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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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Today I am feeling thankful.  The story of these pictures, from 1912 Providence and surrounding towns, depict a kind of poverty that, thanks to my ancestors who moved themselves beyond this life, my siblings and I never saw.

My grandmother Edna Darling was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1905. Her parents, Russell and Eva, soon had a second child, Russell Jr.  During World War I, her mother found work at Gorham Manufacturing; I wonder if it was in silver manufacturing or perhaps some special war work.  Her father was a stone setter in the fine jewelry industry, but depending on the economy, was sometimes out of work. During World War I they lived at 52 Prairie Avenue, renting in a tenement building long since lost to urban renewal.

Grandma said that once her mother found work, she had to come straight home from school to do the cooking and cleaning; make the beds, wash dishes, start dinner.  There was little money; she felt threadbare and, at times, worried about her circumstances. Her parents never in their lives owned a vehicle of any sort, never owned a home; after the Depression began, her father never worked in the jewelry industry again, but found work as a night watchman.

But until I saw the pictures, below, by Lewis Hine for the National Child Labor Committee, taken in Providence around 1912-1913, I never realized how lucky my grandmother was, and how removed she was from the grinding poverty of newly immigrated families.  When she grew up, Grandma found a respectable job in the billing department of the phone company, and made sure to marry a successful businessman.  After seeing these pictures, I get a better idea of what she was so afraid of, and what she wanted to make sure never happened to her children.

It’s strange that I think of my grandmother when I see these pictures, because they depict, really, the lives of her grandfather’s people, who arrived in the U.S. from England around 1830.  I’m sure most or all of their existence was spent in conditions like this, near various cotton mills up and down the east coast.  While I’m quite sure their lives were no better in England, I am awed by their determination and courage, and awed that their children built better lives each generation.

They also make me think of my father, selling newspaper and magazines, and stoking furnaces as a boy in the 1930’s.  Although born in the U.S., his parents were from Canada and his father died when the four children were small.

The immigrant experience hasn’t changed much; people coming from desperate situations into what they think will be a life with choices and freedom, only to find themselves very poor and looked at with suspicion and fear.  And they carry on.  We are a nation of immigrants.  Because of them and their hard work, we are here today.

This Christmas season, I’m feeling grateful.

Photos by Lewis Hine (1874-1940) for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC).  Pictures and captions from the Library of Congress.

From the Library of Congress’ website, Child Welfare Exhibit, 1912-1913

Cigar factory of F. Delloiacono [?], 205 Atwells Av., Providence, R.I. Eight year old boy and ten year old girl are stripping. This room is the living, -sleeping-and-working room and adjoins the store. Nov 23, 1912. Very dirty and ill-kept. Location: Providence, Rhode Island. LC-DIG-nclc-04797 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Cigar factory of F. Delloiacono [?], 205 Atwells Av., Providence, R.I. Eight year old boy and ten year old girl are stripping. This room is the living, -sleeping-and-working room and adjoins the store. Nov 23, 1912. Very dirty and ill-kept. Location: Providence, Rhode Island.   LC-DIG-nclc-04797 (color digital file from b&w original print)

A growing family and perhaps other relatives or associates. I can’t quite imagine how the photographer talked his way into this back room.  Was there a kitchen set up at the end of the room?  This is a troubling picture, but I am confident the children somehow did better.

Jimmie Rudgeway, 8 year old newsie, Providence,. Location: Providence, Rhode Island. LC-DIG-nclc-03807 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Jimmie Rudgeway, 8 year old newsie, Providence,. Location: Providence, Rhode Island.   LC-DIG-nclc-03807 (color digital file from b&w original print)

When I look at Jimmie, with his ragged pants and heavy load of newspapers, I worry about an 8 year old being so comfortable out in the streets.  The photographer’s notes make it clear many of these boys were out until midnight attempting to sell all the papers.

Back-yard, Spruce Street, Providence, R.I. Location: Providence, Rhode Island. LC-DIG-nclc-04798 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Back-yard, Spruce Street, Providence, R.I. Location: Providence, Rhode Island.   LC-DIG-nclc-04798 (color digital file from b&w original print)

A girl and her goat.  Of all the pictures, this is the only one I actually like.  I can’t tell what she is offering the goat; it does not look like food.  Like many back yards in the photographs, this one appears crowded and haphazardly full of stuff.  No place for children, or goats either. I had relatives on Spruce Street in the 1860’s.

Overcrowded home of workers in cotton mill, Olneyville, Providence. Eight persons live in these three small rooms, three of them are boarders. Inner bed-rooms are 9 x 8 feet, the largest room 12 x 12 feet. 23 Chaffee Street, Polish People. Property owned by the mill. Rent $4.50 a month. Location: Providence, Rhode Island. LC-DIG-nclc-02722 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Overcrowded home of workers in cotton mill, Olneyville, Providence. Eight persons live in these three small rooms, three of them are boarders. Inner bed-rooms are 9 x 8 feet, the largest room 12 x 12 feet. 23 Chaffee Street, Polish People. Property owned by the mill. Rent $4.50 a month. Location: Providence, Rhode Island.    LC-DIG-nclc-02722 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Reading the caption, knowing that eight people live in this space, this picture haunts me. I find the Polish wife so beautiful. Likely, the elaborate stove, probably a relic of decades earlier, comprised most of the kitchen facilities.  There is a black cord winding around the crib.  Could that have been to an electric light in the bedroom?

Housing conditions, Elm St., Pawtucket, R.I. Location: Pawtucket, Rhode Island. LC-DIG-nclc-02709 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Housing conditions, Elm St., Pawtucket, R.I. Location: Pawtucket, Rhode Island.  LC-DIG-nclc-02709 (color digital file from b&w original print)

It took me a minute to realize what I was looking at.  Of course every back yard had an outhouse.  New England has a way of looking barren like this in late fall or early spring, but still, this is a grim dirt yard full of trash.

Sewing class in Sprague House Settlement Providence, R.I. The Director is holding a newly-arrived deserted baby. Location: Providence, Rhode Island. LC-DIG-nclc-04795 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Sewing class in Sprague House Settlement Providence, R.I. The Director is holding a newly-arrived deserted baby. Location: Providence, Rhode Island.   LC-DIG-nclc-04795 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Given that many moms were working hard, it seems like a good idea for the Settlement House to teach girls to sew – it would help them clothe themselves and their children in the future.  My grandmother sewed for many decades, often clothing her children herself.  After looking at so many of these pictures, I can tell the Settlement House was a clean and ordered place.

Entrance to the crowded, dirty house of a Midwife, rear tenement on Spruce Street, Providence, R.I. Location: Providence, Rhode Island. LC-DIG-nclc-04793 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Entrance to the crowded, dirty house of a Midwife, rear tenement on Spruce Street, Providence, R.I. Location: Providence, Rhode Island.  LC-DIG-nclc-04793 (color digital file from b&w original print)

A couple of these pictures featured midwives’ homes, probably based on the photographer seeing shingles hanging out front.  Looking closely at the picture, an additional child appears in the lower, dark corner.  The children are so tiny. Wouldn’t midwives go out for births?  Would the women have come to them?  I can’t quite reason out why so many children would be in this unkempt yard.  Trash-burning was obviously taking place here, although the basement windows of the “rear tenement” seem mysterious and unexpected.

"Speed", one of the young W.U. Messengers. Location: Providence, Rhode Island. LC-DIG-nclc-03805 (color digital file from b&w original print)

“Speed”, one of the young W.U. Messengers. Location: Providence, Rhode Island.    LC-DIG-nclc-03805 (color digital file from b&w original print)

You’ve got to like this guy.  Working hard at age – 11 maybe?  He looks so capable.  I’m hoping Speed had a great future.

View in Lonsdale R.I. Mills. Location: Lonsdale, Rhode Island. LC-DIG-nclc-02704 (color digital file from b&w original print)

View in Lonsdale R.I. Mills. Location: Lonsdale, Rhode Island.  LC-DIG-nclc-02704 (color digital file from b&w original print)

In 1912 Rhode Island was still full of mills.  Lonsdale Mills in Smithfield were among the largest.  This is probably a cotton mill.  If you look at it for a while, with windows on all sides, you realize something’s missing – there is no artificial lighting.  How dark it must have been on cloudy days.  Were working hours shorter in winter, I wonder?

Peddling Bills, Atwells Ave., Providence, R.I. Location: Providence, Rhode Island. LC-DIG-nclc-03806 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Peddling Bills, Atwells Ave., Providence, R.I. Location: Providence, Rhode Island.
LC-DIG-nclc-03806 (color digital file from b&w original print)

This boy on Atwells Avenue is probably Italian, looking older than his years.  I don’t think the streetcars were exactly new in that era, but I know they continued for a few more decades.

View of warping room, Lonsdale, R.I. Mills. Location: Lonsdale, Rhode Island. LC-DIG-nclc-02701 (color digital file from b&w original print)

View of warping room, Lonsdale, R.I. Mills. Location: Lonsdale, Rhode Island.   LC-DIG-nclc-02701 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Another view of Lonsdale Mills, with girls running the machines.  I’m sure there were many dangers to working outside the home at a young age, but still, it seems more humane and social to me than life spent working in a crowded home.

Elvira Christofano, 110 Spruce [?] St., Providence, making chain-bags. Location: Providence, Rhode Island. LC-DIG-nclc-04299 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Elvira Christofano, 110 Spruce [?] St., Providence, making chain-bags. Location: Providence, Rhode Island.    LC-DIG-nclc-04299 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Looking closely, you can see Elvira is working on a chain-link fabric, with tiny metal pieces in front of her.  Is she creating the chain fabric?  or attaching it to something with the tiny links?  It’s unclear to me why she’s surrounded by fabric pieces.  She looks dedicated, and tired.

 Tiny girl with big bag she is carrying home, Spruce St., Providence, R.I. Location: Providence, Rhode Island. LC-DIG-nclc-04300 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Tiny girl with big bag she is carrying home, Spruce St., Providence, R.I. Location: Providence, Rhode Island.    LC-DIG-nclc-04300 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Of all the pictures, this one breaks your heart the most.  What can be in that bag?  It seems too big to contain something heavy like food or firewood … maybe laundry?  Or some materials for a home industry? The sign on the building says Do Not Spit.  The rest of the family must have been working very hard if this was the most practical way to transport goods.  Childhood?  I don’t think so.

Setting stones in cheap jewelry, Ernest Lonardo, 11 years old, Thomas, 14 years old, 6 Hewitt Street, Providence, R.I. Location: Providence, Rhode Island. LC-DIG-nclc-04298 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Setting stones in cheap jewelry, Ernest Lonardo, 11 years old, Thomas, 14 years old, 6 Hewitt Street, Providence, R.I. Location: Providence, Rhode Island.   LC-DIG-nclc-04298 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Knowing boys this age, the concentration here seems exceptional.  Imagine doing that all day.

 Crowded Italian home, 46 Crary St., Providence, R.I. Nov 26, 1912. Property owned by wealthy family. Location: Providence, Rhode Island. LC-DIG-nclc-02721 (color digital file from b&w original print)

Crowded Italian home, 46 Crary St., Providence, R.I. Nov 26, 1912. Property owned by wealthy family. Location: Providence, Rhode Island.    LC-DIG-nclc-02721 (color digital file from b&w original print)

The picture in the corner is of a king, perhaps, with his children.  I can’t imagine people ever forgot where they came from.  There are five children in this picture and, perhaps, another on the way.  When I look at this picture I think, they loved each other.  What a legacy.

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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.

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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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Published compiled genealogies, whether they be books or journal articles, can move our genealogy forward by leaps and bounds.  If the material is of poor quality, though, and if we accept it at face value and don’t pursue the research ourselves, it can jeopardize all our future work, sending us down the wrong roads and setting us up to build tree sections that are completely false.  If you think about it, there is only one correct family tree for any of us; only one true sequence of events that led to the unique people we are.  There is no “close” in genealogy.  There is “correct” and “incorrect.”  Which is not to say we should or could expect to ever know the full truth, going back a dozen or more generations; there are so many reasons why some “truth” just will not be found by us. But for the parts of the tree we are able to build, we as genealogists want them to be correct.

Published family genealogies – Books

I think one of the first things New England genealogists find are those family genealogies published in the late 1800’s.  Googling the name, such as “Ballou genealogy” or “Ballou genealogy book” will usually pull up a pdf of the item, if it exists.  My advice would be to download and save such books in folders on your computer, if they relate to your family, and always use the “Comments” feature in Acrobat Reader to mark each page that is significant to you.  See more about searching for books on How to Build your Digital Library.

The quality of the genealogy in these books may be excellent, or very poor, and everything in between.  My own judgment is that reported events and relationships that occurred within about 60 – 70 years of the publication date have a good chance of being true (or as true as the family wanted to put out there).  Events farther back are often:

  • limited to well-documented, wealthier branches who left behind lots of records, such as vital records, probate, and large and informative gravestones
  • clustered mostly in the branch and geographic location that the author had access to, or had contacts in
  • dependent on the genealogical expertise of the author, so look around for evidence of that.

A good genealogist like Adin Ballou (An Elaborate History and Genealogy of the Ballou Family in America, 1888) may not have used proper footnotes (it was not the custom at the time) but he sprinkled every page with clues as to the sources of his information – deed books with page numbers, dates of probate documents, and many statements like “birth date not found.”  If you use data from these books in your tree, always follow up by checking for the records used.

When using these books, always check around for supplements, addenda, and later corrections.

QUICK FACT – When approaching an indexed family genealogy for the first time, seeking information about a couple, a good shortcut is to search for the last name of the spouse instead of the person who holds the name featured in the book (there will be too many of those). 

Wait, there are more books

Sadly, the search described above is where many genealogists leave off.  Therefore, they miss the thousands of genealogy books, also of varied quality, published since 1923 and, in some cases, still under copyright.  A book under copyright will seldom be found as a pdf online.  It might be for sale somewhere, it might show up as a Google Book in which only a bit of searching is possible (no pdf available), or, more likely, it is sitting on a few library shelves here and there.

I’m not going to provide a master list of books on Rhode Island families, much as I would like to, and I may try that someday. But here is how I approach this problem.

To compile a list of books that have been published on your family names, try the googling mentioned above, then try these steps:

  • Check out the online card catalog of the Rhode Island Historical Society’s Robinson Research Center.  They have lots of compiled genealogies there.  Try, for instance, Advanced Search for the subject “Ballou Family.”  This catalog does not cover everything at the library.
  • Try the card catalog of the New England Historic Genealogical Society.  They have a Search Databases function, for members, but anyone can use the “Library Catalog” under “Search.”
  • Always use WorldCat.org to search as well; each entry will come up with the libraries that hold the book, sorted by distance from you.
  • FamilySearch.org also has a “Books” search.
  • I like the card catalog of the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
  • Try the Ocean State Libraries catalog to find out what is in Rhode Island’s public libraries.
Searching for "Ballou family" in the public library catalog.

Searching for “Ballou family” in the Ocean State public library catalog.  The entry will tell you which Rhode Island libraries that hold the book.

My best advice for finding ALL the genealogies published on a certain Rhode Island family is to consult this book:

  • Guide to Published Genealogies in the Library of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (Boston: NEHGS, 2012).  I use this book a lot.  No doubt the NEHGS online catalog, linked above, would provide similar information, but I find the book format very easy to follow.
Guide to Published Genealogies has a large alphabetical guide to family history books as well as a guide to town and local histories.

Guide to Published Genealogies has a large alphabetical guide to family history books as well as a guide to town and local histories. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

Compiled genealogy sets covering many families

There are books which serve as guides to the literature of your family’s genealogy, or overviews of the genealogies of large areas.

  • The most important: John O. Austin’s The Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island; Comprising three generations of Settlers who came before 1690.  I strongly recommend NOT using an older version of this; you need the 1978 or later version with corrections, published by Genealogical Publishing Company.  This is printed as a marked-up copy, providing references to all the The American Genealogist articles correcting and expanding Austin’s work.
The Bennett entry in Austin's Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island. I know. It's weird.

