This section contains articles of genealogical and historic
interest on Rhode Island in general, from old Rhode Island books and newspapers.
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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.
pp. 136 - 140.
This town is situated in the northwestern part of the State, and bounded as follows: On the north by Burrillville; on the east by North Smithfield and Smithfield; on the south by Scituate and Foster, and on the west by the State of Connecticut. The average length is about twelve miles and its average width five miles, comprising an area of some sixty square miles. Its surface is rolling, and in many sections rough and rocky.
The principal agricultural products are hay, corn, potatoes, oats, rye, beef, and pork. Fruit is grown to some extent. Much of the primitive forest has been cut away, which afforded great supplies of ship-timber and building material. What remains is valuable, and large quantities are manufactured into coal, which forms a considerable commercial product. The principal stream is the Chepachet River, upon which is located an important and interesting village, which is the business centre of the town. Here most of the mercantile and mechanical business is done, and it presents a degree of enterprise and thrift rivalled by no other village in the town.
The manufacturing interests are quite extensively represented here, a more complete history of which will be found under the appropriate head of manufactories.
The first settlements in this town were made about the year 1706, while it was yet a part of Providence Plantations. A Frenchman by the name of Tourtelott is said to have been among the first settlers, and has left numerous descendants who claim to be in the direct line of descent from Roger Williams, the founder of the State. The Inmans, Smiths, Windsors [sic], and Burlingames were also among the early settlers, and many of their descendants are still living, and, like their honored ancestry, give character to present settlement and facilitate the progressive development of all the town's varied interests. The population of the town in 1748 was 1,202, and in 1875, the date of the last census, 2,098. The greatest population of the town was in the year 1790, when it reached 4,025. This decrease in population of the town is owing in a great degree to the tendency to populate the cities and villages. The territory of Rhode Island being limited in extent, and its population mainly engaged in manufacturing, these industries have had a tendency to build up a large number of villages, varying in size, and in these villages and cities have concentrated the greater percentage of the population. This tendency to desert the rural or farming districts for these manufacturing centres has been steadily increasing, and has had the effect to increase their population, while the strictly farming districts have in many instances been materially diminished. The cause for this migration may be in a measure traceable to the diminished fertility of the soil. In this primitive state it yielded abundantly, and the labors of the early pioneer were rewarded with abundant harvests. The forests that had stood for ages had annually given their foliage to fertilize the soil, and the seed soon found just the material on which to feed and mature into an abundant harvest. These early clearings were surrounded by sheltering woodlands, and thus were free from the tossing winds, and suffered less from the chilling frosts. As settlements increased and the forests disappeared beneath the sturdy blows of the honest yeomanry, history discloses a combination of causes tending toward a diminishing fertility.
Prominent among these may be mentioned a lack of knowledge in the proper cultivation of the soil and the preserving of the essential materials to insure continued productiveness. The farmer in those early days but poorly understood, or unwisely disregarded the fact that every crop carried from the field conveys with it a certain proportion of the ingredients essential to the production of a like crop, and hence the continued cropping of any field will soon exhaust the materials for successful cultivation. Experience teaches that, in order to insure successful crops, certain ingredients taken from the soil by the cultivation of one crop must be replaced by a similar material; and the intelligent husbandman resorts to a rotation of crops, or supplies the necessary materials by the free use of those artificial fertilizers, which to-day form a prominent feature in commercial trade. As has already been remarked, the surface is, in many sections, quite rough and rocky, and hard of cultivation.
The geological features of the town are of a primitive granite formation. Granite quarries have been opened and worked, with varying degrees of success. Gold was discovered upon the Page farm by Mr. Rhodes Page, in 1838. This farm is situated in the western part of the town, but no material efforts were made by Mr. Page to develop the results of his discovery. In 1875, however, the mine was opened, and a quantity of quartz obtained. An assay was made, which is said to have proved quite flattering. It was found that the yield was $22 silver, and $1.67 gold, to the ton. If this really be the case, and sufficient quartz can be obtained, this spot must become the Eldorado of the East. Some portions of the town display a kind of clay that could be worked into brick, and made a source of profitable industry, provided a suitable market presented itself. The natural flow of water is to the north and northeast. It is a singular fact, that not much water in Rhode Island flows into Connecticut. The greatest territory drained by any river is the Moosup, taking the waters of western Coventry, and a large share of southwestern Foster. In Glocester the same fact again appears, and but a small portion of the water flows toward or into Connecticut. Within the limits of the town there are several large ponds, three of which are called reservoirs; viz., Ponegansett, Smith and Sayles, and Waterman's, better known as Woonasquatucket. These are situated in the western, central and southwestern parts of the town. North of the first-named is one called Place's, but which is considerably smaller than the ones we have mentioned. Keeche's Pond [sic] is the largest natural body of water in the town, and is in close proximity to the Smith and Sayles reservoir. These natural privileges, and the abundance of forest-timber, early caused the establishment of saw-mills, and they even to-day form a prominent feature in the town's industries.
