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Archive for the ‘Rhode Island Stuff’ Category

The Early Records of the Town of Providence is a set of 21 volumes that provides a transcription of many of the earliest record books of Providence, Rhode Island, over the period of 1636 to 1750.  The books were compiled in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s.  They are short books, and fairly readable (although original spelling is maintained). They represent a unique and powerful glimpse into the lives of the early Providence settlers – their life events, businesses, laws, misdeeds, families, property, sense of community and ambitions.  The books are well worth perusing for more than just an index to our individual ancestors.

Volume 8

Volume 8

What can be found

Because of the separation of church and state when Providence was founded by Roger Williams and others, the early town records encompassed not only laws, taxation,  court cases, probate and deeds but also vital records, including marriage banns, and some cemetery records.  The uncertain early relationships between Providence, Newport, Portsmouth and Warwick are apparent in the pages, as well as the growth of the settlement in Providence and the tensions that arose in the distribution of land and resources.  In the earliest years, Providence encompassed what are now other towns in Providence County, so records could be in the books for those areas, such as Cranston and Smithfield.

The settlement at Providence was damaged during King Phillips War (1675-1676) and for this and many other reasons town records are incomplete and somewhat scattered. There is no clear progression of topics and dates from volume to volume.  Each book contains a thoughtful introduction to the status of the particular records found there and I would encourage people to examine those pages.  The latest record I saw was about 1750.

What follows is a brief overview of the contents of each volume, plus a link to where each one can be found and downloaded (in most cases, from Archive.org).  The links were provided to me by a blog reader in England, who knew that others would like to have easy access to them.  Thanks!

The entry, possibly for my 9th great grandfather Michael Phillips, from volume 5, page 151, indicates that he may have died before 1676.

This entry for my 9th great grandfather Michael Phillips, from volume 5, page 151, indicates that he may have died before 1676.  I did not know that.

The index

Each book is well indexed, but a compiled index of all 21 volumes was produced by Richard LeBaron Bowen and published in 1949 by the Rhode Island Historical Society.  The index book begins with a synopsis of the contents of each book (far more comprehensive than what you see below), followed by the index (with corrections from the original indexing) and an interesting analysis of how the indexed names compare to other compiled lists of early Rhode Island families, for instance, Austin’s Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island.

The index book is available online here, and can be downloaded from Archive.org directly through this link.

The volumes

Below are each of the 21 volumes and an indication of what is in them.

Volume 1 “Being the First Book of the Town of Providence otherwise called the Long Old Book with Parchment Cover.”  From the introduction:

The first volume of records selected for perpetuation in print is the earliest in date of the existing public records of the city, and has at different times been referred to in town documents as the ” First Book of the Town of Providence,” and “The Long old Book with Parchment Cover.” The original leaves of this book are now separately fastened to or inlaid in sheets of strong paper 11-3/4 by 19-1/2 inches in size, and the whole is substantially bound in green leather inscribed on the side with the words, ” First Book Town of Providence.”

Vol. 1 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 2 “Being the Second Book of the Town of Providence otherwise called the Town Old Book The Short Old Book The Old Burnt Book and sometimes called The Book with Brass Clasps.”  From the introduction:

It will be observed that the book, analytically, is divided into two parts ; that is, that it has been used for two different and distinct purposes ; first, for recording evidences of land titles and other instruments ; and, secondly, for the minutes of meetings for town purposes. One end of the book was probably used for one of these purposes and the other end for the other.

Vol. 2 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Richard Pray, my 11th great grandfather "hath taken vp the Sahrpe peece of land lying neere the place where Rich watermans Great Cannoo was made."  From volume 2, page 17.

Richard Pray, my 11th great grandfather “hath taken vp the Sharpe peece of land lying neere the place where Rich watermans Great Cannoo was made.” From volume 2, page 17.

Volume 3 “Being part of the Third Book of the Town of Providence otherwise called the book with brass clasps.”

Vol. 3 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 4 “Being part of the Third Book of the Town of Providence otherwise called the book with brass clasps.”    (a continuation of the previous volume)  From the introduction:

The records of the Town Meeting terminate at page 157 in the original, and at page 53 in this book; the remainder of the original containing enrollments of deeds, births, marriages and deaths, together with other miscellaneous records. … As will be noticed, the last date of a Town Meeting is on the 16th of February, 1675…

Vol. 4 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 5 “Being part of the Third Book of the Town of Providence otherwise called the book with brass clasps.”    (the final installment of this set)

This printed volume completes the records contained in the third manuscript book, entitled “Third Book Town of Providence A and B,” otherwise called “The Book with Brass Clasps.” It also completes the series of books that were in use for the earliest records of the town.

Vol. 5 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 6 “Being part of Will Book No. 1 otherwise called the first booke for Prouidence Towne Councill Perticulior Vse.”

This volume reproduces in type a portion of the records contained in the earliest book now in the possession of the city, mainly used for probate proceedings of the town. It is not, however, the first book so used, for in the schedule of the books and papers belonging to the town, which survived the effects of King Philip’s War, so called, and which schedule bears date June 4, 1677, there is inventoried among other records “A Small papor Book Containing the Enrolements of wills:”

Vol. 6 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Google.com by clicking here.

A 1691 warning that he will not pay the debts of his wife, from Ephraim Pierce.  The papers sometimes served purposes later served by newspapers.

