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(YT-7: dp. 225; 1. 92'6"; b. 21'1"; dr. 8'9"; s. 12.2 k.;
cpl. 9; a. 3 1-pdr.)
Pawtucket (YT-7) was authorized 3 March 1897; laid down 22 July 1898 at Mare Island Navy Yard, Calif.; and launched 17 November 1898.
Pawtucket's entire career was spent on the Pacific coast, the Puget Sound Navy Yard being her permanent base for more than thirty years. During World War II she served as a patrol craft and minesweeper in the Puget Sound area.
Harbor Tug No. 7 continued active in the 13th Naval District through World War II, when she was armed with a single 20mm. gun and her crew numbered sixteen. At the war's end Pawtucket, Reclassified as YTM-7, was declared surDlus, placed out of service, and transferred to the Maritime Commission 13 December 1946. She was then sold to the Northeast Merchandising Service, which operated her briefly in Puget Sound before scrapping her.
The History of Pawtucket.
The subject of bridges, far back in the early history of Pawtucket, occupied the attention of her citizens, and the propriety of erecting suitable passages over the river and smaller streams, afforded subjects for many early discussions. The Colonies of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as early as 1713, took upon themselves the expense of building a bridge over the river, for the better accommodation of the traffic then being carried on between them, and to facilitate the means of transportation, &c. Some years afterwards, however, it was rebuilt by order of the General Assembly.
In the 'Centennial History of the Town', we find that this first bridge was erected, and stood a little south of the place where now stands the granite bridge. In 1741, it was again rebuilt, but in the great freshet of 1809, the greater portion of it was swept away. It was, however, soon rebuilt, and remained until 1832, when the work was done anew. In 1843, the wooden structure was torn down, and superseded by another, which continued to serve the purpose of the town for some fourteen years, when the question of another bridge began to agitate the minds of the citizens, and, in due course of time, after many discussions, it was decided to replace this structure with a more imposing and durable one. Hence, in 1858, the present fine granite bridge was erected, the expense being shared by the State, and the towns of North Providence, and Pawtucket. Messrs. Fairbrother, Brown, and Wilkinson were appointed commissioners, and the elegant structure was erected under their superintendence. S. B. Cushing was the engineer, and Luther Kingley the builder. Its firmness and solidity remain intact, and demonstrate the abilities of the several parties, under whose supervision and direction the work was accomplished. In 1827, what is known as the upper bridge at Central Falls was built but, in 1871, it was torn down, and the present iron structure was erected, Pawtucket and Smithfield sharing in the expense. This bridge is located at the end of Mill Street, in Central Falls. Mr. Elijah Ingraham, in 1853, erected a wooden bridge in order to connect the east and west sides at Greene's and Daniels' Mills. This structure remained until 1868, when it was torn down, and the present iron one erected. Again, in 1871, the people began to agitate the question of a bridge at the foot of Exchange Street, and soon after, the towns of North Providence and Pawtucket came to a vote on the subject, and it was decided that such a bridge would add materially to the business of the towns, and, on May 3, 1872, it was completed and thrown open for public use. It was built of iron, and cost $30,000.
In 1871, Albert W. Carpenter, at a town meeting, introduced a resolution for the erection of another bridge at the foot of Division Street, in Pawtucket, but not being favorably received at the time, it was rejected. The matter, however, was kept before the people, and the question discussed, until, March 1, 1875, at a town meeting, it was voted that a bridge should be built. Thus the friends of the enterprise at last triumphed, and their wisdom is to-day acknowledged by all. C. B. Farnsworth, William T. Adams, and William R. Walker were appointed commissioners, and Mr. Horace Foster obtained the contract to build it. The original contract price was $71,000, but there were many changes made by the town subsequently, which increased the sum to $91,000. It was decided to built it of granite, and large quantities were procured from Sterling and Westerly. In October, 1875, it was commenced, and completed in 1877. The bridge across the river is 160 feet long, 420 feet from abutment to abutment, and 50 feet above the water. There are nine arches, which contain 550,000 bricks. The first arches, next to the abutments, are 40 feet in the clear those next to these, 44 feet and those across the river, 52 feet in the clear. The piers are of granite, bedded on the rock in the river-bed. The extensions of the walls on the east side are 190 feet in length, and those on the west side, 90 feet. It has a roadway 26 feet wide, and the sidewalks upon either side are seven feet in width, making the breadth of the structure 40 feet. It is lighted by ten gas-jets. The roadway is paved with granite blocks, and the seams are filled with tar, while the whole surface of the paving is covered with it. Some one hundred and fifty barrels of tar were used for this purpose. The railings along the sidewalks are of iron, as also are those placed along the curbing, which separates the walks from the roadway. Messrs. Crowell & Sisson of Providence made the iron-work, and it certainly displays a commendable degree of workmanship. This is one of the handsomest and most substantial structures of its kind in all New England, and reflects great credit upon its builder, Mr. Horace Foster. The business interests of Pawtucket must receive a new impetus, and nothing but unmistakable benefits can accrue to all her citizens.
Blocks, Public Buildings, Halls.
Up to the middle of the present century, but a few extensive buildings, or blocks, were seen in Pawtucket. The large majority of the business places were confined to wooden structures of ancient architecture, and not until a comparatively later date did there appear the more spacious edifices that now adorn the thoroughfares of Pawtucket. In 1813, what is known as the Lefavour Block was erected. It was injured by fire in 1876, and has since been remodelled. In 1820, the Ellis Block, situated corner of Main Street and Broadway, was built, and, doubtless, many more would have been constructed from time to time had it not been for the depression of the times, and consequent revulsion in business that occurred in 1829. This stagnation in all branches of business put a check upon enterprises of this kind, and nothing was done for many years after in the way of erecting extensive blocks. Coming down to 1848, we find the Manchester Block in process of construction, and the year following, or in 1849, the A. M. Read Block was built. John B. Read, not to be outdone by any of his co-townsmen, completed the block bearing his name in 1850. In 1854, the Almy Building appeared, and added to the business interests of the town. In 1865, Captain N. G. B. Dexter commenced to erect his fine block, but it was scarcely finished when he died, in 1866.
The Miller Building, one of the finest buildings in the town, was erected about the year 1873, by the heirs of the Miller estate. It is situated at the corner of Main and Mill streets. In this block is located an illuminated clock, procured through the personal efforts of Captain H. F. Jenks by a subscription from his fellow-townsmen. A complete history of this clock is given elsewhere, and hence we forbear any further mention of it in this connection. Mr. G. L. Spencer erected another block upon this same street in 1874, which is known as the Spencer Building. In 1875, the Littlefield Brothers completed a beautiful block, which is located on the west side of Mill Street. About the same time, the Dexter Brothers reared a splendid edifice at the corner of East Avenue, the former site of a cotton-mill. In this building is located the First National Bank, Slater National Bank, and the post-office. These fine buildings add to the beauty of the town, and furnish large and convenient places for the transaction of business. The Lee Block, situated on Main Street, was built in 1869 at an expense of about $25,000, and is occupied by offices and stores. This site was formerly owned by Daniel Carpenter, his date of purchase being 1794. On this site the first regular grocery-store was established by George Jencks, and here was kept the first Sunday school in the United States of which there is any record. The Bagley Block, erected the present season, was designed and built by S. B. Fuller, and contains the clock that was in the old building that was destroyed by fire.
The Town Record Building was built in 1871, at a cost of $35,000, and is pleasantly located on High Street. The assessors' and recorders' offices are located in this building, and the town council and court are held here. The building is of brick and stone, and regarded as fire-proof. Its central location makes it convenient for the transaction of business. It is an ornament to the place, and supplies a convenience long felt to be a necessity. The Town Asylum, and Town Farm, are located on what was known as Seekonk Plains, and contains some sixteen acres of land, with all necessary buildings, &c. Horace Barnes has been superintendent since 1876, having held the position for thirteen yeas on the North Providence Town Farm. The farm, at present, is devoted to the cultivation of small fruits and vegetables. Average number of inmates for 1877 was fifteen. The place is inclosed with a substantial picket-fence, neatly whitewashed, which gives to it an appearance of tidiness. The Opera House, on High Street, Battery Hall, on Exchange Street, and Armory Hall, on the corner of Exchange and High streets, are all used as places of amusement. They are all fine and commodious places, fitted up with taste, and all modern improvements, and have ample capacity for the accommodation of the public.
Business Interests of Pawtucket.
Under this head will be found a brief sketch of the leading business interests of the thriving town of Pawtucket. For the past six years, the town has had the hardest of times, and many have looked upon all business enterprises with a certain degree of distrust. But to-day the dark clouds of adversity seem lifting, and the renewed activity that pervades nearly all the various branches of trade, marks the dawning of a new era, and the reviving of commercial prosperity. This life and freshness give a new impulse to all branches of business industry, and the manufactures. Merchant and mechanic alike feel its influence, and smiles are taking the place of frowns, as the people discern the dawning of a renewed prosperity. The growth and prosperity of Pawtucket are largely due to its manufacturing interests, and it claims the honor of being the first to introduce many of the extensive industries that have made New England prominent in the history of the New Republic. The inventive genius of many of her settlers revolutionized the industries of the East, and their descendants have been no less active in improving and perfecting the various kinds of machinery that have not only increased the facilities for manufacture, but have enhanced values. Foremost among the developing influences is the
As has been remarked, the descendants of these early settlers and inventors have been continually improving and perfecting the results of their genius, and prominent among them is the firm of Fales, Jenks & Sons. David G. Fales was one of the founders of the present firm in 1830. He formed a copartnership with Alvin Jenks, and they commenced the manufacture of cotton-machinery at Central Falls, under the firm-name and style of Fales & Jenks. In 1833, they added the manufacture of rotary-pumps, and having improved the original design, and perfected the various parts of the instrument, they have secured the monopoly of this class of pumps. They have added from time to time various other classes of machinery, -- such as ring and spinning-frames, ring-twisters, &c. They are largely engaged at present in the manufacture of Houston's Turbine Water-Wheels, Major's Combined Flier-Frame and Speeder also, the Revolving Piston Water-Meter, and Rabbeth's Patent Self-Oiling Spindle. In 1854, the addition of a son of each of the original partners changed the firm-name to Fales, Jenks & Sons. After the death of Alvin Jenks, his son, Stephen A. Jenks, was admitted to the concern, the name of the firm being unchanged. In 1859-60, they erected very large shops, which they subsequently sold to the A. & W. Sprague Manufacturing Co. In 1865, they purchased forty-five acres of woodland, and commenced the erection of their extensive shops. Their works cover some eight acres of land, and are supplied with the best improved machinery, tools, &c. Their facilities for manufacturing their peculiar style of work is surpassed by no like institution in New England.
Captain James S. Brown is also quite extensively engaged in the manufacture of various kinds of machinery. His fine and substantial buildings are located a short distance south of the railroad track nearly to Main Street. Mr. Brown was the junior member of the firm of Pitcher & Brown, who continued business up to 1842. The firm was dissolved at this time, and Captain Brown assumed entire control. In 1847, his present extensive works were about completed, and he commenced to occupy them. Captain Brown in the inventor of many important and useful machines, and Pawtucket feels a just pride in the inventive genius of her citizen.
Collyer & Co.'s machine-shops are located on Jenks Avenue. The senior partner first commenced business as a partner with W. H. Haskell. They remained in business for some years, when Mr. Haskell withdrew from the firm, and was succeeded by Mr. Robert Alexander. The last-named gentleman retired after a few years, and the business has since been conducted by Mr. Collyer and his uncle, under the firm-name of Collyer & Co. N. S. Collyer died during the past season, and the business is now conducted by S. S. Collyer, who does a general jobbing business, and makes machinery from drawings or models. Employs some thirty operatives.
In 1858, Mr. L. P. Bosworth originated the company known as the Bosworth Machine Company. Their works are located in the old Lefavour Mill, and the company is engaged in the manufacture of jewellers' tools, presses, &c. They give special attention to repairs, and have a capacity sufficient for the employment of twenty or thirty men.
Collins & Son, at 405 Mill Street, are also carrying on the machine business. They manufacture cotton and woollen twisters, and spinning-frames. W. W. & J. W. Collins began the business in 1866, on the opposite side of the street. In 1869, the new building was erected, and J. W. Collins retired from the business, and the present firm succeeded, under the firm name of Collins & Son. The old building was blown down in the September gale, in 1869, but was rebuilt and occupied as a tannery, by Bacon Brothers. The new building of the Messrs. Collins, is 200 x 38 feet, three stories high, and filled with all the necessary machinery for the manufacture of their goods. They have a capacity for the employment of about eighty hands.
H. F. Jenks & Co. are located in what is known as the Lefavour Mill. The Messrs. Jenks & Co. have established themselves in the manufacture of builders' hardware. The business was started in 1865, and since that time has gradually increased, until now it forms one of the leading business institutions of the town. The specialty in the first place, was the manufacture of the Jenks window-springs, but various other house-trimmings have been invented by Mr. Jenks, which are all manufactured by the company conspicuous among them being the Jenks blind-fastening. Another invention, the improved spinning-rings and supporters, by Mr. Jenks and O. F. Garvey, are now largely manufactured by the company. Their mill is run by water-power, and has facilities for twenty or twenty-five workmen.
Mr. Jenks, or Captain H. F. Jenks, as he is more familiarly known, undertook the entire charge of obtaining and putting in the illuminated clock, which now graces the new and elegant block known as the Miller Building. After ascertaining the probable expense, he set about obtaining subscriptions from his fellow-townsmen. This accomplished, he visited New York, Boston, and several other large cities, in order to find out the best mode of arranging such a clock and its dial. Failing, however, to find any mode suited to his ideal, he took upon himself the task of forming a model, and the success of his efforts is fully exemplified in the magnificent illuminated clock that now adorns his native town, and which is unsurpassed by any in this part of the land. Connected with the clock, is an ingenious contrivance for shutting off the light at any hour desired. The dial is of French plate-glass, seven-sixteenths of an inch thick, and four feet in diameter. Mr. Jenks succeeded in modelling it so perfectly in all its details, that no improvement has as yet ever been suggested, in order to make it more perfect or complete. Great credit is due Mr. Jenks, for his unremitting efforts to accomplish this project, and his fellow-townsmen should regard with pride this beautiful ornament, and cherish in grateful remembrance the memory of its generous donors.
The only fountain where a horse can drink without the inconvenience of unchecking, is located at the junction of Broadway and Walcott Street. The design differs from any in the State, being both ornamental and substantial. It has conveniences not only for pedestrians, horses, and all large animals, but there is a very ingenious contrivance at the bottom, for smaller animals to slake their thirst. The fountain is the result of wise legislation upon the part of the town council, and was designed, and its erection superintended, by Captain H. F. Jenks. The water-works, now in process of construction, will undoubtedly establish several of these benefits to the public in other places in the town.
E. Jencks & Co. In the upper stories of the old Slater Mill, may be found the works of the above firm. Mr. N. P. Hicks, a member of the firm, began in 1853, the manufacture of improved ring-travellers. He was an overseer in a spinning-room, and conceived of the idea of improving these instruments. His efforts proved successful, and he began their manufacture, first at Valley Falls, then at Providence, and finally removed to Pawtucket. He has had several different parties associated with him, but the present firm succeeded to the business in 1871. Since the formation of the new firm, their facilities have been enlarged and improved, and their goods find ready sale in this and European countries.
Payne & Mathewson, located on Jenks Avenue, are engaged in the manufacture of spoolers, and all varieties of spindles. The spoolers are adapted to cotton, woollen, and silk fabrics. This is the only establishment that makes these articles a specialty, and their trade is extended to all parts of the country. In this building is also located the Pawtucket Tack Company.
R. R. Carpenter is located in the old Slater yarn-room, and is engaged in the manufacture of reels. These instruments are made of wood and iron, and are used for reeling both cotton and wool, and find ready sale in all the various markets of the East. This is the oldest established reel manufactory in the country.
C. A. Luther, also located in the lower story of the above building, manufactures patterns and cloth-stretchers. Mr. Luther served his apprenticeship with Mr. D. L. Peck, whom he succeeded, and who was the first to manufacture this article in the United States. Many improvements have been made by the present proprietor, and his stretchers are said to be the most perfect in the market.
