History of Woonsocket [Rhode Island], page 4

Rhode Island Reading Room

History of Woonsocket

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

p. 54 - 64.


I think that a while since we came up from the river a little too abruptly.  It was hardly respectful.  Let us return then to the river, for to this Woonsocket owes its existence, and but for this, you would have been denied the ecstacy (sic) of buying and applauding these delightful pages.  We may smile at the superstition of the Hindoos (sic)  for their worship of the sluggish Ganges; but surely a tribute of respect is due to the bright and sparkling waters of the Blackstone, which, for so many generations, have furnished enjoyment and prosperity to the inhabitants of these parts.  Let us return to the river, and while gazing upon its beautiful cascades, or watching its placid bosom as it rolls on to the sea, let us uncover our heads, for we are in the presence of our kindest benefactor!

The first wheel in this region that was turned by its waters was that of a saw-mill, which stood where now stands the tower of the Ballou Manufacturing Company's Cotton Mill, near the dam.  There are many now living who remember the ancient mill, but none can tell when the edifice was erected.  If this could be told, the time could be nearly approximated when the axe and the plow of the pioneer first broke the solitudes of Northern Rhode Island.  From documentary evidence which I have given, I have fixed the date at about the year 1666, and the reader may dispute my conclusions at his leisure.

The next establishment which the river supplied with power was a 'corn and fulling mill'.  This was built by John Arnold about the year 1712.  It was situated upon the 'island' on the up-stream side of the present bridge at the 'Falls'.  It was furnished with two water-wheels.  These were placed one before the other, on the outside of the mill, towards the Smithfield shore, and in a narrow trench cut out of the rock, which is still visible.

The next concern to which the waters of the river were diverted, was what is spoken of in ancient documents as the 'Bloomery', the 'Refinery', and 'Winsokett Iron Mill', etc.  It was, in fact, an iron-mill, where iron was manufactured from the crude ore, which was chiefly obtained at a place called 'Sea Patch River, in Glocester'.*  It was built sometime between the years 1712 and 1720.  In 1720 William Hopkins was one of the proprietors.  An original deed is now in the possession of Moses Roberts, Esq., which conveyed one-fourth of the concern from Hopkins to Thomas Smith.  (The grantor was the father of Gov. Stephen Hopkins; the grantee was the original owner of the land upon which stands the Quaker meeting-house.)  Among the proprietors of the establishment from time to time were Judge Thomas Lapham, Silvanus Scott, Daniel Jenckes, Moses Aldrich (the celebrated Quaker preacher), his sons, Judge Caleb and Robert Aldrich (who were ancestors of many of our most respected citizens), Judge Thomas Arnold and Arnold Pain (the grandson of John Arnold).**

*See Cumb. Rec., Book 3, page 287

**in 1739 the proprietors were:  Thomas Lapham, who owned 9-12; Silvanus Scott, who owned 2-12; Daniel Jenckes, who owned 1-12.  In 1742 the proprietors were:  Thomas Lapham, who owned 9-24; Silvanus Scott, who owned 4/24; Moses Aldrich, who owned 3-24; Thomas Smith, who owned 6-24; Thomas Arnold, who owned 2-24.  In 1747 Robert Aldrich had purchased the right of Thomas Lapham.  In 1750 the proprietors were:  Robert Aldrich, who owned 3-24; Silvanus Scott, who owned 4-24; Caleb Aldrich, who owned 9-24; Thomas Arnold, who owned 8-24.  In 1766 the proprietors were:  Robert Aldrich, who owned 3-8; Caleb Aldrich, who owned 3-8; Arnold Pain, who owned 2/8.

The 'Forge Lot' covered an area of one quarter of an acre.  The building stood end to the Cumberland side of the river, on land now occupied by the boiler-house of the Ballou Manufacturing Company.  It was shaped neither like a barn or a hay-stack, and yet it resembled either.  From descriptions which I have heard of it and its surroundings, I imagine that it resembled as much an iron-mill, or an entrance to a region forty or fifty miles below an iron-mill, entrance to a region forty or fifty miles below an iron-mill, as anything.  Its roof pitched to the north and to the south, reaching nearly to the rocks from whence its sides arose.  It was furnished with three water-wheels.  One of these was an overshot wheel, to which the water was conveyed by a large pen stock from the saw-mill pond.  During the Revolutionary War the business of this concern was quite lucrative, and its properties accumulated what were then considered large fortunes.  At its close the business declined, and about the beginning of the present century had ceased altogether.  Among the tenements connected with the 'Old Forge', was a small house which stood on lands now occupied by the Rubber Works.  It was a very small house, but it furnished shelter to Judge Caleb Aldrich and his young wife during their honeymoon, and for many succeeding years.  This building was afterwards removed to where the Globe Bank building now stands, and was known in the last generation as the 'Cruff House.'

These next establishment which owed its existence to the water-power of the river was a 'Scythe Manufactory'.  This stood on the island below the grist-mill and the bridge.

These were all the manufacturing concerns which existed at the 'Falls' previous to the great freshet of 1807*, when those which were not washed away thereby, were so disabled that business therein was never afterwards resumed.  It may be well, however, to say in this connection, that the Scythe Manufactory was afterwards fitted up and used as a blacksmith's shop.

*The freshet of 1807 occurred in the month February.  It was undoubtedly the greatest flood that ever swept down the valley of the river since the settlement of Northern Rhode Island.  One of equal magnitude to-day would submerge Market Square.  The freshet of last March (1876) excited us somewhat, but the water lacked two and a half feet in coming up to the hole in the rock, drilled at the Globe to mark the height to which the waters arose in 1807.

There were no streets in the days of John Arnold.  These were left for the intelligence and the wealth of subsequent generations to create.  In the appendix I give an account of the highways of Old Smithfield in his day, and the names of those who lived beside them.  I reserve the remainder of this chapter for the purpose of endeavoring to show you how his 'corn-mill at the Falls' might have been reached without trespassing upon private property.  The grand northern routes which went up on the right and left banks of the river were known - the one as the Smithfield Mendon Road, and the other as the Cumberland Mendon Road.

In relation to the former, which was more particularly designated 'the Great Road', I have been able to ascertain but little.  Indeed, I could hardly be expected to do more than Judge Peleg Arnold, Henry Jenckes and John Man, who, May 20, 1792, were chosen a committee by the Town Council of Smithfield to look up the matter.  In their report made the following June, they say:  'That for a considerable distance no surveys were to be found; that it began at the Mendon line, near Jedediah Wilson's; and that, in their opinion, it was originally much wider than at that time.'  I can only add, that it is frequently alluded to in ancient documents, and that I have seen a reference thereto in a paper dated 1666 - a period near enough, I reckon, to the landing of the Pilgrims for all practical purposes.  At that time it was simply a footpath, indicated by marked trees leading from cabin to cabin.  November 26, 1733, it had developed into a cart path.  It then went over Sayles Hill.  At that time Thomas Steere petitioned to have it relaid.  His petition was not granted; and not until December 7, 1741, was the great discovery made, that it was no farther and much easier to go around a hill than to go over it, and a committee was chosen by the Town Council - consisting of Dexter Aldrich, Joseph Arnold, Job Arnold and Israel Wilkinson - to turn the 'great road' around Sayles Hill, or in the language of their commission, 'to lay out a highway, beginning where the house of John Balkcolm, deceased*, formerly stood, there to turn out of the old highway to the eastward, and to come into it again before it comes to John Man's'.  This relay, to reverse the order of the 'lay out', started from its intersection with the old road just north of John (now Stafford) Mann's, and proceeded through the lands of Lieutenant Stephen Sly, who lived and kept tavern where Mr. David S. Wilkinson now resides; of Henry Mowry**, who lived on the old Nathaniel Mowry homestead, where the late Miss Sarah Ann Mowry last dwelt; and of the heirs of John Balkcolm, who was an innkeeper on the lands now owned and occupied by Dwight Hammond, Esq.  From this point the road pursued nearly its present course, by the Quaker meeting-house, through the Union Village, and to 'the Mendon line near Jedediah Wilson's'.