A 1691 warning that he will not pay the debts of his wife, from Ephraim Pierce. The books sometimes served purposes later served by newspapers.  from volume 4, page 80.

Volume 7 “Being part of Will Book No. 1 otherwise called the first booke for Prouidence Towne Councill Perticulior Vse.” (The second and final section, including the probate record for my 9th great grandfather John Malavery, which begins on page 145.  There are a lot of inventory lists in this book – a fascinating glimpse into Providence life circa 1700.)

Vol. 7 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 8 “Being part of the Book of Records of Town Meetings No. 3 1677 to 1750 and other papers.”

The period succeeding the time embraced in the last named volume was one of disaster to the town, for the Indian War which had raged with varying success throughout the New England Colonies was then brought within the confines of Rhode Island. During a part of this period, previous to March 28, 1676, and for some time thereafter the town was practically deserted, its business well nigh suspended and a portion of it destroyed by the ravages of the Indians. The townsmen however carried on such governmental affairs as were actually necessary, and during this time Roger Williams held the office of Town Clerk. Some of the records during his incumbency are now extant, but it is not thought that all have been preserved.

Vol. 8 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 9 “Being part of the Book of Records of Town Meetings No. 3 1677 to 1750 and other papers.”  From the introduction:

The material contained in this volume consists largely of layouts of various highways in and around Providence. Through the courtesy of J. Herbert Shedd, City Engineer, the commissioners have been able to identify nearly every one of these highways, and foot notes are added to show the present street or highway intended by the crude and indefinite courses and boundaries given in the originals. The remaining entries consist of a few town meeting records, records of coroners’ inquests, indentures of apprenticeship and records of marriages, while a part of the book is taken up with entries relative to stray cattle, reports of wolf killers and other miscellaneous records.

Vol. 9 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 10 “Being the book called Town Council No. 1 1692-1714 and containing the records of the Providence Town Council.”  From the introduction:

The proceedings recorded in this volume refer almost entirely to the administration of probate affairs, for little else was brought to the Town Council for consideration except occasional requests or liquor licenses and for permission to keep public houses of entertainment.

Vol. 10 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 11 “Being the book of records designated as Town Meeting No. 1 1692-1715.”

Vol. 11 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

 

My 10th great grandmother Mary (----) Pray was, with her husband Richard, was granted a public house license in Providence as early as 1655.  This license, in 1681, may  refer to Mary, who had separated from Richard in 1667.   It is from volume 6 page 29.

My 10th great grandmother Mary (—-) Pray was, with her husband Richard, granted a public house license in Providence as early as 1655. This license, in 1681, may refer to Mary, who had separated from Richard in 1667. It is from volume 6 page 29.

Volume 12 “Being the book called Town Council No. 2 1715 to 1752 and containing the records of the Providence Town Council.”    From the introduction:

This book contains the proceedings of the Town Council, sitting as a court of probate, and is devoted almost entirely to this class of records, although the granting of tavern licenses, with the attendant privilege of selling liquors, occupied some space.

Vol. 12 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 13 “Being the book called Town Meeting No. 2 1716 to 1721 and containing the records of the Providence Town Meeting.”  From the introduction:

The record book known as “Town Meeting No 2 1716 1721″ which is here produced in type purports to contain the proceedings of the town meetings between those dates but in fact it also contains records for the years 1722, 1723, 1724 and 1725. A careful examination of it, leaves one somewhat in doubt as to just what this book was intended to be, for though it has many features about it to convey the impression that it is the original book of record there are likewise certain indications that it was used by the town clerk as a “Blotter” in which to make memoranda of the town proceedings previous to the more extended record. The perplexing irregularity of dates as shown in its present condition probably resulted from a lack of care in placing the sheets in proper order when the volume was bound up many years ago, and the incongruity of the title doubtless arose from the fact that, as bound, proceedings for the year 1721 come upon the last page of the manuscript book, thus misleading the person in charge of the binding into the belief that 1721 was the latest date referred to in the volume.

Vol. 13 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 14 “Being the first book for the recording of deeds and called Deed Book No. 1.”  From the introduction:

It Is the first volume which was particularly used for the entry of land evidences and similar documents, and marks a period when the growth of the town demanded a more systematic method of keeping its records.

Vol. 14 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Google.com by clicking here.

Volume 15 “Being the Providence Town papers Vol. 1 1639-April 1682 Nos. 01-0367.”  From the introduction:

These papers are decidedly miscellaneous in character and include petitions, letters, reports, depositions, tax lists, and nearly every other kind of public document in use in the early days of the Providence settlement during the time they cover, which extends from 1639 to 1682. The Commissioners have reproduced these papers in type with all the imperfections of spelling and arrangement, believing that any editing or revising would detract from their value.

Vol. 15 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 16 “Being the records contained in Will Book No. 2 from Sept. 12, 1716 to Jan 7, 1728-9.”

Vol. 16 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 17 “Being the Providence Town Papers Vol. 2 April 1682 – March 1722, Nos. 0358-0717.”   From the introduction:

… these papers are of a miscellaneous character and include nearly every variety of documents of a public nature.

Vol. 17 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

An example of a 1688 tax list that would show you that Mary Harris was a widow, and some indication of the death of Joseph Wise.  From volume 17, page 122.

An example of a 1688 tax list that would show you, for instance, that Mary Harris was a widow, that there were at least two adult John Thorntons, and some indication of the death of Joseph Wise. From volume 17, page 122.