Esten & Burnham. This establishment is situated in the Fales, Jenks, & Sons' machine building. Messrs. Esten & Hopkins established the business at Providence in 1849. In 1857, Mr. C. C. Burnham purchased the interest of Mr. Hopkins, and became one of the firm, under the title of Esten & Burnham. In 1860, the change was made from Providence to Central Falls, where they remained until February, 1866, when they removed to their present place of business. This is the only factory in the town that makes the manufacture of spindles a specialty. Annually produce about one hundred and fifty thousand.
Hugh McCrum, located in the Slater Cotton Company's mill, is engaged in the manufacture of top-roll covers. A Mr. Turtelott [sic] began this business in 1837. Mr. McCrum began in 1842, and has continued in the business until the present. J. H. Platt began the business in Central Falls in 1867, subsequently removing to his present location, No. 11 Woodbine Street, Pawtucket. Mr. Platt is a native of Lancashire, Eng.
Forge and Nut Business. Just before reaching Captain Brown's machine-shop, we come to W. H. Haskell & Co.'s bolt and nut factory. In 1834 or 1835, Messrs. Jeremiah O. and Joseph Arnold started the first press for making iron bolts. It was located on the Moshassuck River, near where now stands the extensive bleachery of Messrs. Syles. They continued in business a few years, when the firm was dissolved, and a Mr. William Field became associated with Mr. J. O. Arnold. These gentlemen added to their business that of the manufacture of bolts. Stephen Jenks engaged in the same business, and occupied the old forge-shop upon the site where now stands the mill known as the American Hair-Cloth Padding Company.
In course of time Mr. Field started the manufacture of tools, and about the year 1840, he removed to Providence, and organized the tool company of that city, which has grown into a national reputation. Mr. Franklin Rand also engaged in the business of making iron nuts. In 1843, he occupied the old grist-mill house, in which he had set up a press for punching iron. Mr. Joseph Arnold became a partner in 1844, and the firm continued until 1847. Mr. Rand continued the business alone until 1863. He built the largest press for punching iron that was in use at that time. The business formerly conducted by Mr. Stephen Jenks, was, after his death, carried on by his son Joseph and a Mr. Joseph T. Sisson. Messrs. Pinkham, Haskell & Co., succeeded to the business in 1855, and continued until 1857, when Mr. Haskell purchased the business, and carried it on until 1860. During this time he added the manufacture of coach screws. In 1860, he commenced the erection of the present building, and it was completed and occupied Jan. 1, 1861. The present company was formed at this time, under the firm-name of Haskell & Co.
Foundry Business. At an early date Oziel Wilkinson and his son David established a furnace in what is known as the Old Coal-Yard. The elder Wilkinson died in 1815, but his son continued a resident of Pawtucket until 1829. In 1831, Mr. Zebulon White began the business of casting iron, and used one of the abandoned furnaces of the Wilkinsons. In 1835, a company was formed, consisting of Mr. White, Clark Sayles, and ex-Governor Earl, under the firm-name and style of the Pawtucket Cupola Furnace Company. This company continued in the business until 1847, when Mr. White retired, and purchased the lot, and erected a furnace, now owned and operated by his sons. The growth of this branch of business has kept pace with the increased demand, and many tons of iron are now melted daily and cast into various forms.
Rhode Island Stove-Works. These extensive stove-works are located on Broad Street, near the railroad track, and were originally put in operation in 1853, by Messrs. William H. Hathaway, Thomas Robinson, Edwin Jenks, and Benjamin Smith Donald, under the firm-style of the Pawtucket Furnace Company. Mr. Hathaway subsequently succeeded to the business, the other parties having retired. Messrs. H. & S. Fifield purchased the business of Mr. Hathaway, and continued it until 1867, when Mr. H. Fifield withdrew, and Mr. S. Fifeld formed a copartnership with other parties, and the business was conducted under the firm-name of S. Fifield & Co. In 1869, a company was formed which assumed the title of Rhode Island Stove-Works. They continued until within a short time, when they yielded to the depression of the times, and failed. A reorganization is now being consummated, however, and the business will be resumed.
Pawtucket Hardware Tool Company. This establishment is located on Mill Street, and is engaged in the manufacture of various kinds of tools usually sold in hardware stores. Mr. Samuel Cope is the general manager, and, in connection with this business, he personally manufactures hand-cut files, and his goods are well known in the market, and bear an excellent reputation.
Mr. William Jeffers commenced the manufacture of fire-engines in 1848, in the business located on Greene's Mill Place. He continued the building of hand-engines until about 1861, when he began the manufacture of steam fire-engines. In 1875, he discontinued business for a time, but resumed again in 1877. Mr. Jeffers was the first successful fire-engine builder in the State, if not in the United States. His engines have been used in nearly every State in the Union, and have won a well-merited reputation.
Cole Brothers, located near the corner of Main and Bailey streets, commenced the manufacture of steam fire-engines in 1864. In connection with this business, they make and repair stationary fire-pumps, and build boilers and other similar articles.
This branch of business, at the present time, forms an important feature in the manufacturing interests in the town of Pawtucket. Timothy Greene was undoubtedly among the first to engage in the tanning business. He was engaged in the manufacture of shoes, and in connection with this business ran a tan-yard. Samuel Bowen also was engaged in the tanning business on the corner of Main Street, where it turns, opposite Dexter Street. It stood on the Oziel Wilkinson plat. This was about 1828, and the stream that runs under Main Street supplied the water used in this early tannery. Daniel Mitchell was also a tanner here in 1827, and was located at the junction of East Avenue and Pleasant Street.
Mr. John Blackburn was the first to introduce belting made of leather, which he applied to certain machinery in the old Slater Mill. Lewis Fairbrother commenced the tanning business in 1834. In 1861, Mr. H. L. Fairbrother was admitted as a partner in the business. In 1865, Mr. Lewis Fairbrother sold his interest to Mr. H. E. Bacon, and the firm-name was changed to H. L. Fairbrother & Co. Mr. Bacon retired in 1870, and the whole establishment came into the hands of H. L. Fairbrother, the firm-name remaining H. L. Fairbrother & Co. This firm has grown from one vat, in a building 15 x 30, to an extensive and well-equipped tannery, occupying as much floor-room as any firm in the State engaged in this branch of business. This is the oldest lace and picker leather establishment in the State or United States, with the exception of a firm in Attleborough, Mass., where Mr. Lewis Fairbrother learned his trade, in 1824. The business has continued to increase, until it reaches at present nearly half a million annually. In 1847, Mr. James Davis began the manufacture of lace-leather, and both he and Fairbrother commenced the manufacture of belting in 1850. At this time, the firm of James Davis & Co. enlarged their works and added a steam-engine of 20-horse power. They introduced at this time the first fulling-mill ever used in the State for softening hides. In 1862, the firm was dissolved, and Mr. Davis continued the business alone. He experienced great difficulty in securing leather to work properly into belts he therefore determined to tan his own belt-leather. In 1864, he had tanned calfskins by a process of his own, and adapted the same process with success in tanning belt-leather. In order to protect his invention, he applied for a patent, which was granted in 1867. Another necessity became apparent in producing a perfect belt, in the form of a stretcher. Mr. Davis succeeded in producing an instrument so perfect in construction that no improvement has ever been suggested since its manufacture. In 1871, W. H. Bosworth, a son-in-law of Mr. Davis, was admitted to the firm, under the style of James Davis & Son. In 1875, this firm manufactured double the amount ever manufactured in any one season before the introduction of the new process. The works have been enlarged, from time to time, and the process of tanning is known as the Davis Chemical Tannage. The area of their floor-room is equal to four and one-half acres. At the Centennial test it was found that leather tanned by this new process was capable of withstanding double the amount of strain of that tanned in any other manner.
In 1853, Mr. D. A. Martin succeeded a firm that had previously been engaged in the tanning of harness-leather, &c. Mr. Martin learned his trade in the same establishment now occupied by him, in 1843. He is engaged in the tanning of harness, upper, and sole leather, together with that of sheepskins, and is doing a safe and profitable business. In 1873, Messrs. England & Almy began the manufacture of belting and lace-leather. In 1874, Mr. England retired from the firm, and in 1876, Mr. Heber LeFavour became interested in the business, under the firm-name of F. R. Almy & Co. They have two large and well-equipped buildings, located on Front Street, and in times of business activity, have facilities for the employment of one hundred and twenty-five or hundred and fifty men. Their brand of goods is known as the Union-tanned Belt-Leather, being a combination of barks and a chemical process in tanning. This process is claimed to produce a more desirable and stronger article, and is also used with corresponding advantages in the tanning of lace and picker string-leather. This establishment has a capacity of producing five hundred whole belt hides, three thousand four hundred sides of lace-leather, and eight hundred sides of picker and string leather per week. At the present prices, this would average a business of $800,000 per annum but owing to the depression of the times, the business does not exceed $300,000. They produce at present as much lace-leather as all the other establishments combined.
Spool-Cotton Manufacture, &c.
Prominent in this class of manufactures are the extensive works of the Conant Thread Company. This company started in 1869, in the manufacture of the celebrated J. & P. Coats six-cord thread. In the above year their first mill was erected, to which they have added two others. They occupy some twenty-five acres of land, upon which have been erected, in addition to their spacious mills, a bleachery, box-factory, storehouses, and other structures for the use and convenience of their business. They have in operation one hundred thousand spindles, and employ about eighteen hundred hands. Their motive power is obtained from several large engines, and their protection against fire is unrivalled by any like institution. The men employed are organized into a fire corps, and a powerful force-pump is located in each mill, that can discharge, when necessity requires, a thousand gallons of water per minute in each mill. Water is supplied from the Blackstone River, by means of pipes laid from the works to the river, a distance of nearly a mile, upon the bank of which is an engine used to force the water through the pipes. In connection with this is a pond, near by, from which the water can be pumped in case of fire. They also have seven watchmen on duty, during all hours of the night, and a magnetic telegraph connected the several buildings with the counting room or office. This is one of the largest thread manufactories in the country, their capital exceeding $2,000,000, and their products are sent into all the various markets of the United States.
The Hope Thread Company. This company was incorporated in 1869, with a capital of $100,000. Their special manufacture is that of three-cord spool-thread. They also make hosiery, cop, and other yarns. Their building is located on Division Street, and contains five thousand or more spindles. They use twenty-five bales of cotton per week, and employ from ninety to a hundred hands. Their weekly production is some eight thousand five hundred pounds, and the value of their annual product is $150,000. Messrs. Greene & Daniels are also quite extensively engaged in the manufacture of spool-thread. In connection with their spool-cotton, they also manufacture yarns for various purposes.
Mr. Parley Brown, located in the Pitcher mill, is also engaged in the manufacture of spool-cotton, dressed and glazed thread. The machinery in his rooms consists of thread-dressers, and spooling and winding machines. He makes thread of all colors and numbers. Mr. Brown has capacity for the employment of sixty to seventy hands, and his sales amount to about $20,000 per year. He began business in Pawtucket in 1870, occupying the Greene mill, but moved to his present commodious rooms in 1877. Mr. Brown is also agent of the braid-works, located in the same building. They manufacture shoe and corset lacings, together with fancy cords. They run three hundred and twenty-eight braiding-machines, and employ twenty operatives.
Besides the above firms, there are several others that are extensively engaged in the manufacture of cotton-yarn. Prominent among these are the Littlefield Brothers. They have conducted the business for twenty-five years past. The original firm was David Ryder & Co. but, in 1857, Mr. Ryder retired, and the business was conducted by the above firm. They are largely interested in various mills in other towns, but all the goods are sold by them in Pawtucket. Their mill in this latter place contains some twenty-four hundred spindles, and the class of goods manufactured is skein sewing-cotton. Their office is located in their new block, on Mill Street.
The Dexter Brothers are also extensively engaged in the cotton-yarn manufacture. Their father, Captain N. G. B. Dexter, began the manufacture of cotton yarns in 1820, and acquired a wide reputation for the excellent quality of his goods. His sons subsequently became associated with him in the business, and the firm took the present name of Dexter Brothers. The elder Dexter died in 1866, and the business passed into the control of the two brothers. They occupy the mill erected by Messrs. Greene, Wilkinson, & Co., in 1813, as is evidenced by the date-stone over the door. Through some adverse fortune, their business is at present in the hands of a trustee, but it is hoped that, with the return of business activity, they will recover from their misfortunes and resume the control of their business affairs.
R. B. Gage Manufacturing Company. The senior member of this firm has been engaged in the manufacture of this class of goods for nearly thirty-five years. He commenced to make hosiery yarns in 1845, at Attleborough, removed from thence to Central Falls, and subsequently to Pawtucket. In 1868, he erected the large and commodious mills on Fountain Street, now occupied by the above firm. They have in operation six thousand five hundred and seventy-two spindles and ten knitting-looms. They make a specialty of hosiery yarns and stockinets. Under the present management the business has largely increased, and the quality of their goods has acquired a well-merited reputation.
Lebanon Mill Company. This factory occupies a site on the main land, near that upon which once stood the early mill erected by one Deacon Kent. The original mill was used at first as a grist and saw mill, and was located on a small island. In 1812, or during the second war with England, it was converted into a cotton-mill. Deacon Kent's sons succeeded him in business, and continued the manufacture of yarns, which were sent through the country to be used in the manufacture of carpets. Other parties occupied the old mill, from time to time, until at a later period, when it took fire and was destroyed. The new mill was erected on the main land, in 1859-60, and was occupied successively by R. B. Gage & Co., Alanson Thayer & Son, and upon the death of Mr. Thayer, his son succeeded to the business, and gave to it the title it now bears.
The mill contains sixty-three hundred or more spindles, and is engaged in the manufacture of all kinds of yarns, twines, and threads. He occupied the old Slater mill, and operates fourteen hundred and seventy-two spindles and employs some twenty-five hands. The original lock used upon the door of the old mill is still preserved, and may be seen in the office. It is a clumsy affair, much unlike our modern door-fastenings, and yet is a curiosity and commands admiration from its antiquity.
Ingrahamville Mill. This mill is located on the Pawtucket River, about one mile below the village of Pawtucket. It is run in the manufacture of cotton or hosiery yarn, and contains over two thousand spindles, and employs about twenty hands. Water and steam-power are both used, as necessity requires. The building is of brick, 104 x 42 feet, and three stories high, with basement. Four dwellings, with a capacity for eleven families, are connected with the establishment. The mill was built in 1827, by David Wilkinson and others, who ran it as a cotton manufactory until 1829, when they went down in the general wreck of business. Dwight Ingraham purchased the property, which subsequently passed into the possession of his father, Elijah Ingraham, from whom it derived its present name.
In 1848, Samuel Lord occupied one story, as a calico-engraver. In 1852, a company was formed, under the name of Ingraham & Leckie, who purchased the mill and ran it until 1857, when Mr. Hugh Leckie purchased the machinery, and subsequently the real estate. Previous to 1852, however, the mill was changed from cotton cloth to a yarn-mill. Mr. Leckie is the present owner of the property, but it is operated by his son, Mr. John W. Leckie.
Mr. Charles C. Holland, located in the old stone mill, is engaged in the manufacture of yarn. He operates twenty-six hundred spindles, employs some twenty-five hands, and the products of his manufacture amount to about four thousand pounds of yarn per week. In the basement of this same building is located the works of the 'Universal Package-Carrier Company'. This simple yet useful instrument was invented in June, 1875, and the manufacture of it commenced in 1876. This ingenious instrument is used for a package-carrier, taking the place of the more cumbersome and costly shawl-strap. It was invented by Mr. Isaac Lindsley, but its manufacture is conducted by Messrs. Lindsley & Card. It can be purchased for the exceedingly small price of one to five cents. They have met with unexpected success thus far, and increasing orders have crowded the factory to its utmost capacity.
C. D. Owen, on Mineral Spring Avenue, near the Moshassuck River, occupies a mill for the manufacture of worsted goods and yarns. He also makes Italian cloth and zephyr yarn. Has facilities for the employment of about three hundred hands, and when in full operation scours three thousand pounds of wool daily.