The principal lumber is pine, chestnut, and oak. The public roads of the town are usually good, and a liberal appropriation is annually expended upon them. The Glocester Turnpike runs through the town, passing through the villages of Harmony and Chepachet, and enters Connecticut at West Glocester. Upon this road are two toll-gates, one located at Harmony, and the other midway between Chepachet and West Glocester. The thoroughfare is mostly in the hands of Hon. George H. Browne. The early settlement of the town was commenced, and the first improvement of the lands appears to have been made, in their pasturage. Stock was driven here and allowed to graze upon the open fields, attended in their migrations by the shepherds who had them in their charge.
It was not until the eighteenth century that this part of the State began to be permanently settled. A prejudice appears to have existed in regard to the advantages of this section for permanent settlement. This is evidenced from the fact that a party was sent out from Providence up the valley of the Woonasquatucket, to explore the region, and report their observations. They returned, as it appears, disgusted with the territory, and reported that the country was not worth settling. This idea prevailed for some time, and retarded any material progress in the development of the resources of that territory now comprised within the limits of the thriving and flourishing township of Glocester. At last, however, the descendants of the hardy pioneers of some of the adjoining towns began to break over into this generally-conceived worthless territory, and soon began a permanent settlement, attracted by the excellent timber, and the general fertility of its soil. The forest long continued to yield remunerative employment, and the woods rang with the echoes of the woodman's axe, as he felled those giants of the forest, and carved out a home amid these sylvan retreats.
Among these early pioneers, as we have already stated, was Abram Tourtellott. He settled about a mile south of Acote Hill, where he took up a large tract, and laid the foundations of a permanent home. He married a Miss Ballard, and the fruit of this union was seven children, -- Mary, Lydia, Esther, Abram, Jonathan, Benjamin, and Sarah. His wife died, and he subsequently married a widow Corps, formerly Hannah Case, by whom he had five children, -- Stephen, William, Jesse, David, and Anna. This second wife deceased, and he married a third time, a widow Williams, by whom he had no issue. The father of Abram was named Gabriel, and came over to America from France, in company with Gabriel Bernon, whose daughter Marie he married. By this marriage he had two sons and a daughter; the latter became the wife of a Mr. Harding of Newport. The elder Gabriel and his oldest son were lost at sea, while Abram settled in the town of Glocester, about the year 17--.
Town Organization, Town Meetings, &c.
As has been remarked, the town of Providence was divided, in the year 1730, into four towns, -- Providence, Smithfield, Scituate, and Glocester. The town meeting, for the organization of the town of Glocester, took place March 16, 1730. Elisha Knowlton was chosen Moderator, and was elected Clerk. Zacharaiah Eddy was chosen Town Sergeant; Captain John Smith, Town Treasurer; Zachariah Eddy, Sr., John Barnes, John Inman, Obediah Jencks, Solomon Smith, and Zebedee Hopkins were chosen Town Councilmen. Elisha Knowlton and Walter Phetteplace were chosen the first Deputies to the General Assembly. On the first Monday in the June following, these town officers were re-elected.
In the year 1758, a workhouse was put into successful operation. We find here on record, Feb. 10, 1776, a deed that illustrates the charitable characteristics of the early inhabitants. It appears that one Mr. McEntire, a poor man in the town, had hired a sum of money from Dr. Mason, for which he had given his note. Being unable to meet this obligation, through circumstances that were beyond his control, the doctor took measures to collect his claim. The poor debtor had a sick and helpless son, and the town felt a sympathy for their unfortunate citizen's circumstances, and ordered the treasurer to pay the indebtedness, and relieve the poor man from the weight of his oppressive burdens. The order was duly carried into effect, and thus the poor creditor released from his obligation. During the Revolutionary war, the town exerted every effort to sustain the cause of the independence of the Colonies. Her records show that she was every vigilant, and stood ever willing to obey and execute the orders of the executive. The end of the struggle, reduced her almost to the verge of ruin, but with undaunted courage, and persevering energy, she immediately set about restoring her shattered fortunes.