The Bennett entry in Austin’s Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island. This is the way the book was printed. I know. It’s weird.

  • For the earliest settlers
    • It’s easy to forget that standard New England works will, of course, cover early Rhode Island families.  First and foremost, try your early families, arriving 1620-1640, in The Great Migration Study Project (by Robert Charles Anderson and others) including The Great Migration Begins (3 volumes) and The Great Migration (7 volumes) (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995-2011.)
    • For a reasonably priced way to access brief bibliographies of the settlers detailed in the 10 volumes of the Great Migration series, try The Great Migration Directory: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1640, A Concise Compendium by Robert Charles Anderson (Boston, NEHGS, 2015).   Another choice would be to access some of the material online through NEHGS membership – use Database Search – Category: Great Migration Study Project.
The Great Migration series and Directory. It's important to have regular access to this; it should be in any library with New England genealogy resources. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

The Great Migration series and Directory. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

  • Austin, John Osborne. One Hundred and Sixty Allied Families. Baltimore: reprinted Genealogical Publishing Co., 2009. [note: This was never that useful to me; it covers the author’s, and the author’s wife’s, families only.] 
  • Savage, James.  A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, in four volumes.  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, Inc., 1998 (orig. 1860-62).  The Great Migration is far superior to this source, and if you can use that, no need to consult Savage.
  • Cutter, William Richard.  Not much better than mug books, with lines of descent traced only to wealthy southern New Englanders, but still, I have a soft spot for Cutter.  The entries are always fun to read and very interesting, but unsubstantiated.
  • Torrey, Clarence Almon. New England Marriages Prior to 1700. Volumes 1 – 3. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011.   [Torrey is essentially a bibliography of any mention of the married couple in various older sources. Consult the sources noted for specifics. Use the most recent edition of Torrey available to benefit from modern additions, corrections and proper indexing.]

Journals and periodicals

Have you ever thought, I wish I could hire one of the country’s top experts to find that elusive ancestor for me?  Have you ever considered that you could possibly get such work for free?  Here’s how.  Do a thorough search of all the genealogy journals that cover the area in question.  You need to be sure that your important question has not already been researched by someone really competent, complete with reasoned arguments and footnotes. Even finding an article in a quality journal about the county or town you are researching can be a treasure-trove of sources and strategies.  I always read the footnotes first.

Most organizations do not give their journal away online.  You need to belong to that society, or subscribe to something that will offer access, or seek out a library with subscriptions.  Likewise, just finding an index to each journal is not a trivial problem.

Suggestion 1:  If you want to try ONE thing with the biggest chance for success, go to the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s website AmericanAncestors.org and use Search — Databases — Category: Journals & Periodicals.  You will need to establish a free guest user account; for some of these, you will need to be an NEHGS member, or find a library with a subscription.  This allows you to search the following journals, among others (in many cases, only issues more than five years old are included, and many do not go as far back as the earliest issues.)

  • The American Genealogist
  • Boston Evening Transcript Genealogy Pages, 1911-1940 [note: seems not to have a working index, but you can get to the page you want if you know the date]
  • Connecticut Nutmegger
  • Essex Antiquarian & The Essex Genealogist
  • The Maine Genealogist
  • The Mayflower Descendant
  • New England Historical and Genealogical Register
  • New York Genealogical and Biographical Record
  • Rhode Island Roots

Of those, of course, Rhode Island Roots is the most important for Rhode Island research, however, there are some outstanding genealogists producing articles for all the prestigious journals concerning Rhode Island topics.  For additional journal suggestions, see this article.

Quality journals.

Quality journals.

Suggestion 2: The second easy way to access some quality pre-1990 articles is to locate in a library the four volumes of articles published by the Genealogical Publishing Company, below.  Each set contains a thorough index.

  • Genealogies of Rhode Island Families From the New England Historic Genealogical Register, 2 vols. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1989. Specifically, see Gary Boyd Roberts’ brief bibliographies of 100 Rhode Island families, page xix – xxxiv.  Remember, that was current in 1989. This set, and the set below, are very thoroughly indexed at the back of volume 2.
  • Genealogies of Rhode Island Families From Rhode Island Periodicals, 2 vols. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1983.
The two sets of Genealogies of Rhode Island Familes.

The two sets of Genealogies of Rhode Island Familes.  Note there is a substantial index at the back of each.

Additional sources

  • A huge number of local history and genealogy journals are indexed through PERSI, a database available through your local library and/or FindMyPast.com  The indexing is not extensive; they are mostly indexed by general topic, but could be good if there was an article about your family or town. Once a citation is found, you will need to seek out the article itself.  I am not sure about the current status of PERSI; consult your local librarian for help.
  • Godfrey Memorial Library, comp. “American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI).” Database on-line. Ancestry.com. http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3599 Original data: Godfrey Memorial Library. American Genealogical-Biographical Index. Middletown, CT, USA: Godfrey Memorial Library. [A compiled index to many of the holdings of the Godfrey Memorial Library (a genealogy library in Connecticut); an index of names. Also available at larger genealogy libraries in hard copy (over 200 volumes). Once a citation is found, Godfrey has a photocopy service where they will, for a fee, copy the particular item that was cited. Content includes the Genealogy Column of the Boston Transcript, which is likely to contain a reader query about an ancestor and, possibly, in a subsequent entry, an informed response from a genealogist.]
  • Narragansett Historical Register, 1-9, 1882-1891, published by James Newell Arnold.  Facsimile reprint published by Heritage Books. [See all original copies online here: https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2012/05/28/the-narragansett-historical-register-free/ ]
  • Rhode Island Genealogical Register. Volumes 1 – 20, 1978-1996. Rhode Island Families Association (founded by Alden Beaman). [not available online. Contains vital record abstracts, articles, and brief genealogies. Volume 16 “Rhode Island Will Index” is a compiled index of will abstracts contained in volumes 1 – 15.]
  • Rhode Island History. Rhode Island Historical Society. [Search and access 1942-2010: Rhode Island History. http://www.rihs.org/publication_search.php ]
  • Check out family genealogical materials at the Newport Historical Society.
  • Index To Genealogical Periodicals, vol. I (1932) and vol. II (1948) , compiled by Donald Lines Jacobus.
  • Index to Early Records of the Town of Providence, by Richard leBaron Bowen (Oxford Press, 1949).  Mr. Bowen, a noted Rhode Island genealogist, realized the potential of the Early Records index to help descendants of early Providence families to trace their ancestors, even if they were otherwise poorly documented, so he added a list of families included in Austin’s Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island (listed above) on page 87-93, plus a brief bibliography of articles on Rhode Island families in the decades leading up to 1950, on pages 93-97.

My favorite 10 Rhode Island family genealogies

Of all the genealogies that actually have helped me, these are the ones I recommend most highly.  If I had different ancestors, the list would be different. These selections make it clear that helpful genealogies are not always online, and are not always found in book form.

  • ALDRICH The Aldrich Family Genealogy – Descendants of George Aldrich of Mendon, MA, a manuscript compiled by Ralph Ernest Aldrich (1902-1984) and his wife Pearl Lillian (Marquis) Aldrich. 18 volumes.
  • ANDREWS – Harriet Francis James had her untitled manuscript on the Kent/Washington County Andrews published as a newspaper column, later compiled in a three volume manuscript by Anthony Tarbox Briggs.
  • ARNOLD The Arnold Family of Smithfield, Rhode Island by Richard H. Benson.  Boston: Newbury Street Press, 2009.  For advice on finding this book and on the other Arnold lines in Rhode Island, see Meet the Arnolds.
  • BALLOU An Elaborate History and Genealogy of the Ballous in America by Adin Ballou. Providence: E.L. Freeman & Son, 1888.
  • BOWEN Richard Bowen (1594?-1675) of Rehoboth, Massachusetts and His Descendants by William B. Saxbe Jr. 3 volumes, Hope, Rhode Island: Rhode Island Genealogical Society, 2011-2015.  What I would say about this set is ALWAYS seek out the highest quality work in an area to see if it can help you. This one is exceptionally well done.  Another such example – Thomas Clemence of Providence, Rhode Island by Jane Fletcher Fiske and Roberta Stokes Smith.  Greenville, R.I.: Rhode Island Genealogical Society, 2007.
  • DARLINGDennis Darling of Braintree and Mendon, by William and Lou Martin, 2006. In addition to genealogical information on the Darlings, the book contains brief sections on the intermarried families of Cook, Southwick, Thayer, and Thompson.  There are about 5000 footnotes which will help you find specific records concerning your ancestors. This book can sometimes be accessed through FamilySearch.org – Search – Books.
  • LAMPHERE – a series of articles in New England Historical Genealogical Register:
    • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 153 (April 1999): 131-140.
    • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants, Part 2.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 159 (October 2005): 333-340.
    • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants, Part 3.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 160 (January 2006): 47-59.
  • RICE – a series of articles in Rhode Island Roots:
    • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.  “Major Henry Rice of Warwick and His Family.”  Rhode Island Roots 24 (March/June 1998): 1 – 60.
    • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.  “John1 Rice of Warwick, Rhode Island.”  Rhode Island Roots 24 (September/December 1998): 153-168.
    • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.  “John2 Rice, Jr.,  of Warwick, Rhode Island.”  Rhode Island Roots 25 (September 1999): 81-118.
    • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.  “John2 Rice, Jr.,  of Warwick, Rhode Island.”  Rhode Island Roots 26 (September 2000): 57-84.
    • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.  “John2 Rice, Jr.,  of Warwick, Rhode Island (concluded).”  Rhode Island Roots 27 (March 2001): 1 – 26.
  • SMITH – Farnham, Charles William. “John Smith, The Miller, of Providence, Rhode Island – Some of His Descendants” in Genealogies of Rhode Island Families From Rhode Island Periodicals, volume II, p. 1 – 150.  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983 [originally appeared in the 1960’s as a series of articles in Rhode Island History, v. 20 – 24].  It’s not that this work is so superb, although maybe it is, it’s just that it’s so hard to work with the name Smith.
  • WILLIAMSDescendants of Roger Williams, Book 1 – Book 5.  The website of the Roger Williams Family Association allows you to peruse the first four generations of descent online.  After that, it’s necessary to consult the books.

Should you find a book that you would like to purchase, I usually try Higginson Books, Genealogical Publishing, and Heritage Books for reprints.  I also look on eBay.com (this valuable book has been waiting a while for a forever home) and Amazon.com, although lately I find older books on Amazon to be overpriced, sometimes ridiculously so (often a more thorough search online for the tiny publisher’s website brings up a much more attractive price than anything you will find on Amazon.com.)  In a pinch, my best advice for a local Rhode Island used bookstore is Allison B. Goodsell, Rare Books, also called the Kingston Hill Store.

In closing

Be sure to check out the post about sources of local town records since some of those offer genealogical information about specific families.

There are eight weeks of helpful advice and links:
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A Providence Door-yard. From Sketches of Early American Architecture by O.R. Eggers, 1922.

A Providence Door-yard. From Sketches of Early American Architecture by O.R. Eggers, 1922.

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Welcome to 8 Weeks to Better Rhode Island Genealogy Research Week 5 – Town Records, Histories and Newspapers.  This covers location-specific books, town records, and newspapers.

Town records

Town records, published histories, and local newspapers are where the stories of our ancestors may be hiding.  To know that our ancestors spent one or more generations in a town, and yet know very little about that town, or even worse, to assume we know enough without research, is to ignore our role as family story-finders.

10 things you can find in town records (often called “Council Minutes” or “Town Council Records”)

  • (early records) vital records (and even, in early Providence records, marriage banns since the church was not allowed to provide any services like that)
  • (early records) probate
  • (early records) notes on real estate, for instance, swapping tracts of land.  Later, such functions would be assigned to, say, a town clerk and be recorded separately.
  • During war-time, filling allotments of soldiers, or provisions for certain soldiers
  • liquor (tavern) permits
  • warnings out of new residents that the town had no obligation to support if they fell on hard times, and support for the poor including purchases of room and board, clothing, coffins, or medical services from named town residents
  • jury duty
  • road clearing teams, assigned by neighborhood
  • collection of “rates” or taxes, sometimes based on data about property owned
  • sending representatives to the state government

Always check Rhode Island Roots for various town records and lists transcribed there, and Rhode Island History, published by the Rhode Island Historical Society.  Check the card catalog and manuscript finding aids at the Rhode Island Historical Society.  A call to the town library with specific content-related questions (e.g., do you know of any local shipbuilding records?  Do you have any diaries or old documents from a certain neighborhood?) as well as a search for a local historical house or society is always worth doing. And lastly, the Narragansett Historical Register should be searched.

The major state histories usually describe the development of each early town and the subsequent spun-off towns.  These books contain some great illustrations, that might work well in your own family history book if they are no longer under copyright.

MANY original town record books are now included in the new Ancestry.com probate record set for Rhode Island, but it will not be obvious how to find them and they are not likely to be indexed.  For a guide and key to navigating those record sets, visit the post on probate records.

Town records and published histories, by town

  • Barrington 
    • Adams, Virginia H. Historic and Architectural Resources of Barrington, Rhode Island. Providence, R.I. (150 Benefit St., Providence 02903) : Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission, 1993.
    • Bicknell, Thomas Williams.
    • Erhardt, John G.
      • The History of Rehoboth, Seekonk, East Providence, Pawtucket & Barrington. Seekonk, Mass. : J. G Erhardt, n.d. (1982-1990?).
      • Rehoboth, Plymouth Colony, 1645-1692 : volume II: A History of Rehoboth, Seekonk, Swansey, Attleboro & No. Attleboro, Mass., East Providence, Barrington, & Pawtucket, R.I.  Seekonk, Mass. : J.G. Erhardt, 1983.
      • A History of Rehoboth, Seekonk, Mass. Pawtucket & East Providence, R.I.1692-1812. Volume III. Seekonk, Mass. : J.G. Erhardt, 1990.
    • Gizzarelli, Nicholas. The Revolutionary and Civil War Records. [Barrington, Rhode Island] : [Nicholas Gizzarelli], n.d.
There are at least five volumes in this set, by John G. Erhardt. This volume contained an 1888 newspaper extract about a barn fire at the home of my ggg-grandfather, William Murdock.

There are at least five volumes in this set about various East Bay towns, by John G. Erhardt. This volume contained an 1888 newspaper extract about a barn fire at the home of my ggg-grandfather, William Murdock.

