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Rhode Island Roots is the journal of the Rhode Island Genealogical Society.  It is published four times per year and in the last decade, an extra volume of record transcriptions has also been made available annually to RIGS members.  Edited by Cherry Fletcher Bamburg, FASG, with Michael F. Dwyer currently serving as Assistant Editor, Linda Mathew editing the special records volumes, and Geri Clarke producing an annual index of names, Rhode Island Roots is a high quality journal that targets a compact location.  We who are researching are extremely lucky to have it.

I tried something recently that worked out quite well.  Knowing I would be on an airplane all day, I took with me, instead of my usual paperbacks, only several genealogy journals.  These included Rhode Island Roots and a few other journals.  With nothing else to do, I read every word, from cover to cover. I thought I had been reading them previously, but from editor’s introductions to lists, articles, footnotes and book reviews, it was Rhode Island Roots that surprised me the most.  I had been missing a lot.

Rhode Island Roots, March, 2014

Rhode Island Roots, March, 2014

Why I think Rhode Island Roots is important

In my opinion there are three reasons to carefully read each issue of Rhode Island Roots from cover to cover:

  • There may be some direct evidence related to your ancestors, for instance they could be mentioned by name in a transcribed list, as a relative of a family being studied, or involved in an event or story under discussion.  I think everyone understands this.  Rhode Island Roots provides an index at the end of each year.  I suspect this is the most common use of journals, and that’s unfortunate.
  • Reading well-edited genealogical journals is the best way to learn.  How did the researcher find evidence?  What were the sources?  How did the argument progress, and was it convincing?  Did the writer rely on vital records (hardly likely in early Rhode Island!) or did he or she assemble other direct and indirect evidence into a solid case? To what extent would you agree that a reasonably exhaustive search was done, and how was possible counter-evidence treated?  It would take me several readings of an article to really know any of these answers.  And then, I often find myself wondering how I could assemble clues to solve my own research problems.  What I am writing here is not new, it is standard advice that any aspiring genealogist will hear often.
  • Every step taken by the writer is a lesson in local research.  For Rhode Island Roots in particular, there is not an article or item that is worth skipping, because the state is too small for that.  Where did the writer turn for evidence?  What repositories?  What books, databases, records, manuscripts, and journals?  How did they seem to evaluate the content they were finding?  What migration patterns are seen?  What laws or local events impacted lives?  What evidence was found for various types of activities – seafaring, farming, trades, adoption, immigration, holidays, divorce, crime, education, burial?  What type of evidence was available for each town, and where was it found?

5 things I learned from reading Rhode Island Roots

  • East Greenwich soldier Phillip Andrew (potentially my 5th great-grandfather if I ever get this solved) appears in a list of French and Indian War soldiers at Fort Stanwix in Rome, New York, recorded in a journal by Beriah Hopkins in 1762.  Most likely, this manuscript was not available to Howard M. Chapin when he compiled Rhode Island in the Colonial Wars (1918; reprinted Clearfield, 2010), so it’s interesting to have another source of information about the local soldiers in Philip’s unit, and some of their experiences.    ( — Ensign Beriah Hopkins His Book by Rachel Peirce, Rhode Island Roots, 40:1, March, 2014, p. 24-35).
  • In a story about Warwick families, while examining footnotes, I learned that, in addition to the cemetery office records I’ve already used, one can find deeds for North Burial Ground plots recorded at the Providence City Archives.   ( — A Line of Descent from Ambrose Taylor, Chairmaker of Warwick, Rhode Island by Cherry Fletcher Bamburg, FASG, Rhode Island Roots, 40:1, September, 2013, p. 113-133.)
  • We always think of finding records and reports on our ancestors, but all of our hard work is for nothing if we don’t know how to analyze what we find. I wish every aspiring genealogist who has ever uncovered a compiled genealogy book or article mentioning their ancestor could read Notes on Thomas Ward of Newport by Cherry Fletcher Bamburg, FASG.  Put the webinars away for a bit and focus on this amazing analysis of research on the well-known Ward family of Newport by leading genealogists over the last 200 years. It is helping me be a more critical reader.  ( — Notes on Thomas Ward of Newport by Cherry Fletcher Bamburg, FASG, Rhode Island Roots, 38:3, September, 2012, p. 148-164.)
  • An excellent overview of all Warwick, Rhode Island records by Cherry Fletcher Bamburg is very useful.  She talks about the existence of various types of early records, what has been complied and published, and where they can be found.   ( — Warwick, Rhode Island Records in 1776 by Cherry Fletcher Bamburg, FASG, Rhode Island Roots, 39:4, December, 2013, p. 203-205).
  • If you haven’t read “Aunt Hat” and the Bigamy King by Rachel Peirce, run, don’t walk, to find it.  It’s a thoughtful retelling of a difficult story, and while I’m not sure most of us will find a story quite this sensational in our own families, every genealogist struggles with how to tell difficult truths.    ( — “Aunt Hat” and the Bigamy King by Rachel Peirce, Rhode Island Roots, 39:3, September, 2013, p. 135-150).

