Archive for the ‘Arnold’ Category

The Peleg Arnold Tavern

I recently discovered that the Peleg Arnold Tavern in Union Village, Smithfield, Rhode Island, was inherited by Peleg Arnold from his father, my 8th great grandfather, Thomas Arnold.

The Will of Thomas Arnold, Sr of Smithfield

After my recent trip to Central Falls City Hall, I read the will, administration papers and inventory of Thomas Arnold’s father, Thomas Arnold Sr (1705-1765) on page 481-498 of volume 2 (1749-1768).  Thomas Arnold Sr (sometimes called Thomas Arnold, Esq or Lieut. Thomas Arnold) was my 8th great grandfather.

I was really surprised by what I found in the will. Thomas Sr. had three sets of children -

  1. four with his first wife, Susannah Comstock (died 1736), of whom Thomas Jr. was the only boy
  2. two with second wife Mary Mann (died 1747), both boys (John, plus Asa who died very young)
  3. seven with third wife Patience Cook, of whom only one was a boy, Peleg.

The will was written in April, 1765, and Thomas Sr. died in December of 1765.  The sons were mentioned in the will as follows:

  • Thomas, Jr (age 32) a “piece of land called the Newfield in said Smithfield contains about 12 acres”.  “All the rest and remainder of my land and real estate which I have not herein already disposed of.”
  • John (age 24) “my dwelling house in Cumberland at Wansoket falls, all my part of the land on the south side of the Highway, and 3/8 of all my forge and land and cole houses.”
  • Peleg (age 14)  one half of his house and farm, the other half to his widow Patience, “as long as she remained a widow”, and after her death, to go to Peleg.  Also 60 acres in “Wansoket Hole.”  I wonder if what was really meant was “Wansoket Hill” since he further added “on the southeasterly  end of Black Plain.”

Also 2 acres of cedar swamp in Smithfield to his grandson “Assa Arnold” second son of his son Thomas (I have to believe this is because he was the namesake of the son who died very young) and various legacies to the daughters.  Also, to wife Patience, “the best feather bed and furniture and all the rest of my personal estate” not otherwise disposed of.

The first page of the $1399 inventory of Thomas Arnold Sr's estate.  Everyone in town owed him money, seemingly.

The first page of the $1399 personal effects inventory of Thomas Arnold Sr’s estate. Everyone in town owed him money, seemingly.  The next few pages document a wide assortment of fancy household goods, farm animals and implements.

I can’t help but feel this plan favored the third family of children, and widow Patience, although it’s possible the two older sons had been given significant property earlier (although I don’t see that in deeds) or that the remainder was more than I think.

I do like, however, how this will gave far more independence to the widow Patience than what I have typically seen in my ancestors’ wills from this period. Thomas Arnold, Sr was leaving her with seven children under age 16. He must have admired and trusted her to leave her with so much autonomy, and I like that he was capable of that. Sometimes, widows were moved to one room in their own house, many possessions were auctioned off, a guardian was appointed for the children (I only see a provision here that a guardian be appointed if Patience died) and a son and his family took over the rest.  Not so in this case.

Peleg Arnold portrait from 1815 by Arnold Steere, currently in the John Hay Library at Brown University

Peleg Arnold portrait from 1815 by Arnold Steere, currently in the John Hay Library at Brown University

The Peleg Arnold Tavern

Reading this will, I finally put together something I should have figured out long ago.  I knew about the Peleg Arnold Tavern, where the third son Peleg maintained a headquarters for Revolutionary War activities, kept a tavern business and practised law.  I know that Peleg eventually lived in a more elegant house nearby, served in the Continental Congress, founded a bank and an anti-slavery society, and was later Chief Justice of the R.I. Supreme Court.  Given his many accomplishments, and being one of the younger children, it just didn’t occur to me that he had inherited the tavern from his father.

Now, looking it up, I see in The History of Woonsocket (E. Richardson, 1876) that Thomas Arnold Sr had a tavern license as early as 1739.  He had inherited the house from his father, Richard Arnold.  On page 42 Richardson mentions that the house was built by 1690, and passed from Richard to Thomas, Sr in 1731, comprising 60 acres.  Thomas Sr had been the third of six sons, but he had inherited the family homestead, possibly because two of Richard Arnold’s sons had left their families by 1737.

This also helps me focus on the Union Village area (now part of North Smithfield) as the likely location of most of Thomas Arnold Jr’s real estate.  And I also learned that Thomas Arnold Sr. had a wider range of costly belongings than I would have expected.

Peleg Arnold Tavern from State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations at the End of the Century by Edward Field, vol. 3, 1902, p. 646.

Peleg Arnold Tavern from State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations at the End of the Century by Edward Field, vol. 3, 1902, p. 646.  The “Old Bank” neighborhood, also called Union Village, was named for a bank Peleg, with others, founded.

Our ties to the Peleg Arnold Tavern

Richard Arnold (1666-1745) (m. Mary Woodward) my 9x-great grandfather owned the land and had inherited it from his own father, Richard. According to Richardson, Woonsocket, p. 41, the land Richard inherited began “at the Union Village and extending westward.”  Richard started some businesses and increased his holdings during his lifetime. Apparently around 1690 he built the house, a square, compact home; in his father’s will of 1710 he gained complete ownership of the property.

Thomas Arnold Sr (1705-1765) (m. 3times , see above) my 8x-great grandfather inherited the property from his father Richard.  Thomas Arnold was a military leader, tavern keeper, and he practised law in some manner or other.  In his Providence Gazette death notice he is called “Judge Thomas Arnold” (Arnold’s Vital Records, vol. 13, p. 133).  He had a tavern license by 1739, however I am not certain the tavern business was in continuous operation after that.  Thomas is buried in Union Cemetery, Smithfield, not too far from his home.  I have written about his grave here.  I am related to Thomas through his son, Thomas Arnold – Lucy (Arnold) Ballou – Marcy (Ballou) Aldrich – Nancy (Aldrich) Darling – Ellis Darling – Addison P. Darling – Russell Darling – my grandmother Edna Darling.

Peleg Arnold (1751-1820) (M. Alpha Arnold, no children)  my 7th great grand uncle  inherited the house, according to his father Thomas’ 1765 will, when he became 21, which would have been around 1772. He married Alpha Arnold in 1768.  According to Richardson (Woonsocket, p. 71) Peleg enlarged the tavern around 1780 (“when it again became a tavern”).  He studied law at Brown University, was active in military and government roles, and served in the Continental Congress during the time that Rhode Island was slow in ratifying the new U.S. Constitution.  He was interested in educational, anti-slavery, and political matters and, according to some of the older books, was fond of rum. 

When Peleg Arnold died childless, in 1820, I don’t yet know what became of the tavern, but apparently it stayed in the family and prospered.   A National Register of Historic Places application form from the 1970’s by Walter Nebiker, R.I. Historic Preservation Commission, mentions the building as “the first one constructed in Union Village, and one of the earliest in the township of North Smithfield.”  After being enlarged by Peleg Arnold, it served travelers “along the route from Providence to Worcester, Massachusetts, when the original rough trail was enlarged into a roadway and began to carry more traffic.”  Mr Nebiker quotes a Woonsocket Call article of September 9, 1948 claiming that in the late nineteenth century, under James Arnold and his wife, “the establishment was transformed from an ordinary inn into one of the most luxurious taverns in New England. And so it served until the early 20th century.”

Today, it still exists in Union Village, near Great Road on Woonsocket Hill Road, and has been divided into apartments since the 1940’s.

