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In part one I reviewed the few records I had of Lydia Minor’s life.  But there is so much more to know.  My research question is:

Who were the parents of Lydia Miner, who married Russell Lamphear in 1807 in Preston, Connecticut?

Last time, several people mentioned to me that surely deeds and probate would solve this.  Trust me, if deeds and probate of any person connected to this, whatsoever, would have solved this, I would have found it long ago.  I have even gone through decades of Minor/Miner probates in the surrounding counties, looking for candidates to be Lydia’s father.

Sadly, this is where southern New England’s 19th century history begins to interfere with our genealogy research.  Lydia’s husband had very few deeds because he moved to the early factories and worked all his life for others, usually renting, and only occasionally owning a piece of a property; certainly he had no early deeds related to Lydia’s connections.  And I suspect Lydia’s father did not leave a farm to pass down, thereby limiting the need for probate for him, whoever he was.  Sometimes, problems around 1725-1750 can actually be easier.

Lydia’s birth

To begin at the beginning, Lydia was born.  This occurred in approximately 1786, based on her death record.  Since Lydia married, in 1807, Russell Lamphere, originally of Westerly, R.I. (and at the time of the marriage, reportedly a resident of Norwich, Conn.)[4], Lydia may reasonably have been born in either Rhode Island or Connecticut, since I have no idea at what point she met him. Since much more is known of Russell’s life, we’ll review that next time in an effort to determine the possible meeting place of the couple.

There are several possible sources of information on Lydia’s birthplace:

  1. The newspaper listing for the marriage (see part one) mentioned that it took place in Preston, Connecticut.  To pursue this clue, deed, probate, census and vital records from Preston must be examined.
  2. Although she was never in an 1850 or later census, Lydia’s known children were enumerated many times in the federal census and gave a birthplace for her.
  3. Death records for any of Lydia’s known children might give a birthplace for her.
  4. Combining the clue (from part one) that Lydia and her husband were Methodists, explore any Methodist churches in Preston (although clearly she did not necessarily grow up Methodist).
  5. Look for surviving Methodist church records from Norwich Falls to see if Lydia transferred from another location.
  6. Look for Minors in Westerly where Lydia’s husband grew up
  7. Look for leads in the book Thomas Minor Descendants, 1608-1981 by John A Miner (Trevett, Maine, 1981)

(1) Preston, Connecticut records

Maps – To review the state of records for Preston, Connecticut, I first examined the map.  I also pulled out some New London County history books.

map New London County

Part of New London County, Connecticut, bordering Rhode Island, showing Norwich and nearby Preston/Griswold; also Westerly, R.I. and Stonington, Conn.

And right away, as I reviewed the history of New London county towns, I realized something.  Griswold, Connecticut was not set off from the town of Preston until 1815.  Therefore in 1807, when Lydia married, the area of both Griswold and Preston would have been referred to as Preston. This is especially interesting because Griswold borders the Windham County town of Plainfield, something that will figure in this story when I talk about Lydia’s husband.

Southwestern Preston also extended slightly further west in 1807 with a strip a land that was re-incorporated back into Norwich in 1901.[5]  In a way, that makes Preston barely distinguished from Norwich, and makes me think Russell and Lydia could have been close neighbors, perhaps working in the same Norwich cotton mill.

Census – The 1790 census does not distinguish between the various towns of New London County.  Looking at the 1800 census for Preston, only one Minor:

  • 1800 – Elisha Miner, Preston, New London, Connecticut
    • males under 10    2
    • males 26-45   1
    • females under 10    2
    • females 26-45    1

No Minors appear in the 1810 Preston census.

Probate from New London County records on Familysearch.org.  These are from various New London County towns; none appear to be from Preston residents.

  • Thomas Miner, late of New London. Court of Probate, District of New London.  Book N (16 Sep 1786 – 11 Aug 1794), p. 178, 190, 191. Inventory filed 13 December 1790 mentions 3 tracts of real estate only. (Not traceable in the Thomas Minor book.[6])
  • Elisha Miner, (presumably of East Lyme where he and his wife Ruth Robbins are buried – Thomas Miner book p.69), Court of Probate, District of New London.  Book N (16 Sep 1786 – 11 Aug 1794): 32, 233, 239. Page 232 with most of the will is missing; will mentions sons Elisha & William.  Inventory, undated, approx. June 1792.
  • Daniel Miner, late of Lyme.  (Rev., born Norwich, of “Separates” church. Son of Abigail Turner, m. Amy Smith – Thomas Miner book p. 65).  Court of Probate, District of New London.  Book unlabeled (January 1799-1801): 201, 207.  Will presented Oct 1799. Mentions numerous adult children. No Lydia.
  • Elias Miner, late of Lyme.  Court of Probate, District of New London.  Book unlabeled (January 1799-1801): 321-323, 407, 417, 441-444.   Inventory dated Jun 24 1800.  Quite substantial. Heirs: Widow Sarah, sons Benjamin, Selden, daughters Esther, Sara, Lydia, son Isaac.  Parcels of land assigned to heirs 10 Apr 1801 (married second wife Sarah Ely in August, 1786. Lydia b 1791 married Eliphalet Gillette, she died 1880 — Thomas Miner book, p. 118-9. Note – checking deeds would clarify what name Lydia used when she disposed of her plot of land.) 
  • Joseph Miner, late of Lyme.  Court of Probate, District of New London.  Book unlabeled (January 1799-1801): 440.  Inventory filed 25 Apr 1801.  No heirs mentioned.  (Hard to pin down in the Thomas Miner book.) 
  • Don Carlos Miner, late of Lyme, 9 January 1802. Extensive inventory totaling $1258.22.  5:1. (Not in the Thomas Minor book.)
  • Ephraim Miner of New London (wife: Desire Miner).  Will dated 22 Jun 1799 mentions: my granddaughter Abigail Frink, daughter Desi[re?] Frink, son-in-law David Frink. Inventory valued $4630.05. 5:157, 208. (Thomas Minor book p.77 Ephraim was the son of Rufus; m. 21 December 1751 Desire Cheeseborough. Ephraim d. 12 November 1802. Only surviving child Desire who m. David Frink. p. 77.)
  • Sarah Miner of New London, wife of Nathan Miner. Will: estate to be divided equally among her children Martha Coit Gove, Jesse Gove Miner, Mary Miner, Lucretia Miner, Rebecca Miner, and nothing to daughters Elizabeth and Sarah (already given their portions). Inventory dates 3 September 1804. 5:277-278. (Thomas Minor book p. 128, Nathan married Sarah Gove 22 May 1786; children are detailed.)
  • Phebe Miner of Lyme. Will mentions: my husband Thomas Miner, my brother Thomas Mather, nephew John Gill son of Thomas Gill and my sister Mehitable Gill, brother Samuel Mather. Will not complete; ending and date omitted from record. Exhibited in probate court 17 June 1811.   6:507.  (Thomas Minor book, p. 54, mentions that Phebe Mather and Thomas married in 1810 rather late in life, she died within a year after a stillbirth.)  
  • Lydia Miner (sometimes Minard) of Montville.  7:350 will dated 11 January 1815 mentions Lydia Miner daughter of Abiather Miner, widow Mary Bishop, Mrs. Howard wife of Mr Nathan Howard, Mrs. Weeks wife of John Weeks, Betsey Waterhouse; Nathan Steward to be executor.  7:427 receipt signed by Abiathar Minnard, father and guardian of Lydia Minard. (Not found in Thomas Minor book.)
  •  Elisha Miner of Lyme, will dated 24 October 1816 (7:526) mentions daughter Ruth (wife of Ezekiel Huntley of Bozrah), daughter Amy wife of Roderick Gardner of Bozrah, daughter Betsey Miner, daughter Nancy Miner, daughter Eunice Miner, son Alvin Miner, son Elisha Miner.  Inventory $3839 (7:535-537).  (According to Thomas Minor book, p. 139, Elisha was predeceased by his wife, Amy Way Miner, and died 25 December 1816.  List of children with no birth dates.)
  • Daniel Miner of 2nd Society, Lyme, widow Esther Miner, dec’d mentioned. Real estate distribution: Esther Lee wife of Levi Lee mentioned, Allan Miner mentioned, 6 Oct 1817. (7: 590). (Thomas Minor book p. 69 details wife Esther Prentis and children born in the 1750’s.)
  • Elizabeth Miner of New London, inventory taken 12 December 1825; total not visible due to flaws in microfilm copy (9:71), estate insolvent 9 October 1826, list of debts totaling $50.36 (9:143), sale of personal estate advertised in the Republican Advocate, reported October 1826 (9:171). (Not traced in Thomas Minor book.)             

Deeds (from Preston only).

I looked carefully though the deed index volumes 1765-1829.  I compiled a slip of requests and the clerk photocopied them for me, for a fee.  I prefer to photograph but that’s the way it is in Connecticut.  Here is what I found:

  • 9 (1770-1779): 201.  9 May 1775, Simeon Miner and Samuel Miner both of Stonington requested review of a boundary between land laid out to William Billings and an adjoining tract laid out to Roger Billings in 1680/81; James Rice, Thomas Rice, Theophilus Rice and Daniel Rice (Rix?) all of Preston were the adjoining owners in contention. Boundary was laid out satisfactorily along the west side of Billings Brook.  (No Simeon/Samuel pair (of brothers?) identified in Thomas Minor book.)
  • 12 (1792-1797): 507.  23 May 1796, at the request of Thomas Rix, a true copy of an 1680/81 deed by Thomas Miner gives “to my two sons Ephraim and Joseph Minor” one hundred acres of land “laid out to Mr Ephraim and Mr Joseph Minor” and granted to Thomas Minor. (Ephraim and Joseph not identified in Thomas Minor book.)
  • 12 (1792-1797): 521.  9 April 1792, Luther Thurber of Preston for 135 pounds [?] sells to Elisha Miner of New London a lot of land [detailed in another 1792 deed] with the buildings thereon. Elisha Miner agrees to maintain the north fence. Recorded 11 February 1796. Witn: Elias Brown, Samuel Capron. (May be the Elisha Minor, son of Simeon and Mary Owen Minor, and brother of John O., who married Eunice Capron 2 February 1792; p. 155-156 in Thomas Minor book. This possibility also applies to all subsequent deeds below.)
  • 12 (1792-1797): 554.  9 January 1797, Elisha Miner of Preston for 170 pounds a lot (same as purchased from Luther Thurber) to William Pollard. William Pollard to support the north fence.  Witn: Elias Brown and Obadiah Chapman.
  • 13 (1794-1803): 9. 28 June 1790 (recorded 8 May 1797), Benjamin Green of Boston for 100 pounds quitclaims unto Elisha Miner of Preston land and buildings at Pauquatonnock on which an execution against Samuel Capron was levied on 15 September 1788.
  • 13 (1794-1803): 287. 13 October 1800, Elisha Miner of Preston for 300 dollars sell to John O. Miner of Groton half of a dwelling house in Pauquatonnock village with land as described.  Neighbor: Ebenezer Penderson [?] (house and lot formerly owned by Samuel Capron). John O. Minor signed a note for 280 dollars to Simeon Minor naming Elisha Minor as surety.  Witn: Simeon Miner, John Elderkin.
  • 15 (1807-1811): 210. 1 April 1809, John O. Minor of Groton for $279.75 sells to William P. Capron of Preston two tracts mortgaged to me by Elisha Minor formerly of Preston but now deceased (1) half a house in Pauquatonnock formerly belonging to Samuel Capron and (2) half a lot in Groton (recorded there October 1800); the 279.75 is the amount needed to settle the mortgages.  Witn: Samuel Capron, Alice Capron. (for more on Dr. John O. Minor, see also D. Hamilton Hurd, A History of New London County, 1882, p. 450.)
  • 18 (1822-1829): 17. 7 January 1822, Elijah Brewster of Preston for $120.65 sells to John O. Minor Jr. of Groton 60 acres. Neighbors: Shipley Halsey, Elisha Brewster, Absolom Pride, [?] Smith. Failure to pay note of $120.65 will void this deed. Witn: Ralph Hurlbut, Gilbert A. Smith.
  • 18 (1822-1829): 58. 13 June 1822, John O. Miner Jr of Groton for $170 quit claim to Elijah Brewster of Preston 60 acres in Preston. Neighbors: Jeremiah S. Halsey, Elijah Brewster, Absolom Pride, Thomas Smith. Witn: John O. Minor, Benjamin Stoddard.