  • Bristol
    • Cirillo, Susan E.  Bibliography of Materials Relating to the History of Bristol, Rhode Island.  [Kingston, R.I.], 1983.
    • Cirillo, Susan E. and John Pozzie Lombard.  Bristol: Three Hundred Years.  Providence: Franklin Graphics, 1980.
    • Howe, George Locke.  Mount Hope: A New England Chronicle.  New York, Viking Press, 1959.
    • Howe, M. A. DeWolf. Bristol, Rhode Island: A Town Biography.  Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1930.
    • Mathew, Linda L. Bristol, Rhode Island Town Council Records: 1760-1811.  Hope, R.I.; Rhode Island Genealogical Society, 2014.
    • Munro, Wilfred Harold.  The history of Bristol, R.I. : the story of the Mount Hope lands, from the visit of the Northmen to the present time.  Providence: J.A. & R.A. Reid, 1880.  See also his Tales of an Old Seaport, Princeton University Press, 1917.
    • Saunders, Dorothy C. Bristol, R.I.’s Early Settlers. Bowie, Md: Heritage Books, 1992.[thanks to Cherry Fletcher Bamberg’s 2006 article Comfort (Pearce) Coggeshall and her Children, The New England Historical Genealogical Register (2006), 160 : 85-98, 224-235, 297-310 ; footnote 2.]
    • Thompson, Charles O.F. Sketches of Old Bristol.  Providence: Roger Williams Press, 1942.
  • Burrillville
    • Keach, Horace A.  Burrillville; As It Was, and it is. Providence: Knowles, Anthony & Co, 1856.
    • Mehrtens, Patricia A.  One Hundred Years Ago in Burrillville: Selected Stories from Local Newspapers.  Bowie, Md: Heritage Books, 1992.
  • Central Falls
    • Haley, John Williams, Roscoe Morton Dexter, Mrs. Herbert Gould Beede. The Lower Blackstone River Valley; the Story of Pawtucket, Central Falls, Lincoln, and Cumberland, Rhode Island. Pawtucket, R.I.: E.L. Freeman Co., 1937.
  • Charlestown
    • The Charlestown Bicentennial Book Committee. Reflections of Charlestown, Rhode Island 1876-1976. Westerly, R.I.: The Utter Company, 1976. 
    • Crandall, Earl P.
      • Five Families of Charlestown, Rhode Island : Bliven, Crandall, Macomber, Money, Taylor.  Catskill, N.Y.: E.P. Crandall, 1993.
      • Charlestown in the Mid 19th Century, As Seen through the Eyes of “Uncle Phineas” (Nelson Byron Vars). 1992.
    • Fish, Joseph.  Old Light on Separate Ways: the Narragansett Diary of Joseph Fish, 1765-1776. Hanover, N.H., University Press of New England, 1982.
    • Mandeville, Frances W. The Historical Story of Charlestown, Rhode Island. Charlestown, R.I.: Charlestown Historical Society, 1979.
    • Tucker, William Franklin.  Historical Sketch of the Town of Charlestown in Rhode Island : from 1636 to 1876.  Westerly, R.I. : G.B. & J.H. Utter, steam printers, 1877.
    • See also Western Rhode Island Civic Historical Society periodicals: Hinterlander and Proceedings.
  • Coventry
    • Harpin, Mathias Peter and William Koji. Prophets in the Wilderness: A History of Coventry, Rhode Island.  Oneco, Conn.: Harpin’s Connecticut Almanac, 1974.
    • Hey, Catherine. “Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: Early Coventry Records.” Rhode Island Roots. Special Bonus Issue 2010 (April 2010).
    • Levesque, George A.  Coventry: The Colonial Years 1741-1783.  [Typescript, Master’s Thesis, Brown University], 1969.
    • Warnings out from Coventry Town Council Minutes transcr. by Linda L. Mathew.  Rhode Island Roots 29:1 (Mar 2003) p. 9-30.
    • See also Western Rhode Island Civic Historical Society periodicals: Hinterlander and Proceedings.
  • Cranston
    • Brayton, Gladys W and William M. Carpenter.  Other Ways and Other Days.  E. Providence: Globe Printing, 1975.
    • Clauson, J. Earl. Cranston: A Historical Sketch. Providence: T.S. Hammond, 1904.
    • See also Cranston Historical Society Newsletter
  • Cumberland
    • Balfour, David W and Joyce Hindle Koutsogiane. Cumberland by the Blackstone: 250 Years of Heritage. Virginia Beach: The Donning Company: 1997.
    • Ray, Judith Jenckes. Founders and Patriots of the Town of Cumberland, Rhode Island.  Baltimore : Gateway Press, 1990. 
    • Simpson, Robert. North Cumberland: A History.[Chelsea, Vt.] : [Acorn Press], [1975].
    • Sprague, Abigail A. (Field). “Abigail Sprague’s History of Cumberland.” Mss. 1023. The Rhode Island Historical Society Research Center, Providence, Rhode Island.
This map of 1820 East Greenwich is provided as evidence that King Street, leading down to the bay, was the main thoroughfare of East Greenwich, not Main Street, where my ancestor had a house. That goes a long way to explain how my ancestor could afford such a classy address - maybe it wasn't - from The History of East Greenwich by McPartland, p. 51.

This map of 1820 East Greenwich is provided as evidence that King Street, leading down to the bay, was the main thoroughfare of East Greenwich, not Main Street, where my ancestor had a house. That goes a long way to explain how my ancestor could afford such a classy address in 1800 — maybe it wasn’t. Partial snapshot from The History of East Greenwich by McPartland, p. 51.

  • East Greenwich
    • Adamson, Thaire H. and Marion Fry.  A History of East Greenwich Rhode Island : as published in The East Greenwich Packet.  East Greenwich, R.I. : East Greenwich Preservation Society, 1996.
    • Bamberg, Cherry F. Elder John Gorton and the Six Principle Baptist Church of East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Greenville, R.I: Rhode Island Genealogical Society, 2001.
    • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher. “Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: East Greenwich Town Council Records, 1734-1774.” Rhode Island Roots. Special Bonus Issue 2008 (April 2008).
    • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher. “Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: East Greenwich Town Council Records, 1775-1800.” Rhode Island Roots. Special Bonus Issue 2009 (April 2009).
    • Eldridge, James H. and Daniel H Greene.  History of East Greenwich.  A series of articles published in the East Greenwich Weekly Pendulum, June 8 – Nov. 17, 1860.
    • Greene, D.H.  History of the Town of East Greenwich and adjacent Territory, from 1677 to 1877.  Providence: J.A. and R.A. Reid, 1877.
    • MacGunnigle, Bruce C. Strolling in Historic East Greenwich. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.
    • McPartland, Martha R. The History of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, 1677-1960: with related genealogy. East Greenwich, R.I.: East Greenwich Free Library Association, 1960.
    • Miller, William Davis.  Notes and Queries concerning the Early Bounds and Divisions of the Township of East Greenwich: as set forth in William Hall’s plat.  Providence: E.L. Freeman Co., [1937].
    • Potter, Elisha R. Memoir Concerning the French Settlements and French Settlers in the Colony of Rhode Island. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co, 1968.
  • East Providence
  • Exeter
    • Simister, Florence P. A Short History of Exeter, Rhode Island. Exeter, R.I.: Exeter Bicentennial Commission, 1978.
  • Foster
    • Early Historical Accounts of Foster, Rhode Island. Glenview, Ill.: Moshassuck Press, 1993. Contains Charles C. Beaman’s “Sketches of Foster” and Casey B. Tyler’s “Historical Reminiscences of Foster.” Indexed by Kenneth W. Faig.
    • Ferraro, William Michael.  “Lives of quiet desperation : Community and polity in New England over four centuries : the cases of Portsmouth and Foster, Rhode Island.”  Dissertation:  Ph. D., Brown University 1991.
    • Matthews, Margery I.
      •  “First Tax List for Foster RI After Division from Scituate RI”  transc. by Margery I. Matthews.  Rhode Island Roots 12:2 (Jun 1986) p. 29-32.
      • [look for short works issued by the Foster Preservation Society in the 1980’s – 1990’s including “Tax Records 1781, 1787, 1798” and “Peleg’s Last Word: The Story of the Foster Woolen Manufactory.”]. 
    • Murray, Thomas Hamilton. “Sketch of an Early Irish Settlement in Rhode Island.”  American-Irish Historical Society, Journal, 2 (1899), 152-157.
  • Glocester
    • Fiske, Jane Fletcher, transcriber. Glocester 1778 Tax List: “A List of the Polls and Estates Real and Personal of the Proprietors and Inhabitants of the Town of Glocester in the State of Rhode Island.” Rhode Island Roots, volumes 19 (1993) through 20 (1994).
    • Perry, Elizabeth A. A Brief History of the Town of Glocester, Rhode Island. Providence: Providence Press Co, 1886.
    • Glocester, the way up country : a history, guide and directory compiled by The Heritage Division, Glocester Bicentennial Commission. Glocester, R.I. : Town of Glocester, 1976.
  • Hopkinton
    • Griswold, S.S. Historical sketch of the town of Hopkinton : from 1757 to 1876, comprising a period of one hundred and nineteen years. Hope Valley, R.I. : L.W.A. Cole, Job printer, 1877.
    • History of the town of Hopkinton, Rhode Island, 1757-1976 : historical facts compiled by Hopkinton Bicentennial Commission. Publication Committee.  Westerly, 1976.
    • “The Patriots of Hopkinton, Rhode Island, 1776.”  Narragansett Historical Register, 4:2 (1885).  Transcribed on USGenWeb thanks to Susan Irish Nahas.
    • See also Hopkinton Historical Association Hopkinton Notes  
  • Jamestown
    • Watson, Walter L. History of Jamestown on Conanicut Island in the State of Rhode Island. Providence, 1949.
    • [note – the Jamestown Historical Society has some manuscripts of unique sources such as newspaper indices.]
  • Johnston
    • McGowan, Louis and Virginia Brunelle. Johnston, Rhode Island ; 1759 to 2009 : 250th Anniversary. Johnston Historical Society. Johnston Historical Society : Printed by the Louis Press, 2009.
    • “A Valuation of the Rateable Property of the Town of Johnston.”  Rhode Island Roots 11:2 (Jun 1985) p. 35-37.
    • [note that some early Johnston town records are held at the Providence City Archives.]
  • Lincoln
  • Little Compton
    • Lisle, Janet Taylor. First light: Sakonnet, 1660-1820 : the history of Little Compton. Little Compton, R.I. : Little Compton Historical Society, 2010.
    • The stories houses tell : a collection of Little Compton house histories.  Little Compton, RI : Little Compton Historical Society, 2015.
    • Wilbour, Benjamin Franklin.
      • Little Compton families. Little Compton, R.I., Little Compton Historical Society, 1967.
      • and Carlton C Brownell. Notes on Little Compton : from records collected by Benjamin Franklin Wilbour. Little Compton, R.I. : Little Compton Historical Society, 1970.
  • Middletown
  • Narragansett

    • Arnold, James N. The Records of the Proprietors of the Narragansett: Otherwise Called the Fones Record ; Rhode Island Colonial Gleanings. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1990.
    • Carpenter, Esther Bernon. South County Studies. Boston: D.B. Updike, 1924.
    • Hazard, Caroline (these books refer to the generic Narragansett area, not the town)
    • Views of Narragansett Pier. Tibbetts & Preston, 1884.
    • Updike, Wilkins.  History of the Episcopal Church in Narragansett, Rhode Island. New York, Henry M. Onderdonk, 1847.   [note: includes genealogical material].
  • New Shoreham (Block Island)
  • Newport (this is just a sampling – there are hundreds of books and articles available on Newport’s history)

    • Capron, John F.  III. “Genealogical Clues from Newport, R.I. Customs District Records.”  Rhode Island Roots 38:1 (Mar 2012) p. 33-54.
    • Coughtry, Jay, and Daniel Lewis. Papers of the American Slave Trade: Series B. Bethesda, MD: University Publications of America, 2002 (a large microfilm collection of Newport Historical Society holdings).
    • Crane, Elaine F.
      • Ebb Tide in New England: Women, Seaports, and Social Change, 1630-1800. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998.
      • A Dependent People: Newport, Rhode Island, in the Revolutionary Era. New York: Fordham University Press, 1985.
    • Fiske, Jane Fletcher. Gleanings from Newport Court Files 1659-1783. Boxford, Massachusetts: 1998.
    • Hubbard, Samuel.  Samuel Hubbard’s journal, circa 1633-1686 : manuscripts relating to Samuel Hubbard of Newport, Rhode Island / transcribed by the Rhode Island Historical Records Survey Project, Division of Professional and Service Projects, Work Projects Administration, from a copy in the possession of William L. Burdick.  Providence, R.I. : The Project, [1940]
    • Jefferys, C P. B, and C P. B. Jefferys. Newport: A Short History. Newport, R.I: The Society, 1992.
    • Merchant, Gloria.  Pirates of colonial Newport.    Charleston, SC : The History Press, 2014
    • Peterson, Edward. History of Rhode Island. New-York: J.S. Taylor, 1853.  [note: according to Bartlett’s 1864 Bibliography of Rhode Island, this volume “abounds in errors, and is of no historical value.”]
    • Robinson, William Henry. The proceedings of the Free African Union Society and the African Benevolent Society : Newport, Rhode Island, 1780-1824.  Providence, R.I. : Urban League of Rhode Island, 1976
    • Simpson, Richard V. Historic Tales of Colonial Rhode Island: Aquidneck Island and the Founding of the Ocean State. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2012.
    • Stensrud, Rockwell. Newport: A Lively Experiment 1639-1969. Newport, RI: Redwood Library and Athenaeum, 2006.
    • Troost-Cramer, Kathleen. True Tales of Life & Death at Fort Adams. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2013.
    • Youngken, Richard C.  African Americans in Newport : an introduction to the heritage of African Americans in Newport, Rhode Island, 1700-1945 [Providence, R.I.] : The Newport Historical Society, 1998.
They just don't make book titles like they used to. Wickford is a town in North Kingstown.

They just don’t make book titles like they used to. Wickford is a village in North Kingstown.

  • North Kingstown
    • Conley, Patrick Thomas.  North Kingstown: An Historical Sketch. Providence: Rhode Island Bicentennial Commission, 1976.
    • 1798 Direct Tax records for North Kingstown, Providence, Richmond, Smithfield and Warwick [R.I. Historical Society manuscript 232, subgroup 4]
    • Griswold, Frances I. S. Old Wickford: The Venice of America. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Young Churchman, 1900.
    • Loxton, George R.  Davisville, Rhode Island: A History of the Textile Mill Village of Davisville, North Kingstown, Rhode Island, Since the Arrival of Joshua Davis in 1694. Baltimore: Gateway Press, 2001.
    • Notes on Quidnesset“, from the Narragansett Historical Register.
    • Woodward, Carl R. Plantation in Yankeeland: The Story of Cocumscussoc, Mirror of Colonial Rhode Island. Chester, Conn: Pequot Press, 1971.
  • North Providence
  • North Smithfield
    • Nebiker, Walter E. The History of North Smithfield. North Smithfield Bicentennial Commission, 1976.
  • Pawtucket (see also Central Falls)

    • Boucher, Susan Marie.  The History of Pawtucket, 1635-1976.  Pawtucket Public Library, 1976.
    • Goodrich, Massena. Historical Sketch of the Town of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Originally Pawtucket, R.I., 1876, reprinted Heritage Books, 2012.
  • Portsmouth
    • Brigham, Clarence S. The Early Records of the Town of Portsmouth. Providence, R. I., E. L. Freeman & Sons, state printers, 1901.
    • Ferraro, William Michael.  “Lives of quiet desperation : Community and polity in New England over four centuries : the cases of Portsmouth and Foster, Rhode Island.”  Dissertation:  Ph. D., Brown University, 1991.
    • Garman, James E.
      • Historic Houses of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.  Portsmouth: Garman, 1976.
      • A History of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, 1638-1978. Newport: Franklin Printing, 1978.  [note: thanks to Grundset’s Rhode Island in the American Revolution: A Source Guide for Genealogists and Historians, p. 153.]
    • Pierce, John T.  Historical Tracts of the Town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.  1991.
    • Taft, Donald R. Two Portuguese communities in New England.   Dissertation: PhD., Columbia University, 1923.
    • West, Edward Homer.  History of Portsmouth, 1638-1936. Providence, R.I. : J. Green, 1936.
    • [note – the Portsmouth Free Public Library has an excellent local history collection, and hosts books from the Rhode Island Genealogical Society collection]
  • Providence (this is just a sampling – there are hundreds of books and articles available on Providence’s history)