The house today.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

The house today. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

A note from Peleg’s time in the Continental Congress, 1788

During his service in the Continental Congress, Peleg wrote back to his “father” Stephen Arnold (actually his father in law, Alpha’s father) about some home matters.  The letter gives an indication that they were close and that he looked to Stephen to help his widowed mother with some decisions about the farm.  I have to smile that he mentioned to his wife’s father that he expected a letter from her once a week during his absence.  Perhaps she needed some reminding.

Peleg Arnold to Stephen Arnold
Honoured Sir, New York 25th May 1788.
I imbrace this oppertunity to acknowledge my Regard for your Self and Famaly. The many favors I have received from you Impresses my mind with a grateful Sense of acknowledgement.
I have no cause to doubt but your care will further Extend to my Famaly. I Desire you to assist them in my absence with your advice in Farming & Disposing of Such part of the Stock of Sheep & C—;—; as may be Necessary.
There is no matters of Importince here and whenever there is I Shall communicate them. This Letter will Remind you that I have not forgotten so Worthy a Friend; I wish you to take the troble to write if not emediately on the Recept of this in the cource of the Summer when you find it mo[s]t conveneint. I have wrote Several Letters to Mrs. Arnold and some to other persons, and wish to have regular answers from home once a week. I presume there will be but little business for coasting Vessels in the Summer and should that be the case, The most regular way of conveyance will be by the Post, The Letters may put into Mr. Carters Office in Providence, you may mention this to Mrs. Arnold and to all others that wish to write. If they are left there they Should have “Free” writen on them Directed “The Hon. Peleg Arnold Delegate in Congress, New-York.”
Present my Dutiful Respects to your good Lady, and Love to your Famaly, and be assur’d I am with perfect Esteem your Dutiful Son,
Peleg Arnold

(Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 25 March 1, 1788-December 31, 1789 –Peleg Arnold to Stephen Arnold, on the website A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875).

The post you are reading is located at: http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/07/30/the-peleg-arnold-tavern/

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Old Smithfield records

As many Rhode Island researchers know, the records of old Smithfield, Rhode Island are located in the Central Falls City Hall. Smithfield was a very early settlement, but grew into many towns, and at some point the early records were placed for permanent storage in Central Falls, and each town has their own more recent records.

I visited there recently, at 580 Broad Street in the tiny city of Central Falls.  It was a typical (for Rhode Island) turn-of-the-last-century city hall, and in fact it is on the same street as the nearby Cumberland Town Hall.

Central Falls City Hall, seen from the side.

Central Falls City Hall, seen from the side.

Like many city halls, it has no real parking, and also is in a popular and crowded neighborhood – in this case, it is next to a busy small park.  I was puzzled about parking but finally realized there were one or two unoccupied spots next to the building, on the street (that would be across the side street from the Dunkin Donuts … you will know you’ve reached Rhode Island if there’s a coffee shop on every corner).

The city clerk’s office was easy to find on the first floor and I thought the staff person who helped me was among the most professional and knowledgeable I have encountered.  I was quickly led into a room filled with the old books and records, with a couple of tables and chairs.  During my stay I encountered a few other visitors, but as in most town halls, they seemed to be strictly doing title or other legal research as quickly as possible, and moving on.

The room with the old records.  To one side, there are some tables and chairs.

The room with the old records. To one side, there are some tables and chairs.

The room was neat and spacious and well organized. I had seen many records on microfilm during a trip to the Family History Library in 2013, so I was there to get a sense of what records were available, to evaluate the indexing, and to do some specific lookups.  Handwritten index pages can be hard to read, so I wanted to photograph some pages and return another time with a list of records I wanted to find.

Vital records

Vital records are just inside the door.  Seeing these in person finally helped me to realize that since they start in 1730, and the information I am seeking (a family for Rachel Arnold) would be be from the 1730’s or earlier, I should also be be looking at the prior repository.  I think that would be Providence City Archives.

Index volumes to the vital records

Early vital records

What surprised me about the vital records was that some early pages were damaged or worn at some point in their history.  They are carefully encased now for protection, but it’s obvious that at some point they incurred some damage.

Some early vital records pages were damaged or worn at some point in their history

Some early vital records pages were damaged or worn at some point in their history

Probate records

I was very interested in finding probate records.  I have never found any death or probate information for Thomas Arnold.    I found the Probate volumes and was told the index to each volume could be found at the front.  For the early volumes I was using, that was not true, but eventually I found index pages towards the back – so scanty and mixed in with the final volume pages that I had missed them at first. The pages are safely bound now to prevent further damage.

A probate index page

A probate index page

I photographed the index pages for study at home.  Given the state of the index, without a page-by-page perusal, it would be hard to be absolutely sure what was in the probate records.  The only place I know of with a more recently compiled index to Smithfield Wills is the Rhode Island Genealogical Register, volume 16.  That has not helped me.

I did find the will, administration papers and inventory of Thomas Arnold’s father, Thomas Arnold Esq (1705-1765) on page 481-498 of volume 2 (1749-1768).  I learned something about my family that I did not know before; there will be a future blog post about The Peleg Arnold Tavern.

Grantor and Grantee index volumes

Grantor and Grantee index volumes


There were index volumes for grantors and grantees.  I checked the index for the 1762 John & Mary Smith/Thomas Arnold Jr deed that I wanted to photograph.  I had to inquire where volume 6 of the Smithfield deeds were; turns out they were in the metal cupboard.

The metal cupboard.  Intriguing!

The metal cupboard. Intriguing!

I photographed the deed for careful study later.  I am hoping this John and Mary Smith could possibly be Rachel’s parents.  I had also photographed a probate record for the only possible John Smith I could find in the records.

Other records

I explored the cabinet a bit and found an old tax booklet (1803), and a neighborhood by neighborhood Surveyors List from 1814.

Tax booklet, 1803

Tax booklet, 1803

All in all, I enjoyed getting to know the old Smithfield records and I will be returning soon.  I haven’t yet looked at many town council records or recorded all the vital records I need.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/07/08/central-falls-city-hall/

This old postcard from 1906 makes it clear that City Hall was once a high school.

This old postcard from 1906 makes it clear that City Hall was once a high school.


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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:

Rachel (Smith?) (? – ?)    7th great grandmother
- Lucy Arnold (? – ?)
- Marcy Ballou (1778 – ?)
- Nancy Ann Aldrich (1800 – 1879)
- Ellis Aldrich Darling (1824 – 1883)
- Addison Parmenter Darling (1856 – 1933)
- Russell Earl Darling (1883 – 1959)
- Edna May Darling (1905 – 1999)  (My grandmother)

The search

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.

Cumberland Cemetery (CU003), Dexter Street.

Cumberland Cemetery (CU003), Dexter Street, Cumberland, R.I.

Rachel’s children

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.
Phylia Collar, wife of Hezekiah Collar, died September 15, 1845. The stone leaning up against hers is Pardon Newell.

Phylia Collar, wife of Hezekiah Collar, died September 15, 1845 Aged 80 years 6 mo. The stone leaning up against hers is for Pardon Newell.  I don’t know who that is.

  • 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.

The Ballou Cemetery, Cumberland Historic Cemetery 009, Mendon Road.  The graves pictured are of some Carpenters.

The Ballou Cemetery, Cumberland Historic Cemetery 009, Mendon Road. The graves pictured are of some Carpenters.

Visiting cemeteries

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.

Joseph Razee marriage entries in Cumberland portion of Arnold VR, vol. 3, p. 54.

Joseph Razee marriage entries in Cumberland portion of Arnold VR, vol. 3, p. 54.

  • 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.
The wrong Joseph Razee, 1748-1814, Revolutionary War veteran.

In Memory of Mr. Jospeh Razey, Jr, who died May 8, 1814, in the 66th year …

  • 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.