Preston Town Hall

Vitals

There were several books containing vital records at the town hall, including church records and one about support of soldiers’ families after the Revolutionary War.  A couple of Minor women married around 1700.  Nothing since then.

Summary of results from Preston records

The New London County probate records mostly eliminate the possibility of Lydia’s being a daughter in that family, and no probate records are from Preston. The rest are inconclusive.

Probably the most interesting result is that only one family, a set of two brothers, shows up in Preston deeds.  John O Miner was a doctor in Groton, Connecticut with a large family.  It seems almost incomprehensible that a daughter would marry in Preston, away from his family.  Elisha Miner, his brother, did not marry until 1792, too late to be Lydia’s father.  The thought that Lydia could be an orphaned niece, say, in this family is not backed up by any connections found in the book, but it’s interesting to keep track of this family for future reference, as other evidence is found.

The Minors mentioned in the earlier deeds, asking for re-analysis of old land boundaries from long-ago grants of land, are not findable in the book without further evidence.

I should add that I would never rely on the Thomas Minor Descendants book for anything other than clues.  The book is extensive but essentially unsourced.

Conclusion:  we will refer back to these records as new clues arise from other sources.

My copy of Thomas Minor Descendants. The colorful tabbed notes refer to DNA connections I’ve found. At this distance in time, in New England, it’s almost impossible to know why I am connected to someone through a small matching DNA segment. But it’s kind of fun to look around.

(2) Reports by Lydia’s children

Of Lydia’s 14 children (more another time on them), the known children who lived until 1880 reported the birthplaces of their parents to the census enumerator as follows.

  • 1880 census: both parents were born in Connecticut. 
  • 1880 census: both parents were born in Rhode Island.
  • 1880 census: both parents were born in Rhode Island ( and 1900 census, same).
  • 1880 census: father was born in Rhode Island, mother was born in Connecticut.
  • 1880 census: both parents were born in Connecticut.

It’s split right down the middle between Connecticut and Rhode Island.  However, the birthplace of the father is definitely known (Rhode Island) and in fact Russell Lamphere lived in Westerly, Rhode Island until adulthood. The children themselves were born in Connecticut, so might be inclined to favor Connecticut as the answer.  I have two (contradictory) observations:

  1. Only the children who mis-identified their father’s birthplace (by assigning him to Connecticut) said that Lydia was born in Connecticut.  But if Lydia WAS born in Connecticut, that fact may have tipped the balance of their thinking.
  2. When the answer was split, Lydia was placed in Connecticut.

(3) Death records for Lydia’s children, mentioning her

Although two independent sources confirm that Lydia and Russell had 14 children (footnote 2 of part 1 and another source to be detailed along with her children, later), I have tentatively identified only 10 of them, because the births were not recorded.

My hope, here, is to see a death record that names a place of birth for the MOTHER of the deceased person. That fact is sometimes included in formal state death records by the late 1800’s.

I have seen enough of Connecticut death record books in person to know that no place of birth for the parents will be included, but perhaps a son or daughter died in a location where there would be such a record (like Massachusetts).  Tracing each of Lydia’s children has been challenging and I have a known place of death for only seven, of which four died in Connecticut.  Lucy Ann Lamphere Cook died in Burlington, Kane County, Illinois in 1865 – I have not found a death record for her yet.  Williard/Willard Lamphere, who lived for a long time in Iowa, died in Wyoming in 1902, I am seeing only a grave, not a death record. My ancestor Russell Lamphere died in Cranston, Rhode Island; no birthplaces of parents given.

So, struck out on this one.

(4) Methodist church in Preston?

I’m not finding a lot of information about early non-Congregational churches in Preston.  Consulted D. Hamilton Hurd, A History of New London County, 1882, chapter LXXII, “Preston”, page 595-604.

(5) Methodist church in Norwich Falls?

An 1833 map of Norwich shows a Methodist Church in the Falls area where Russell and Lydia lived (evidence for their life in The Falls will be covered next time in Russell’s life story).

A Map of Norwich from Actual Survey by William Lester Jr, 1833; close up of The Falls area. The “M” and the orange box indicates a Methodist Church.

Frances M. Caulkins, in her 1866 History of Norwich, Connecticut devotes two pages to the Methodist churches (p. 605-603), and mentions the Falls chapel:

In May, 1825, a small church was dedicated at the Falls village, and for several years the members from the Landing resorted thither for public worship, forming but one church and society.

This gives the impression that the small church was not viable for long.  Nothing I’ve tried has brought up a manuscript record set for that church; maybe someday, though. If I ever get to the New London County Historical Society I will check out anything related to Methodist churches, or to The Falls area of Norwich. While it would be nice to find records, they probably wouldn’t reveal much because Lydia only lived there as a married adult, not as a child.

(6) Minors in Westerly

Since Russell and Lydia married at typical southern New England marriage ages – he, about 30, she, about 20 – it’s possible they met as young people.  So I must consider the town where Russell grew up: Westerly, Rhode Island. Lydia was likely born in 1786.

I reviewed the early census records for Westerly and surrounding towns, the searchable issues of Rhode Island Roots, and Records of the Colony of Rhode Island.

According to the Records of the Colony of Rhode Island, Asa Minor served as an Ensign in Colonel Greene’s battalion during the Revolutionary War (8:230) and Phinehas Miner sold to John York, in September 1778, a ton of pig iron.

In 1777, there were two Minors in Westerly noted in the 1777 Military census, listed one after the other [7]

  • Asa Miner, listed as a legal resident of Stonington [Conn.]
  • Phinehas Miner, 16-50, able to bear arms

By 1790, Phineas was still in the Westerly federal census pages:

Phineas Miner in the 1790 Federal Census, Westerly, R.I.

Notable, for a year when Lydia should have been a toddler, Phineas shows no wife or children.  He is living alone.  But what I realized about this record, after many years of investigating this extended family, is that “Joshua Vose” and “John Tift” are significant to the Lampheres.  Russell’s youngest brother, Daniel Lamphere, married a daughter of John Tefft and Daniel was also connected to the Vose family in a way that I believe is connected to another wife.  This makes Phineas more significant, but even The Thomas Minor Descendants asserts that Phineas was single all his life.  He had a brother Asa who married Jane Lewis but, reportedly, also died childless.  Their extended family were residents of Stonington.

On Fold3.com, Simeon Miner is included in [Col. John] Topham’s Regiment and Battalion (folder 53, page 164, person 11) on 17 January 1779.

(7) Revisit Thomas Minor Descendants

The Lydia Minor mentioned in the book that is closest in age to this Lydia is Lydia, the daughter of Lodovick and Jerusha (Peabody) Minor of Stonington, Conn. The book includes her but gives only her birth, no further details of her life.  Other trees online claim that she married Paul Maine in 1811 and died in Pharsalia, Chenango County, New York in 1874. There was no death record. The daughter of Lodovick and Jerusha COULD be my Lydia Miner, but there’s direct evidence that the entire family ended up in central New York, so I’m not going to re-investigate at this point. 

Results so far

So far, I have collected some puzzle pieces that are not fitting together.  In the next post, I will keep going with some evidence I have about Lydia’s husband Russell Lamphere, and see if any pieces start fitting together at all.  Russell had a number of associates that might, somehow, be related to Lydia.  We’ll look at them.  

Footnotes

[4] Westerly, R.I., Council and Probate, 8 (1798-1818): 350-352.

[5] Benjamin Tinkham Marshall, editor, A Modern History of New London County Connecticut, 3 vols. (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1922), 1: 2 and 1: 216.

[6] John Augustus Miner, Thomas Minor Descendants 1608-1981. (Trevett, Maine: 1981). See particular notes in green for page numbers.

[7] Mildred M. Chamberlain, The Rhode Island 1777 Military Census. Baltimore: Clearfield, published under the direction of the R.I. Genealogical Society, 1985, p. 50. [Access on Ancestry.com at http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=49316 ])

 

The post you are reading is located at:  https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2017/08/29/a-brick-wall-journey-part-2/

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Here is my story, in pictures, of my visit to the American French Genealogical Society in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.  I was truly impressed with the setting, the resources, the volunteers, and the extensive collection.  This organization of hard working volunteers (and no doubt donors) deserves enormous credit for housing and staffing a library for genealogy research.  It’s a great place to bring your genealogy questions about your French Canadian ancestors.  If you can’t get there, requests can be made through the library website; fees are charged for most requests, to keep the library going.  It’s a great organization to support.

See more on the AFGS website:

 

Rob Gumlaw gave me a complete tour of the library, and shared a lot of insight about the resources.

 

Some compiled books and disks are for sale, as well as the used books back in the book sale.

 

The main entrance. I paid an admission fee since I’m not a member. The white books in the background are an extensive set of clipped obituaries.  The decades-long products of the hard working volunteers are impressive.

 

The side room contained old Woonsocket newspapers, a book sale area, and many more books. The library tries to acquire the published works of similar societies, so their collection is not just strictly local.

 

There was a collection of statewide Rhode Island genealogy works (the Auclair Collection), including some standard local history books as well as more obscure local publications from the last 50 years that I was not familiar with.

 

An extensive selection of pamphlets was also held in the Auclair Collection. Something to peruse another day.

 

One very valuable holding at the library is a large microfilm collection of post-1853 state vital records.

 

Probably the best known feature of this library is the very extensive collection of French Catholic records both in compiled books and on microfilm. This would be a good place to inquire about any Catholic records, as well as other French Canadian record sets, like the Drouin records. They know a lot!

 

There are too many special collections for me to list here, but one of them was a set of grave photographs, accessible only at the library.

 

I swear, I only bought one book from the used book sale, listing the various early Catholic churches around New England.

 

The library, which also contains meeting space. Note there is free parking in the back.  Another useful feature was the lunchroom, allowing you to bring a lunch and have a place to eat it, a very rare opportunity in Rhode Island libraries.

Many thanks to the folks at the library for all their efforts and for the kind welcome.

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Recently I had the opportunity to visit Sheldonville, a village in Wrentham, Massachusetts where my 5x-great grandfather Nathan Aldrich built several houses, including the one where mom’s great grandfather, Addison Darling, was born.  Sheldonville is just up the road from northern Cumberland, Rhode Island.

I had met genealogist Pat Hubbell at a talk I gave at the Portsmouth Free Library and as we chatted afterwards about a brick wall problem she was having, somehow the conversation veered off to Wrentham.  I told her about how my 5x great grandfather Nathan Aldrich had built some houses there, and that I once found a small book in a library detailing the houses, but I couldn’t seem to get a copy.  Oh, she said, that’s my brother’s book.  I’ll send you one.  This is why it’s so great to get out and meet the other genealogists.  They always know stuff!

One of the houses on West Street built by Nathan and his father, Asa Aldrich.

And so she did send me the booklet, and over the coming months planned a Sheldonville day for me and another genealogist friend, Rachel Peirce, who also has a connection to Sheldonville.  Pat’s friend Rachel Garcia lives in the heart of Sheldonville and welcomed us to her home, treating us to a lovely lunch at her fascinating and relatively untouched historic house.  Pat somehow got us invited to tour the Sheldonville Baptist Church, which I knew my ancestors belonged to in the nineteenth century.  The minister and his wife could not have been nicer and we had a terrific chat with them.  And one or two local friends also joined us along the way.

The house with the Nathan Aldrich plaque at the corner of West and Burnt Swamp.