Jan. 13, 1783, the town appointed Jonathan Harris, Zebedee Hopkins, and Dr. Mason a committee to draw up a petition in behalf of the inhabitants of the town, praying that the General Assembly would not lay the taxes so fast and so often, and to set forth the distressed condition of the town and its inability to meet all the requirements laid upon it, and asking relief in the matter. The greatly distressed condition of the people, led indirectly to the rebellion of 1787, familiarly known as 'Shay's Rebellion.' Here, in this town, was originated the first overt act. This distressed condition of the people was undoubtedly one cause, and there was another, which hastened the general outbreak. This was the action taken by a class of individuals styling themselves 'Reformation men', who would neither pay taxes nor fight. These man, no doubt, had a sprinkling of toryism, and it was out of this discordant element that the affray had its birth.
One day, an officer, with several men to aid him, was sent to distrain some cattle. They succeeded in their purpose, and started with the cattle upon their return home. These cattle belonged to farmers residing in the neighborhood of what is now called the Phillips place. A mob arose and pursued the officers and cattle, and overtook them just as they crossed the bridge to the northeast of Pascoag village. Beyond this bridge was a dense wood, in which commenced a severe struggle between the officers and the farmers, resulting in the rescue of the cattle, and the overwhelming defeat of the officers. The next day the officers returned, and succeeded in arresting several of the leaders in the assault of the previous day. They were immediately conveyed to Chepachet for trial. The people rose in their might and followed them, and great excitement prevailed. The mob broke into the court-room and set the prisoners free. A messenger was immediately sent to consult Judge Steere, a very influential man, residing a few miles from Chepachet. The judge replied, 'I must see the governor', and immediately ordered his horse, and started for Providence to consult Governor Fenner. The governor sent a message, that if the matter ceased immediately, there would be nothing done toward further molesting the inhabitants; which terms were readily accepted.
It did not, however, prevent another outbreak, which occurred soon afterward. The trouble extended over into Douglas, where several severe contests were waged with fists and clubs. Daniel Shay took command of the forces in Massachusetts, and treated disturbances in several towns, until his final defeat by the State troops. This had the effect to put a stop to any further riotous proceedings.
The 24th of February, 1792, the people instructed their delegates to use their influence towards having a convention called to draft a new constitution for the State. This was among the earliest struggles to get rid of the old charter, and here we see their town foremost in the ranks of reform, and as her history proves, she never faltered in her efforts until the old charter was finally superseded by the present constitution. On the 16th of October, 1797, Richard Steere, the venerable town clerk, closed his labors with his life, having served as clerk of the town for the remarkably long period of sixty years. In looking over the record-books, kept by him, one cannot but be impressed the clearness and beauty of his manuscript, coupled with the unusual accuracy and care displayed by him in the keeping of these records.
In the early part of the present century, a proposition was entertained for the uniting of the towns of Foster, Scituate, Glocester, and Burrillville into a new county. These scheme had its strongest supporters in the town, and on the 19th of January, 1807, it was voted to confer with the other towns in regard to the matter. The idea did not appear to receive much encouragement from the other towns, and the scheme was abandoned.
In July, 1812, the town ordered her militia to be put upon a war footing, and passed at the same time a spirited set of resolutions, which will, no doubt, be of interest to the general reader, and hence we insert them in this connection. At a special meeting of the town of Glocester on the 16th of July, instant, it was unanimously voted to allow the militia about to be detached from this town, such additional sums as should, together with the wages allowed by government, amount to twelve dollars per month, inclusive of clothing, when called into actual service. The following resolutions were then unanimously adopted: --
'Resolved, That from the establishment of our independence, the government of Great Britain has viewed with jealousy the rising glory and prosperity of these Sates; and has, by its wayward, malignant policy, conspired our destruction as an independent power; it has plundered out native seamen; repeatedly insulted our national flag, and murdered our citizens; excited faction, and attempted to organize treason; in fine, so multiplied have been its injustice and so accumulated its injuries, that further forbearance would be criminal, and non-resistance a surrender of our liberties and independence; therefore,
'Resolved, That the set of the general government of the United States, declaring war against Great Britain, meets our cordial approbation, and we will grant every aid in our power in the prosecution of such energetic measures as may be deemed requisite by the authority of the Union for coercing our enemy to relinquish those unjust claims and extravagant pretensions which are inconsistent with our neutral and independent rights; to the end that a solid and lasting peace may be secured, and our country be as politically happy as she is nationally just.
'Resolved, That from the best information we can obtain, our commercial relations with France are by no means amicable, and we pledge ourselves to the government and nation, that every measure which may be adopted for indemnification for past injuries, and for vindicating our violated rights, shall meet our hearty concurrence and support.
