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

Block Island, Page 1

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

  Lease of Life, Ray T. Sands to Col. Ray Sands 1797

  1810 Letter To Nancy (Paine) Sands From Her Sister Phebe Ray (Paine) Carruthers

  1813 Letter To Nancy (Paine) Sands in Care of John Sands, Jurist, Block Island, RI

  1816 Letter To John Paine, Esquire, Block Island, C/O Capt. William Littlefield,
            Newport, RI

Archives  Hon. Barzilla B. Mitchell--The ancestors of the Mitchell family of Block Island 

Block Island Introduction

The following transcriptions of the original letters were donated by Karen M. Foley, originally from Narragansett, who would like to give special thanks to her Aunt Nancy J. Pullis, of Falmouth Maine, without whom she would never have become involved in genealogy. Assisting Karen with the transcriptions was historian friend Robert Downie, of Block Island.

Karen's Notes:  Most of these letters were mailed to Block Island, some from Georgia from the estate of Catherine and General Nathanael Greene to family on Block Island. The Cornelia of the letters is Cornelia Lott Greene (married for the second time to Edward Littlefield) daughter of Catherine Littlefield Greene and General Nathanael Greene. She was writing to her cousin, Nancy (Paine) Sands, [Karen's] 3rd great grandmother. The Phebe in the letters is Nancy's sister. Please note the names, the Rays and Sands were founding families of Block Island and they along with the Littlefields are mentioned extensively in RI history.  All documents are from Block Island, all letters were mailed to Block Island, through Newport, with original postmarks still intact in most cases. Also, Cornelia talks about having "not a soul in her own family" around, Catharine Greene cut all ties with her daughter about that time because of her marriage to her cousin Edward, son of Capt. William Littlefield also of the revolutionary war and brother to Catharine.

Karen recommends for in-depth information on Catharine Littlefield and her husband General Greene, "Caty, A Biography of Catharine Littlefield Greene" Author Stegeman. A paperback version is available through bookseller. Karen elaborates, "It is a fascinating BEHIND THE SCENES view of the revolutionary war and the characters we are talking about. For example, Gen. and Mrs. Greene were intimate friends of George and Martha Washington and named their first two children after them.  Also, Catharine's second husband, Phineas Miller, was a business partner of Eli Whitney in the invention of the cotton gin - which was financed by Catharine."

Lease of Life, Ray T. Sands to Col. Ray Sands 1797

The outside of this document is titled "Lease of Life, Ray T. Sands to Col. Ray Sands 1797" and has been copied as written to the best of my abilities. If a word was illegible I simply filled in the space with *****. The punctuation is the author's.
Transcribed by Karen M. Foley, January 1998.

TO ALL PEOPLE to whom these Presents shall come Greeting. Know Ye that where in my Honored Father Ray Sands of New Shoreham in the county of Newport and State of Rhode Island *** Yeoman hath by a certain Deed of conveyance under his and seal bearing date April the 11th AD 1797 hath given Granted and Bargained Conveyed and Confirmed unto me Ray T. Sands of the Same County and State above said a Certain tract of Land with the Privileges and Appointances as named in Said Conveyance; Now I do hereby for the Consideration of the Rents hereafter Specified; that is to Say he my Said Honored Father Paying me five cents *** year and Every Year During his Natural Life; than I do hereby for my Self my heirs Excetera and **** Covenant Promise and Engage that he my Said Honored Father shall and may Peaceably and Quietly use occupy possess and Enjoy the Said Lot of Land with the *** premises during his Natural Life without any set hindrance or molestation from me or any Person from by or under me In Witnesses where of I have hereunto Set my hand and Seal this fifteenth day of April in the Twenty first Year of Independence AD 1797.

Signed and Sealed and Delivered in the presence of Walter Rathbun (there is part of a capital R in this part with the rest of the corner, probably containing signatures torn away) 


These documents are made available free to the public for non-commercial purposes by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project. Donated and ©  by Karen M. Foley <kmfoley65@yahoo.com> 1998.

1810 Letter To Nancy (Paine) Sands
From Her Sister Phebe Ray (Paine) Carruthers

This letter, dated 1810, was mailed to Mrs. Nancy (Paine) Sands on Block Island, RI from her sister Phebe Ray (Paine) Carruthers (initials PRC). It was mailed from Dungeness the estate of Catherine Littlefield Greene, her aunt and wife of General Nathanael Greene, on Cumberland Island, Georgia. This letter was transcribed exactly as written. Punctuation and spelling belong to the author. Words that are illegible are filled in with *****.
Transcribed by Karen M. Foley.