*John Balkcom (sic) died in 1740.
**Henry Mowry was the brother of John Arnold's first wife.

The Cumberland Mendon Road, or a portion of it, was originally laid out by the proprietors of Rehoboth.  The lower portion thereof is known to this day as the 'old Rehoboth road'.  December 10, 1650, the Rehoboth proprietors voted 'to have a convenient way, four rods wide, to be made by Edward Smith, to be for the town's use, or any that shall have occasion to pass from town (Seekonk Plain) to Providence or to Mr. Blackstone's'.  It came up the east side of the river, crossed the Abbot Run River at Valley Falls, passed the 'park' of Mr. Blackstone at Lonsdale, went through the lands of the Whipples, Pecks, Bartletts, and others, over Cumberland Hill, and so on by 'Crooks's' to the Mendon line.  But neither the Smithfield nor the Cumberland Mendon roads came to the corn-mill of John Arnold.

There were two public routes by which the Cumberland Mendon road could be reached.  1.  A portion of one of these has developed into Main and North Main streets, and is sometimes called the 'Old Mendon Road'.  2.  A portion of the other is now Social street.  There were four public routes on the other side of the river which intersected with the 'Smithfield Mendon', alias the 'Great Road', namely:  3. South Main street.  4.  Logee street and the 'river road' to the lower Quaker meeting-house.  5.  Providence street, from its intersection with South Main street to the 'Great Road' at Daily Hole.  6.  A road which has been abandoned for nearly or quite a century, and which came up from the 'wading place', passed through the fields on the rear of the Willing Vose farm, and united with the Great Road at Daily Hole.

Of the above-mentioned six roads, three formed a portion of a very ancient highway from Boston to the Connecticut settlements, which, crossing the Great Road at the Union Village, made the 'Cross Roads', which was one of the causes of the increase of the population at Woonsocket.  These three roads were:  1.  Social and Main streets.  3.  North Main and Main streets.  3.  South Main street.

Both Social and North Main streets, which unite at Monument Square, are very ancient.  Either might have formed part of the Boston highway, for both entered the Cumberland Mendon Road - the one at Crooks's, and the other a short distance north.  I have seen an allusion to the former* as early as 1735; to the latter**, February 2, 1750; and to the road in the vicinity of the Falls,*** in 1710.

*In 1735 Ebenezer Cook was paid 40 pounds by the town of Mendon for building a bridge across Mill River.

**At this time the town of Cumberland appointed a committee, consisting of Samuel Bartlett, John Cass and Elijah Newell; Job Bartlett, Justice of the Peace; and Jeremiah Inman, Constable.  This committee reported as follows:  That they began work at the small brook that runneth in a pond called Sprague's Pond.  (The dwelling house of Sprague was where Harris's new mill now stands.)  Thence to Arnold's Saw Mill at Winsokett.  They were also empowered to lay out another road from the saw mill, through the 'Forge Lot' to the foot of the bridge - and also to lay out a road from the road described, to the 'Wading Place' below the Falls.

***An allusion to this is in the deed from Chapin to Arnold, which I have given in a previous chapter.

In the most ancient times there were two ways of crossing the river at Woonsocket.  One was at the 'rafting place'*, which was near where the Clinton Mill now is; the other was at the 'wading place', which was near where the new mill of the Ballou Manufacturing Company now is.

*See Deed from John Arnold to his son Anthony, in Smithfield.  Rec. of Deeds Book 1, page 72.

3.  The first move towards laying out what is known in these days as South Main street was made September 13, 1731.  On this day the Town Council of Smithfield voted to lay out a 'Highway from John Arnold's corn-mill, southwest by Charles Shearlock's to Woodward Arnold's (who lived near Woonsocket Hill, afterwards known as the Nathan Staples place), with the reservation that John Arnold 'have the liberty to keep up the gate where it now stands, until there be a cart-bridge erected across the river at the Falls.'  August 9, 1733, this road was extended to the western limits of the town.*

*The language of the lay-out is as follows:  Laid out a highway from the northerly side of Nathan Staples, his farm he bought of Woodward Arnold (Staples purchased the farm July 1, 1737), and it runs away southwesterly by Gideon Comstock's, and so goes along, until it --- (can't read) with the 'Seven mile line'.

4.  The road - a portion of which is known in these days as Logee street, and the remainder as the River road, or in more ancient times as the East road - in the beginning went over Logee Hill and down the right bank of the river, intersecting with the 'Great Road' in the Moshassuck valley, near the lower Quaker meeting-house.  It was laid out* in 1732.

*The petition for this road was presented to the Council January 10, 1731-2.  Aug. 7, following, a committee was chosen to lay out the road from the late residence of James P. Dexter, jr., deceased, 'to begin at the country road, by Justice Sprague's, and against the Lower Meeting House, and so up along by ---- Whipple and by David Wilkinson, and so up as far as the mills at Wansoket, and join to that highwy that goes by Justice Arnold's NEW HOUSE.  The Committee reported the following October, but the Council accepted only that portion which was north of Crook Falls Brook.  May 13, 1745, the southern portion was accepted, but as no record had been made thereof, a Committee was chosen the following February to revise the bounds.  This Committee but partially accomplished the work, as was also the case with another Committee appointed in 1753.  The whole of the road was not satisfactorily laid out until November, 1796.  It was then laid out the entire distance from the 'South side of the Woonsocket highway that leads over the Falls', to the 'highway from Woonsocket in Providence, near the old meeting house.'

5.  The next connection, in the order which I have enumerated, with the 'Great Road' was by the way of a road which has since developed into Providence street.  This was laid out May 23, 1752, 'across Mr. John Arnold's farm, where he now dwelleth, and close to ye west end of the house', and 'begins adjoining to ye northerly side yt highway yt leads to Pawtucket river below ye Falls, yn north ---- to ye other highway (South Main street) yt goes some distance northward from ye said Mr. Arnold's house.'  Since its first lay-out it has been changed in its course somewhat.  The residence of Hon. Thomas Steere is in the old road, and the front side of John Arnold's house, now occupied by A. C. Munroe, is on the back side.  The driveway across the brook is still visible, and a ridge across the fields beyond revelas the ancient path.

6.  The highway from which the above highway started has been abandoned for nearly or quite a century.  Indeed, the establishment of Providence street deprived it of its usefulness.  Its course* has been previously described.