It’s surprising how much my impressions of Sheldonville changed over the course of the visit.  What was once a rural farming village, gradually dotted in the 19th century with a few straw hat factories and boat shops, is now in the direct path of significant commuter and shopping traffic.  To travel the main street of Sheldonville, West Street, is to zip quickly down a road with little opportunity to pull over or stop.  When you walk the neighborhood, you realize that there really is a neighborhood and village there, winding around a couple of surrounding streets.  You begin to get a sense of how the landscape must have felt many years ago. Even the little cemetery behind Nathan Aldrich’s house, filled with names I recognize, is much the same as it ever was.  The houses are old, and the businesses are gone, but you can imagine the farm fields, dirt roads, horses and carts, shops, and a sort of social hierarchy ranging from the inhabitants of the former mill rooming house all the way to the families in the grand and stately old homes. My family falls in the middle of that; struggling farmers in the neighborhood as the nineteenth century moved along, gradually transitioning into working folks.

Some shorn sheep seen along our walk, reminding us of Sheldonville’s rural past.  There’s a slight possibility these are not sheep.  I’m not really a farm animal expert.

I got a better look at the various plaques on the houses, and with help from Pat and Rachel and A Guide to Historic Wrentham, Massachusetts, pinned down the houses built by my 5x great grandfather, Nathan Aldrich.  I realize, now, that these were all family houses, so perhaps he really was not a house builder so much as a person that was motivated to improve his property and make a better life for his family.  His known houses are:

  • 965 West Street
  • 995 West Street
  • 63 Burnt Swamp Road
  • 93 Burnt Swamp Road

One of the houses built by Nathan Aldrich, for his son in law Luman Follett, who also developed a soap factory on the property. Nathan had a simple but effective style; a slightly boxy “Cape Cod” house.

Church records

There was a rare opportunity to see some Baptist church records that day.

Sheldonville Baptist Church Pastor Doug Pettit with his wife, Kate, and one of their sons

Some older church materials had been transferred to index cards at some point.  To save time, I photographed a number of cards for reference later. When I read through the cards, I was surprised to discover that another ancestor, my 7x-great grandfather Abner Haskell (1721-1779), was a founder of the church in 1769.  Abner was Nathan Aldrich’s grandfather.

Older transcribed church records from Sheldonville Baptist Church

[From one card:] Baptist Church of Cumberland and Wrentham

Before 1769: Some people of Baptist persuasion departed from the Congregational Church long before any Baptist Church was founded.  Many attempts were made to start such a work in West Wrentham but to no avail. Since only some were immersed, the group became deadlocked over the issue of open communion.  However, on Sept. 29, 1769 in the home of Nathaniel Robinson, 5 Baptist gentlemen signed a covenant which was the “Baptist Church of Cumberland and Wrentham.[“] Those signing the covenant were Ibrook [surely a mis-transcription of Israel?] Whipple, Nathaniel Robinson, Stephen Ballow, Abner Haskel (all of Cumberland) and Ebenezer Guild of Wrentham.   — (Rec. of Baptist Ch. and Soc. of Wrentham)

This card shows an early meeting of the founders in Abner Haskell’s home.

In 1811, Nathan Aldrich purchased pew #25 for $45.  He was divorced by that time from my 5-great grandmother Marcy Ballou, and newly married to Chloe Crowninshield.  I imagine he and Chloe enjoyed sitting in their pew each Sunday. Nathan sometimes served as the treasurer of the Society. By 1838, the church split into two due to doctrinal differences and a new church was built; Nathan subscribed $100.  Occasionally, a William Aldrich served as Sexton in the 1840’s; I believe he could be Nathan’s son (that I have never really traced) because I have seen some deeds between him and Nathan around this era.

Our little group at the church, complete with small dog (Allie). Rachel Peirce, our hostess Rachel Garcia and her friend Kathy Kelety, me in back, Pat Hubbell.

I enjoyed my day in Sheldonville immensely, and my chance to explore local history with local people.

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The following article was NOT written by me; it is copied from an out-of-copyright volume, Collections of the Rhode Island Historical Society, Volume X (Providence: RIHS, 1902).  The article, by Clarence S. Brigham, the society’s Librarian in 1902, gives a list of obscure names of places and natural features of Providence County, Rhode Island, found in documents surviving from the pre-1700 period.  Mr. Brigham includes both a map to all the places, and notes on each place name indicating where the reference to the place name was found.  His notes, in the list below, sometimes mention “at the current time” but remember, all notes refer to 1902, not today.

Some of these definitions have already helped me to decipher some early deeds, so I thought I would share this here.

For a clean copy of the original article that you can save to your computer, click here. Thanks to One Rhode Island Family’s English correspondent Walt O’Dowd for pointing that out.

Rhode Island Historical Society collections v X


LIST OF SEVENTEENTH CENTURY  PLACE-NAMES

IN

PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS  1636 – 1700

by Clarence S. Brigham

In the following alphabetical index and accompanying map the attempt is made to locate every place-name mentioned in the Providence records before 1700 and included within the original town of Providence as granted by the Indians to the early colonists, i. e., the territory between the Pawtuxet River and the Blackstone River. [note: full introductory text can be found at the bottom of this post].

SOURCES CITED

[NOTE: Mr. Brigham references the following sources in the list.  It’s probably best if we settle for his analysis of the place names, in this case (although it’s unusual for me to recommend that), since most mentions will provide no further information and these works may not be held in the repositories listed, and may now be known by different names, or are so early and fragile that access must be very limited.  The following list is in Mr. Brigham’s words. ]

  • P.R. printed volumes of Providence Records are given merely to show early or suggestive usage of a name. [These are Early Records of the Town of Providence, available online – for some reason Mr. Brigham refers to the volumes in Roman numerals – i, ii, iii, etc.]
  • The references to manuscript sources are in most cases self-explanatory. The early manuscripts in the [Providence] City Hall have been of great service, especially
    • the Fenner Papers
    • the long series of Providence Town Papers in the office of the Clerk of the Municipal Court
    • the volumes of deeds and the plat cards in the Deed Office
    • two folio volumes of early Plats of Highways in the custody of the City Clerk
  • In the library of the Rhode Island Historical Society:
    • the Field Papers
    • the Fenner Papers
    • The frequent references to the Harris Papers are to the printed volume.
  • Maps.  The following maps and atlases have been of especial value:
    • C. Harris, Map of the State of Rhode Island, 1795
    • B. Lockwood & S. B. Cushing, Map of the City of Providence and Town of North Providence, 1835
    • J. Stevens, Topographical Map of the State of Rhode Island, 1831
    • H. F. Walling, Map of the State of Rhode Island, 1862
    • D. G. Beers, Atlas of the State of Rhode Island, 1870
    • G. M. Hopkins, Atlas of the City of Providence and Environs, 1882
    • United States Geological Survey, Topographical Atlas of the State of Rhode Island, 1891
    • Everts & Richards, New Topographical Atlas of Surveys, Providence County, 1895

MAP OF PLACES

All the places, below, are mapped here.  Open to enlarge map. Note many common place names are omitted here; only the obscure ones are shown.

Click on map to enlarge and see the place names

LIST OF PLACE NAMES.

Absolute Swamp. An original boundary of Providence and undoubtedly the swamp northwest of the present Olney’s Pond and southeast of the junction of the Louisquisset Pike and the so-called Breakneck Road, in the town of Lincoln. (P. R. ii:73; iii:243; and Fenner Papers no. 17717 in City Hall.)

Antashantuck. The neck of land in the bend of the Pocasset River, east of the present Randall’s Pond in the town of Cranston. Antashantuck Pond was the present Randall’s Pond. (P. R. 4 : 68 ; viii : 72 ; and plat in Fenner Papers, p. 43, in R. I. Hist. Soc.)

Ascocanoxsuck. The single mention of this locality in 1667 gives no clue as to its location. (P. R. i : 36.)

Assopumsett Brook. See Ossapimsuck Brook.

Baileys Butts. Two little hills formerlv located on the western side of the present Grotto Brook running into Baileys Cove, and probably on either side of the present Black- stone Boulevard near Magellan street. (P. R. iii : 76, 188, and Lockwood Map of 1835. These may be the two little hills shown on Hayward’s Plan of the Proposed Survey of the Boston and Providence Railway, 1828.)

Baileys Cove. The cove at the southeast end of the Butler Hospital grounds into which the present Grotto Brook runs. It was also called Baileys Further Cove or Upper Cove. Baileys Hither Cove or Lower Cove was about one- sixth of a mile further south, where the brook from Cat Swamp empties into the Seekonk River. (P. R. i : 84 ; ii : 36, 106 ; iv : 144 ; viii : 73; – and Lockwood Map of 1835.)

Benedicts Pond. Mentioned in the records as early as 1659, being practically in the same location as it is at the present time – south of the junction of Union avenue and Wadsworth street. (P. R. i : 99, and Hopkins 1882 Atlas.)

Bewits Brow. This locality, one of the original boundaries of Providence lands, was on the west side of the Moshassuck River. The order in which it is listed in the ” Sovereign Plaister ” would seem to place it somewhere near the present Saylesville, but a careful study of early deeds places it a mile south of where the Moshassuck River bends toward the west at the upper end of the North Burial Ground. According to 18th century tradition the brow of land formerly southwest of the present junction of Charles and Hawes streets was called Bewits Brow. (P. R. ii:i8, 19, 73; iii : 243 ; and Harris Papers, p. 92.)

Blackstone River. In the 17th century almost invariably called the Pawtucket River. A rare instance of the present name is in Harris Papers, p. 171.

Broad Cove. The present Burgess Cove, north of Fields Point. (P. R. ii : 32 ; vi : 37.)

Cat Swamp. Mentioned in the records as early as 1669, although of somewhat larger extent than its present area. (P. R. iii : 118, and Lockwood Map of 1835.)

Caucaunjawatchuck. A tract of land directly northeast of the present Olneys Pond in the town of Lincoln. (P. R. i : 34 ; v : 87 ; xi : 139 ; and Plat Card 385 in City Hall.)

Cedar Swamp Brook. The ” brook from the cedar swamp flowing into Neutaconkanut river” is mentioned frequently in the early records. Identical with the present Cedar Swamp Brook in the town of Johnston. (P. R. viii : 72, 81; xiv : 100, 220.)

Chapompamiskock. A large tract of land extending southeast from the present Chopmist Hill in the northwest corner of Scituate. The name was also applied to the hill itself. (P. R. viii : 138 ; xii : 68 ; xvi: 322.)

Cold Spring. The only apparent mention of the locality of this name near Red Bridge in the early records is in 1681, where the place spoken of is undoubtedly identical with the Cold Spring situated at the extreme eastern end of East Manning street. (P. R. viii : 91 and Plat Cards 112 and 125 in City Hall.) Another locality called Cold Spring was southeast of Scotts Pond, being situated near the present corner of Lonsdale avenue and Crossman street in the city of Central Falls. (P. R. ix : 16 ; xiv : 16 ; and Walling Map of 1862.)

Cove. ” The Cove ” or great body of water formed by the joining of the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck Rivers, as is shown on all the early maps of Providence, was so called as early as 1671. (P. R. iii : 214 ; v : 199, 227.)

Alvan Fisher, painting. Providence from Across the Cove, 1818. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Cowpen Point. A point jutting into the Providence River at the present corner of Point and Eddy streets. Appears on the Anthony Map of 1803. (P. R. ii : 103 ; viii : 69.)

Cranberry Pond. That part of the present Scotts Pond, in the town of Lincoln, which was known as Cranberry Pond before the construction of the Blackstone Canal, and which to-day is sometimes called Floating Island Pond. (P. R. iii : 163 ; xiv : 13-16 ; and Stevens Map of 183 1.)

Crookfall Brook. This brook, the present boundary between Lincoln and North Smithfield, was so called as early as 1683. It was more often, however, termed the Wesquadomeset. (P. R. iv : 143 ; xiv : 194 ; xvii : 20.)