D. Goff & Son, are largely interested in the manufacture of worsted braids. They have a fine, spacious mill, erected in 1872, having a capacity of two hundred and seventy-five horse-power. Their braiding machines number some six hundred and fifty, and are mostly of foreign manufacture. They employ one hundred and seventy-five operatives, mostly females. Some definite idea may be obtained of the magnitude of the business carried on here, when we mention the fact of its consuming over one thousand pounds of wool per day, and manufacturing one hundred thousand yards of braid daily. Their goods bear an excellent reputation and find ready sale in the various markets of the country.
George Cooper, corner of Cottage and Saunders streets, is engaged in the manufacture of hosiery yarn and thread. His new mill was erected this present season, and all his work is now done here. It is supplied with steam-power, and all necessary machinery for carrying on his business. He manufactures gents and ladies' underwear, turning out one hundred and twenty-five dozen undershirts per week. This is the first establishment of its kind in Pawtucket, if not in the State.
Mr. John Kenyon, located in the Greene Brothers' mill, is also engaged in the manufacture of shoe-lacings, braids, tapes, and webs. He has facilities for the employment of some twenty hands, and the class of goods manufactured merits a fair reputation. Greene Brothers are also engaged in a like manufacture.
Mr. James Berney, located in the old Lefavour mill, is also engaged in the manufacture of boot and shoe lacings of all descriptions. In this department he has facilities for the employment of some forty hands. In connection with this business he runs that of the manufacture of various kinds of brass goods such as book ornaments, clasps, and various species of brass trimmings. In this department he employs about twenty-five operatives.
Samuel Crane, located at No. 4 Read Street, is engaged in the manufacture of knit goods cardigan jackets, ladies' jackets, hoods, garters, &c. Employs about fifteen operatives has six knitting-machines, and his annual sales amount to about thirty thousand dollars.
The Slater Cotton Co. Some of the members of this company are direct descendants of John Slater, brother to Samuel Slater. It is a stock company, chartered, in 1869, under the name of the Slater Cotton Co., with four hundred thousand dollars capital. President, William Slater Treasurer and general Business Manager, S. W. Mowry. Their main mill-edifice was erected, in 1863, for a file factory but was purchased by the above company in 1868, and materially enlarged. The mill contains twenty thousand spindles, and four hundred and fifty-five looms. Number of operatives employed is some three hundred and fifty, and the kind of goods manufactured is fine shirtings.
Messrs. Thurber, Horton & Wood, in the old stone mill, are engaged in the manufacture of light sheetings. They are also interested in a factory at Central Falls. They occupy only about one-fourth of the mill at Pawtucket, and operate two thousand four hundred spindles, and fifty-odd looms. Employ about thirty hands.
Bridge Mill Manufacturing Co. This company is located in a mill familiarly known as the yellow mill. The company was incorporated, in 1867, with a capital of one hundred thousand dollars. They operate five thousand spindles, and one hundred looms. In times of business activity they employ some sixty to seventy operatives. They manufacture cotton cloth for linings, shirtings, &c. Another mill, formerly occupied by the Pawtucket Manufacturing Co., was located on the site of the old Buffington mill, burned in 1844. It has of late been disused, and the machinery removed, and is now being converted into stores.
Union Wadding Co. The early history of this manufactory is marked by trials and disasters scarcely equaled in any of the manufacturing interests in the town. It was the prey of several disastrous fires, and its early founder, Mr. Darius Goff, met with many reverses in the establishment of this now important branch of industry. These sad trials and disappointments, however, only served to awaken a new energy, and the fruits of his untiring perseverance have ripened into the present extensive wadding-works, whose capacity is unrivalled by any like institution in America. In 1860, a new firm was formed, consisting of the following-named persons viz., Darius Goff, John D. Cranston, Stephen Brownell, and Henry A. Stearns. The latter-named gentleman had had practical experience in the business, and was assigned to its charge. At this time they occupied a small stone mill, and turned out only twelve hundred pounds daily.
The increase in business has necessitated the enlargement of their building, and improvements have been made in the process of manufacturing. In 1860, the company was incorporated, but retained the title of the Union Wadding Co. They turn out between two and three hundred bales of wadding or batting, daily, and, if the waste machinery were added, the daily product would be materially increased. A three hundred horse-power engine is in operation, and numerous labor-saving machines have been added to facilitate the manufacture. The buildings are substantially constructed, and well guarded against the dangers of fire or other accident.
Dunnell Print-Works. The business of coloring and printing cambrics and calicoes, was but limited until the formation of the above company. Several parties were early engaged in the business, especially that of coloring, but not until the advent of the present extensive works did the business of printing reach any degree of perfection. In 1833, Mr. Sibley began the printing business, by the use of a machine, printing but two colors. This establishment was known as the Franklin Print-Works, until 1835. About this time, Mr. Jacob Dunnell, Thomas Dunnell, and Nathaniel W. Brown formed a co-partnership under the firm-name of the Dunnell Manufacturing Co. During their years of occupancy extensive improvements have been made to their buildings, and also in the machinery and process of printing. The commenced with but two machines, of two and four colors but, at present, they have in operation numerous machines capable of printing ten colors on a single pattern. Their weekly production, at present, is about fourteen hundred pieces of calico, and to accomplish this some three hundred operatives are employed. This is, undoubtedly, one of the largest institutions in the State, if not in the United States.
American Hair-Cloth Padding Company. Messrs. Payne & Taylor, the former hair-cloth company, erected a building, in 1854, upon the site of the old anchor-shop of the Wilkinsons on East Avenue. Here they engaged in the business of engraving for calico-printers. In 1855, a company styled the Boston Hair-Cloth Company, began operations in this building, in the manufacture of hair-cloth. They continued about three years, when they abandoned it. In 1858, the Messrs. Payne & Taylor commenced the manufacture of tailor's hair-cloth padding and skirting, using the machinery that was left by the Boston company. In 1860, they discontinued their business as engravers, sold their old looms, and secured the right to use the Pawtucket Hair-Cloth Company's patent for feeding the hair, with which they are furnished at present. In 1867, Mr. Payne died, and his son succeeded him in the business. At this time the style of the firm was changed, and took the title it now bears. They manufacture tailor's hair-cloth padding, and ladies' hair-cloth skirting. They employ about thirty operatives, and turn out six hundred yards per day.
James Q. Smith's Granite Works, located on Pleasant View, opposite Riverside and Swan Point Cemetery. This extensive establishment was founded by Mr. Smith, in 1869. He deals in all kinds of granite, and it is the first establishment of its character located in the town. He has facilities for the employment of twelve men, and keeps one team employed. A splendid specimen of the work done at these granite works, is found in the elegant monument of J. R. Fales in the Riverside Cemetery. It was erected the present season, at a cost of $9,000, and is a fine specimen of artistic skill.
French & Leach, successors of French Brothers, are engaged in the manufacture of all kinds and styles of marble and granite work. Fine specimens of their work are found in the various cemeteries and at their place of business. John F. Kenyon, located on Pleasant Street, opposite the Riverside Cemetery, is engaged in the manufacture of brooms.
Cigar Manufacture. This branch of manufacture commanded some attention in the early part of the present century. Edmund Bailey was engaged in this business as early as 1825. The present Bailey Street was named after his son, Mr. John Bailey. Josiah C. Haswell was also a cigar-maker in Pawtucket, in 1827, occupying the site of the Miller Building. In 1848, he removed to Slatersville. In 1841, Joseph Morton began the business at Central Falls. He removed from that place to Pawtucket, and located on Garden Street about 1844. He began in the loft of his barn, and afterwards built a shop on the opposite side of the street. Squire Z. Phinney began next in the Read Building on Main Street. F. F. Follet & Son began, in 1868, at No. 9 Green Street erected a building, 24 x 20 feet, one and a half stories high, and have a capacity for the employment of eight to twelve hands. John M. Thurber located in the rear of 23 Cottage Street, in 1872. Has facilities for five or more operatives, according to the demands of trade.
F. S. Eggleston, foot of Church Hill, is engaged in the manufacture of bottling of soda, sarsaparilla, and ginger ales, and all kinds of summer drinks established in 1864 and the excellent quality of his goods commands for them a ready sale. Mr. Eggleston is also agent for ale, porter and lager beer.
Wilbur & Tingley, located down Jencks Avenue, upon the site of the original mill that was swept away in 1807, are engaged in grinding corn, feed, &c. The have facilities for grinding from a thousand to twelve hundred bushels per day, and their products find ready market in this vicinity. Their office is located at No. 80 Main Street.
L. B. Darling & Co. This establishment is located at Mineral Springs, and an extensive business is carried on in the manufacture of commercial fertilizers. In 1850, the senior partner of this firm began the business of butchering with W. W. Darling, under the firm-title of L. B. & W. W. Darling. In 1853, W. W. Darling retired, and L. B. Darling continued in the business. In 1865, he began to grind bones for fertilizers, and to feed cattle for like purposes. In 1874, L. M. Darling became associated in the business, and the firm took the title of L. B. Darling & Co. They have facilities for the manufacture of the refuse of twenty to thirty thousand cattle, and seventy-five to one hundred hogs, annually. They also render from eight to ten hundred pounds of tallow, and manufacture from one to two thousand tons of fertilizers per year. This is one of the oldest establishments of the kind in the State, and is the only one engaged in business in the town of Pawtucket. They employ about forty men, and steam is used as a motive power.
J. O. Draper & Co. This extensive establishment is located at Pleasant View, corner of Front and Clay streets, and manufactured bleaching, fulling, and scouring soaps, for woollen, cotton, and straw manufacturers. It is running on full time, and turns out more goods than ever. This factory was established in 1861, and the goods have become very popular, and meet with extensive sales. It is supplied with all of the most improved facilities, and is capable of producing upwards of 7,500,000 pounds of soap annually. The English fig-soap, tuffing-soap, and Nottingham curd-soap for print-works, manufactured by this firm, are unsurpassed, and are in especial demand.
The slaughtering of cattle and hogs, and the preparation of the meat for market, form an important branch of industry, and a large amount of capital is invested in carrying on this business. Midway between Pawtucket and Providence, near the railroad, may be seen several extensive abattoirs. The Messrs. Comstock & Son and Comstock & Co. have the most extensive establishments. They have spacious accommodations for the reception of their cattle and hogs, and all of the convenience for the slaughtering and packing of the same. Messrs. Comstock & Son deal in cattle, while Comstock & Co. deal in hogs. Each have their agents in the West, making purchases and shipping stock east. They have facilities for killing from five hundred to a thousand cattle per week, and from a thousand to two thousand hogs.
Large quantities are used in supplying the markets of Providence, Pawtucket, and neighboring towns, while large shipments are made to foreign countries. They employ some fifty hands, and have ample accommodations for the horses used in their business and numerous tenements afford comfortable homes for their operatives. I. B. Mason & Co. are also engaged in the slaughtering and packing of hogs, and have facilities for the killing of two hundred and fifty to three hundred hogs per week. H. V. Clarke is also engaged in the killing of sheep, lambs, and calves. His supplies come from the West, and he had facilities for slaughtering from five hundred to a thousand head per week. He employs some eight or ten men, and his stock supplies the local markets of the surrounding country.
This branch of industry formed an important item in the commercial interests of the early settlers. For years the Indians had been accustomed to resort to the falls, and in their rude way, obtained large quantities of shad, herring, lamprey-eels, and numerous other species of fish. The first regular fishermen were from India Point. In 1817, the fishing interest became developed to quite an extent. About that time, seines began to be introduced. A Mr. James Benchley and Mr. Marchant were seine-fishermen at this time, and succeeded in capturing large quantities of these finny inhabitants of the river. Oysters were taken in great quantities, more than the home market could consume and the business has so increased, and become so widely extended, that at present there are about forty boats employed in this particular industry. Nor is this, even, sufficient to supply the constantly increasing demand, for it is said that Virginia alone sends nearly half as many of the bivalves as are caught here. The Providence-River oysters bear the reputation of being the finest in the markets. Clams, too, are a product of commercial importance, and Rhode Island clam-bakes have a world-wide reputation. From 1815 to 1822, bass-fishing formed an important branch of business, and was carried on in the winter by cutting through the ice and using nets. Large numbers of persons were often seen engaged in this business, with varying degrees of success.
B. P. Clapp & Co., located just above Division-street Bridge, are engaged in the special manufacture of aqua ammonia from ammoniacal water, obtained from the gas-works. Mr. Clapp began business in 1859 in 1872, Messrs. Walter E. Colwell and Martin H. Lewis were admitted as partners, under the firm-title of B. P. Clapp & Co. The article thus manufactured is used in calico-printing, in the manufacture of wall-paper, dyeing, and in the manufacture of jewelry. The employ seven men, besides themselves, and do a business of $30,000 per year.
Messrs. Salisbury & Phillips. This firm is located on River Street, and is engaged in the manufacture of studs, collar-buttons, and other articles. They have facilities for the employment of twenty men, in times of business activity.
Mr. D. F. Read commenced in 1867, and his establishment is located in the J. B. Read Building. He gives special attention to the manufacture of solid gold rings, and bears an excellent reputation for the purity of his goods. He has of late added the manufacture of some plated goods, such as studs, buttons, &c.
Mr. George H. Fuller, located in the building of Messrs. Payne & Taylor, is engaged in the special business of making jewellers' findings. In 1861, he started the business, and usually employs some fifteen to twenty operatives.
L. A. Kotzow & Co., located on East Avenue. This establishment was organized in 1868, by Dodge & Kotzow. In 1870, Mr. Dodge retired from the firm, and was succeeded by J. W. Pooler. In 1872, Mr. Pooler was succeeded by Victor Vuilliaume, and in 1874 the latter gentleman withdrew, and since that time, Kotzow has carried on the business, retaining the same firm-title of Kotzow & Co. Their specialty is the manufacture of solid gold chains, and the excellence of their goods has acquired a wide-spread reputation. They employ usually from forty to sixty operatives. They have an office and salesroom 15 Maiden Lane, New York City.
W. A. Beatty & Co. This establishment is located in the Greene Brothers' mill. They began business in 1865, in the manufacture of jewelers' materials, but abandoned it in 1872. They are at present engaged in making jewelry, and give employment to about sixty men.
C. D. Tuttle is also located here in this mill, and makes a specialty of the manufacture of jet jewelry. Mr. Tuttle learned his trade in Paris, and moving to this country established the only concern in which all the details of the business are carried on. He employs from fifty to sixty operatives. Much of the finer and more delicate labor is performed by girls. Messrs. Hathaway & Carter are also located in this building, and are engaged in the manufacture of chain-swivels, &c.
THE HISTORY OF PAWTUCKET, RHODE ISLAND
Archaeological evidence places Narragansett peoples in the region that later became the colony and state of Rhode Island more than 30,000 years ago. Native people occupied Rhode Island for thousands of years before explorers and settlers from Europe came to North America. Experts believe that around 7,000 Narragansett Indians lived in the area at the time the first European settlers arrived. Soon after the arrival of European settlers, famine and diseases brought by the new settlers greatly reduced the number of native people in the area. Most of the Native Americans were killed by French diseases and warfare with the Europeans.
The Narragansett tribe: was the largest and occupied the greatest area of land were part of loosely organized confederation of tribes called the Algonquin with settlements up and down the East coast of North America they divided themselves into eight divisions, each ruled by a territorial chief these chiefs were then subject to a head chief or sachem For subsistence, Women were responsible for planting, harvesting, preparing the food, gathering shellfish, and the building of the bark huts the people lived in they depended on the cultivation of corn (maize), hunting, and fishing men spent much of their time in recreational activities, assisted the women with fishing and hunting and were known for their prowess as warriors, offering protection to smaller tribes who in turn paid tribute to them. Other groups of Algonquin, included the Wampanoag and Niantic tribes, some allied with the Narragansett, and some enemies, also lived in the area that would become Rhode Island.
In 1636 Roger Williams who was a minister was banished from Massachusetts Bay Colony for theological disagreements, landed on shore of present day Providence on land granted to him by the Narragansett tribe and declared it a place of religious freedom. Detractors of the idea of liberty of conscience sometimes referred to it as “Rogue’s Island”. Later he negotiates purchase of land extending to the falls at Pawtucket. Roger Williams had won the respect of his colonial neighbors for his skill in keeping the powerful Narragansetts on friendly terms with local white settlers. The Narragansett language died out for many years but was partially preserved in Roger Williams’ the A Key into the Languages of America (1643).In 1638, after conferring with Williams, Anne Hutchinson, William Coddington, John Clarke, Philip Sherman, and other religious dissidents settled on Aquidneck Island (then known as Rhode Island), which was purchased from the local natives, who called it Pocasset. By 1670, even the friendly tribes who had greeted Williams and the Pilgrims became estranged from the colonists, and smell of war began to cover the New England countryside.