*The following is a description thereof:  September 13, 1731, it was voted that 'there be a highway from the road that goes by Danl. Matthewson's to the Pawucket River, a little below Arnold's Corn Mill, where the way now crosses the river - also to complete the same to the 'Seven mile line.'  This road went through the lands of John Arnold, Thomas Smith, Thomas Smith, jr., John Smith, Col. Joseph Whipple and John Mowry.


The first bridge at the Falls was built about the year 1736.  Towards its erection the Legislature* appropriated 128 pounds, and an additional sum was raised by private subscription.

*See R. I. Col. Rec., Vol. IV, pp. 514 and 552.

The second bridge was built in 1762, the funds therefor being supplied by a lottery, authorized by the General Assembly.*  The year previous the mile-stone, which now stands near the store of John Currier, was placed in position.

*This Lottery consisted of 1,375 tickets at 8 pounds old Tenor each.  There 459 Prizes, ranging from 16 pounds to 500 pounds and 916 Blanks.  The net to be applied towards the erection of the Bridge was 1,002 pounds.

The third bridge* was built in 1787, the Legislature legalizing a lottery for the purpose, by which 900 pounds were raised.  Up to this time the bridge from the Smithfield shore to the 'island' was nearly in a direct line with the Cumberland shore.  The mortices cut in the rock on the Smithfield shore near the present dam, and on the 'island', which are now plainly visible, reveal its position.  It was now built a few rods down stream, and occupied nearly its present site.  In other words, the bridge of 1762 was above the grist-mill of John Arnold, and the bridge of 1787 was placed below it.

About twenty years subsequent to the erection of this third bridge at the Falls, two remarkable events occurred.  One was the passage of a bridge at Lodi, which is often referred to in cotemporaneous history; the other was a passage of the bridge at Woonsocket Falls, which has hitherto escaped the notice of the poet and the historian.  As the courage and heroism displayed in these two passages bore a striking resemblance to each other, it will not be out of order for me to give the heroes of the Woonsocket Bridge a niche in the Temple of Fame, as has been done by the hero of the bridge of Lodi.  I must say, however, at the outset, that the reader will lack the sober and matter-of-fact expression, as well as the dry humor of Mr. Stafford Mann, who related to me the incident, which is as follows:  'Col. Simon Whipple and Mr. James Arnold, at that time young men, had been or were going somewhere.  The precise point of their destination or their departure is immaterial.  At all events, they had tarried at Judge Peleg Arnold's inn a sufficient length of time to undertake almost any journey.  They had but one horse upon which to perform their trip, but as it was the custom in those days to ride 'double', the Colonel mounted the steed and James took position behind him.  On their way from the inn to the bridge, James requested that he might be allowed to dismount at the bank of the river, to which, of course, the Colonel, with the true politeness of the soldier, assented.  But upon arriving at the bridge, heedless or forgetful in his military ardor of the request of  his friend James, he put spurs to his horse, and over they went'.  As an illustration of the opposite effects produced upon different organizations by a visit to Judge Peleg's, and also of the condition of the bridge at the time, it is said that the Colonel felt, as his steed flew over the titling planks, as though he was astride the charger of Napoleon; while to James, the perilous passage had all the horrors of a hideous nightmare.  This bridge was swept away by the great freshet of 1807.  In August of that year the town of Smithfield appropriated two hundred dollars towards rebuilding the 'westermost or Capital Bridge' and the middle bridge.  The amount which Cumberland appropriated towards completing the connection with its shores I have not taken the trouble to ascertain.  These bridges were wooden structures.

In 1825 Dexter Ballou and David Wilkinson, acting under the authorities of the town, erected a stone arch bridge from the Smithfield shore to the island.  This bridge is now standing.

In 1833 Aaron Rathbun and Cephas Holbrook replaced the middle bridge with a stone arch bridge.  This was poorly constructed, and in 1861 it was replaced by another stone arch bridge, built from plans furnished by the late S. B. Cushing, which will doubtless remain for many years, as one of the many monuments to the skill of this gentleman which adorn the valley of the Blackstone.

In 1843 Mr. Eugene Martin constructed a stone arch bridge from the Cumberland shore to the eastern end of the middle arch bridge.  This was imperfectly built, and has been recently replaced by a substantial wooden structure.


p. 64 - 68.


The reader will be hereby introduced to 'every male person of sound body and  21 years of age, except apprentices, slaves and idiots', who were citizens of the town at that time.  In the year 1748 the town was divided into 16 Highway districts.

District No. 1 began at Patience Arnold's (who kept tavern at the Union Village, on the estate now owned by Mrs. Eliza Osborne) so to extend northwesterly over the Branch River, and all the road west and northwest of said river.  The citizens therein were:

Daniel Comstock, jr.
Hezadiah Comstock
Ichabod Comstock
Richard Sprague
Amos Sprague
Benjamin Buffum
Samuel Goldthwaite
Israel Phillips
Benjamin Thompson
Samuel Buxton
Benjamin Buxton
Isaac Buxton
Isaac Buffum
Isaac Kelley
Providence Williams
John Sprague
Daniel Comstock
Benjamin Boyce
Adam Harkness
Azariah Comstock
Jonathan Read
Thomas Cruff
Thomas Cruff, jr.
Samuel Cruff
Jacob Read
Benj. Buffum, jr.
Daniel Sprague
Nathaniel Staples
Samuel Buxton, jr.

District No. 2, began at Samuel Aldrich (near Union village), so down to where the new road turns out of the old, and then the new and the old road to where they intersect on the Hill, a little southeast from the Little River Bridge - also, the cross road by Benjamin Paine and Uriah Mowry (on Sayles's Hill):

John Sayles
Uriah Mowry
Benjamin Paine
Capt. Richard Sayles
Richard Sayles, jr.
Elisha Sayles
Daniel Sayles
Joshua Phillips
David Herrendeen
Jonathan Phillips
Stephen Sly
Ebenezer Thorton
Henry Mowry
Edward Mitchell
Elisha Mowry
Daniel Walling.

District No. 3, began at Locusquesset Brook, (near Lime Rock) and so up the Highway, till it comes to where two roads meet on the Hill, a little southeast from the Little River Bridge:

Peter Bellows, jr.
John Whitman
Preserved Harris
Jonathan Harris
Valentine Whitman
Jabez Brown
Noah Whitman
Nicholas Brown
John Bellows
Samuel Bellows
John Bellows, jr.
Jonathan Bellows
Benjamin Brown
Manassa Kimpton
Christopher Bullock.

District No. 4, began at Locusquesset Brook to Providence line, also the Cross Road by Jonathan Arnold's, beginning at the old highway by the Lime Kiln, to end where said highway intersects with the highway that goes by Dr. Jenckes - also the Cross Road from Abraham Scott to Pawtucket River:

Wm. Whipple, jr.
Jeremiah Mowry
Nathaniel Bucklin
Benjamin Medbury
Wm. Jenckes, Esq.
Benjamin Arnold
Samuel Bagley
Anthony Whipple
Jerrh. Weatherhead
William Whipple
Benjamin Smith
Jonathan Arnold
Job Arnold
Amos Arnold
William Bensley
John Whipple
Manassa Kelley
Benjamin Medbury
Caleb Arnold
Jeremiah Arnold
Jeremiah Arnold, jr.
William Brown
John Arnold
Nathan Tucker
Abraham Scott
John Weatherhead
Andrew Young
Christopher Jenckes

District No. 5, began at the old Quaker Meeting House, so northeasterly and northerly to Thomas Lapham's (near Albion):

John Dexter
Jonathan Sprague
William Sprague
John Wilkinson
John Wilkinson, jr.
Thos. Lapham, Esq.
Capt. Job Whipple
Stephen Whipple
Ephraim Whipple
Samuel Smith.

