 or 1820. Six of these machines were put in at this time. Mr. Richard Waterman sold to Bennett Whipple about this time, and Elisha Waterman and Mr. Whipple operated the mill until 1829. They became somewhat embarrassed financially, and Richard Carrique conducted the business for a while. Afterward, Henry Marchant operated the mill, and continued the business until the mill was torn down.
In 1852, Amasa Whipple owning one-eighth of the privilege, purchased of the other owners their interest, and erected a new mill on the west side, opposite the old mill. The building was a wooden structure, 40 x 80 feet, and two stories in height. In 1857, it was destroyed by fire, but immediately rebuilt. The mill contained about one thousand spindles, and was operated in the manufacture of thread. In 1863, it passed into the possession of the Cumberland Mill Company, A. Littlefield, Treasurer. The company has built a fine engine-house here, and made other necessary improvements. The mill contains thirty-three hundred and fifty spindles, and turns out thirty-five hundred pounds of yarn weekly. At the time when the marble works were in operation here, the locality was covered with a dense growth of pine, cedar, and hemlock, and it is said that robins were accustomed to gather here in great numbers, and from this circumstance the place derived its name, 'Robin Hollow'.
In King Charles the Second's time, a license was obtained to make hollow-ware. Messrs. Hatch & Wilmouth then erected a furnace on the west side of Abbott Run River, about midway between Robin Hollow and the Abbott Run factory, and called Iron Rust. Cannon were made here during the Revolution. Nothing has been done here for many years. Daniel Mowry took up the foundation-walls, in 1852, and worked the material into the mill and dam at Robin Hollow. The old furnace stood close to the river, on what is now known as the Hoppin Lot. On the south side of Bishop's Brook, at its junction with the Abbott Run River, and about a mile south of East Cumberland, was situated this ancient manufactory. Its name is said to have originated from the fact, that the small pools of water hereabouts were tinged with iron rust, caused no doubt from the iron-ore with which the hills abounded. A popular name at one time was the 'Fog Mill', the locality being peculiarly subject to fogs. Bishop's Brook being a small stream, additional power was obtained by cutting a trench along the base of the hill to the old furnace-dam, a half mile above this place, and a fall of fourteen feet was obtained.
The Walcotts, a family quite famous in their day, built a factory in 1820. It was a wooden structure, 30 x 40 feet, one story high, with an L, 16 x 24 feet; afterwards, another similar L was added. They commenced operations with sixteen power-looms, the yarn being spun at Hawkins. They continued operations until 1832, when Benjamin Crowningshield commenced the manufacture of cotton-bats, and continued until 1836. Since this time the mill has been torn down, and the privilege unimproved. Before removing, nails were made here for a few years.
A singular fact connected with the Walcott family, is that they all died very suddenly, commencing with the youngest, and following up in regular order, without a single break, to the oldest. Oliver was a great leaper, and it is said of him, that a beam, placed as high as he could reach with his hand, he would easily clear with a running jump.
About a half mile south of East Cumberland, upon the west side of Abbott's Run, and a little south of the foot-bridge, anciently stood an old foundry and smelting works, erected in 1736. The ore was carted here from the ore mine, a few miles west of this place. At this time this was by far the largest foundry in the country. It was run under the license from King George II. Cannon were made here that did service at Louisburg. After the Revolution, the business was discontinued, and the privilege remains unimproved. The remains of the old dam are still visible.
On the west side of Diamond Hill, and the northern branch of the west fork of Abbott's Run, is located what is known as Grant's Mill. The Tower family had a nail factory and a saw-mill, which they ran before the Revolution. The nail business was quite extensively carried on here, the iron being obtained at Taunton. The mill was situated a few rods south of the present mill. Joseph Brown owned and ran the privilege a few years. Samuel Grant purchased the property, and owned it when it was swept away by a great flood. Joseph Grant built a new saw and grist mill about 1818. It was a hundred feet above the site of the old mill, and is standing to-day, the property of Fenner Grant, who purchased it in 1848. In the extreme northeastern portion of the town, is situated Tingley's Mills. The eastern fork of the Abbott Run River passed through the place. Upon this stream, directly east of Diamond Hill, many years ago stood a saw-mill. Job Hathaway owned and operated it for many years, having inherited it from his father. The mill was torn down in 1863, and a carriage-shop erected by W. S. White, who now owns and runs it.