Pawtucket was founded in 1671 and was called the Center of Industry, because the west side of the river was the growing industrial town. In the1600s they taped into the waterpower and used it for gristmills, sawmills and iron forges. William Jencks set up his forge and did iron work using available supply of timber, nearby bog iron ore and river power. At the time of the Revolutionary War, there was a well established community of iron workers, whose products included farm tools, anchors, and then cast cannons and muskets.
In 1719, Rhode Island imposed civil restrictions on Catholics living there.
Jencks, Brown & Slater were considered the technological people of the age and started the industrial revolution. In 1740s William Jencks built 2 mills. In 1760s James Hargreaves invented the Spinning Jenny, which was a water wheel spinning frame replacing the hand operated spinning wheel, improving quality. This was the first successful mass production. People were excited and getting into mass production- the beginning of consumerism and losing our connection with natural processes.
Prior to industrialization, Rhode Island was heavily involved in the slave trade during the post-Revolution era. In 1652 Rhode Island passed the first abolition law in the thirteen colonies, banning African slavery. The law was not enforced. By 1774, the slave population of RI was 6.3%, nearly twice as high as any other New England colony. In the late 18th century, several Rhode Island merchant families (most notably the Browns, for whom Brown University is named) began actively engaging in the triangle slave trade. In the years after the Revolution, Rhode Island merchants controlled between 60 and 90 percent of the American trade in African slaves. The 18th century Rhode Island’s economy depended largely upon the triangle trade, where Rhode Islanders distilled rum from molasses, sent the rum to Africa to trade for slaves, and then traded the slaves in the West Indies for more molasses.
In 1774, a bill was introduced that prohibited the importation of slaves into the colony. This became one of the first anti-slavery laws in the new United States. Despite the antislavery laws an active international slave trade continued. In 1789 an Abolition Society was organized to secure enforcement of existing laws against the trade. In February 1784 the Rhode Island Legislature passed a compromise measure for gradual emancipation of slaves within Rhode Island. By 1840, the census reported only five African Americans enslaved in Rhode Island. Using southern cotton cultivated with slave labor, Rhode Island manufactured numerous textiles throughout the early 19th century. By the mid-19th century, many Rhode Islanders were active in the abolitionist movement, particularly Quakers in Newport and Providence such as Moses Brown.
Rhode Island was the first British colony in America to formally declare its independence, doing so on May 4, 1776, two months before the Declaration of Independence.
1789 Moses Brown started his first mill, purchased all the important machines available in RI and brought it to Pawtucket. He and his family were unable to operate the machinery till they hired Samuel Slater.1793 Samuel Slater built a cotton-spinning mill, the first in the US to be water powered. He was the first to know how to build as well as operate textile machines. He hired 9 children, ages 7 to 12 as employees, and in 1796 his 30 employees were mostly preteens.
Rhode Island was the last of the original 13 states to ratify the United States Constitution (May 29, 1790)—doing so after being threatened of having its exports taxed as a foreign nation.
They built housing, churches, and schools for the workers to concentrate the work force within easy walking distance to the mills. They built company stores where the workers got paid with a line of credit. The Pawtucket Falls area quickly became the focus of textile manufacturing in the US. Both sides of the Pawtucket River developed large textile mills due to their need for water as power. As a child the downtown area had empty red brick buildings which had been mills and factories. The dams, required to provide waterpower to the mills, flooded the farmed fields and stopped fish from their annual migration.
There were major lifestyle changes for these mill workers, who were mostly Yankee farmers. Farm life was governed by the seasons, the sun controlled the work day. Once in the mill, the rhythm of nature was replaced by the tolling of the factory bell. Time became a commodity to be strictly measured and sold at a set rate. The Artisan’s skills or farmer’s produce no longer had as much value as the sheer amount of time a worker was able to stand beside their ceaseless machine, while they bought stuff made by machines.
The cost of industrialization, where the industrial revolution started, in Pawtucket RI, created dense populations and polluted the rivers and streams. Dirt roads, trees, and the natural lines of nature were turned into straight lines with bridges, cement and brick. Manmade structures replaced natural forms. Man creates frames and structures to confine nature, to hold nature within. This is man’s battle with nature where man builds fences, brick walls, cement structures, roads & buildings. The Industrial revolution had consequences for society with Child labor, as children are seen as a commodity and the family structure was affected with increase divorces.
During the 19th century Rhode Island became one of the most industrialized states in the United States with large numbers of textile factories. The state also had significant machine tool, silverware, and costume jewelry industries.
During the American Civil War, Rhode Island furnished fighting men to the Union armies. On the home front, Rhode Island, along with the other northern states, used its industrial capacity to supply the Union Army with the materials it needed to win the war. Rhode Island’s continued growth and modernization led to the creation of an urban mass transit system, and improved health and sanitation programs. After the war, in 1866, Rhode Island abolished racial segregation throughout the state. Post-war immigration increased the population. From the 1860s to the 1880s, most of the immigrants were from England, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, and Quebec. Towards the end of the century however, most immigrants were from South and Eastern Europe, and the Mediterranean. At the turn of the century, Rhode Island had a booming economy, which fed the demand for immigration. In the years that lead up to World War I, Rhode Island’s constitution remained reactionary, in contrast to the more progressive reforms that were occurring in the rest of the country. During World War I, Rhode Island furnished troops. After the war, the state was hit hard by the Spanish Influenza.
In the 1920s and 30s, rural Rhode Island saw a surge in Ku Klux Klan membership largely among the native-born white population in reaction to the large waves of immigrants moving to the state.
Pawtucket is north of Providence, the 4 th largest city in the state, has an elevation of 76 feet its size is 9 square miles, making it an easy place to walk around. The city’s boundaries have remained unchanged since 1847 and became the City of Pawtucket in 1886. . A place of history, considered the home of the Industrial Revolution in America. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.0 square miles (23 km 2 ), of which, 8.7 square miles (23 km 2 ) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km 2 ) of it (2.89%) is water. Pawtucket lies within three drainage basins. These include the Blackstone River (including the Seekonk River), the Moshassuck River and the Ten Mile River.
My great grandparents: Exare “Jerry” Breault born 6/12/1866 in Canada was married to Celine Audet on 7/29/1888, born 11/6/1869 in Massachusetts. My great Grandfather died on 7/6/1928 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. My Great Grandmother died 2/14/1938 in Massachusetts. Thus you can see that my mother’s side of the family has been here for some time. I do not have much information on what they did or how they lived and would appreciate any info that you may have to share.
My great grandparents had 10 children including my Grandmother Bernadette Rosanna Breault born 10/19/1899 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. My Meme married Edmond Gevry 5/11/1919 in St John-Baptist, Pawtucket I do not find a birth date for him, only a baptism 1/26/1894. My Meme and Pepe had six children, my mother Theresa Gevry was born on 1/13/30. Meme died 10/19/1962 in Pawtucket but I do not know when or where my Pepe died. The story goes that my Pepe built a house in Pawtucket where they lived till his death. My Pepe and his brothers moved from Quebec Montreal to the US looking for work, most of his brothers stayed in Vermont and became farmers whereas he came to Pawtucket. My Pepe was known in town for starting the first all male bar on Main Avenue. If you have any stories about my Meme & Pepe that I can share in my book I would greatly appreciate it.
Pawtucket is Algonquin for river falls, the “great falls”, which is known as the Pawtucket Falls. At the falls is a short wide stretch of shallow whitewater and then it roars over the substantial falls creating a natural crossing point that was used by Indians and early settlers, to get to the other side. It is part of the Blackstone River that originates from Worcester, Massachusetts and was the natural transportation route in the area. This is one of my favorite spots along the river, standing on the bridge near the Old Slater Mill. It is polluted, we can’t swim in it and there were no sights of life in those dank waters and there is a putrid smell that is carried on any breeze, it is considered “dead” due to a century of industrial abuse. They claim you can still cross on foot, but not me because it crepes me out. I can hear the water roar over the large boulders and dam downstream over the substantial falls. This is considered the home of the Industrial Revolution in America, the place where industrialization began resulting in dense populations and polluted rivers and streams. The element of water that turned the valley into an industrial powerhouse is still present the river, the canal, the mill villages, and the agricultural landscape.
During the 1960s I was living a block away from the Blackstone River, there is run off from all the textile mills, along its banks, which is the home of the first cotton gin, creating so much pollution that there is nothing living in it. Lollygagging along its banks, peering into its filthy frothing moving waters is like looking into the murky waters of my own misery and pain, identifying with it, it is a mirror reflecting back my experiences. Going into Slater Mill, enjoying the beautiful wood weavers, that make up the gigantic looms still standing and functional, with the waterwheel as the source of energy, it must have been bustling in its day, with all the child labor, it is well maintained and admired by all visitors who have had the privilege of obtaining entrance to its inner chambers. There is lots of segregation in the neighborhood mostly based on languages: Jewish, French, Portuguese, and Greeks live in separated areas and one is expected to stick with their own kind.
Downtown the red brick buildings that once were mills and factories, have more modern business in them especially the jewelry manufacturers with many more structures being empty. My curiosity and love of walking lead to me to the beautiful Pawtucket library that was the original Post Office, making reading my major activity, a great skill that eventually turns into a great coping mechanism. It transformed my life by increasing awareness of alternate realities and the ability to explored and envision a different life, a life of one’s’ own choosing. What a freeing concept that is. Being a seeker I enjoy the Process of Exploration, seeking mystery, learning investigational techniques with the love of analysis, always asking “WHY”, and yearning to follow through with courageous action.
Efforts are underway to transform the Blackstone, into a fish-able and swim able river by 2015. Man realizes his effect and tried to clean it up, is it too late? Does man’s progress always have to include destruction of the environment and social degradation?
Service history [ edit | edit source ]
Pawtucket was ordered on 3 March 1897, laid down at Mare Island Navy Yard in California on 22 July 1898, and launched on 17 November 1898. The 19th century designation "Harbor Tug No.7" was officially replaced with "YT-7" (District harbor tug) on 17 July 1920.
Pawtucket ' s entire career was spent on the Pacific coast, active in the 13th Naval District, the Puget Sound Navy Yard being her permanent base for more than thirty years. During World War II she was armed with a single 20 mm gun and served as a patrol craft and minesweeper in the Puget Sound area, with an increased complement of 16. Pawtucket was redesignated "YTM-7" on 15 May 1944.
At the war's end, Pawtucket was declared surplus, placed out of service on 13 December 1946, and transferred to the Maritime Commission. She was then sold to the Northeast Merchandising Service, which operated her briefly in Puget Sound before scrapping her in 1947.
Rear Admiral Robert W. Copeland, USNR (1910-1973)
Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Copeland, USNR. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Courtesy of Mrs. Harriet N. Copeland, 1980.
May 1, 1999: New building at Naval Reserve Center in Tacoma, Washington named after Capt. Copeland.
Robert Witcher Copeland was born at Tacoma, Washington, on 9 September 1910. Enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1929, he was commissioned as a Naval Reserve officer in 1935. Copeland practiced law from 1935 until 1940, when he was ordered to active duty during the Navy’s pre-World War II expansion. During the War, he commanded USS Pawtucket (YT-7), USS Black Douglas (PYc-45), USS Wyman (DE-38) and USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413).
During the Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944, while commanding Samuel B. Roberts, Lieutenant Commander Copeland led his ship and crew in an attack on a greatly superior Japanese battleship and cruiser force. Though his ship was lost, this action helped defeat the Japanese counter-offensive against the Leyte invasion. For this, he was awarded the Navy Cross.
Following World War II, Copeland resumed his law career while remaining a member of the Naval Reserve, in which he rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. Robert W. Copeland died at Tacoma, Washington, on 25 August 1973.
USS Copeland (FFG-25) was named in honor of Rear Admiral Robert W. Copeland, who commanded USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) in the Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944, and later was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism in that action. USS Copeland (FFG-25) was named in his honor. This photograph was released 13 December 1944, while LCdr. Copeland was recuperating at the Naval Hospital, San Leandro, California.
Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Copeland, USNR, receives the Navy Cross from Rear Admiral David M. LeBreton, at Norfolk, Virginia, 16 July 1945.
LCdr. Copeland received the Navy Cross for heroism while in command of USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) during the Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944.
Copeland receiving Navy Cross. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Courtesy of Mrs. Harriet N. Copeland, 1980.
Information from DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY — NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER, 901 M STREET SE — WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060
In 1999, Copeland had a building named after him at the Naval Reserve Center in Tacoma, Washington.
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Pawtucket, city, Providence county, northeastern Rhode Island, U.S., on the Blackstone River (there bridged and known locally as the Pawtucket or the Seekonk) just northeast of Providence city and adjoining the city of Central Falls to the northwest. In the heart of the business district, the river plunges some 50 feet (15 metres) over a mass of rocks the city’s name is from an Algonquian word for “at the falls.” First settlement on the site was made in 1671 by Joseph Jencks, Jr. His smithy, destroyed by Indians in 1676 during King Philip’s War, was rebuilt, and soon the village became a centre for ironmongers. In 1793 Samuel Slater built the first successful waterpowered cotton mill in North America (now restored and designated a national historic landmark), an event considered to be the start of the Industrial Revolution in America. Pawtucket has a highly industrialized economy metals, jewelry and silverware, and specialty textiles are produced.
Navigation on the river has been continually improved by the federal government since 1867 there is a channel 16 feet (5 metres) deep that extends to Narragansett Bay. Pawtucket town (inc. 1828), east of the river, was originally in Massachusetts and was transferred to Rhode Island and reincorporated in 1862 part of North Providence, west of the river, was annexed to Pawtucket in 1874, and the expanded town was incorporated as a city in 1885. Pop. (2000) 72,958 (2010) 71,389.
This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.
Robert W. Copeland
Rear Admiral Robert Witcher Copeland (September 9, 1910 – August 25, 1973) served during World War II.
Copeland was born in Tacoma, Washington. Enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1929, he was commissioned as a Naval Reserve officer in 1935. Copeland practiced law from 1935 until 1940, when he was ordered to active duty during the Navy's pre-World War II expansion. During the war, he commanded Pawtucket (YT-7), Black Douglas (PYc-45), Wyman (DE-38) and Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413).
During the Battle off Samar, October 25, 1944, while commanding Samuel B. Roberts, Lieutenant Commander Copeland led his ship and crew in an attack on a superior Japanese battleship and cruiser force. Though his ship was lost, this action helped defeat the Japanese counter-offensive against the Leyte invasion. For this, he was awarded the Navy Cross, and shared the Presidential Unit Citation with the rest of Task Unit 77.4.3
A quote often mis-attributed to him "This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can.” was actually said by Captain Ernest E. Evans, commanding the USS Johnston.
- Although during the course of writing his book, "The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors" author Jim Hornfischer noted that his source notes to Chapter 14 indicate the statement comes from the Samuel B. Roberts action report.
Following World War II, Copeland resumed his law career while remaining a member of the Naval Reserve, in which he rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. Robert W. Copeland died at Tacoma, Washington, on August 25, 1973.
The History of Pawtucket.
It is common to apply to this continent the term 'New World', when the traditions of the Narragansetts lead into the remote past, and commingle with another race proceeding them, and all is dim, obscure, and uncertain. The stranger, visiting Pawtucket, will learn either from tradition, or find in relics, a confirmation of an ancient occupation of its territory. Not only are the utensils of peaceful industry scattered beneath the surface, and often exhumed by the plowshare, but the weapons of war, fashioned with exquisite skill, and giving evidence of European invasion, are likewise upturned, and gathered and preserved as souvenirs of a time when the fierce and wild aborigines roamed over its wooded hills and dales, and were hostile to the early pioneer. Nowhere, better than in the historical record of that self-same land could come the answer to the oft-repeated question, 'Whence came those old relics, curious in formation, and those ancient weapons, wrought with such dexterous skill?'