Dungeness, March 30, 1810

I wrote you not long since my dear Sister by post which I hope soon to receive an answer to – saying our dearest father is restored to health and happyness – I have been extremely anxious about him – had it not been for Uncle Littlefield’s goodness in mentioning that you were all well in a letter to Aunt I should have been very miserable.

Cousin Cornelia is delighted with her little namesake – she has given me calaco enough to make her three frocks --- but I imagine she will be the bearer of them herself as she thinks of going North this summer --- dear little darling how I long to see her (trotting) about (the) house --- whom does she look like --- you must teach her to call her Aunty as soon as she can speak. Tell John I commission him to do that ---- I have nothing to send the dear little soul but some old frocks to make her some little slips. We have now delightful summer weather – the whole air is impregnated with the delightful perfume of the Orange **** ---

The Cotton has come up beautifully we have new potatoes --- the strawberry beds are red with fruit --- how I wish I could put them in dear little Cornelia’s mouth --- let me beg & intreat of you my dear Nancy not to spoil your child --- you can’t begin to early to teach her obedience & to submit to your will --- Alas you have but too sad A spectacle --- before your eyes of Children that are left to grow up of them selfs & I hope it may be a useful lesson to you & John both ---- added to which a spoilt child never makes friends & never will beloved --- I hope to feel more than a ***** affection for her which I never can have if she is spoilt --- tell your good Man I am in high expectation of a letter from him soon – give mylove to your Mother (in law?) Polly & all that I love and that love me ----

As I have to write Aunt Peggy & this (ship) I hear sails tomorrow – I must bid you good by my dear Nancy – May heaven forever bless you & yours in the

Prayers of your affectionate Sister ----

PRC

Do when you *** or hear from Jane or Sally Hull send them my kindest love

****************************************

(note: there is more to this postscript but the remainder of the letter is torn away)



These documents are made available free to the public for non-commercial purposes by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project. Donated and © by Karen M. Foley <kmfoley65@yahoo.com 1998.


1813 Letter To Mrs. Nancy Sands
in Care of John Sands, Jurist, Block Island, RI

This letter is addressed to Mrs. Nancy Sands in care of John Sands, Jurist, Block Island, Rhode Island. The Cornelia who wrote this letter is Cornelia Lott Greene (married for the second time to Edward Littlefield) daughter of Catherine Littlefield Greene and General Nathanael Greene. She was writing to her cousin, Nancy (Paine) Sands, [Karen's] 3rd great grandmother. It has been transcribed to the best of my ability, exactly as written. Spelling and punctuation belong to the author. Works that were illegible were filled in with ***.
Transcribed by Karen M. Foley.


Cumberland Island

January 29, 1813

Dear Nancy:

I wrote you last summer a long letter, as at the time I expected to make a removal to the Western Country the last fall but having suddenly changed our determination, partly owing to my inability to remove, I burnt the letter – and now my old Cousin we are on the **** for Tennessee in four weeks; we remove with all our negroes to quit the land of turmoil & trouble to find I hope peace & plenty that is to say of the **** Of life – I have never seen the Country; but have for many years been making every inquiry and have universally found the information given me, such as fully to warrant the steps we now take --- with you I had some conversation about joining us if we ever went when we met in Newport and now most sincerely do I invite you there – I believe your husband will find it in every respect a fair opening for himself and his Children and I will give you as soon as I can after you arrive; a deed of one hundred acres of land which will be more than enough for your husband’s cultivation for some time; & any money he can raise by the sale of his Farm he can purchase more land s perhaps adjoining Yours or at any rate such as are valuable not only during his life but are constantly increasing in value for his Children.

If I was not fully convinced my dear Nancy that your happiness & prosperity would be increased by the change – no selfish consideration should induce me to persuade you to it – but while you are benefited I rejoice in the hope of your society in a land of Stangers – all but our tract of Land however is thickly settled – and you need have no apprehensions of Indians – we are far removed from them and within 2 ½ miles of the Town of Columbia – I have requested Brother Ray to write to Ray Thomas his opinion because he has been on the spot & spent a summer there, four years ago --- I also know him to be so sincerely your friend that he will advise nothing that is not materially for the interest of your husband.

I would tell you how your Sister was but have never seen her since I came to the Country, I hear how ever she has entirely recovered – whether she is happy or otherwise, I can only hope no sorrow assails her – she is far from me, so much farther than you are ----- My own little family are all in good health – the 22nd of last december our last son was born – and we call him William after Father -- I long to hear from you & my little namesake --- you must however not direct to me here, when you write direct to me at Columbia, near Nashville --- Tennessee – and I hope to hear that we shall soon meet; at any rate give me every particular of your concerns – how many children have you & how your crops for the last two summers have been – in short all that interest you is to me a subject of interest.