Volume 18 “Being official records and documents of title and proceedings relative to the North Burial Ground.” Much of volumes 18 and 19 are simple payments for perpetual care of a certain plot, by the families.   From the introduction:

On January 25, 1894, the Joint Standing Committee of the City Council on the North Burial Ground requested the City Engineer to compile and prepare for the use of said committee all the material on record from the earliest period in the history of the town of Providence up to that date, relating to the North Burial Ground. The growth of that institution with its changes of boundaries and the acquisition of territory made it absolutely necessary that there should be readily at hand the various records and data relating to this burying ground under the management and control of the municipality.

Vol. 18 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 19 “Being official records and documents of title and proceedings relative to the North Burial Ground.”   (continued from previous volume).

Vol. 19 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 20 “Being  the first part of the Second Book for the Recording of Deeds and Called Deed Book No. 2.”  From the introduction:

The book, which is herewith presented in type, comprises the first two hundred and five pages, being nearly one-half, of what is designated as Deed Book No. 2.  It purports to be “Begun on June the Twentieth Anno: 1705″ and the date of the last record of this portion is “November ye 6th 1711.”

Vol. 20 is available for browsing only at this link on HathiTrust, and cannot be downloaded as a whole book.

Volume 21 “Being the beginning of the second part of the second book for the recording of deeds and called Deed Book 2.”      From the introduction:

“Second Part of the Second Book for the Recording of Deeds and called Deed Book No. 2″. The earliest date is 3 Feb. 1661 and the latest date is 12 Mar. 1712/13.

Vol. 21 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Also see

Tax Lists of the Town of Providence during the Administration of Sir Edmund Andros and his Council 1686-1689 on Archive.org:   http://archive.org/details/taxlistsoftownof00field

The Early Records of the Town of Portsmouth (1901) on Archive.org:    http://www.archive.org/details/earlyrecordsofto02port
The Early Records of the Town of Warwick (1926) on Archive.org:     http://archive.org/details/earlyrecordsofto00rhod

The Records of the Colony of Rhode Island.

Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island.

In closing

For those with Ancestry.com subscriptions, an online index can also be found here.

The first 18 volumes were produced by record commissioners Horatio Rogers, George Moulton Carpenter, Edward Field, with volumes 19 and 20 being compiled by William E Clarke, Daniel F. Hayden, and William G. Brennen, and volume 21 by William C. Pelkey.

I enjoyed perusing these volumes, and I know I will continue to do so.

The post you are reading is located at:    http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/03/28/early-records-providence

 

Judge Horatio Rogers, 1836 - 1904, one of the record commissioners who compiled the books.

Judge Horatio Rogers, 1836 – 1904, one of the record commissioners who compiled the books.  From frontispiece, volume 18.

 

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I have been to the Rhode Island State Archives at 337 Westminster Street, Providence, several times, and I’ve only begun to explore its holdings.  These are some things I have found there.

There are some materials presented on the web page (linked above), but they are mostly items of general or historical interest.  For genealogists seeking to find a name in an obscure, everyday record, the online search is unlikely to help.  If you need to look for something at the archives, note that in the “Reference” section of the Archives web page there are instructions for “Planning a Visit” and “Unable to Visit“.

The archives are located at 337 Westminster Street, Providence.

The archives are located at 337 Westminster Street, Providence.

I have parked several times at the lot next door on Westminster Street; if you have your ticket stamped at the archives, you can get up to two hours free.  I think the prices after that are quite high, so beware.  It is sometimes possible to park on the street, and use the meters.   Currently 8 quarters get you two hours.  The meters will only hold up to two hours of time.

Basically, the archives hold state government information.  So you would have to determine if what you are looking for had anything to do with the state government.  If you can’t visit, procedures for submitting written requests are available on the web page I linked to, above.  But a quick phone call or email might help you determine, with the archivists, what record types they have in the archives, and whether your request will be appropriate.

The black binders contain the index to the vital records

The black binders contain the index to the vital records

Vital records

The state of Rhode Island began to collect birth, marriage and death records from Rhode Island’s cities and towns around 1851.  At the archives, you can access these records, which are often filled with details.  There are index volumes to consult, and they point you to the record pages, which are on microfilm.  Ancestry.com is starting to display abstracts of these records, but I would encourage anyone to obtain the full record if possible.  There are laws covering the privacy of the more recent records, so of course some of those will not be available.

RI State Censuses, 1865 p1072 snip

The 1865 Rhode Island State Census shows the town of residence and street (circled; in this case, Hospital Street), plus (in order of arrows) street number, country/state, or (if R.I.) town of birth, occupation, school attended, disabilities, and military status, among other things. This image can be clicked to enlarge.

1865 & 1875 state census records

Before Ancestry.com began to carry the R.I. 1865 and 1875 state census records, the Rhode Island state archives would have been one of the few places to find them.  The 1875 census is indexed in a card file, and the 1865 census is indexed in a file which is on microfilm.  Full records for each are on microfilm.  These records have been very helpful for me.  The 1865 record pages contain a lot of details such as street of residence and birth place.  These census records have also been microfilmed by FamilySearch, I believe.

