History of Providence, Rhode Island - 4
Rhode Island Reading Room
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History of the State of Rhode Island with Illustrations

Albert J. Wright, Printer
No. 79 Mille Street, corner of Federal, Boston.
Hong, Wade & Co., Philadelphia 1878.

The History of Providence.

pp. 253 - 283.

PROVIDENCE. (continued)

Military, Fire, Police, and Sewerage Departments.
United Train of Artillery.  This military company was chartered December, 1774, as the Train of Artillery in the town of Providence.  At the same time the Providence Fusileers were chartered.  The first commanders were:  Daniel Tillinghast of the Artillery, and Daniel Hitchcock of the Fusileers.  On April 24, 1775, the two companies were united, under the name of the United Train of Artillery.  This charter is about the same at the present time, having only a few slight changes.  The first officers of the United Train were:  Colonel, Daniel Tillinghast;  Lieutenant-Colonel, Daniel Hitchcock;  Major, John Crune;  Captain, Levi Hall;  Lieutenant, Elihu Robinson;  Clerk, William Dension.  The company took part in the battle of Rhode Island, Aug. 29, 1778, and used on that occasion four field-pieces belonging to the general government.  These four brass pieces were in  possession of this company until 1842, when the general government took possession of two of them.  The other two have recently been loaned to the Warren Artillery.  Colonel Tillinghast commanded the company until 1795, when he resigned, to the regret of the company.  Lieutenant-Colonel Hitchcock served in the Continental Army, from the battle of Lexington to his death, at Morristown, 1778.  He greatly distinguished himself at Harlem.  At the battle of Trenton he commanded a brigade, consisting of the three Rhode Island regiments, of Varnum, Hitchcock, and Lippitt, and two regiments from Massachusetts;  and with that same brigade, Jan. 2, 1777, by the side of Washington, he successfully defended the pass at Trenton Bridge.  Says Rhode Island's historian:  'Upon their bravery, for one short but pregnant hour, hung the destiny of America, for had Cornwallis crossed the bridge, the whole army must have surrendered; yet history has scarcely noticed the events of that struggle, without which the victory at Trenton would have been in vain, and the battle of Princeton never would have been fought.'  After the battle, Washington took the gallant colonel by the hand, and publicly thanked him for his gallant conduct and ordered him to convey his thanks to the brigade.

During the war of 1812 the regiment was commanded by Colonel James Burr, and rendered gallant service to the country and State.  They built the military works on Fort Hill, and the fort on Robin Hill, near Field's Point, now known as Fort Independence, and still standing as a monument of their skill and industry.  At the commencement of the Rebellion, this company was under the command of Colonel Christopher Blanding.  Colonel Blanding entered the service of the United States government as Lieutenant-Colonel of the Third Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, and remained in service until September, 1865.  Company B, of the First Rhode Island Volunteers was recruited among the members of this company, and took part in the battle of Bull Run, July 21 and 22, 1861.  The regiment had been known for a long time as the Providence Artillery.  In 1869, it changed its name to the Burnside Zouaves; but the next year the name was again changed to the United Train of Artillery.  The regiment has been commanded since October, 1874, by Colonel William E. Clarke.  The regiment is in a very flourishing condition, and has upon its muster-rolls over two hundred active members.

Providence Marine Corps of Artillery was organized and chartered 1801.  It was originally started by the Providence Marine Society, and its earliest officers were required to be selected from members of that society.  Subsequently the charter was so amended that this restriction should hold with one-half the officers only; and finally it was removed altogether, so that, although retaining its old name, all connection with the Marine Society ceased about the year 1835.  We have been unable to obtain much of the early history of this company, as the records for the first thirty years of its existence have been lost.  The earliest members were mostly seafaring men.  They had two heavy iron cannon, drawn by horses, and marched by their side armed with short swords.  Subsequently these were replaced by brass pieces.  This general style of equipment was continued until after the Dorr war (in which the command took an active part, on the side of the law and order party).  On July 4, 1842, the company paraded with muskets, and equipped win scarlet caps trimmed with brass, black fountain plumes with scarlet tips, blue coats trimmed with scarlet, scarlet epaulettes, white pantaloons, black belts, and cartridge-boxes.

On May 12, 1848, it paraded for the first time as a light battery of four guns, under Colonel Walter C. Simmons, upon the occasion of the funeral of Major John R. Vinton, killed in Mexico.  This was the only battery of flying artillery in the United States, outside of the regular army.  In 1852, the marines, under Colonel Balch, made a week's excursion to Boston, encamping on the Common.  Despite the heavy rains which continually beset them, such enthusiasm was aroused by their proficiency, that steps were taken, immediately upon their departure, to organize a battery in that city.  Its first officers came to Providence, and perfected themselves in drill, under the supervision and in the armory of the Marines.  From these two organizations, gradually sprang all other similar ones, east of the Rocky Mountains.

Under Colonel Sprague, it became a six-gun battery.  Its finest parade was at the reception of Colonel Sprague on his return from Europe, Jan. 24, 1860.    It numbered, on that occasion, one hundred and five men, and seventy-three horses.  The first commander was Seth Wheaton.  The present commander is Robert Grosvenor, elected in 1874.

First Light Infantry Veteran Association.  The first preliminary meeting, of which we have any trace, was in March, 1818, and the name then proposed was the Rhode Island Light Infantry, which name was, however, soon changed for the present one.  The infantry was attached to the Second Regiment as the right flanking company.  At the first meeting, after granting the charter, Lieutenant Job Angell was elected, accepted, and commissioned as the first commandant of the infantry, which position he held until 1820, when he declined a re-election, and was succeeded by Lieutenant Stephen K. Rathbone as captain.  The first reception of the company was in 1821, when, in connection with two other independent companies, a company of cadets from West Point was received.  The first parade, on Washington's birth-day, took place in 1824.