Devils Hole. A deep hole on the west side of the Woonasquatucket River, near the present village of Dyerville. (P. R.v: 97, 139; x i : 181 ; xiv : 152; and MS. Deeds, iv: 187, in City Hall.)

Dirty Cove. See Hawkins Cove.

Dividing Line between Providence and Pawtuxet lands. The attempt is here made to summarize the various details of action regarding this line, from 1640 until its final settlement in 1712.

The line from Sassafras Cove to the tree at Mashapaug and thence between the Pawtuxet and Woonasquatucket rivers “of an even distance” was agreed upon July 27, 1640 (P. R. xv : 2, j6). It was apparently run out by the Pawtuxet men in 1659 (xv : 76) and by a joint committee sometime between 1661 and 1665 (xvii 1215; Harris Papers, p. 256). In 1660 the Town of Providence voted that they would own the line to extend equally between the two rivers for twenty miles, which vote, as later testimony shows, was procured at a ” packed ” meeting (P. R. ii : 125 ; and Fenner Papers no. 16675 in City Hall). On April 27, 1661, a joint committee was appointed to extend the line beyond Mashapaug (P. R. iii : 2). This line, however, as Harris shows in his account of the survey, was run much too far north, to Hipses Rock (Harris Papers , p. 256). A joint committee appointed in 1665 to extend the line correctly beyond Mashapaug never accomplished anything (P. R. iii : 61 ; xvii : 245). In 1669 the committee of 1661 reported that they had run the line from Sassafras Cove to Mashapaug, thence north to a point midway between the two rivers, thence west to a point near the Pocasset River, which report was accepted by the Town (iii : 136 ; xvii : 215).

The subject of the dividing line rested until Harris obtained his order from the Court, November 24, 1677, requiring Providence to run a direct line from the head of the Woonasquatucket River to the Pawtuxet River, and then a line equidistant between the two rivers to this thwart line (viii : 46 ; xv : 174). Providence immediately appointed a committee (viii: 21), but endeavored to shorten the Pawtuxet territory by running a thwart line from the head of the Woonasquatucket River to a point on the Pawtuxet River near its mouth (viii : 28, 31 ; Harris Papers, p. 238 ; and map in Rider’s Hist. Tract, ser. 2, no. 4, p. 100). Although the Court disapproved of this method of running the thwart line and an order was obtained from the King requiring a true execution of the verdicts, yet the death of Harris, in 1681, removed the leader of the Pawtuxet men from the field, and on January 16, 1683, a joint committee agreed that the western boundary of the Pawtuxet territory should be the seven-mile line, and that the northern boundary should be a line running from a center point on a head line through the tree at Mashapaug to a point on the seven-mile line midway between the Woonasquatucket River and the Warwick north line (P. P. iv : 73), which was practically an equi-distant line between the two rivers. Providence approved of this report and ordered the lines to be run without delay (viii: 130). Yet, although this order was renewed in 1698 and in 1706 (xi : 43, 105) and was made the subject of numerous petitions from the Pawtuxet men (xvii: 230-274), it was not until May 14, 171 1, that the line was finally run by a joint committee. This line ran from a marked stone at Mashapaug west 14 north to the seven-mile line, and from that point due south to the Warwick line (xvii : 282). Its more specific boundaries are given in the Harris Papers, p. 371. The committee’s report was drawn up on February 11, 1712, and recorded, marked “accepted,” on March 3, 171 2 (xvii : 284.)

Dry Brook. Situated in the town of Johnston and still so called. (P. R. v: 180.) The present reservoirs on the brook, however, are of comparatively recent construction.

Foxes Hill. Appears in the records as early as 1644. The hill, which has been mostly cut away, extended between the present South Main and Ann streets as far south as India street, the highest point being near the present corner of Brook and Tockwotton streets. (P. P. ii : 5, and engraving on Anthony Map of 1823.)

Gotham Valley. A valley, formerly so called, located south of the southern bend of the Woonasquatucket River near the present junction of the Hartford and Plainfield roads. (P. R. i : 5; xiv : 168.)

Great Meadow Hollow. A valley, mentioned frequently in the early records, directly south of the present junction of Lonsdale avenue and Main street, in Pawtucket. It appears on the Lock wood Map of 1835, where it is called Meadow Hollow. The Great Meadow itself lay on the Moshassuck River to the west of the Hollow. (P. R. ii : 7 ; iii : 98 ; xi : 165 ; xiv: 162.)

Great Point. A hilly point on the northern side of the old Cove, being practically at the present junction of Gaspee street and Kinsley avenue. (P. R. ii : 36 ; iii : 175 ; and Lockwood Map of 1835.)

Great Pond. That part of the present Scotts Pond in the town of Lincoln which was known as Scotts Pond before the Blackstone Canal was built. (P. R. ix : 16 ; xiv : 16.) Earlier known as Worlds End Pond.

Great Swamp. A large swamp, much of which still remains, extending north from Cypress street, between East avenue and the Swan Point road, nearly as far as Pidge avenue. It had four “openings,” the first of which was at Cypress street and the second at Rochambeau avenue. (P. R. ii ‘: 16 ; viii : 149.) Its location is well shown on the Lockwood Map of 1835.

Hackeltons Rock. The original name of Dexters Lime Rocks, in the town of Lincoln. (P. R. iii: 8, 66, 229, 241, and Dexter Genealogy, pp. 14, 26.)

Hawkins Cove. A cove, the general outline of which can still be seen, at the eastern end of the present Blackstone street. It was also called Muddy Cove and Dirty Cove. (P. R. xiv: no; Providence MS. Deeds, iv: 237; and Plat Card 66 in City Hall.) It appears on many of the early Providence maps and was formerly the eastern bound of the Providence-Cranston line. (See Cushing & Walling Map of 1849.)

Hawkins Hole. A swampy place at the northeastern end of the present Randalls pond, in the town of Cranston. (P. R. iv : 62, 68 ; v : 137 ; and plat in Fenner Papers, p. 43, in R. I. Hist. Society.)

Hipses Rock. Undoubtedly the high rock still standing in the three-cornered tract bounded by the old Plainfield road, the Morgans Mills road and the Pocasset River. (P. R. ii : 73 ; iii:6i; xiv 126; Harris Papers, p. 256; and plat of the “Wise Farm ” in the Fenner Papers, p. n, in the R. I. Hist. Society.)

Hipses Rock, Providence Public Library Special Collections, made available through a partnership between the PPL Special Collections and the Paul S. Krot Community Darkroom at AS220. For more information about the project visit: http://www.provlib.org/exhibitions/rediscovered-glass-negative-project.

Hunters Rock. The single mention of this locality in 1686 gives little clue as to where it was situated. (P. R. xiv : 227.)

Hurtleberry Hill. The hill, the highest part of which is near the present corner of Eaton and Hillwood streets, that is now called Bradley Hill. (P. R. iii : 88 ; viii : 158 ; and Plat Cards 118, 377, in City Hall.)

Joshuas Swamp. A swamp mentioned in the account of Samuel Winsor’s estate, in 1687, and probably situated on Small Brook, directly north of the present Chalkstone avenue. (P. R. xiv : 41 ; xvii : 54, 97 ; and Plat Card 118 in City Hall.)

Keyes. A clump of pines on the eastern side of the northern branch of the Woonasquatucket River, and near the present dividing line between North Smithfield and Smithfield. This branch was occasionally called the Nipsachuck River. This statement corrects the note on p. 103, infra. (P. R. iii : 244 ; iv : 151 ; v : 106 ; Harris Papers, pp. 102-104 ; and Plat Card 385 in City Hall.)

Little Flood. See Rumley Marsh.

Long Cove. See Sassafras Cove.

Long Craft. A small meadow on the Pocasset River, in the vicinity of Neutaconkanut Hill. Its exact location can- not be identified. (P. R. ii : 124, 126; and Fenner Papers, no. 17760, in City Hall.)

Long Neck. The neck, still often so called, extending north and south, to the east of the cove at Pawtuxet. It was also called the Little Neck. (P. R. v : 55, 57; xv : 95 ; and Hopkins Atlas of 1882.) On a plat of 1661, in the R. I. Hist. Soc. MSS., v: 11, this neck is marked Washouset Point.

Long Pond. Mentioned in the records as early as 1661, being in the same location as it was until recent years, – west of Elmwood avenue and between Daboll and Cromwell streets. P.R.i: 54, 95, and 1882 Atlas.)

Loquasqussuck. A tract of wooded country comprising practically the northern two-thirds of the present town of Lincoln. Mentioned as early as 1646. (P. R. iii : 26, 245; v : 108 ; and R. I. Col. Rec. i : 32.) Now spelled Louisquisset.

Mameawequate. Apparently a boundary of the Mashantatuck purchase. {Harris Papers, p. 63.)

Many Holes. A boggy meadow on the west side of Mashapaug Brook, a few hundred feet north of the present Park avenue. (P. R. ii: 13 ; v: 62 ; xiv : 268 ; xvi : 334 ; and plat in Field Papers, p. 84, in R. I. Hist. Society.) The Cunliffs Pond of to-day is chiefly artificial, being merely an enlargement of Mashapaug Brook. (See the Stevens Map of 1 83 1 and plat in Riders’ Hist. Tract, ser. 2, no. 4, p. 100.)

Martins Wading Place. A ford on the Blackstone River, a little south of the present village of Ashton, and about 100 feet north of the present Berkeley bridge. (P. R. ii : 86 ; Wilkinson Genealogy, pp. 53-54; and Walling Map of 1862.)

Mashackqunt. A tract of land beyond Wesquadomeset. (P. R. v: 283.)

Mashantatuck. A tract of land, comprising about 4000 acres, purchased of the Indians in 1662. The Indian boundaries are so indefinite that it is difficult to tell how far the purchase extended beyond Mashantatuck Brook, but in general its boundaries may be said to be the Pocasset River on the east, the Pawtuxet on the south, the Mashantatuck on the west and the Providence-Pawtuxet dividing line on the north. The locality was also occasionally called Paquabuck. (P. R. vi : 197 ; xiv : 290 ; R. I. Col. Rec. i : 483 ; and Harris Papers, pp. 62, 64, 69.) The name to-day, as it is given to the brook, is spelled Meshanticut.

Mashapaug. A tract of meadow land about half a mile southeast of Mashapaug Pond. The locality was an original boundary of the town of Providence and in the earliest days a pathway led to it. {P. R. i : 13 ; iv:7l, 135; v : 60 ; xiv: 199; xv : 2, 21.) Mashapaug Pond. Identical with the present pond of the same name, although of somewhat smaller extent; mentioned in the records as early as 1645. {P. R. v:6i; vi-: 141; xv:74.)

Mashapaug Brook. The outlet from Mashapaug Pond to the Pawtuxet River. The present Park lakes and Cunliffs Pond have been chiefly con- structed by damming this brook. (P. R. i : 45, 94 J vi : 205 ; and Stevens Map of 1831.)

Maskataquatt. An Indian locality mentioned apparently as the southwestern boundary of the Mashantatuck purchase. (Harris Papers, pp. 63, 64.)

Mattetakonitt Meadows. The meadows on the north- western branch of the Woonasquatucket River and directly northwest of the present village of Primrose in the town of North Smithfield. Occasionally called the Mattity Meadows and to-day known as Mattity Swamp. (P. R. viii : 1 39 ; xiv: 114; and Plat Card 385 in City Hall.)

Mile End Cove. A cove formerly on the east side of the Providence River, where Link street is now located. After 1700 it was occasionally called Wickendens Cove. The brook that followed the course of the present Brook street, and turning west flowed into the cove, was called Mile End Cove Brook. (P. R. 1:4; ii : 5 ; xvii : 280 ; Hopkins’ Home-Lots, p. 60; and plat of 1707 in Steere Genealogy, p. 193.)