A short distance below this place, at an early day stood a grist-mill, erected by a Mr. Hathaway. His son subsequently purchased it, and operated it for some years. It changed hands several times, and finally came into the possession of John Arnold, who purchased it about 1870. About a mile above the new village of Lonsdale, on the old Mendon road as it crosses a small stream, is situated Peck's Mill. Levi Peck commenced to spin yarn here about the year 1810. The water power was not sufficient to run the mill successfully, and it was abandoned for spinning purposes. A saw-mill has been in operation here, winters only. No material improvements have been made here, and it remains to-day unchanged.
Happy Hollow is situated a short distance east of Valley Falls, on the Abbott Run River. Its name is said to have its origin from the fact that in the early days of manufacturing, and before the town had public guardians of the peace, a set of men living here at the time used to be quite boisterous when in their cups. The selectmen of the place used to cause their arrest and confinement in the old sizing-house, where they used to sing and howl, making night hideous with their drunken revelry. Hence, the appellation of Happy Hollow. A small cotton factory was started here in 1818, by Crawford Titus. It was a wooden structure, two stories high, with basement, and contained about 2,000 spindles. In 1825 a square brick mill was built, adjoining the old mill, by Harris & Titus. This firm failed in 1829, or thereabouts. In 1834 the property passed into the possession of Crawford Allen, Milton S. Moss, Benjamin Fessenden, and George Nightingale. It is still running under this firm-title. The brick mill is a beautiful three-story structure, with tower or belfry rising from centre of building. The two mills contain 4,500 spindles, and turn out 20,000 yards of print-cloths per week. A short distance south of Diamond Hill, and upon the west fork of Abbott Run, Jason Newell put up a saw-mill, about the year 1820. A fulling-mill had been in operation years before, and continued until 1838, when it was destroyed by fire. Mr. Newell moved a dam a few rods down the stream, and then built a new saw-mill and a small factory 25 x 40 feet, two stories high. It was occupied at first as a machine-shop, and leased by Jesse Whiting. He made forge machinery, and operated a trip-hammer by water-power. A Mr. Abbott then leased the building, and drew lead pipe by a peculiar process of his own invention, but it did not prove a success. Allen Haskill leased the building and put in six looms, and commenced the manufacture of negro cloth. In 1858 the mill was partially destroyed by fire, but immediately rebuilt, and was leased by Arnold & Sheldon, who occupied it as a sash and blind factory. Subsequently, Tisdale & Thayer operated it in the manufacture of cotton-bats. Alfred Peck then leased it, and occupied it about four years as a boat-shop. Since this time, the mill has remained idle. The saw-mill has been run by Mr. Newell ever since its erection, in 1838.
Abbott's, once Rawson's, a woolen factory, 50 x 30 feet, two and a half stories high, with basement, was first built here in 1840, by Rawson & Crowningshield. It was operated by them until 1857, when Mr. Crowningshield died. William M. Rawson, the surviving partner, has run it since, manufacturing cotton-yarn. This is a small hamlet, situated upon Abbott's Run, about three-quarters of a mile above Hawkins. The New York and New England Railroad has a station here, known as Abbott's.
Rhode Island Horseshoe Company, located at Valley Falls, commenced business in 1867, under the name of Union Horseshoe Company. They erected fine and commodious buildings on Dyer Street, just below the Point-street Bridge. The sold out, and the present company was organized in 1872. This new company erected large and convenient building near the river, and west of the railroad. They manufacture an excellent style of horse and mule shoe, that finds a ready sale in all the markets of the country. The officers of the company are: F. W. Carpenter, President; C. H. Perkins, Agent; R. W. Comstock, Secretary. Boat-building used to form an important feature in the manufacturing industries of the town.
In 1790, Alexander Thompson moved into the town from Providence, and brought with him an industry that became one of the leading features in the town, that of boat-building. It is said that in 1815 there could be counted within a short distance of East Cumberland and Diamond Hill no less than nineteen boat-shops. The principal boats manufactured here were yawls, surf, and whale boats. These found a market at Boston, Warren, and Providence. This industry was continued until 1860, when it was abandoned.
Mines, Quarries, &c.
It is generally conceded by geologists that there is no town in New England that is richer in mineral productions than Cumberland. So well was this fact established, that the name bestowed upon the town was taken from Cumberland, Eng; a place which is said to contain more traces of the various valuable metals than any other in England. Beside the new Staples Road, on the north side, Mr. James H. Rickard, in blasting rocks, discovered lead and silver. No material efforts have as yet been made, however, to investigate the matter. A short distance west of this spot, some traces of magnesia have been found, but in no paying quantities. Perhaps further investigation might lead to some interesting results. A short distance east of the copper mine, parties have mined for smoky quartz, a species that is very rare. The specimens found here were beautifully crystallized.