A committee was appointed this year to build an armory, and the expense was obtained by making shares of five dollars each.  This armory was a small, one-story building, opposite the Mansion House, slightly in the rear of Benefit Street.  At the election of 1826, Captain Rathbone declined a re-election, and Lieutenant John J. Stinson was elected captain.  Lieutenant William L. Field was elected captain in 1829, but was succeeded in 1830 by Sergeant James Shaw.  The company, previous to this time, had, ever since their organization, paraded as a battalion, each section being considered as a company.  Captain Shaw, upon assuming command, changed this drill.  In September, 1831, the company were, for the first time, called out by the governor for actual service, to quell a riot in the northern part of the town, and the action of the company was favorably commented upon by all the papers far and near, and it was said to be the first instance wherein the citizen soldiery of our country were called upon to fire into a mob to disperse it.

During the winter of 1832, the light infantry drill was for the first time practiced.  At the election in 1835, Lieutenant William W. Brown was elected captain.  In 1858, Captain Brown was elected major-general of the State; he, however, resigned in September of the same year, and returned to the infantry.  At the call for troops in 1861, two companies of infantry promptly responded and were known as Company C, Captain W. W. Brown, and Company D., Captain N. W. Brown.  These were full companies, of one hundred and ten men each, furnishing their own equipments and overcoats.  Immediately upon the departure of these companies for Washington, an organization of those remaining was held, and Joseph W. Taylor was elected colonel.  On the return from Washington, in August, 1861, of Companies C and D, Colonel Taylor resigned, and Colonel Brown again resumed command, which position he retained until he declined, in 1867.  He was succeeded by Charles R. Dennis, who retained the position until 1874, when he resigned, shortly after which he was elected quartermaster-general of the State.  An amendment to the charter was obtained, and in May, 1872, the company was organized as a battalion of four companies.  The present number of the company is about two hundred and fifty, and is under the command of Colonel R. H. I. Goddard, who succeeded Colonel Dennis in 1874.

Providence Horse Guards was chartered by the General Assembly, October, 1842, with eighty-seven charter members.  The first officers were:  Colonel, Almon D. Hodges;  Lieutenant-Colonel, George W. Hallett;  Major, Samuel G. Arnold;  Captain, J. A. Wadsworth;  Lieutenant, H. L. Kendall.  This company took part in the storming of Acote Hill in 1842, and rendered important service during that ever memorable campaign.  In 1845, George W. Hallett was elected colonel, and, in 1847, William H. Potter succeeded to the command.  From 1848 to 1861, the company ceased to hold meetings.  In the latter year the company re-organized under Colonel Hallett, and the following officers were chosen:  Lieutenant-Colonel, Henry Kendall;  Major, A. S. Gallup;  Captain, Robert Manton;  Paymaster, H. J. Smith;  Surgeon, Usher Parsons;  Assistant-Surgeon, Washington Hoppin.  Colonel Hallett was in command until 1864, when he was succeeded by Colonel Frederick Miller who held the command until 1874, when he was elected brigade general;  since which time the company has been under the command of Colonel J. Lippit.  The command has about one hundred and fifty men, and, under the new militia law of August, 1875, the command was attached to the battalion of cavalry.

Slocum Light Guards was organized in 1842, and was known as Guard of Liberty, No. 6.  The first armory was in Friendship Street.  The company was armed with rifles, and were under command of William G. Comstock.  In 1854, at the October session, a charter was obtained for the company, under the name of Mechanic Rifles.  The charter allowed the company a captain, four lieutenants, with such non-commissioned officers as may be thought necessary.  In January, 1856, the General Assembly granted them a regimental organization.  John S. Slocum was the first captain of the Rifles, and became its first colonel.

At the commencement of the great Rebellion, the Rifles sent a company to the war, forming a part of the First Rhode Island Volunteers, and took part in the battle of Bull Run.  From their armory in Dyer Building, on Exchange Place, was recruited the first three-years' regiment for the war, and was mustered into the service as the Second Rhode Island Volunteers.  This regiment took part in the battle of Bull Run, July, 1861, and was commanded by Colonel Slocum of the Mechanic Rifles, who was killed in the battle, with other members of the Rifles.  During the entire war, the Rifles received, under command of Colonel Stephen C. Arnold, more regiments of returned soldiers from the field, than any other military company in the State.

The well-known uniform of the Rifles will always be remember with pleasure by those who had the witnessing of their marches, under the command of their gallant commander, through the streets of the city of Providence.  This uniform consisted of dark-blue frock-coats, with white and green trimmings; hats, with white and green pompon;  pants, dark blue; equipment, black leather, with white cross-belts.  The company were armed with rifles, with sabre bayonets.  The command, in 1870, changed its name to the Slocum Light Guards, taking the name of their late beloved commander, Colonel John S. Slocum, who, had he lived, would have, in all probability, placed his name high among those eminent American commanders who are ever held in the greatest veneration by the people of this nation.  Of Colonel Slocum it can truly be said, he was a Christian gentleman and soldier, and one whom to know was to respect and love.  Since the command has taken the latter name, it has adopted a new uniform, consisting of a dark-blue dress-coat, with white broadcloth and gold trimmings; light-blue pants, with bearskin hats;  equipments consisting of white and black enameled leather.  In summer, white pants.  Under the militia-law of 1875, it was attached to the Fourth Battalion of Infantry, as Company B, where they now remain.  The present number of the Guards is about seventy.

Rhode Island Guards was organized as a regiment in 1865.  Company A, of the regiment, made its first parade August 12, going to Rocky Point on an excursion, occasioned by a visit of John O'Mahoney, the then Head Centre of the Fenian Brotherhood, the company being under the command of Captain James Moran, since colonel of the regiment.  The other companies were formed soon after; a large part of the rank and file being late members of the United States Army, and the commanding officers of the regiment and companies were men who had distinguished themselves on the formation of the regiments in the United States Army.  Under the militia-law of 1875, the command formed the Fifth Battalion of Infantry.  The battalion is in fine condition, and ranks high among the militia companies of the State.  Under the battalion organization, the following officers were appointed:  Colonel, Jeremiah Costine;  Major, Hugh Hammill;  Adjutant, Thomas Brady;  Quartermaster, Garrett Walsh.  The battalion, at one time, consisted of eight companies.  At the re-organization of the regiment, in 1875, two of the companies were disbanded, leaving six charter companies, three of which (A, D, and F) are in the city of Providence.  The battalion has now about three hundred and twenty-five members.