Mary Razey

Mary Raze, wife of Joseph Raze, Born Jan 15, 1750  Died Jan 20, 1820  AEt. 70

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.

The Razee section of Peck Cemetery, Cumberland Historic Cemetery 19, Abbot Run Valley Road.

The Razee section of Peck Cemetery, Cumberland Historic Cemetery 19, Abbot Run Valley Road – note, Joseph Razee’s marker is just to the left of this row.

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.

In Memory of Mr. Joseph Razee who departed this life

In Memory of Mr. Joseph Raze who departed this life Dec 8, 1816 in the 70th year ….

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.

The three cemeteries mentioned here in eastern Cumberland - fromthe northeast corner of Rhode Island on the 1875 Rand map.

The three cemeteries mentioned here in eastern Cumberland – from the northeast corner of Rhode Island on the 1875 Rand map.

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.

Next Steps

  • 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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Meet the Arnolds

First of all let me say I am no expert on the Rhode Island Arnolds.  But until you find one, here is what I know about them.  Of all the email I get, a good 25% contains questions about the Arnolds, so I’m putting some thoughts down here.

There are two original Rhode Island Arnold families:

  • The Smithfield Arnolds (Thomas Arnold).  Early descendants tend to be in Providence or north of Providence.
  • the Pawtuxet/Warwick Arnolds (William Arnold). Early descendants tend to be south of Providence.

I am descended from the Smithfield Arnolds, with a possible unproven connection to the Pawtuxet/Warwick Arnolds.

My Smithfield Arnold line of descent is:  my grandmother Edna May Darling – her father Russell Earl Darling (1883-1959) – Addison Parmenter Darling (1856-1933) – Ellis Aldrich Darling (1824-1883) – Nancy Ann Aldrich (1800-1879) – Marcy Ballou (1778 – ?) – Lucy Arnold (c1755 – ?) - Thomas Arnold (1733-1798) – Thomas Arnold (1705-1765) – Richard Arnold (1660-1745) – Richard Arnold (1643-1710) – Thomas Arnold (1600 – 1674).

The Eleazer Arnold House in Smithfield, Rhode Island.  Am I a descendant?

The Eleazer Arnold House in Smithfield, Rhode Island. Photo by Diane Boumenot

Let’s start with the Smithfield Arnolds

Descendants of Thomas Arnold of Smithfield, Rhode Island are in luck, because some excellent work has been done on this line by noted genealogist Richard H. Benson, The Arnold Family of Smithfield, Rhode Island (2009).  If you are tracing your genealogy and you think you are descended in this family, you should own this book, or at the very least, borrow it through interlibrary-loan at your local library and study it carefully.

Eleazer Arnold House, side view

Eleazer Arnold House, side view. Photo by Diane Boumenot

Benson begins with a review of the misconception that William and Thomas were brothers, or otherwise closely related.  That idea is based on a rather spectacular failure in 1870’s genealogy – a genealogist was hired to do research in England, and returned with an appealing and mostly faked report.  This misinformation was repeated for a couple decades, then disproved. My recommendation to anyone researching Arnolds in Rhode Island is to treat the two families separately, and ignore any implication – in older, otherwise dependable works – that there was a relationship.

He goes on to provide documentation of the first five generations of the Thomas Arnold descendants, with an extensive bibliography.  In many cases names of the 6th generations are given.  Some of the more famous descendants include:

  • Welcome Arnold (1745-1798), Providence merchant and possible conspirator in the 1772 burning of the schooner Gaspee
  • jurists Thomas Arnold (my 7x-great grandfather; see his grave here) (1705-1765) and his son Peleg Arnold
  • Eleazer Arnold (1651 – 1722), son of the original settler Thomas, whose large “Splendid Mansion” house survives today in Lincoln (formerly Smithfield), Rhode Island and is known as the Eleazer Arnold House.

Eleazer Arnold and others helped to build an early Quaker meeting house nearby.  The first few generations of this family tended to be Quakers.

Plaque in front of the Eleazer Arnold House

Plaque in front of the Eleazer Arnold House. Photo by Diane Boumenot

And now, the Pawtuxet/Warwick Arnolds

William Arnold was a contemporary of Roger Williams, and settled in an area south of Providence, along the bay, called Pawtuxet (now part of Warwick and Cranston).  Unlike many early English  settlers, he actually brought documentation with him of his family’s vital records back in England.  So genealogically speaking, the family was off to a good start.

William prospered, and accumulated significant property.  There is more about William’s life on Wikipedia.  His son Benedict became the first Governor of the State of Rhode Island.  Proud, perhaps, of that name, there were an additional four succeeding generations in a direct line that carried the name, leading to Benedict Arnold, born 1741 in Norwich, Connecticut.

Our own Benedict Arnold

I suppose, rightly or wrongly, most Americans do not feel sympathetic to Benedict Arnold, the American Revolutionary War military officer who became discontented with his lot and transferred his allegiance to the British, and fought on the other side.  As familiar as the name is today, and as despised as it is, I think feelings ran even higher in the 19th century.

Benedict Arnold, as an American Colonel. London : Published by Thos. Hart, 1776.  Courtesy of Library of Congress LC-USZ62-39570.

Benedict Arnold, as an American Colonel. London : Published by Thos. Hart, 1776. Courtesy of Library of Congress LC-USZ62-39570.

This leads me to the reason I personally am very angry with Benedict Arnold.  In the 19th century, Rhode Island was the home of one of New England’s leading genealogists, a pioneer in the field, the person responsible for a great deal of the early work on Rhode Island vital records and cemetery transcription.  James Newell Arnold founded a genealogy journal, The Narragansett Historical Register, produced the 21-volume Vital Record of Rhode Island, and performed some similar work in nearby states.

Why didn’t James N. Arnold produce a definitive genealogy of the Arnolds, including the William Arnold descendants? I mean, the index cards were probably sitting right there in his undoubtedly crowded and dusty genealogy study.   I have only begun to explore his manuscripts, but there certainly was no published compiled genealogy.  I have a suspicion that he might have neglected this because he didn’t want to admit his kinship with Benedict Arnold.  My suspicion is based on a remark of his that I read years ago and failed to record (I had no idea I was related to the Arnolds then) claiming that Benedict was absolutely not descended from any Rhode Island Arnolds.  Although I suppose it’s possible he was fascinated with collecting and editing information, not so much with analyzing and compiling it.  I wonder if I will ever figure this out?

For a slight indication of the spirit of denial, this is from the index of my digital copy of the 1935 book “The Arnold Memorial” by Elisha Stephen Arnold (marked as a “Genealogical Society of Utah” copy).

from the index of The Arnold Memorial - page 132 is crossed out

from the index of The Arnold Memorial last name Arnold, first name Benedict – page 132 is crossed out

Which Benedict Arnold appears on page 132?

The description of Benedict Arnold in The Arnold Memorial

The description of Benedict Arnold in The Arnold Memorial

The page ends with a list of his children.  It’s a bizarre rendition of the life of traitor Benedict Arnold which, I should think, fooled no one.  I wonder if the crossed-out index entry was meant to deny that this Benedict belonged in this lineage, or to simply express displeasure at his existence.

What we do have on the William Arnold descendants

So, lacking the truly good work we could have had from James N. Arnold, we must turn instead to a variety of inadequate compiled genealogies on the William Arnold descendants.  They are listed at the bottom of this page.

The books tend to focus on the wealthier descendants – perhaps that is by necessity, since Warwick vital records are far more complete among well to do families, and there are more probate and real estate records for such families, or perhaps it is somewhat intentional.  Because of that original documentation by William Arnold and a few generations of his descendants, the early genealogy is quite complete.  It’s the later generations that get spotty.