    • 1798 Direct Tax records for North Kingstown, Providence, Richmond, Smithfield and Warwick [R.I. Historical Society manuscript 232, subgroup 4]
    • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher. 1776 Census of Providence, Rhode Island. New England Historic Genealogical Register, 159 (Jan 2005): 12-24 and (April 2005) 141-154.
    • Brown University.  Historical Catalog of Brown University, 1764-1914.  Providence: Brown University, 1914.
    • Cady, John Hutchins. The Civic and Architectural Development of Providence 1636-1950. Providence: The Book Shop, 1957. [note: reviews the growth and development of the various neighborhoods.]
    • Hopkins, Charles Wyman. Home Lots of the Early Settlers of the Providence Plantations. 1886, reprinted Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 2007.
    • Kimball, Gertrude S. Providence in Colonial Times. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1912.
    • Lemons, J. Stanley. Baptists in Early North America: Volume II, First Baptist Church in Providence. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2013.
    • Mathew, Linda L.
      • “Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: Providence Town Council Records, 1770-1788.” Rhode Island Roots. Special Bonus Issue 2006 (April 2006).
      • “Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: Providence Town Council Records, 1789-1801.” Rhode Island Roots. Special Bonus Issue 2007 (April 2007).
      • “Manumissions in Providence, 1784-1800.”  Rhode Island Roots 32:4 (Dec 2006) p. 193-196.
    • The Providence House Directory and Family Address Book, various issues, 1895-1935. Providence: Sampson & Murdock Co.  Image copy. Providence City Archives. https://www.providenceri.com/archives/providence-house-directory-0    : 2015. [note: see a few other directories at https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/providence-city-directories/ ]
    • Rogers, Horatio, George Moulton Carpenter and Edward Field. The Early Records of the Town of Providence, v. 1 – 21. Providence: Snow & Farnham, 1895. [note: contains many personal references.]
    • Staples, William R. Annals of the Town of Providence, from its first settlement to the Organization of the City Government, in June, 1832 (Providence, 1843).
    • Taylor, Maureen Alice. Rhode Island passenger lists : Port of Providence, 1798-1808; 1820-1872, Port of Bristol and Warren, 1820-1871 : compiled from United States Custom House papers. Genealogical Publ. Co., 1995
    • Woodward, Wm. McKenzie and Edward F. Sanderson. Providence: A Citywide Survey of Historic Resources. Providence: Rhode Island Historic Preservation Commission, 1980.
  • Richmond
    • 1798 Direct Tax records for North Kingstown, Providence, Richmond, Smithfield and Warwick [R.I. Historical Society manuscript 232, subgroup 4]
    • Irish, James R. Historical Sketch of the Town of Richmond, from 1747 to 1876: Comprising a Period of One Hundred and Twenty-Nine Years. Hope Valley, R.I: L.W.A. Cole, Job printer, 1877.
    • Town of Richmond Tax Book for 1855, 1872, 1883 [on USGenWeb thanks to Susan Pieroth and Kathleen Beilstein.]
  • Scituate
    • Crane, Mary Knight.  “30 Revolutionary Pensioners, Scituate, R.I.”  National Genealogical Society Quarterly, 14 (June 1925), 29.  [thanks to Grundset’s Rhode Island in the American Revolution: A Source Guide for Genealogists and Historians, p. 170.]
    • Grandchamp, Robert. “With Their Usual Ardor”: Scituate, Rhode Island and the American Revolution. Westminster, Maryland: Heritage Press, 2006.
    • Mathew, Linda L.
      • “Guardianships from the Town of Scituate, R.I. 1762-1799.”  Rhode Island Roots 30:4 (Dec 2004) p. 206-228.
      • “Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: Scituate Town Council Records, 1731-1786.” Rhode Island Roots. Special Bonus Issue 2011 (April 2011).
    • Walker, Cyrus and later editors. The History of Scituate, R.I., from the Acquisition of the Territory in 1659 to the Close of the Nineteenth Century. Scituate Bicentennial Committee, 1976.  See also:
  • Smithfield
    • 1798 Direct Tax records for North Kingstown, Providence, Richmond, Smithfield and Warwick [R.I. Historical Society manuscript 232, subgroup 4]
    • [Fiske, Jane Fletcher, transcriber?] Smithfield 1778 Tax List: “A List of the Polls and Estates Real and Personal of the Proprietors and Inhabitants of the Town of Smithfield in the State of Rhode Island.” Rhode Island Roots, volumes 21 (1995) through 23 (1997).
    • Sanborn, Melinde Lutz. “Smithfield, Rhode Island Death Records Culled from Probates.” New England Historic Genealogical Register 146 (October 1992): 343-351.
    • Steere, Thomas. History of the Town of Smithfield from its Organization, in 1730-1, to its Division, in 1871. Providence: E.L. Freeman, 1881.
    • [note that some early Smithfield town records are held at the Central Falls City Hall.]
  • South Kingstown (see also Narragansett)

    • Bossy, Kathleen, and Mary Keane. Lost South Kingstown: With a History of Ten of Its Early Villages. Kingston, R.I: Pettaquamscutt Historical Society, 2004.
    • Comstock, Charles. A History of South-Kingstown: With Description of the Hornet’s Nest Company, and the Cats Let Out of the Bag, 1806.
    • Hazard, Thomas B.  Nailer Tom’s Diary: otherwise, the journal of Thomas B. Hazard of Kingstown, Rhode Island, 1778-1840. Caroline Hazard, ed.  Boston: Merrymount Press, 1930.
    • McBurney, Christian M. A History of Kingston, R.I., 1700-1900: Heart of Rural South County. Kingston, R.I: Pettaquamscutt Historical Society, 2004.
    • Miller, William D, and Joseph Torrey. Dr. Joseph Torrey and His Record Book of Marriages. Salem, Mass: Higginson Book Co, 1997.
    • Perkins, P. J. Shipwrecks, sinkings and strandings for Narragansett and South Kingstown, 1880 thru 1940. 1993.
    • “South Kingstown 1757 Tax List.”  Rhode Island Roots 13:2 (Jun 1987) p. 37-40.  Continued in 13:3 (Sep 1987) 63-67.
    • South Kingstown, Rhode Island Town Council. Town Council Records, 1771-1795 / transcribed by Jean C. Stutz. Kingstown, R.I. : Pettaquamscutt Historical Society, 1988.
    • Stedman, Daniel. Daniel Stedman’s journal, 1826-1859 / transcribed and introduced by Henry Clay Oatley ; edited by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Greenville, R.I. : Rhode Island Genealogical Society, 2003.
    • Stedman, Oliver H.  A Stroll Through Memory Lane with Oliver H. Stedman: Stories of South County’s Past. Kingston Press, 1978.
    • Watson, Judith Green.  South Kingstown, Rhode Island Tax Lists, 1730-1799.  Rockland, Maine: Picton Press, 2007.
    • [see also works published by the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society, newly renamed the South County History Center.]
South Kingston, Rhode Island Tax Lists, 1730-1799. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

South Kingston, Rhode Island Tax Lists, 1730-1799. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

  • Tiverton
    • Burroughs, Peleg. Peleg Burroughs’s journal, 1778-1798 : the Tiverton, R. I. years of the humbly bold Baptist minister. Warwick, RI : Rhode Island Genealogical Society, 1981.
    • Durfee, Grace Stafford. Rhode Island tercentenary 1636 1936 historical edition of Tiverton Rhode Island.  1936.  (mostly covers historic buildings).
    • Fowler, Orin. An Historical Sketch of Fall River from 1620 to the Present Time: With Notices of Freetown and Tiverton : in Three Discourses Delivered January 24, 1841. Fall River. Mass.: B. Earl, 1841.
    • Simpson, Richard V. Tiverton & Little Compton, Rhode Island: Historic Tales of the Outer Plantations, 2012.
  • Warren
You can always join the Rhode Island Genealogical Society and let the experts transcribe and index those town records for you. One volume per year!

You can always join the Rhode Island Genealogical Society and let the experts transcribe and index those town council records for you. One volume per year!

  • Warwick
    • 1798 Direct Tax records for North Kingstown, Providence, Richmond, Smithfield and Warwick [R.I. Historical Society manuscript 232, subgroup 4]
    • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.
      • “Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: Warwick Town Council Records, 1742-1780.” Rhode Island Roots. Special Bonus Issue 2012 (April 2012).
      • “Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: Warwick Town Council Records, 1781-1801.” Rhode Island Roots. Special Bonus Issue 2013 (April 2013).
      • “Residency Certificates from the Warwick Archives.”  Rhode Island Roots 31:1 (Mar 2005) p. 32-39.
    • Chapin, Howard M.
      • “Early house lots in the east part of the town of Warwick.” Rhode Island Historical Society Collections, 12 (1919), 129-136.
      • The early records of the town of Warwick. Providence, R. I,. E. A. Johnson company, 1926.
    • Curtis, Harold R.  “Warwick Proprietors’ Divisions.”  Rhode Island Historical Society Collections, 30 (1927), 33-51.
    • Fuller, Oliver P. The history of Warwick, Rhode Island, from its settlement in 1642 to the present time; including accounts of the early settlement and development of its several villages; sketches of the origin and progress of the different churches … Providence, Angell, Burlingame & co., printers, 1875.
    • Lockwood, Ernest Lapham. Episodes In Warwick History. Warwick, R.I. : City of Warwick historical committee of the Rhode Island tercentenary celebration, 1937.
    • Tillinghast, Samuel. The diary of Capt. Samuel Tillinghast of Warwick, Rhode Island : 1757-1766, transcribed and edited by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Greenville, R.I. : Rhode Island Genealogical Society, 2000.
    • Warwick. More early records of the town of Warwick, Rhode Island : “The book with clasps” and “General records” transcribed by Marshall Morgan; edited by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg and Jane Fletcher Fiske.  Boston, Mass. : New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001.
    • Woodward, Carl Raymond.  “Rural economy 200 years ago: as revealed in the account books of Benoni Waterman of Warwick, 1733-1740.”  Rhode Island History, 4 (1945), 97-106; 5 (1946), 119-128.
  • West Greenwich
    • Baker, Roberta. Bits and pieces of West Greenwich memoranda, 1976.
    • Hey, Catherine. “Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: West Greenwich Town Council Records, 1741-1772.” Rhode Island Roots. Special Bonus Issue 2015 (April 2015).
    • Huling, Ray Greene.  “Early owners of land in West Greenwich, R.I.”  Narragansett Historical Register, 3 (1884-1885), 1-5.
    • Historical Records Survey. Rhode Island.  Inventory of the town and city archives of Rhode Island: No. 2, Kent County: vol. 4, West Greenwich. 
    • West Greenwich (Town), R.I. “Town Records, 1741-1869.” Manuscript MSS 222, Rhode Island Historical Society.  (note: this item comes from Grundset’s Rhode Island in the American Revolution: A Source Guide for Genealogists and Historians, p. 123).
    • See also Western Rhode Island Civic Historical Society periodicals: Hinterlander and Proceedings.
  • West Warwick – see Warwick for earlier works
  • Westerly
    •  Anderson, Robert Charles. “The Colonial Records of the Town of Westerly, Rhode Island” Rhode Island Roots 7:3 (Sep 1981) p. 25-27.  [contains an explanation of the contents and numbering of each re-bound early record book in the Town Hall]. 
    • Best, Mary Agnes. The Town that Saved a State, Westerly.  Westerly: 1943.
    • Denison, Frederic. Westerly and its witnesses : for two hundred and fifty years, 1626-1876 : including Charlestown, Hopkinton, and Richmond until their separate organization, with the principal points of their subsequent history. Providence : J.A. & R.A. Reid, 1878.  See also
      • Larkin, Jessie N. C, and Frederic Denison. Index for Rev. Frederic Denison’s Westerly (r.i.) and Its Witnesses. New York: publisher not identified, 1933.
    • Dowding, George R. Military History of Westerly: 1710-1932. Westerly, R.I: Blackburn & Benson, printers, 1932.
    • O’Connell, Thomas A. Fair Westerly. Westerly, RI: Westerly Historical Society, 2014.
    • Shea, Robert F. Aspects of the History of Westerly During the Civil War , 1957.[thesis: University of Rhode Island].
    • Utter, George B. Old “westerle,” Rhode Island: Now Constituting the Towns of Charlestown, Hopkinton, Richmond and Westerly. Rhode Island’s Jubilee Year, 1636-1936. Westerly, R.I.: The Utter Company, printers, 1936.
    • “The Patriots of Westerly, R. I., 1776.” The American Monthly Magazine,  The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington D. C., (Feb. 1906), 124 – 126. Transcribed on USGenWeb by Susan Irish Nahas.
    • [check out worldcat.org for many shorter works published by the Westerly Historical Society.]
  • Woonsocket
    • Bonier, Marie L, Claire Quintal, and Raymond H. Bacon. The Beginnings of the Franco-American Colony in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Worcester, Mass: Assumption College, Institut français, 1997.
    • Daniels, Alanson S.  Statistics of the village of Woonsocket : comprising the names of the heads of families, arranged in alphabetical order, the number of inhabitants in each section of the village, with other useful and interesting matter, 1842 … Woonsocket, 1842.
    • Fortin, Marcel P. Woonsocket, Rhode Island: A Centennial History, 1888-1988. Woonsocket, R.I: Woonsocket Centennial Committee, 1988.
    • Newman, S C. A Numbering of the Inhabitants: Together with Statistical and Other Information, Relative to Woonsocket, R.I. Woonsocket: Printed by S.S. Foss, 1846.
    • Richardson, Erastus.
    • Thomas, Alton P. Old Woonsocket: Erastus & Doc. Providence: Mowbray Co., 1973.
    • [see also books published by American-French Genealogical Society]

Omitted from the above lists:  Architectural and archaeological surveys, church histories, and books about single families.  The Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission has issued Preliminary Survey Reports on the archaeology and historic sites of most or all Rhode Island towns.  Always check out local historical societies.  Some local libraries in Rhode Island also have local history collections.  This post on Rhode Island church records will show you the specific church-related vital records that were compiled by James Arnold.  And RIAMCO helps you find manuscript materials in Rhode Island repositories.

My favorite two bibliographies of Rhode Island historical materials are:

  • Grundset, Eric G.  Rhode Island in the American Revolution: A Source Guide for Genealogists and Historians. The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 2014.  There was so much additional material in there that I did not find in my other searches. I noted three entries in the list above that I found only in that book, but there are hundreds of others; I urge everyone to consult it.
  • James, Sydney V.  Colonial Rhode Island: A History. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1975.   See “Bibliography”, p. 385-411.  I thank Maureen Taylor for recommending this book to me; it is so valuable for Rhode Island researchers.
Columbian Phenix, Providence, Saturday, December 1, 1810. I purchased this on eBay recently. What surprised me about holding the paper in my hand was how thick the paper was - just like book paper.

Columbian Phenix, Providence, Saturday, December 1, 1810. I purchased this on eBay recently. What surprised me about holding the newspaper in my hand was how thick the paper was – just like book paper.

Newspapers

5 things to know about historic Rhode Island newspapers:

  • In my experience GenealogyBank.com offers the best selection of Rhode Island newspapers.  That’s where I have found 95% of the newspaper items in my genealogy files.
  • If you are looking for free newspaper offerings, look no further than The Ancestor Hunt‘s Rhode Island page.  Explore the website and blog, it’s filled with helpful tips.
  • The Providence Journal, Rhode Island’s premier newspaper, does not have historical issues online or indexed (just the last few decades).  Hoping we see some progress on that soon.
  • The Rhode Island Historical Society holds the largest collection of Rhode Island newspapers on microfilm, and there were many newspapers over the years.  There is little in the way of indexing, however, so you need to know the approximate date you need.  Note that the state is small and the capital was ever-shifting, so Providence and Newport papers were likely to carry stories from any part of Rhode Island.
  • The Providence Public Library has a Rhode Island Index with listings of major stories from 1900-2004.   Only my rich and famous family connections are in there (so that’s not many!)
  • A 1965 list of newspapers held in the various Rhode Island libraries is here.  The newspapers themelves would be accessed by going to the library and viewing the microfilm.

See the other 8 Weeks to Better Rhode Island Genealogy posts by clicking the tab at the top of the page.

There are eight weeks of helpful advice and links:
The post you are reading is the property of One Rhode Island Family.

The post you are reading is located at:  https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2016/06/19/town-histories-and-newspapers/

A card from the Rhode island index, Providence Public Library.

A card from the Rhode Island index, Providence Public Library.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

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Property records and the maps that help us understand our ancestor’s location contain some very helpful clues.  Even for ancestors whose background we know, maps and deeds can fill in fascinating parts of the story.

Maps

So let me just say right off, even after years in genealogy, I still tend to look at maps too late in the process of research.  Maps should be almost the first thing we turn to.  Was the village close to the state line, meaning our ancestors’ records may be recorded in another state?  Have we checked all neighboring towns for records?  Looking at our ancestor’s street on an old map, is it clear which nearby town would have been easiest to walk to, and possibly find a wife in?  What was the nearest church?  What nearby waterways provided easy transportation or employment?

More and more old maps are coming online.  Even if they are for sale, they are often viewable online.  Although not listed below, Ancestry.com has also added some of these same maps in the Maps, Atlases and Gazetteers section.