Mill River. A name given to the Moshassuck River for a short distance above the present Mill street. (P. R. vii : 50 ; xi : 148 ; and folio Plat Book, i : 7, in City Clerk’s office.)

Mishoasakit. The name of an Indian locality apparently bounded on the north by Wayunkeke, on the east by Secesakutt and extending westward seven miles. As a pond, the name might apply to either the present Spragues or Watermans reservoir. (P. R. v : 284-286.)

Moshassuck River. Same as the present river of that name; an original boundary of Providence. In the town deed, Moshassuck is used as a name synonymous with Providence. (P. R. iv: 71 ; v: 296; and Roger Williams’ Letters in Narr. Club Publications, vi : 263.)

Moswansicut. First mentioned as a locality in 1660 and as a pond in 1665 – the same as the present pond in the northeastern corner of Scituate. The lands about here were divided in 1684. (P. R. ii : 134 ; lii : 68 ; viii : 138 ; and plat in R. I. Hist. Soc. MSS., vii : 11, 12.)

Muddy Cove. See Hawkins Cove.

Mushattchuckapeake. An Indian ground, which it is impossible to identify with any modern locality. It was, however, evidently near Mashapaug Brook, in the vicinity of Fran- cis Weston’s house. (P. R. xv : 101 ; and map in Rider’s Hist. Tract, ser. 2, no. 4, p. 100.)

Nanipsick Pond. A pond mentioned in the boundaries of the Indian tract Mishoasakit. It seems impossible to identify it with any modern body of water. (P. R. v : 284.)

Narrow Passage. A narrow place in the Seekonk River, directly south of the present Red, or Central, Bridge. Andrew Edmunds kept a ferry here during the latter part of the 17th century. (P. R. iii : 48 ; viii : 44 ; xiv: 124, 237; and folio Plat Book, ii : 1, in City Clerk’s office.)

Natick. A tract of land, generally spelled Nachick, the boundaries of which, according to its division in 1673, were the Pawtuxet River, the Mashantatuck Brook, the Warwick north line, and the vicinity of the present village of Arkwright. The hill standing in this tract was called Nachick Hill. (Harris Papers, pp. 61, 303 ; Fuller’s Hist, of Warwick, p. 206; and map in Rider’s Hist. Tract, ser. 2, no. 4, p. 100.)

Neck. “The Neck ” was the land between the Moshassuck and Seekonk rivers, and extending on the north somewhat beyond the present line between Providence and Pawtucket. Mentioned in the records as early as 1642. (P. R. i: no; ii : 1 ; and MS. Town Papers, 01 291.)

Neutaconkanut. The name of a hill in the present town of Johnston, generally spelled Neotaconkonitt in the early records. One of the original boundaries of Providence (P. R. iv: 71 ; v: 296; and Harris Papers, p. 55.) The name was also given to the Pocasset River above the southern end of Neutaconkanut Hill. (P. R. iv : 38 ; viii : 71.)

Nipsachuck. A hill, in the present southwestern corner of North Smithfield, that was a western boundary of the first Inman purchase of 1666. The name was also applied to the river flowing down by the Keyes (q. v.), to the locality around the hill and to the swamp southwest of the hill. (P. R. iv : 184; v:65; Narr. Hist. Register, vi : 49, 62; and Stevens Map of 1 83 1.)

Nonpluss Hill. A small hill directly northwest of the present village of Enfield, in the town of Smithfield. It may be said to correspond with the southern end of Wolf Hill, although this latter name was used as early, at least, as 1726. (P. R. iv : 54 ; v : 28 ; xi : 16 ; xiv : 226.)

Observation. As a hill, the name applied to the present Stump Hill in the southern part of the town of Lincoln. Observation Rock was a high, peaked rock standing on top of the hill before the construction of the reservoir. (P. R. ii : 73 ; viii: 101.) Observation Meadow was a tract of meadow land now overflowed and known as Olneys Pond. The brook running through it to the Moshassuck River was known as Observation Run. (P. R. i : 44 ; ii : 19 ; xvi : 223.)

Ossapimsuck Brook. A brook in the present town of Johnston, running easterly into the Woonasquatucket River between Allendale and Lymansville. Also called Assopumsett. (P. R. v:ii7, 134; xiv 1225; xvi: 259; and Harris Map of 1795.)

Oxford. An original boundary of the town of Providence, which it is impossible to identify with any modern locality. Judging from the order in which it is listed in the original boundaries, it was probably a ford on the Woonasquatucket River about six miles from Providence. (P. R. ii : 73 ; Harris Papers , p. 92.)

Pamechipsk. A ridge of hills forming the eastern boundary of the Indian tract Wayunkeke, and undoubtedly the range extending north and south through the center of the present town of Smithfield. (P. R. v: 285.)

Papaquinapaug. The present Fenners Pond in the town of Cranston. The neighboring region was also called Papaquinapaug, as was the brook running out of the pond. Mashapaug Brook, near its southern end, seems to have been some- times termed Papaquinapaug Brook. (P. R. i : 45, 80 ; vi : 201 ; Harris Papers, pp. 57, 258 ; plat reproduced in Rider’s Hist. Tract, ser. 2, no. 4, p. 100 ; and plat in Field Papers, p. 84, in R. I. Hist. Soc.)

Paquabuck. A name occasionally applied to Mashantatuck. (P. R. xv : 87 ; Harris Papers, pp. 62, 69.)

Paugachauge. An Indian field on the eastern side of the Neutaconkanut or Pocasset River, directly south of where Dry Brook flows in. (P. R. v : 53, 319 ; xiv : 39.)

Paugeamapauge Pond. Apparently another name for Tabamapauge Pond, q. v. (P. R. iv : 136 ; v : 38, 137.)

Pawtucket. The name, Pawtucket River, an original boundary of Providence, was used interchangeably with the name Seekonk River for that part of the stream between Pawtucket and the present India Point, as well as for that part of the present Providence River south of India Point. The name was also invariably applied to the river north of Pawtucket, now called the Blackstone River. Pawtucket Fields, also an original Providence boundary, were on the western side of the river and south of Pawtucket Falls. (P. R. ii: 129; iv: 71 ; v: 224; xiv : 112, 194.)

Pawtuxet. An original boundary of Providence and a name given then, as now, to the locality, the falls and the river. Also in one or two cases called Pootatugock. (P. R. iv : 18, 71 ; xiv : 64. There is an early plat of the lands north of Pawtuxet reproduced in Rider’s Hist. Tract, ser. 2, no. 4, p. 100, and a hitherto unnoticed plat of 1661 of the lands south of the river in R. I. Hist. Soc. MSS., v: 11.)

Pesaumkamesquesit Pond. The present Blackmore Pond in the town of Cranston. The magnetic meridan line of 1664, run due north from the mouth of the Pocasset River to the Neutaconkanut road, could have passed only through Blackmore Pond. This corrects the footnote on p. 73. (See Harris Papers, p. 73, and 1895 Atlas).

Pettaconset. The meadow, or bottom, land on the north side of the Pawtuxet River, where the present pumping station is located. (P. R. vii : 199 ; xiv : opp. p. iv ; xvii : 289 ; and Harris Papers, p. 62.)

Pocasset River. Mentioned in the records as early as 1652, but generally spelled Pauchasett. It was invariably called the Neotaconkonitt above the bend south of the hill. (P. R. ii: 12; viii: 71.)

Pomecansett. The neck of land between the present Fields Point and Sassafras Point. Also spelled Pumgansett. One reference, however, in the early records seems to locate this region nearly two miles further south than Fields Point. (P. R. iii : 7 ; xiv : 146, 212 ; xv : 101.)

Ponagansett Pond. The present Ponagansett Reservoir in the town of Glocester, being the extreme headwaters of the Pawtuxet River. The name, generally spelled Punhungansett, was also applied to the locality about the pond and to the stream which joined, with the Moswansicut River at South Scituate to form the northern branch of the Pawtuxet River. (P. R. iv : 43 ; xv : 87 ; xvii : 230, 262 ; and Harris Papers, pp. 188, 212, 220.)

Poor Man’s Plain. A name occasionally applied to Venter Plain, q. v. (P. R. iii : 89 ; and MS. Deed Book, xiv : 283, in City Hall.)

Providence. The name first occurs in the records in the original Indian deed. (P. R. iv : 70.) Roger Williams often called it New Providence in his earliest letters. The Providence River, from Pawtuxet as far north as the Cove, was invariably called the ” salt river ” or the ” great salt river” before 1700; the earliest date that the present name occurs in the records is 1705. (P. R. iv: 19 ; ix : 14 ; xvii : 198.)

Quttonckanitnuing. The northern boundary of Wayunkeke; not identifiable with any modern locality. (P. R. v:28s.)

Reynolds Valley. That part of the Blackstone Valley between the present Scotts Pond and the Blackstone River, in the town of Lincoln. (P. R. ii : 7 ; xiv : 10-16.)

Robbins Brook. The brook flowing down by the western side of Windmill Hill to the West River – now a series of ponds, Randall’s Pond, Upper and Lower Canada ponds, and Lincoln’s Pond. (P. R. v : 15 ; viii : 151.)

Rocky Hill. A hill, still so called, in the town of Cranston, east of the present Print Works pond ; mentioned in the records as early as 1659. (P. R.i:97; iii : 169 ; xiv : 128.)

Round Cove. A cove chiefly of thatch grass, of about six acres, which was formerly located directly west of the present East River street at Red Bridge, and extending northerly to Medway street. (P. R. iv : 192 ; v : 222 ; xiv : 279 ; Plat Card 125 ; and plat in Fenner Papers no. 17030 in City Hall ; and Lockwood Map of 1835.)

Rumley Marsh. A little marsh, also called “Rumney Marsh on the Little Flood ” bordering on the northeast corner of the Cove and directly north of the island later known as Whipple’s Island. The location of this island, also called Little Island and Grassey Island, is well shown on the Anthony Map of 1823 and in folio Plat Book, ii : page 1, in City Clerk’s office. (P. R. ii : 4, 21, 56 ; v: 227 ; xiv : 9 ; Hopkins’ Home Lots, p. 69; and Prov. MS. Town Papers, no. 0048199, in City Hall.)

Sassafras Cove. A cove, generally spelled Saxafrax in the early records, corresponding to the present Corliss Cove at Sassafras Point. Also called Long Cove, occasionally in the 17th century and generally in the 18th century. (P. R. xiv: 146; xv : 2; and plat in Field Papers, p. 20, in the R. I. Hist. Soc.)

Scockanoxet. The region around Hackletons Lime Rocks – the present Dexters Lime Rocks – a little southeast of the village of Lime Rock in the town of Lincoln. (P. R. iii : 66, 229, 241 ; xvii : 295 ; and Dexter’ Genealogy, pp. 14, 22.) The brook flowing from the Lime Rocks to the Blackstone river was called Scockonoxet Brook. (MS. Deeds, v : 294, in City Hall.)

Seekonk River. Generally spelled Seaconke, mentioned in the records as early as 1650, and often called the Pawtucket River. (P. R. ii : 10 ; v : 283 ; xvii : 155.)

Sekesakut Hill. A hill, formerly so called, in the town of Johnston, extending north and south, and about a mile and a half west of the present village of Lymansville. The name was also applied to the region about the hill. (P. R. i : 20 ; iv: 130; v: 116, 132.)