If you are studying Arnolds

In each of the two Arnold families, there was of course a great deal of intermarriage with the other early local settlers in that region.  For the Smithfield Arnolds, this means the Comstocks, Smiths, Ballous, Whipples, Steeres, Aldriches, Buffums, Manns, and Inmans.  If you descend from these Arnolds, you have interesting ancestors in the other lines, too.  Remember that what was originally Smithfield is now Smithfield, North Smithfield, Lincoln, Greeneville, Cumberland, and Woonsocket.  My Arnold ancestors lived at one point in Union Village, North Smithfield, and some of their graves are at the Union Cemetery.

Union Cemetery, North Smithfield, R.I.  Photo by Diane Boumenot

Union Cemetery, North Smithfield, R.I. Photo by Diane Boumenot

For the Pawtuxet/Warwick Arnolds, there was intermarriage with the Greenes, Gortons, Holdens, Wickes, Westcotts, Rhodes, and Carpenters.  Settlement of Warwick spread quickly to the south and west of Pawtuxet and eventually the towns of West Warwick and Coventry were split off. Cranston was nearby on the north and East Greenwich on the south.  Certainly, for descendants, a visit to the village of Pawtuxet is in order, plus the Warwick Historical Society which is located up the road in the John Waterman Arnold House.

In the beginning, Warwick and Smithfield held  agricultural settlements which grew out of Providence, with accompanying forges, grain mills, etc.  But around 1800 small textile mills began to spring up around Rhode Island’s rivers and streams.   Both locations were impacted, resulting in mill towns like Woonsocket and West Warwick.  Although there is less manufacturing going on in those locations today, many of Rhode Island’s towns show remnants of many overlapping historical eras – several centuries of growth and change.  Surprisingly, even the late 1600’s era can be glimpsed from time to time along the bay, in rural areas like northern Cumberland and western Coventry, in historic cities such as Newport, and in the many small historic sites such as Smith’s Castle in North Kingstown.

If you have a mystery in this line, you are welcome to leave  a query here in the comments. Perhaps someone else will have an answer.  But please also use the sources I’ve listed below and the “Free Rhode Island Resources” link up top to see what you can find, as well as many other research strategies. Perhaps you could add a few sources that you know of in the comments.  The Arnolds are not easy to research; there are a LOT of them, and many other early families in other states.  Good luck!!

Some sources for the Smithfield Arnolds

Benson, Richard H.  The Arnold Family of Smithfield, Rhode Island.  Boston: Newbury Street Press, 2009.   Available for sale on the NEHGS web site.

“Eleazer Arnold” by William Greene Roelker in Rhode Island History, vol. 11, no. 3, (July, 1952) p. 81 (picture of the house on cover).  Available on this Rhode Island Historical society web page.

Greene, Welcome Arnold.  “Notes on Genealogy of the Arnold Family.”  Providence: typescript, c1840 – 1914.  Located at Knight Memorial Library; paper copy available at New England Historic Genealogical Society Library, Boston.

Richardson, E.  History of Woonsocket.  Woonsocket, R.I., 1876.  Link opens the Archive.org pdf download. 

“Some Arnolds of Smithfield, R.I”. by H. Minot Pitmann in Rhode Island History, vol. 13, no. 4, (October, 1954) p. 111.  Includes a correction to the “Eleazer Arnold” article.  Available on this Rhode Island Historical society web page.

Benedict Arnold Tavern, Warwick, demolished 1840.  From page 144, Fuller's History of Warwick, R.I.

Benedict Arnold Tavern, Warwick, demolished 1840. From page 144, Fuller’s History of Warwick, R.I.

Some sources for the Pawtuxet/Warwick Arnolds

Arnold, Charles Robbins. The William Arnold Outline: a list of persons surnamed Arnold, descendants of William Arnold of Providence and Pawtuxet, Rhode Island.  1983.  [link goes to FamilySearch screen for the book]

Arnold, Elisha Stephen.   The Arnold Memorial: William Arnold of Providence and Pawtuxet, 1587-1675 and a genealogy of his descendants.  Rutland, VT: The Tuttle Publishing Co., 1935.  [link goes to FamilySearch screen for the book]

Arnold, Ethan L.  An Arnold Family Record, 323 years in America: a record of some of the descendants of William Arnold and his son, Governor Benedict Arnold of Rhode Island, and his grandson, Benedict Arnold, Junior: 1635-1958.  Salem, Mass.:  Higginson Book Co., 1997.  [link goes to FamilySearch screen for the book]

Arnold, W.H. (William Hendrick).  The Arnold Family.  reprint Salem, Mass.: Higginson Book Co., 2002.

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So in my search for the origins of the Jesse and Sarah Andrews who lived in Ashford, Connecticut in 1820, I have concentrated recently (see the previous post) on a family by that name who seemed to disappear from Warwick, Rhode Island after 1810.

The problem

As the search goes on, I have come to believe that poverty is playing a big role in the lack of available evidence.  Around 1800, most of my other New England ancestors were doing many of the following things:

  • farming, and using ear marks for cattle (well maybe ear marks were more common in 1700)
  • buying and selling property; paying taxes
  • recorded in state or federal census records
  • occasionally: divorce or other lawsuits, licenses for various businesses, church membership, graduating from college
  • holding various small public service positions in their towns or serving in the military
  • recording the births of children with the town
  • having their own death noted briefly in a local paper, and/or recorded by the town
  • leaving an estate that required probate and/or guardianship of children
  • buried in a grave with a marker

But, not so much with Jesse Andrews.  While I do have some good evidence of his parentage and his father’s family tree, this is all I have on Jesse himself:

  • 1795 – Jesse Andrews and Sally Arnold married in Warwick, by James Jerrauld, Justice.  He was the son of “Philip, dec.”  She was the daughter of Joseph.
  • 1797 – Jesse, a “mariner”, purchased a house and lot on Main Street, East Greenwich, R.I.  His brother Christopher seemed to have a half share of it.
  • 1798 – Jesse, age 32, received a Seaman’s Protection Certificate, Providence, Rhode Island. Reportedly had been born in Warwick R.I.
  • 1799 – Jesse returned from a 4 month voyage to Surinam as crew on the Brig Fanny (B. Alger, Master)


  • 1800 – Jesse, “yeoman alias mariner” sold the East Greenwich house and lot.  Christopher seemed to sell his half share.
  • 1800 – Census - Jesse was living in Warwick with 3 children and two women.  Joseph Arnold was a neighbor. Freelove Andrews was next door (may possibly be his widowed mother)
  • 1810 – Census - Jesse living in Warwick with an adult female and 7 children under 16.  Joseph Arnold was a neighbor. Freelove Andrews was next door (may possibly be his widowed mother)
  • 1820 – Census - Jesse living in Ashford, CT with two females over 16 and 8 children under 16.
  • 1830 – Census - Jesse living in Ashford, CT with a female, 50-59.
  • 1832 – Jesse purchased a 50 acre property in southeastern Ashford, with a mortgage
  • 1838 – Jesse sold the 50 acre property to his son Alden; Alden mortgaged it, then sold it in 1839.
  • 1838 – when daughter Hannah (my ggg-grandmother) married in 1838, she was “of Ashford.”
  • [after this, I find records for a Benjamin B. Andrews and widowed mother Sarah - not proved she is the same Sarah. No death record for Sarah.]

Looking for family and neighbors

I have been tracking family and neighbors like crazy.  That is probably the only thing that will solve this but so far, it has only provided numerous clues.  There are three main impediments:  (1) I only know one of Jesse’s siblings, but early census records show there are at least five more; (2) I only know two of Jesse’s children, but census records indicate there may be five more, and (3) Sally Arnold’s father was named Joseph Arnold, which is not only an incredibly common name in the area, but is shared with two others that made dozens of land transactions.  So I am still wading through that.