A bill before the General Assembly of R.I. October, 1823, a petition to benefit from "An Act for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors"

A bill before the General Assembly of R.I. October, 1823, a petition by Joseph Arnold of Warwick to benefit from “An Act for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors”

State government

Even if your ancestor didn’t serve in state government, or work for the state government, there still may be state government documents related to them.  I had found a newspaper reference to this bill (above) before the General Assembly in October, 1823, and wondered if it could refer to the Joseph Arnold of Warwick that I am researching.  Ken Carlson of the Archives staff was able to locate the record, and I viewed it on microfilm.  If you are curious about possible assembly bills about your ancestor, you could ask the staff there how to search for them.

There are quite a few local directories available

There are quite a few local directories available

Index and directory volumes

There are a variety of city directories and standard genealogy guides at the archives, and I have barely begun to explore them. Each time I go I also notice interesting books such as military lists, compiled sources, and histories.

The Revolutionary War Index.

The Revolutionary War Index.

Each drawer is filled with alphabetized slips of references to R.I. Rev. War military personnel

Each drawer is filled with alphabetized slips of references to R.I. Rev. War military personnel

Revolutionary War index

Towards the back of the main room there is an old file, created many decades ago, by a volunteer group (the local DAR, maybe?) which contains references from numerous repositories around the state about Revolutionary War military personnel in Rhode Island.  Each slip tells the source of the note at the bottom, and often those sources are NOT from the state archives.  The one shown here (below) refers to a manuscript at the Rhode Island Historical Society.  Note that one of the slips in this picture offers an alternate spelling of Richard Ballou’s name – something I’ve never searched for or seen before.  I photographed the slips for Ballou, and for Phillip Andrews of Warwick.

Entries for my ancestor Richard Ballou.  Reference to the source is at the bottom of the card.

Entries for my ancestor Richard Ballou. Reference to the source is at the bottom of the card.  I was already aware of this undated list, a manuscript at the Rhode Island Historical Society.

I enjoy my visits to the archives and the archivists have been helpful.  I have barely begun to explore the resources there, so if you’re curious, visit or contact them to learn more.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/03/05/rhode-island-state-archives/

RI St Archives Feb14 (8)– Photos by Diane Boumenot.

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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.

Notes

  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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The large index map, below, was tipped into the book Picturesque Rhode Island.  It was printed on tissue-thin paper, which is now creased, torn and wrinkled.  I have digitized it, somewhat imperfectly, on a flatbed scanner.

Download  the map

Either click the map to open it and enlarge it within your web browser, or right-click to “Save Image As” a jpg to your computer and open and enlarge as a jpg image.
Map of Providence, Rhode Island, 1881

Map of Providence, Rhode Island, 1881

What is indexed?

I think the most interesting information on this map are the indices on the left and right sides. You could locate the schools, businesses and institutions your ancestors may have been involved with (however, resident names are not indicated).  A few samples are below.   The numbering system and street name allow you to locate each item on the map, although often only by seeing a building outline on the map.

Listings include:

  • All streets
  • Wharves
  • Railroads
  • Steamers
  • Horse Railroads (describes the colors of the cars, and each route)
  • Hotels
  • Manufacturing Interests

Map-detail-manufacturers

  • Churches
  • Points of Interest (companies, govt offices, utility companies, monuments, hospitals)
  • Cemeteries
  • Amusements
  • Parks
  • Institutions

Map-detail-institutions

  • Drives (9 scenic drives are described)
  • Police Department
  • Fire Department
  • Public School Buildings

Map-detail-schools

  • Express Companies
  • Telegraph Offices
  • Daily Newspapers
  • Ticket Agencies

Source

“Index Map of the City of Providence, R.I., compiled and drawn from the most reliable sources, 1881″, by Albert L. Bodwell. Providence: J.A. & R.A. Reid, 56 Weybosset Street, c1880.  Tipped into the book Picturesque Rhode Island by Wilfred H. Munro. Providence: J.A. and R.A. Reid, 1881.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2013/07/14/a-map-of-providence-1881/

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Hannah Andrews

My 3x-great grandmother Hannah Andrews has been a mystery that I have been working on since I started genealogy.  I am related to her in the following way:  my grandmother Edna May (Darling) Baldwin, her father Russell Earl Darling, his mother Emma (Lamphere) Darling, her mother Hannah (Andrews) Lamphere.

Hannah married Russell Lamphere in Colchester, Connecticut in 1838, and was “of Ashford” Connecticut.  She had a brother, Alden, that she must have been close to; they were frequently neighbors before she left Connecticut, Alden named his first son after her husband, and even after Hannah’s death, her husband took in another of Alden’s sons and got him a job in the mill where he was a supervisor.  The birthplace of both Hannah and Alden was usually cited as Massachusetts or, sometimes, Connecticut.  Based on census ages, I would estimate Alden was born in 1817 and Hannah in 1819.

Ashford, from Connecticut Historical Collections by J.W. Barber, New Haven, 1836, p. 417.

Ashford, from Connecticut Historical Collections by J.W. Barber, New Haven, 1836, p. 417.

What I knew

I found names for Hannah’s (and Alden’s) parents in Hannah’s 1878 Providence death record, “Jesse and Sarah Andrews”.  Alden’s 1873 death record in Coventry, Rhode Island lists his father as Jesse, and no name for the mother.  Hannah named her first daughter Sarah.  Obviously, I carefully examined the Ashford, Connecticut census records for Jesse Andrews.  I thought he should be there in 1840, since Hannah had just married in 1838.   But there was no Jesse in 1840.  In 1820, there was a large household headed by Jesse. In 1830, there was a household of an older couple, headed by Jesse.  There was nothing prior to 1820.