This 1795 Harris map shows the northeast corner of the state where my ancestors lived. I find that by matching landmarks in the old maps (for instance, Abbots Run along the east border) with information in my ancestors' deeds, I can often come close to knowing the location of their property.

This 1795 Harris map shows the northeast corner of the state where my ancestors lived. I find that by matching landmarks in the old maps (for instance, Abbots Run along the east border) with information in my ancestors’ deeds, I can often come close to knowing the location of their property.

My top 8 online map finds

I was underwhelmed with the selection of digital maps available online, the same few over and over, and lots of state maps showing the names of the towns.  I wish more specific content was available for each city and town.  Here are the major collections and some of my favorites.

The Georefrencer screen for plate 38 of the 1875 Providence atlas on David Rumsey Maps. It show my ggg-grandfather's rented home adjacent to Silver Lake basin, a former body of water that is now a large parking lot with a flea market building. The old map and the new Google map matched together instantly when I pressed the button. Fascinating to see the streets/features that are still the same and the ones that have changed.

The Georeferencer screen for plate 38 of the 1875 Providence atlas on David Rumsey Maps. It show my ggg-grandfather’s rented home adjacent to Silver Lake Basin, a former body of water that is now a large parking lot with a flea market building (white streets are the current streets). The old map and the new Google map matched together instantly when I pressed the button. Fascinating to see the streets/features that are still the same and the ones that have changed.

Paper maps

Obviously, there are historical maps in paper collections that could be very helpful.  The Rhode Island Historical Society has a wide collection.

To buy wall maps, Rhode Island’s own Map Center located on North Main Street, Providence, will sell you reasonably priced maps.  Many time over the years, I have purchased CD’s and a few paper maps from the Rhode Island collection at Old Maps including the 1831 & 1855 maps on CD, and the 1870 Atlas on CD.  This lets me keep them permanently on my computer, and open them to whatever size I want.

Place names

A guide to Providence County place names is here, mostly pulled from 1600’s records.  I will add more sources as I find them.

Deeds and land records

Deeds treat us to a glimpse of our ancestor’s financial and home life.  Was it a big farm? Did they have a mortgage?  Did they keep the land their parents had, or strike out on their own?  Did they lose their property at some point, and why?  And most of all, where was this homestead?  Does knowing the “abutters” or neighbors clarify a genealogical detail for us?  Did your ancestor buy an extremely expensive house in 1798 which he could never, possibly have afforded, lose it in 1800, and then lived the rest of his life in poverty and you cannot figure out how that happened and it keeps you up at night? (but I digress. On with the deeds).

In Rhode Island, deeds are kept in the town that the transaction occurred in.  As new towns split over time, deeds tended to remain in the original town, although there are exceptions to that so always check the town website to see what deeds they hold.

VERY few deeds are online at this point, as you will see, below.  So it’s important to get out to the town halls or rent the microfilm from the Family History Library.  They have most pre-1900 deeds on film which you can rent, and read at your local Family History Center.  Most likely you will have to rent the index volume microfilm first, and the volumes you need, later after you use the index.  To find those deeds go to http://www.familysearch.org, use the Search —  Catalog menu item and then “Search by” place, pulling up the exact town, which will look something like this: “United States, Rhode Island, Kent, Coventry.”  Familysearch files all deed records under the term “Land and property.”

Microfilm for Smithfield, Rhode Island

Finding microfilm listings for Smithfield, Rhode Island, prior to ordering them.

Online deeds

It may not be widely known that slowly, some Rhode Island towns are moving their deeds online and in a few cases, that includes historical deeds.  Check this site for the town you are interested in, although you may also need to consult the town/city web page to find out which years are in that system.

I am finding no deeds on Ancestry.com, however, a few deeds drifted into the “probate” category – look over at the Week 3 post on Probate, and follow instructions there to pull up the record set.

A few towns have a few deeds on FamilySearch.org:

Russell and Lydia's signatures on the sale

Lydia Lamphere signed a deed of sale (with her mark) because she was required to give up her right of dower in the property that she and her husband sold.

Some additional helpful sources:

There are eight weeks of helpful advice and links:
The post you are reading is the property of One Rhode Island Family.

The post you are reading is located at: https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2016/05/01/8-weeks-4-maps-and-deeds/

I would like to revisit the East Greenwich and North Kingstown records mentioned here and make my own analysis of the early deeds.

East Greenwich deed index, town hall.

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Great news!  Ancestry.com has recently posted over 800 record sets related to Rhode Island probate.  They are listed at the bottom of this post.  There is so much more there than I thought; see the top of the list for instructions about finding each record set. 

Wills and probate

Wills and probate records can tell us about relationships in our ancestor’s lives that no other document can reveal. Cemetery markers, even if read and recorded long ago, can often be the only physical artifact left behind to tell us about a life.

Probate won’t reliably provide us with helpful lines such as “I give the land received from my honored father, Marmaduke Shipley, to …” But they reveal so much else. Often naming all surviving children, who may have the very grandparents’ names we are seeking. Or showing us the choice of Administrator or Guardians of minor children; were those significant people known to us? Evidence of economic status can help us in building a case for a certain father as opposed to another by the same name.  And don’t get me started on the probate records of childless adults – they were often required to name every relative.

More than anything, it’s funny how the documents of the dead can bring them to life. Two aprons left to a daughter. An iron kettle. A chiming clock. A cow and calf. Or, in the case of my New England ancestors, 3 barrels of hard cider in the cellar. Add to that proximity in the cemetery to extended family members, or to the original family farm, and these are very important records for genealogists.

Asa Aldrich's 1818 will as recorded in Cumberland, R.I. probate.

Asa Aldrich’s 1818 will as recorded in Cumberland, R.I. probate.

All probate records were kept by the town, although be careful about shifting town identities.  A huge set of these records is now available online through a paid account on Ancestry.com (see bottom of this post). Otherwise, to see the probate records you need, a visit to the town hall may be necessary. Each town hall usually has staff devoted to probate records, to take care of the current probate business, and they can help you find the old records.

In some cases, microfilm copies may be necessary if the files you need are not online or if you cannot get to a town hall. The Rhode Island Historical Society has a few town probate records (try the card catalog before leaving home), also the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. Microfilm for most towns can be rented and viewed at the local FamilySearch Center.

There are some index/abstracts published in a few places.

  • Volume 16 (Rhode Island Will Book) of The Rhode Island Genealogical Register by Alden Beaman and Nellie M. C. Beaman (Princeton, Mass: periodical volumes 1 – 20 published 1978-1998). Out of print and protected by copyright (so, not online), the books are available in most local library collections that cover genealogy. Volume 16 is an index of town probate abstracts covered in volumes 1 – 15 of the periodical. A few other probate abstracts also appear in later volumes. The abstracts themselves are not perfect but this is certainly a useful guide for locating the probate records mentioned. But of course the set of abstracts is very far from complete for the state.
  • An index of Providence probate records is in the book Index to the Probate records of the Municipal court of the city of Providence, Rhode Island from 1646 To and Including the Year 1899 by Edward Field, Providence: 1902.  This data is also available online through NEHGS membership at their website, americanancestors.org, and its available on Ancestry.com.

Quick tip:  Since probate usually was processed over a period of time, there is often more than one entry in the town probate books. Check for additional records. Also, different parts of probate may have been saved separately – for instance, wills, inventories or guardianship papers may have their own volumes.

Family Search.org has a miscellaneous collection of Rhode Island probate records.  To find them, go to SEARCH –> CATALOG, and use Place = “United States, Rhode Island,” subject = “Probate,” Search these Family History Centers = “Online.”   Then drill down to the exact location using the “PART OF UNITED STATE, RHODE ISLAND, PROVIDENCE” link to go to Providence County, the use “Places within …” to find the town of your choice.  Clicking around will bring up any of the counties, and from there, the towns.

Quick tip:  Don’t assume that because there is a probate record for your ancestor, the death must have been recorded in the town records.  Sometimes, probate is the only record of a death. And sometimes, a death was recorded but there were no probate activities.

Of course there are many other records associated with more recent deaths – I notice Ancestry.com has a growing collection of Funeral Home records.  Obituaries will be covered later, with newspapers.

Ballou Cemetery, Cumberland.

Ballou Cemetery, Cumberland.

Cemeteries

Rhode Island has many, many tiny old cemeteries.  Early on, with no central church to manage burials, families tended to use a spot on their own property for a private cemetery.  Later, more formal, locally managed cemeteries were created, and sometime, older burials were moved to newer cemeteries, so don’t let the date of establishment of a cemetery fool you.  As land use changed and towns expanded, conditions were not ideal for protection and care of these small cemeteries, so those seeking out these graves today sometimes have difficult conditions to grapple with.

Over the years, and today, there were many dedicated individuals recording and caring for small cemeteries.  Sometimes, those early recordings have become the only record of markers now fallen and buried.

  • The Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Commission is my first stop for research.  A significant portion of the excellent work done over the last century and a half has been combined into their records.  If a picture is available, that will be indicated.
The same William Hardman who died in 1870. R.I. Historical Cemetery Database is telling me that he is buried in PV005 - Grace Church Cemetery.

William Hardman died in 1870. R.I. Historical Cemetery Database is telling me that he is buried in PV005 – Grace Church Cemetery.

  • Since many old Episcopal Church records are available at the archives of the University of Rhode Island Library, I already knew (see a blog post on my visit to the archives) that William Hardman was at Grace Church Cemetery – I was able to use the card index there and see the map of his plot.
  • The Rhode Island Genealogical Society has published several thorough books on local cemeteries.  See a complete list, and some EXCELLENT ADVICE FROM AN EXPERT, here.
  • Find A Grave is another site worth searching, and would be a good place to record your own discoveries and pictures.

Rhode Island probate records on Ancestry.com

Widow Margaret Hardman served as administrator of her husband William's estate in 1870. I like how the bottom navigation bar shows me which record set I'm on. The actual will was signed with a shaky hand on August 12, 1870, the day of Williams death.

Widow Margaret Hardman served as administrator of her husband William’s estate in 1870. I like how the bottom navigation bar shows me which file I’m on. The actual will was signed with a shaky hand on August 12, 1870, the day of William’s death.

You could search the set by name (see Randy Seaver’s recent post about indexing and other problems with the Massachusetts set). But if you want to access specific books to check for yourself, Ancestry makes it cumbersome but it is possible. All record sets are filed alphabetically BY COUNTY – but Rhode Island probate is kept by town.  The titles never include the name of the town, so, I have gone through each county and sorted the titles into the proper town. I doubt my list of over 800 record sets is perfect, and the titles themselves may have issues, but the list is below.  I built it for myself because I can’t think of any other way to access these records.

Rhode Island, Wills and Probate Records, 1582-1932. Choose the county then look for the exact title.

Rhode Island, Wills and Probate Records, 1582-1932. Choose the county then look for the exact title.

First, find the titles you are interested in, below. Then go to Rhode Island, Wills and Probate Records, 1582-1932. Find on the screen the “Browse this collection” link in the side column.  Choose a county.  Then all record books for the county will appear in the drop down menu (Providence county takes a while to come up – be patient).  Knowing, from the list below, the exact title you might want, you just look for that title and select it. Be careful because some of the titles are VERY similar.  Good luck!

A three-minute VIDEO walking you through how to locate the Ancestry.com records is available HERE. Be sure to click the blue button with the triangle to start the video.  And don’t forget to come back!

BRISTOL COUNTY [All titles below will be found in a single list for Bristol County – this list helps you find the title you want.]

Barrington

  • Deed Records, Vol 13, 1882-1890; Vol 14, 1890-1891
  • Probate Records, Docket 1-7, 1874-1923
  • Town Council and Probate Records, Vol 1-4, 1830-1869
  • Town Council Records, Vol 1-4, 1770-1891

Bristol

  • Administration and Testamentary Letters, 1810-1871
  • Administrator Accounts, Vol 11-12, 1899-1920; Letters of Administrator, Vol 7-8, 1901-1917
  • Administrators Accounts, 1811-1852
  • Administrators Accounts, 1852-1870
  • Administrators Accounts, 1870-1877
  • Deeds, Wills, Inventories, Administrations, Grand Deeds and Grand Articles, 1680-1808
  • Estate Deeds, Vol 5, 1909-1917; Warrants, Vol 1, 1896-1916; Admin Account, Vol 11, 1892-1899; Etc
  • Inventories, Vol 1-4, 1811-1867
  • Letters of Administration, Vol 5, 1870-1906
  • Original Land Records, 1690-1703, 1886
  • Probate and Town Records, Vol 2-3, 1760-1825
  • Probate and Town Records, Vol 4, 1825-1838
  • Probate Bonds, 1817-1890 Probate Bonds, 1858-1885
  • Probate Index, Abatantuono, Ann-McCabe, Ann M,
  • Probate Index, Dixon, Ezra-Morris, Harriet P
  • Probate Index, McCabe, Ann M-Zukowski, William Joseph
  • Probate Index, Morris, Harriet P-Zych, John
  • Probate Records, Vol 6-8, 1855-1877 Wills, Inventories, 1746-1793
  • Wills, Inventories, 1746-1845
  • Wills, Inventories, 1845-1881

Warren

  • Accounts, 1832-1876; Commissioners Reports of Claims, 1843-1913
  • Accounts, Vol 11, 1878-1891; Vol 12, 1891-1912; Vol 13, 1912-1947
  • Bonds and Letters Testamentary, 1811-1836
  • Bonds, 1875-1892; Vol 3, 1892-1905; Vol 4, 1906-1917
  • Index to Vol 2-3 of Probate Proceedings, 1808-1851; Probate Proceedings, Vol 2, 1808-1839
  • Letters of Guardianship, 1840-1900; Letters and Bonds to Return Inventory, 1823-1839
  • Probate Index, Vol A-H, 1746-1859 Probate Index, Vol H-Z, 1746-1859
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 7-8, 1868-1879
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 9, 1825-1833; Probate Proceedings, 1819-1828, 1833-1839
  • Probate Records, Vol 12, 1892-1906; Vol 13, 1897-1904; Vol 14, 1904-1909; Vol 15, 1909-1914
  • Probate Records, Vol 14, 1903-1908; Vol 15, 1908-1911; Vol 16, 1911-1914; Vol 17, 1914-1916
  • Probate Records, Vol 17, 1916-1918
  • Wills and Inventories, Vol 1-2, 1746-1808 Wills and Inventories, Vol 3-4, 1806-1893
  • Wills, Vol 9, 1880-1890; Vol 10, 1902-1918

KENT COUNTY [All titles below will be found in a single list for Kent County – this list helps you find the title you want.]