A soapstone mine was opened just back of Mowry Staples's house, and tons of this article were sent to Providence and other places, to be used as a lining for furnaces. The business, however, has been discontinued since the introduction of clay for the same purpose. The mine remains to-day unimproved.
On the land owned by Joseph Burlingame is located the celebrated gold-mine. This mine was opened by General Leach of Massachusetts. He found that the mine contained nothing but iron pyrites. The general soon learned, to his great loss, that it is 'not all gold that glitters'. No doubt that when Mr. Tower discovered the copper-mine he thought that he had found gold, and so earnestly did he entertain the idea, that he spent a fortune in a vain search for the precious metal. In regard to the copper-mine, it may be interesting to read the following facts: A tunnel 250 feet long was run into the hill, while shafts of more than one hundred feet deep are found here. The mine remains unimproved, and is a monument of disappointed hopes.
The celebrated iron mountain is situated about a mile and a half north of Cumberland Hill. The ore is quite pure, and considerable quantities were dug and used in foundries in years past. General Leach used quantities of it in his foundry in Massachusetts, and thought quite favorably of it. There is some talk of building a railroad to the place for the better transportation of this product. Should this enterprise be carried into effect, it will undoubtedly open a new branch of industry, profitable to the people of the town. This ore-bed is said to be largest in New England. South of this place, a sort of loadstone has been found, and is said to be of great purity. Limestone is also found here on Copper-Mine Hill. No experiment as yet has been made as to its commercial value.
It is an undisputed fact that the town of Cumberland affords a rich field for the study of the geologist, and no doubt that important discoveries may yet be made here. The coal-mine, so celebrated in Cumberland history, was situated at the junction of High Street and the old Mendon Road, about a mile east of Lonsdale, and a short distance above Valley Falls. Timothy W. Dexter, while digging a well, came upon a black rock, which an Englishman, passing by at the time, pronounced as coal. A grate was obtained, and it was found that it would burn for a short time, and then smoulder out. This was in 1807.
A company was afterwards formed, consisting of Benjamin G. and Timothy W. Dexter, Elisha Waterman, and Benjamin Walcott. They sunk a shaft, and found coal in large quantities. This was about 1838. This shaft was erected about three rods from Mrs. Dexter's house in her front yard, on the north side of the road, a few rods east of the three-hundred-foot shaft. When about one hundred feet deep, Benjamin Dexter, a son of Timothy, was killed, and the work abandoned. A company from Portland, Me., took hold of the mine, and commenced operations in the three-hundred-foot shaft. They continued to work it for a short time, when another company was formed, and sunk the shaft deeper. Joseph Mason lost his life in the mine, and it was again abandoned. The coal was found unprofitable for fuel purposes, and the people of Cumberland used to say that when the angel should sound his trumpet, and the earth be enveloped in one grand conflagration, that they would preserve themselves from the ravages of the fiery elements, by perching themselves upon a heap of Cumberland coal.
The Blackstone coal-mine has proved more successful, and yields remunerative profit to the company now working it. Thirty years ago, a Mr. Chase, while digging a cellar for a house, came upon a bed of coal, which looked so promising, that the attempt to build was abandoned, and a stock company was formed to work the mine. The company styled itself the 'Blackstone Mining Company'. They leased the land, and commenced operations twenty years ago. C. N. & J. L. Clark purchased the property, and have since continued to operate it. The coal is ground into facing, and is considered a first-class article. The company have erected commodious buildings, and have made extensive excavations. At present, the company turn out one hundred barrels of facing per week, which is shipped to every part of the United States. The article is known as No. 13, a grade finer than bolted flour.
Northwesterly from Diamond Hill is situated a granite quarry, containing the finest quality of stone for building purposes in New England. The great bridge in process of construction at Poughkeepsie, N. Y., has its foundation stones from this quarry. The contract was awarded by the committee only after a severe test had been made of the stone by scientific men. They pronounced it the best among a hundred specimens from as many different quarries in the United States. The Diamond Hill Granite Company was chartered June, 1877, George F. Wilson, President. The company have built a half-mile railroad connecting with the main road at Diamond Hill. A forty-horse-power engine is used hoisting cars and operating the drills. A large amount of money has been expended here and the vast enterprise is now upon a permanent foundation and has a destiny of undoubted success in the future.