Burnside National Guards was organized Aug. 5, 1867, Companies A and B being formed with sixty men each, and the October following, Company C was added.  The members of these companies were mostly soldiers returned from the late volunteer regiments of the United States Army.  The first officers were:  Major Commanding, Moses F. Brown;  Adjutant, George H. Black;  Quartermaster, John A. Creighton;  Assistant-Surgeon, Stephen Douglass;  Chaplain, Thomos [sic] A. Davies.  Upon the re-organization of the militia of the State in 1875, the Guards formed the Sixth Battalion of Infantry, and, at this time, Company D of Newport was added.  The Guards have a membership of more than two hundred, and are in a remarkably flourishing and prosperous condition.  Colonel John H. Monroe, the present commander, deserves great credit for bringing the Guards up to their present fine condition.

Veteran Association P. M. C. A.  This association, composed of past and honorary members of the Providence Marine Corps of Artillery, organized Jan. 21, 1874.  Its object is to afford occasional opportunities to revive pleasant memories of the past, to unite in sympathy graduates separated by many years, and to secure for the active corps the benefit of their interest, influence, and strength.  Lieutenant-Colonel George H. Smith had endeavored for years to accomplish this, but unsuccessfully.  Upon his removal to London, Eng., about 1873, the matter was left in charge of Captain George R. Drowne, who, associating with himself L. A. Cole, Elisha Dyer, Jr., and J. Albert Monroe, they together secured the names of one hundred and eighty-two veterans before taking any formal steps.  Eighty-three attended the first meeting, which was presided over by Captain Cyrus B. Manchester, a gentleman past threescore and ten.  A constitution was adopted, and officers chosen.  Through Captain Drowne's energetic labors, the roll-call has been lengthened to include nearly three hundred names.  The colonels commanding of this association have been as follows:  George C. Nightingale, Hon. William Sprague, Hon. Henry Lippitt, and Elisha Dyer, Jr.  It has made but one parade, and that was upon the visit of the Hartford City Guards, Aug. 8, 1877.

Fire Department.  The first measure taken by the town to protect property from being destroyed by fire, was in the year 1754, when the inhabitants petitioned for power to purchase a 'large water engine'.  The petition was received, and a committee appointed to assess the property, in that part of Providence liable to be destroyed by fire, a sum sufficient to purchase said engine.  A law was also passed by the Colony, requiring each family to be provided with two fire-buckets.  The General Assembly, in February, 1759, passed an act giving the town power to appoint presidents of fire-wards.  In December, 1760, by a vote of the town, the committee were authorized to purchase another engine in Boston.  The first appointment of engine-men by the town, was in June, 1763, which was probably the commencement of the fire department in Providence.

We cannot find that there were more than two hand-engines in the city previous to the year 1800.  In 1803, another company was chartered, as No. 3.  At the time of the adoption of the city charter, in 1832, there were seven fire-engines in the city.  Between this time and 1854, four more engines were added.  They system was purely voluntary.  The city was divided into five wards, with an engine in each ward.  When the alarm of fire was sounded, each engine started out, but with no certainty of the exact location of the fire.  To remedy this defect, the companies used to have a watch kept upon the top of the engine-house, the members of the companies in turn filling the position.  There was a great rivalry between the several companies, and not unfrequently it resulted in riot and bloodshed.  The city authorities decided to re-organize the force, by adopting, in part, a paid system, and organized eleven companies under the new system.  Joseph W. Taylor was first engineer, serving until Jan. 1, 1857.  His successor was Thomas Aldrich, and under his management was introduced the first steam fire-engine..  This machine was put in operation in September, 1859.  It was a rotary, and was built by Silsby, Vandiere & Co., Seneca Falls, N. Y., and bore the name of the 'Washington'.  About this time was purchased the piston steamer 'Pioneer, No. 2', built by Reamy & Neaffle, Baltimore, Md.  So successful were those steamers, that the city continued to purchase others until Dec. 1, 1866, when the old fire companies were disbanded altogether.  At this time the city had eight steamers (four piston, and four rotary).  At present there are ten hose companies, four hook-and-ladder companies, and one protection company.  Connected with the fire department, is a fire-alarm telegraph, an invention of Charles E. Carpenter of Providence, and introduced in the  year 1861, at a cost of about six hundred dollars, and was known as the 'ground circuit'.  Mr. Carpenter greatly improved the telegraph, and changed its working to an automatic system.  A patent was secured and subsequently sold to Gamewell & Co. of New York.  Mr. Carpenter, however, presented the use of this invention to the city, and also the use of his future improvements.  By this system every alarm is given to each engine and hose room, and at the places connected with the city government.  Providence has undoubtedly one of the finest fire departments in the country.  Under its present admirable management, the department is in excellent condition, and the citizens of Providence may well feel a pride in this guardian of their property from the destroying element.

Police Department.  In 1839, the organization known as the 'Town Watch' was established, consisting of twenty-four watchmen, besides the constables of the city.  In March, 1851, the first day police were appointed, ten in number.  In 1852, there were two stations, which number increased to five in 1854, with a force of about sixty men.  In 1864, the number of patrolmen was 103, and number of stations five.  Until 1866 this department was under the control of the city marshal, which office was abolished during that year.  The first chief of police appointed by the common council was Nelson Vial, who held the position one year, when he resigned, to accept the position of warden in the state prison.

The names of the persons succeeding Mr. Vial are as follows:  Albert Sanford, who retained the position two years;  William Knowles, one year;  Thomas J. A. Gross, about one year and a half;  John M. Knowles, from Aug. 14, 1871 to Sept. 13, 1877, and William H. Ayer, the present incumbent.  Mr. Ayer was appointed deputy chief in January, 1875, and held that position until the resignation of Mr. Knowles in 1877.

The first clerk was Mr. Albert N. Slocum, appointed Sept. 3, 1864, who served in this capacity until January, 1868, when he was succeeded by William H. Ayer.  Mr. Ayer was appointed captain and deputy, Aug. 14, 1871, when he was succeeded by the present clerk, Mr. Seth L. Horton.