District No. 6, began at Thomas Lapham's, and so north, to Woonsocket Falls.  (The River Road from Albion up):

Joseph Lapham
Azarial Phillips
William Gretley
Elisha Dillingham
Caleb Shrefe
James Jillson
David Patt
Aaron Day
Israel Wilkinson
John Rogers
Capt. Wm. Sprague

District No. 7, began at Daniel Wilbur's to Providence line - also, from same place to Christopher Brown's:

Benjamin Cook
Thomas Woodward
Robert Young
Samuel Tucker
Maturin Ballowe
Peter Ballowe
Maturin Ballowe, jr.
James Mussey
Obadiah Olney
Job Chase
Baulstine Brayton
William Olney
John Jenckes
William Bradbury
Daniel Bradbury
William Pullen
Daniel Wilbur
Capt. Richard Harris
Jeremiah Harris
Christopher Brown
Abiah Angell
John Olney

District No. 8, began at saw mill by James Appleby, to Thomas Sayles, and from Elisha Cook's towards Providence line, till it comes to Ebenezer Herrendeen's:

Elisha Cook
Joseph Page
Ebenezer Herrendeen
Thomas Sayles
Stephen Sayles
William Baets  (sic)
Henry Blackmar
John Blackmar
Theophilus Blackmar
Aaron Herrendeen
Joseph Mowry, 3d
Silvanus Sayles
Capt. Daniel Mowry

District No. 9, began at Glocester line, west of John Sayles, jr., so easterly by Othonial Matthewson, thence northeast to Woonsocket Falls - also a piece from Thomas Sayles to aforesaid road:

Othonial Matthewson
Daniel Smith
John Comstock
Jeremiah Brown
Daniel Phillips
Mikel Phillips
James Walling
Ananias Mowry
John Sayles, jr.
John Smith
Samuel Aldrich
Samuel Tucker
Thomas Smith
Cornelius Walling
Reuben Aldrich

District No. 10, began at Ebenezer Herrendeen, down to Daniel Wilbur:

Thomas Herrendeen
Henry Morton
Jacob Smith
Thomas Shippee, jr.
Christopher Shippee
William Havens
Thomas Shippee
Obadiah Herrendeen
Nathan Shippee
Benjamin Ballard
John Young
Silas Tucker
Joseph Herrendeen
Jos. Herrendeen, jr.
Francis Herrendeen
Gideon Pain
Jeremiah Ballard

District No. 11, began at Providence line, near Isaac White's, to the 'Logway', also the Cross Road from Daniel Angell, to the Island Road:

Thomas Steere
Joseph Chillson
Noah Smith's widow
Daniel Smith
Jonathan Smith
John Phillips
Elisha Smith
Phillip Smith
Daniel Angell
John Angell
Thomas Bradbury
Hezekiah Sprague
John Smith, Jr.
Job Angell
Ezekiel Angell
James Young
Amos Keach
Thomas Owen
Major William Smith
Daniel Smith

District No. 12, began at Abraham Smith's barn, so southeast by Smith's house, to Providence line:

Leland Smith
Peter Barnes
Nathan Barnes
Enock Barnes
John Barnes
Joesph Smith
Jos. Smith, sonn of Jos.
John Treadeven
Joseph Page

District No. 13, began at the corner of Abraham Smith's fence, near the Baptist Meeting House, thence, northerly by Smith, so up the 'Logway' to Glocester line, also the cross road, beginning at the saw mill by his house, thence southerly to aforesaid road:

Joseph Appleby
Capt. Joseph Mowry
George Place
Joseph Mowry, jr.
Thomas Beadle
Daniel Arnold
Silvanus Aldrich
Peter Aldrich
John Aldrich
Stephen Goodspeed
Oliver Mowry
Abraham Smith

District No. 14, began at Glocester line, by Widow Steere's, to Providence line, all below Joseph Carpenter's:

Samuel Aldrich
Robert Latham
Joseph Carpenter
Zachariah Rhodes
David Evans
David Evans, jr.
Joseph Aldrich
Job Potter
Samuel Winsor
Hezekiah Steere
Joseph Smith, jr.
Thomas Enches
Joshua Winsor
John Winsor

District No. 15, began at Glocester line, a little west of Benjamin Wilkinson, thence down to Providence line - also from Resolved Waterman's, thence southwesterly to Glocester line, by Snake Hill:

Abraham Winsor
Benjamin Wilkinson
Benjamin Wright
Joshua Winsor, jr.
Samuel Irons
Robert Staples
Andrew Waterman
Daniel Eddy
Abel Potter
Resolved Waterman

District No. 16, began at Glocester line, near Daniel Matthewson, thence northeasterly by his house to Wainsocket  (sic)Falls, till it meets Cumberland in the middle of the Bridge.  Also, beginning at Patience Arnold's, thence down to District No. 2. (This was a portion of the Great Road to Sayles Hill, and South Main Street, west to Burrillville.):

Nathan Staples
Seth Cook
Nathaniel Eddy
Elisha Arnold
Richard Arnold
Stephen Arnold
Samuel Cook
John Man, jr.
Samuel Aldrich, 3d
Joseph Comstock
Hezadiah Comstock
David Comtock, Esq.
Thomas Man
Capt. Daniel Arnold
Widow Patience Arnold
Lieut. Thos. Arnold
William Arnold, Esq.
John Arnold
Seth Arnold
Moses Arnold
Abraham Loja
Philip Loja
Jeremiah Comstock
Oliver Man
Caleb Aldrich

p. 69 - 75.



From the most ancient times, Woonsocket and 'the region thereabouts' has been celebrated for its hotels.  These taverns owed their existence to the roads, which have been described.  A tavern, indeed, is simply a stagecoach deprived of its wheels.  It is, therefore, necessary that I should speak of them.

I will confine myself chiefly to those which were on the Smithfield side of the river, for two reasons - first, the Cumberland taverns in ancient times seldom were visited by travelers from Woonsocket; and second because my space is limited.

Coming up the 'Great Road' in the days of John Arnold, the traveler might have refreshed himself at the tavern of Jeremiah Arnold.  This was in the valley of the Mosshassuck, in the vicinity of the lower Quaker meeting-house.  It was licensed November 26, 1733, but was closed in 1735, in consequence of  'little custom'.  He might next have stopped at the house of Jeremiah Mowry.  His house was near Lime Rock.  It is probably the oldest house in these parts, having been built by Eleazer Whipple* when John Arnold was a boy.  It is now owned and occupied by Benjamin and Elisha Mowry.  Jeremiah was licensed January 1, 1747.  The old 'bar-room' will be shown to the curious by its present occupants.  But for nearly a century it has not been used as such.  If the tourist continued over Sayles Hill, he might have tarried at the house of Benjamin Pain.  This man was a son-in-law of John Arnold.  The first 'Pound' of the town of Smithfield was built near his residence in 1738.  The same year a pair of stocks and a whipping-post were placed near the residence of John Sayles, in that vicinity.  Whether the latter institutions were consequences of the taverns, the records do not reveal.  Benjamin was licensed January 3, 1732-3, and kept a tavern for many years.  Among his guests I read of Hezadiah Comstock, a citizen of these parts, whose love of fun, frolic and rum has preserved his name not only in the traditions but the history of Northern Rhode Island.  Among the papers of Henry Mowry (who was constable in these parts during the infancy of Smithfield), is the copy of a writ against poor Hezadiah, for demolishing the household goods of the Sayles Hill landlord.  If the traveler went around the hill, he might have stopped at the tavern of Lieutenant Stephen Sly.  This stood on the farm now owned by David S. Wilkinson, Esq.  The next public-house was that of John Balkcom.  This stood on the estate now owned by Dwight Hammond.  John was licensed August 25, 1735.  He died about five years afterwards, and the business was not continued at his house.

