Recently, I began looking at the Arnolds and Smiths from North Providence and Smithfield, Rhode Island again. I am looking for Rachel, the wife of Thomas Arnold (1733 – ?). I have written previously about Thomas and Rachel in A Hint from an Angell and The Brick Wall Stories, Lucy Arnold, Part 4. I estimate that Rachel was born around 1735 (based on first child born mid-1750’s), and signed a deed in 1768. She may have been a Smith. Based on the naming of her children, she may have had a Lucy, Asa, Aaron, Catherine, Philadelphia or Marcy in her family. I am related to Rachel (Smith?) in the following way:
Up until this point, I have concentrated on some good compiled sources on the Smithfield Arnolds (investigating the sources noted in footnotes), and some Smithfield deeds for Thomas Arnold, as well as all the usual sources one might pursue for this period.
I have always been uncomfortable with how Thomas Arnold’s story seems to stop around 1776, and decided to pursue the history of each of his children, to see if I could find evidence of his subsequent life and a possible move away from Smithfield. There is no evidence that Thomas ever served in the military.
Ultimately, my goals are also to determine if Thomas had dealings or proximity with Rachel’s family, and to find as many links as I can to Smiths, or any family that could be Rachel’s family.
Richard Benson’s book (see below) gives some information on the children of Thomas and Rachel Arnold. Lacking birth records for the children, he lists six possible children, gleaned from other sources, such as their marriage records, and records his sources and additional details in the footnotes, p. 242-243.
- Lucy Arnold married Richard Ballou around 1777. They had the following children recorded in Cumberland (Arnold, volume 3, p. 78): Marcy, Arnold, Lydia, Augustice, Thomas, Richard, Lucy, Willard, Polly Arnold.
- Asa Arnold 1755 -?. Asa Arnold appeared in the federal census of 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820 and 1830 in Smithfield, however I doubt that’s him. Two reasons:
- There is another Asa Arnold (son of Rufus Arnold and Ruth Eddy) who married Patience Read in Smithfield in 1797 and later moved to Painted Post, New York. That Asa had a daughter Dianna born around 1800 (same as Aaron, below) who married Paris Wheelock in Smithfield in 1818. Sometime after that, much of that family departed for Painted Post. Asa and Patience were buried in Corning, New York according to FindaGrave.com. So they were in Smithfield for most of those years.
- The marriage of “Asa Arnold of Smithfield, R. I., & widow Sarah Jacobs, Sept 14, 1788” appears in the Middletown, Connecticut section of this book: Early Connecticut Marriages as Found on Ancient Church Records Prior to 1800, Sixth Book, p. 109. Although the 1790 federal census record on Ancestry.com has some fading on the relevant page, “Asa Amasa Arnold” seems to be living there. A petition for divorce by Sarah, wife of Asa [Amasa] Arnold was filed in 1803; the papers are indexed in this volume from the Connecticut State Library, including a marriage certificate. I will be following up. The 1790 census shows an extra male under 16, and 3 extra females in the household; the 1800 census shows only the couple. Based on the bad behavior I noted in the divorce records, it’s hard to believe Thomas and Rachel ever came to live with Asa in Connecticut. After the divorce, Asa’s whereabouts are unknown to me, but he may have returned to Rhode Island. I do not know the names of children, if any.
- Catherine Arnold 1757 – ?, married 1777 Joseph Razee (1748-1814), son of Joseph, of Cumberland. According to Arnold’s Vital Records of R.I., vol. 3, p. 118, they had the following children in Cumberland between 1778 and 1788: Lucina, Rachel, Eunice, Aaron, William and Asa. There is a Joseph Razey buried in the Ballou Cemetery on Mendon Road in Cumberland, according to FindAGrave. I have not yet found information about Catherine’s death or burial.
- Aaron Arnold c1759 – 4 Jan 1829. Married his first cousin Amy Eddy in 1799. Served in the Revolutionary War (see below). Arnold records children Dianna, 1799, Nancy, 1801, Peleg, 1803, Clarinda, 1807, and Sally, 1814. Received a military pension beginning 1818. In April, 1825 the R.I. General Assembly received a petition from Aaron Arnold of Smithfield for the benefit of the act entitled “an act for the relief of insolvent debtors” (Rhode-Island American (Providence, RI) XVII:60, p.4; April 26, 1825). Died in Slatersville, R.I., 1829 “formerly of Cumberland.”