'Resolved, That 'Union' is our motto, and that the acts or proceedings of all assemblies of men, whether loyally assembled, or self-created, which excite jealousies and heart-burnings, and tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affections, and alienate one portion of citizens from each other, are destructive to the union and strength of this confederated Republic; and it is the bounden duty of every good citizen, to exert himself by all loyal means in his power, for the suppression of so flagrant an abuse of that liberty, which the citizens of the United States, more than any other nation on earth, so pre-eminently enjoy.
'Resolved, That the conduct exhibited by His Excellency, the governor
of this State, in procrastinating the detaching this State's quota of militia,
agreeably to an act of Congress, is detrimental to the public service,
and wholly incompatible with that unquestionable patriotism
and manly decision which ought ever to dignify the character of the chief magistrate of a people, eager to be appointed to the path of duty, and prompt to execute the laws of the Union.
Asa Tourtellott, Clerk pro tem. Recorded by J. Bowen, Town Clerk'
The spirit shown in these eloquent words, seems to have been strongly entertained by the inhabitants of this town, and Glocester came to the front in defence of her liberties, thus demonstrating the fact that she could not only resolve, but act as well.
June 2, 1828, the town appointed a committee to divide the town into school districts, and the resultant advantages arising from this action have been potent, in the influence exerted upon the system of public instruction throughout the town. On the 27th of August, 1844, a proposition came up to purchase a town farm, which was decided adversely, by a vote of 65 ayes to 106 nays. A few years afterwards, however, the question came up again, and, after due discussion, was voted upon and carried.
The Dorr excitement, in 1842, aroused the sympathies of the inhabitants of this town, and it became the governor's stronghold. The admiration displayed for the governor and his cause became intense, and partisan feelings led the inhabitants of the town to sustain and uphold their chief, even after he had entered upon questionable ground. This feeling was allowed to take deep root, and even to-day its fruits are discernible, and wield a controlling influence on the political fortunes of the town. Forming a section of a radically republican State, it boasts of having never cast a republican majority, and rejoices in the appellation of the banner town of Rhode Island democracy. In June, 1853, the town appointed delegates to form another constitution, and among them was Governor Thomas Wilson Dorr. The honorable gentleman was waited upon and informed of his nomination, and to the committee he addressed the following letter: --
'Providence, R. I., June 27, 1853.
To the Democracy of Glocester. Fellow-Citizens: -- I learn this morning that I was nominated, on Saturday, as one of the democratic delegates to the Constitutional Convention from your town. To several friends, who some time ago offered to present me to you as a candidate, I replied, that if nominated and elected, it would give me much pleasure to serve you in that capacity. This remembrance of an old friend to reform and equal rights is very gratifying, and I return my sincere and cordial thanks. I consider it a great honor to represent, in part, on an occasion like this, a town which has always inflexibly adhered to the cause of '42, and been foremost in its defence from principle. I share with you in these constant regards to this noble cause, and assure you of my best exertions, health permitting, to carry it forward to a prosperous issue. I am in favor of universal suffrage, of an elective judiciary, and of giving a substantial veto and the pardoning powers to the executive. But without going further with details, I solicit your instructions, if you see fit to direct the course of your delegates.
I am, very respectfully, your friend and fellow-democrat, Thomas W. Dorr.'
The result of this convention was the unsuccessful attempt to carry into effect the measures proposed.
The town's valuation in 1877 was: real estate, $835,790; personal, $457,950.
This is quite an interesting and important village, and is the metropolis of the town. It is situated in the northern part of the town, and has a population of about eight hundred. The name is of Indian origin, and derived from 'Chepuck', devil, and 'chack', bag. A bag or wallet is said to have been found here, probably dropped by a hunter, and as no one could tell who, an Indian said it was the devil. Hence the above words have been converted into Chepachet, and signify 'Devil's Bag'. A post office was established here with the commencement of the postal system, by the general government. The village contains two hotels, one kept by Mr. James M. Eddy, and the other by R. K. Taft; three stores, tin-shop, two woollen mills, one cotton factory, one livery, masonic hall, and two churches. The town clerk's office has always been located here, and the annual elections for town and State officers are held here, as also the town-council meetings.
The people of Chepachet were among the warmest friends of Governor Dorr, and foremost in sustaining the measures he sought to establish. Mr. Amasa Eddy, a native of this place, was an ardent advocate of the Dorr movement, and acted as lieutenant-governor. He was a prominent merchant, and died Oct. 14, 1874. He was a noted politician, and wielded a strong influence in the political measures of his native town. Dorr's major-general, Jedediah Sprague, was also a native of this place, and is still living, in the enjoyment of excellent health, and retains a cherished memory for his fallen chieftain, and still adheres to the principles he sought to establish, regarding them as sound maxims of political economy.