How to subscribe

Membership for the Rhode Island Genealogical Society runs on a calendar year system, January – December.

New Englnad Historic Genealogical Society library oin Boston.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

New England Historic Genealogical Society library in Boston. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

How to access older issues

Older issues of the journal are accessible from the New England Historic Genealogical Society website.  This page on the RIGS website leads to that.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/08/20/reading-rhode-island-roots/

cats-cups

On a recent visit to the New England Historic Genealogical Society library in Boston I discovered a book of paintings of 1830’s Providence by Edward Lewis Peckham.  “A Painter of Old Providence” appeared in The Journal of American History, volume VI, No. IV, 1912, and included an article by Mr. Peckham’s nephew, Stephen Farnum Peckham.  This article (and additional material from two subsequent issues, volume VII, No. 1 & 2, 1913) were re-issued as a limited-printing booklet, and it is from that booklet that I photographed many of these paintings and drawings.  The remainder are clipped from the Internet Archives copies of the journals, linked above.

Clicking each image will show a larger version.

This beautiful view of Market Square was drawn in 1835, looking east.  In the foreground is the large bridge and one of the shops on it has a sign “Books.”  How I wish I could visit. You can see the First Baptist Church in America in the background.

Market Square

Market Square

View of Providence from the East Bank, 2 miles down the river around 1843.  On the right is Fox Point.

Providence from 2 miles down the bay

Providence from 2 miles down the bay

The Fox Point shore, 1832, a place famous for baptisms.  “On a calm Sabbath morning the gentlest splash of an oar could be heard; and at this distant day a favorite hymn of “Oh happy are they, who their Saviour obey,” sung as the newly-made converts walked slowly to the land, is still sounding in my ears.” — Edward Lewis Peckham

Fox Point shore

Fox Point shore

The Old Town House stood on the corner of College and Benefit Streets, and was torn down in 1860.  Built in 1723 as a place of worship for the Benevolent Congregational Society, who sold it to the city in 1795, the building saw many church services of all types, and civic activities from around the time of the American Revolution and Dorr’s Rebellion.  Later, it was used as a low-level court and police station.  Today the spot holds part of the sprawling Rhode Island state court house.

The Old Town House

The Old Town House

At one point, the long low building seen at India Point was used as a bowling alley.

India Point from Fort Hill

India Point from Fort Hill

The American House hotel, 77 North Main Street.

The American House, corner of North Main and Steeple Streets

The American House, corner of North Main and Steeple Streets

The view of the Cove is from 1846. On the right is Canal Street; Steeple Street enters it at the first brick building.  The cove, where the Woonasquetucket and Moshasuck Rivers converge on the harbor, and the tide flowed in and out, was a fixture of early Providence.  Today, the old Union Station buildings sit at the center of what, below, is water. Visible to the left is the outline of the old jail.

The Cove

The Cove

Red Bridge, looking east from below the bridge, 1832.

Red Bridge

Red Bridge

The south part of Benefit Street is the view from Thomas Peckham’s house, circa 1834, looking at the corner of Transit Street.

South Part of Benefit Street

South Part of Benefit Street

Heavy Snow, Dec. 27, 1838

Heavy Snow, Dec. 27, 1838

– Paintings and drawings by Edward Lewis Peckham

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/08/11/painter-providence/

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/

This week I attended GRIP, the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.  I registered in late winter and managed to get into the “Law School for Genealogists” class led by Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL and Richard “Rick” G. Sayre, CG, CGL.   The institute was held at LaRoche College, and I stayed, along with many other attendees, in the dorms, and ate meals in the cafeteria.  Others took classes on genetic genealogy and a variety of other topics.