Years in Rhode Island

Jesse does not appear in the East Greenwich or Warwick land records except for the brief ownership of a house on Main Street, East Greenwich (which is adjacent to Warwick – the busy street is half East Greenwich, half Warwick).  The house and lot in East Greenwich were “24 square rods of land” (equals less than a sixth acre) so clearly Jesse was not going into farming on his own.  Since the deeds indicate he was a mariner in 1797 and was, by 1800, “yeoman, alias mariner” we know it’s the same person, but I can only suppose “yeoman” meant, in this case, farming someone else’s land, perhaps his father in law’s, Joseph Arnold, who seems to be nearby in the census.

The division between Warwick and East Greenwich is close to Main Street, EG.  Post Road marked in blue.

The division between Warwick and East Greenwich is close to Main Street, EG. Post Road marked in blue. Map from 1856.

The crew lists I examined at the Rhode Island Historical Society begin around 1797, so although I only have one record of a voyage for him, he may have had earlier voyages.  But clearly, from the deeds, he transitioned from mariner to yeoman by 1800.  I assume his plan to support a house for his growing family was not sustainable, although perhaps there was another reason to give up the house.

Years in Connecticut

Other than the land transactions in Ashford which definitely tie Jesse to the son I know about, Alden, and pretty much prove to me that the Jesse in Ashford is indeed my gggg grandfather, I am finding nothing else in Connecticut – no probate, no other property, no taxes, no death record for him or for Sarah, no graves, and no military records.

The one decent theory I have, tying Jesse & Sarah Andrews of Ashford to the Warwick couple, is reinforced by the numbers in the 1810 and 1820 census records – they had 7 children under 16 in 1810, and 8 in 1820.  A possible son, and his widowed mother Sarah, consistently claim after 1840 to have been born in Rhode Island. This additional son is named Benjamin B. Andrews.  He lived with a mother Sarah from about 1840 until 1861 when, I believe, she died.  I was surprised to see, as he grew older, that Benjamin developed quite a criminal record.

The life of a chicken thief

As I was preparing for my trip to the Connecticut State Archives, I came across a search screen for “Databases of Individuals Listed in State Archives Records“.  None of the data sets looked appropriate for my Andrews family so on a whim I tried “Wethersfield Prison Records 1800-1903.”  Uh oh.  A search for Andrews turned up this:

  • last name: Andrews
  • first name: Benjamin
  • residence: Eastford
  • court: Windham
  • crime: breaking and entering
  • victim: Higginbotham, Daniel
  • prison term: one year, six months
  • date issued: 2/14/1882

This was the person I have tentatively identified as Jesse’s son.  So that was not cheerful news, and I started a newspaper search for more details of Benjamin’s life (I knew he had lived in the towns of Ashford/Eastford, and Norwich at various times; he married twice, to Lucy B Snow, and Mary Ann Davis).  I found various criminal convictions, such as:

  • 09 December 1864Benjamin B. Andrews of Norwich, Ct., went out robbing hen roosts, on the 2d stole about a wagon load, was arrested, examined, case adjourned, and then he took leg bail.  [note - I believe that means he ran off]. (Springfield Union (Springfield, MA), p. 2).
  • 03 March 1866Benjamin B. Andrews of Norwich, has been arrested and bound over for trial by the superior court for pretending to be a justice of the peace and marrying a couple. (Providence Evening Press (Providence, RI) vol. XIV, iss. 157, p. 3).  Same story – 17 March 1866  (Springfield Republican (Springfield, MA), p. 8).
  • 30 April 1878Benjamin Andrews from Eastford, was brought before Judge Tilden last week, charged with stealing 10 chickens from Cha. Simpson of South Windham.  He was found guilty on circumstantial evidence, and fined $5 and costs.  He appealed, and in default of bonds was sent to Brooklyn to await trial.  He was well known at the jail, and bears a bad reputation among his neighbors.  It is stated that one year he sold 200 chickens and did not raise one of them.  (Willimantic Enterprise News, as transcribed on the Ancestry.com Message Board for “1877 Willimantic Enterprise News” item #1262)
  • 20 March 1882Benjamin Andrews, one of a gang of burglars who have plundered many houses in Windham County, has been sent to state prison for a year.  (New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) vol. XLII, iss. 66, p. 4.)

chickensBenjamin had married twice, and had several children.  He was usually listed as a farmer. Whether he was pursuing criminal activity his whole life, or only later in life, I don’t know.  He died of “Peritonitis” in 1885.  Benjamin appears in the Eastford, Connecticut death records (Town of Eastford Births Marriages Deaths, vol. 3 1881-1886, p.210-211)  with no place of birth, parents, or exact age listed.  Court or even prison records, if I can find them, might reveal more about his origins.

Poverty and genealogy

Jesse Andrew’s lack of wealth and property are holding back my progress on this search.  This will not come as news to genealogists, of course.  And it could be pointed out that sometimes, poverty itself causes records to be produced for an individual – “warnings out” for out-of-town residents who were falling on hard times, to put them on notice not to expect town support if needed, and perhaps consider relocating to their home town, also repayment by the town for support of the poor by residents who “bid” to house and feed them, or perhaps for the coffin and burial. Interviews were often a part of the warning-out system, involving the life story of the poor person, since the home town needed to be determined, and the rules on that were convoluted.  Finding any stray remnants of such interviews can be extremely helpful, of course.

Unwelcome Americans

Unwelcome Americans

In my frustration with the Jesse Andrews question I turned for help to a book which focuses on poverty in 18th-century Rhode Island.  Unwelcome Americans by Ruth Wallis Herndon (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001) traces the stories of 40 Rhode Island paupers, presenting as much of their lives, families, and experiences as can be known.  Genealogists would enjoy the book, which attempts to tell the stories that other history books never will.  Often, the stories are partial – a glimpse of a well-documented span of a couple years, perhaps, with no clear beginning and no clear end.  Because a number of Ruth’s profiles are of Warwick residents, I hoped to find some familiar names, but did not.  But I learned a lot about the undocumented nature of the life of paupers, and about the communities she describes in Rhode Island.

This glimpse into the world of Rhode Island’s somewhat invisible classes helped me to realize that Jesse’s absence from  town and tax records, vital records, newspapers, probate records, and cemeteries, with only brief stints of property ownership, probably puts him in the struggling un-landed class, with no real trade.  According to Unwelcome Americans, stints as ship crew members were common for poorer families during this period.  In neither location did Jesse’s fortunes sink low enough to put him on public assistance (I would have seen that in the town records I looked at).  In Warwick I suspect, from the census record evidence, that he and his wife usually lived with her father, or his mother.  By the time they got to Ashford, Connecticut, some of the older children were capable of helping out.  Indeed, an older sibling must have taken in the younger children if the 1830 census, showing Jesse and Sarah living alone, is to be believed, because daughter Hannah was only 12 then.

Jesse living near Benjamin Andrews as shown in the 1830 census.  Benjamin was a newlywed, living with his wife, Jesse and his wife are there, but Jesse's 2 youngest children are not present in either household.

Jesse living near Benjamin Andrews in Ashford as shown in the 1830 census. Benjamin was a newlywed, living with his wife, Jesse and his wife are there, but Jesse’s 2 youngest children are not present in either household.