This thriving little place is situated on the Blackstone River, two and a half miles above Lonsdale. The Lonsdale Company purchased land here in 1863, and in 1867 erected a fine large, brick structure 348 x 90 feet, four stories high, surmounted with a French roof. At the north end of the mill is attached the motive power, which consists of water-wheels of the newest and most improved pattern, and a Corliss steam-engine of three hundred horse-power. In the centre of the mill rises two beautiful towers, in one of which is a fine bell of peculiar sweetness in tone. To the south of the mill is a fine and commodious office, and still south of the office is a large and beautiful storehouse. The Providence and Worcester Railroad runs close by the mill, affording ample convenience for transportation to and from the mill. A neat and convenient station is found here, similar in design to that at Berkeley. The mill company have several beautiful brick buildings for the accommodations for fifty boarders. A prominent feature in their mill is the excellent arrangement in case of fire. Each floor can be deluged at once, and the employees are afforded means of escape independent of the towers. A store or two furnishes supplies for the operatives, and a few houses belonging to private individuals, together with the mill and its surroundings, constitute the main part of Ashton. The mill has 40,000 spindles and manufactures fine shirtings, known in market as 'Lonsdale Company's Cambric Muslin'. Mr. George Sparhawk is Assistant Superintendent.
Berkeley is situated about half mile below Ashton, on the east side of Providence and Worcester Railroad, which runs between the village and the Blackstone River. The name of the place was bestowed upon it by R. H. Ives, in honor of Bishop Berkeley. The elegant mill here was erected in 1872. Its dimensions are 300 x 90 feet, four stories high, with an L 20 x 90 feet, three stories high. It contains a beautiful Corliss engine of five hundred horse power. The mill contains 40,000 spindles and manufactures the finest class of cotton goods, -- cambric muslins and fine shirtings. The company have numerous fine tenements for the accommodation of their employees. The mill is connected by telegraph with Ashton and Lonsdale. The firm-title of the company is the 'Berkeley Manufacturing Company', Goddard & Page, Agents, and A. P. Sisson, Superintendent.
Cumberland Hill is situated in the northwestern part of the town, about a mile east of Manville. This village was anciently the seat of the town government, and even yet the district election is held here. Up to 1868, the town council met here, but since that time they hold their meetings in Valley Falls. Cumberland Hill contains a tavern, a store, two churches, and a bank, the only one in the town. This institution was chartered in 1822, and went into operation May, 1823. Its capital stock was $50,000. President, Wm. Gillson; Cashier, Alexander Ballou. The stock has been increased several times. In 1865, it was changed to a national bank. At this time, Otis D. Ballou was president. Its present officers are: President, Davis Cooke; Cashier, George Cooke, elected in 1839. Capital stock, $125,000. Dog-Hill was a name given to the place some years ago, and its history is a little amusing. This grew out of a celebrated dog-suit that was held here. A farmer owned a very vicious dog, and he was accustomed to run out at every person that chanced to pass by. Finally, a neighbor shot the dog, and a suit was brought by the owner of the animal for damages. A great crowd had gathered to witness the proceedings. The justice seemed to be in sympathy with the party that shot the 'pup', as his final decision clearly demonstrates. He decided that the dog's skin should be stuffed, and sold to the highest bidder, and the proceeds invested in rum for the whole party. This was done, and the stuffed 'dorg' was sold and resold several times, and the proceeds invested in treating the crowd. The result was a general good time, and the plaintiff undoubtedly forgot the loss of his favorite dog in the hilarities of the occasion.
A short distance east of the above-mentioned village, upon land owned by Lyman Burlingame, stands an interesting clump of rocks. These primitive rocks have been thrown up by the convulsions of nature into many fantastic shapes. Several caverns are found here, the largest of which is familiarly known as 'Mollie's Bed-room'. This used to be a famous Indian resort, and this mass of rocks is called Indian Rocks.
This elevation of land is situated between the east and west forks of Abbott's Run, in the northern part of the town. Here is found the largest mass of crystallized quartz in New England. Among its rocks are a great number of metals. Iron-ore was dug here a great many years ago, and a Mr. Lapham, who had a smelting-furnace at Manville, tested it, and pronounced it of excellent quality, but not of sufficient quantity to render it profitable. Mr. John Gould owned the entire hill at one time, and spent considerable time and money searching for the precious metals, with no great success.
On the western side of the hill is an abrupt cliff, of great height. A party of hunters were in pursuit of a deer, and the dogs drove the poor creature on to the brow of this cliff. Seeing death in the rear, and escape almost impossible in front, the affrighted creature leaped over the cliff, and disappeared in the chasm beneath. The dogs, eager for their prey, worked themselves part way down the precipice, and landed upon a cliff from which it was impossible for them to return. The hunters saw their dilemma, and set their wits to work to devise some means to recover them. A novel idea struck them, and they hastened away to a farmer's house near by, and procuring a rope and the services of one of his slaves, they returned to the brow of the cliff. The fastened the rope to the body of the negro, and lowered him over the precipice to the spot where the dogs were imprisoned. He took one under each arm, and the men above hoisted negro and dogs, and landed them safely upon terra firma. The deer was found near the brook at the base of the hill. The poor beast was found to have broken three legs in his desperate leap for liberty, and yet was still alive, and battled hard to escape his prisoners.