Acote's Hill is situated on the southeasterly side of the village, and is celebrated as the rendezvous of Dorr and his infatuated and misguided partisans. There were never more than a hundred and fifty gathered here, and many of these were without arms. On these heights took place that memorable assertion, 'that his bones should be buried on the heights of Acote; rather than to yield his convictions. On the 28th of June the regiments had been stationed for a few days previous at Greenville, North Scituate, and Hopkins Mills. On the 28th they marched on Acote, and to their surprise found the works abandoned. This was undoubtedly a source of no inconsiderable joy to the Algerine forces, as they had already realized, undoubtedly, all of the terrors of an open battle, without tasting its ecstasy. The Dorrites having endured the suspense of waiting for the war-painted enemy, took to their heels upon the first sound of the martial fife and drum, and sight of the bristling bayonets on the Algerine braves, and endured the hardship of running away.
With his brigade,
And Landers with his cannon,
For Mr. Dorr
They went to war;
Foot soldier, horse, and man on.
With his brigade,
And Landers with his cannon,
With spade and hatchet
Kettle, pot, and pan on.
With his brigade
And Landers with his cannon,
From Acote's Hill
They ran and ran and ran on.'
A bank was chartered in February, 1804, as the Farmers' Exchange Bank, with a capital of $100,000. President, John Harris; Cashier, Mowry Smith. This institution continued to be successfully operated for several years, when it undertook to dishonorably impose upon its patrons. This resulted in a lawsuit, which finally terminated in a verdict against the bank, and the institution closed.
In February, 1818, the people of Chepachet obtained another charter for a new bank, to be called the Franklin Bank. Its capital was $50,000, and President, Jesse Tourtelott; and Cashier, Cyril Cook. This institution continued business until the introduction of the present national system, in 1865, when it voted to discontinue business. The history of manufacturing in the village and vicinity is quite interesting, and various have been the ventures in this particular branch of industry. A brickyard has been operated here for many years by the owner of the clay-beds, or by those leasing the property. An oil-works was established by the Messrs. Owens. The oil was pressed from cotton-seed. Nathan Blackman had a small hat-factory here, which he continued to operate until his death. George Harris had a distillery in connection with his grist-mill, and continued to operate it for many years, but it was discontinued when the factory was built, in 1813. A tannery was established here by Solomon Owens, before the year 1800. His son, Lawton, continued the business after the death of his father, and at his death, his son succeeded to the business. Mr. George Owens assumed the business in 1872. A potash factory was operated here by the Wilmarths, and it is said that at one time there were no less than three establishments of this character within the village. This business was discontinued when the factory was built, in 1814. About this time, Oliver Owens had a nail-factory and a trip-hammer here. He made scythes and axes, and other edge-tools. The business was discontinued when Mr. Owens removed from the town, in 1818.
In 1808, upon the right bank of the stream, a short distance below the bridge, George Harris built and operated carding-works. He subsequently sold out to the Glocester Manufacturing Company, who continued the business until the introduction of power-looms. The present mill was erected by Henry B. Lyman and Elisha Dyer, in the year 1820. These gentlemen operated the factory in the manufacture of cotton goods for some twenty-five years, when they sold to Smith & Sayles, the present proprietors. They employ about fifty hands, and operate both woollen and cotton machinery. They, however, contemplate removing the cotton machinery to give place to new woollen machinery. The mill above this factory was erected in 1814 by the Chepachet Manufacturing Company, and was operated in the spinning of cotton-yarn. Subsequently it was purchased by Messrs. Lyman & Dyer, and operated by them a series of years. They sold it to Smith & Sayles at the same time the lower mill was purchased, and both are now operated by the last-named gentlemen. They are at present engaged in the manufacture of cassimeres, operating three sets, and employing fifty hands. Mr. Owens' tannery stood on the left bank of the stream, and a little above this he had a grist-mill, which he converted into a factory about 1813, and operated it in the spinning of cotton yarn. He subsequently sold it to Ira P. Evans, and after being operated by numerous parties, it passed, in 1858, into the possession of Messrs. Kimball & Arnold, who changed the machinery, and commenced the manufacture of fancy cassimeres, which business is still carried on here. They operate three sets, and employ about sixty operatives.
In 1795, the people obtained from the General Assembly a charter for the 'United Library Company'. A liberal supply of books was obtained, and the institution continued to flourish until 1820, when it finally expired, through lack of interest.