There is always a certain pleasure derived from the study of home history, and a certain degree of interest is felt by the reader, be that history traditional or official. Even a name, however humble or obscure, often revives some pleasing recollection, and an incident, however trivial in its character, may awaken some slumbering impulse and recall to mind a train of many pleasant reminiscences. From the most ancient times tradition has been intrusted with the greater portion of individual and national history. The same causes have conspired to prevent a more reliable and permanent record in all times the captious criticism, the lack of education, the inappreciation of the future value of the common and ordinary affairs of life, and, most of all, the sense of responsibility which but few of us care to assume.
Around the old-cherished hearthstone, with its great open fire-place shedding its lurid light across the spacious, though sparsely furnished room, like some dim spectre in the ages past the aged, on many a cold and wintry night, have gathered their descendants with listening ear and anxious heart, and have loved to recount to them the trials, the hardships, and the adventures of a backwoodsman's early life.
But all of these have perished, and their knowledge with them. The compiler of fragmentary history is impressed with the conviction of imperfection connected with memories thus handed down from parent to child, but regards it all the more essential, that what is yet extant should be gleaned and preserved in some imperishable form. What matters it to the native of Pawtucket, the early settlement at Jamestown, or the landing of the Pilgrims, in comparison with the pioneers of his own township, and a knowledge of localities and of the actors in events, now growing more remote, dim and shadowy?
Long before the advent of Roger Williams and his colony, the Narragansetts lived and roamed with savage independence over her wooded hills, through her verdant valleys, and along the banks of her crystal streams. These, and adjacent tribes, formed a numerous and powerful people, and had permanent villages in various parts of this eastern territory, and, jealous of their rights, looked with distrust upon the innovations of those early pioneers who had fled from European despotism to work out for themselves homes in these rude wilds, where their anthems and praises might arise to the one God, untrammelled by the decrees of 'God-ordained kings.' Small tracts of land were cleared of their dense forest-growth, - fields, cultivated for the growing of those products barely necessary for sustenance and thus the early pioneer commenced his settlement, the accomplishment of which was not unattended with the endurance of many hardships. Their wild and untutored neighbors often invaded their fields and villages, destroying the products of the former, and laying in ashes the latter. Among the primitive forest-trees, were the walnut, oak, and wild-chestnut. Narrow trails, in use from time immemorial, led along dense jungles bordering upon swamps, and over the uplands, from village to village, and nation to nation.
But a very different landscape, to-day, greets the eye of the visitor as he traverses this locality. Fringes of the old forest alternate with well-cultivated fields, fine orchards, good dwellings, extensive manufactures and there is seen the beauty of civilization, in marked contrast with the primitive grandeur and repose known to the early settler. While we indulge regret for Indian wrongs, we often shudder at the rehearsal of their atrocious crimes, and the practice of their savage barbarities. Time could not abate their malice, nor friendship deter them from the revenge of some real or fancied injury. But the red rulers of the shade, and the races they governed, yielded to manifest destiny, and have passed away forever, and with their timely exit we commence the history of the white settlements of Pawtucket.
The desire to better their condition is universal with the human race. While courage, endurance, and ability are combined, the result, in the main, is always success. The hardy pioneer, seeking a new home, usually avails himself of every natural advantage, and as the town possessed these natural features in abundance, it attracted the attention of many of the early pioneers. Tradition says that Joseph Jencks settled in the neighborhood of Pawtucket Falls, about the year 1655. He was a native of England, having been born in Buckinghamshire in the year 1632. He came to America in 1645, and resided with his father, who had preceded him, and settled in Lynn, Mass. Remaining with his father, who was engaged in the manufacture of iron, until about the year 1655, he removed to Pawtucket, and also engaged in the iron manufacture, he being a blacksmith by trade. His half-brother Daniel, born at Lynn in 1663, also removed into Cumberland, an adjoining settlement, and from him have sprung the numerous Jenckses in that locality.
Mr. Joseph Jencks, the founder of Pawtucket, soon after coming into this region, purchased a sixty-acre lot of Ezekiel Holliman, an early associate of Roger Williams. He immediately set about building a forge, preparatory to engaging in his vocation of blacksmithing. His forge was erected a little below the west end of the present granite bridge. Here, in this deep cavity, for two hundred years, stood a forge-shop, until it was removed to give place to the huge water-wheels of the present cotton-mill. Here this pioneer, with no one but the rude natives of the forest for neighbors, plied his vocation, and the products of his skill found a market in Providence and the surrounding neighborhoods. Mr. Jencks had four sons, named Joseph, Nathaniel, Ebenezer, and William, all of whom followed the business of their father. For twenty years or more, affairs went on smoothly new emigrants were constantly arriving and settling throughout the neighborhood. The virgin forests were being invaded upon every hand clearings cultivated and planted to those products best suited to their immediate wants. The smoke from many a cabin rose in graceful curls heavenward, and domestic joys were gladdening the humble firesides of these early settlers.
But dark and foreboding clouds soon began to gather along the horizon of the sky, and a storm was about to break over these almost defenceless settlements. The red men began to look with distrust upon the rapid influx of these white settlers. They had beheld, with jealous eye, the steady growth of the English, and fearing that their hunting-grounds would soon be wrested from them, they began to meet the pale faces with scowling brows, and it only needed a leader to arouse their savage natures, and combine their efforts to hurl a thunderbolt on the intruders. Philip of Pokanoket began his machinations, and soon the storm burst, with all its gigantic fury, upon the early settlements. In 1675, the war commenced, and desolation and ruin marked the spot where once stood the peaceful home, and the mechanic's blazing forge.
In 1676, one of the most tragic scenes occurred. For a long time, roving bands of Indians had harassed the settlements, and disturbed their security, both in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The torch was applied to many a happy home, and ruin marked scores of habitations. At last, Captain Pierce of Scituate, with a force of sixty-three Englishmen, and twenty friendly Indians, from Cape Cod, was ordered to follow the Indians, and to put a stop to their lawless depredations. He started with his little band, reaching Seekonk on the 24th of March. Marching up the river, he soon fell into an ambush, and a desperate struggle ensued. The heavy growth of forest that overhung the banks of the Blackstone River, formed a safe retreat for the Indians, and here they closed around the little band, and, as the shadows of evening fell, they enshrouded the lifeless forms of almost all of that little army. This contest occurred on the banks of the river, between Pawtucket and Valley Falls. Pawtucket, at the close of this struggle, was a lonelier spot even than when Roger Williams first began his early settlement. The effect of such a tragical contest could have had naught but a disastrous influence upon these feeble settlements, and the gravest alarm seized upon the hearts of the people, and they fled for refuge to the Island of Rhode Island.
After a few months, however, the dark clouds of adversity began lifting, and the dawning of a better day was at hand. Philip was soon after killed, his warriors slain, captured, or scattered, and peace and security once more returned. Mr. Jencks returns and rebuilds his forge, the woodcutters and charcoal-burners resume their industry. The tillers of the soil return to plant and sow, and a renewed activity pervades every department of human industry.
The Jencks family was influential in the political affairs of the Colony, as well as in business. The elder Jencks bore the title of assistant, which answers to our lieutenant-governor, or senator while his son Joseph, born 1656, became governor of Rhode Island from 1727 to 1732, and died in the year 1740 he was blind seven years before his death. Nathaniel, born 1662, bore the title of major, and was a powerful man. In the writings of Eseck Esten, bearing date of 1813, he says, 'he lifted the great forge-hammer of five hundred pounds weight, together with seven men thereon and the handle thereof, one man whereof lifted up under the draw-beam with all his might to reach against him, a proof of very great strength indeed.' He died Aug. 12, 1723. Ebenezer was born 1669, and was a preacher of considerable distinction, and died, 1726. William was born 1674, and was the first chief justice of the Providence County court, and died Oct. 2, 1765.
Tradition is not so definite in regard to the other early inhabitants of this section. Other settlers were evidently allured here, as the natural advantages of the locality furnished ample employment, not only to the woodsman, but the artisan as well. One Samuel Smith is represented in an old deed bearing date 1738, and was doubtless contemporary with the Jenckses. In 1775, we find Captain Stephen Jencks manufacturing muskets in Pawtucket, and in 1770, Ephraim Starkweather settled in the hamlet on the east side of the river, and purchased a potash establishment of some parties from Boston. Mr. Hugh Kennedy began the manufacture of linseed oil about the year 1750 and also, about that time, one Sylvester Bowers, a ship-carpenter, moved to Pawtucket and engaged in the business of ship-building. Mr. Wilkinson removed from Smithfield in 1783, and settled in Pawtucket. His family consisted of five sons and four daughters. Their names were Lucy, Abraham and Isaac (twins), David, Hannah, Daniel, Mercy, Smith, and Lydia. Lucy married Timothy Greene Hannah married Samuel Slater Mercy married William Wilkinson of Providence, a race originating in Connecticut and Lydia married Hezekiah Howe. The father and sons were blacksmiths by trade, and plied their vocation as workers in iron. They occupied part of the buildings located on the old coal-lot, and engaged in the manufacture of anchors. From their shop were sent out some of the largest anchors then manufactured in the country. On this old ground, commonly called the coal-yard, the Wilkinsons made large bed-screws and cannons. They were the first in the world to cast cannons solid, they being bored out by water-power. Mr. Wilkinson, also, at this early date manufactured nails, and it is said that he anticipated every manufacture of this article in the world. Later, when the new era in the industries of the town commenced, they were engaged extensively in the manufacture of cotton-mill machinery, and to them is due the credit of inventing many valuable machines. The Wilkinsons were long household names in Pawtucket, and to their activity and enterprise is due much of the present prosperity of the town. Major Ebenezer Tyler was among the early inhabitants, and was engaged in active business for many years. A short distance below here was the machine-shop and dwelling of Sylvanus Brown, father of James S. Brown, who was the inventor of several cotton-mill machines. Mr. James Weeden came next, and engaged in the baking business. George Mumford, Barney Merry, Hezekiah Howe, and George F. Jencks were among the early business men of the town, and not only gave character to the settlement, but facilitated progress. Ezekiel Carpenter kept a children's clothier's shop, or fulling-mill, in what was known as the old cotton-mill, near the western abutment of the present granite bridge, which was also the place occupied by Mr. Samuel Slater, in his experiments upon preparations for cotton-spinning. Near to this was the shop and dwelling of Jabez Jencks, brother of the ancient Pardon Jencks. Ebenezer Tiffany also occupied a store further on, near to or in a portion of the ground now occupied by the Messrs. Reed's building. Adjoining was the store of Josiah Miller, now occupied by Mr. Tingley. Where now stands the Union Block, was once the store and dwelling of Moses Jencks adjoining this was the building erected by Nathaniel Croade and Otis Tiffany and it was here that the first post-office was kept.
On the site now occupied by the Pawtucket Hotel, once stood the dwelling of Judges William and Jonathan Jencks next came the house of Mr. Slater, in which he resided for some years, but subsequently removed to a brick house adjoining the residence of Samuel Merry, on Pleasant Street. He afterwards removed to Webster, Mass. George Walker was an early innkeeper, and the old tavern has since been moved back to make room for the large bank building, owned by David Lefavor. Next came the old Cleveland home, noted as being the former residence of Isaac Wilkinson. It was built by an early inhabitant named Samuel Healy. Erastus Sweeting and David Carpenter owned dwellings adjoining, which have been removed to make room for the present Lee Block. These are but a few of the early places and settlers upon the west side of the river. There are many others whose names are identified with the growth and prosperity of the business interests of the town, and whose lives furnish many examples worthy of emulation.
We pass to a brief review of the early settlers and places upon the east side of the river. As has already been stated, this portion of the town has, for nearly two centuries, belonged to the State of Massachusetts. It was situated in the ancient town of Rehoboth, which was founded by the Rev. Samuel Newman, about the year 1636 or 1648. He was a native of England, having been born in Banbury, in 1600. He received his education at the Oxford University, and became a minister and was settled over several different churches, before his emigration to New England. This original settlement was first made by those men belonging to Newman's company, who were Bucklin, Smith, and Reed. Their original purchase was bounded westerly by the river, which, in different accounts in those early times, bore the names of Pawtucket, Blackstone, and Seekonk. Their purchase extended northerly to the southern line of the town of Attleborough easterly for some distance on the Seekonk Plain and southerly to some distance below, where now stands the Dunnell Print-works. For about a century, the descendants of the Bucklins, and the Smiths, and the Reeds held possession of their ancestral domains and while the early settlers on the Rhode Island side were mechanics and tradesmen, those upon the Massachusetts side were engaged in agricultural pursuits. A company from Boston came into this section, and purchased of the Smiths a tract of land and set up a potash establishment, near the river, a little above the falls. The names of these parties were Stover, Bant, and Bowers. They were but transient residents, as it has already been remarked that they sold their establishment to Ephraim Starkweather.
About 1760, Hugh Kennedy settled near the bridge, which was erected in 1712, a little below the falls. Soon after came Samuel Pitcher, Joshua Fisher, Eliphalet and Samuel Slack, Ephraim Starkweather, Sylvester Bowers, Major Nathan Daggett, Sylvanus Wing, and Cyrel Peck. A family by the name of French, and also one by the name of Robinson, soon after moved in, and still after the Walcotts, Joseph Smith, and others. These all engaged in various pursuits, and to their early efforts is due in a measure the growth and prosperity of Eastern Pawtucket. Hugh Kennedy's dwelling stood on the site of the present large bank building, and his premises are now covered with mills, stores, and buildings of various kinds. He was of Irish descent. The dwelling of John Bucklin adjoined this one of Mr. Kennedy's, but has long since been demolished. Mr. Bucklin was the owner of the water-power at the falls, on the east side. He died in 1795. His son Joseph married a niece of Samuel and John Slater, and his daughter Ruth married John Slater, brother of Samuel S. Slater. He afterwards became the founder of the large and flourishing manufacturing village in Smithfield, which bears the name of Slatersville. All the parties are now dead.
Samuel Pitcher was a native of Providence some of his descendants of the fifth generation are now found residing in the town. Mr. Pitcher resided here a few years, and then removed to Attleborough, where are found the graves of the family for several generations. In early life, Samuel Pitcher married Ruth Bucklin, a daughter of James Bucklin, of the third generation from the original William Bucklin, a member of the Newman settlement in Rehoboth. Joshua Fisher was a native of Wrentham, Mass. He married in early life the young widow of David Bucklin. Her infant son, David Bucklin, became the well-known citizen to the older inhabitants of the place, and dwelt for a long time in the old Wing house, the site of which is now occupied by the mansion of Ellis Pitcher. From a second marriage descends the widow of the late Squire French. Anna, of the Fisher children, married Cyrel Brown, whose daughter married the late John W. Dexter their descendants are the representatives of this ancient family.
Eliphalet Slack, more familiarly known as Colonel Slack, was born in the town of Attleborough, Mass. He was the son of Benjamin Slack, a deacon in the Congregational church of the town above named. He had no children, and his estate was mostly devised by himself and wife to their respective heirs. Samuel, a brother of Colonel Slack, died at the Landing, in a house owned by Joseph Smith & Co. His representatives are found in the descendants of his daughters, who married Josiah Miller and Ezekiel Robinson. Ezekiel G. Robinson, D. D., is the head of the Baptist Theological Institute, situated at Rochester, N. Y. The wife of Dr. Whitney, of West Pawtucket, and also of young Dr. Miller of Pawtucket, are also representatives of his descendants. Ephraim Starkweather, the father of this family in Pawtucket, was a native of Connecticut, and a graduate of New Haven College. He was a man of considerable distinction, and occupied many positions of political honor, both in the town and State, among which were local magistrate, member of the General Assembly, and in the governor's council. His son Oliver, and also his grandson James C., were no less influential in the political affairs of the town and State, they each holding the same offices. Oliver was one of the electors of John Q. Adams as President of the United States. Sylvester Bowers was a ship-carpenter, having removed from Somerset, Mass. He commenced his business at the Landing, upon the premises now owned by Joseph Smith & Co. There was a large family of Bowerses, but they became extinct, and none of them are found in the place at present. Joseph Smith was a native of Glocester, R. I. He was engaged in an extensive business, upon ground once occupied by Mr. Bowers. The business, with much larger facilities, and many important changes, is now represented by Henry F. Smith and John T. Cottrell, under the firm-name of Joseph Smith & Co. The first settled minister, of any order, in this section, was Rev. David Benedict, D. D., to whose historical and biographical sketches we are largely indebted for the above historical items. The first settled physician, was Dr. Humphrey. The first settled lawyer, was Jesse May.