In conclusion

The pattern that I noticed with many of my 19th century southern New England ancestors, that gradually lost the last remnants of family land after it had been divided many times over, seemed to strike early with Jesse Andrews and his family. They were poor.  Therefore I plan to pursue the following record types now:

  • General Assembly records in Rhode Island  – a Joseph Arnold of Warwick petitioned the General Assembly as an insolvent debtor in 1823.  While not certain to be Sarah’s father, it just might be since the record is unlikely to belong to the two wealthy Joseph Arnolds that I am already aware of.  This would be at the Rhode Island State Archives.
  • Court records in Rhode Island – there is a Kent County Court of Common Pleas record for the same petition, above.  This should be at the Rhode Island Judicial Archives.
  • Court records in Connecticut – there should be records related to some of Benjamin B. Andrews’ crimes, listed above (and many more, I expect).  If I could prove that he was Jesse’s son, that would be very significant, since he and his mother Sarah were born in Rhode Island.
  • Factory town records – since there is little evidence of the Andrews children in Ashford (for instance, their marriages), I should explore the Norwich area to see if they sought factory jobs there.  Son Alden pursued farming for the rest of his life, but there is no evidence of who the other children were or what they did.  My guess would be, they sought out factory jobs, or migrated north or west in search of available farmland.  Since daughter Hannah presumably met her husband in Norwich, and he worked in a factory there, I have sometimes wondered if she was a young factory worker, or living in town with older siblings.
  • Military records – Jesse’s father Philip served in the Revolutionary War, and died young, and I see no evidence that his widow (whose name I am unsure of) ever filed for a widow’s pension.  But I will keep looking.
  • Town records in Ashford – Although I have covered deeds, vital, probate and cemetery records in Ashford, I need to look more thoroughly through the town council records.

Sources for Warwick

I would not be nearly as far along with the Warwick/East Greenwich information without the following valuable works, all published by the Rhode Island Genealogical Society.  The first two contain hundreds of amazing footnotes explaining relationships and circumstances of the individuals named.  The last four books are transcriptions of some town council records.

  • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.  The Diary of Capt. Samuel Tillinghast of Warwick, Rhode Island 1757-1766.  Greenville, Rhode Island: Rhode Island Genealogical Society (Special Publication No. 3), 2000.
  • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.  Elder John Gorton and the Six Principle Baptist Church of East Greenwich, Rhode Island.  Greenville, Rhode Island: Rhode Island Genealogical Society (Special Publication No. 6), 2001.
  • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.  Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: East Greenwich Town Council Records, 1734 – 1774.  Rhode Island Roots Special Bonus Issue 2008.
  • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.  Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: East Greenwich Town Council Records, 1775 – 1800 Rhode Island Roots Special Bonus Issue 2009.
  • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.  Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: Warwick Town Council Records, 1742 – 1780 Rhode Island Roots Special Bonus Issue 2012.
  • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.  Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: Warwick Town Council Records, 1781 – 1801.  Rhode Island Roots Special Bonus Issue 2013.
Special issues of Rhode Island Roots containing transcribed and indexed town records.  RIGS members receive these - a great reason to join!

Special issues of Rhode Island Roots containing transcribed and indexed town records. RIGS members receive these – a great reason to join!

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Looking for a link between the Jesse Andrews family of Warwick, R.I. of 1810 and the Jesse Andrews family of Ashford, CT, 1820 has required a lot of patience and thought.  Here are 10 things I tried recently, and where they led me.  The story of Jesse and wife Sarah, parents of my ggg-grandmother Hannah Andrews, was detailed here.  My purpose is to find out what happened to the Warwick couple, and if they ended up in eastern Connecticut.

Word of caution:  I am related to Jesse and Sarah Andrews in Ashford, 1820.  I am only related to the Warwick folks if they are the same people.  Someday, I will know.

my grandmother is descended from Jesse Andrews

my grandmother is descended from Jesse Andrews

  1. A census of the census.  My idea, here, was to take the population of the 1810 census in Warwick and compare it, name by name, to the population of Ashford in 1820.  I wanted to see if others had migrated to Ashford, too.  This was fairly easy to set up, I opened each census record in Ancestry.com, scrolled back to page one, and using the typed index at the bottom of the page, copied that text one page at a time.  It was easy to just move the selected text to an open spreadsheet, with the mouse, and then move ahead to the next page of the census.  This resulted in a total of about 1,100 names.   I re-sorted the combined list and read it for duplicate first + last names that spanned the two places.  There were 5:  John Howard, Thomas Howard, William Howard, John Phillips, and John Smith.  Fine, but I don’t know what to make of that.  Inconclusive.

    My chart showing the two John Phillips

    My chart showing the two John Phillips

  2. Local historyI consulted Warwick’s Villages, Glimpses from the Past by Donald A. D’Amato (2009), The History of Warwick, Rhode Island by Oliver Payson Fuller (1875) and Edward Field’s State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations at the end of the Century Volume 2 (1902) for more information about what was going on in Apponaug/Cowesett/East Greenwich around 1790-1820.  During this time some mills sprang up in Apponaug.  There was a minor port and shipyard in Apponaug Cove, and a slightly larger port in East Greenwich.  As detailed in my last post, I know Jesse Andrews had a Seaman’s Certificate in 1798. Although I’ve only found one record of him shipping out internationally, in 1799, he may have worked in the shipyard or on local vessels.  Other events during that time include the War of 1812 (no participation that I can see; Jesse was a little old for that), the Great Gale of 1815, and the financial panic of 1819.  All of this could have driven them from their coastal life, inland, farming.

    Greenwich Bay, on west side of Narragansett Bay, leads to Apponuag and East Greenwich.  The area in between is called Cowesett.  Map by A. Finley, 1831.

    Greenwich Bay, on west side of Narragansett Bay, leads to Apponaug and East Greenwich. The area in between is called Cowesett. Map by A. Finley, 1831.

  3. The 1798 Direct Tax, Rhode Island.  As you can see on this Rhode Island Historical Society finding aid, “Direct Tax Records,” the federal government required the states in 1798 to compile “a particular list or description of each dwelling house” in order to create a tax assessment plan.  The descriptions of the houses often covered size of the lot, dimensions of the house, number of windows, outbuildings, owner’s name, lessee’s name, etc.  Luckily, Warwick is among the surviving records, which I viewed on microfilm.  Since Jesse and Sarah married in 1795 in Warwick and were included in the 1800 census for Warwick I was hopeful that I would find them there.  Alas, no, they were not in there, not even as tenants. There were no Andrews at all.  But, if accurate, this lack of an entry may be telling me that Jesse and his bride were living with family, or living in nearby East Greenwich.

    View of East Greenwich from the water.  From Picturespue Rhode Island, W. Munro, 1881.

    View of East Greenwich from the water. From Picturesque Rhode Island, W. Munro, 1881.

  4. Talking to a genealogy buddy.  Another genealogist and I had a talk about the problem.  She suggested that I should focus on the wife, Sarah.  Sarah is the daughter of Joseph Arnold of Warwick, but there were several JosephArnolds in Warwick in 1795, and no sign of a daughter Sarah among them.  But somehow I need to pursue this anyway.  So far I only have a probate record for one Joseph (not the right one), but need to pursue the others.  I tried looking at deeds at the Warwick City Hall, but that was not too helpful.

    One of several pages of Joseph Arnold deeds indexed at Warwick City Hall.  Note the "S.D." and "S.W." indicating "Son of D" and "Son of W".  Not every deed has that, of course.

    One of several pages of Joseph Arnold deeds indexed at Warwick City Hall. Note the “S.D.” and “S.W.” indicating “Son of D” and “Son of W”. That usage is common in Warwick.  Not every deed has that, of course.