No history of the village of Chepachet would be complete without, at least, a brief mention of 'The Scouts of Glocester, or the Elephant Hunt in the Jungles of Chepachet'. Our story is laid in the first quarter of the present century, and is a legend of those days when 'accidents by flood' and 'hair-breadth 'escapes', were no rarity among the sylvan precincts of Glocester. It was in the summer of 1825, when Messrs. June, Titus, & Englebourne, three 'gripers of the people's cash', were perambulating the State, exhibiting a wonderful quadrupled for the amusement of the people, and the replenishing of their 'once fat pocket-books'. It was a large elephant, and the value of the aforesaid animile, trunk and all, was set down at the remarkably low figure of $16,000. On a beautiful day in June, this rich-caparisoned cavalcade, bedecked with all the paraphernalia of Eastern custom, might have been seen wending its 'slow length along' into the suburban precincts of Chepachet, or the 'Devil's Bag', in disguise. Soon a white canvas arose, like Aladdin's palace, an addition to the gable-end of a barn, and into this shelter from the gaping gaze of a motley crowd, the wonderful quadruped was thrust, and soon, at the half-concealed entrance, appeared the crier of the merits of the show: 'Pass right up on the inside, and see the greatest wonder of the age!' Not all, however were prepared with the necessary scrip to indulge their desire, or feast their eyes in wonderment upon this huge monster of the tropics. 'But where there's a will there's a way', and soon several parties were safely secreted within the aforesaid barn, and before the managers of the hippodrome were aware of their design, they had effected an aperture in the side of the barn against which the tent rested, and were enjoying the exhibition with as much zest of their more favored neighbors. This, of course, aroused the righteous indignation of the bosses of the show, and the landlord was persuaded to vacate the stable of its intruders. This was accordingly done, and the insatiate greediness of the 'Scouts' found expression in a determination to deprive the managers of the show of further livelihood, by killing the elephant. Threats of this character were made during the remainder of the day, but the proprietors gave it but a passing thought, and kept up the exaltation of the entertainment, and passing patrons upon the inside to see the wonders of the show.
At last the day was spent, and preparations were being made to pull up and move toward Woonsocket, where they were to open on the following day. Everything being in readiness, the elephant's trunk packed, tent safely secured, and bills paid, the unsuspecting showmen started, about twelve o'clock at night, for their morrow's field of action. Slowly, but bravely, they took up their line of march, and all 'went merry as a marriage-bell'. Meanwhile, the 'Scouts of the Jungle' had secretly concealed themselves in a building that stood near the bridge, and patiently awaited the approach of the huge monster of the glen. Stealthily the prey approaches, and, as the bridge is reached, the quick, red glare of the hunter's unerring rifle is seen, a volley of leaden hail pierces the brain of this 'greatest wonder of the age', and when the dense, dark cloud of smoke ascends, the writhing monster was seen in the last agonies of death. The indignation of the showmen knew no bounds, and the 'expletives their feeble aid to join' made 'night hideous', as they witnessed the last throbbing pulsations of that noble beast, and saw their avocation vanish in that last expiring breath. Morn came at last, and o'er the scene the sun poured his lurid rays, and the bending heavens hung with ghastly broodings. The owners of the defunct elephant set about the task of skinning the monster, while the vultures of the jungle hovered near,ready to pounce upon the mangled carcass. The 'Scouts' were subsequently apprehended, tried, and a verdict of heavy damages obtained against them.
This is an event to be remembered by the generations of Chepachet, and she claims to-day the honor of 'bagging the biggest game ever killed in the State of Rhode Island.'
Clarkville is situated in the extreme northwest corner of the town. At the beginning of the present century, the Clarks had a tannery here, which they operated for many years. It was situated at the junction of the roads, upon the east side. They had also a saw and grist mill, which, however, was abandoned when the factory was built. The first mill was erected here by the Arnold Brothers, about the year 1818. They spun yarn for some years, and finally sold to other parties, who continued operations until the mill was burned. The new mill was built by Horatio Darling, in 1835. He leased the mill to various parties, and it continued under the management of different parties until the mill was destroyed by fire, in 1864. Messrs. F. R. White & Co. purchased the privilege, and built a third mill, opposite the old mill. They run it as a shoddy-mill until 1876, when it was burned. It was, however, immediately rebuilt, but has not been set in operation.
Harmony is situated in the extreme eastern section of the town, and contains a population of about two hundred. The village contains a hotel, two stores, and several mechanical shops. A post-office was established about 1838, and is kept in the store of Messrs. H. A. & C. A. Randall. Just below this village Thomas Barnes started acid-works, manufacturing about two hundred and fifty gallons of raw liquor per day. It is sold to parties who rectify it and prepare it for use.