Seven Mile Line. This line was established on May 14, 1660, as the bounds of the first division of proprietors lands. From a point seven miles due west from Foxes Hill, it was to run north to the Pawtucket River and south to the Pawtuxet River (P. R. ii : 129). On December 30, 1663, a committee was chosen to set the bound seven miles west of Foxes Hill and to run the northern extension of the line (iii : 47). The latter part of this order was renewed February 19, 1666 (ii : 69), and the line was run probably as far as the Woonasquatucket River soon thereafter. According to the Providence-Pawtuxet agreement of January 16, 1683, the southern extension of the line was to be run as far as the Warwick north line (xv : 237). Although it was ordered, on April 27, 1683, that this be done without delay (viii : 130), and although it became the subject of frequent later discussion (P. R. xi : 43, 105 ; xvii : 231, 274 ; and Fenner Papers, no. 16675, 168 16, 16847, 16975, in City Hall) it was not until February 11, 1712, that a joint committee reported that the line had been run and the bounds set (P. R. xvii : 284). In the meanwhile, on January 27, 1710, it had been ordered that the line should be run out from the Woonasquatucket River northerly unto the limits of the Providence lands (xi : 141). The line which to-day forms the eastern boundary of Burrillville, Glocester and Scituate is practically the seven-mile line as it was established in 1660. The distance from Foxes Hill was evidently approximated, and not surveyed, since it amounts to slightly over eight miles. Being surveyed by a compass, moreover, the line falls about  west of the true astronomical north given on most modern maps.

Small Brook. The brook flowing through the present Davis Park into the Woonasquatucket River. (P. R. ii : 21 ; v:222; Hopkins’ Home Lots, p. 69; and Plat Card 118 in City Hall.)

Home Lots of the Early Settlers by Hopkins – p.69

Snail Hill. A hill, formerly so called, near the present Spectacle Pond. Identical with the present pond of the same name in the town of Cranston ; mentioned in the records as early as 1644. (P. R. ii : 3 ; iv: 141.) Spectacle Meadows lay to the west of the pond. {Harris Papers, pp. 55, 73, 98.) There were also Spectacle Meadows on the Branch River, near the present Burrillville-North Smithfield dividing mentioned early in the 18th century.

Stampers. A hill, formerly so called, at the present Stampers street, on the east side of the Moshassuck River. Stampers Bottoms lay at the foot of the hill, on the river. (P. R. ii 1.58, 91 ; hi : 75 ; and plat reproduced in Steere Genealogy, P- 36.)

Suckatunkanuck Hill. A hill directly east of the present Almy’s Reservoir, in the town of Johnston. (P. R. iv : 24 ; xiv: 93; and Stevens Map of 1831.)

Sugar Loaf Hill. Mentioned in 1653 as an original boundary of the town of Providence. Judging by its order in the list then given, it must have been situated a little northwest of Pawtucket. (P. R. ii : 73.) corner of Waterman and Cooke streets. A plat of the Snail Hill property drawn by Gov. Hopkins is in the Moses Brown Papers, vol. 18, no. 124a, in the R. I. Hist. Soc. (P. R. ii : 12, 20; and MS. Deeds, xii : 152.)

Sockanosset. The locality of the present Sockanosset Reservoir in the town of Cranston. (P. R. xvi : 286 ; Harris Papers, p. 207.)

Solitary Hill. A hill formerly located directly south of the present Olneyville Public Library Building at Olneyville Square. The dividing line between Providence and Johnston ran due north and south from the eastern side of this hill. (P. R. i : 8 ; xiv : 169 ; R. I. Col. Rec. vi : 194 ; Steere Genealogy, p. 180; Cushing and Walling Map of 1849.)

Sutamachute Hill. A hill, formerly so called, located in the town of Johnston, south of Dry Brook and directly northwest of the village of Simmonsville. Often spelled Sichamachute. (P. R. iii : 241 ; iv: 156; v: 319; xi : 77.)

Swan Point. On the Seekonk River and still so called ; mentioned in the records as early as 1685. (P. R. viii: 149, 160.)

Swan Pond. A little pond on the west side of the Moshassuck River, directly south of the present Breakneck Road and north of Olney’s Pond. In the 1895 Atlas it is called Quinsnicket Pond, and in Holbrook’s Genealogy of the Hopkins Family (1881), p. 18, it is spoken of as Goldfish Pond. (P. R. ii : 107 ; iv : 1 19, 228.)

Tabamapauge Pond. The present Dyer’s Pond in the town of Cranston. Sometimes called Paugeamapauge Pond and in one deed apparently confused with Antashantuck Pond. (P. R. iv : 136 ; v : 38, 137 ; viii : 71.)

Tarebreech Plain. The sole mention of this name before 1700 gives no hint as to its location. Perhaps the word has some connection with the 18th century Tar Bridge, at Olneyville. (P. R. iii : 88.)

Third Lake Brook. A brook flowing from the northern end of the Great Swamp into the Moshassuck River. Traces of it can still be seen where it enters the river at Moshassuck street in the city of Pawtucket, crossing Main street near the junction of West avenue. (P. R. iii: 21 ; xiv: 191, 208; and Hopkins Atlas of 1882.)

Tongue Pond. Mentioned in the records as early as 1659, being practically in its present location – between Fenner avenue and the railroad, and directly south of the Narragansett Brewing Company. (P. R. i : 98, 99 ; and 1895 Atlas.)

Toskeunke. The meadows on both sides of the Pawtuxet River, south of the present Warwick line and to the east of the village of Pontiac. It was affirmed that the river itself at that place was called Toskeunke, but it was apparently never so termed, except by some of the Warwick settlers. (P. R. iv: 161 ; Harris Papers, pp. 57, 298, 310; plats in Rider’s Hist. Tract, ser. 2, no. 4, p. 100; and R. I. Hist. Soc. MSS. v : 11 ; and Warner Papers, no. 63, 75, in J. C. B. Library. The land between Pontiac and Meshanticut Brook is called Chee-Toskeunke on the plat in Rider’s Hist. Tract, and there is occasional use of the name (See Copies of Warwick Records, p. 33, in R. I. Hist. Society).

Toyaskqut River. A river running “down to Pawtucket,” mentioned in 1661 as the western boundary of Wrayunkeke. Perhaps the present Tarkiln River. (P. R. v : 285.)

Venter. A name formerly given to a brook flowing into the Woonasquatucket River directly north of the present village of Merino in the town of Johnston, as well as to the meadows north of the brook and to the general locality. The plain to the south of the brook was called both Venter Plain and Poor Man’s Plain. Occasionally spelled Venture. (P. R. ii : 37 ; iii : 89 ; vi : 105 ; xiv : 63, 100 ; xvi : 435 ; MS. Deeds, xiv: 283, in City Hall; ‘and Hopkins 1882 Atlas.)

Vineyard. An island in the Pawtuxet River, directly north of the present Rhodes boathouse. It formerly belonged to the thirteen Pawtuxet proprietors and is still known by its original name. (P. R. ii-: 11,; v : 55 ; xiv : 75 ; and 1895 Atlas.)

Wallers Island. An island in the Great Swamp, several hundred feet north of the present Rochambeau avenue and near the Blackstone Boulevard. (P. R. iii : 107 ; xiv : 165.)

Wallers Swamp. The swamp to the west of the present Mount Pleasant avenue and north of Chalkstone avenue. Called N. Brown’s Swamp on Lockwood Map of 1835. (P.R. vi : 63 ; xiv : 82 ; and Hopkins’ Home Lots, p. 69.)

Wallings Pond. The present Sprague’s Lower Reservoir in the town of Smithfield. (P. R. iv : 21 ; xiv : 99 ; and Harris Papers, p. 319.)

Walsingham. A name given to the Thomas Walling farm, formerly located on the western side of the Louisquisset Pike, in the present town of Lincoln, and near the southern boundary line of the town. (P. R. iii: 117, 158, 160; xiv: 31 ; and MS. Deeds, iv : 146, in City Hall.)

Wanskuck. The name of a brook flowing into the West River near the present boundary line between Providence and North Providence. The name was also applied to the meadows along the brook and to the neighboring locality. Thename today is applied to a village and pond somewhat to the east of Wanskuck Brook. In its alternate form of spelling “Wenscott”  it seems at quite an early date to have been applied to the meadows a mile and a half northwest of the brook. (P. R. iii : 239 ; iv:i42; xvi : 202 ; and Lockwood Map of 1835.)

Wapwaysitt. Another spelling of Weybosset, q. v.

Washouset Point. See Long Neck.

Wayunkeke. The region in the immediate vicinity of the present Wionkhiege Hill in the town of Smithfield, and apparently regarded by the early colonists as a tract of about four square miles. The name, in its various spellings, was applied to the hill, to the fields southeast of the hill and occasionally to that branch of the Woonasquatucket River which flowed nearby. (P. R. iii: 19; iv:i82; v : 94, 285, 320; xvi : 208 ; and Narr. Club Publicatiofis, vi : 315.) Weecapasacheck. A reasonable interpretation of the records seems to place this locality a little south of the present Wionkhiege Hill in the town of Smithnejd. (P. R. iii : 38, 241, 244.)

Wesquadomeset. A name applied at least as early as 1666 to the present Sayles Hill in the town of North Smithfield and likewise to the Crookfall Brook. The surrounding locality, which was included in the Inman Purchase, was also so called. (P. R. iii 1242; iv: 143; v: 144; xiv : 112, 140; and Narr. Hist. Register, vi : 49.)

West River. Mentioned in the records as early as 1652 and still so called. (P. R.’xw 11 ; xiv : 8, 106.)

Westconnaug. A tract of land purchased in 1662 and comprising practically the southern half of the present town of Foster and that part of the town of Scituate south of the Pawtuxet River. Its northern boundary line was established in 1708. The name was generally spelled Wesquenoid or Westquadnaig. (P. R. xvi : 204 ; xvii : 223 ; original deed in Fenner Papers, no. 16628, in City Hall; and map of Foster in R. I. Hist. Soc. MSS., vii, no. 1409. There is a mutilated plat of the purchase in the office of the town clerk of Foster.)

Weybosset. The specific locality, Weybosset, when mentioned in the early records,’ invariably meant the neck of land bounded on the north by the Cove, on the east and southeast by the Providence River and on the southwest by Muddy Bridge, or Dorrance street. Weybosset Bridge, connecting this neck with the east side of the river, is the Market Square Bridge of to-day. Weybosset Hill stood directly to the west of the present Turks Head, between Weybosset and Westminster streets. (P. R. ii : 14 ; iii : 33 ; ix : 41 ; xi : 90, 92.) Weybosset Plain is spoken of as the ” plain south of the Wanasquatucket River” or “the plain between Weybosset and the Pawtuxet line,” yet whenever land is mentioned before 1700 as being on Weybosset Plain, its location is invariably near the east side of Long Pond. (P. R. i : 95 ; ii : 34 ; xiv: no.) Weybosset was generally spelled Waybossett, and occasionally Wap way sitt. (See R. I. Hist. Soc. Pub. iii : 117.)

What Cheer. An Indian field of about six acres, located immediately to the west of “What Cheer Rock” and early granted to Roger Williams. The Fenners subsequently owned this and surrounding property and the plat of their estate, known as “What Cheer,” is on Plat Card 61 in the City Deed Office. The cove to the northeast of the Rock was called What Cheer Cove, after 1700. (P. R. i: no; iii: in, 190; xi : 114; and Hopkins’ Home Lots , p. 61.)

Wickendens Cove. See Mile End Cove.

Wind Mill Hill. Identical with the present hill of the same name, which is located at the joining of the boundary lines of Providence, North Providence and Pawtucket. (P. R. v: 16; vii: 22; xi : 55.)

Woonasquatucket. First mentioned as a river in the original deed of Providence and ever since so known. Woonasquatucket Plain was the land in the vicinity of the new State Capitol, called Jefferson Plains on the Lockwood Map of 1835. It was generally spelled Wanasquatucket. (P. R. ii : 9, 36 ; iv : 71 ; v : 223, 296 ; xi : 52.)

Woonsocket. In the early records this name applied to the hill now called Woonsocket Hill and to the immediately surrounding region rather than to the vicinity of the present town of Woonsocket. It was generally spelled Wansokutt or Wansokett. (P. R. viii : 1 18 ; xiv : 38 ; xv : 217 ; and original deed in R. I. Hist. Soc, and printed in Narr. Hist Register, vi : 52.)

