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No serious study of the history of our fair town would be complete without taking a hard look at one of the folks most responsible for preserving the most important artifacts of that history; the colonial era homes and structures which make North Kingstown the special place that it is. No one man has done more to preserve and document these buildings than Norman Isham. It only seems fitting, since Isham’s home and studio on Boston Neck Road have recently been restored themselves, that we look back on his life.

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Whether it be as a backdrop for the historic fishing vessel the “O.K.” or all on its own, the magnificent circa 1932 John P. Burdick House cuts quite a figure for itself there on the edge of Wickford Harbor, just east of the Hussey Bridge. An interesting home, constructed on land that has its own intriguing story, this is a house with a tale to tell.

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Most of my friends and relations seem to feel that I have a penchant for making some very obscure selections when it comes to reading materials. I can’t quite understand this; why, during this long holiday weekend I passed the time pouring over the details of this very interesting two-volume work entitled “Runaways, Deserters, & Notorious Villains” written by noted Providence historian and photo archivist Maureen Taylor.

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Just this past week, my dear friend and one of my partners in eking out the details of the history of our fair town has retired. Karen-Lu LaPolice worked for the North Kingstown Planning Department for decades and, after that, with a private company here in town. She possesses a near photographic memory, a clever sense of humor and heart as big as all outdoors.

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As a part of our long-standing effort to more closely examine the historic cemeteries of our fair town, this week we are going to tarry for a time at the burial place of famed 19th century hand weavers William Henry Harrison Rose and his two sisters, Misses Elsie and Mary Rose.

This small historic cemetery, found near the intersection of Shermantown and Slocum Roads out in the southwestern corner of town — an area once known as Dark Corners — is, without a doubt, the most unusual historic cemetery in all of Rhode Island. Indeed, it may be one of the most unique historic cemeteries anywhere. But before we explore that claim, let’s examine the life of the good weaver.

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A well-executed needlepoint landscape is like a portal to another time. And this one, imagined and created by a young Wickford lass named Maria Hammond, is a perfect example of just that. Created nearly 200 years ago, it is stitched with silk thread upon a hand-painted silk background and shows an almost idyllic scene of the Hammond Homestead Farm just a short while after the start of the 19th century. This piece of art is both sophisticated in its technique and childlike in its portrayal of a place that obviously was very important to its maker.

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Summertime in Wickford in the late 1960s, for a boy raised by a young widow with the admirable assistance of Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Robinson Crusoe, and the Swiss Family Robinson, was all about finding adventure in a sleepy South County village where, indeed, everyone did know your name. It had almost nothing to do with the beach, but everything to do with the shoreline, woodlands and long-abandoned farmfields that once surrounded my hometown. From the first day of summer vacation to its final morning, each day began with some variation of the same exchange between my mother and me.

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Joshua Himes has got to be one of our fair town’s most intriguing native sons. Born almost exactly 216 years ago, on May 19, 1805, to Stukely and Elizabeth (Vaughn) Himes, he spent his early years living in the finest house in Wickford and receiving his Christian education at the knee of St. Paul’s of Wickford’s rector Rev. Lemuel Burge and a prominent Wickford summer resident Episcopal Bishop Griswold.

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You’d look at the Wickford Baptist Church Parish House, known also as the Stafford House or Deakin House, and probably not think an awful lot about it. It’s really one of those buildings that blends into the background; nothing showy or ostentatious about it, just another 19th century building among so many others of that ilk. It’s quiet and reserved, and that’s certainly appropriate for a building that’s part of an old First Baptist parish community that’s been around for the better part of two centuries. But like so many of our fair town’s other old structures, it too has a unique story to tell — if you know how to listen.

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So, you’ve had just about enough of this long, COVID-impacted winter and early spring, and you want to get outside and do something. Or maybe you’re just looking for a good place to take the kids or grandkids on a day trip filled with adventure and history. Well, it seemed to me like this might be a good time to restate the obvious: We have some wonderful places here in our fair town and its surrounding communities.

Let’s take a look at some of them this week.

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Last year at this time, I wrote about participating in the Backyard BioBlitz, an event aimed at identifying every species of living thing in your own yard to document its biodiversity. I was thrilled to record nearly 250 species of life in my yard, mostly plants and insects. I even documented a rare orchid hidden among the wetland shrubs in the corner of my property.

But it got me thinking about what I may have missed by only looking for wildlife outside my house. What might I find inside?