Remember us kindly to your husband and with great affection to your Father – when you see our Uncle Sands tell him I see Brother Ray every day, he keeps house by himself – and as he ever was a true & sincere friend – but for him I **** have little to regret in leaving this Country *** ***** can believe it, I lay in here with only Edward , ***** Physician & negro women about me, & not a Soul of my family have ever sent, or I believe inquired to know whether I was dead or alive -------

Tell Aunt Hannah Hull & Aunt Peggy Paine that I always remember them with sincere affection – and for yourself accept of a Sister love from me

Most truly your friend & Cousin

Cornelia Littlefield



These documents are made available free to the public for non-commercial purposes by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project. Donated and ©  by Karen M. Foley <kmfoley65@yahoo.com> 1998

1816 Letter To John Paine, Esquire, Block Island,
C/O Capt. William Littlefield, Newport, RI

This letter was addressed to John Paine, Esquire, Block Island, C/O Capt. William Littlefield, Newport, RI and has been copied as written to the best of my abilities to read both the faded writing and the old English. If a word was illegible I simply filled in the space with *****. The pauses (-----) and punctuation belong to the author. It is signed James Carruthers, who I believe to be the husband of Phebe Paine Carruthers, sister of Nancy Paine Sands.
Transcribed by Karen M. Foley.


Liverpool, April 1816

My Dear and Honorable Sir:

It is a painful duty that devolves upon me to inform you of the death of my beloved Phebe on the 20th February - it was the will of the Almighty who gave her to me to take her away from me. I bow with resignation and say His will be done, few, very few leaves this probationary state so well prepared to meet her God as did my beloved : She had undergone a great deal of trouble with a degree of patience peculiar to those only who are prepared for Eternity. She long saw the approach of death, and was prepared for it – to her the Sting of death had lost it’s power, She was calm and serene, enjoying every faculty even to the shutting of her own eyes, and her last words were to praise her redeemer: The clergymen who visited her all said they had never conversed with any person in her situation with so much pleasure, or who had so clear a view of the state she was about to enter upon. May the Almighty grant my dear Sir that we may be as well prepared when we are called hence. Our bereavement would but be of short duration – we should soon be reunited, and enjoy her society through all Eternity where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest. I wrote to you in September last when I was here, my hopes then sanguine of her recovery, but I was soon called to return to my mother’s, where I had left her undergoing a course of salivation. My hopes became less sanguine when I found that notwithstanding the salivation the cough had returned as bad as ever. On communicating this to Dr. Gregory, allowed to be one of the oldest Physicians in the World, he told me that my mind must be made up to our separation as it was past the power of medicine to save her. I had employed three other Physicians, who generally agreed with Dr. G in opinion. Yet there appeared to me a small ray of hope from her continuing to hold up so well. She had her carriage and generally rode out twice a day and took a good deal of sustenance. I believe about this period she even herself entertained some hopes, however they were soon blighted. She was, on the cold weathers setting in, Attacked with a violent bowel complaint which reduced her very much (and) pointed out to us both what was to be the result. I believe she underwent more now than ever, anxious to make up her mind to part with me and the world, made her so uneasy that she could neither bear that I should be present or absent. However her knowledge of her duty prevailed and with Christian fortitude she resigned all Earthly care and interests, and studied the will of her God. Still the doctors could not account why she was so long ****** until seven days before her death she was delivered of a child supposed to have been dead about four days and to have been near to seven months old. After this she faded fast and finished a course such as few ****** , leaving every person that knew her to admire and her friends the fond hope that she only left them to be with her God – all that human endeavors could do to stay the hand of death was done, and every comfort was administered with ***** and by the hands of sincere affection.--- No more could be done on Earth, and it must be our comfort that we do not mourn as those who have no hope --- we shall meet again never to part. She lies buried in Wamphray churchyard in the same grave with two of my Sisters, and by the side of my Father. She left a will leaving her Sister (blank space) Sands her wardrobe and some trinkets. As the greater part of here things are in Savannah and as I return there in the fall I shall decline sending until I can send them all together, also a copy of her will. I hope you will still permit me to have an interest in yourself and family and in all that tends to your welfare and comfort, and believe me I shall ever feel toward you as a father. Believe me to remain with sincere affection My Dear Sir.

Yours Sincerely,

James Carruthers



These documents are made available free to the public for non-commercial purposes by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project. Donated and ©  by  Karen M. Foley <kmfoley@midmaine.com> 1998.