- Philadelphia Arnold (1765-1845) married Hezekiah Caller (son of Jonathan) in 1794. See notes, below. An examination of the federal census records for Cumberland in 1800 shows the adult couple with a boy and girl, each under 10. In 1810, the household consists of the two adults and a teenage girl. Hezekiah and Phylia Collar are buried in Cumberland Cemetery (CU003). It is south of the area where the Ballous and Aldriches lived. I do not know the names of children, if any.
- Lavina Arnold. Benson included this name because of a Quaker church record of Lavina “daughter of Thomas”. I’m not as convinced that any Quaker was part of this immediate family (and this name was not included in Welcome A. Greene’s manuscript, see below), and there were other Thomas Arnolds, but I will pursue the lead.
Expanding my knowledge through Revolutionary War pension files
I found a Revolutionary War pension file for Hezekiah, which led me to the version of his name used there, Hezekiah Collar (pension S-21138, Rhode Island, Fold3.com). From that (through FindAGrave.com), I found his grave in the Cumberland Cemetery with his wife “Phylia.” Using the extremely helpful Google Map of Rhode Island cemeteries, I located Cumberland Historic Cemetery 003, and visited there. Knowing from the pension file that Hezekiah reported himself as growing up impoverished, and that he substituted for others drafted during the war (something that usually involved a payment, so it was done by those needing money) there is no reason to think he inherited land in that particular area. I wonder if he purchased land in Cumberland – perhaps as a result of his Revolutionary War activities.
Aaron Arnold served in the Revolutionary War as a seaman, and was on the Providence when it went to France. He was captured in South Carolina and imprisoned by the British for eight months in the Bahamas, 1780. The pension file says that he received a military pension beginning 1818. He died in Slatersville, R.I., 1829 “formerly of Cumberland”.
Joseph Razee is hard to distinguish from his cousin of the same name (son of Benjamin) although the pension file in Fold3 definitely refers to the cousin. But the service records could be for both. So I am not yet sure if Joseph served in the war.
In my visits to the cemeteries pictured here, I looked around for Smith graves nearby. That was productive in the case of Cumberland Cemetery (CU003), Dexter Street, Cumberland, R.I., pictured toward the top of this post, where the Collars were buried. The neighborhood and the other graves had a familiar feel, like I was related to most of the people there.
When I arrived at the Ballou Cemetery in Cumberland (CU009, intersection of Mendon Road and Scott) to find the graves of Joseph Razee and his wife Catherine, nothing felt familiar. The names seemed strange and the nearby roads and landmarks were not significant to me. When I found the grave, it was for Joseph Razee, next to his wife, Mary. So that didn’t seem right. The gravestone gave a death date of May 8, 1814 (age 66, so born around 1748). There was a Revolutionary War marker by the grave. I returned home to look at the vital records a little more closely.
- I had been confused in the cemetery,but looking at theJosephRazee marriages made me think that perhaps this really WAS the right Joseph. There were three marriages:
- Joseph, 3d, of Joseph, of Cumberland, and Katherine Arnold, of Thomas, of Smithfield: m. by Stephen Arnold, Justice, May 18, 1777 (this was my Joseph).
- Joseph, of Benjamin, dec., of Cumberland, and Molly Nichols, of Samuel, of North Kingstown: m. by Elder Abner Ballou, Aug. 9, 1781 (this was the other Joseph, of the pension record).
- Joseph, Jr., of Joseph and Mary Razee, of David: m. by Isaac Razee, Justice, Aug. 18, 1808 (who was this?).
- So the question is, who was the Joseph in marriage number 3? Did Joseph in marriage 1 lose his wife and acquire a wife named Mary in 1808 (who may have been his first cousin), who later filed for the pension in 1843? The Fold3 pension record had a statement from the widow that she was called Mary, but had been called Molly earlier in life – so, that widow really seemed to be the one in marriage record two, not the third marriage.
- Arnold VR, volume 19 “Providence Phenix – Deaths” reports a Joseph Arnold died at Cumberland Dec. 8, 1816, age 70. That Joseph would have been born around 1746. The Joseph Razee who died in 1816 is buried in Peck Cemetery (CU019, Abbott Run Valley Road, Cumberland).