All this seemed wrong for a household that Hannah and Alden could have been born into in the late 1810′s.  Plus, Hannah and Andrew may have been born in Massachusetts, according to various census records.  I never noticed any sign of other siblings, so I suspected Hannah and Alden were NOT part of this large family from the 1820 census … perhaps they were orphans from a nearby section of Massachusetts, living with relatives in Ashford.

Although Jesse Andrews is an unusual name, it is far from unique.  I eliminated several Jesse Andrews for various reasons.  There were actually two couples names Jesse and Sarah Andrews – one in Montague, Massachusetts, married around 1817, who unfortunately had too many documented children during the years Hannah and Alden could have been born (plus, they never left Montague). So not them.   There was one other couple, Jesse Andrews and Sally Arnold, married in Warwick, Rhode Island in 1795.  I considered them, but they seemed too old, and I found them in the 1800 and 1810 Rhode Island federal census with a growing family.  I knew that the correct Jesse and Sarah Andrews might be poorly documented (after all, I have never found birth records for Alden and Hannah), so I suspected the real couple was still unknown to me, and kept looking.

Recent progress

However, I have found additional information recently.  The process went something like this:

  1. I visited the town hall of Ashford, Connecticut to look at deeds.  The town hall also contains probate records, and more information about cemeteries than one usually sees, although I found nothing relevant in probate or cemetery records.  But I was thrilled to spot an 1838 deed where Jesse Andrews was the seller and Alden Andrews was the buyer, plus the 1832 deed for the same property where Jesse made a purchase which was mortgaged to the seller. The heavily mortgaged property was finally sold, by Alden, to neighbor Amos Weeks by 1839.  I photographed and abstracted the deeds.

    Ashford Deeds.  Jesse's transactions in green, Alden's in blue.

    Ashford Deeds. Jesse’s transactions in green, Alden’s in blue.

  2. With new assurance that Jesse had at some point lived in Ashford, I reexamined the Ashford census records, page by page.  I realized that when I concluded the Jesse in 1820 could NOT be the right one, I had also dismissed the next name in the 1830 census – next to the older Jesse and wife – Benjamin Andrews.  Now, I carefully researched Benjamin.  He was born around 1809, 10 years before Hannah and Alden.   I was surprised to find, in the 1850 census, that he was living with his widowed mother Sarah and his children.  He remarried in 1853 to Mary Ann Davis, of Norwich Town, and went to live there.  In the 1860 census, Sarah seems to be mis-recorded as “Anna” Andrews, but in the 1861 city directory she is reported as living at 22 Spring Street, which is the home of Benjamin.
  3. The most surprising part of these records?  Benjamin and his mother Sarah were born in Rhode Island. Suddenly, the Warwick, Rhode Island couple Jesse and Sarah Andrews seemed like a stronger possibility.  Could they have lived in Rhode Island for a while after their marriage, had a large family, then moved on to Ashford Connecticut (possibly living in Massachusetts briefly, in between) around 1818?  Were Alden and Hannah the last in a long string of children?
  4. I turned my attention to the record of Jesse Andrews and Sally Arnold who married in 1795 in Warwick, Rhode Island.  It was very informative, giving a name for both fathers and mentioning that one was deceased.  I needed to learn more about them, to see if it was possible they did move out of Rhode Island.

[Andrews], Jess, of Phillip, and Sally Arnold, of Joseph; m. by James Jerrauld, Justice, Feb 22, 1795.

[Andrews], Jess, of Phillip, and Sally Arnold, of Joseph; m. by James Jerrauld, Justice, Feb 22, 1795.  From Arnold’s Vital Records, bk. 1, p. 3

The usual Rhode Island sources for this period were thoroughly explored at this point:

  • Rhode Island vital records compiled by James Arnold.  Volume 1 covers both Warwick and East Greenwich.
  • Census records including 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860 plus some earlier state census records for the fathers.
  • Rhode Island Roots, the journal of the Rhode Island Genealogical Society.
  • The Narragansett Historical Register, published by James N Arnold in the late 1800′s, vol 1-9.
  • The Rhode Island Genealogical Register, 1978-1996, v. 1 – 20, particularly the Will Index, v. 16.
  • A thorough search (one major category at a time) of Ancestry.com, plus Fold3.com, FamilySearch.org, NEHGS website,  and GenealogyBank.com.
  • A visit to the Rhode Island Historical Society Library and perusal of their card catalog, manuscript collection, and various books.

    The 1810 census, in Warwick, shows Jesse with a household of 2 adults and 7 children living in Warwick, between Joseph Arnold, and Freelove Andrew, who may by his widowed sister in law.

    The 1810 census, in Warwick, shows Jesse with a household of 2 adults and 7 children living in Warwick, near Joseph Arnold, and Freelove Andrew, who may by his widowed sister in law or possibly his widowed mother.

What I found out

First of all, other than the marriage for Jesse and Sally, there are few vital records for this group.  That’s not very unusual in Rhode Island.  I am also still seeking some Connecticut death records that may turn up in Hartford when I visit later this summer.

Jesse Andrews and Sally Arnold were from old Rhode Island families.  And a search showed that Jesse Andrews no longer appeared in Rhode Island census records after 1810.