My dorm room was a large triple - there was also a microwave, mini frig, and bathroom to myself.

My dorm room was a large triple – I had the room (as well as microwave, mini frig, and bathroom) to myself.  Since I was driving, I was able to bring a couple things. I was glad I brought the quilt, lamp and extra pillows from home.

Day 1

I arrived on Sunday and moved into the dorm.  I knew several people who planned to attend, but that’s not a necessity – genealogists are friendly.  Some people shared dorm rooms and even those staying at local motels were welcome to pay by the meal to eat conveniently in the cafeteria.  The schedule on Sunday was to check in, get settled, and have dinner in the cafeteria.  This was followed by a welcome session and some door prizes.

I was in for a surprise at GRIP, though, because after the class lists came out, I heard from a young woman named Sara that she was my husband’s third cousin and would be there, and in the same class, and she was looking forward to meeting me.  I had to look back at my email to remember that my husband and I had corresponded with Sara several years ago, and she was obviously an accomplished genealogist who had done some excellent work on my husband’s difficult family tree.  I was very happy to be able to meet her.

Our classroom during a break.

Our classroom early in the morning.

Day 2

Monday morning, my first class was at 8:15.  I enjoyed the talks and quickly realized this was a pretty intense learning experience – for people who truly want to learn more about methods and resources for family history research, these institutes are excellent.

And I discovered there was homework each night.

A takeaway from day one:  get an old copy of Black’s law dictionary and look up each new term you encounter in probate, deeds, etc.  A late 1800’s copy should be available for free download from Google Books.  No point in buying a new one; the old terminology was removed a couple decades ago.

The lunch line, with the table area in the background.

The lunch line, with the table area in the background.

Day 3

By Tuesday I was getting used to things.  Judy Russell is a superb and experienced teacher; she is a clear speaker and very interesting.  I was far less familiar with the material being covered by Rick Sayre, about federal laws and how to find documents related to the federal government, but the wheels were turning as he got me wondering about all sorts of records I’ve never looked for.  Clearly, there are many research projects ahead for me.

Tip for the day:  Try this website: “A Century of Lawmaking” for index entries to government records that you may need to further track down and obtain.

Using my Galaxy Note tablet, I could keep the screen open for writing notes, plus another window for the pdf app to look at the syllabus.  My friend Minda McAully showed me how to open the syllabus in Acrobat Reader so I could also highlight, write on it, etc.  She's brilliant!

Using my Galaxy Note tablet, I could keep the screen open for writing notes (with the stylus), plus another window for the pdf app to look at the syllabus. My friend Linda McCauley showed me how to open the syllabus in Acrobat Reader so I could also highlight, write on it, etc. She’s brilliant!

Day 4

On Wednesday we were treated to two sessions with Marian L . Smith, who leads the Historic Research Branch at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (Department of Homeland Security).  Marian has immense knowledge of immigration and naturalization records and she gave us excellent advice about what records might exist in what era, and about the laws (and purposes) behind the various questions, forms, and records.  Since naturalization procedures were only moved to the federal government in the 1890’s, prior records – like the 1840’s records I am seeking – could be in any state, county or local court of record.  As I listened to Marian I realized I could definitely obtain, at some point, my grandparents’ naturalization records from when they came from Nova Scotia in the early 1900’s.

My takeaway from Wednesday was to pay the $20 for a Genealogy Program Index Search to obtain the correct record numbers for an ancestor processed after 1893 (but not ship manifest records, or records from port locations).  Then I could pursue getting the actual records.

That night I ate dinner with a friend from the DNA class and asked her about some questions I had about testing.  That’s almost the best thing about being here – the mealtime conversations about genealogy.

The season premiere of Who Do You Think You Are? was enjoyed by the crowd Wednesday night.  There were many aspects of the show that related to knowledge of the law for the time and places mentioned.

Some of the crowd enjoying the season opener of Who Do You Think You Are?

Some of the crowd enjoying the season opener of Who Do You Think You Are?

Day 5

On Thursday, the content was focused on laws about women, children, marriage and divorce.  There were also sessions on military pensions and Claims Committees.  I am on a mission to find supporting papers for my ggg-grandfather’s 1878 claim for reparations after the Civil War.  I feel like I have some more things to try now.