Coventry

  • Probate Records, 1764-1824
  • Probate records, 1825-1841
  • Probate Records, 1841-1871
  • Probate Records, 1856-1932
  • Probate Records, 1869-1878
  • Probate records, v.10, 1878-1883
  • Probate Records, Vol 11-13, 1883-1906
  • Probate Records, Vol 14-15, 1906-1922
  • Probate Records, Vol 4-5, 1784-1819
  • Probate Records, Vol 6-7, 1819-1850
  • Probate Records, Vol 8, 1847-1875
  • Probate Records, Vol 9, 1875-1891

East Greenwich

  • Probate Files, 1-87, Adams-Brayton, Early to 1885
  • Probate Files, 88-178, Briggs-Congdon, Early to 1885
  • Probate Files, 179-243, Congdon-Freeborn, Early to 1885
  • Probate Files, 244-320, Freeborn-Hawkins, Early to 1885
  • Probate Files, 320-394, Hawkins-Kelly, Early to 1885
  • Probate Files, 394-447, Kelly-Mawney, Early to 1885
  • Probate Files, 447-524, Mawney-Pitcher, Early to 1885
  • Probate Files, 525-611, Pitcher-Spencer, Early to 1885
  • Probate Files, 612-695, Spencer-Wells, Early to 1885
  • Probate Files, 695-725, Wells-Wood, Early to 1885
  • Probate Index, Abar-Tortolani, 1872-2002
  • Probate Index, Tortolani-Zubee, 1872-2002
  • Town Council Records, 1865-1873

Warwick

  • Guardianship, 1896-1923 Testamentary, 1856-1891 Testamentary, 1891-1909 Testamentary, 1909-1931
  • Miscellaneous, 1839-1856; Administration, 1856-1932; Guardianship, 1856-1896
  • Probate Bonds, Vol 1, 1873-1889; Vol 2, 1885-1897; Vol 3, 1897-1905
  • Probate Bonds, Vol 4, 1895-1903; Vol 5, 1903-1908; Vol 6, 1908-1915
  • Probate Bonds, Vol 7, 1915-1921
  • Probate Docket Books, 1839-1925
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 13, 1907-1912; Vol 14, 1912-1918, 1947, 1955; Vol 15, 1918-1924, 1953
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 16, 1924-1938; Vol 17, 1925-1928; Vol 18, 1925-1934
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 19, 1918-1928; Vol 20, 1928-1930; Vol 21, 1928-1931
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 21, 1929-1931; Vol 22, 1929-1930; Vol 23, 1930-1931
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 8, 1876-1880; Vol 9, 1880-1881; Vol 10, 1882-1894
  • Town Council Records 1853-1877
  • Town Council Records Vol 1, 1742-1770
  • Town Council Records, Vol 3, 1804-1822
  • Town Council Records, Vol 7, 1870-1879
  • Wills and Probate Proceedings, 1804-1820
  • Wills and Probate Proceedings, 1820-1839
  • Wills and Probate Proceedings, 1839-1861
  • Wills and Probate Proceedings, 1861-1869
  • Wills and Probate Proceedings, 1869-1876
  • Wills, Vol 1, 1703-1745
  • Wills, Vol 2-4, 1745-1797
  • Wills, Vol 5-6, 1797-1816
  • Wills, Vol 7-8, 1816-1831
  • Wills, Vol 9-10, 1831-1847
  • Wills, Vol 11-12, 1845-1859
  • Wills, Vol 13-14, 1859-1868
  • Wills, Vol 15-16, 1868-1879
  • Wills, Vol 17-19, 1879-1898
  • Wills, Vol 20-22, 1898-1909
  • Wills, Vol 23-24, 1909-1917, 1953

West Greenwich

  • Wills, vol 6-10, 1822-1890

West Warwick

  • Docket 1913-1923; wills 1913-1919; bonds 1913-1919; letters of administration 1913-1923
  • Testamentary Letters, 1914-1923; Guardianship Letters, 1913-1923; Probate Proceedings, 1913-1924

NEWPORT COUNTY [All titles below will be found in a single list for Newport County – this list helps you find the title you want.]

Jamestown

  • Index to Land Evidence Records, Vol 1-14, 1680-1903
  • Probate Files, Carr, Isaac-Larkin, Eliz B
  • Probate Records, Vol 6-9, 1887-1915
  • Town Council and Probate Records and Index, Vol 2-4, 1767- 1874
  • Town Records, 1744-1796; Town Council Records, 1746-1766; Index

Little Compton

  • Town Council and Probate Records, Vol 1-2, 1746-1781
  • Town Council and Probate Records, Vol 8, 1832-1841; Probate Records, Vol 9-10, 1841-1854
    Vols. 14-15 (1900-1915)

Middletown

  • Books, Vol 12, 1894-1902; Vol 13, 1902-1908; Vol 14, 1908-1910
  • Cemetery Records; Wills, Early-1800; Wills, 1745-1894; Deaths and Marriages
  • Court Records, 1751-1785, 1813-1833
  • Docket 1, 1896-1936
  • Town Council Records, Vol 3-5, 1793-1838
  • Town Council Records, Vol 6-8, 1838-1879

Newport

  • General Probate Index, Vol A-B, 1779-1973
  • General Probate Index, Vol C-H, 1779-1973
  • General Probate Index, Vol I-R, 1779-1973
  • General Probate Index, Vol S-Z, 1779-1973
  • Index to Town Council Records
  • Index to Wills
  • Land Evidence Records, Vol 48-49, 1878-1880
  • Miscellaneous Records, 1701-1776
  • Probate Index, Aaron, Harry Solomon-Brown, Sophia Augusta
  • Probate Index, Abate, Salvatore A-Richmond, Henry I
  • Probate Index, Brown, Sophia Augusta-Crosby, Sarah C
  • Probate Index, Crosby, Sarah C-Francis, Hariet H
  • Probate Index, Francis, Harriet H-Hobbs, Caroline M
  • Probate Index, Hobbs, Caroline M-Limmer, Edward F
  • Probate Index, Limmer, Edward F-Mullaney, Johanna
  • Probate Index, Mullaney, Johanna-Ray, John Lewis
  • Probate Index, Ray, John Lewis-Sousa, Telma Garcia
  • Probate Index, Richmond, Henry I-Yetman, Walter Minor
  • Probate Index, Sousa, Telma Garcia-Virgadamo, Lucia G
  • Probate Index, Virgadamo, Lucia G-Zuill, Elizabeth W
  • Probate Records, Vol 10-11, 1834-1838
  • Probate Records, Vol 11, 1854-1876; Town Council Records, Vol 3, 1841-1880
  • Probate Records, Vol 12-13, 1838-1844
  • Probate Records, Vol 1-3, 1779-1802
  • Probate Records, Vol 19, 1858-1859
  • Probate Records, Vol 20-21, 1859-1863
  • Probate Records, Vol 22, 1862-1865
  • Probate Records, Vol 23-24, 1864-1867
  • Probate Records, Vol 28-29, 1872-1875
  • Probate records, vol 30, 1877
  • Probate Records, Vol 31-33, 1877-1880
  • Probate Records, Vol 41-43, 1887-1890
  • Probate Records, Vol 4-5, 1802-1819
  • Probate Records, Vol 48-50, 1894-1896
  • Probate Records, Vol 52-55, 1898-1900
  • Probate records, vol 55-57, 1900-1902
  • Probate Records, Vol 60-62, 1904-1906
  • Probate Records, Vol 62-64, 1906-1908
  • Probate Records, Vol 71-73, 1913-1915
  • Probate Records, Vol 8-9, 1818-1834
  • Town Council Records, Vol 12-16, 1756-1771
  • Town Council Records, Vol 1-3, 1702-1719
  • Town Council Records, Vol 17-18, 1702-1776
  • Town Council Records, Vol 4-7, 1714-1735
  • Town Council Records, Vol 8-11, 1735-1755

Portsmouth

  • Council and Probate Records, Vol 6-9, 1764-1822
  • Probate Bonds, 1829-1926
  • Probate Bonds, 1869-1926
  • Probate Index Cards, A-Z, 1700-1996
  • Probate Records, Vol 2-5, 1834-1868
  • Probate Records, Vol 6, 1845-1880
  • Town Council Records, Vol 10, 1822-1862
  • Town Council Records, Vol 13-15, 1893-1930

Tiverton

  • Appointment Book of Administrators, Borden, Benajah-End, 1830-1844; Vol 11-14, 1832-1876
  • Land Records, Vol 27, 1877-1879
  • Probate and Town Council Records, Vol 2 and 4, 1747-1792
  • Probate Index, 1700-1902
  • Probate Records, Vol 13-14a, 1848-1866
  • Probate Records, Vol 14, 1866-1876
  • Probate Records, Vol 14-15, 1844-1850
  • Probate Records, Vol 15, 1876-1883
  • Probate Records, Vol 16, 1884-1890; Vol 17, 1890-1896; Vol 18, 1896-1902
  • Probate records, vol 2 and 4, 1747-1792; town council probate, 1776-1789; vol 5-6, 1792-1814
  • Town Council Records, Vol 1-4, 1776-1903
  • Town Council Records, Vol 5-6, 1903-1929
  • Town Meetings and Probate Records, 1776-1789; Town Meetings, 1804-1889

MISC:

  • A Book of Records For the Proprietors of the Lands Containing the Names of the First Proprietors
    Durfee and Stafford Genealogy and Allied Lines from 1600

PROVIDENCE COUNTY  [All titles below will be found in a single list for Providence County – this list helps you find the title you want.]

Burrillville

  • Administration Letters, Vol 1, 1907-1916; Warrants, Vol 1, 1896-1906; Bonds, Vol 1-2, 1873-1916
  • Letters of Guardianship, Administration, Testamentary, 1862-1917; Probate Bonds, 1873-1898
  • Probate Docket, Vol 1-2, 1900-1956; Wills, Vol 6, 1891-1916; Admin Letters, Vol 1, 1862-1907
  • Probate Journals Vol 1-3, 1806-1883
  • Probate Journals, Vol 4-6, 1883-1918; Probate Docket, Vol 1, 1896-1900
  • Probate Records, Vol 3-4, 1842-1871
  • Probate Records, Vol 5, 1871-1891
  • Town Meeting Records, 1806-1881

Cranston

  • Bonds to Probate Court, Vol 1, 1873-1892; Probate Index
  • Estate Files, 1064-1404
  • Estate Files, 1-372
  • Estate Files, 1405-1685
  • Estate Files, 1686-2074
  • Estate Files, 2075-2656
  • Estate Files, 2657-3090
  • Estate Files, 3096-3421
  • Estate Files, 3422-3687
  • Estate Files, 374-645
  • Estate Files, 648-1064
  • Inventories, 19, 1890-1899; 21, 1898-1905; 29, 1906-1911; 35, 1910-1913
  • Inventories, Reports, Accounts, Vol 16, 1873-1888; Wills, Vol 17, 1875-1894
  • Inventory, Accounts, Etc, Vol 10, 1849-1862; Admin and Guardianship Letters, Vol 11, 1849-1869
  • Letters of Administrator and Guardianship, Vol 14, 1867- 1892; Vol 15, 1873- 1887
  • Letters, 20, 1899-1919; Testamentary, 22, 1892-1915; Misc Bonds, 23-24, 1892-1914; 2, 1888-1896
  • Probate Bonds, 2 and 27, 1893-1923; Probate Bonds, 31 and 33, 1904-1919; Will, 25, 1892-1895
  • Probate Index, Aaronian, Evelyn H-Burton, Joseph
  • Probate Index, Burton, Joseph-Deluca, Giovanni
  • Probate Index, Deluca, Giovanni-Gill, William C
  • Probate Index, Gill, William C-Karnegie, Benjamin
  • Probate Index, Karnegie, Benjamin-McCann, Irene
  • Probate Index, McCann, Irene-Peterson, Annie
  • Probate Index, Peterson, Annie-Shaw, Harriet
  • Probate Index, Shaw, Harriet-Walton, Thomas
  • Probate Index, Walton, Thomas-Zwoden, Arden; Hildebrant, Katharine M; Hulton, Chester
  • Probate Records, Vol 12, 1861-1873; Inventories, Reports, Accounts, Vol 13, 1863-1874
  • Probate Records, Vol 1-4,1798-1832
  • Probate Records, Vol 5-7, 1832-1849
  • Probate Records, Vol 8, 1849-1861; Wills, Vol 9, 1849-1875
  • Records of Will, 25, 1895-1908; Records of Will, 32, 1908-1916
  • Town Council Records, 1754-1793
  • Town Council Records, 1854-1865
  • Town Council Records, 1865-1877

Cumberland

  • Letters, 1895-1925; Wills, 1905-1919; Probate Docket Book, Vol 1-2, 1896-1924
  • Miscellaneous Bonds, 1874-1923
  • Probate Records, Vol 21-23, 1856-1866
  • Probate Records, Vol 24-25, 1866-1877
  • Probate Records, Vol 26-27, 1877-1885
  • Probate Records, Vol 28-30, 1885-1891
  • Probate Records, Vol 31-34, 1894-1916
  • Probate Records, Vol 6-10, 1784-1815

East Providence

  • Assignment of Wages, Vol 1-2, 1885-1939; Inventories, Vol 3-4, 1889-1906
  • Deed Records, Vol 1, 1862-1879; Vol 2, 1879-1896
  • Letters, Vol 2-4, 1882-1923; Vol 1-2, 1862-1935; Vol 3-4, 1896-1916; Wage Assignment, Vol 1, 1885
  • Probate Bonds, Vol 3-5, 1894-1941; Probate Warrants, Vol 1-2, 1899-1917
  • Probate Court Bonds, 1873-1885
  • Probate Court Journal; Letters of Guardianship, 1862-1892
  • Probate Docket, Vol 1-3, 1896-1920; Probate Journal, Vol 3-4, 1892-1901
  • Probate Index, Abajian, Charles-Cooke, Charlotte, 1862-1998
  • Probate Index, Cooke, Charlotte-Harrington, Francis 1862-1998
  • Probate Index, Harrington, Francis-McGuigan, Matthew, 1862-1998
  • Probate Index, McGuigan, Matthew-Rose, Adelaide G, 1862-1998
  • Probate Index, Rose, Adelaide G-Zwolinski, Florence 1862-1998
  • Probate Journal, Vol 4, 1901-1904; Vol 5, 1904-1910; Vol 6, 1910-1915; Vol 7, 1915-1919
  • Probate Wills, Vol 2-3, 1894-1917; Probate Bonds, Vol 2-3, 1885-1897
  • Wills and Letters Testamentary, 1862-1894

Foster

  • Deeds, Vol 17-19, 1893-1900
  • Foster Historical Cemeteries
  • Probate Records, Vol 10, 1864-1873
  • Probate Records, Vol 1-2, 1781-1814
  • Probate Records, Vol 12-14,1888-1915
  • Probate Records, Vol 3-4, 1814-1826
  • Probate Records, Vol 5-6, 1826-1836
  • Probate Records, Vol 7-9, 1836-1864

Gloucester

  • Town Council Records, 1731-1892

Johnston

  • Executor, Administrations, Guardianship Records, 1826-1898
  • Letters of Administration, Wills, Inventories, Etc, 1840-1882
  • Probate Records, Minute Books, Inventories, and Commissioners Reports, 1871-1898
  • Town Council Meeting Records, 1772-1817
  • Wills, Inventories, Etc, 1759-1817
  • Wills, Inventories, Etc, 1798-1852
  • Wills, Inventories, Etc, 1821-1870
  • Wills, Inventories, Etc, 1882-1898
  • Wills, Inventories, Letters of Administration, Etc, 1871-1889

Lincoln

  • Probate docket and index, 1895-1915; Wills and index, 1895-1915; Inventories, 1895-1915
  • Probate Mtgs, Vol 1, 1895-1915; Admin Bonds, Vol 2 and 4, 1895-1915; Testamentary, Vol 3, 1895-1915
  • Probate Records, Vol 18-21, 1890-1896
  • Probate Records, Vol 25-27, 1902-1904, 1904-1907, 1907-1909
  • Probate Records, Vol 28-30, 1909-1912, 1912-1913, 1914-1917

North Providence see Pawtucket

North Smithfield

  • Deed Index and Records, Vol 11, 1894-1901; Vol 12, 1894-1901; Vol 13, 1896-1900; Vol 15, 1897-1900
  • Probate Index, Greene, Marion Da-Zygmunt, Joseph

Pawtucket or North Providence  (these records are for one or the other; it was hard to distinguish)