Significant clues I found were:

  • a “Register of Seamen’s Protection Certificates from the Providence, Rhode Island Customs District, 1796-1870” record for Jesse dated Dec. 4, 1798 (“age 32, light complexion, Place of birth: Warwick, R.I.”)   I found this as an Ancestry.com Military record; the source of the data was a book “Register of Seamen’s Protection Certificates from the Providence, Rhode Island Customs District, 1796-1870. Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1995.”  Interesting.  Of all my Rhode Island/Massachusetts ancestors, none so far have been connected to the sea.  Only my father’s Nova Scotia side has that.  For an explanation of Seaman’s Certificates, visit this Archives.com page by noted genealogist Kathleen Brandt.  I wonder if Jesse followed that career for a while, or quickly switched to farming?
  • Jesse was born in 1766 to Phillip and (unknown) Andrews.  The Rhode Island Historical Society had a three-volume manuscript on the Rhode Island Andrews family that Jesse was from. This is a good example of a document not digitized or available elsewhere.  The first immigrant was John McAndrews (sometimes Andrews) from Scotland who first settled on Cape Cod, but was in Rhode Island by 1671 as an original participant in the “Fones Purchase” in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.  My line of his descendants settled in nearby East Greenwich, Rhode Island, and Jesse’s father, Phillip, ended up in Warwick.

    East Greenwich, view from the water.  From Wilfred Munro's Picturesque Rhode Island, 1887, p. 241.

    East Greenwich, view from the water. From Wilfred Munro’s Picturesque Rhode Island, 1887, p. 241.

  • Notably, Jesse had a grandmother named Hannah.  Hannah’s name was a little old-fashioned for 1819, so I always thought she was named for an ancestor.
  • There are two Arnold families in Rhode Island, the Thomas Arnold family of Smithfield, (from which I am also descended), and then Sally’s family, which is likely to be the William Arnold family of Providence/Pawtuxet/Warwick.  Descendants of William Arnold are related to Benedict Arnold, the first Rhode Island Governor, and his great-grandson, the Revolutionary War traitor by the same name.  I am having trouble placing Sally and her father, Joseph, in that family because there are so many Joseph Arnolds in and around Warwick in this period.  Warwick deeds may help that.
Ashford, Connecticut town hall, June, 2013

Ashford, Connecticut town hall, June, 2013

Where things stand

In 1810 Jesse was living with a family of 9 near Freelove Andrews (which was the name of his brother Christopher’s wife, but I wonder if it could possibly be his mother) and Joseph Arnold (likely his father in law).  In 1820 Jesse Andrews had a family of 11 in Ashford, CT.  My goal now is to see if I can find proof against the theory that this is the same person, or possibly some further evidence to support it.

A couple of details are troubling:

  • why were Jesse and Sarah living alone in 1830, if they still had two growing children, Alden and Hannah? Benjamin and his wife also lived alone.  The births of none of the children are recorded in Rhode Island or Connecticut, so I’m not yet sure who the siblings are – did one take Alden and Hannah over the border into Massachusetts for a while, to live?  The parents were quite old.
  • Why name a child Alden when I see no evidence of that family connection in the backgrounds of Jesse and Sarah?
  • I am only slightly troubled by Sarah (if it is her) being called Sally in the marriage record and yet was never called that in later documentation.  She was young at the time of her marriage and may have outgrown the nickname.
  • Siblings Benjamin, Alden and Hannah used the following in naming for their own children:  Griggs, Norriss, Merrill, Vernon.  So far, none appear among these Rhode Island relatives.

If the Jesse and Sally from Warwick theory proves to be a dead end, I have one more theory.  Alden Andrews moved many times, always working as a farmer until a stroke at age 56 ended his life.  He ended up living in Rhode Island just over the border from Connecticut in Summit Hill, Coventry.  There are many Andrews around there.  I am finding no evidence that his father Jesse was from there, but I will keep looking.

Next steps

  • Visit the Warwick town hall to explore deeds for Jesse and his father, Phillip, who had died before 1795.  In particular, look for evidence that Jesse was leaving town sometime in the 1810′s.
  • Also explore deeds in Warwick for Joseph Arnold,  Sally’s father.
  • Try to find a Rhode Island Andrews or Arnold connection among the neighbors in Ashford, Connecticut.  If anything, there seem to be more Arnolds.
  • Try using the Massachusetts Deeds on FamilySearch.org to help me locate Jesse in a nearby Massachusetts town around 1817.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2013/07/06/finding-hannah-andrews/

robin

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I found two opportunities recently to access the Rhode Island State Census records of 1865 and 1875: the State Archives, and through my subscription at Ancestry.com.

A Visit to the Rhode Island State Archives

I visited the Rhode Island State Archives recently, at 337 Westminster Street in Providence.  I parked on the street at a meter, but it turned out I could have parked in the valet lot next door and had my parking ticket validated (for up to two hours only) at the archive.  The web site is not extensive, but once you get there, staff are helpful and available.

Card index of the 1875 RI state census, and part of the collection of city directories

Card index of the 1875 RI state census, and part of the collection of city directories

The Archives is a good place to access both the Rhode Island State Census of 1865 and 1875.  The 1875 State Census has a large card file index; the 1865 census has an index housed on 16 mm microfilm.  Once you find an entry, the actual census record can be viewed on microfilm.  You just never know how things will be in an archive, but using these census records was very easy.  I printed out 27 pages at a cost of  15 cents per page.