*A prohibitory liquor law seems to have been in operation in these early days.  Among the post-humous papers of Henry Mowry, I find that January 10, 1728-9, he was summoned to appear and testify concerning Eleizer (sic) Whipple's SELLING STRONG LIQUOR AT RETAIL.

Finally, we arrive at the Woonsocket cross-roads.  The first innkeeper at this place was Joseph Arnold, the nephew of John.  He was licensed November 26, 1733.  The house in which the tavern was kept stood where now stands the residence of Mrs. Eliza Osborne.  It was a long building, standing end to the road.  At first it was the dwelling-house of Hezadiah Comstock, and was built about the year 1705.  In 1730 he gave or sold it to his son William, and erected his new dwelling-house on the farm now owned by C. B. Aldrich, Esq.   William sold the property to Joseph Arnold in 1744; but I am of the impression that Joseph had occupied the estate for many years.  Joseph Arnold died December 16, 1745, and his widow Patience, nee Wilkinson, continued to keep the tavern until September, 1773.  This was a noted resort in the last century.  Here courts were held and fed; Town Councils assembled and entertained; and soldiers for the old French War were recruited and quartered.  I embrace this opportunity to speak of its landlord, Joseph Arnold.

Joseph Arnold was a man of sterling qualities, and held in high esteem by his fellow-townsmen.  He was chosen, in company with John Sayles, to settle up accounts with Providence when Smithfield was incorporated; and the next year (1732) was elected Town Clerk.  On the resignation of Daniel Jenckes, who was Town Clerk from 1733 to December 27, 1742, Joseph was re-elected, and held the position until his death, in 1745.  It is pleasant to learn that in those ancient times, when the value of a 'mear' in Rhode Island was 35 pounds and that of a 'nigger' but 70 pounds, Joseph Arnold was an ardent and conscientious anti-slavery man; so much so, indeed, that on his visits to the Newport yearly meetings, he would not stop at the hotels or the houses of those who held slaves.  Among his children whom I enumerate in the appendix was Dr. William Arnold, whose virtues and abilities are spoken of to this day with the deepest respect.

The next tavern at Woonsocket was kept by Thomas Arnold, brother of Joseph.  In his younger days he was known as Lieut. Thomas, and afterwards as Judge Thomas.  He was licensed September 15, 1739.  His death occurred December 11, 1765.  In 1780 this house was enlarged by Peleg Arnold, a son of Thomas, and again became a tavern.  Peleg Arnold was a very influential man in these parts.  During his life no political measure was entered upon in Northern Rhode Island, without first attempting to conciliate his opposition or to secure his favor.  He was born June 10, 1751.  He lived at the Arnold homestead, now occupied by Albert Mowry, Esq.  Towards the close of his life, Judge Peleg was widely known, not only as an extensive dealer, but an ardent lover of New England rum.  His portrait now adorns the walls of Rhode Island Hall.

At the Globe Village, on the hill, in the rear of the old Bank building, stands a two-story yellow house.  One hundred and fifty years ago this was the residence of one who, judging from the frequency of his name on the early records (and almost invariably with a handle to it), was one of the most influential men in Northern Rhode Island in the last century - I refer to 'William Arnold, of Smithfield, Esq.'.  This man was the eldest son of John Arnold.  He was licensed to retail strong liquors March 3, 1734-5.  September 15, 1758, he was licensed to keep a tavern where he 'now dwells'.  But I am of the impression that 'Squire Will' did not keep a tavern, but retailed rum in his grocery store.  I was pained to find that one year he broke his license by keeping a disorderly house.

As the travelers upon the highways and the citizens of Woonsocket increased in numbers, more taverns became a necessity.  The dwelling-houses of Mr. Wellington Aldrich and of Miss Hannah Speare, at the Union Village, were at one time rival institutions.  The first was built by Marcus, the son of Daniel Arnold, who was the son of Uriah Arnold.  Its first landlord was Amasa Bagly.  Its last was George Aldrich, the father of Wellington.  The second was built by Walter Allen, and afterwards kept by his son Seth.  Its first occupant was Paul Draper.  The good times which have taken place beneath the roofs of these taverns are remembered to this day with lively satisfaction.  The homestead of the late Seth Bradford was at one time a tavern, and kept by Joseph Mann, a grandson of Joseph Arnold.  This was a famous resort in the last generation, and anecdotes are related of occurrences therein which I am prevented from repeating.  These taverns, which were so much of a necessity in old times, were also the occasion of no little trouble, for rum was just as good, and did as much harm then, as now.

In a region where taverns were so numerous - where trainings were held, where town meetings assembled from time to time, and where, in the language of an aged resident of these parts, 'fighting and huckleberrying' were the chief sources of amusement - there must necessarily have been characters.  That some of these were rather hard may be inferred from the fact that the last culprit at the whipping post, which stood in the yard of Joseph Arnold's tavern, after receiving his flogging, ran off with the Sheriff's gloves.  On the other hand, men and women have lived in Woonsocket whose memories are held to this day in the deepest veneration and respect.  Of these I shall speak in due season.  In the meantime, allow me to make you acquainted with Dr. Ezekiel Comstock!

That Woonsocket was situated at a 'cross-roads', is true not only in fact, but in metaphor.  In the latter sense, its religious and educational advantages clearly indicated the direction of one of its paths, while its institutions of a different nature as clearly pointed the course of the other.  A statue of Dr. Comstock would move the homage of the traveler upon either of these highways.  For his virtues were the emulation of the one, and his vices the delight of the other.  The ease with which he accommodated himself to all sorts and conditions of men was marvelous.  As the occasion required he was polite, sedate and dignified, or the opposite.  The grandest parlor and the dingiest bar-room were gladdened by his presence.  The sick chamber and the banquet-hall were brightened by his smiles.  He would have been an acceptable companion to Chesterfield or Dr. Johnson.  George Fox would have applauded his sobriety or Charles II, his drunkenness.  He was, in short, a strange combination of good and evil.  But with all his eccentricities, he never forfeited the respect of his fellow-citizens.  Even the victim of his hardest joke forgot his folly when the laugh was spent, and never failed to seek his aid in hours of suffering and pain.  Such was Dr. Ezekiel Comstock, the Prince Hal of these regions in the last generation, whose numberless pranks are remembered by some with a forgiving smile, by others with shouts of laughter, and by none with bitterness.  It is only necessary to say, in conclusion, and that the reader may know that he came honestly by his virtues, that he was the grandson of Hezakiah Comstock, who in a previous generation had enlivened things in this vicinity to a remarkable degree.