Thus, is briefly reviewed the history of some of the early settlers in the town of Pawtucket. We have found among their ranks, men that gave character to the settlement and the present business enterprises and manufacturing industries, are but the outgrowth of their persistent effort and mechanical genius. With increased facilities, and the many improvements in machinery, Pawtucket is indeed destined to a prosperous and successful future.
Old Places, Incidents, &c.
The Comstock farm, south and west of the Thornton & Co.'s purchase (which bounded the Jencks purchase, or the Widow Mowry's place), was in turn bounded on the south by the Thomas Arnold farm. Moses Brown of Providence, owned the lands extending to the city. The Scotts, Bagleys, Comstocks and Estens, were early land owners about Pawtucket. The Scotts were owners around the Scott Pond. One of the family settled on what has long been known as the Adam Anthony farm, situated on the old turnpike to Providence. The Bagley farm contained about three hundred acres, lying on the east side of the Smithfield road, now known as Lonsdale Avenue, and north of the present Mineral Spring pike, its eastern boundary reaching nearly to the present Pine Street. The old homestead portion of this farm is now occupied by William Binford. Joseph Bagley was the founder of the name here, and removed from Maine. He died in the latter part of the last century, as is evidenced from the date of the settlement of his estate, which occurred in 1790. Eight generations of this family have in turn occupied this original homestead of Joseph Bagley.
Dr. Clapp and L. B. Darling have made valuable farms from portions of the old Comstock place, which lies on the Mineral Spring Turnpike, near the Moshassuck River. The Esten farm joined the Comstock place on the south, and was settled by Thomas Esten, from Wales. Nine generations have occupied the old homestead, which bears date of erection in 1680. This date-stone was placed in the chimney, as was the custom in those early times, and is the only relic that remains of this ancient domicile, and is in the possession of Cornelius Esten, who resides in the mansion on the old Comstock place, which was erected about 1797. Roger Williams was a frequent visitor to this old homestead. This farm was originally owned by Ezekial Holliman and subsequently by Abel Potter. Eseck Esten died in 1823, and left valuable memoranda of places and events, to which, as also Rev. Dr. Benedict's works, we are indebted for much valuable information.
The old Sayles place lay near by, and the old house is now occupied by J. Sayles Pidge, into whose possession it came through his mother, who was a Sayles. Jeremiah Sayles kept, at one time, a hotel here, and it is said that General Lafayette encamped near here with his army, and was accustomed to get his meals at this public house. The old-fashioned fireplaces are still to be seen, and recall to memory many pleasing reminiscences. This is among the oldest landmarks in the town, and the frame remains to-day in a remarkable degree of preservation. Joseph Jencks purchased sixty acres, of the Widow Mowry of Plymouth, in 1655, which gave to him the water-power on the Rhode Island side of the river. He preserved the timber from destruction, having been impressed with the fatal results of this wholesale slaughter of the forests during his sojourn at Lynn, Mass. On Pleasant Street, formerly on the old Neck road, on the old Comstock farm, which is now cut up into small parcels, resides Mrs. John T. Kenyon. The old homestead was erected in 1774, as the date on the chimney indicates. This tract of land comprised about one hundred acres, but is now cut up into several different parcels. Woodlawn in the western suburb of Pawtucket. The old mansion formerly owned by Peter Thornley, stands where it was built over a hundred years ago, on the corner of Lonsdale Avenue and Thornley Street. It was built by a Mr. Shreive.
On the opposite side of the street from the old house is the old riding-park, now in disuse. Another old place was that built by Eseck Esten, in 1750. It was located upon the present site of George A. Kenyon's house, on the west side of Lonsdale Avenue. It was the home of three generations of Estens. Deacon Eseck Esten was the first man to peddle milk in the city of Providence, being engaged in this business as early as 1810. On Pleasant Street, adjoining the Riverside Cemetery on the north, and running from the Pawtucket River (or Seekonk as it was formerly called) on the east, to the old Neck road, or the present Pleasant Street on the west, and running far enough north to make about fifteen acres of land, is the old Benchley (incorrectly spelled Bensley) place.
This tract was occupied at first by Davis the Hermit. This house stood at high water-mark, about six rods south of Benchley Point. This eccentric old man lived here a very retired life, in a little house reared by himself, about fifteen feet square. Among his eccentricities was that of preparing for his death by making a coffin, which he kept in readiness for that event. To economize room, he used this burial-case for the storing of beans, of which it was said he raised large quantities. He was an English-man by birth, and moved to Boston, where he left means for his support. He died and was buried near St. John's Church in Providence. From him the land passed to the Jenckes. It subsequently passed into the hands of Samuel Benchley, about 1804. The place was used for a hospital as early as 1790, and Mrs. Benchley, then Polly Peck Bucklin, was a patient and nurse. The site was selected for its fine scenery, excellent water, and healthy location.
Before we pass from this side of the river, mention must be made of an antiquated building located at 177 Main Street. It is now owned and occupied by Miss Emily Jones. This house was built in 1677, and is one of the oldest buildings now standing in Pawtucket. It was erected by Colonel Eleazer Jencks, who occupied it for some time, when it came into the possession of the Wilkinson family. From them it passed to Mary D. Jones, and has since remained in the possession of this family. This was also the home of a very remarkable man, whose daring exploits were a wonder to the age in which he lived.
No history of Pawtucket would be complete without at least a brief mention of 'Sam Patch', the jumpist. He was born at Marblehead, Mass., about 1796, and came to Pawtucket in the early part of the present century, and was a mule-spinner in a cotton-mill that once occupied the site of the mill now owned by Thurber, Horton & Wood, at Central Falls. He was a remarkable athlete and rivalled all his associates in jumping and many other sports. He became more and more daring in his feats, and having successfully jumped from the bridge, a distance of some twenty-five feet, and also from a mill five stories high, a wager was made and accepted by him to jump the Genesee Falls, at Rochester, N. Y. He was successful in this attempt, and won the wager. He afterwards performed the daring feat of jumping the Niagara Falls, and several other equally hazardous achievements. His fame became world-wide and he was the wonder of the age. But his career was destined to a speedy and tragic termination. Returning to the scene of his former success, he again attempted to jump the Genesee Falls. He made the fatal leap which resulted in his death. This terminated the career of this man, who, like thousands of other, have sacrificed home, friends, and life itself to gratify the morbid curiosity of the populace, and gain their momentary applause.
We pass now to the east side of the river, and find ourselves on the bank of Ten-Mile River, at a point where the Daggett road crosses the river, being the extension of Brook Street. John Daggett, an Englishman, settled here upon a tract originally containing about four hundred acres, in 1680. The homestead building stood a few rods southeast from the present one, which bears date on the wall, of 1700. The place has been in possession of the family since its settlement, and is now occupied by Hannah Daggett. The place adjoining, on the west, was what is known as the Hutton place, and is in possession of John Hyde. The Oliver Bucklin farm joined on the west, and extended to the Pawtucket River. From the falls, running in an easterly direction towards Bucklin Brook, was a cow or bridle path. This was undoubtedly the road that led to the old grist-mill and the good fishing rocks, at an early date, and was the only exit from the town in an easterly direction, until the opening of the present Walcott Street. The Bucklins were, from early times, noted for being great land-owners, from Bucklin Island downward. The Pawtucket lands are supposed to have descended to Joseph Bucklin, who, undoubtedly, built the old stone-chimney house, near Hammond's Pond. This whole tract was styled the Bucklin farm and this pond derived its name from Samuel Hammond, and is now owned by the Dunnell Manufacturing Company, it being raised or dammed, for the purpose of forming a reservoir. Mr. Hammond owned land adjoining, and had a residence located upon its banks, which was built about 1790. The brook running into this pond is called Bucklin Brook, and derives its name from the early settlers by that name.
The first improvements made upon this brook were by Mr. Fitz, who polished gravestones by water-power. He constructed a dam across the stream, at or near where the Dunnell Print-works are now located. The Taunton road over the Ten-Mile River, about two and a half miles from the present granite bridge in Pawtucket, is what was early known as Kent's Mills, but it now bears the name of Lebanonville. This was first settled by a family by the name of Kent. They improved the water-power, and erected a grist and saw-mill, which was subsequently converted into a cotton-mill, which passed into hands of the Pawtucket Bank, in 1843. A blacksmith-shop was also located here in the early part of the present century, and conducted by one Perry. He was killed at Perrin's Crossing, on the Boston and Providence Railroad, some years ago his son succeeded him, and finally converted the shop into a hame [sic] factory. Mr. W. Gardner located a broom factory here a few years ago, and is now doing a lucrative business. A store on the Massachusetts side of the river is of recent date, and stands near the site of the old Kent homestead.
Between this place and Pawtucket was once the famous Seekonk Plains. Here many sportsmen used to resort and test their skill in shooting plover. It is now, however, laid out into pleasant streets, and many fine buildings adorn this once forsaken and almost worthless tract. These plains were early used as a pasture for sheep, and large flocks were herded here. Here, also, was located the old race-track, that was a source of annoyance to many of the early mill-owners, inasmuch as every time a race was announced, which was not unfrequently, their help were accustomed to leave their duties and repair to the grounds to join in the sports and excitement of the race. They however devised a plan to put a stop to these pastimes, by taking a number of teams and plows and plowing up the track, thus effectually removing this source of their difficulties.
In 1839, Mr. John W. Ashton, foreseeing the future advantages to be derived from the occupancy of such a tract, in so close proximity to such a growing and thriving town as Pawtucket, purchased a considerable portion of the tract now in the vicinity of the town farm. At this time, there were but three houses on the plains. Mr. Ashton at one time offered to donate to the town a piece of land sixty feet wide, for the laying out of a street known as Brook Street but the offer at the time was rejected by the town. They however laid out a street, irregular in form, and but thirty feet wide. This was thought, at the time, to be of sufficient dimensions for all practicable purposes. Their oversight, however, soon became apparent, and in the summer of 1877 the town was obliged to expend five hundred dollars for the privilege of widening and straightening this thoroughfare. A few years hence the traveller over this rapidly developing plain will find no traces of this once barren and worthless tract and could the old settler, long since departed, return to the scenes of his early adventure, the surprise at the first view would be lost in the amazement that succeeded it.
Successive steps, facilitating travel between other towns and villages, have, in a great measure, enhanced values, and proved favorable to the town of Pawtucket and the surrounding villages. The earliest effort to improve highways was the construction of bridges over the river and the various streams flowing though the town. It was more than half a century after the settlement of the western village before a bridge was built across the river. The population being small, they lacked the means with which to erect a suitable structure, and the quantity of water in the Blackstone at this early date was less regular than now, and the stream was easily forded just below the falls, in summer, while in winter, the ice formed a free bridge. But as the town increased, and the facilities of trade widened, the subject of a passageway over the river began to be agitated, and the Colony of Rhode Island invited Massachusetts to join her in providing a thoroughfare that should increase the convenience of travel, and thus enhance the business interests of the two towns.
The legislature of the latter Colony, in 1712, took into consideration the subject of building a bridge in connection with the Rhode Island Colony, and, on the 29th of May, they made the following report: 'We are humbly of the opinion, that a place called Pawtucket Falls near the Iron works on said river, is the most suitable place to erect said bridge, and when built [it] may be of benefit of some parts of the Province, especially it will be of service for travelling into the Narragansett country, Connecticut, and New York at all times of the year, particularly in the winter season, when by rising of the water and great quantity of ice coming down the river it is very difficult and hazardous, which if there be a bridge, will make travelling more easy and safe.'
Accordingly the first bridge was erected in 1713, the expense of which was shared by both Colonies. Other bridges have been built from time to time. But as the subject of bridges is treated elsewhere more fully, we forbear further mention of these structures. Some of the early settlers regretted their removal to a point so distant from the main channels of travel and communication, and little thought that along the valley of the Blackstone the railway would bear the tide of immigration, and the burdens of a growing commerce. The earliest public conveyance was a stage-coach running from Providence to Boston. Thomas Sabin was the first to open a stage-route, and he generally went but once a week. After him came a Mr. Robert Currey, and, succeeding him, was Samuel Whipple. This was a slow and tedious way to journey, and if they succeeded in getting through by daylight, they thought it was doing remarkably well. In 1783, they began to run the stage between Providence and Boston twice a week. In 1823, the public demand became so great, that they began to run a local conveyance between Pawtucket and Providence. Horace Field was the first man to run such a conveyance, but was soon after succeeded by Simon Arnold, who continued to transport passengers between the above-named places for several years. At a somewhat later period Mr. Abraham H. Adams established a coach running between Pawtucket and Providence, making his trips twice a day. In August, 1836, Messrs. Wetherell & Bennett established a line of omnibuses, and continued to run them for many years. In June, 1854, Sterry Fry bought the line, and continued to run them until superseded by the horse-cars. In May, 1864, Mr. Hiram H. Thomas completed his arrangements, and the horse-cars began running.
Some time before the omnibuses were taken from the road, and before the horse-cars began to run, the Providence and Worcester Railroad was built, and formed a rival for the local passenger-travel. In 1847, the first engine, bearing the name of Lonsdale, attached to a general train, passed through Pawtucket, and a new era in the transportation of freight and passengers, was at hand. The regular passenger-trains commenced running October 25, of the same year, and thus communication was facilitated, and the low rates of fare on the Providence and Worcester Railroad afforded great convenience to all classes of citizens. The Boston and Providence Railroad was constructed in 1835, and afterwards a branch-road was built from Pawtucket to East Junction, and trains began running in March, 1848. This has since become part of the main trunk. The Stonington steamboat train began running through Pawtucket on the first of May, 1848, and the regular passenger trains on the Boston and Providence Railroad, commenced running on June 12 of the same year. There are at present some sixty-three passenger, and fifteen freight trains passing through this town daily. A branch road having been constructed from Valley Falls to East Providence, which carried freight to deep water, and receives it therefrom, has lessened the number of regular freight trains that formerly passed through the town.
A road has just been completed, starting from the main track of the Providence and Worcester Railroad, between Pawtucket and Providence, and, following the valley, enters upon the grounds of the Messrs. Sayles' extensive bleachery, who built this entire road. The effect of the construction of these roads has been to materially lessen the price of coal, wood, and many other products, while they not only afford a pleasant and speedy transit for passengers, but a convenient conveyance for the transportation of the products of the many manufactories located within the boundaries of the town.
Organization of Pawtucket, Town Meetings, Officers, &c.
The present town of Pawtucket is situated in the northeast part of the State, and lies on both sides of the Blackstone River. It is bounded on the north by Lincoln and Massachusetts on the east by Massachusetts on the south by East Providence and Providence on the west by North Providence and Lincoln. The surface of this township is uneven, consisting of moderate elevations and gentle declivities. The rocks are primitive, and some limestone is found. The prevailing soil is a gravelly loam, which is interspersed with tracts of sandy loam, and some of a calcareous nature. The forests consist of some oak, walnut, and pine. Its agricultural products are grass, hay, corn, rye, potatoes, vegetables, and fruits, the latter of which are especially grown and raised for the Providence market.
This town is noted for its manufactures, particularly those of cotton, which form an important branch of industry. The extent of this business having concentrated a large capital, and an immense aggregate of industry, has given rise to the large and flourishing village known as Pawtucket. The river here affords numerous water-privileges which are scarcely rivalled, for manufacturing establishments of almost every description, and which are to-day largely occupied. This rapid growth of manufacturing and mechanical industries has few examples in this country, and has produced one of the most flourishing manufacturing towns in the State. That part of the town lying on the east side of the Blackstone, was, for a long period of time, a part of Massachusetts while the portion lying upon the west side of the river has always been a part of the State of Rhode Island, and, for a century or more, was known as the village of Pawtucket, in the town of North Providence.
