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.
A whole lot of history has occurred on the venerable home site of the Henry S. Newcombe House in the century that it has been standing; you’ve got to wonder if textile industrialist Henry Newcombe contemplated this fact when he purchased the property from the last of the spinster Carpenter sisters, Mary, in the fall of 1921.
Here is just one more story focused on a South County historic site that you can enjoy now that spring has come and COVID-19 restrictions are being relaxed. Built 314 years ago, The Old Narragansett Church is a gem. I expect this reminiscence will bring back memories for a number of former Wickford children.
Last week, we took a look at some of the best places in North Kingstown to visit this spring. But it’s hard to keep all of this area’s beautiful locations to just one column. Here are seven more great places to visit to learn all about this area’s local history.
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.
Spring has finally sprung, and in Wickford, one of the things which that means is kayaking. With that in mind I thought it might make sense to look at Wickford Harbor’s two major islands and the stories tied to them. Like so much of South County, the opening chapters of these islands begin with the inter-relationships between Richard Smith and his descendants, Roger Williams, and the Narragansett People.
This week, as our last entry for Women’s History Month, we are going to look at the exceptional India rubber brokers, the Earles of New York who summered here in South County on Duck Cove, with a special focus on a pair of the proud women of this clan.
Throughout Rhode Island’s three-plus centuries of existence, thousands of people have come and gone from Wickford. Lives of all sorts have played out in the village and its nearby environs. Yet no one led a life like Mabel Hayward.
There’s no doubt about it, “The Shops at Quonset Point” is a busy place. There’s hustle and bustle aplenty; and folks are coming and going at this attractive shopping plaza anchored by both Dave’s Marketplace and Kohls. But this has always been a busy spot — prior to the plaza, this location was home to one of the largest all-wooden office buildings in the world.
I expect that no one since Betsey Ann Briggs’ death on Christmas Day in 1907 has known the highways and byways of the Stony Lane and Scrabbletown districts as she. To say she knew these two rural hamlets like the back of her hand would be an understatement.
Last month, in honor of Black History Month, we took a closer look at the lives and times of our community’s 18th and 19th century black residents. We ended with a discussion of the remarkable life of Christiana Bannister, which was the perfect segue way into March.
The year 1819 was memorable for a hard-working African American/Narragansett Indian couple named John and Mary Babcock. They lived in the southwest corner of North Kingstown, out past Slocumville, even out past Shermantown, in an area that was always known as “Dark Corners.” Dark Corners nestled up against Stony Fort, and although Stony Fort was officially part of South Kingstown, everyone knew it to be Narragansett tribal land. It was the land of John and Mary’s ancestors and, although dark and foreboding to some, it probably felt like home to the Babcocks and their kin. In 1819, Mary gave John a daughter. They named her Christiana.
In the past, we have explored the lives of the extended family of a group of colonial era slaves from the George Rome estate (now known as Rome Point). For instance, we examined the life and tragic death of Cato Roome. This piece will focus on the story of Cato’s brother in slavery, Pero.
The word “sharecropping” likely brings to most folks’ minds images of the antebellum deep South, poor black men, and merciless southern landowners. But we northerners in general — and Rhode Islanders in particular — are just fooling ourselves regarding our ultimate responsibilities. We were a part of all this too; indeed, in some cases, we were the driving wheel behind the evil engine that was slavery. Sharecropping is a case in point.
To initiate this year’s celebration of February as Black History Month, I thought we might take a look at an aspect of local Black history that most folks just don’t think about: the story of the numerous Black mariners – I have identified 24 so far – that sailed out of Wickford Harbor. This home on Fowler Street stands as a solid reminder of those men and the life they led.
Last week we left off in August 1894 with the Cullen family purchasing the Gardiner Boarding House and settling into their piece of the American dream. Along the way Edmund Cullen had returned a favor to the Morris Ryan family of Greenville, Rhode Island, and had assisted their young son Michael Ryan as he started out here in Our Fair Town, working at the same Belleville Woolen Mill that he did.
William I of Germany remarked on his death bed, “I have no time to be tired.” But people often suffer from being tired and having low energy years before they leave this planet. For some with fatigue, a prescription for 8 hours of pillow use daily is the best treatment.
People everywhere are fed up with enforced isolation. While adhering to stay-at-home orders at the urging of public health officials and to help front-line health care workers, the restrictions are taking a toll on the physical and mental wellbeing of all. While senior citizens can be especially impacted, it is less commonly acknowledged that younger people, particularly teens, struggle with isolation too.
For decades I have been informing local stargazers about astronomical events through my monthly columns. How many times have you read that I never tire of watching “burning rocks” blazing across the sky, no matter what time of year? At least a couple of hundred, I would estimate.