Takeaway from this day:  when using those faulty OCR-produced index services on the internet (in other words, indexing NOT produced by humans) try to use as many services as possible (like maybe Ancestry.com, Fold3 and Family Search) since they will all have different index entries.

My books from the Maia's Books exhibit.  She is willing to ship them, also.

My books from the Maia’s Books exhibit. She is willing to ship them, also.

Day 6

On Friday, I finalized my book purchases from Maia’s books, we had our last sessions, received certificates and prepared to depart.  Our teachers sent us a set of electronic documents they had gathered just for us, which I look forward to exploring more at home.

The major point of this week: find the law that will help you understand more about the document you’re reading, and also the reverse of that: continue to learn more about laws that might have impacted our ancestors, and produced record sets we’re not even  thinking of.  The whole process this week was one of reading the informative articles in the syllabus (over 100 pages), listening to and occasionally participating in the lectures, and following that up with homework each night, and, when I return home, with a lot of research I would like to do using my new knowledge and skills, plus the extra documents to go through.

There were interesting talks each night for the whole group, and I heard wonderful things about each one, but didn’t attend them.  I had some quiet evenings with friends or just doing homework.

In closing

I can heartily endorse this program.   The company was wonderful, the classes truly excellent, things ran smoothly and I know that’s not easy, and I am going home with a list a mile long of things I should be trying and ideas for specific problems. Nothing is perfect, and staying in a dorm is never a dream vacation, but overall I have no complaints. I have had more genealogy conversations here (along the lines of Did you try this?  Did you look here?  What about … ?) than probably any other venue I have ever been in.

I am grateful to my teachers Judy Russell, Rick Sayre, and Marian Smith.  I learned this week that there are laws (or occasionally some other motivation) behind records and we need to understand those purposes, look up national and local laws, and think through what was allowed and legal for the time and place that our ancestors lived.  Knowing the law can give us data and genealogical information that never appears in any index.  If person A did x in a certain year, and x could only be done by people of a certain age, that gives you a piece of data you may not find anywhere else.  And legal records are absolutely filled with direct evidence too, for instance when certain facts had to be documented for, say, a pension application.  Did our ancestors ever lie?  Well sure, but that’s just part of the fun.

You can see the 2015 program here.  I had a great week and I look forward to similar events in the future.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/07/25/grip-2014/

I really have not done a lot of research on the MacLeans of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, which is my grandfather’s family.  But recently, I connected with a Canadian relative and he passed along some pictures, and gave me permission to post them here.  I am going to tell what little I know, and hope that others will add to my information in the comments. Most of my information comes from my cousin John and my Aunt Mae.  Yup, this is the side of the family that actually kept track of their heritage.

Unfortunately, none of us have had much success tracing them back to Scotland, although we know they likely arrived in Cape Breton during the 1820’s.  I am leaving some notes here for other descendants (and there are many) who may want to collaborate further.

John Alexander MacLean, 1892-1933

My grandfather, John Alexander MacLean, 1892-1933

John and Josie (MacLeod) MacLean

My grandparents John Alexander MacLean and Josie May MacLeod were married June 16, 1920 in North Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  John, called Jack, was born 17 Feb 1892, and Josie was born 3 Aug 1892. They lost their first daughter, Josie, but had four children after that:  Kenneth Torquil, Marion Bannington, and twins named for themselves, John Alexander and Josie May.  My grandfather John MacLean died in Providence in 1933, and Josie raised the children in Rhode Island.  My Uncle Ken wrote about the family in this post:  Where We Came From.

Torquil MacLean

Torquil MacLean

Torquil and Sarah MacLean

My grandfather John MacLean’s parents were Torquil and Sarah (MacLean) MacLean.  Torquil MacLean was a farmer and ferryman in Englishtown, Nova Scotia who was born 15 Aug 1841 at Wreck Cove, Victoria, Nova Scotia, and died in Englishtown 29 Dec 1921. He was the son of Donald MacLean and Christine MacLeod.

I believe Torquil MacLean is well known among his many descendants, and locally, as the ferryman, from back in the day when that meant rowing, and coaxing horses on board, with their wagons, and even earlier, when the boat was smaller and the horse swam along behind, held by a rope.  Apparently he took over the ferry from his own father, ran it for 50 years, and his son Allen succeeded him in the business.  Today, the local ferry is still named for Torquil MacLean.  Torquil’s story was told in Issue 2 of Cape Breton’s Magazine.