Before proceeding further with the history of the town of Pawtucket, it will be necessary to go back, and give a brief review of the organization of the towns of North Providence and Seekonk, of which this town formed an integral part up to 1828, that we may be able to better understand the causes that led to the division, and the separate incorporation of the new town of Pawtucket. The original territory of Providence comprised a large tract, and the continual controversies in regard to boundary lines, and the inconveniences attending the going to and from the numerous town-meetings, by many residing in the outskirts of this extensive territory, and the clashing of interests of the different sections, all combined to arouse a feeling of dissatisfaction upon the part of the original proprietors, and a desire for separate town organizations. In order, therefore, to remedy these fast-increasing difficulties, the formation of new towns became a necessity, and the territory of Providence was greatly limited. Several new towns were set off and incorporated as separate townships. Smithfield, Glocester, and Scituate were cut off in 1731 and Cranston and Johnston in 1754 and 1759.
In February, 1765, a petition was sent to the General Assembly, praying for a still further division, and the town of North Providence was soon after formed, embracing the territory known as the fields of Pawtucket. In the course of a few years a village grew up along the western bank of the river, and bore the name of Pawtucket. On the eastern side of the river was the town of Rehoboth, and it was here in this territory that Roger Williams first settled after his flight from Massachusetts. But soon finding that he was still within the bounds of the Plymouth Patent, he crossed the river and began a new settlement, which he called Providence, in recognition of that Divine Power that had thus shielded him from the persecutions of his enemies. In 1812, the town of Rehoboth was divided, and the town of Seekonk became incorporated as a separate and distinct township.
In due time, however, the diversity of interests arising from the rapid growth of manufacturing and mechanical industry, rendered it necessary to divide the town of Seekonk, and accordingly the new town was passed and called Pawtucket. The act incorporating the new town was passed Feb. 29, 1828. The act provided that 'The northwest part of the town of Seekonk, within the following lines, namely, beginning at a bend of the Seekonk River, about forty rods from the mouth of Beverage Brook, so called, thence running a due east course till it strikes the Ten Mile River, so called, thence by said river till it comes to the Attleborough line, including the island of which Kent's factory is situated, also the bridge a few rods north of said Kent's factory thence westerly on the Attleborough line, till it comes to the Rhode Island line thence southerly on said Rhode Island line, till it comes to the first corner, with all the inhabitants living thereon, be incorporated into a town by the name of Pawtucket.'
The first town-meeting under this incorporation was held on March 17, 1828, in Rev. Mr. Greene's meeting-house. Oliver Starkweather, Esq., was chosen the first Moderator, James C. Starkweather was chosen Clerk, and William Allen, Treasurer. Messrs. David Buckin, Elijah Ingraham, and Remember Kent were elected Selectmen. At this time the population of the town was about 1,458, as shown from a census taken two years afterward by authority of the General Assembly. For years this town belonged in part to Massachusetts, but its growth in population and the constant increasing of its business interest, seemed to call for a union of the two sections. The inhabitants of both States cherished a certain degree of pride, and many little local jealousies often occasioned a feeling of unfriendliness, and in spite of the many advantages to be derived by a union of the two sections, their consolidation was a matter of considerable doubt for many years. At last, however, the long-standing dispute between the two States, in regard to their boundary lines, was amicably adjusted in 1861, and the town of Pawtucket was ceded to Rhode Island. Soon afterwards the remaining territory of North Providence was subjected to dismemberment, and the people of both towns, by a majority vote, decided to annex one portion to the city of Providence, and the other to Pawtucket. The portion assigned to Pawtucket is as follows:
'Beginning at a point in the centre of the Blackstone River, being the southeasterly corner of the town of Lincoln, and the northeasterly corner of the town of North Providence and running thence westerly on and with the line dividing said towns of Lincoln and North Providence, to a point on said line eighteen hundred feet west of the east line of the Smithfield turnpike thence southerly on a straight line to a point on the line dividing the city of Providence and the town of North Providence, as hereinbefore provided, eighteen hundred feet, measured on said line, westerly of the east line of said Smithfield turnpike thence along said boundary line, and following the same, to the centre of the Seekonk River thence along the centre of said river, to the place of beginning.'
This act took effect May 1, A. D. 1874, and under this new incorporation the town elected the following members of the town council: Olney Arnold, Claudius B. Farnsworth, John F. Adams, William T. Adams, William H. Haskell, James L. Pierce, and Henry B. Metcalf. General Arnold was elected President, Lewis Pearce, Town Clerk, and George W. Newell, Treasurer. In 1875, the same officers were re-elected, Mr. Metcalf, however, resigning his position before the close of the year. In 1876, a new town-council was chosen, consisting of the following named gentlemen: Isaac Shove, William D. S. Havens, Jude Taylor, Francis Conlin, William H. Haskell, James L. Pierce, and Edwin A. Grout. President, Isaac Shove Town Clerk, Lewis Pearce Treasurer, George W. Newell. At the time of the consolidation of the two towns, the population of the new town of Pawtucket was about nineteen thousand. Present board of town councilmen are: Isaac Shove, William R. Walker, Francis Conlin, Darius Goff, William D. S. Havens, George L. Littlefield, Joseph E. Dispeau. Town Clerk, Lewis Pearce Town Treasurer, George W. Newell.
Early Manufactories and Mills.
Bishop, in his 'History of Manufactures', says, that 'manufacture of iron, including bar and sheet iron, nail-rods and nails, farming implements, stoves, pots, and other castings, and household utensils, iron-works for shipbuilders, anchors and bells, formed the largest branch of productive industry in Rhode Island toward the close of the eighteenth century. A slitting-mill was built on one of the branches of the Providence River. Another slitting and rolling mill, three anchor-forges, two nail-cutting machines, and several other mills and factories carried on by water, were soon after erected at Pawtucket Falls. A screw-cutting machine, hollow-ware furnace, and several forges were also in operation.' We have already seen that iron formed the principal product of manufacture from the very earliest settlement of this territory, and up to the close of the last century was emphatically king in Pawtucket. The Jenckes, the Wilkinson, and many others, engaged largely in the manufacture of iron tools, and machinery of various kinds, in the early history of the town of North Providence, in which was located the thriving village of Pawtucket. After the successful innovations of Mr. Slater and Eli Whitney, cotton became the rival product, and was soon destined to supersede the manufacture of iron. The machines for spinning cotton, invented by Slater & Brown, were found to work satisfactorily, and the perfected machines were set up in a mill erected near the southwest abutment of the bridge that once spanned the Pawtucket. Here, in this mill, with this rude and simple machinery, was commenced the first spinning of cotton in the United States. The bridge has long since been demolished, and the old mill was washed away in the great freshet of 1807. A second mill was erected in 1793, on what is known as Mill Street, and bears the name of the Old Slater Mill. It has been enlarged and improved from its original size. This is the oldest cotton-mill in America. The second mill was built in the town of Cumberland by Elisha Waterman, and was located on what is known as Abbott's Run, opposite the site now occupied by the Cumberland Mills. In 1793, a slitting-mill was built by Oziel Wilkinson, and in the same year a grist-mill was erected by Thomas Arnold.
Pawtucket claims not only the honor of producing the first cotton-mill in the United States, but the first flouring-mill within the borders of her own State. The success attending Mr. Slater's inventions, stimulated this new enterprise of cotton manufactures, and soon others began to look about for suitable locations and privileges, and, in course of time, several cotton-mills were in process of construction. In 1799, the second cotton-mill in this town was erected by Oziel Wilkinson and his three sons-in-law, Samuel Slater, Timothy Greene, and William Wilkinson, under the firm name of Samuel Slater & Co., as appears from an advertisement under date of July 30, 1801. Timothy Greene, of the above firm, originally engaged in the manufacture of shoes, and also added a tannery to his business, as appears from a record made by one of his workmen at the time. He says that during the time he was in his employ, 'we grouned [sic] 200 cords of bark per year, Tanned 1,000 hides and fulled 1,500 for other parties.'
As early as 1791, Mr. Oziel Wilkinson built an air-furnace for casting iron, and it is said that in this furnace was cast the first wing-gudgeons known in America, and which were applied to the Slater mill. David Wilkinson and some others set up a furnace, and were the first to cast cannon solid. They were bored out by water-power, the drill remaining stationary while the cannon revolved. To Pawtucket, also, belongs the credit of producing cannon solid. Dr. Dwight, in his travels in 1810, remarks: --
'There is no place in New England, of the same extent, in which the same quantity or variety of manufacturing business is carried on. In the year 1796, there were here three anchor-forges, one tanning-mill, one flouring-mill, one slitting-mill, three snuff-mills, one oil-mill, three fulling-mills, and clothiers' works, one cotton-factory, two machines for cutting nails, one furnace for casting hollow-ware, -- all moved by water one machine for cutting screws, -- moved by a horse and several forges for smiths' work.'
Thus at this early period, we find Pawtucket in the vanguard of manufacturing interests, and through all the vicissitudes of time, the adversities of trade, and revulsions in business, she has steadily kept pace with the march of events, and to-day finds her in the front line of manufacturing towns in the State. Early in the present century, one John Field, a clock-maker, commenced the casting of brass, and had his shop in the anchor-forge or shop of the elder Wilkinson. Nathaniel Croade, Major Ebenezer Tyler, Oliver Starkweather, Benjamin Walcott, Eliphalet Slack, Dr. Billings, and some others, formed themselves into a company, known as the cotton and oil company, having purchased the oil-mill formerly conducted by Mr. Hugh Kennedy. In 1805, they built what was known as the yellow mill and in 1813, erected the stone mill. The freshet of 1807 swept away a large portion of these structures, situated on the forge lot, but steps were taken to immediately rebuild them. Elezer Jencks and his sons built the forge-shop Pardon and Jabez Jencks built the carding-room and Moses Jancks erected the grist-mill. The basement of the carding-machine building was used for a fulling and snuff mill, while the first floor was used for carding wool. The clothiers' shop was on the corner of Main Street and Jencks Avenue the basement was used for a coloring-shop the first floor was used for dressing cloth. Pardon and Jabez Jencks ran the whole business, until the death of Jabez, which occurred in 1817. It was subsequently carried on by other parties until 1821, when it was discontinued, and the building was resigned to trade.
The war with Great Britain, in 1812, while it prostrated commerce and kindred enterprises, enhanced the manufacturing industries of this State, and a fresh impetus was given to cotton manufacturing, and many other branches of trade. In 1810, Oziel Wilkinson built another mill, which is now standing on Mill Street, and is known as the Lefavour Mill. Owing to this fresh impetus in the manufacturing interests of the State, several new cotton-mills were erected, the first of which was built by Wilkinson & Greene, in 1813, and is now occupied by the Dexter Brothers. Another mill is said to have been built in the same year, south of the bridge that crossed the Pawtucket. Kent's Factory was also about this time converted into a cotton-mill.
Subsequently, and during the war, Pardon and Jabez Jencks erected another mill, which was called at a later period the Buffington Mill. This mill was first occupied by Major Tyler. Mr. Taft occupied it next, but was succeeded by Mr. Buffington in 1821, from whom it derived its later name. He engaged in the manufacture of cloth, and ran the mill up to 1844, when it was destroyed by fire. In 1813, Mr. Larned Pitcher began the machinist's trade, and soon thereafter Messrs. Hovey & Arnold became associated with him, and their first place of business was in the new mill on the west side of the river but they shortly afterwards removed to what was called the yellow mill. A Mr. Gay became a partner in 1819, the other parties having previously retired, and the business was conducted under the firm name of Pitcher & Gay. This Mr. Gay invented a dresser, and also a speeder. He subsequently removed to Nashua, and the business was thereafter conducted by the well-known firm of Pitcher & Brown, and continued until 1842. In 1814, a man by the name of John Thorp, invented a power-loom, to take the place of the old hand-press. This machine was rude in its construction, and was soon superseded by a more complete instrument. Mr. William Gilmore had been at work at Slatersville, and had, while there, attempted to introduce the Scotch loom. This, like Mr. Slater's invention, was but a reproduction of a machine already in use in the old country. The proposition received unfavorable attention, until Judge Lyman, of North Providence, took the matter in hand, and prevailed upon Mr. Gilmore to make the experiment in his mill. The attempt was made, but from some cause or other, the loom did not work satisfactorily. The inventive genius of David Wilkinson was brought to bear upon the subject, and his practiced eye soon discovered the trouble, and he at once set about rectifying it, which he accomplished, and in 1817 the loom was perfected, and a new era in cotton manufacturing began. This newly invented power-loom worked successfully, and hundreds of manufacturers for miles about came to inspect this wonder of the age.
From the successful introduction of this machine, were laid the foundations of thousands of enterprising and thriving manufacturing villages that are scattered within the borders of New England. With the introduction of cotton spinning, came also the necessity of some process for bleaching the yarn consequently the necessity was provided for, but in a somewhat novel and primitive manner. All that tract of land adjoining the old Slater mill, and lying between Mill Street and the Blackstone, was converted into a bleaching-meadow. Stakes were drives into the ground, and skeins of cotton were stretched from one to the other, while the cloth was spread upon the ground. A large number of persons, usually women, would then take sprinkling pots or pails, and sprinkle the fabrics thus exposed, when, with the application of the drying-sticks, the yarn and cloth assumed a whiter hue. This was a slow process, as it depended a good deal upon the weather often a long storm, or a protracted period of dull and cloudy weather, would prevent the successful operation of this mode of bleaching. 'Mother Cole', as she is familiarly known, was the manager of this novel bleachery, and her fame is transmitted to the present generation, by the part she took in these primitive operations. Could the old lady return to earth, and pay a visit to the magnificent bleachery at Moshassuck, the thrill of wonderment at the first view, would be lost in the amazement that succeeded it.
The general appearance of this town at the commencement of the present century must have been indeed rude and primitive, when compared with the extensive improvements of the present. There were then but fifty or sixty houses, and these were scattered upon both sides of the river, and, 'like angels' visits, few and far between'. Dr. Benedict, in his historical sketches, gives a graphic description of the appearance of this town when he first visited it, which was in 1804. The only street then on the eastern side of the river was the old road that ran past the Slack Tavern, and out to what is now called North Bend. The main road ran toward Boston, and past the Dolly Sabine Tavern, while a branch led off to the south and run to what is now called South Bend. This street now forms what is known as Main and Walcott streets. On the western side of the river the street now known as Main Street, from the bridge upward, was in those times a low and miry place, and at certain seasons of the year was almost impassable. A large portion of the street was a mere ravine, through which ran a brook. This stream at present is made smaller than then, and runs beneath the surface. Quaker Lane comprised what is now known as East Avenue, from its junction with Main Street, and until quite recently it bore the name of Pleasant Street. This old Quaker Lane was a low and miry place, and in the spring and fall quite impassable. What is now Mill Street was but a narrow land, leading to Slater's Mill. High Street was not laid out at all beyond where the high school building now stands, and even that was but poorly cared for.
There was but one meeting-house, and it occupied a site near where now stands the First Baptist Church. The old red school-house was among the edifices of this early period, and stood not far from the old meeting-house. This old school-building formed the nucleus of all public gatherings, and doubtless many scenes have been enacted here, the record of which, if preserved, would be of interest to the present inhabitants. The population was but limited and the facilities for business small, when compared with the present. Thus is briefly sketched some of the pioneer establishments. We have found their record honorable, and the town of Pawtucket may feel a just pride in her manufacturing interests, not only for their past reputation but their present excellence.
Taverns and Hotels.
The nucleus of a village was always a tavern, a mill, or a store, and in general all these were pretty thoroughly occupied. In these days we are very liable to undervalue country taverns. In a newly settled country they are usually the pioneers, and oftentimes the house of the first settler becomes, of necessity, an inn or lodging-place for the weary traveller. As settlement increases and travel extends, the tavern becomes a place where gather the seller and buyer, and becomes, as it were, a real estate office, in which transactions are made, land bought or sold, and various other kinds of property transferred one to another. The scarcity of newspapers, and the lack of a post-office, not unfrequently render the country tavern the centre of information for those who are shut out from tidings of the world by a residence in the interior, far away from the busy marts of trade. Town meetings are often held here, and thus brought into communications with each other, the facilities for general information are increased. Tables of population may indicate growth of numbers, but lineal history deals in specialties.