  5. Looking at Sarah’s father. It seems very likely that Sarah’s father, Joseph Arnold, was alive at the time her marriage was recorded in 1795 (because Jesse’s father was specifically listed as “deceased”).   Joseph Arnold was a popular name in Warwick around this time.  One Joseph Arnold paid for a tavern license each year, as shown in the Warwick town council records that I viewed in at City Hall.  I think that may be the Joseph Arnold at Apponaug corners (see below), not the one I am looking for. 
  6. Reviewing published genealogies The Arnold Memorial and the William Arnold Outline are the works that pertain to the “Pawtuxet” Arnolds (both can be downloaded as pdf’s from the FamilySearch.org book section). I read each of these works entirely this time. I had been disheartened previously with the lack of a suitable Joseph/Sarah father/daughter match, but this time I realized that The Arnold Memorial is quite brief and concentrates mostly on wealthierArnolds (for instance, through probate records).  I realized that her absence from the book probably meant nothing.

    Governor Greene Mansion, located in Cowesett

    Governor Greene Mansion, located in Cowesett, from The History of Warwick, R.I. by Fuller, 1875.

  7. Maps.  The Warwick Historical Society has an extraordinary collection of old maps online.  I was amazed to find a map of the exact neighborhood and exact time period I wanted, that is, Apponaug 1805.  And, more amazingly, it contained a sketch of a Joseph Arnold house.  Putting together the details on the map, what I learned from The Arnold Memorial, and an examination of deeds at the Warwick City Hall, I was able to eliminate THAT Joseph Arnold and his son, Joseph Franklin Arnold.  That was a big help.

    Snippet of the 1805 Apponuag map, showing the rather grand three story house of Joseph Arnold - the WRONG Joseph Arnold - on a busy intersection near where the city hall is today.

    Snippet of the 1805 Apponaug map, showing the rather grand three story house of Joseph Arnold – the WRONG Joseph Arnold – on a busy intersection near where the city hall is today.  Map on the Warwick Historical Society website.

  8. Another approach to the census.  With a couple of JosephArnolds eliminated, I decided to look at every census record for Joseph Arnold in Warwick and East Greenwich, Rhode Island.  Now that I had eliminated some JosephArnolds, it got easier.  I identified two likely census records:
    • 1790 –  In East Greenwich, next to Jonathan Andrews, Whipple Andrews, and Joseph Card.  Probably my most significant find to date, and I’ve been working hard on this for months.  The Jonathan Andrews that had a son Whipple would have been the uncle of Jesse’s father, Philip (Jonathan and John Andrews were sons of Benoni Andrews).  Joseph Card was the husband of Jesse’s aunt, Welthian (Philip Andrews’ sister).
    • 1810 – In Warwick, there is a Joseph Arnold living right next door to Jesse Andrews. It seems like more than a coincidence, although it could possibly be a brother of Sarah’s, I suppose, instead of her father. Freelove Andrews appeared near him in several census records, and could possibly be his sister in law, Freelove (Rice) Andrews, if Jesse’s brother Christopher died young.  Or, it could be Jesse’s mother, who was a widow, name unknown.

    The 1810 Warwick census shows Jesse Andrews living between Freelove Andrews and Joseph Arnold. (Federal Census, Warwick, R.I. on Ancestry.com, p. 21 of 22.

    The 1810 Warwick census shows Jesse Andrews living between Freelove Andrews and Joseph Arnold. (Federal Census, Warwick, R.I. on Ancestry.com, p. 21 of 22.)

  9.  Cemetery Maps. There are hundreds and hundreds of cemeteries in Rhode Island.  Early on, there was little central control by any church.  Each family would have its own cemetery.  Looking up the “Joseph Card Lot” gave me a spot in East Greenwich where I believe the families mentioned in the 1790 census records may have been living. I base this on comparing the nearby family cemetery names with the 1790 census.  To see many of the R.I. lots on the map, try this set of links at Google Maps.  Note that sometimes, small lots were later moved when local cemeteries were built. 

    Thanks to Google maps and some wonderful volunteers for this useful map.

    Thanks to Google maps and some wonderful volunteers for this useful map.  See my link, above.

  10. Military records for Jesse’s father.  Jesse’s father was Phillip Andrews, born 1741 in East Greenwich, R.I.,  who died between 1786 and 1795.  I had seen Philip’s ancestry in a manuscript at the Rhode Island Historical Society although I had little other evidence to go on.  Looking more intently for evidence now, I came across two entries in Ancestry.com about military records for Philip Andrews:
    • he “Served in Col. Harris’ Regt. in 1760, and in Capt Tew’s Co. in 1762” – this was taken from A List of Rhode Island Soldiers and Sailors in the Old French & Indian War 1755-1762 by Howard M. Chapin, 1918 (I have a reprint from Clearfield called Rhode Island in the Colonial Wars, 1994, 2010).  Looking at my copy, I see there is also a Joshua, Benjamin and William Andrews in Col. Harris’ Regt.  I don’t know if those names mean anything.
    • he was listed in Roll Box 88, Roll State R.I. in the U.S. Revolutionary War Rolls.  (I need to try to find him in the 716 pages; perhaps when the National Archives website reopens I can find an index.)  That set of records is filled with original documents on Rhode Island regiments; I would highly recommend it (Ancestry.com. U.S. Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783. Regiment: Crarys Regiment, 1777-79 (folder 45); Elliotts Regiment of Artillery, 1776-78 (folder 46); Kimballs…). 


  • I waited much too long to research the earliest Andrews in order to link them to the proper Joseph Arnold.  Knowing all the descendants helped me to recognize the name Joseph Card when it appeared as a neighbor of Joseph Arnold in 1790.
  • I suspect Jesse was living in Cowesett (in Warwick) before he left Rhode island but have not proved that yet.
  • I have a lot of names I didn’t have before:  Joshua, Benjamin and William Andrews served with Philip Andrews in 1760, there are neighbors in the 1790 and 1810 census, names appear in Warwick in 1810 and in Ashford in 1820 (perhaps coincidentally), and names nearby Jesse in the 1800 census.  Also, there will be names from Phillip’s Revolutionary War service, when I can find the page.  Perhaps I can make a connection to Ashford, or to some Massachusetts town that Jesse and Sarah may have stopped in for a while.  I think almost nothing gets solved without knowing the community.
  • The Benjamin Arnold that served in the military with Phillip is particularly worth following up on.  If my guess is right, Jesse named one of his older sons Benjamin. There may be more siblings for Jesse and his brother Christopher.
  • NEXT:  visit the Warwick and East Greenwich town halls for vital, deed and probate records (I have tried before, but I often find a return visit turns up more).  A visit to the Connecticut State Library might help me pin down Jesse’s wife Sarah’s 1861 death record, with a maiden name, which could pretty much clinch this one way or another.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2013/10/07/a-census-of-the-census-and-9

OK I'm pretty sure no one was a pirate here.  But if they were, "The Pirates Own Book" by Charles Ellms, 1837, might have been very helpful.  It's located at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/12216

OK I’m pretty sure no one was a pirate here. But if they were, “The Pirates Own Book” by Charles Ellms, 1837, might have been very helpful. It’s located at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/12216

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I realized recently that I hadn’t really explored the journal of the Rhode Island Historical Society Rhode Island History (1942 – present).  There is a good index at the RIHS website.  I started with the index, but I also downloaded (from the screen just mentioned) and perused the complete pdf table of contents for the issues online (seems to include all issues minus most recent five years).

The full issues are available online.  When an article of interest is found, the issue it’s contained in can be downloaded from the search results screen for free.

Step one – the Arnolds of Smithfield

As I perused Rhode Island History an article about the Arnolds of Smithfield (1) caught my eye.  The article was interesting and informative, although it contained one or two errors that I know were corrected in the newer, standard work on the Arnolds of Smithfield by Richard H. Benton (2).  As the article progressed it veered off from my line toward the better-known Eleazer Arnold line, and some of his descendants (the author was detailing his wife’s lineage).  That’s not particularly helpful to me.