Central Station, No. 1, is located at 120 Canal Street, under the charge of Joseph Marston, Captain.  No. 2, corner of Martin and Ashburton streets, under William H. Cory, Captain.  No. 3, Wickenden Street, under Patrick Eagan , Captain.  No. 4, Knight Street, under Andrew McKenzie, Captain.  No. 5, Richmond Street, under James W. Sanders, Captain.   There is also a station at Olneyville, under the charge of Sergeant P. J. Magill.  The whole number of the police force in 191, divided as follows;  Chief, Deputy Chief, Clerk, Property Clerk, Superintendent of Hacks, two Detectives, two Warrant Officers, five Captains, six Sergeants, ten Rounds-men and 161 Patrolmen.  Connected with the police department is an organization known as the Providence Police Association, the object of which is to afford aid and relief to sick and disabled members, composed of confirmed members of the police department.  The charter was granted by the General Assembly, March 9, 1870.

Sewerage Department.  In 1870, the city council, deeming it necessary that some improvement should be made for the proper draining of the city, instructed Mr. Shedd, the chief engineer, to draw up a new plan for this purpose.  Accordingly, a new plan was drawn up and adopted.  In 1871, the first section of pipe on the new plan was laid, commencing at the foot of Constitution Hill, and running through North Main Street to Market Square, and through Market Square to tide-water.  There was a strong opposition to this new system, and so bitter became the question, that the city council passed a resolution, Oct. 5, 1875, requesting the American Society of Engineers to appoint three members of their society, an examining committee, to report upon Mr. Shedd's plan, and to make any suggestions that they, in their judgment, might deem expedient.  This committee was appointed, and reported, Aug. 3, 1876, that the plan was a judicious one, and that the suggestions made by Mr. Shedd, in regard to deepening the Cove basin, and in regard to the sewer-basin at Field's Point were necessary, and should be made upon the plan proposed.  This report, sustaining the city engineer, was accepted and the plan carried out.  This department, under the control of the water commissioners, from 1871 to Jan. 1, 1878, laid 41.29 miles of pipe.  The number of catch-basins is 1,595, and the number of private connections is 2,258.  This department has cost the city, up to Jan. 1, 1878, $1,558,005.62.

Banks and other Corporations, Cemeteries and Secret Societies.

American National Bank, No. 97 Westminster Street, was incorporated in 1833, with a capital of $300,000.  The first officers were:  Henry P. Franklin, President;  D. C. Cushing, Cashier.  Re-organized as a national bank, August, 1865.  Capital, $1,437,650.  Surplus, $200,000.  Present officers are:  Stephen Harris, President;  William Olney, Cashier.

Bank of America, No. 62 Weybosset Street, was incorporated May, 1851, with a capital of $100,000, which has since increased to $200,000.  Its first officers were:  Abnah Sackett, President;  L. B. Frieze, Cashier.  Present officers are:  Zachariah Chafee, President;  A. C. Tourtellott, Cashier.

Blackstone Canal National Bank, No. 6 What Cheer Building, was incorporated January, 1831, with a capital of $250,000.  Reorganized as a national bank in 1865, and capital increased to $500,000.  First officers were:  Nicholas Brown, President;  T. B. Fenner, Cashier.  Present officers are:  William Ames, President;  Oren Westcott, Cashier.

City National Bank, No. 98 Weybosset Street, was incorporated in 1833, with a capital of $200,000.  Re-organized as a national bank in 1865, with a capital of $500,000.  First officers:  Anthony Arnold, President;  W. B. R. Watson, Cashier.  Present officers:  Amos C. Barstow, President;  Edwin A. Smith, Cashier.

Commercial National Bank, No. 11 Market Square, was organized Feb. 11, 1833, with Richmond Bullock as President, and David Andrews, Cashier.  Re-organized as a national bank in 1865, with a capital of $100,000.  Present officers:  Daniel Day, President;  Henry G. Arnold, Cashier.

First National Bank, No. 47 Westminster Street, was organized in 1864, with a capital of $600,000.  Amasa Sprague, President;  W. C. Townsend, Cashier.  Present capital, $300,000, and present Cashier, Horatio A. Hunt.

Fourth National Bank, No. 65 Westminster Street, was organized May 30, 1853, as the Continental Bank, with a capital of $200,000.  Re-organized in February, 1865, as the Fourth National Bank, with a capital of $500,000; surplus, $100,000.  Present officers:  Rhodes B. Chapman, President;  Henry R. Chace, Cashier.

Globe National Bank, No. 62 Westminster Street, was incorporated in 1831, with E. D. Pearce as President, and John R. Bartlett, Cashier.  Re-organized in 1865, as a national bank, with a capital of $600,000.  April, 1877, the capital was reduced to $300,000.  Present officers are:  Jesse Metcalf, President;  T. Salisbury, Cashier.

Grocers and Producers' Bank, No. 62 Westminster Street, was incorporated in the year 1853, with a capital of $100,000.  A. B. Dike, President;  Thomas A. Doyle, Cashier.  The present capital is $160,000.  Present officers are Ezek. Tallman, President;  J. B. Calder, Cashier.

High Street Bank, was incorporated June, 1828, with William Valentine, President; W. P. Olney, Cashier.  Capital, $100,000.  Present officers:  A. B. Curry, President;  E. Allen, Cashier.  The present capital is $120,000.

Liberty Bank, No. 9 Exchange Place, was incorporated in 1854, with a capital of $100,000, which has since been increased to $121,150.  First officers were:  Duty Evans, President;  C. R. Drowne, Cashier.  These gentlemen have retained these positions since organization.

Lime Rock National Bank, No. 41 Westminster Street, was incorporated in 1823, at Lime Rock, in the town of Smithfield, with a capital of $40,000.  Removed to Providence about the year 1849.  Re-organized as a national bank in 1865, with a capital of $250,000.  First officers:  John Jenckes, President;  S. E. Gardner, Jr., Cashier.  Present officers:  Thomas J. Hill, President;  John W. Angell, Cashier.

Manufacturers' National Bank, No. 37  South Main Street, was incorporated in 1813, with a capital of $220,000.  Re-organized as a national bank in 1865, with a capital of $500,000; surplus of $183,000.  Its first officers were:  O. Wilkinson, President;  Joseph Wheelock, Cashier.  Present officers:  Thomas Harkness, President;  Gilbert A. Phillips, Cashier.