Worlds End. A pond, formerly so called, identical with Great Pond, or that part of the present Scotts Pond in the town of Lincoln which was called Scotts Pond before the construction ‘ of the Blackstone Canal. The Worlds End Meadows were southwest of the pond, on the Moshassuck River. (P.R. ii: 102; xi : 164; xiv : 158; and MS. Deeds, ii : 489 ; v : 293, in City Hall.)

PREFATORY NOTE

[note – what follows is the complete preface by the author, Clarence W. Brigham]

In the following alphabetical index and accompanying map the attempt is made to locate every place-name mentioned in the Providence records before 1700 and included within the original town of Providence as granted by the Indians to the early colonists, i. e., the territory between the Pawtuxet River and the Blackstone River.  A concise description is given of each name in order that it may be located on a modern map. In the case of those names which are still in use, the modern spelling has been generally adopted, with note of the fact if the early spelling is greatly at variance with that of the present day. In calculating distances given in early surveys it should be remembered that the surveyors used both the 16 and the 18 foot pole, and that consequently a distance can often only be approximated. It should also be borne in mind that the magnetic north of the latter part of the 17th century varied about 12 west of the true astronomical north used on the recent government maps and on many modern surveys.

The references, which are chiefly to the printed volumes of Providence Records, are given merely to show early or suggestive usage of a name. The references to manuscript sources are in most cases self-explanatory. The early manuscripts in the City Hall have been of great service, especially the Fenner Papers and the long series of Providence Town Papers in the office of the Clerk of the Municipal Court, the volumes of deeds and the plat cards in the Deed Office, and the two folio volumes of early Plats of Highways in the custody of the City Clerk. In the library of the Rhode Island Historical Society the Field Papers, the Fenner Papers and the Rhode Island Historical Society Manuscripts have been particularly serviceable. The frequent references to the Harris Papers are to the printed volume. The following maps and atlases have been of especial value: C. Harris, Map of the State of Rhode Island, 1795 ; B. Lockwood & S. B. Cushing, Map of the City of Providence and Town of North Providence, 1835 ; J. Stevens, Topographical Map of the State of Rhode Island, .1831 ; H. F. Walling, Map of the State of Rhode Island, 1862 ; D. G. Beers, Atlas of the State of Rhode Island, 1870; G. M. Hopkins, Atlas of the City of Providence and Environs, 1882 ; United States Geological Survey, Topographical Atlas of the State of Rhode Island, 1891 ; Everts & Richards, New Topographical Atlas of Surveys, Providence County, 1895.

In the preparation of this index, the compiler has gathered a large collection of miscellaneous references gleaned from deeds, wills and town proceedings, relating both to the 17th century place-names included in the list and also to many 18th century place-names. This material is to be kept in the library of the Historical Society, where it may be of service to the student of local history. The indebtedness of the compiler to Mr. Edward Field, Mr. William G. Brennen, and Mr. Welcome A. Greene for courtesies* extended to him in the work of preparation is hereby gratefully acknowledged.

–Clarence S. Brigham.


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I guess I have always wanted to know about the places my ancestors lived.  But finding the spot for that family farm, as New England genealogists know, is never easy.  Rhode Island land doesn’t come packaged in neat square lots (ever).  With an almost 400 year history, buildings come and go.  Towns and borders are rearranged.  Deeds are kept in 39 locations around the state, and seldom online.

So we learn to be curious about maps, guides, historic landmarks, place names, and history.  While prior to genealogy I would only have been marginally interested in a guide to a town’s historic structures and neighborhoods, I have gradually become obsessed with these things.  If you want to solve a brick wall, one best practice is to learn as much as possible about the nearest locations you can find.

Fortunately, the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission has produced, over the last several decades, guides to historic architecture and resources around the state.  Focusing town by town on buildings and other structures such as bridges, the guides present a history of the landscape and neighborhoods, some details of evolving land use and industries, guides to local historic houses, and, at the end of the volumes, impressive bibliographies of books and maps for further research.

There are even some local maps here and there, which help you to sort through the historic neighborhood names.  And, plenty of pictures of historic houses and buildings.

All of these volumes are now available through their website, as free downloads.  Although I own several volumes already, having instant access to ALL volumes is a huge step forward.  The pdf copies can be downloaded from the RIHPHC website here.

I can’t reproduce their materials here, of course, so visit their website to access the books.  This is the list of books available on the website:

  • Barrington
  • Block Island
  • Bristol
  • Burrillville
  • Central Falls
  • Charlestown
  • Coventry
  • Cranston – also: Pawtuxet Village
  • Cumberland
  • East Greenwich
  • East Providence
  • Exeter
  • Foster
  • Glocester
  • Hopkinton
  • Jamestown
  • Johnston
  • Lincoln
  • Little Compton
  • Middletown
  • Narragansett – also: Narragansett Pier
  • Newport–see:
    •   African-Americans of Newport
    •   Kay-Catherine-Old Beach Rd
    •   Southern Thames Street
    •   West Broadway
  • North Kingstown
  • North Providence
  • North Smithfield
  • Pawtucket
  • Portsmouth
  • Providence (Citywide) also:
    •   Downtown
    •   East Side
    •   Elmwood
    •   Providence Industrial Sites
    •   Smith Hill
    •   South Providence
    •   West Side
  • Richmond
  • Scituate
  • Smithfield
  • South Kingstown
  • Tiverton
  • Warren
  • Warwick – also: Pawtuxet Village
  • West Greenwich
  • West Warwick
  • Westerly
  • Woonsocket

RI Statewide–see:

  •   Historic Highway Bridges of RI
  •   Historic Landscapes of RI
  •   Native American Archaeology
  •   Outdoor Sculpture of RI
  •   RI Engineering/Industrial Sites
  •   RI: State-Owned Hist. Properties
  •   State Houses of RI

I think exploring these books at the RIHPHC website would be a great way to learn more about your ancestors’ neighborhood.  They would help you understand the landmarks mentioned in deeds, and to understand how the landscape changed over the centuries, and what the local industries were.

What a goldmine!  Hope they help you.

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I’ve decided to revisit a brick wall ancestor, my 4x-great grandmother, Lydia Minor, and to create, along the way, a complete guide to this journey.  I hope readers with their own Rhode Island brick walls will follow along, and perhaps choose one problem to explore on their own as this goes on. The problem originates in Rhode Island but then veers westward; something that many readers will identify with.

I’m not kidding when I say this will probably take years.  I chose this problem because it’s pretty hopeless.  Eight years has not solved it yet, so there is no low hanging fruit.  It should be/would be/could be solvable – the Minors of southeastern Connecticut are pretty well known – but this particular individual has eluded researchers up to now.  Lydia Minor is the great-grandmother of my mother’s grandfather, Russell Earl Darling.

The problem, if it is ever solved, will be solved by devising and implementing strategies, which will often involve seeking connections between small details that can be gleaned about Lydia and her known family.  So, let’s strategize.

I absolutely need an “X-RAYS BOX.” Right away.

The research question

It’s important to state, in writing, the question.  The question needs to narrow down the focus, but also to refer to specific people.

Who were the parents of Lydia Miner, who married Russell Lamphear in 1807 in Preston, Connecticut?

OK.  Now I know what I’m looking for.

Lydia Minor’s life

I’d like to begin by showing the little I know about who Lydia Minor really was, so that readers will begin to appreciate her as much as I do.

Direct Evidence

Her marriage:[1]

At Preston, Mr. RUSSELL LAMPHEAR, to Miss Lydia Miner.

Evaluation

  • The marriage was recorded in a Norwich, Connecticut newspaper as happening in Preston (Connecticut), the town immediately east of Norwich.  When I review facts on the husband, Russell, it will be clear that he was living in Norwich at this time, having recently moved from Westerly, Rhode Island.
  • With few Minors in Preston, no clues have surfaced to connect Lydia or Russell to Preston.  But embarrassingly, I now realize that although I have consulted The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Records, Preston 1687-1850, Parts 1 & 2, some New London County probate districts via microfilm at the NEHGS library in Boston, and some Preston deeds at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I have never been to Preston Town Hall. And there’s nothing like going to the town hall.  Well, that’s why we’re doing this!  Adding it to the list.
  • “Miss” Lydia Miner is an indication this is a first marriage.  Based on her age (from her death record, coming up) of about 20 or 21, that was very likely anyway.

Lydia’s newspaper death notice clipping was something I ordered from the New London County Historical Society[3]:

The scanty 23 January 1849 death notice for Lydia at least gives an age, 62.

Evaluation

  • The notice, in a Norwich, Connecticut newspaper, specifies that the death occurred at “Norwich Falls.”  The Falls is a neighborhood that became industrialized thanks to water power in the very early 1800’s, and (as will be reviewed in the future) evidence points to Russell and Lydia spending many years there.
  • Lydia died on 18 January, 1849, still married to her husband Russell.  Her age in January, 1849 of 62 years suggests a birth year of 1787 or, even more likely, 1786.  Russell certainly knew how old she was, but who the source of this information was, and whether it was reported directly to the paper for insertion or copied from some town record, is unknown.  No death record was found on three separate searches in the Norwich Town Hall or in the printed two volume set, Vital records of Norwich, 1659-1848. Also none was found at the Connecticut State Archives in Hartford.
  • Western papers please copy is a good indication that Lydia had loved ones west of Connecticut.  Although only one son and one daughter are specifically known to have headed west, this is something to keep in mind as the children are explored.

Indirect Evidence

Here are some thoughts about her as shared by her son William in his old age as he was reminiscing to a reporter, along with an old friend (this clipping was sent to me by a very kind researcher on a related line who noticed Russell Lamphere on my blog)[2]:

I think for a woman who married in 1807 and had 14 children, being remembered in this manner by a loving son 50 years after her death is very sweet.

The story, further, tells us that Lydia and Russell Lamphere had 14 children; seven boys and seven girls:

Note that the “genial old gentleman, fond of stories” was Lydia’s son William Lamphere, and the rest of the paragraph refers to Lydia’s husband, Russell Lamphere.

Evaluation:

  • Lydia and Russell not only had 14 children, but seven were girls and seven were boys.
  • Lydia did all her own housework (I do know that several of the oldest children were girls, which was probably a help) and met “the demands of society” which I take to mean she led a normal life and interacted with her community.
  • The Lampheres were Methodists.  Good to know.
  • The clue about the children living long lives is barely true, as a child-by-child examination will show, but clearly some of them did.

Research plan (just the beginning of the plan, I will keep adding):

  • Visit Preston Town Hall to seek birth and marriage records for Lydia, and take a careful look at ALL Minor records in the deeds and probate (although Connecticut separates probates into “districts” I notice the towns often have older materials on hand).
  • Review Thomas Minor Descendants 1608-1981 by John Augustus Minor to build a list of all the Lydia Minors that are not the right one.  I’ve done this before, but I think I’ll start fresh.  Also, in that book, explore Minors who were ever resident in Preston.
  • Review historical background materials on Norwich and Preston.
  • Investigate Methodists churches in Norwich Falls in the first half of the 1800’s.
  • Carefully review available record sets for Norwich and Preston on Ancestry.com, AmericanAncestors.org, and FamilySearch.org, as well as any Revolutionary War records on Fold3 for Minors/Miners from Preston.  I haven’t reviewed web resources on this for a while, and it changes quickly.
  • Consider a visit to the New London County Historical Society in New London, after the review is well underway and the research plan is more fully developed.

While I don’t have a picture of Lydia of course, this photograph is of her daughter, Lucy Ann (Lamphere) Cook, 1808-1865. From the collection of L. Buck, used with permission.

Next:  Starting from the beginning, I’ll review the early life and residences of Lydia’s husband Russell, trying to determine where he met Lydia.

Footnotes

[1] “Married,” The Courier (Norwich, Conn.), 20 May 1807, p. 3, col. 3; image copy, GenealogyBank.com, (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 18 June 2011).