  • Administrators Bonds, 1873-1889
  • Appraisers Warrants and Record of Accounts, 1873-1890
  • Council and Probate Records, Vol 1-4, 1799-1855
  • Council and Probate Records, Vol A-C, 1765-1828
  • Council Records, Vol 9-11, 1855-1874
  • Executors Bonds to Return Inventory, 1873- 1907
  • Guardianship Bonds, 1873-1905
  • Husbands, Guardians, Administrators, Other Probate Bonds, 1873-1905
  • Index to Probate Records, 1765-1874; Index to Council Records, 1765-1874
  • Letters Testamentary, 1873-1883; Probate Bonds, 1872-1874
  • Probate Docket, Vol 1, 1-2176, 1896; Vol 2, 3617-4737, 1898-1906; Vol 3, 4738-5713, 1906-1912
  • Probate Docket, Vol 12, 1895-1896; Vol 13, 1896-1897; Vol 14, 1897-1899
  • Probate Docket, Vol 15, 1896-1903; Vol 16, 1899-1905
  • Probate Docket, Vol 17, 1899-1900; Vol 18, 1900-1901; Vol 19, 1902-1903
  • Probate Docket, Vol 22, 1905-1906; Vol 23, 1906-1906; Vol 24, 1906-1908
  • Probate Docket, Vol 29, 1910; Vol 30, 1910-1911; Vol 31, 1911; Vol 32, 1912
  • Probate Docket, Vol 33, 1912-1913; Vol 34, 1913; Vol 35, 1913-1914; Vol 36, 1914
  • Probate Docket, Vol 37, 1914-1915; Vol 38, 1915; Vol 39, 1915-1916
  • Probate Docket, Vol 4, 1877-1880; Vol 5, 1880-1883
  • Probate Docket, Vol 4, 5714-6791, 1912-1926
  • Probate Docket, Vol 9, 1889-1891; Vol 10, 1891-1893; Vol 11, 1893-1895
  • Probate Files, 1, 5-85
  • Probate Files, 1079-1185,
  • Probate Files, 1185-1230,
  • Probate Files, 1230-1256,
  • Probate Files, 1256-1365,
  • Probate Files, 1365-1471,
  • Probate Files, 144 (2)-198,
  • Probate Files, 1471-1570,
  • Probate Files, 1570-1655,
  • Probate Files, 1655-1733,
  • Probate Files, 1733-1811,
  • Probate Files, 1811-1887
  • Probate Files, 1887-1973
  • Probate Files, 1973-2070
  • Probate Files, 198-281,
  • Probate Files, 2071-2147
  • Probate Files, 2148-2207
  • Probate Files, 2208
  • Probate Files, 281-371,
  • Probate Files, 371-457,
  • Probate Files, 458-544,
  • Probate Files, 544-639
  • Probate Files, 640-725
  • Probate Files, 726-858
  • Probate Files, 85-144 (1)
  • Probate Files, 858-973
  • Probate Files, 973-1079
  • Probate Records Index, A-Camoes, Mary
  • Probate Records Index, Camp-Fitzsimons, Wam
  • Probate Records Index, Fl-Gizelsky, A
  • Probate Records Index, Li-Pakuris, Nicholas
  • Probate Records Index, Pal-Tavernier, Kevin
  • Probate Records Index, Tay-Z
  • Probate Records, 1862-1877
  • Probate Records, Vol 11-12, 1865-1871
  • Probate Records, Vol 13-14, 1870-1874
  • Probate Records, Vol 9-10, 1855-1865
  • Record of Wills, Vol 1-2, 1870-1897
  • Record of Wills, Vol A31, 1897-1902

Providence

  • Administration Accounts, 10, 1843-1848; 11, 1849-1851; 12, 1851-1854
  • Administration Accounts, 14, 1856-1858; 13, 1854-1856; 15, 1858-1860
  • Administration Accounts, 16, 1860-1862; 17, 1862-1864; 18, 1864-1866
  • Administration Accounts, 19, 1866-1868; 20, 1868-1869; 21, 1869-1872
  • Administration Accounts, 22, 1872-1874; 23, 1874-1876; 24, 1876-1878
  • Administration Accounts, 26, 1880-1882; 25, 1878-1880; 27, 1882-1884
  • Administration Accounts, 28, 1884-1890; 29, 1891-1895; 30, 1896-1899
  • Administration Accounts, 4, 1832-1835; 5, 1835-1837; 6, 1837-1839
  • Administration Accounts, 7, 1839-1841; 8, 1841-1843; 9, 1842-1846
  • Administrators Records, 1898-1899
  • Commissioners Probate Reports, Vol 1-3, 1820-1878; Miscellaneous Commissioner Reports, 1898-1899
  • Index to Probate Records, 1646-1899 [copy of a printed book]
  • Indexes to Wills, Vol O, 1872-1886; Vol 1, 1886-1897; Vol 2, 1901-1906; Vol 3, 1905-1914
  • Indian deeds, 1659-1662
  • Letters of Administration and Guardianship, 1804-1840
  • Letters of Guardianship, 1840-1864
  • Letters of Guardianship, 1864-1889
  • Letters of Guardianship, 1889-1898
  • Miscellaneous Bonds, Vol 10-12, 1872-1897
  • Miscellaneous Bonds, Vol 13-15, 1873-1898
  • Miscellaneous Bonds, Vol 1-5, 1873-1898
  • Miscellaneous Bonds, Vol 16-19, 1873-1899
  • Miscellaneous Bonds, Vol 20-22, 1873-1893
  • Miscellaneous Bonds, Vol 23-26, 1873-1899
  • Miscellaneous Bonds, Vol 28-30, 1890-1899
  • Miscellaneous Bonds, Vol 31-38, 1893-1899
  • Miscellaneous Bonds, Vol 39-41, 1896-1899
  • Miscellaneous Bonds, Vol 6-9, 1872-1897
  • Miscellaneous Files, A4802, 1823-1888
  • Miscellaneous Guardians, 1898-1899
  • Probate Docket Books, Vol 35-37, 12001-14450, 1909-1912
  • Probate Dockets of Estates, Vol 15-18, 12426-15149, 1879-1886
  • Probate Dockets of Estates, Vol 19-21, a15150-A17754, 1886-1891
  • Probate Dockets of Estates, Vol 22, a17755-A18992, 1703-1883; Vol 23-24, 1-2000, 1891-1894
  • Probate Dockets of Estates, Vol 25-27, 2001-5000, 1894-1899
  • Probate Dockets of Estates, Vol 28-30, 5001-8000, 1899-1903
  • Probate Dockets of Estates, Vol 31-33, 8001-11000, 1903-1907
  • Probate Dockets of Estates, Vol 34, 11001-12000 1907-1909
  • Probate Dockets of Estates, Vol 37-39, 14450-17000, 1912-1915
  • Probate Dockets of Estates, Vol 40-42, 17001-18500, 1915-1916
  • Probate Dockets of Estates, Vol 43-44, 18501-19500, 1917-1918; Vol 45, 19501-2000, 1918-1919
  • Probate Dockets of Estates, Vol 46-48, 20001-21500, 1919-1920
  • Probate Dockets of Estates, Vol 49, 21501-22000, 1920-1921
  • Probate Dockets, Vol 10-12, 9103-11078
  • Probate Dockets, Vol 1-3, 1-4596
  • Probate Dockets, Vol 13-14, 11079-12425
  • Probate Dockets, Vol 4-6, 4597-6902
  • Probate Dockets, Vol 7-9, 6903-9102
  • Probate Files, A1-A484, 1646-1885
  • Probate Files, A485-A881, 1646-1885
  • Probate Files, A882-A1200, 1769-1785, 1898
  • Probate files, A1040, A1403, A1416, 1779-1788; A1455-A1583, 1794-1797
  • Probate Files, A1201-A1454, 1785-1794
  • Probate Files, A1584-A1630, 1797-1799
  • Probate Files, A1680-A1730, 1799
  • Probate Files, A1680-A1730, 1799-1800
  • Probate Files, A1888-A1981, 1800-1812Probate Files, A1982-A2058, 1897-1899
  • Probate Files, A2058-A2132
  • Probate Files, A2133-A2330, 1826-1850
  • Probate Files, A2330-A2440, 1850-1855
  • Probate Files, A2441-A2541, 1854-1861
  • Probate Files, A2542-A2663, 1861-1876
  • Probate Files, A2664-A2788, 1867-1874
  • Probate files, A2789-A2912, 1874-1877
  • Probate Files, A2913-A3046, 1880-1885
  • Probate Files, A3047-A3182, 1885-1890
  • Probate Files, A3183-A3350, 1890-1894
  • Probate Files, A3351-A3544, 1894-1888
  • Probate files, A3545-A3691, 1888-1804
  • Probate files, A3692-A3850, 1804-1808
  • Probate Files, A3851-A3971, 1809-1886
  • Probate Files, A3972-A4102, 1809-1810
  • Probate Files, A4103-A4200, 1814
  • Probate files, A4201-A4309, 1815-1816
  • Probate Files, A4310-A4411, 1816-1817
  • Probate Files, A4412-A4498, 1818
  • Probate Files, A4499-A4593, 1819-1823
  • Probate Files, A4594-A4717, 1820-1822
  • Probate Files, A4718-A4804, 1822-1826
  • Probate Files, A4805-A4889, 1826 4833
  • Probate Files, A4890-A4969, 1827-1828
  • Probate Files, A4969-A5047, 1826-1827
  • Probate Files, A5048-A5144, 1827-1828
  • Probate Files, A5145-A5229, 1828-1829
  • Probate Files, A5230-A5319, 1829-1831
  • Probate Files, A5320-A5385, 1831-1832
  • Probate Files, A5386-A5448, 1832
  • Probate Files, A5449-A5498, 1832-1835
  • Probate Files, A5499-A5551, 1835-1836
  • Probate Files, A5552-A5606, 1834-1836
  • Probate Files, A5606-A5660, 1836-1839
  • Probate Files, A5660-A5719, 1836-1839
  • Probate Files, A5720-A5776, 1836-1841
  • Probate Files, A5776-A5824, 1839-1841
  • Probate Files, A5824-A5872, 1839-1840
  • Probate Files, A5872-A5924, 1839
  • Probate Files, A5925-A5982, 1839-1845
  • Probate Files, A5982-A6035, 1840-1845
  • Probate Files, A6036-A6070, 1841-1842
  • Probate Files, A6071-A6123, 1841
  • Probate Files, A6124-A6168, 1841-1842
  • Probate Files, A6169-A6224, 1842-1843
  • Probate Files, A6224-A6274, 1843-1845
  • Probate Files, A6275-A6332, 1844
  • Probate Files, A6333-A6384, 1844-1845
  • Probate Files, A6385-A6441, 1845-1847
  • Probate Files, A6387-A6544, 1845-1847
  • Probate Files, A6441-A6486, 1846-1848
  • Probate Files, A6545-A6599, 1847
  • Probate Files, A6599-A6649, 1847-1848
  • Probate Files, A6650-A6699, 1847-1849
  • Probate Files, A6700-A6750, 1849-1850
  • Probate Files, A6751-A6777, 1849
  • Probate Files, A6778-A6825, 1850-1852
  • Probate Files, A6826-A6869, 1850-1852
  • Probate Files, A6870-A6908, 1850
  • Probate Files, A6909-A6948, 1850
  • Probate Files, A6949-A6988, 1851-1852
  • Probate Files, A6989-A7030, 1851-1852
  • Probate Files, A7031-A7060, 1852
  • Probate Files, A7061-A7105, 1855-1856
  • Probate files, A7106-A7149, 1852-1855
  • Probate Files, A7150-A7190, 1854-1861
  • Probate Files, A7191-A7236, 1854
  • Probate files, A7237-A7254, 1854
  • Probate Files, A7275-A7317, 1854
  • Probate Files, A7318-A7536, 1854-1855
  • Probate Files, A7357-A7400, 1855
  • Probate Files, A7401-A7450, 1855
  • Probate Files, A7451-A7494, 1855-1858
  • Probate Files, A7495-A7550, 1856
  • Probate files, A7551-A7597, 1856-1857
  • Probate Files, A7597-A7648, 1857-1865
  • Probate Files, A7649-A7690, 1857
  • Probate Files, A7691-A7738, 1857
  • Probate Files, A7738-A7787, 1857-1858
  • Probate Files, A7788-A7845, 1858
  • Probate Files, A7846-A7876, 1858-1859
  • Probate Files, A7877-A7910, 1858-1859
  • Probate Files, A7911-A7958, 1859
  • Probate Files, A7959-A7992, 1859
  • Probate Files, A7993-A8044, 1859-1861
  • Probate Files, A8045-A8092, 1860
  • Probate files, A8093-A8142, 1860
  • Probate Files, A8143-A8181, 1860-1861
  • Probate Files, A8182-A8232, 1861
  • Probate Files, A8233-A8289, 1861
  • Probate Files, A8290-A8322, 1861-1862
  • Probate Files, A8323-A8376, 1862
  • Probate Files, A8377-A8427, 1862-1867
  • Probate Files, A8428-A8467, 1863-1864
  • Probate Files, A8468-A8519, 1863-1864
  • Probate Files, A8520-A8579, 1863
  • Probate Files, A8580-A8642, 1863-1864
  • Probate Files, A8643-A8704, 1864
  • Probate Files, A8705-A8759, 1864
  • Probate Files, A8760-A8818, 1864-1865
  • Probate files, A8819-A8879, 1865
  • Probate Files, A8880-A8922, 1865
  • Probate files, A8923-A8984, 1865-1867
  • Probate Files, A8985-A9044, 1866
  • Probate Files, A9045-A9104, 1866
  • Probate Files, A9105-A9173, 1866
  • Probate Files, A9174-A9219, 1866
  • Probate Files, A9220-A9271, 1867
  • Probate files, A9272-A9325, 1867
  • Probate Files, A9326-A9386, 1868
  • Probate Files, A9387-A9409, 1868
  • Probate Files, A9420-A9479, 1868
  • Probate Files, A9480-A9438, 1868
  • Probate Files, A9539-A9605, 1868-1869
  • Probate Files, A9606-A9662, 1869
  • Probate Files, A9664-A9731, 1869
  • Probate Files, A9732-A9771, A9773-A9797, 1869
  • Probate Files, A9798-A9867, 1870
  • Probate Files, A9868-A9939, 1869
  • Probate Files, A9940-A10017, 1869
  • Probate Files, A10018-A10090, 1869
  • Probate Files, A10091-A10150, 1870
  • Probate Files, A10151-A10228, 1871
  • Probate Files, A10229-A10309, 1871
  • Probate Files, A10310-A10367, 1872
  • Probate Files, A10368-A10423, 1872
  • Probate Files, A10424-A10504, 1872
  • Probate Files, A10505-A10584, 1872
  • Probate Files, A10585-A10644, 1872
  • Probate Files, A10645-A10725, 1873
  • Probate Files, A10726-A10802, 1873
  • Probate Files, A10803-A10882, 1873
  • Probate Files, A10883-A10966, 1874
  • Probate Files, A10967-A11065, 1874
  • Probate Files, A11088-A11151, 1874-1875
  • Probate Files, A11152-A11233, 1875
  • Probate Files, A11234-A11329, 1875
  • Probate Files, A11330-A11415, 1875
  • Probate Files, A11416-A11508, 1876
  • Probate Files, A11509-A11590, 1876
  • Probate Files, A11591-A11679, 1877
  • Probate Files, A11680-A11768, 1877
  • Probate Files, A11769-A11853, 1877
  • Probate Files, A11854-A11932, 1877
  • Probate Files, A11933-A12004, 1877
  • Probate Files, A12005-A12100, 1877
  • Probate Files, A12101-A12175, 1877
  • Probate Files, A12176-A12270, 1878
  • Probate Files, A12271-A12351, 1878-1879
  • Probate Files, A12352-A12437, 1879
  • Probate Files, A12438-A12524, 1879
  • Probate Files, A12525-A12612, 1879
  • Probate Files, A12613-A12699, 1880
  • Probate Files, A12699-A12775, 1880
  • Probate Files, A12776-A12869, 1880-1881
  • Probate Files, A12870-A12946, 1881
  • Probate Files, A12947-A13017, 1881
  • Probate Files, A13018-A13094, 1881
  • Probate Files, A13095-A13170, 1882
  • Probate Files, A13171-A13254, 1882
  • Probate Files, A13255-A13331, 1882
  • Probate Files, A13331-A13423, 1882
  • Probate Files, A13424-A13515, 1882
  • Probate Files, A13516-A13593, 1883
  • Probate Files, A13594-A13673, 1883
  • Probate Files, A13674-A13766, 1883
  • Probate Files, A13767-A13842, 1883
  • Probate Files, A13843-A13929, 1883
  • Probate Files, A13930-A14016, 1883-1884
  • Probate Files, A14017-A14099, 1884
  • Probate Files, A14118-A14180, 1884
  • Probate Files, A14181-A14251, 1884
  • Probate Files, A14252-A14330, 1884-1885
  • Probate Files, A14331-A14417, 1885
  • Probate Files, A14418-A14501, 1885
  • Probate Files, A14502-A14569, 1885
  • Probate Files, A14570-A14657, 1885
  • Probate Files, A14658-A14760, 1885
  • Probate Files, A14761-A14843, 1886
  • Probate Files, A14843-A14933, 1886
  • Probate Files, A14934-A15017, 1886
  • Probate Files, A15018-A15104, 1886
  • Probate Files, A15105-A15196, 1886-1887
  • Probate Files, A15197-A15286, 1887
  • Probate Files, A15287-A15375, 1887
  • Probate Files, A15376-A15455, 1887
  • Probate Files, A15456-A15550, 1887
  • Probate Files, A15551-A15644, 1887
  • Probate Files, A15644-A15737, 1887
  • Probate Files, A15738-A15831, 1887-1888
  • Probate Files, A15832-A15920, 1888
  • Probate Files, A15921-A16008, 1888
  • Probate Files, A16009-A16090, 1888
  • Probate Files, A16091-A16174, 1889
  • Probate Files, A16175-A16276, 1889
  • Probate Files, A16277-A16387, 1889
  • Probate Files, A16388-A16478, 1889
  • Probate Files, A16480-A16575, 1889
  • Probate Files, A16576-A16661, 1889
  • Probate Files, A16662-A16735, 1889
  • Probate Files, A16736-A16821, 1890
  • Probate Files, A16798-A16865, 1890
  • Probate Files, A16865-A16927, 1890
  • Probate Files, A16927-A17006, 1890
  • Probate Files, A17006-A17078, 1890
  • Probate Files, A17078-A17146, 1890
  • Probate Files, A17146-A17224, 1890
  • Probate Files, A17224-A17304, 1890
  • Probate Files, A17304-A17377, 1890-1891
  • Probate Files, A1731-A1750, 1799-1800
  • Probate Files, A17377-A17461, 1890-1891
  • Probate Files, A17461-A17522, 1891
  • Probate Files, A1750-A1888, 1899
  • Probate Files, A17522-A17591, 1891
  • Probate Files, A17591-A17669, 1891
  • Probate Files, A17669-A17747, 1891
  • Probate Files, A17747-A18144, 1828-1848
  • Probate Files, A18144-A18433, 1839-1862
  • Probate Files, A18433-A18632, 1862-1875
  • Probate Files, A18632-A18867, 1875-1884
  • Probate Files, A18867-A19035, 1884-1899
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 1, 1819-1824; Vol 2, 1824-1828; Vol 3 1828-1834
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 12, 1857-1859; Vol 13, 1859-1862; Vol 14, 1862-1865
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 15, 1865-1867; Vol 16, 1867-1870; Vol 17, 1870-1873
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 18, 1873-1876; Vol 19, 1876-1878; Vol 20, 1878-1881
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 21, 1881-1883; Vol 22, 1883-1885; Vol 23, 1885-1888
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 24, 1888-1890; Vol 25, 1890-1893; Vol 26, 1893-1898
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 26-28, 1878-1882
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 27, 1892-1893; Vol 28, 1894-1896
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 29, 1896-1898; Vol 30, 1898-1899
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 29-31, 1882-1887
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 32-34, 1888-1891
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 35-37, 1891-1894
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 38-39, 1894-1896
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 4, 1834-1838; Vol 5, 1838-1841
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 40-41, 1896-1899
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 6, 1841-1844; Vol 7, 1844-1848; Vol 8, 1848-1850
  • Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 9, 1850-1853; Vol 10, 1853-1855; Vol 11, 1855-1857
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 100, 1906-1908; Vol 101, 1885-1908; Vol 102, 1906-1908
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 103, 1908-1909; Vol 104, 1909; Vol 105, 1908-1909
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 109, 1910; Vol 110, 1910-1912; Vol 111, 1905-1911
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 11-12, 1845-1848
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 115, 1910-1911; Vol 116, 1911; Vol 117, 1911-1912
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 1-2, 1798-1817
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 121, 1907-1913; Vol 122, 1904-1913; Vol 123, 1911-1913
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 124, 1913; Vol 125, 1913-1914; Vol 126, 1913-1914
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 127, 1914; Vol 128, 1914-1915; Vol 129, 1903-1914
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 13, 1848-1850
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 130, 1914-1915; Vol 131, 1915; Vol 132, 1897-1915
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 133, 1915; Vol 134, 1915; Vol 135, 1915
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 136, 1914-1916; Vol 137, 1915; Vol 138, 1916
  • Probate proceedings, Vol 139, 1916; vol 140, 1916; vol 141, 1916
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 14-15, 1850-1853
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 142, 1916; Vol 143, 1916; Vol 144, 1916-1917
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 145, 1916-1917; Vol 146, 1916; Vol 147, 1917
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 148, 1917; Vol 149, 1917; Vol 150, 1917
  • Probate proceedings, Vol 151, 1917; vol 152, 1915-1917; vol 153, 1911-1918
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 154, 1914-1918; Vol 155, 1914-1918; Vol 156, 1916-1918
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 157, 1916-1918; Vol 158, 1918; Vol 159, 1915-1918
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 160, 1911-1919; Vol 161, 1919; Vol 162, 1919
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 16-17, 1853-1855
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 163, 1918; Vol 164, 1919; Vol 165, 1919
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 166, 1919-1920; Vol 167, 1919-1920; Vol 168, 1919-1920
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 18, 1855-1856
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 19-20, 1856-1858
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 21-22, 1858-1860
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 27-28, 1865-1868
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 29-30, 1868-1871
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 31-32, 1871-1874
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 33-34, 1874-1876
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 3-4, 1817-1828
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 35, 1876-1877; Vol 36, 1877; Vol 37, 1877-1878
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 41, 1882-1883; Vol 42, 1883-1884; Vol 43, 1884-1885
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 44, 1885-1886; Vol 45, 1886-1887; Vol 46, 1887
  • Probate proceedings, Vol 46, 1887-1888; vol 47, 1888-1889; vol 48, 1889
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 52, 1892-1892; Vol 53, 1892-1893; Vol 54, 1893
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 5-6, 1828-1836
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 61, 1897; Vol 62, 1897-1898; Vol 63, 1898
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 64, 1899; Vol 65, 1884-1899; Vol 66, 1892-1899
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 73, 1901; Vol 74, 1901; Vol 75, 1900-1902
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 7-8, 1836-1840
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 79, 1890-1903; Vol 80, 1903; Vol 81, 1903
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 82, 1903; Vol 83, 1903-1904; Vol 84, 1904
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 88, 1882-1994; Vol 89, 1902-1905; Vol 90, 1905
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 91, 1899-1905; Vol 92, 1905; Vol 93, 1906
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 9-10, 1840-1845
  • Probate Proceedings, Vol 97, 1903-1907; Vol 98, 1907; Vol 99, 1895-1907
  • Wills and Index, Vol 10-11 1805-1815
  • Wills and Index, Vol 12, 1815-1819
  • Wills and Index, Vol 13, 1819-1839
  • Wills and index, vol 14-15, 1836-1848
  • Wills and Index, Vol 16-17, 1848-1856
  • Wills and Index, Vol 18-19, 1856-1862
  • Wills and Index, Vol 20-21, 1861-1867
  • Wills and Index, Vol 22-23, 1867-1872
  • Wills and Index, Vol 24-25, 1872-1877
  • Wills and Index, Vol 3-4, 1726-1754
  • Wills and Index, Vol 5-6, 1754-1785
  • Wills and Index, Vol 7, 1785-1797
  • Wills and Index, Vol 8-9, 1796-1805