Mechanics' National Bank, No. 37 South Main Street, was incorporated in June, 1823.  Charter amended in 1827.  Capital, $500,000.  First officers were:  Peter Grinnell, President;  Stanhope Newell, Cashier.  Present officers are:  Levi Dexter, President; Samuel H. Tingley, Cashier.

Merchants' National Bank, No. 14 Westminster Street, was incorporated February, 1818.  Re-organized as a national bank in 1865.  Capital, $100,000.  Officers:  R. C. Taft, President;  J. W. Vernon, Cashier.

National Bank of North America, No. 48 Weybosset Street, was incorporated in October, 1823, with Cyrus Butler, President;  John Taylor, Cashier.  Re-organized as a national bank in May, 1865.  Capital, $1,000,000.  Present officers:  Seth Padeford, President;  C. E. Jackson, Cashier.

National Eagle Bank, No. 27 Market Square, was incorporated in February, 1818, with Wheeler Martin as Present, and John Lippitt, Cashier.  Capital, $500,000.  Re-organized as a national bank in 1865.  Present officers: Joseph Sweet, President;  Charles F. Sampson, Cashier.

National Exchange Bank, No. 55 Westminster Street, was incorporated in 1801, with Amos Troop, President;  and Stephen Jackson, Cashier.  Capital, $200,000.  Re-organized as a national bank in July, 1865, with a capital of $500,000.  Present officers are:  Henry L. Kendall, President;  C. H. Sheldon, Cashier.

Northern Bank, No. 56 Weybosset Street, was incorporated in 1856 with a capital of $200,000.  First officers were:  Stephen T. Olney, President;  Peter H. Brown, Cashier.  Present capital, $257,000.  Present officers are:  Henry J. Steere, President;  S. Fenner, Cashier.

Old National Bank, No. 21 Weybosset Street, was incorporated in 1833, with a capital of $120,000.  Re-organized as a national bank in June, 1865, with a capital of $500,000.  The first officers were:  Amasa Martin, President;  Joseph Howard, Cashier.  Present officers:  George W. Hallett, President;  Francis A. Cranston, Cashier.

Phenix National Bank, No. 7 What Cheer Building, was incorporated in 1835, with a capital of $200,000.    Re-organized as a national bank in 1865, and capital increased to $450,000.  First officers were:  James F. Simmons, President;  Jesse N. Olney, Cashier.  Present officers:  Edward Pearce, President;  George E. Martin, Cashier.

Providence National Bank, No. 70 South Main Street, was organized in 1791, with John Brown as President, and Olney Winsor, Cashier.  Re-organized as a national bank in 1865.  Capital, $500,000.  Present officers, William Goddard, President;  Benjamin W. Ham, Cashier.

Rhode Island National Bank, No. 70 Weybosset Street, incorporated June, 1831, as the Arcade Bank, with Charles Dyer, President, and William C. Snow, Cashier.   Capital, $200,000.  Re-organized in 1865 as a national bank, with a capital of $600,000.  Present officers:  Henry Lippett, President;  S. H. Tabor, Cashier.

Second National Bank, No. 56 Westminster Street, incorporated with a capital of $500,000.  First officers were:  William Sprague, President;  F. Salisbury, Cashier.  May 1, 1877, the capital was reduced to $300,000.  Present officers:  James Kimball, President; William W. Paine, Cashier.

The Jackson Bank, No. 29 Weybosset Street, incorporated in May, 1854, with a capital of $200,000, which has since been increased to $344,450.  First officers were:  Eli Aylesworth, President;  John A. Bosworth, Cashier.  Its present officers are:  Alfred Anthony, President;  Theodore B. Talbot, Cashier.

The National Bank of Commerce, No. 4 Market Square, was incorporated in 1851, with Amos D. Smith, President;  and Joseph H. Bowen, Cashier.  Capital, $400,000.  Re-organized as a national bank in 1865.  Capital, $1,709,200.  Present officers:  Edward A. Greene, President;  John Foster, Cashier.

Traders' National Bank, No. 4 Westminster Street, was organized in 1863, with Erastus F. Knowlton, President;  Henry S. Angell, Cashier.  Capital, $200,000.  Re-organized as a national bank in 1865.  Present officers:  Henry A. Webb, President;  Edwin Knight, Cashier.

The Roger Williams National Bank, No. 27 Market Square, organized Oct. 26, 1803, with a capital of $150,000.  Seth Wheaton, President;  Nathan Waterman, Cashier.  Re-organized in 1865 as a national bank, with a capital of $500,000.  Present officers:  Cyrus Harris, President; W. H. Waterman, Cashier.

Third National Bank, No. 12 Market Square, incorporated December, 1864.  Capital, $200,000.  O. A. Washburn, Jr., President;  C. H. Child, Jr., Cashier.  In 1866 the capital was increased to $500,000.

Union Bank, No. 10 Westminster Street, was incorporated in 1814, with Ephriam Bowen, President.  Capital, $500,00.  Present officers are:  Henry G. Russell, President;  Joseph C. Johnson, Cashier.  Present capital, $800,000.

Westminster Bank, No. 56 Westminster Street, organized June 12, 1854, with a capital of $200,000.  Gilbert Spaulding, President;  Asa B. Clark, Cashier.  Present officers are:  A. W. Simmons, President;  Eli Aylesworth, Cashier.

Weybosset National Bank, No. 55 Westminster Street, incorporated in June, 1831, with William Rhodes, President;  Luke Greene, Cashier.  Capital, $200,000.  Re-organized as a national bank in June, 1865.  Present officers are:  George A. Seagrave, President;  O. A. Jillson, Cashier.

The Rhode Island Safe Deposit Co., No. 47 Westminster Street, was chartered in 1869, with A. B. Dike, President;  Joshua Wilbour, Secretary.  Present officers:  James S. Phetteplace, President;  H. A. Hunt, Secretary; and W. A. Mitchell, Superintendent.

Citizens' Savings Bank, No. 344 High Street, incorporated in 1871, with Henry Grant, President;  C. H. Bassett, Treasurer.   Present officers are:  John A. Cranston, President;  E. Allen, Secretary and Treasurer.