The first tavern at the 'Falls' was at one time the dwelling-house of James Arnold.  It stood where now stands the Woonsocket Hotel.  Its first landlord was Caleb Adams.  He was succeeded by Cephas Holbrook.  Mr. Holbrook afterwards (about the year 1829) built another building on the site, but the enterprise was too great for him, and in a short time the property was owned by the Woonsocket Hotel Company.

The landlords under this regime were Willard and Luke Whitcomb, Charles E. Richards, and, finally, Renel Smith.  During the administration of the last-named gentleman, the property was sold to Messrs. Cook and Ballou.  They began April 1, 1846.  Otis D. Ballou afterwards became sole owner of the estate, and built up for himself during his long administration a reputation not only as a model landlord, but an honorable and exemplary man.  A few years since he retired from active business with a snug competency, and the property was purchased by Messrs. Cook, Mason & Co.  Since they have had the estate in charge, they have exhibited to the world their ability to 'keep a hotel'.  Under them the old hotel has been removed up River street, and a beautiful brick edifice now adorns the site.

There were other hotels at the Falls during the last generation which deserve mention.  One was at the Globe.  This has since been altered and enlarged, and is now the boarding-house of the Ballou Manufacturing Company.  Another was where now stands the commodious and beautiful house of L. W. Elliott, known in these days as the 'Monument House'.  The old hotel at this place, which has been removed across Social street, was at first a tin-shop.   This was altered and enlarged, and finally developed or degenerated into a tavern - giving the name in the last generation to the locality of 'Tinker's Corner'.

p. 75 - 86.



The spirit of civil and religious liberty for which Rhode Island has been so distinguished, is due in no small degree to the influence which the Quakers exerted in shaping the politics as well as the religion of the Colony in which they had sought refuge, and where, for many years, they were its law-givers.

In the year 1656, while under the new dogma of its founder, the population and the anarchy of our little Colony were rapidly increasing, this despised and persecuted sect appeared in New England.  After a few trifling incidents, in which the persons of many bore striking evidence to the pious zeal of the Massachusetts saints, they arrived within the limits of Rhode Island.  They were not received with open arms.  They were simply tolerated.  But in the short space of sixteen years, in spite of the zeal and the logic of the founder of religious freedom, a majority of the freemen of the Colony had become believers in the simple and convincing truths which they enunciated.

When or where their first meetings were held in the town of Providence, is unknown.  The first meeting-house, of which there is any record, was erected in 1703-4, and is now standing in the valley of the Moshassuck, near the village of Lonsdale.  This was simply a meeting-house for worship.  Their 'Monthly meetings' continued to be held and their records to be kept at Greenwich.

But the peculiar position of the Woonsocket settlement, being situated at a 'Cross Roads', in close proximity to the neighboring Colonies, and easily accessible from many points, attracted their notice at an early day, and in 1718 the Providence Monthly meeting was set off from the Greenwich Monthly meeting, and the records began at this place.

Thus Woonsocket became, not so much from the piety of its inhabitants as from the natural advantages of its location; first a religious and afterwards an educational centre of the large territory now comprised within the counties of Worcester, Mass., and Providence, R.I.

A patient perusal of these records, will reward one with much valuable material.  The historian will find therein when and where their meeting houses were erected at Providence, Woonsocket, Uxbridge, Mendon, Leicester and other places within the 'diocese' and obtain a deeper insight into the manners and customs of a rapidly declining sect; the geneologist  (sic) will discover many wanting links and perhaps a few 'black sheep' in ancient families; the patriot will learn that although the Quakers objected to take an active part in the war of the Revolution, they turned out of meeting one of the Rhode Island signers of the Declaration of Independence, for refusing to manumit his slaves*, and all will be vexed that the clerks of the meetings were such abominable penmen.

*See Quaker Records.  Book II, page 59.

With these records before me, I return to the meeting houses:

The Meeting-house at Woonsocket. The following is the Record*:

10th Mo. (December, O. S.) 9th, 1719.  Whereas, this meeting has had a matter in consideration about building a meeting-house at Woonsocket, on the burying ground lately purchased, have concluded to build a meeting-house twenty feet square, and John Arnold is appointed to build the same, the heighth thereof left to him. 5th Mo., 1720.  John Arnold is desired to furnish boards to seal the same. 11th Mo., 9th, 1721.  It is concluded by this meeting that a small meeting-house be built adjoining to the meeting-house at Woonsocket. 4th Mo., 11th, 1728.  John Arnold and Thomas Smith appointed to procure suitable stuff for same. 1st Mo. 28th, 1736.  It was concluded to finish the little meeting-house. 7th Mo. 30th, 1739.  Thomas Smith and Ichobod Comstock were appointed to complete the work.

*The lot for the Quaker Burial Grounds was purchased Dec. 19, 1719.  It consisted of one acre, north of the highway, near the place called the 'Dugway'.

The Meeting-house at Providence. The meeting-house now standing at this place, between South Court and Meeting streets, originally stood on Stampers Hill, a fact which escaped the vigilence of Judge Staples in his 'Annals' of the town.  The following is from the Records:

4th Mo. 19th, 1724.  It is concluded by this meeting, that a meeting-house shall be built at Providence town. 9th Mo. 4th, 1424 (sic).  It is concluded if Edward Smith and Thomas Arnold approve of said frame, that the money be paid to Daniel Abbot as quick as can be.

3d Mo. 5th, 1725.  It is concluded that the meeting-house at Providence shall be set on the Stampers Hill.

3d Mo. 29th, 1745.  A Committee appointed to lease out the land and remove the meeting-house at Providence.

9th Mo. 25th, 1755.  A Committee appointed to take a deed from Governor Hopkins, of meeting-house lot at Providence.

2d Mo. 28th, 1760.  A Committee appointed to settle with the Committee that moved and repaired the meeting-house at Providence.

The Friends at Uxbridge, Mendon, Leicester, Freetown, and other places, may find upon these Woonsocket Records when and where their places of worship were erected.

The meeting-houses of the Quakers increased and multiplied on every hand.  But there came a time when in some localities their meeting houses were too capacious for their accommodation, and in others were deserted altogether.  Just previous to the Revolution the Mendon meeting which had grown and flourished under the eloquence of Moses Aldrich, had dwindled to but few members.  The house is now an out-building at the Plummer Quarry, at Northbridge.  At Woonsocket but ten or twelve members assembled for worship on First day, and many of these during the intervals of silence fell asleep.  The reason for this indifference I will briefly give:

The distinguishing traits of the Friend were more the result of his peculiar discipline, than of a superior quality of his nature.  While the teachers of other sects directed the attention of their disciples to the mysterious realms of another world, the Friend was persistently taught to watch and guard his footsteps amid the devious windings of his present life.   Although professedly at war with all religious forms, he was the most formal of all religionists.  His daily life, his speech, and even his dress was marked out for him with as much precision as the mode of worship at the Vatican.  With him every day was the Lord's day, and every hour an hour for worship.  If, however, the founders of the sect had simply inculcated morality in their teachings, its history would have been brief.  But under their immediate influence and beneath their fervent utterances, emotions were stirred to such a degree, that men trembled and quaked with alternate ecstacies of fear and joy - thus acquiring through the ridicule of their enemies, their name of Quakers.  Silence was their marked feature of worship.  'Mark and consider in silence and thou wilt hear the Lord speak unto thee in thy mind'.  To those who had been privileged to listen to George Fox, there was a music and an inspiration in silence, a thousand times more impressive than in that of the 'Te Deum' of the 'Miserere'.  But when the voices of  their teachers became silent, the Quakers became luke warm.