Spring Grove is located about a mile east of Chepachet. Manufacturing was commenced here in 1838 by Smith Mowry & Sons. They built a factory, and operated it until 1852, making cotton goods. The mill was operated with varying fortunes for many years afterward. In 1862, John Aspworth purchased the property, and operated it about four years, when he was accidentally killed. About 1868, Messrs. F. R. White & Co. purchased it, and have since manufactured shoddy goods.
West Glocester is a small hamlet, located about a half-mile from Clarkville, and near the Connecticut line. A saw-mill was operated here by the Messrs. Hawkins until the erection of the new cotton-mill, in 1873. It is a fine, substantial building, three stories in height, and employs about twenty operatives. The business is conducted under the firm-style of Hawkins & Houghton in the manufacture of carpet-warps and heavy woollen goods. A post-office was established here in 1862, but was removed to Clarkville in 1874. Williamsville is a small hamlet situated about two miles south of West Glocester. A saw and shingle mill, together with a grist-mill, have been in operation here for some years.
Friendship Lodge, No. 7, A. F. A. M., at Chepachet. The first meeting of the lodge took place Oct. 21, 1800. The first officers were: Joseph Bowen, Master; Elijah Armstrong, S. W.; David Richmond, J. W.; Asa Burlingame, Treasurer; S. Owen, Secretary; Oliver Owen, S. D.; Stephen Burlingame, J. D. The lodge has one hundred and thirty members, and holds its regular meetings Saturdays, on or before the full of the moon.
Harmony Lodge, Sons of Temperance, No. 13, located at Harmony, was chartered Feb. 4, 1875, with twenty-nine charter members. The first officers were: Gains W. Hubbard, W. P.; Ida R. Irons, W. A.; Grace E. Bishop, R. S.; Mary E. Place, A. R. S.; Henry A. Randall, F. S.; Harris S. Farnum, Treasurer; Harriet W. Hawkins, Chaplain; Warren A. Steere, Conductor; Ransom Place, I. S.; L. D. Brown, O. S. Present membership, forty-six. Meets, Friday evenings, at Harmony Chapel.
The Chepachet Division, Sons of Temperance, No. 14, was instituted Oct. 24, 1872, with twenty charter members. The first officers were: Rev. Charles Scott, W. P.; Rev. D. C. Wheeler, W. A.; Mrs. W. O. Arnold, R. S.; Mrs. Sarah Reed, A. S.; Mrs. Dr. W. T. Potter, F. S.; Mrs. D. C. Wheeler, Treasurer; O. W. Harris, Conductor; Mrs. Owen Evans, A. C.; Edward King, I. S.; James Wilson, O. S.; M. Angell, P. M. P. Present membership, forty-five. Meets in vestry of Congregational church Monday evenings.
Nearly a century passed before the introduction of schools into the town of Glocester. In the early history of the town, schools were held in private homes, and depended for their support upon the tuition-fees collected from their pupils. These schools were few in number, and small in attendance. In August, 1828, the town voted to raise by tax a sum equal to that furnished by the State, according to the provision of the law passed by the General Assembly for the establishment of free schools in the several towns of the State. The amount was small, but it inaugurated a new era, and was an advanced step in the important cause of public instruction. The town was divided into districts, convenient school-buildings erected, and the children of all classes enjoyed the privilege of attending school, and acquiring at least the rudiments of an English education.
The school expenditures for 1839 were $946.49, while in 1875 they had increased to $4,082.64. This increase in expenditures is a fair index to the improvement made in the public schools of the town, and evidences the growth of popular feeling and interest in the subject of education. Formerly, the supervision of the schools was in the hands of the committee, and was generally divided among its members, but since the enactment of the law requiring the appointment of a superintendent, the care of the schools has been committed to that officer. This gives unity to the work, and secures better results.
About 1825, an increased interest was manifested in the religious advantages of children and youth of the town, especially as many of them resided some distance from any place of public worship -- not having carriages to convey them. To facilitate these privileges, a deep interest was aroused in the minds of some, especially ladies, and also through the agency of the Rhode Island Sunday School Union, many district Sunday schools were formed, and sustained through a part or all the year. Most of these schools for years were superintended by ladies; in one case one young lady, under twenty years, and a student in a young ladies' academy in another place, had the charge of two most interesting Sunday schools, and was also a teacher in a third a part of the time. The schools just referred to, were sustained about six months, in the warmest season of the year.