City Savings Bank, No. 21 Weybosset Street, Henry J. Steere, President;  James E. Cranston, Treasurer.

Jackson Institution for Savings, No. 29 Weybosset Street, was incorporated in 1870, as the National Institute for Savings, but changed in 1873.  Present officers are:  Charles A. Boyd, President;  Theo. B. Talbot, Secretary and Treasurer.

Mechanics' Savings Bank, No. 98 Weybosset Street.  Incorporated in July, 1854, with Z. Holden, President;  William H. Harrison, Secretary and Treasurer.  Its present officers are:  Amos C. Barstow, President;  William Knight, Secretary and Treasurer.

Merchants' Savings Bank, No. 9 Exchange Place.  James S. Phetteplace, President;  C. R. Drowne, Secretary and Treasurer.

People's Savings Bank, No. 1 Market Square, was incorporated in 1851, with William Sprague, President;  and Jesse Howard, Secretary and Treasurer.  The present officers are:  E. A. Greene, President;  A. C. Howard, Secretary and Treasurer.

Providence Institution for Savings, No. 76 South Main Street.  Incorporated in 1819, with T. P. Ives, President;  James Lippitt, Secretary;  John Howland, Treasurer.  Its present officers are:  William Goddard, President;  William G. Dearth, Secretary;  S. C. Blodgett, Treasurer.

Union Savings Bank, No. 10 Westminster Street.  Organized  in 1866, with James Y. Smith, President;  James B. Haskins, Treasurer;  J. C. Johnson, Secretary.  Its present officers are:  Henry J. Russell, President;  J. C. Johnson, Treasurer and Secretary.

In addition to the above, there are several bankers and brokers, who deal very extensively in commercial paper, stocks, bonds, and mortgages.

The first preliminary meeting for the establishment of a mutual fire insurance company in the town of Providence, was held on the third of April, 1800.  A constitution was adopted at a subsequent meeting, and the Providence Mutual Fire Insurance Company was incorporated at the October session of the General Assembly, in 1800.  The first policy was issued Jan. 22, 1801, and the first loss was $1,000, which was paid to Samuel Thurber in 1804.  In 1820, there were six insurance company; viz., the Washington, Columbian, Union, Peace, Eagle and Providence Mutual.  There are now fifteen mutual, and six stock companies, besides numerous agencies for companies out of the State.  Prominent among these are --

The Equitable Fire and Marine Insurance Company, which organized in 1860, with a capital of $100,000.  May 2, 1864, the capital was increased to $200,000, and again in January, 1873, to $300,000.  At the time of the Boston fire, the company had a surplus of about $65,000, and was one of the few who at that time paid one hundred cents on the dollar to its policy-holders.  Their losses at that time amounted to about $305,000.  By special act of legislature, January, 1873, the capital was reduced to $200,000, and the deficiency paid in by the stockholders.  They have now a surplus of about $75,000.  The office of the company is on the corner of Weybosset and Custom-house streets, in a building erected by the company in 1873, at a cost of $60,000, and is one of the finest business blocks in the city.  The officers of the company are:  F. W. Arnold, President;  and J. E. Tillinghast, Secretary.

Roger Williams Insurance Company, office 17 Market Square, was incorporated in 1848, with a capital of $200,000.  The present officers are:  J. W. Davenport, President;  and W. H. Fredericks, Secretary.

Manufacturers' Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Rhode Island, office 45 Westminster Street.  This company was incorporated and commenced business in 1835, and insures manufacturing property only.  The first officers were:  Amasa Mason, President;  and John  H. Ormsbee, Secretary.  The present officers are:  Henry H. Ormsbee, President;  and W. B. Burrington, Secretary.

The State Mutual Fire Insurance Company was incorporated in 1855, and commenced business on the seventeenth day of February, of that year, with Wanton Vaughn, President;  Silas R. Kenyon, Secretary; and Christopher R. Drowne, Treasurer.  The company insure dwelling-houses principally.  In July, 1858, the secretary reported subscriptions enough to commence the business of insuring manufacturing property, in a second class, called the manufacturers' class.  The directors so voted, and issued policies to commence July 1, 1858.  In October, 1864, the dwelling-house class of insurance was re-insured in the City Fire Insurance Company, and Rhodes B. Chapman was elected President, and Charles H. Wildman, Secretary.  In March, 1870, Rhodes B. Chapman was re-elected President, and Robert Boyle Chapman, Secretary;  and they are now the officers of the company.  This company has had a very prosperous business, now showing, on strictly first-class manufacturing property, risks amounting to $19,682,122.  The dividends, or returns, have averaged about sixty-five per cent of the amount of premiums paid in the by its policy-holders.

Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers.
On the 27th of February, 1789, a number of the principal mechanics and manufacturers of the town of Providence met in the house of Captain Elijah Bacon, on Union Street, and voted, 'That we will form ourselves, with such others as may join us, into an association for the promotion of home manufactures, the cementing of the mechanic interest, and for the raising a fund to support the distressed.'  The Assembly granted a charter, which, on the 16th of March, 1789, received the signature of Governor John Collins.  This association was one of the very earliest organizations in the country for the promotion of the mechanical arts.  From its organization to 1825, the business meetings of the association were generally held in the State House.  In 1825, when the Franklin Building, on Market Square, was completed, a room was fitted up for the association, which they occupied a few years, when they removed to the Washington Building.  In 1853, the association removed to Dyer's Block, on Westminster Street, and in 1860 to Bank Building, which was erected by Mr. A. C. Barstow, on Weybosset Street, which location it has continued to occupy to the present time.  In January, 1821, the association voted to establish a library for the use of its members and their apprentices.  It was commenced by voluntary donations, and in the following April four hundred volumes had been collected.  At a later period a reading-room was established, in connection with the library.  Continual additions were made, from time to time, until a library of some seven thousand volumes had been collected.  These were transferred, in January, 1877, to the Providence Free Library.