Sarah (MacLean) MacLean

Sarah (MacLean) MacLean

Sarah MacLean was born in Middle River, Nova Scotia, 24 Mar 1852 and died 1 Jan 1940 in New Campbellton, Nova Scotia.  Her parents were Allen MacLean and Margaret Nicholson.  I do not know the connection between Torquil and Sarah’s families.

Torquil and Sarah MacLean’s children

Torquil and Sarah had eleven children.  Remarkably, they had five girls followed by six boys (family lore has it that they dug a new well).  Those researching Torquil and Sarah MacLean should consult The Road to Englishtown by Bonnie Thornhill (2009), p. 270-288.

  • Christena “Tena” MacLean, 1875 – 1968.  Married Charles Thomas Woolnough.  They lived in Halifax, where he ran a hotel/restaurant.
  • Mary MacLean, 1879 – 1931.  Married Malcolm B. Morrison in 1904.  Resided in Englishtown.  Their children were Dan, Edward, Gordon, Harry, John, Neil, and Sadie. 
Mary (MacLean) Morrison. Photo courtesy of Brian Burnett.

Mary (MacLean) Morrison. Photo courtesy of Byron Burnett.

  • Flora MacLean, 1880 – 1952.  Married Alexander “Sandy” Bain, a blacksmith, in 1899, and resided in New Campbellton, Cape Breton.   Her obituary is on this page of the Cape Breton Gen Web Project.  
  • Margaret MacLean, 1881 – 1948.  Married Donald R. MacDonald. She was a nurse and he was a doctor. She and her husband passed away within a few days of each other in Shediac, New Brunswick. 
  • Alice “Lexy” MacLean, 1883 – 1969.  She may have been married twice, first to John Phillip McLeod and later to Felix Gillan.  She died in Detroit, Michigan in 1969.
Daniel J. MacLean. Photo courtesy of Brian Burnett.

Daniel J. MacLean. Photo courtesy of Byron Burnett.

  • Daniel John MacLean, 1885 – 1918.  Daniel died in an Alberta coal mine in 1918.
  • Allan MacLean, 1887 – 1954. The only son to live a relatively long life, Allen took over the ferry from his father, and is mentioned in the Torquil MacLean article cited above (Cape Breton Magazine).  He married Sadie Grace Campbell, who died in 1930, and afterwards married Annie Urquhart, who lived until 1993.  His children were Daniel Edward, John Campbell, Allen Torquil, Robert K., Malcolm Arnold, Sadie Grace, and Margaret (Peggy).
Kenneth MacLean.  Photo courtesy of Brian Burnett.

Kenneth MacLean. Photo courtesy of Byron Burnett.

  • Kenneth R MacLean, 1889 – 1934.  Kenneth was a sailor, and was working for a Great Lakes transportation company in Buffalo, NY when he drowned.  He was married to Mary Belle Sutherland and had several children.
  • John Alexander MacLean, 1892 – 1933.  My grandfather, see above.  During WWI, he became a U.S. citizen due to the requirements of his job on board ships that were providing transportation services for the U.S. military. He married Josie MacLeod in 1920 and they had four children in Brooklyn, NY. He died in the hospital from an infection in 1933.  The family had recently moved to Rhode Island from Brooklyn and my grandmother decided to stay on in Rhode Island after his death.
Edward MacLean.  Photo courtesy of Brian Burnett.

Edward MacLean. Photo courtesy of Byron Burnett.

  • Edward C. MacLean, 1894 – 1913. Edward was a young coal miner, unmarried I believe, when he died in a mining accident in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia in 1913.  My cousin Byron Burnett tells me that he is buried in the Auld Cemetery, Englishtown. 
  • Hugh Neil MacLean, 1896 – 1921.  Hugh served in WWI.  His draft papers from Poccahontas, Alberta, Canada report him as 5′ 9″, blue eyes, light brown hair, working at that time as a miner.  He served overseas during the war.  He was working on a ship after his return, and disappeared in New York City the night he was supposed to report to the ship.  Nothing more was heard from him and he was presumed dead.  At the time, my grandparents were a young married couple living in Brooklyn and were, I would think, the last family members to see him.  

A glimpse of the Torquil MacLean family

The book “Down North and Up Along” by Margaret Warner Morley (New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1900) recounts the author’s travel experiences in Nova Scotia in the late 1890’s. She took the Englishtown Ferry along with a friend and a rented horse named Dan.