It was at this time, when but 'ten or twelve members assembled for worship at Woonsocket on First Day, and many of these during the intervals of silence fell asleep', that Elisha Thornton became a Quaker.  It was an event which his old associates must have regarded with the deepest surprise, and his new ones with the profoundest gratitude.  His temperament, tastes, and early education, all seemed to be in opposition to a life of self denial and formal piety.  Nervous, sensitive and timid, with a slender frame of body and a large heart, he had been thrown upon his own resources almost from infancy.  The material wants of his nature, and the formation of his character through childhood and youth had been left entirely to himself.  His love of Nature and his attachment to his friends amounted to a passion.  The cheerful voices of Spring and the ringing laughter of his comrades, were his delight, and the glad tones of his violin, upon which he was not an indifferent performer, were the delight of his youthful companions.  Fully alive to mirth and pleasure, and keenly sensitive to ridicule and contempt, Elisha Thornton became a Quaker.  When, in a short time he became an Elder in the Society, I believe that the Friends of Woonsocket could preserve silence during their hours of worship without falling asleep, for his sermons are spoken as poems in blank verse, and the rhythmic manner of their delivery beautiful and impressive beyond description.

Elisha Thornton was born according to his own account the 30th of 6th Mo. (O. S. August), 1747, according to the Quaker memorial the 30th of 4th Mo. (O. S. June), 1747 and according to the Records of the town of Smithfield the 30th of June 1748.  His father, Ebenezer Thornton, and his mother, Ruth Smith, were joined in marriage by 'William Arnold of Smithfield, Esq.', Oct. 7th and 8th, 1735.  Whether the lovers arrived at the house of the Hon. Justice of the Peach on the midnight of the 7th, or whether it took two days to perform the ceremony, the records do not say.

At ten years of age little Elisha had received two months of schooling and was 'placed abroad' to live.  At twenty-three he joined the Quakers, and three years afterwards became an Elder in the Society.  In the meantime (4th Mo. 1st, 1773) he married Anna, daughter of John Read, and commenced his academy near the present village of Slatersville.  His zeal in educational as in religious matters was not confined to these parts.  Through his influence with Moses Brown the Friends school at Providence was inaugurated.  At last, after spending thirty years of his life in doing good, receiving for his labors a scanty subsistence, and the consciousness of having done his duty, he removed to New Bedford where passed the remainder of his days.

For the virtues of the good citizen and the graces of the consistent Christian, the Friend has ever been distinguished.  His temperance, industry and frugality have won for him the envy and the respect of the tax-payer, for while he has added much to the wealth of the State, he has never asked for its assistance.  His self denial, charity and brotherly love, have caused him to be inwardly admired and outwardly reproached by sectarians of other denominations, for while they have felt that the broadbrim was a symbol of morality, they have often insinuated that it covered a multitude of sins.  There is but one act in their history to which the heart of  the American patriot will not fully respond; and that act was simply an objection to act in the war of the Revolution.  But that objection was founded on their creed, and their creed was - peace!  But although as a sect they were averse to warlike pursuits, there were many members thereof, whose religious scruples were overcome by their patriotism.  We have a notable example of this in a noble Rhode Island matron, who, I find by the records, was an occasional visitor to the Woonsocket meeting.  I refer to the mother of Nathaniel Greene!

For upwards of a century the only public place of worship at Woonsocket, was in the Quaker meeting-house.  When the mills were erected an immediate change took place.  Within the short space of three years there were as many distinct religious denominations at Woonsocket as there are at present, namely:  The Quakers, the Episcopalians, organized in 1832, the Baptists in 1833, and the Universalists, Congregationalists, Methodists and Roman Catholics in 1834.  Until their sanctuaries were built, the worshippers in these denominations held divine services in unoccupied rooms of mills then in process of erection, in school-houses and in private residences.

The Episcopalians.

St. James Parish was organized April 1, 1832.  At the May session of the General Assembly it was incorporated.  The petition therefor was signed by the following named gentlemen:

Samuel Greene
Joseph M. Brown
Ariel Ballou, jr.
Willard B. Johnson
Aaron White, jr.
Darius Sibley
Thaddeus C. Bruce
Daniel Wilkinson
Henry Williams
James Wilson, jr.
Rufus Arnold
Philip C. Bryant
Edmund Bacon
Edward Harris
Philip B. Stiness
John W. Buffum
Stephen H. Smith
Alexander S. Streeter.

Until the school-house at Bernon was erected, services were held in the factory at that place.

September 7, 1832.  It was voted to build a meeting-house.

May 16, 1833.  The edifice was consecrated with the usual ceremonies.  The pastors have been:
1.  Joseph M. Brown, to August, 1835.
2.  Henry Waterman, to No., 1841.
3.  A. D. Cole, to May, 1845.
4.  P. B. Talbot, to July, 1865.

Rev. Mr. Talbot, who, in his long pastorate of twenty years had endeared himself not only to the members of his flock, but to all with whom he came in contact, was injured by a stoke of lightning which descended upon the church, and also upon the parsonage.  He never recovered from the shock, and died Sept. 5, 1865.  With him passed away a citizen that Woonsocket could not afford to lose.  He was succeeded by

5.  Robert Murray, who remained with us until July, 1872.  He resigned to take a tour through Europe.  As a modest, earnest and conscientious worker in his chosen calling, Mr. Murray will be held in pleasant memory by all who were honored with his acquaintance.  He was succeeded by

6.  James F. Powers, who resigned after a short pastorate of one year, to fill a larger sphere of action at Philadelphia, where his splendid oratorical powers might be more fully appreciated.  Mr. Powers began in September, 1872, and resigned July, 1873.

7.  Joseph L. Miller, commenced his duties at this place in December, 1873, and is still with us.

The Universalists.

This denomination at first held meetings from time to time in unfinished rooms of factories, at the Dexter Ballou school-house on Arnold street, and at the Social school-house.  At these early meetings they were frequently addressed by men who afterwards became celebrated throughout the country, not only for their liberal views, but also for their deep reasoning powers.  Among these were Father Murray, Hosea Ballou, Adin Ballou and others.  The worshippers in this sect at this place contributed largely towards the erection of the first Baptist meeting-house, with the understanding that they might be allowed to hold services therein when not interfering with the regular worship at the house.  But the Baptist brethren, after their meeting-house was erected, overlooked or forgot the agreement, and in 1839 the Universalists erected a meeting-house of their own.  Oct. 18, 1834, the Society was organized, and Oct. 22, 1843, the Church was organized.

Previous to the erection of their meeting-house, Christopher Robinson supplied the desk for a few months.  The first regular clergyman of the sect was John Boyden, jr.  The first sermon of Mr. Boyden, which was just previous to the completion of the meeting-house, was at the Social school-house.  His pastorate ended with his death, Sept. 28, 1869.