Providence Franklin Society.
The idea of a society in this city for the cultivation of the knowledge of physical science, was conceived by William T. Grinnell, who interested others, and in response to their petition, the General Assembly granted a charter at the January session, 1823.  From its organization to the present time, the objects of its pursuits have embraced nearly every department of physical science.  It has a cabinet of miscellaneous curiosities and specimens of much scientific interest, including an extensive geological collection, in which are representatives of nearly all the minerals and fossils found in the State.  It has also a fine collection of war and other implements from the South Sea Islands.  It has also a fine zoological collection, including birds, beasts, fishes, reptiles, and insects.  It has also a small but valuable scientific library.  The members of this society now number over three hundred.  The rooms of the society are at 27 North Main Street.

The Franklin Lyceum
was established in the summer of 1831, by Levi M. Holden, Daniel M. Jackson, and William B. Shove.  By the records of the 21st of April, 1832, the society then consisted of Messrs. Holden, Jackson, and Shove, together with Charles Cushing, Frank Cushing, Crawford Nightingale, and Geromino Wimeneta.  They were all the scholars in Mr. DeWitt's school, on Waterman Street, at the time of the organization of the society, and the first meetings were held at their homes, on Friday evenings, after the labors of the school were over.  The exercises consisted of lectures and debates.  The first regular room occupied by the lyceum was in the basement of Mr. Shove's house, on Benefit Street, nearly opposite the Central Congregational Church, where a library and a cabinet of minerals, shells, chemical apparatus, and antiquities was commenced.  The first room hired by the society was in a small building opposite Dr. Hall's Church, on Benefit Street.  Their next room was in the third story of the Arcade.  April, 1835, they removed to the DeWitt Building, on Waterman Street, where the meetings were held until 1849.  April 28, 1832, the name of Providence Lyceum was adopted, which, on the 22d of the following December, was changed to that of the Franklin Lyceum.  The first recorded annual meeting was held on the 5th of January, 1833.

The first public anniversary was held on the 1st of January, 1836, at which Henry C. Whitaker delivered an address, and William M. Rodman a poem.  The first public lecture before the lyceum was delivered in 1839, by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  In January, 1843, the legislature granted an act of incorporation, under which the lyceum now exists.  In the autumn of 1848, the Westminster Lyceum, a newly formed society, united with them, and merged its separate name and existence in the Franklin Lyceum.  Jan. 1, 1849, the society removed to No. 19 Westminster Street, where they remained until November, 1858, when they took formal possession of the rooms they now occupy.  In the war for the Union, a large number of its members enlisted in the army or the navy, many of whom attained high positions of honor and command.

During the past ten years the growth of the society has been rapid in every department.  The library has increased to upwards of 9,000 volumes, and many new magazines and papers have been added to the reading-room.  There are, at present, belonging to the Lyceum, about 850 papers and periodicals.  The meetings are held in a hall devoted to the exercises of the Lyceum, while the library occupies a separate room.  Earnest and spirited debates are regularly held every Monday evening, from October to June, in which all the members are cordially invited to participate.  As a school in which to gain an accurate knowledge of parliamentary law, and a ready skill in parliamentary tactics, the Lyceum probably has no equal.

The Providence Gas Company
was organized in June, 1848, under a charter granted in June, 1847.  It commenced the distribution of gas in January, 1849.  The original capital was $50,000, but it has been increased, from time to time, until June, 1874, when it reached $2,100,000.  The first officers of the company were:  President, Amos D. Smith;  Treasurer, Edwin Walcott;  Secretary, Thomas P. Sheppard.  Mr. Smith served as president continually until his death, which occurred in 1877.  He was succeeded by Amos C. Barstow, the present incumbent.  Mr. Walcott served as both Treasurer and Secretary, until February, 1870, when he died, and was succeeded by Mr. A. B. Slater, who had been in the employ of the company since 1853.  In fixing the price of gas it has never been the question with the company, 'How high a price will people bear?' but rather at 'How low a price can it be furnished, and give the stockholders a fair dividend?'  In 1848, the price of gas was $4 per 1,000 feet;  January, 1863, $2.80.  From February until July, 1865, $4.40;  Jan. 1, 1877, the price was reduced to $2, and is now within reach of all.  The original works of the company are located at the corner of Pike and Benefit streets, on the east side of the river, at which are one hundred and forty retorts, comprised in one stack of fourteen double benches of sixes, and one stack of double benches of fives.  The new works are located at the foot of Langley Street, on the west side of the river, at which there are two hundred and forty retorts, as follows:  one stack of twenty double benches of sixes, and one stack of twenty-four double benches of fives.  The company has extended pipes into the adjoining towns of Johnston, Cranston, and across the Seekonk River into East Providence, where one holder is located.

During the past year, the company has added five and three-quarters miles of main pipe, making the present length of mains one hundred and fourteen miles.

The greatest amount of coal used in a single year was 25,239 tons, producing 258,324,000 feet of gas.  The greatest number of feet supplied during any one night was 1,225,000 feet.  The office of the company is in the rear of the What Cheer Building, Market Square.

The Citizens' Gas-Light Company.
The charter for this company was granted at the May session of the General Assembly, 1872.  The company was organized with a capital of $600,000, and work was commenced in September, 1875.  The first gas was furnished about Feb. 1, 1877.  The officers of the corporation were:  President, Robert M. Galloway;  Treasurer, W. DeWolf.

The Union Horse Railroad.
In 1863, there were no horse-cars running in Providence.  The spring of that year brought a demand for better means of communication between Providence and Pawtucket.  The owners of lots in North Providence, and in the outskirts of Pawtucket, took a great interest in the scheme, and a charter was secured.  The first meeting of corporators was held at the house of Adam Anthony in North Providence, May 11, 1863.  The first officers chosen were:  President, H. H. Thomas;  Treasurer, Olney Arnold;  Directors, W. F. Sayles, J. F. Hartwell, William M. Bailey, and Sterry Fry.  During the summer and fall of 1863 the line was built.  Early in January, 1864, ten cars and ninety horses were purchased, and in March the road was opened to the public.

The second charter obtained was for the Providence and Cranston Horse Railroad Company, in 1864.  The first officers chosen were:  President, Amasa Sprague;  Directors, William Sprague, J. T. Harris, Albert Dailey, L. B. Frieze, and J. A. Gardner.  The line was to run up Westminster and High streets to the Hoyle Tavern;  thence branching to Olneyville on the right, and to Cranston Print-Works on the left.