TORQUIL McLANE’S ferry is the notable instrument by means of which the traveller can find his way out of Englishtown to the north.
Englishtown lies opposite the narrowest part of St. Anne, which here may be about a mile wide, but that providential tongue of land must not be forgotten which separates the inner harbour from the outer bay, leaving only ” a passage for one vessel at a time,” and making of it a safe refuge in time of war.
Although not at present of military importance, the tongue of land still answers a very good purpose in shortening the labours of Torquil, the ferryman, who Is a man of note all over Cape North, and, for that matter, much farther. For whoever writes an article or even a letter about this part of the country, never fails to adorn the same with the picturesque name of Torquil McLane, the Englishtown ferryman.
Torquil must be pronounced ” turkle,” and Cape Breton on the spot must be called Cape ” Britton.” It is supposed by some that the island got its name from the Basque sailors who came to these shores from Cape Breton near Bayonne, in very early times. Be that as it may, the Basque sailors are no longer there to see justice done their mother tongue, and Cape ” Britton ” it is in the mouths of these former subjects of the British Empire.
Torquil McLane’s ferry was quite as picturesque as Torquil himself, and resembled nothing so little as our narrow-minded ideas of a ” ferry.” To see it was to understand and sympathise with Mr. A.’s concern that we should have a horse willing to cross it !
It had no landing whatever other than the pebbly beach provided by nature. The ferryboat resembled a retired dory, grown broad and flat-bottomed with increase of years. We reached this promising form of transportation by pitching down a stony embankment upon a stony beach.
Torquil was waiting for us, for had he not seen us enter town the night before, and did he not hope and trust that we should be crossing his ferry in the morning ? He was a tall, spare Highlander, and he surveyed us with his shrewd Scotch eyes, and in a deep voice inquired, after the manner of his people, where we came from, where we were going, and what our names were.
We answered and looked at each other in consternation, for while we might get aboard the high-sided boat, rocking in the water, what of Dan ? Could he and would he do this thing ? We did not believe that he could or would.
While Torquil was taking the horse from the waggon, his daughter, aged eighteen, strongly built and rosy-cheeked, appeared upon the scene. She had come to help her father row us over the ferry, and was accompanied by a little boy and a solemn-faced baby.
Torquil and his buxom daughter laid hold upon the waggon and pulled it out into the water and aboard the boat, that vehicle going through the most alarming contortions meantime. Then it was Dan’s turn, and we watched with bated breath as he waded out.
” Get in there ! ” said Torquil the ferryman — and Dan got in ! It was a beautiful sight. He pawed about with his front feet until he got them over the side and in the boat, and repeated the operation with his hind ones until he was all in. Could he have known the feelings with which we regarded him upon that occasion, he would have been a proud and happy horse.
As it was, he was no sooner in than he wished himself out again, and it became necessary for one of us to stand on a seat and keep him from walking overboard, while Torquil and his daughter pushed the boat from shore and turned it toward the other side of the harbour.
The baby was stowed for safe-keeping under the seat in the bow, whence it peered out curious but silent— as became a Scotch baby. The little boy pulled at his father’s oar until his face was crimson, and the strong-armed daughter kept stroke with her father. Thus we passed the perils of the sea.
As soon as the boat grated on the pebbles of the opposite shore, Dan scrambled overboard and Torquil harnessed him to the waggon. We paid the ferryman his fee and watched the clumsy craft go back across the mouth of the harbour bearing the far-famed ferryman, his strong daughter, his crimson-faced son, and his silent baby.

I wonder which daughter was the strong rower?  I suspect my grandfather, born in 1892, was not the solemn baby, but could he have been the boy?

A Map of Cape Breton, Englishtown highlighted, from Down North, p. 158.

A Map of Cape Breton (Englishtown highlighted), from Down North, p. 158.

In closing

I have many cousins on this side of the family and I hear from a new one from time to time.  Please, if anyone has better or further information, share it here where others will find it.  Thank you.

The post you are reading is located at:  https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/07/15/my-branch-of-the-macleans/

 

Headstone of Torquil and Sarah MacLean.

Headstone of Torquil and Sarah MacLean in the Englishtown cemetery.  Photo by Bonnie Churcher.

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

Deeds

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.

 

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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