Diamond Hill Village is situated in the northern part of the town, and nearly south of Diamond Hill. It contains a hotel and store, in which is located the post-office, established here in 1852. The Rhode Island and Massachusetts Railroad was built through the village in 1877, and its influence is already felt in the new impulse noticeable in all its varied industries. New houses are being erected, and the future of this little village is destined to a successful progress.
East Cumberland, formerly Arnold's Mills, is situated a short distance from Diamond Hill, in a southeasterly direction, and upon the Abbott Run River. The view here is very fine, and the grand old elms standing in front of many of the residences, tell the story of centuries past. The Arnold family improved the privilege for several generations, and gave the original name to the place. In 1873, a post-office was established here, as East Cumberland. It has been discontinued, however, for the past year.
1734, Richard Atwell sold the privilege to William Walcott, Daniel Wilkinson, and James Streeter, reserving to himself a quarter-interest in the privilege. These parties immediately erected a saw-mill. Afterwards they sold out to Amos Arnold, and it remained in his family several generations. A grist-mill was erected opposite the saw-mill, which was operated until 1862. Joseph and Ebenezer Metcalf built a machine-shop here in 1825, which is still standing. They made cotton-machinery, and a specialty of spinning-frames, which were famous in their day. In 1840, Mowry Taft and Charles B. Carpenter purchased the property, but made no improvements. These parties sold out in 1850 to Charles Metcalf, who made one spinning-frame, and it was said to be a very fine one. Since that time, the building has stood idle. In the meantime the old dam became dilapidated, and in 1875 Simeon Derry built a new dam, which is a very fine one indeed. This was the first improvement for twenty-five years. Mr. Derry has also erected a carriage salesroom.
The Rhode Island and Massachusetts Railroad passes through the place, and adds to the commercial importance of the village. On the site of the old saw-mill we have mentioned, Lewis Arnold operated a trip-hammer by water-power. He used to work up old iron into picks, chains, bars, &c., This business has long since been discontinued. The remains of ditches are seen here, the work of Lewis, John and Jabez Walcott. They were built in the last century for irrigating purposes, and were considered a marvel in those early days. Dr. Metcalf was early settled here as a physician, and left a son, Draper, who practiced here a lifetime. Dr. Benjamin Tingley has been a resident physician here since 1873, and enjoys an excellent reputation. A short distance west of this place is the William Bishop house. He was one of the first Methodists in America, and here the early circuit-rider found a friend and a home. The first Methodist sermon preached in the town was at this house. His family still cling to the faith of their ancestor.
Hawkins is situated on the Abbott Run, three miles above Robin Hollow. About 1813, John Walcott and Dr. Nathaniel Potter, built a factory here. It was a plain wooden structure, 40 x 30 feet, two stories high, with basement. It was operated in the manufacture of cotton-yarn. Mr. Potter died in 1825, when the Walcotts ran the mill until 1840. In 1818 four upright looms were set up in this factory. They were made by John Thorp, a native of the town, and one of the best natural mechanics of his day. These looms ran about a year, when they were cut down to the Scottsman's flat loom. The mill contained some six hundred spindles. The Walcotts discontinued business about 1840, and in 1845 the mill was destroyed by fire. The privilege remained unimproved until 1850, when it was purchased by William Hawkins, who erected a saw and grist mill. In 1870, the present owner, G. W. Hawkins, bought the property, and has since operated the mills.
Lonsdale is situated in the south part of the town upon the line of the Providence and Worcester Railroad. The Lonsdale Company erected here, in 1860, a fine, large brick mill, 250 x 50 feet, four stories high, with attic. In 1871 they built another beautiful mill, 192 x 90 feet, four stories high. The two mills contain 54,000 spindles, and turn out a fine quality of sheetings. Numerous fine tenements have been erected for the accommodation of their army of operatives. The mills and town are lighted with gas, manufactured at the company's works. Lonsdale, like Ashton, is owned by the Lonsdale Manufacturing Company, the Goddard Bros., Agents. Gilbert W. Pratt, Assistant Superintendent. The old oak-tree in Lonsdale is an historical relic of the past. It is held in great veneration by the citizens of the place, and an iron railing has been placed around it. The tree is supposed to be three hundred years old, but is now rapidly going to decay. It is said, by good authorities, that these trees are one hundred years maturing, they flourish another hundred, and decay in the third and last hundred years.