The 1865 R.I. state census and 1875 R.I. state census

First of all let me say these are very detailed census sheets, including all household members, street name and number, place of birth, parentage (nationality), occupation, and, if in school, a code for the school.  There is a compiled census report at the archive which may give the school names, I haven’t checked.

There were some huge surprises in the 1865 & 1875 state census for me:

An older Aunt Jenny with her twin great nieces, my mom and Ann

An older Aunt Jennie with her twin great nieces, my mom and Ann

  • My grandfather’s Aunt Jennie (Anna Jean Bennett; a story I started two years ago) had moved to Providence by 1875 and was living on Broadway with her first husband, a druggist.  That explains how Aunt Jennie made it to Providence from Newton, Massachusetts, something I never understood before, and will help me uncover the rest of her fascinating story (she has no descendants).
Lewis M., age 1

Lewis M., age 1

  • Looking at the 1865 census record for Maggie Lawrence and her parents (James and Annie Lawrence), I was surprised to see a baby “Lewis” living with them, who seems to0 young to belong to Maggie’s parents (and, indeed, is gone from the parents’ household by 1870).  This was shortly before Maggie’s second marriage, and the baby could have been hers, but that’s not clear on the census and Lewis was enveloped in the “Lawrence” last name.  Could my adopted gg-grandfather Louis actually have been his mother’s son?  or his mother’s nephew?  I have never found an adoption record for him, his birth around 1863 falls before the court mandated an adoption record.  I may never know more than this, although it did give me some new names to try in the birth records, but I found nothing. I don’t yet know the name of Maggie’s first husband, and I suspect she did not marry him in Rhode Island.
  • In 1875 my ggg-grandparents William Murdock and Maggie (Lawrence) Murdock were living with several children after 10 years of marriage (they had both been married previously).  Their son William was 8, and the other children were Lewis 11, Jessie 15 and Annie 19.  Jessie and Annie were born in Nova Scotia, as was the father, William Murdock, but Lewis was listed as born in Providence.  I already knew about Lewis and Annie, who were supposed to be adopted, but the name Jessie really threw me and made me wonder if she could perhaps be my gg-grandmother with the mysterious parentage, arriving in the U.S. as a teenaged relative of some sort.  Now after viewing more vital records I think Jessie and Annie may both be William’s children from the first marriage in Nova Scotia.  I am now busy finding out what happened to them; the vital records are suggesting the first wife may have been named Eliza, and died in 1864.
  • In the 1875 census, Russell and Hannah Lamphere had moved back north from Alabama and were living in Johnston, R.I., where Russell was a “Manufr of Cotton Goods”.  I assume he was trying to start a mill operation of his own, although I know by 1880 he was in Providence, working as a supervisor in one of the larger cotton mills there.   I think I might find more information in Johnston, perhaps in tax records, about that business.
  • As I suspected, my gg-grandfather Addison Darling, age 19, was in Providence in 1875, working as a “Designer in Silver” and living with his sister Sarah and her husband, the silversmith William H. H. Swan.  Previously, that idea had been based on indirect evidence.

NEW THIS WEEK – It’s also on Ancestry.com

Since I found these census entries I have realized that they are now on Ancestry.com, with full pictures of the census records — newly arrived this week, I think. These include the 1865 census, the 1875 census, as well as the 1885, 1905, 1915, 1925 and 1935 which were already on FamilySearch.org.   In future I will be careful to always check out that possibility on the Ancestry site (although I am already noticing the indexing is not as good as the state archives version).

What else is at the State Archives

Microfilm station at the State Archives

One of 3 or 4 microfilm stations at the State Archives

I plan to explore the state archives more in the future.  They have  a convenient index of Rhode Island vital records from 1853-1900, as well as hard-to-find 1850-1853 records.  The index volumes lead to the microfilm of the state copy of the records, which would have been gathered from the towns.

I plan to explore their resources more in the future, for instances where my ancestors’ lives would have intersected with state government, for instance, through a state legislature bill, or a job, etc.  The staff were helpful and I can’t wait to go back with more questions.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2015/06/11/r-i-state-census-of-1865-1875/

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Picturesque Rhode Island by Wilfred H. Munro (Providence: J.A. and R.A. Reid, 1881) features hundreds of engravings of Rhode Island scenes.  Recently, I purchased a copy of the book, and I am able to make high-quality scans of the many pictures contained in the book.

The illustrations, below are from the Providence section of Picturesque Rhode Island.  They are no longer under copyright.  Please feel free to use them.  In the future I will post collections from other cities and towns.

View of Providence, from Prospect Terrace, p. 178

View of Providence, from Prospect Terrace, p. 178

The Providence Athenaeum, p. 188

The Providence Athenaeum, p. 188, a private library

The Buildings of the Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company, p. 193

The Buildings of the Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company, p. 193 – now called The Foundry

The High School

The High School, p. 192 – built in 1878 on Summer Street, near the present Classical and Central High Schools

A View of Providence, from Smith's Hill

A View of Providence, from Smith’s Hill, p. 162

A View of Crystal Lake, Roger Williams Park

A View of Crystal Lake, Roger Williams Park, p. 183

The Works of the Nicholson File Company

The Works of the Nicholson File Company, p. 193, were just west of downtown, between the present Harris Ave and Kinsley Streets, on Acorn Street

The Butler Hospital, p. 198

The Butler Hospital, p. 198

A View of Exchange Place, p. 184.  Providence City Hall is in the center.