Besides these district Sunday schools, there has been sustained an interesting Sunday school at the Free Baptist Church, Rev. Mr. Purkis, pastor, in the village of Chepachet. Also, later, when the Congregational church was formed, a Sunday school was immediately organized, and is now in a prosperous condition, superintended by Mr. Edward L. Phetteplace. Pastor, Rev. Mr. Dickinson. Great good has resulted from the instruction in these schools. As many of these early workers in these schools have passed away, and others are no longer youthful, some of them may be named: Mr. and Mrs. Riley Steere, Miss Abby Colwell, Misses Susan and M. Phetteplace, Miss Cerena Sprague, Mr. William Potter, Mrs. Paris Irons, Miss E. A. Phetteplace, Miss Miranda Owen, Mr. Job Armstrong, Mr. Smith Steere, Miss Sarah Aldrich, Mrs. Sprague, and others.
The Advent Church, at Clarkville, is very pleasantly situated, near the junction of the roads. It was erected about 1848, at a cost of about $500. The Advents have held their regular service here since the erection of the house. At present, Elder J. S. Eldridge preaches here three Sundays in a month. The church membership is quite limited, and dissensions among the members are doing the church no good. The Advents have another church, situated in the northeastern corner of the town, which they erected in 1863, at a cost of about $750. It is a neat little building, and they have a church membership quite limited, but prosperous.
The Chepachet Baptist Church.
A band of Christian men of Chepachet, united themselves together, and obtained from the General Assembly, in October, 1814, a charter as the Christian Benevolent Society. The society went into active operation, and in 1821 built a house of worship a short distance west of the bridge, which they dedicated November, 1821, and re-chartered in January, 1822, as the 'Chepachet Meeting-house'. Elder Reuben Allen was the first settled pastor. The lot was given by Amherst Kimball. The present membership of the church is about seventy, and they have a Sunday school in a flourishing condition. The church has had numerous pastors, none of whom, however, seem to have labored long in this vineyard. Elder J. M. Purkis has been settled here since 1873. When the house was dedicated, it was agreed that the Universalists should have its use every fifth Sunday, but the Universalist society did not enforce their claim but a few yeas, and now, as a religious body, are extinct in the town.
At Harmony, the school-house becoming too small to accommodate the children, a new house was built, and the old house was altered into a chapel, and has been used for a free house ever since. Services are held here, with preaching, when ministers can be procured.
The Jefferson Society was a society, organized and chartered in October, 1828, for the purpose of erecting a school-house, which was subsequently accomplished, and a school put into successful operation. After the introduction of the free-school system, the house was used for the accommodation of the district until 1859, at which time the building became inadequate for the increasing demands, and a new school-building erected, a little to the eastward. This house soon after fell into the possession of the founders, who have used it as a free place of worship for the various denominations. Extensive repairs are now being made to the building, and when completed, it will be occupied as a house of public worship.
Episcopal Society. In February, 1818, the Episcopalians obtained a charter from the General Assembly, as Christ Church, thinking to build, with the aid of the people in the vicinity, a church. So feeble was the response, that the house was never built, and the field has never been occupied by them since.
This church was organized at Chepachet in March, 1846, with ten members, one-half of whom still remain, and sustain an important relation to the church, and in promoting the interests of the society. Rev. O. F. Otis was ordained and installed pastor by the same council that assisted in the organization of the church. He remained in the pastoral charge of the society until 1864, when he ceased his labors. The church was without a pastor for the next six years, and, in consequence, the house was closed during much of that time. This of course resulted disadvantageously, both to the church and society.
In 1870, Rev. Charles Scott succeeded to the pastorate, but the society having become almost extinct, his labors were in a measure quite discouraging. He continued until 1876, when he resigned. He was active in all measures for the promotion of every interest of the society, and under his ministry the church experienced a period of decided prosperity. After the close of his pastorate, the church was again left without a pastor until June first, when Rev. George L. Dickinson, the present pastor, commenced his official labors. He is a gentleman zealous in his efforts for the good of the church and society, and active in promoting all their varied interests. The present house of worship is a neat and convenient structure, pleasant of location, and surrounded by fine maples that afford ample shade, and give to it an air of comfort. It was erected in 1846, and since that time has been remodelled and improved, and at the present time presents the appearance of a neat and inviting church edifice. It is supplied with a fine organ, which is a great auxiliary to the services, commingling its notes of praise, with the sacred exhortations of prayer. The church has a basement vestry that has been fitted up with care, and is occupied not only for church meetings, but by the Sons of Temperance in their weekly gatherings. This society, though small in numbers, exerts a beneficial influence in the community, being active in every good work and purpose.
The Newport County Reading Room Index More Biographies and History.