Scituate

  • Probate and Council Records, Vol 1-3, 1731-1799
  • Probate Records, Vol 13, 1905-1906; Vol 14, 1906-1912; Vol 15, 1913-1919
  • Probate Records, Vol 6, 1837-1848
  • Probate Records, Vol 9-10, 1865-1881
  • Town Council Records, Vol 5-6, 1820-1886

Smithfield

  • Abstracts Copied From Council and Probate Records 2
  • Council Journal, 1871-1877
  • Council Journal, Vol 5-6, 1822-1845
  • Probate Files, 1-99, 1871-1885
  • Probate Files, 99-171, 1871-1885
  • Probate Index, Abbatematteo, Kathleen Frances-Laposta, Maria, 1871-2003
  • Probate Index, Laposta, Maria-Zylinski, Mery, 1871-2003
  • Probate Records, Vol 11-12, 1859-1867
  • Probate Records, Vol 1-4, 1871-1912
  • Probate Records, Vol 2, 1749-1768
  • Probate Records, Vol 2, 1769-1797
  • Probate Records, Vol 3-4, 1791-1827
  • Probate Records, Vol 4-5, 1903-1921
  • Probate Records, Vol 5-6, 1826-1844
  • Probate Records, Vol 9-10, 1853-1859

Woonsocket

  • Probate Bonds, Vol 1, 1872-1883
  • Probate files, 162-265
  • Probate Files, 1-79
  • Probate Files, 266-342
  • Probate Files, 343-425
  • Probate Files, 426-526
  • Probate Files, 527-601
  • Probate Files, 79-161
  • Probate Index, Abatantuono, Constanza-Brien, Delphine
  • Probate Index, Brien, Delphine-Dulac, Madeleine
  • Probate Index, Dulac, Madeleine-Kappelle, Rosilda
  • Probate Index, Kappelle, Rosilda-McDonald, James H
  • Probate Index, McDonald, James H-Smith, Matilda S
  • Probate Index, Smith, Matilda S-Zydem, Simon
  • Probate Records, Vol 1-2, 1867-1878

Misc from Rhode Island Historical Society:

  • Genealogical Record Book, Vol I
  • Index to Cemetery Records, Wills, Record Books, Vital Records and Historical Events, Vol A [=Briggs Collection]
  • Index to the Probate Records, 1646-1899 [Providence]
  • Minutes and Acts of the General Council, 1667-1753
  • Probate Records and Index, to 1775 [Providence, a handwritten abstract]
  • Wills, Vol A-C [BRIGGS Collection]

WASHINGTON COUNTY [All titles below will be found in a single list for Washington County – this list helps you find the title you want.]

Charlestown

  • Probate Records, Vol 1-3, 1798-1837
  • Probate Records, Vol 4-6, 1837-1878
  • Town Council and Town Meeting Records, 1-67, 1787
  • Town Council and Town Meeting Records, 1788-1800

Exeter

  • Council and Probate Records, Vol 12-14, 1830-1850
  • Council and Probate Records, Vol 1-4, 1743-1786
  • Council and Probate Records, Vol 15-17, 1850-1878
  • Council and Probate Records, Vol 5-8, 1786-1816
  • Council and Probate Records, Vol 9-11, 1816-1830
  • Exeter, Rhode Island, death records and index: 1903-1915

Hopkinton (lucky Hopkinton researchers can bypass all this by using the transcribed records from the Hopkinton Historical Association (free!) – Probate 1757-1850 HERE). 

  • Bonds, Vol 1-3, 1872-1915; Docket Books, Vol 1-2, 1895-1928
  • Probate Index Cards, 1757-1993
  • Probate Records, Vol 11-12, 1862-1876
  • Probate Records, Vol 13-14, 1876-1888
  • Probate Records, Vol 15-16, 1888-1898
  • Probate Records, Vol 1-6, 1751-1841
  • Probate Records, Vol 17-18, 1899-1911
  • Probate Records, Vol 19, 1911-1920
  • Probate Records, Vol 7-10, 1839-1863
  • Town Records, 1743-1920

Narragansett

  • Probate Bonds, Vol 1, 1899-1908; Vol 2, 1908-1915
  • Probate Files, Annie Thompson Case 10-Edward J Davis Case 61, 1800-1915
  • Probate Files, Edward J Davis Case 61-James A Northup, 1800-1915
  • Probate Files, Edward W Watts-Radel Andrew, 1800-1915
  • Probate Files, James A Northup-Edgar W Watts, 1800-1915
  • Probate Files, Rose, Joshua-Wright, Thomas
  • Probate Records and Index, Vol 1 1884-1901; Vol 2 1898-1913; Vol 3 1913-1915

New Shoreham

  • Probate books, vol A-C, 1798-1840
  • Probate Books, Vol H-I, 1902-1923
  • Probate Files Early-1885, Coe, Benjamin T-Littlefield, Nathaniel (Guardian)
  • Probate Files Early-1885, Littlefield, Nathaniel (Guardian)-Rose, John

North Kingstown

  • Death records, vol 5, 1910-1915
  • Probate and Town Council Records, Vol 14-20, 1796-1817
  • Probate and Town Council Records, Vol 21-25, 1817-1829
  • Probate and Town Council Records, Vol 26-29, 1829-1845
  • Probate and Town Council Records, Vol 30-32, 1845-1858
  • Probate and Town Council Records, Vol 33-36, 1858-1871
  • Probate and Town Council Records, Vol 5-8, 1692-1756
  • Probate and Town Council Records, Vol 9-13, 1756-1795
  • Probate Index, 1696-1903
  • Probate Index, Abbott, Marie-Guada, Marlene Iris, 1896-1997
  • Probate Index, Guada, Marlene Iris-Zwolinski, John, 1896-1997
  • Probate Records, Vol 39, 1877-1881; Vol 40, 1881-1885
  • Probate Records, Vol 40, 1885-1886; Vol 41, 1886-1889; Vol 42, 1862-1893; Vol 43, 1894-1895
  • Probate Records, Vol 43-47, 1895-1923
  • Probate Records, Vol 47, 1907-1924; Vol 48, 1918-1924; Vol 49, 1915-1933
  • Probate records: Bonds 1 (1873-1890) ; bonds 2 (1890-1907) ; docket 2 (1896-1930) ; index 1 A – Z (books 1-45) 1696-1907.

Richmond

  • Index of Land Evidence, Vol 2, 1853-1935; Land Deeds, 1896-1900
  • Probate and Town Records, Vol 10-12, 1861-1877
  • Probate and Town Records, Vol 1-3, 1747-1783, 1812-1818
  • Probate and Town Records, Vol 4-6, 1818-1834
  • Probate and Town Records, Vol 7-9, 1834-1861
  • Probate Bonds, 1873-1914

South Kingstown

  • Probate and Town Council Records, Vol 4-5, 1743-1772
  • Probate and Town Council Records, Vol 6-7, 1772-1854
  • Probate and Town Council Records, Vol 6-7, 1825-1863
  • Probate and Town Council Records, Vol 8-10, 1863-1876
  • Probate and Town Council Records, Vol 8-9, 1854-1886
  • Town Council Records Index, 1704-1917
  • Town Council Records Index, 1705-1943

Westerly

  • Estates, Vol 1, 1872-1888; Vol 2, 1888-1906; Vol 3, 1906-1915; Vol 4, 1915-1916
  • Indexes of Town, Land, Probate, and Vital Records, 1661-1745
  • Probate Files, Drawer 3
  • Probate Files, Drawer 4
  • Probate Files, Drawers 1 and 2
  • Probate Records Index, Abbossa, Rosa-Lysobey, Daniel
  • Probate Records Index, McAndrew, Joseph L-Zippo, Theresa M
  • Probate Records, Vol 2-3, 1811-1841
  • Probate Records, Vol 4, 1832-1852
  • Probate Records, Vol 5-6, 1853-1877
  • Probate Records, Vol 7, 1874-1885; Vol 8, 1882-1889; Vol 9, 1888-1894
  • Town and Council Special Proceedings, Vol 1, 1869-1888; Town Meeting Record, 1669-1694, 1818-1904
  • Town Council and Probate Records, Vol 2-4, 1699-1736
  • Town Council and Probate Records, Vol 5-6, 1745-1787
  • Town Council and Probate Records, Vol 7-8, 1787-1818

A bit more help

A demo of the steps needed to use the record sets, above, can be found here on Randy Seaver’s blog.  Thanks Randy!

There are eight weeks of helpful advice and links:
The post you are reading is the property of One Rhode Island Family.

The post you are reading is located at: 

https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2016/04/15/8-weeks-probate-and-cemeteries/

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