Immediately following, charters were obtained for the Broadway and Providence line;  the Elmwood Horse-car Corporation; the South Main Street Car Company;  and the Providence and Pawtuxet Horse-car line.  A new charter was granted by the General Assembly in January, 1864; and the several companies, with the exception of the Providence and Pawtucket Corporation, were united under the name of the Union Railroad Company.  Feb. 2, 1865, the first meeting was held.  The capital stock was fixed at $515,000, and Amasa Sprague was elected President;  George M. Dailey, Secretary and Treasurer;  and George H. Smith, Superintendent.

During the summer of 1865, five lines of horse-cars were opened for public travel.  The Union Railroad was the first company to use a patent rail.  In 1867, two short lines were built, one from Cranston line to Narragansett Park; the other from the junction of Wickenden and South Main streets, down the latter street to the boat-landing.  In 1867, the company obtained permission to locate their depot on the north side of the Great Bridge, which was erected at a cost of $12,000.  In 1872, the Union Company bought out the Pawtucket line, and all the horse-car lines were consolidated under one management.  In the spring of 1875, the Smith's Hill route was planned, by an extension of the Elmwood route.  Late in the season, two other lines, the Prairie Avenue and Mouth Pleasant, were built.  The union Company now operate seventeen lines of travel, and use over forty miles of track.  They have 110 cars, 600 horses, and 250 employees.  The present management is not old in power.  The Treasurer and Superintendent, Mr. D. F. Longstreet, was appointed Secretary and Treasurer upon the retirement of Mr. George M. Daniels, in 1870.  In 1872, Superintendent Smith resigned, and the duties of that office were transferred to Mr. Longstreet's shoulders.  In 1876, Mr. L. Brayton, the present incumbent, was chosen president.  The business of the road has felt the depression of the past few years but, in the main, it has been satisfactory.

Swan Point Cemetery.  Of the many interesting and beautiful localities which environ the city of Providence, there is none in which natural scenery is more befitting, none better adapted to the requirements of a sepulchre of the dead, than that comprised within the limits of Swan Point Cemetery.  Respect for the dead is one of the noblest attributes of our nature; and the beautiful cemeteries that are being established and consecrated as the final resting-place of the departed, give evidence of the affectionate interest the living cherish in these beautiful repositories of their honored dead.  Not upon unknown ground, but in consecrated lots, we lay the bodies of our loved ones, and the hand of affection still scatters fresh flowers over their graves, and, as in life they were the objects of our kindest regard, so are their remains the subject of our dearest thought and tenderest care, in these ever-growing cities of the dead.

'A place where the forms of our loves ones rest;
Where contemplation is nature's guest.'

The Swan Point Cemetery Company was incorporated, in 1847, with a board of management consisting of the following-named gentlemen as trustees: --

Chairman, John J. Stinson;  Secretary, Benjamin White;  Treasurer and Actuary, Thomas C. Hartshorn;  Keeper of the Grounds, Christian F. Johnson;  Trustees, John J. Stinson, Henry Anthony, Richard J. Arnold, Gideon L. Spencer, Benjamin White, Thomas C. Hartshorn.

At the session of the General Assembly in 1858, a new charter was granted, and the corporate name changed to 'The Proprietors of Swan Point Cemetery.'  By the provisions of this new charter, the affairs of the cemetery were henceforth to be managed by directors, instead of trustees.  The following are the present directors:  Chairman, Charles H. Parkhurst;  Treasurer and Secretary, Christopher R. Drowne;  Superintendent, Timothy McCarthy;  Directors, Samuel A. Nightingale, Thomas A. Doyle, Charles H. Parkhurst, Lucius B. Darling, Rufus Waterman, Henry L. Parson, Alfred Stone.  From a review of the superintendent's report, the following facts are obtained: --

The average number of persons employed in and about the grounds are fifty.  Between fifty and sixty lots were sold in the year 1876, embracing an area of twenty-seven hundred square feet.  Ninety-three lots of proprietors, and forty-five lots of the corporation have been graded and turfed.  Seventeen hundred feet of avenues and two thousand feet of paths have been constructed, and six hundred feet of drain and nine hundred feet of water-pipe have been laid.  Number of interments for the year ending Jan. 1, 1877, was four hundred and seventy.  Eighty-three brick vaults have been built.

This lovely spot, secluded from the busy haunts of active life, with its picturesque scenery and boundaries, washed by the beautiful Seekonk River, in whose placid surface is mirrored the giant forms that overhang its wooded shores, forms indeed a fitting place for the repose of the departed.   A visit among these sacred altars of the dead, has an influence upon the sentiment of veneration, and serves to harmonize and refine the hearts of the living; for reflection brings the thought, that ere long we, too, will be lying beside the now mouldering relics of what was once so dear to us.  May the zeal that has already been manifested, in this enterprise, know no abatement, and all of its varied interests experience no decline.

The North Burial-ground is located in the north part of the city, and was set apart by the town for a common burial-ground, in the year 1700.  It contains more than one hundred acres of land in actual use, with a reserve adjoining, which will be ready for use when required.  The grounds are tastefully laid out, and contain many beautiful lots, where the hand of affection has been lavish in its adornments, and loving hearts have reared elaborate and expensive monuments to the memory of the departed.

Grace Church Cemetery is situated between Broad and Greenwich streets, at their junction.  The grounds are not extensive, but they are cherished by many for the hollowed associations surrounding them.

Locust Grove Cemetery is located between Greenwich and Melrose streets, and not far from Washington Pond.

The Williams Burying-ground is situated near the west line of Roger Williams Park, and contains the remains of nearly all the direct descendants from the illustrious founder of the State.  It remains to-day in all of its primitive surroundings, and the quaint old-fashioned head-stones of common slate, with their rude inscriptions, awakens a feeling of veneration, which surrounds this spot with no little degree of interest, from the memories that cluster around these sacred relics of by-gone centuries.


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Transcription 2004 by Beth Hurd, Images by Beth Hurd 2004
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