A View of Exchange Place, p. 184. Providence City Hall is in the center.

The Friends School, now called Moses Brown School

The Friends School, now called Moses Brown School

The New Court House, p. 189, was near the spot of the current courthouse, but was obviously facing the East Side, since the street slopes down behind it, towards downtown.

The New Court House, p. 189, was near the spot of the current courthouse, but was obviously facing the East Side, since the street slopes down behind it, towards downtown.

Hoppin Homestead Building, p. 185, the top floor was the original home of the Rhode Island School of Design.

Hoppin Homestead Building, p. 185, on Westminster Street – the top floor was the original home of the Rhode Island School of Design. Several other schools were housed in the building.

A View of Westminster Street, p. 200

A View of Westminster Street, p. 200

For interesting old photographs of Providence landmarks, be sure to visit the Providence City Archives Photo Gallery.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2013/06/16/views-of-1881-providence/

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In the past I have always ordered Providence vital records through the mail.  But today I thought I would venture over to Providence City Hall, 25 Dorrance Street, myself, and see if I could just look at the record book that I wanted.  I was looking for the death record of my gg-grandmother Jessie MacLeod Murdock.  One never knows how such a mission will go.

I circled the block several times and managed to find a legal parking place on Washington Street.  That was extremely lucky.  Meter was broken; also extremely lucky.  The City Hall is a beautifully dour 1878 building.

A turn of the century view of city hall; it looks much like this today.

A turn of the century view of city hall; it looks much like this today, although the statue has been moved.

I knew the Vital Statistics office was on the first floor.

The Vital Statistics office is for modern records only.

The Vital Statistics office is for modern records only.

I ventured in and inquired.  The clerk said for a 1936 record I needed to go to the city archives on the fifth floor.  Really?  That sounds like fun.

The building itself is fascinating.  There is always some kind of renovation underway; today I saw a “portrait restoration project” going on in a hallway, with a restoration specialist hard at work.  There are portraits everywhere; the ones I saw were mostly of former mayors.

The center stairway is lovely and most floors have large hallways that circle it.

View from the first floor

View from the first floor

I got up to the fifth floor.  It is mostly for current and past probate.  I’ve looked at records there before.

The fifth floor

The fifth floor

I wandered around looking for something about Archives.  Then I noticed at the end of the hall a sign for “City Archives” pointing up another set of marble stairs.

The secret stairway to the archives

The secret stairway to the archives

The City Archives is located in the top dome of the city hall and includes two floors.  There are some archive rooms and a gallery storage area.

Yes.  It was this cool.

Yes.  It was this cool.  Note the upper level.

The City of Providence was founded in 1636.  So the archivists have a big job.  I have heard recently – I think in the Rhode Island Genealogical Society newsletter – that they have a wonderful archivist in charge, doing excellent work.

I walked in and was met by Nathan Lavigne, Archival Assistant.  He showed me the normal archives routine – lockers, no bags to be brought in, sign in, etc.  There were other patrons, so I looked around a bit while I was waiting.

I noticed this book of maps right away.

I noticed this plat book right away.

The plat book looked like this inside:

Sample of the Providence plat book

Sample of the Providence plat book

He showed me where to find the death record in the index books.

Some index volumes to the vital records

Some index volumes to the vital records

I quickly found my record and Nathan took the information and retrieved the volume of records for me.  This is what I saw:

Jessie-crop

Jessie Ruth Murdock died May 5, 1936.

The record names her parents, William & Rachel McLeod.  I was hoping for Rachel's maiden name.

The record names her parents, William & Rachel McLeod. I was hoping for Rachel’s maiden name.

Drat.  My luck ran out.  No new details in Jessie’s death record.  Jessie was my mom’s great grandmother, and died too early for mom to really remember her.

After a last look around at records I didn’t have time to investigate, I had to leave.

I'll be back, probate records.  I'll be back.

I’ll be back, probate records. I’ll be back.

This large book Owner of Lots in Providence R.I. 1798 was accompanied by an index.  Unfortunately, my ancestors had left Providence by 1798, and hadn't yet returned.

This large book Owners of Lots in Providence R.I. 1798 was accompanied by an index. Unfortunately, my ancestors had left Providence by 1798, and hadn’t yet returned.

The research possibilities are endless. The top volume read Steam Boilers 1862.

The research possibilities are endless. The top volume reads Steam Boilers 1862.

To learn more about the City Archives, visit the City Archives web page, see their useful “Basic Holdings Summary”, their Policies and Procedures, and their hours.  They have begun to compile Research Aids which can be viewed on their Research page.  The web pages also contain an interesting history of the city and a history of city hall, information on the various mayors, and some pictures of Providence.

Nathan Lavigne was friendly and helpful. He will be happy to answer any questions you may have; he can be reached at 401-421-7740, ext 314 or nlavigne AT providenceri.com.  Nathan also invites you to like their Facebook page Providence City Archives and view their images on FLICKR.

I’m sure I will be visiting again soon to investigate some items I noticed in the Basic Holdings Summary.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2013/03/22/a-visit-to-the-providence-city-archives

A view from the upper levels of the city hall

A view from the upper levels of the city hall

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