[2] “Letters from the People : Old Times and Old Folks,” Norwich (Connecticut) Bulletin, 12 September 1898, p. [unknown], col. 3.

[3] “DIED,” Norwich (Connecticut) Evening Courier, 23 January 1849, vol. VII, no. 141, whole num. 541, p. 3, col. 1.

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FamilySearch.org is a wonderful, free website where many genealogists search indexed records.  But FamilySearch.org has a lot more to offer than just the searchable records, although it’s not always that obvious how to find more. (For the record, the site also holds “family tree” functionality, where users collaborate, together, on one large tree – that part doesn’t interest me, and won’t be part of this post. I always encourage people to do their own research.)

Here are four methods I use often.

1

Start the search, then specify a collection

In the SEARCH screen, search by, perhaps, name & location.

familysearch1

The results will come up as individual records. At this point, switch from RECORDS view to COLLECTIONS, and narrow your choice to one or more specific record sets.

familysearch6

After selecting Massachusetts Births 1841-1915, the records list is shorter.

familysearch2

The icons below are indicating that the birth record for Addison Darling has tree information attached, as well as transcribed text from a record, and also a photo of the record itself.

familysearch3

Clicking on the transcribed text also brings up the chance to see the original document. If available, ALWAYS use the photo of the document or page that contains the record. And if no image is available, look elsewhere for the actual record.  Never use an index entry as evidence.

familysearch4

I also found that clicking on the “tree” symbol, then clicking the “PERSON” link, brought up a data screen which was not at all correct, but did include some “Record Hints” that led me to a marriage record I’d never found before (which was actually for the son of Addison Darling, who had the same name).  Record Hints are like Ancestry “leaf” hints – they might be completely wrong, but might be worth looking at. Turns out, Addison Jr’s second marriage occurred in Los Angeles, something I never suspected.

2

Use the Books section

I think the BOOKS section on FamilySearch (under the main heading SEARCH) is the most underutilized feature.  There is a growing collection of books, including many family genealogies, that may not be found anywhere else.

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When searching for Darling Family, 2300 hits come up.  That’s too many, so I limit the selection to ON THIS SUBJECT:  “Darling Family.” That gives us 110.  Searching again with the name of the immigrant ancestor, “Dennis Darling,” brings up the best book on my Darling Family: Dennis Darling of Braintree and Mendon and some of his descendants 1662-1800 by William and Lou Martin.  The book was available for download.

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Often, books published since 1923 will NOT be available for download, but could be viewed from a computer at a local Family History Center, or a copy of the book could then be searched using http://www.worldcat.com.

3

Search for record sets by location

Getting away from indexed records and into the wide assortment of UNINDEXED records on FamilySearch, that will never come up in any record search, the tool I often start with is the location search, just to see what’s available for a specific location. Let’s try accessing some of the Darlings’ records from Massachusetts.

Go to the CATALOG (this lives in the SEARCH category).

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Using the “Place” search, the system accepts a place named in this configuration: country, state, county, town. So in the search above, we are searching for the county of Norfolk, and not specifying any town.  This will not bring up records for all towns, instead, it will bring up records which are county-wide only.  I limited the search to records available in the location “ONLINE.”

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This is really a jackpot of records for this county – probate, court, land (deeds) and some vitals.  The online choices are really growing.  Let’s try Land and property.

Once I opened up that category, I chose Land Records – Deeds, 1793-1890.  On the screen that comes up, one line looks like this:

Massachusetts, Land Records are available online, click here.

After clicking, we then see this line, and click it:

Browse through 5,766,135 images

Well, that’s scary.  But let’s try it.  And we get this:

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Choosing Norfolk county brings up this:

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These are VERY long lists of index books and deed books.  Using the index volumes first, we can find the deeds that we are interested in.  Once you open any one of these books, it is basically a roll of microfilm, and you must page through it yourself. Use the arrows in the upper corner to page through, or jump around by typing a number into the box. It’s a matter of guesswork to get to the page you need.  It’s slow, but remember, you’re able to do this in the comfort of your own home, in your pajamas.  What progress!

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After finding the entries I want for Addison Darling’s father, Elias Darling (many of which I now realize I’ve never seen before) I note all the entries, go back to the long list of books, and start using the deed volumes.

4

Drill down to a specific location

Another way to use this catalog is to drill down to very specific locations, to see everything available on FamilySearch for that location.

Let’s say I want to see what is available on the Darlings’ location, Sheldonville village in the town of Wrentham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts.  We start by entering the county in the CATALOG search, just like we previously did:

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Next, notice the subtle place breadcrumbs up top of the screen that comes up:

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Clicking on “United States, Massachusetts, Norfolk” at this point will bring us a choice of sub-locations:

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There is nothing for Sheldonville, but there are some town records for Wrentham.  Clicking Wrentham limits my results to just the town.  There are some important tax and town records there.

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As I was drilling down, I did NOT limit my results to the “Online” location, so most of these records are not online, and would have to be obtained on microfilm from the Family History Library, to view at my local Family History Center.  But I notice more and more of the genealogy libraries are also becoming Family History Center affiliates, helping you to accomplish a lot in one trip, if you can get to one.

In closing

FamilySearch should be one of our first stops when we decide to go after the kind of records that will help us solve our brick walls.  There’s a lot more there than meets the eye, so keep exploring.

The post you are reading is located at: https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2017/02/09/find-more-on-familysearch/

roof-snow

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Recently, the Providence Public Library received the archival collections of noted Rhode Island genealogist James Newell Arnold (1844-1927) from the Knight Memorial Library in Providence, which had housed the papers since James Arnold’s death in 1927. The James N. Arnold Collection is now part of The Rhode Island Collection.

Providence Public Library. Always be sure to take a good look around; it's a lovely old place.

Stairwell, Providence Public Library. Always be sure to take a good look around; it’s a lovely old place.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

Kate Wells of the Providence Public Library had clued me in to this last winter and recently let me know that the materials were now newly processed into an archival collection and were, essentially, open for business.  It’s not completely trivial to access the collection (for instance, the boxes are stored on another floor from the Rhode Island Collection office and reading room), so I made an appointment with Kate for my visit.

Here is the Finding Aid for the collection (it opens up as a pdf download).

James Newell Arnold as a young man. I love this picture, he's quite a handsome young man. Hard to imagine he was already suffering from the affliction that was noticeable later in life, something that caused him to rely on crutches. Whatever the affliction was, could it have started later?

James Newell Arnold as a young man. I love this picture, he’s quite a handsome young man. Was he already suffering from the affliction that was noticeable later in life, something that caused him to rely on crutches?  3-59, “Photographs, James N. Arnold”, James N. Arnold Collection, Rhode Island Collection, Providence Public Library.

In the course of a long life James N. Arnold followed his historical data collection interests with a passion.  Although the Narragansett Historical Register, his gravestone recordings, and the Vital Record of Rhode Island, 1636-1850 were his most visible projects, he spent a lifetime studying historical claims and events, arguing and sometimes feuding with other historians (most notably, a long standing feud with the Rhode Island Historical Society), collecting books, stories and ephemera, and never missing an opportunity to disparage Roger Williams.

One of the two card catalogs containing various indices to parts of the collection.

One of the two card catalogs containing various indices to parts of the collection.

I carefully studied the Finding Aid (see above) in advance and decided to focus on the records of the Arnold family.  James Arnold never produced the formal Arnold genealogy volume that he, no doubt, planned to finish someday, although late in life he seems to have collaborated a bit with other Arnold researchers who did produce manuscripts or books (more on published works here).   It was clear from my perusal that my particular problem has not been solved; time for me to figure it out myself.  But I was grateful for a chance to check that out.

These colorful gravestone collection index cards were, I think compiled after James Arnold's death by volunteers.

These colorful gravestone collection index cards were, I think, compiled after James Arnold’s death, by volunteers.

Kate Wells advised me that, with the vital records and gravestone work widely available elsewhere, the most likely source for some genealogy magic was one of the card catalogs that had accompanied the manuscripts, plus a set of genealogy correspondence folders that contained many inquiries, answers, and notes.  I attacked the card catalogs with a pre-determined list and didn’t turn up much. The only work of James Arnold that seemed to intersect significantly with my needs were some early Smithfield/Cumberland families.  But I would like to return and approach this again with more time to peruse the many letters on file.

Arnold's weather diaries, kept for many years, plus some farm accounts. Box 4,

Arnold’s weather diaries, kept for many years, plus some farm accounts. Box 4, “Weather journals”, James N. Arnold Collection, Rhode Island Collection, Providence Public Library.

The documents are ordered and filed in boxes.  Genealogy notes on many Rhode Island families, tombstone recordings, Arnold family notes, historical as well as fictional stories, clippings, correspondence, account books, annals of war — there are many possibilities for research here.

You just don't know what you're going to find among the many boxes and folders.

You just don’t know what you’re going to find among the many boxes and folders.

I enjoyed my journey into James Arnold’s world and intend to keep studying his work. I was thrilled to find the original newspaper clippings of Harriet James’ work on my Andrews family.  The genealogy work on Rhode Island families was a hodge podge of copied notes, essays, clippings and abstracts, but was definitely unique and valuable.  I will revisit those.

James Arnold, in early middle age perhaps, looking speculative and a little untidy. The well-known poverty of his later years may well have factored into all stages of his life.

James Arnold, in early middle age perhaps, looking speculative and a little untidy. The well-known poverty of his later years may well have factored into many stages of his life.  3-59, “Photographs, James N. Arnold”, James N. Arnold Collection, Rhode Island Collection, Providence Public Library.

A folder of photographs of James Arnold claimed my attention.  Never married, physically impaired,  determined, opinionated to a fault, Arnold was — from what little I know of him — incapable of the fawning demeanor of service that might have made him more valued and protected by Rhode Island’s wealthier classes, who relied on his work.

This fascinating photo shows Arnold leaning on the crutches that were his companion during, at least, his later life. One gets a cemetery feel from the picture but it could be a noted historical spot. 3-59,

This fascinating photo shows Arnold leaning on the crutches that were his companion during, at least, his later life. One gets an overgrown cemetery feel from the picture but it could be an ancient historical spot. 3-59, “Photographs, James N. Arnold”, James N. Arnold Collection, Rhode Island Collection, Providence Public Library.

As time went on, James Arnold found that his life’s work, including his two major publishing ventures, had not ensured a comfortable old age.  Late in life he was basically destitute, dependent on Providence’s Dexter Asylum.

Well into middle age, Arnold was sometimes photographed with his crutches. 3-59,

Well into middle age.  Note his possibly disfigured foot.  3-59, “Photographs, James N. Arnold”, James N. Arnold Collection, Rhode Island Collection, Providence Public Library.

A set of documents relating to James Arnold’s death make it clear that he tried, as an old man, to dispose of his massive collection of poorly arranged papers.  Several important repositories corresponded with him and would have been happy to take them. The choicest books might perhaps have been sold during his life but many books  as well as the papers were eventually donated to the library in Elmwood, Providence, that eventually became the Knight Memorial Library.  The books, according to Kate, were eventually dispersed among Providence’s library system.

James Arnold in 1925, two years before his death. 3-59,

James Arnold in 1925, two years before his death. 3-59, “Photographs, James N. Arnold”, James N. Arnold Collection, Rhode Island Collection, Providence Public Library.

No one’s work is perfect but it’s notable that no person, in the hundred years since his Vital Record of Rhode Island volumes were published, has systematically re-checked his work in its entirety.  No one has been willing to take on the project that he did, and so we all owe this man a great deal of gratitude for a lifetime spent saving our history.

The post you are reading is located at:

https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2016/11/18/the-james-n-arnold-collection/

James Arnold, looking somewhat business-like, probably at the heyday of his publishing career. 3-59,

James Arnold, looking somewhat business-like, probably at the heyday of his publishing career. 3-59, “Photographs, James N. Arnold”, James N. Arnold Collection, Rhode Island Collection, Providence Public Library.

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