In 1843, quite an eccentric clergyman, a fine scholar, however, by the name of James C. Richmond, while passing this oak, noticed the natural advantages of the place, and appointed a religious meeting to be held under its branches. When the day arrived, an immense crowd assembled, and the meetings were continued, under the auspices of Mr. Richmond, for some time. At this time, Millerism was predestining the end of all sublunary things, and the fallacy of its peculiar ideas were warmly opposed by Elder Richmond.
Manville is situated on the Blackstone River, near the Woonsocket and Lincoln line. Manufacturing was started at quite an early date. Before the Revolution a saw and grist mill was in operation, as also a foundry and smelting furnace. The ore was obtained from the iron mountain, a few miles distant, and worked up into cannon-balls. It stood between Nos. 2 and 3 mill, and was operated by a Mr. Lapham. The old grist and saw mill just in front of No. 2, years afterward a tannery, was owned and operated by a Mr. Bartlett. This stood on the site of the present No. 3 mill. These buildings were removed when the present mill was built, in 1872, and the other old buildings disappeared in 1826, upon the building of No. 2 mill.
The Farmers' Company erected a mill known as No. 1, 35 x 118 feet, three stories high. It occupied the site of the present company's office, and was removed to its present location, and a basement added, about fifteen years since. They sold out to Samuel Mann, who afterwards had a partner, and ran under the firm-name off Johnson and Mann. In 1826 they built the No. 2 mill, 40 x 300 feet, and five stories high, with basement; since which time two large Ls have been added. In 1840 the mills were leased to Harkness & Stead for twenty years. The firm continued to occupy the property until 1856. In 1859 it was sold to Harvey & Chace, who conducted the business until 1863, when a new company was chartered, known as the 'Manville Company'. In 1872 this company built the large mill that is now operated by them. This is said to be the largest mill under one roof in the United States. It is a fine brick structure, 97 x 800 feet, five stories high, and contains 125,000 spindles, and 2,500 narrow looms. The mill has two towers on the river side, rising above the roof of the mill. There are two similar towers on the other side, not yet completed. The mill has every convenience for escape in case of fire. Its motive power is obtained by the use of four of the largest Laffell wheels. The company have in contemplation the erection of a sixteen hundred horse-power engine, and operates twenty thousand spindles. The No. 1 mill is run by water-power, and operates six thousand spindles. All of these mills are engaged, principally, in the manufacture of sheetings.
As early as 1810, William Harris built a cotton factory here, 108 x 40 feet, three stories high, with a capacity for 4,000 spindles. Mr. Harris continued operations until 1829, when he became somewhat involved. He effected a compromise with his creditors, and continued operations until 1831, when the mill was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt in 1834, and was operated by Crawford Allen & Co. From 1837 to 1840 it was leased, and afterwards purchased, by Messrs. Chace. The first mill was a wooden structure, and the second one was built of stone. It was 108 x 50 feet, and five stories high. Large additions have been made, and the mills together contain 18,000 spindles, and turn out 2,500 pieces of print-cloths weekly. The firm -title is the 'Valley Falls Manufacturing Company'. A. B. Chace, Treasurer. The village of Valley Falls is a flourishing centre, and its railroad facilities are second only to those of the metropolis.
Sons of Temperance, No. 30, was organized in 1866, with thirty members. Samuel O. Chace, W. P. At present the society has a membership of seventy-five. William Rose, W. P. The society meets in a fine hall, erected by the Valley Falls Company.
St., Joseph's Total Abstinence Society is also located at Ashton. It was organized in 1873. President, John Murray. It has at present one hundred and ten members, and is in every respect a worthy institution, and is in a flourishing condition.
Sovereigns of Industry. This society is of a secret nature, and has a representation of some twenty families.
Ashton Lodge, No. 3, I. O. G. T., was instituted or charted Aug. 3, 1877, with thirty-five charter members. Present membership is sixty. The lodge meets every Wednesday evening in the chapel at Ashton.
In 1839, at the January session of the General Assembly, a school-law was passed, under which the town of Cumberland elected, in June following, a school board, consisting of fifteen members. The board organized by electing Olney Ballou, President, and Fenner Brown, Secretary. The apportioned $1,052.84 among the districts of the town, in 1839. In June, 1841, the town was divided into twenty districts. In July, 1877, the committee apportioned $10,020. This increase of means for the support of the school system evinces a growing interest in the subject of education, and, on a continuance of this liberal sentiment, will depend its future prosperity. The town has, as a general thing, fine and commodious school buildings, which are under the charge of competent and accomplished teachers.