But I did what I always do – I examined the footnotes.  Each person covered had a set following their entry.  In the first three generations, I was familiar with all of the sources (many of them were covered in this post about early R.I. research) but one of them struck me as something I had not seen before:  Annals of Centerdale by Frank C. Angell, 1909 (3).

First house in Centerdale, Epenetus Olney Homestead, 1700-02. Annals of Centerdale, p. 24.

First house in Centerdale, Epenetus Olney Homestead, 1700-02. Annals of Centerdale, p. 24.

Step two – The Angells of Centerdale, Rhode Island

It would never occur to me that Centerdale could hold any answers for me; I thought my Smithfield ancestors were farther from Providence than the tiny old mill hamlet of Centerdale, nestled in the urban clutter of North Providence, Rhode Island.  But as the original Providence settlers spread west and north, could they have stopped for a generation or two in the area that became Centerdale?

I found the book remarkably interesting.  As I read it, I realized that my entire Arnold line, which had originated in Providence among the Angells, Prays, Woodwards, Comstocks, and Browns, seemed to appear in this northwestern corner of early Providence.  And SMITHS were intermingled with them on every page.

The dwelling house built by the state for Jacob Goff, 1777.  Part of the state's attempt to establish a powder mill during the Revolutionary War.  Annals of Centerdale, p. 35.

The dwelling house built by the state for Jacob Goff, 1777 – part of the state’s attempt to establish a powder mill in this area during the Revolutionary War. It was a spectacular failure; read more in Annals of Centerdale, p. 35.

Step three – Some background on the Smith problem

My Arnold line from Smithfield begins with my 6th great grandmother, Lucy Arnold.  Her mother is Rachel (possibly Smith).  Her father is Thomas Arnold.  A glance at this portion of my tree shows the well-researched Arnold branch, and the empty Smith branch:

The missing Smiths, courtesy of my Ancestry tree

The missing Smiths, courtesy of my Ancestry tree

I have no information about Rachel Smith at all, other than her first name, which appears on some of her husband’s deeds, and the oft-repeated rumor of her last name being Smith.  So I was excited to find all these Smiths amongst the Arnolds.

Step four – Finding the Smiths on the map

The Annals of Centerdale held important stories about many of these families, and a map (p. 10):
map from Annals of Centerdale showing Land of Thomas Angell, Land of Richard Pray at the top (north); then Land of John Smith, Land of Epenetus Olney, Land of John Whipple.

map from Annals of Centerdale showing Land of Thomas Angell, Land of Richard Pray in the top corners,  then Land of John Smith, Land of Epenetus Olney, Land of John Whipple. (p. 10; my captions added in color, and my tilt to head north)

Among those to thus push out into the common land and take up holdings therein were Thomas Angell, John Smith, Epenetus Olney, and Richard Pray, and these men appear to have been the pioneers in the settlement of that portion of the Woonasquatucket valley which afterward became known as Centerdale. (p. 6-7)
The original proprietors of the land on the east side of the river where the village of Centerdale is located were John Smith, Epenetus Olney, and Richard Pray. To establish the exact boundary of the several allotments would be impossible, but by patient research a map of the original farms has been prepared for this work; and reference thereto will serve to give a general idea of their location. (p. 11)
However, it is certain that John Smith (probably the miller) took up this land, and also that he had a son John Smith; and when John Smith, Senior, died, a portion of his estate lying upon the east side of the Woonasquatucket river was given to his son John Smith, Junior. This farm contained 160 acres, and was bounded as follows: Starting at a point on the Woonasquatucket river a few rods beyond the present junction of Waterman avenue and Smith street, and running in an easterly direction 320 rods, or nearly one mile; thence running in a southerly direction 80 rods, or one-quarter of a mile; thence running in a westerly direction 320 rods to the river; thence following the river in a northerly direction to the first-mentioned bound. (See map.) (p. 12)
The land adjoining the Smith claim on the north (see map) was taken up from the original rights by Richard Pray; but it is impossible to determine the exact date, as he was an extensive land owner and took up land from the commonings in different parts of the colony, the descriptions of which, as given in the deeds, are so confusing and indefinite that many of the claims are impossible to locate.  (p. 14)
Centerdale is halfway between Providence and Smithfield, Rhode Island. map courtesy of google maps.

Today Centerdale is halfway between Providence and Smithfield, Rhode Island. map courtesy of google maps.

Step 5 – Finding out more about the Smiths
It began to seem very possible that the great-great-grandchildren of the Centerdale settlers could, after the families had moved farther up the road to Smithfield, have married.  Armed with this clearer understanding of the Smiths I did not have to look far for some further help with the descendants of John Smith, the miller.
There in Rhode Island History I spotted an article “John Smith, the Miller, of Providence, Rhode Island, and some of his Descendants” by George William Farnham (5).  It appeared in 1961.  Articles on this topic continued for a total of 16 issues between 1961 and 1965.  I had previously seen these in Genealogies of Rhode Island Families (4) but only used the index, and decided it was not helpful.  I think these days I would take a more studied approach to figuring out who these descendants were, and where they were.  I would also check closely for any Smith associates I have found, meanwhile, for Thomas Arnold, for instance, from his land records in Smithfield.
The articles are fascinating, detailing the life of John the miller (early John Smiths in Providence are always referred to by occupation) and many descendants in the first five generations.  The first mill was an important part of early Providence, and located at the intersection of Charles and Mill Streets. The articles are filled with discussions of evidence, quotes from notable books, and information gained from town and court records, newspapers, and manuscripts.
Map of Rhode Island, Surveyed by James Helme and William Chandler, 1741. Note that Providence is bordered directly by Smithfield and The Gore to the north, and by Scituate to the west.  From Providence in Colonial Times by Gertrude Selwyn Kimball, 1912, p. 206.

Map of Rhode Island, Surveyed by James Helme and William Chandler, 1741. Note that Providence is bordered directly by Smithfield and The Gore to the north, and by Scituate to the west. From Providence in Colonial Times by Gertrude Selwyn Kimball, 1912, p. 206. (my typing added)

Step 6 – Learning more about the expansion of Providence
I now realize I don’t actually know that much about the patterns of expansion from the earliest Providence settlement into the remainder of what is now known as Providence County.  Looking at the Centerdale book and some additional sources, I have learned a lot about the Seven Mile Line and the fights during the 1660’s to retain control of Providence among the wealthier landowners only – legal maneuvers that were very troubling to Roger Williams.  More on that in the future.

Meanwhile, I have some John Smiths to investigate.


  1. Pitman, H. Minot.  “Some Arnold of Smithfield, R.I.”  Rhode Island History 13-4 (October 1954): 111-123.
  2. Benson, Richard H.  The Arnold Family of Smithfield, Rhode Island.  Boston: Newbury Street Press, 2009.
  3. Angell, Frank C.  Annals of Centerdale in the town of North Providence, Rhode Island.  Central Falls, R.I.: Frank C. Angell, 1909.
  4. Genealogies of Rhode Island Families From Rhode Island Periodicals, vol. 2, Smith – Yates. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983.  p. 1 – 150.
  5. Farnham, George William. “John Smith, the Miller, of Providence, Rhode Island, and some of his Descendants.”   Rhode Island History 20-4 (October 1961): 109-118.  [Continued in 15 more articles, every issue of 1962, 1963, 1964 and Jan-April-July 1965.  All articles also appear in Genealogies of Rhode Island Families (see my note 4, above.) ]

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2015/08/03/a-hint-from-an-angell/

Centerdale School House. Annals of Centerdale, p. 69.

Centerdale School House. Annals of Centerdale, p. 69.

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