That means that the grave I saw at Ballou Cemetery – pictured above – very likely WAS my Joseph. Next question – was it marked with a Revolutionary War marker because someone knows that he served, or because some well meaning person made a presumption that he was the other Joseph Razee?
So I suspect marriage record #3 DOES refer to this couple in Ballou Cemetery, especially since my Joseph did not, according to the Cumberland records, have a son named Joseph. I know nothing about Catherine Arnold Razee’s death or burial. I checked the Revolutionary War pension file one more time to find the exact death date of the wrong Joseph Razee – and it was Dec 8 1816. Therefore, this Ballou Cemetery grave is for MY Joseph Razee.
On a whim I visited the Peck Cemetery anyway, to visit the other Joseph Razee’s grave, because I like to see things for myself. I was surprised to discover his marker was near some Collar graves. Perhaps just a coincidence. There were Arnolds there too. The marker was in tough shape, and had no flag next to it to mark a Revolutionary War soldier. But the stone was almost unreadable, so perhaps that was to be expected.
Summarizing the cemetery experiences
While I have spent a lot of energy finding Joseph Razee, I still am no closer to knowing the fate of Catherine Arnold after her children were born.
I feel badly because, all in all, I have to conclude the Revolutionary War marker is on the wrong grave, or at least on the grave of the Joseph who served far less. It should be on the Peck Cemetery Joseph Razee grave, pictured below (note: there is a far better picture of it on FindAGrave in which the medallion is still present). I checked out the NSSAR Patriot & Grave Record. Both Joseph Razees are entered as having marked graves, and apparently no membership applications have been submitted by their descendants.
Looking at books and journals
Later, I tracked down some Smiths (from the cemeteries) in some usual Smith sources (see list, below). While not, in the end, leading me specifically to an answer, I am beginning to know much more about the many connections between the Arnolds and the Smiths, and to distinguish the various branches of the Smiths and Arnolds. Benson’s The Arnold Family (see below), Richardson’s History of Woonsocket (see below) and the John Smith articles by Farnham (see below) are making a lot more sense to me as I recognize many of the individuals named.
Looking at maps and locations
When I encountered, for probably the fourth time, the 1748 list of Smithfield Highway Districts (Richardson’s History of Woonsocket, page 64-68), I realized that the physical descriptions of each area are now very recognizable to me. Previously, I was mostly trying to examine names. I would estimate that Rachel was about 14 years old in 1748, and her father could easily have still been alive, or if not, her mother or brother could have owned property. So I am planning a more detailed analysis of that list, and, as luck would have it, I have also stumbled upon an 1806 geographically-sorted Smithfield list that I will place on the blog at a later date.
As I drove home from these Cumberland cemeteries, I passed through historic areas of Smithfield and North Providence – historic homes, Great Road, Old Louisquisset – and began to get a clearer view of the generation after generation march from Providence north. Thomas and Rachel’s children headed north into Cumberland – and perhaps Thomas and Rachel went with them as they got older.
Looking at my own documentation
Revisiting my chart of Thomas Arnold’s deeds recorded in Smithfield, the names now seem more familiar, and the John and Mary Smith who sold Thomas his first piece of land seem like a HUGE clue, that I am having trouble tracing. I think the time has come to visit the old Smithfield records at Central Falls, Rhode Island and examine these deeds in person (I had previously captured them from microfilm), along with any probate records I can find. The deeds show that Thomas Arnold sold the farm he lived on in 1772, and the deeds appear to end completely around 1776, when his children were quite young. Daughters Lucy and Catherine married around 1777; did the remnants of the family follow one of them?
It’s like they disappeared. I have managed to convince myself that none of Thomas Arnold and Rachel Smith’s children left northern Rhode Island, with the possible exception of son Asa. As I visited cemeteries and town halls it occurred to me that only the early portions of this story were happening in Smithfield – the later portions were all in Cumberland. The two most likely possibilities are that Thomas and Rachel died quite young, in Smithfield, or they moved in with one of their sons or daughters in Cumberland.
- Analyze each census record for the children to see if there are extra adults in the household.
- I will also be tracing the John and Mary Smith mentioned in the Smithfield deed of 1764.