The Ballou Meeting-House. This ancient building was erected in 1700, and is without doubt the oldest church building in the State. It remains unaltered, excepting the outside, which has been renewed. The pews, altar, and gallery are unique in design. A cemetery of three acres borders on the north base of Iron Mountain, and contains the remains of the early pioneers of this section of the town. A neat wall encircles this hallowed spot. This church obtained a deed of the land in 1732, from James Ballou. The pastor at this time was Josiah Cooke, who remained its pastor for forty-five years. Nathaniel Cooke was pastor for about forty years; and Abner Ballou for thirty-five years. Elder Place was pastor for a short time. There has been no settled pastor since. At present all denominations are privileged to hold service here. A small Sabbath school, under the supervision of the Episcopals, is held each Sunday. Rev. A. Ballou, at the age of eighteen years, preached his first sermon in this building. Mrs. Susannah Harris, the last surviving charter member, gave Isaac C. Ballou a trustee deed of the house and lot; the house to be used for all Protestant denominations, a preference to be given to the faith of the donor. This instrument was effected when the old lady had reached the great age of 100 years; although feeble in body, her mental powers were undimmed. Mr. Ballou has faithfully adhered to the conditions of the trust so sacredly placed upon him.
The Old Baptist Church at Abbott's was situated on the east side of the Lanesville road, upon the site now occupied by D. A. Thompson's house. It was built about the year 1700. It was a wooden structure, two stories high, with a large gallery. Its size was 30 x 60 feet, and it was torn down in 1825. Under an oak-tree that stood in front of this church, the celebrated Jemima Wilkinson made her first speech, and was listened to with attention.
The Baptist Catholic Society was chartered January, 1797. It held its meetings during warm weather in the shade of the old oak-tree at Lonsdale. These meetings were discontinued about 1860.
The Baptist Church at Valley Falls was organized Sept. 3, 1832, with twenty-five members. Rev. Dr. R. E. Patterson of Providence preached the sermon. Rev. Amos Lefavor of Connecticut was their first pastor, at a salary of three hundred dollars per year, the church agreeing to remove his family and household goods to Valley Falls, and furnish a tenement free of expense. The church joined the Warren Association in 1833. Rev. B. P. Byram took charge Jan. 15, 1840. The new house of worship was dedicated Jan. 14, 1840. Rev. Mr. Welch of Warren preached the ordination sermon. Rev. Dr. John Dowling of Providence preached the dedicatory sermon. A colony from the church was organized into an independent church at Lonsdale the same year. Rev. Mr. Byram was succeeded by Rev. Phineas Bond in 1850. The pastors have been Revs. George Silver, J. G. Richardson, A. W. Ashley, George Gill, Henry W. Jones, C. W. Burnham, and Edwin W. Wheeler, the present pastor, who took charge Oct. 1, 1874. The church and Sunday school united in an effort, during the year 1877, to rebuild their house of worship, which was most successfully accomplished. Its present membership in one hundred and fifty. The Sabbath school has a membership of two hundred and eighty-nine. The library consists of twelve hundred volumes.
The Cumberland Catholic Baptist Society was chartered 1795. Abner Bartlett and Whipple Levitt gave them an acre of land on the west side of the Mendon Road, a short distance south of the present church. A church was built from the proceeds of a lottery. It was built about 1800; size, 36 x 38 feet. About 1840, the town offered to repair the building, provided the society would allow them the use of it for elections and other public meetings. The society agreed to do so, and the town fulfilled its agreement and took possession of part of the building. The town meetings were held here until the building was destroyed by fire, about the year 1858. An interesting question of law is now at issue, whether the town is obliged to replace the building.
This society used to hold meetings under the old oak-tree at Lonsdale. Upon the same lot a few influential men erected a school-house. It was chartered as the Cumberland School-house, in 1795. It did not make much progress, and in 1800 another charter was obtained as the Cumberland Academy Company. A building was put up about this time. In February, 1814, another charter was obtained as Cumberland Union School Company. In 1819, another charter was obtained for a new society, the Cumberland Literary Society. This united with the other society in sustaining a library in connection with the school. These two societies continued quite flourishing a number of years. After the establishment of the public-school system, in 1839, and the building of district school-houses, the year following, the enterprise went down. The building was sold and moved off the land. It is still standing and used as a dwelling-house. Its dimensions were 24 x 44 feet, one story high.
The Cumberland Hill Baptist Church was formed July, 1841. Rev. church had thirty members, and seventy in the Sabbath school; a library of two hundred and twenty-five volumes. Rev. James W. Russell accepted the pastoral charge June 2, 1850. Its pastors have been Rev. Frederick Wiley, Rev. J. D. Donovan, Rev. J. P. Burbank, Rev. Mathew Colvin, Rev. J. G. Richardson, Rev. C. Bray, who closed his pastorate about 1870; since that time it has been supplied. It is a large, commodious building, with belfry. It cost about $3,000. It was chartered October, 1844, and is located on the west side of the Mendon road, nearly opposite the Episcopal church.