No person has ever lived at Woonsocket who has exerted a greater influence in all good works, than the Rev. John Boyden.  In the temperance, the educational, and the anti-slavery reforms, he was always to the front.  A deep thinker, and a better man never made Woonsocket his home.  After he passed away, it was thought by many, that his place could never be supplied.  But the Society had the good fortune to secure the services of the Rev. Charles J. White, who, although as unlike his predecessor as it is possible for one to be, by his urbanity, his kindness, and his many virtues, has endeared himself to all with whom he has come in contact.

The Baptists.

The meeting-house of this denomination was dedicated April 24, 1834.

This edifice was burned May 26, 1859.  The new building was erected a short distance easterly of the ancient structure and now stands on the corner of Main and High streets.  The pastors have been:

1.  Peter Simonsen, from 1833 to 1834.
2.  Bradley Miner, from 1834 to 1837.
3.  Joseph Smith, from 1837 to 1841.
4.  George N. Waitt, from 1841 to 1843.
5.  Daniel Curtis, from 1843 ----
6.  Jos. B. Damon, from 1843 to 1845.
7.  Kaslett Armine, from 1845 to 1847.
8.  Luther D. Hill, from 1847 to 1851.
9  Joseph B. Breed, from 1852 to 1858.
10.  John Jennings, from 1859 to 1863.
11.  James W. Bonham, from 1863 to 1864.
12.  John D. Sweet, from 1865 to 1866.
13.  Denzel M. Crane, from 1866 to 1867.
14.  Sullivan L. Holman, from 1867 to 1873.
15.  Frederic Denison, from  1873 to 1876.

The Society is at present without a settled pastor.

The Roman Catholics.

About the year 1834 Rev. James Fitten began his labors at this place as missionary.  Services were held at first in private dwellings.  In 1841 Mr. Reul Smith yielded a hall in the Woonsocket Hotel to the Society for religious worship.  An anecdote at this point is worth preserving, which will feebly illustrate the wit and the delicacy of feeling of the landlady:  On a certain occasion this hall had been let to a dancing party, who had beautifully decorated it with evergreens, weaving with the fragrant boughs, and suspending in a conspicuous place, the following motto:  'A time to dance!'  As the time for the religious services drew near, Mrs. Smith, with the evergreens that composed the word 'dance', substituted another word, and made the motto to read, 'A time to pray!' -- thus, by a very simple and kindly act, not only transforming a house of mirth into a temple of worship, but even making the hands of the profane to quicken the emotions of the devout.

About his time subscriptions began to be received towards the erection of a meeting-house.  Towards this Mr. Welcome Farnum contributed the sum of $300.  The house was completed in December, 1844, and with the lot cost $2,000.  In June, 1862, began the movement towards the erection of the beautiful and substantial structure which now adorns the site of the wooden building.  This was completed in 1867.  During this year the old edifice was destroyed by fire.  The pastors have been:

1.  James Fitten, to November, 1846.
2.  Charles O'Reilley, to February, 1852.
3.  Hugh Carmody, to February, 1854.
4.  John Brady, to April, 1855.
5.  M. McCabe, to February, 1856.
6.  F. J. Lenihan, to August, 1867.
7.  B. O. Reilley, to ---, 1869.
8.  M. McCabe returned February 2, 1869, and is the present pastor.

The above were assisted, from time to time, by the following clergymen:

Peter Egan, in 1853.
Lawrence Walsh, in 1866.
A. Princen, in 1867.
F. Belanger, in 1868 and 1869.
John Kelley, in 1869.
Austin D. Bernard, in 1870.
J. A. Finnigan, in 1872.

The edifice of the French Catholics, on the Bernon side of the river, was erected in 1874.  This was blown down by the great gale of February 2, 1876.

The Methodists.

This society was started here about the year 1834.  The land for the meeting-house was purchased May 9, 1836, and the edifice erected during the year.  The trustees of the church at that time were - William Holmes, George Aldrich (3d), John Irwin, Elijah H. Sherman, Stephen R. Fielding, Hardin Hopkins and Hanson Arnold.  The pastors have been:

1.  Wells Walcott, 1834.
2.  Hiram Cummings, 1835 - 1836.
3.  Daniel K. Bannister, 1837 - 1838.
4.  Richard Livesey, 1839 - 1840.
5.  Apolos Hall, 1841.
6.  Ebenezer Blake, 1842.
7.  Hebron Vincent, 1843 (1 mo.).
8.  Cyrus C. Munger, 1843.
9.  S. W. Coggeshall, 1844 - 1845.
10.  Warren Emerson, 1846 - 1847.
11.  Charles H. Titus, 1848 - 1849.
12.  George H. Wooding, 1850.
13.  John Lovejoy, 1851 - 1852.
15.  Philip Crandon, 1853 - 1854.
16.  George C. Bancroft, 1855 - 1856.
16.  E. B. Bradford, 1857 - 1858.
17.  William Livesey, 1859 - 1860.
18.  Thomas Ely, 1861.
19.  David H. Ela, 1862 - 1863.
20.  J. W. Willett, 1864 - 1865.
21.  Edward A. Lyon, 1866 - 1867.
22. Edward H. Hatfield, 1868 - 1869.
23.  W. McKendree Bray, 1870 - 1871.
24.  Charles Nason, 1872.
25.  Nathan G. Axtell, 1873 - 1874.
26.  J. E. Hawkins, began his labors April, 1875, and is the present pastor.

The Congregationalists.

This Society was organized at this place December 24, 1834.  Services were held at Dexter Ballou School-house, at Aunt Delpha Warren's, and at other places until June, 1843, when the meeting-house was erected at the Globe Village.  The pastors have been:

1.  E. P. Ingersoll until October 13, 1835.  From then until February 14, 1841, the Society was without a pastor, and held no public services.  At this time Rev. Seth Chapin came here and acted as a missionary, preaching at 'Aunt Delpha's'.
2.  Edwin Leigh was ordained at the time of the dedication of the meeting-house, and preached until May 22, 1844.
3.  James M. Davis supplied the desk for some time, and June 10, 1845, became the settled minister.  He remained until September, 1851.  During his pastorate a member of the church was excommunicated for the crime of adultery.  The Congregational Church has learned how not to do such things since then.
4.  William W. Belden began his ministration March 9, 1851, and retired August 4, 1852.
5. Levi Packard began November 12, 1853.  His health failing, he was allowed to resign in October, 1855.
6.  After an interregnum of about two years, on the 19th of July, 1857, Rev. Theo. Cooke began his labors at this place.  He was a gentleman, a scholar, and a good man.  He was universally loved and respected by all who came within the circle of his acquaintance.
7.  James E. Dockray began August 1, 1867.  Of the Rev. Mr. Dockray, the least said the better.
8.  H. E. Johnson succeeded Dockray.  He was a modest and unassuming gentleman,  and highly esteemed by all with whom he came in contact.
9.  W. S. Stockbridge came June 27, 1873, and went July 1, 1874.
10.  B. F. Parsons began November 15, 1874, and is the present pastor.  He officiates alternately at Globe Meeting-house and Plymouth Chapel.

In 1867 a movement was started, which resulted in the erection of a chapel on Spring street.  It is known as the Plymouth Chapel.  Over the congregation at this place Rev. Mr. Douglass was called to preside.  After a short pastorate, Mr. Douglass resigned and went West.

End - Chapter 6


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