- It is difficult to trace Rachel since she was born in the early 1730’s and the Smithfield records only begin in 1730. It occurs to me to try the earlier Providence records. I may go to the Providence City Archives for that.
- Knowing Rachel’s first name (the SMITH is a bit speculative, based on what the books say) I have the idea that if I locate the vital records for THOMAS’ parents, whether they be in Smithfield records or in Providence, I should look around for Rachel’s family nearby.
Sources for Revolutionary War pension information
– Arnold’s Vital Records of R.I., Volume 12 We don’t think of military pensions as vital records, but of course they are filled with just that – in some cases, the only surviving proof of a marriage or death. Arnold’s volume 12 contains several useful indices of Revolutionary War information:
- Cowell’s “Spirit of ’76,” Index to,
- Rhode Island Officers of The Revolution, Killed, Died Of Disease or Pensioned
- Rhode Island Pensioners, Census of 1820,
- Rhode Island Pensioners, Census of 1835,
- Rhode Island Pensioners, Census of 1840
– Cowell’s Spirit of 76 in Rhode Island I picked up a used copy of this book last year, I think, after using it at the Allen County Public Library. But what I didn’t realize until I started reading dozens of pension files is that author Benjamin Cowell was instrumental in processing many of the Rhode Island federal pension claims. James N. Arnold described him in his introduction to the Spirit of 76 index which appears in volume 12 of Vital Record of the of Rhode Island 1636-1850:
Judge Benjamin Cowell, the author of this work, which was published by him in 1850, was born in Wrentham, Mass., in 1781, and died in Providence, R. 1., May 6, 1863. He graduated from Brown University in the class of 1803. He studied law and settled in Providence. For a long term he was pension attorney for this district. During this long term he became acquainted with many of the old soldiers and he could, from his large mass of anecdote and collections, have produced several very interesting volumes. The partial list he published was perhaps an afterthought with him in late life for, had he commenced with his first practice with the object 1n view of publishing later, he would have had an immense manuscript which to-day would be priceless.
– Fold3.com (a paid subscription site) is a terrific source for Revolutionary War information.
Helpful sources for the Smithfield Arnolds/Smiths/Ballous
- Angell, Frank C. Annals of Centerdale in the town of North Providence, Rhode Island. Central Falls, R.I.: Frank C. Angell, 1909.
- Arnold, Welcome
- Ballou, Adin. An Elaborate History and Genealogy of the Ballous in America Providence: E.L. Freeman & Son, 1888.
- Bamburg, Cherry Fletcher. “Amy (Smith) Russell and Her Family.”Rhode Island Roots 37, No. 2 (June, 2011): 57-78.
- Bartlett, John R. (arranged by). Census of the Inhabitants of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations … 1774. Providence: Knowles, Anthony & Co., 1858.
- Benson, Richard H. The Arnold Family of Smithfield, Rhode Island. Boston: Newbury Street Press, 2009.
- Cowell, Benjamin. Spirit of 76 in Rhode Island, or, Sketches of the Efforts of the Government and People in the War of the Revolution. Boston: A.J. Wright, 1850.
- Farnham, Charles William. “John Smith, The Miller, of Providence, Rhode Island – Some of His Descendants” in Genealogies of Rhode Island Families From Rhode Island Periodicals, volume II, p. 1 – 150. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983 [originally appeared in the 1960’s as a series of articles in Rhode Island History, v. 20 – 24].
- Greene, Welcome A (1795-1870) Notes on the Genealogy of the Arnold Family. Manuscript C5859, New England Historic Genealogical Society Library, Boston. Thomas Arnold is person 6114.
- Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790 – Rhode Island. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1977.
- Richardson, E. History of Woonsocket. Woonsocket: S.S. Foss, 1876.
- Sanborn, Melinda Lutz. “Smithfield, Rhode Island Death Records Culled from Probate.” New England Historic Genealogical Register, October 1992, p. 343-351.
- “Smithfield 1778 Tax List” a series of articles in Rhode Island Roots (a periodical from the Rhode Island Genealogical Society), 1995-1997.
- Steere, Thomas. History of the Town of Smithfield. Providence: E.L. Freeman, 1881.
For further information on the various Arnold families in Rhode Island, see my post Meet the Arnolds.
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