We begin with taverns which had an early existence, and base our record upon the most authentic sources in our possession. Tradition tells of an old tavern that once stood on the western side of the Blackstone River, close to the old ford. It afforded entertainment to many a traveller in those early days, and doubtless many scenes were enacted there that would be of historical interest to the present, had they been preserved in the annals of tradition. Another of these ancient public houses stood near the present site of the extensive machine-shops now occupied and owned by Captain Brown. It bore the name of Martin House. It was originally built for a private residence, by one Captain Comstock, but it subsequently was converted into a tavern and was presided over by a Mr. Constant Martin. The sign placed in front of the house consisted of two posts, between which was suspended the portrait of Oliver Cromwell, and it was often jocosely remarked that 'Martin has hung the Protector'. This old place has long since passed away, and the memory of the old house has perished from the present generation. Still another tavern, although of later date, stood on the corner of Main and Broad streets, opposite the present fine and commodious Benedict House. The old building, or at least a portion of the old building, is now standing. It has been overhauled and repaired so often that it has lost much of its original appearance. Enough yet remains, however, to impress one with the antiquity of its architecture. It was built by the Rev. Maturin Ballou, father of the Rev. Hosea Ballou, a prominent clergyman of the Universalist denomination. This house was in use during the Revolution, and was kept also by Mr. Martin.
On the corner of the present High Street, David Ballou built a public house, which was occupied as a tavern for many years. It was subsequently removed and a building erected, known as the Lefavour Block. Mr. David Wilkinson also built a hotel, in 1813, at the corner of Main and Mill streets, and it was occupied as a place for public entertainment for nearly a half-century. These places were all upon the west side of the river.
We now pass to the east side and find the hotel occupied by Colonel Slack. It was situated on the side of the rectory of Trinity Church, and was quite a noted place in those early days. It afforded entertainment to many a distinguished guest, as well as to the humble traveller. Washington and his suite, it is said, received entertainment here when on their way to Boston and here, too, the patriot Lafayette found shelter when on his way to New York. About the commencement of the present century, Colonel Slack erected the hotel now standing on Broadway, and occupied it for many years as a public house. The Dolly Sabine House is another ancient edifice in which the weary traveller could always find a good supper, and a comfortable night's lodging. Two sisters, named respectively Dolly and Molly Sabine, removed from Providence and bought this property in the early part of the present century, made some extensive improvements, and opened it as a public house. It had a spacious garden, which was adorned with choice fruit and flowers, and thus attracted much company. The old house still stands, and although the once genial hostess has long since departed, her name and memory are embalmed in the many pleasant reminiscences of this ancient edifice.
Of the present hotels, the Benedict House is by far the most prominent and popular. This splendid edifice was erected in 1871 by a company, and is at present presided over by the genial and very courteous proprietor, Mr. Bailey. It is a fine and commodious building, having forty rooms for the accommodation of guests, all of which are large and well-ventilated, and furnished and fitted up with all the modern improvements. This is said to be one of the best hotels in the State. Horse-cars pass the door every fifteen minutes, and it is less than two minutes' walk to the Providence and Worcester Railroad depot, from which trains run to the city every half-hour. In connection with this hotel is a fine shaving and hair-dressing establishment, conducted by the very gentlemanly proprietor, Mr. Christian Kollet. Mr. Kollet is an excellent workman, and keeps everything in connection with his business, usually found in a first-class tonsorial establishment.
Post-offices and Mails.
The first post-office in Pawtucket was established in the year 1806, with Otis Tiffany as postmaster. He held the position from 1806 until 1831. He was succeeded by a Mr. David Benedict, whose term of service extended over a space of some thirteen years, or until 1844. He was also succeeded by Mr. Frederick A. Sumner, who held the office until 1849. From 1849 to 1853 it was under the management of Thomas Lefavour. He was succeeded by Mr. Joseph T. Sisson, who occupied the position until 1858. Charles A. Leonard succeeded him, retiring in 1861. Charles E. Chickering held the office from 1861 until 1865, when the present incumbent succeeded him, and continues in its possession up to the present time, a fact that speaks well, not only for his integrity and business qualifications, but his popularity as postmaster.
Although it was always the Pawtucket post-office, it was kept in the town of North Providence until 1874, when consolidation took place. Mr. Perrin, the present incumbent, is the only citizen of the town of Pawtucket that has ever been appointed to the position of postmaster. When Mr. Perrin took the office, in 1865, there was but one mail daily to New York, two to Boston, two to Providence, and one to Worcester. There were then but six hundred boxes, while there are now some thirteen hundred in the new office. Twenty-two mails are received and despatched at this office daily. The average number of letters sent out fro this office daily, is seventeen hundred while the average number received daily, is about eighteen hundred. This office, in all of its departments, is conducted with a wise economy, and, under the management of its gentlemanly head, together with his courteous and obliging assistants, this institution has a destiny of success in the future.
Pawtucket I YT-7 - History
What Cheer Airport – Pawtucket, Rhode Island
What Cheer Airport was one of Rhode Island’s early airfields that was in operation from the mid 1920s to 1934. It began as a small grass airfield located on a few acres of land between Manton Street, Newport Avenue, and Beverage Hill Avenue in Pawtucket, close to the East Providence city line, but it eventually grew to encompass over 300 acres and extended into East Providence as far south as Ferris Avenue.
The name “What Cheer” comes from the legendary greeting of “What Cheer, netop?” which the Narragansett Indians are said to have given Roger Williams, (Rhode Island’s founder), upon his arrival in 1636 at what would become Providence. (“Netop” is the Narragansett word for friend.) The words “What Cheer” are also found on the Providence city seal.
The land on which the airfield sat was owned by Nicholas Bertozzi, and was initially used by the Curtis Flying Service. On May 21, 1928, Bertozzi, along with Leo J. Leeburn, and Attorney Raymond J. McMahon, were granted a charter by Secretary of State Ernest L. Sprague to incorporate What Cheer Airways. The corporation began with $10,000 in preferred stock, and 500 shares of common stock. The Charter enabled What Cheer Airways expand the airfield and establish passenger flights, as well as institute a flight school and airplane dealership. The planned expansion would grow to encompass 85 acres, and would include the erection of six airplane hangers, and the construction of two runways, one about 2,150 feet long, and the other about 2,500 feet long.
On September 15, 1928, veteran pilot and instructor Douglas Harris took over as chief pilot and instructor for the company. Interestingly, Harris bore a remarkable resemblance to national hero Charles Lindbergh. In fact, Harris and Lindbergh were born on the same day, and Harris owned a Curtis Jenny that had once belonged to Lindbergh.
By the late 1920s the state legislature had decided that there should be a state owned airport for Rhode Island. If it came to pass, it would be the first state owned airport in the United States. This airport, wherever it might be located, would become the state’s primary airport regarding passenger service and commerce.
At the time there were about ten or so airports in Rhode Island, some more established than others, and each vied for consideration. In today’s world, with modern (and noisy) jet traffic, proposing to put a major airport in any community would likely meet with resistance, but this was an era before jets, when the occasional drone of an aircraft propeller was cause for one to look skyward and think of Charles Lindbergh. As such, the City of Pawtucket was anxious to have the state decide in its favor for What Cheer Airport, and formed an aviation committee within the Pawtucket Chamber of Commerce.
To help gain attention, in October of 1928, What Cheer Airport hosted what was advertised as Rhode Island’s “first military air meet”, and “the most spectacular military air meet in New England’s history”. Pilots of the Rhode Island National Guard, as well as military flyers from New York, Boston, Hartford, and Virginia, arrived in various types of aircraft. One plane of particular interest was a Fairchild Monoplane which had wings that could fold “like a bird” to make it easier to store in a hangar. A total of 40 military planes were in attendance.
However, many civilian aircraft were also in attendance, one being a large, 14 passenger all-metal, Ford tri-motor, with a wing span of 78 feet, valued at $65,000.
One civilian of note was famous pioneer aviator Harry M. Jones, who arrived from Mane in his Stinson-Detroiter.
Special features of the air meet included air races and stunt flying, parachute jumps, and a mock air battles.
It was during this air meet that What Cheer Airport was officially dedicated by Governor Chase on Oct. 14, 1928. As part of the ceremony, the Governor released a number of “Good Luck” balloons, one of which had a small horseshoe attached. The finder would be entitled to a free plane ride.
The event was highly successful, attracting 50,000 people and 15,000 automobiles to the area, which reportedly created the worst traffic jams in the city’s history.
By the spring of 1929, the state was getting close to making a decision as to where the state’s airport should be located, and in May the Pawtucket Chamber of Commerce released a report extolling the virtues for choosing What Cheer. Among the positives stated were:
1) What Cheer’s convenient location to the Providence metropolitan area and the “bulk of the population of Rhode Island”.
2) The great number of people who already frequent the airport.
3) The field now consisted of 292 acres, most of which was level and needed little or no grading.
4) The area had a great deal of skilled labor, including tradesmen capable of working in construction as well as the growing aircraft industry.
5) The airport already had nearby rail facilities for handling freight and passengers.
6) The soil had excellent drainage. (Something other potential sites did not.)
7) There were no wire hazards – meaning that there were no telephone poles to obstruct takeoffs and landings.
8) The airport was in proximity to golf courses, farm land, and Slater Memorial Park, any of which could serve as emergency landing fields.
9) The airport was only 5.2 miles from the Providence Post Office in downtown Providence, about 13 minutes away.
10) The airport would be easily accessible for those living in the Blackstone Valley region.
11) The field already possessed a six-plane hangar and administration building.
12) The airport was serviced by nearby trolley lines.
13) There was still open land around the airport which would allow for future expansion.
Unfortunately for Pawtucket, the state chose Hillsgrove Airfield in Warwick, which is today the state’s primary airport known as T. F. Green. Hillsgrove Airport was dedicated on July 2, 1929, and a $300,000 bond issue was passed for construction to begin.
Despite not being selected by the state, there were those who held out hope that What Cheer might at least compete with Hillsgrove for on August 9 it was announced in that What Cheer Airport had gained another 27 acres, bringing the total land area to 319 acres. The acquisition, it was reported, would now allow for “landings and take-offs from any part of the field and in any kind of flying weather.”
Advocates for What Cheer Airport then proposed a plan where the airport would be municipally owned by the cities of Pawtucket and East Providence, since the airport was now located in both jurisdictions.
In April of 1930 another air meet was held at What Cheer featuring stunt flyers and parachute jumpers. The program also promised a first for Rhode Island – an aerial wedding between Miss Mabel P. Denver of Seekonk, Massachusetts, and Charles E. Cherry, of Pawtucket. The nuptials were to be performed aboard a Ford tri-motor aircraft by the town clerk of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, H. E. Hill. Theirs was the first wedding in Rhode Island to take place in an airplane while in flight.
On May 4, 1930, it was suddenly announced by the Curtis-Wright Flying Service, the lessee of the field, that they were suspending their operations at What Cheer Airport for an “indefinite” period of time. The specific reasons were not stated.
Meanwhile, the Pawtucket Chamber of Commerce pursued plans for the field to become municipally owned. Nicholas Bertozzi, the owner of the airport, and President of What Cheer Airways, said he would hold the property open for at least two years to allow the city(s) time to make a purchase. Shortly afterward the airport came under the new management of the Rhode Island Flying Service, the vice president of which was well known New England aviator Joshua Crane, Jr.
On June 28, 1930, Rhode Island aviation history moved forward when the first glider flight ever made in the state was accomplished at What Cheer Airport. The pilot was Joshua Crane, Jr., and the glider was made by Waco aircraft. It was launched into the air via a 500 foot rope towed by an automobile. Mr. Crane circled the field once at an altitude of 250 feet before landing where he started, and made a second flight a short time later.
The following month the Goodyear blimp “Mayflower” visited What Cheer Airport from its regular station at Colonel Edward H. R. Green’s Airport at Round Hill in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. The blimp had a seating capacity of four passengers and a pilot, and made numerous trips about the area giving flights to 115 people. On one flight, airport manager Arthur T. Ormaby was allowed to pilot the ship and commented that it handled smoother than an airplane.
It was also in July of 1930 that members of the Providence Glider Club met at the airport to watch Thorsby P. Slack demonstrate a Waco glider. After being towed into a 10 mph breeze Slack rose to an altitude of 600 feet and made a complete circuit of the field lasting two minutes and ten seconds thereby setting what was thought to be a new glider record for Rhode Island.
On October 4, 1931, it was announced that Joshua Crane, Jr., now President of Dennison Airport Incorporated, of Quincy, Massachusetts, and some unnamed associates, had taken over operations at What Cheer Airport after acquiring the lease formerly held by the Curtis-Wright Flying Service. The chief pilot for the new enterprise was to be Kurt Langborg, who had also worked as chief pilot for the now defunct Rhode Island Flying Service.
In the summer of 1932, the New York Times reported that a farmer living near the airport wanted to take flying lessons, and in lieu of cash offered a milk cow as payment. Airport manager Joshua Crane Jr. accepted the offer, and agreed that that the farmer could have daily flight lessons for six weeks.
The plan for What Cheer to become a municipally owned airport never came to fruition. However, in August of 1933, the possibility arose that What Cheer Airport might yet be the state’s primary airport. On August 7, Governor Theodore F. Green announced that he was willing to consider a plan submitted by the Pawtucket Businessmen’s Association to make their city the hub of Rhode Island air commerce. Governor Green had just returned from a 6,000 mile trip where he’d visited other airports and determined that all of them were in better condition than Hillsgrove Airport. Furthermore, the projected costs of new runways at Hillsgrove were estimated to be $350,000 an astronomical sum for 1933, especially during the Great Depression. It was reported that half a million dollars had already been spent on Hillsgrove, and the Governor didn’t want to “continue to throw good money after bad.” Yet this proposal put forth by the businessmen failed.
History has shown that Hillsgrove remained the state’s primary airport, and as stated earlier in this article, is today known as T.F. Green Airport. The property occupied by What Cheer Airport was sold August 1, 1934, to the Narragansett Racing Association which converted it for horse racing.
The Pawtucket Times, “Flying School Planned Here Airways Company Chartered, May 21, 1928
The Providence Journal, “What Cheer Airways Gets State Charter”, May 22, 1928
The Pawtucket Times, “Board Of Review Grants Permanent Permit For Airport, June 4, 1928
The Providence Sunday Journal, “Lindbergh’s Double Pilot In Pawtucket”, September 16, 1928
The Providence Journal, “Hawks Are Coming To National Guard Meet To Be Held At What Cheer Airport In Pawtucket The Coming Week”, October 7, 1928
The Providence Journal, “Air Meet At What Cheer Airport, Pawtucket, Proves A Mecca For Big Saturday Crowd Despite The Rain”, October 14, 1928
The Providence Journal, “Stunting Aircraft Thrill 50,000 At Pawtucket Meet”, October 15, 1928
New York Times, “Pawtucket Dedicates Airport”, October 15, 1928
The Providence Journal, “Pawtucket Urges What Cheer Site”, May 14, 1929
The Providence Journal, “Pawtucket Chamber Presents Arguments For selection Of What Cheer Field As Site For State Airport”, May 16, 1929
The Providence Journal, “Pawtucket Airport Will Be Enlarged”, August 9, 1929
The Providence Journal, “Airport Purchase To Be Considered”, April 6, 1930
The Providence Journal, “Wedding Feature Of Air Meet Today”, April 20, 1930
The Providence Journal, “What Cheer Airport At Pawtucket Is Closed”, May 4, 1930
The Providence Journal, “First R. I. Glider Flight Is Success”, June 29, 1930
The Providence Journal, “Rhode Islanders Investigate Blimp”, July 27, 1930
The Providence Journal, “R.I. Glider Record Set By T. P. Slack”, July 30, 1930
The Providence Journal, “Bay Staters Take Over What Cheer Airport”, October 4, 1931
New York Times, “Rhode Island Farmer Trades Cow For Flying Instruction”, July 26, 1932
The Providence Journal, “Green Ready To Consider What Cheer Airport Plan”, August 8, 1933.
The Pawtucket Times, “Politics Grounded What Cheer,” August 13, 1991
Pawtucket Police Department
VIN checks are suspended until further notice. Per the RI DMV, VIN checks are being waived at the present time and will be done at the DMV when the registration transaction is being done.
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