The Friends Meeting House. This house of worship was built in 1809, principally through the liberality of Samuel Hill. It is a two-story building, about thirty feet square. This is probably the largest society of Friends in the State. This house is used by the society of Friends regularly on their days of worship. The history of this society commences with the settlement of this place in early times, and the descendants of these early pioneers still hold to this grand old faith. This house is located on the west side of the Lanesville Road, about half a mile south of East Cumberland village, upon the brow of a sharp hill, south of which is a series of burial-grounds. An interesting feature in this repository of the dead, is the fact that there are monuments without an inscription, and are yet, even with the ground, telling the simple story of loved ones at rest.
The Methodist Church was built in 1828; enlarged in 1848. It is a two-story building, 36 x 60 feet; situated west of the village of East Cumberland, on the Attleborough Road. A cemetery of a few acres is just west of the church, and is neatly laid out. The first settled pastor was Peter Sabin, in 1833. Rev. Philo Hawkes is the present pastor. Its present membership is seventy-five. It has a flourishing Sabbath school. The church was chartered in 1867.
The Old Episcopal Chapel stands on the east side of the Mendon Road, opposite the Episcopal church. It is a plain structure, 60 x 25 feet, one story high. It is used as a reading-room by the library association of this place.
St. John's Episcopal Church is situated on the Mendon Road, on the brow of the hill, a little to the north of the village of Ashton. It was erected in 1868, at a cost of $6,000. It is a plain gothic building. It is beautifully finished on the inside, and will seat 300. Rev. D. G. Anderson was missionary pastor at first. Rev. R. B. Booth was first settled pastor in 1869. He was followed by Rev. N. P. Balcom, and he by Rev. Robert Murray, in 1874. The society was organized at the time the building was erected. Present membership about seventy.
St. Mary's Episcopal Mission Church was erected in 1877, at a cost of $4,000. It is a neat wooden structure, 30 x 48 feet, standing upon a lot 60 x 100 feet, which was given by Mrs. Fenner Brown. Mrs. William A. Weeden has interested herself in building this church, and to her efforts the building owes its existence. The building is owned by the diocese. A flourishing Sabbath school is held in the building, of which Mrs. Weeden is superintendent. The house has not as yet received its furniture. The bishop will open the house in the spring of 1878.
Cumberland Universalist Church was erected May, 1873, at Chapel Four Corners. It is a neat wooden structure, 27 x 35 feet. It was dedicated August, 1873, and cost $2,800. A small but interesting Sabbath school in connected with this church, of which Mrs. Sarah C. Carpenter is superintendent. To this lady's energy the church owes its existence. This church stands upon the northwest corner of the junction of the streets.
The Universalist Sabbath-School Society was organized in 1868, with sixty members; chartered in January, 1872. Alex S. Arnold was the first and present superintendent. Its present membership is one hundred. This society owns a small wooden chapel, situated on the east side of Broad Street, a short distance from the river-bridge in Valley Falls. Its dimensions are 50 x 32 feet, with an L., sixteen feet square; and cost including lot, $3,000.
St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church was erected in 1871, at a cost of $8,000. It is a wooden structure of a very peculiar construction. It is plainly furnished, and will seat about six hundred persons. It is situated midway between Ashton and Berkeley, on the Mendon Road. Near it is a neat little parsonage and school-building, designed for the education of Catholic children. Father Fitzsimons was the first, and is the present pastor.
St. Patrick's Church. This beautiful church and parish are situated near the river, about half-way between Valley Falls and Lonsdale, and are the result of the labors of Father Delaney of Pawtucket, and the liberal support of the friends of the Catholic faith. It was built in 1860, and dedicated, with appropriate ceremonies, in July, 1861. The parish numbers 3,500 souls, and has a fine Sunday school, numbering some five hundred pupils. A building, nearly completed, is to contain a beautiful hall, while the lower floor is to be devoted to school purposes. At the dedication, Father O'Gorman succeeded to the pastoral charge of the parish, and remained until 1864, when he was succeeded by Father Mullen, who remained until 1868, when Father O'Rieley [sic] took charge of the parish, and remained until 1872. Rev. Father Kane succeeded him, and is the present incumbent. Both church and society are in a prosperous and flourishing condition, and under the excellent management of their present active and energetic pastor, are destined to an undoubted success in the future.