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Full text of "First-[fifth] report of the Record Commisssioners relative to the early town records"

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[No. 29. 




Early Town Records. 

[PkESKNTED DlX'EMBEK 4, 1893.] 

fioCtry-,'''^ (^ 

J. A. & R. A. Reid, City Printers, 

Dyer and Pine Streets. 





To THE Honorable the City Council of the City of 
Providence : 

Gentlf'ien : — The Record Commissioners herewith sub- 
mit the fourth of the printed volumes of the Early Records 
of the Town of Providence, it being a continuation of the 
records contained in the Third Book Town of Providence, 
A and B, otherwise called "The Book with Brass Clasps." 

In this book the records of town meetings and of the 
town council terminate and an hiatus of seventeen years 
occurs in the records of such meetings in the immediate 
custody of the city. 

Through the instrumentality of Charles E. Paine, Esq., 
for many years City Engineer, the attention of the Com- 
missioners has been directed to two resolutions of the City 
Council, which originated in the Board of Aldermen. 

As originally introduced they passed the Aldermen Feb- 
ruary 10, 1845, and were as follows : 

" Resolved, That the Mayor be requested cause the 

deed of Cananicus and Miantinomo to Roger Williams, dated 
24th of 1st mo. 2 year of our plantation ; the deed of Roger 
Williams to the first settlers, dated the 8th of the 8 month, 
1638 ; the deed of Roger Williams to the first settlers, dated 
20th of December, 1661 ; and the charter to the Town of 
Providence, dated March, 1648, to be framed under or 
between glass, and hung up in the City Clerk's office. 

Resolved, That the Mayor be requested cause the 

residue of the old papers in the City Clerk's office that have 
usually been kept in bags, with such other loose ones as are 


about his office and of no present use or value to the city, to 
be transferred to the Rhode Island Historical Society, upon 
the Society's giving a receipt and promising to return such 
papers as shall be specified in it on request." 

When these resolutions reached the Common Council, 
they were referred to the Committee on City Property, 
which committee subsequently submitted the following 
report : 

*'To THE Honorable City Council of the City of 
Providence : 

The undersigned Committee on City Property, to whom 
was referred certain resolutions from the Board of Alder- 
men, the first resolution respecting the old Indian Deeds to 
Roger Williams, the second relating to the loose papers in 
the City Clerk's office, would respectfully report that they 
have examined the said deeds and find them in a grood state 
of preservation, considering their great age. It is, there- 
fore, their opinion that it is inexpedient for the Council to 
concur in the first resolution, as they doubt the propriety of 
putting the deeds under glass to be hung in the City Clerk's 
office, as they fear the effect of the light would be to fade 
the ink entirely out ; they, therefore, recommend that the 
City Clerk be directed to procure a box to put the said 
deeds in, and to be kept in the same form that they now are, 
and think they would be much better preserved than in the 
manner proposed by the resolution. In regard to the second 
resolution, the}^ would recommend that the Council concur, 
and that the loose papers in the Clerk's office be delivered to 
the Historical Society as there provided. 

James T. Rhodes, 
Phinneas Potter, 
Daniel E. Carpenter." 


On March 10, 1845, the Common Council concurred with 
the Board of Aldermen with the followins: amendments, 
viz : striking out the words " framed under or between glass 
and hung up in the City Clerk's office " in the first resolu- 
tion, and inserting in lieu thereof the words " placed in a 
suitable box for their better preservation." 

Some time between the tenth day of May, 1845, and the 
twenty-first day of July, 1846, the exact date cannot now 
he ascertained, the papers referred to were deposited with 
the Historical Society ; and at a meeting of the society on 
the twenty-first day of July, 1846, the Hon. Albert G. 
Greene, in the words of the Society's resolution, "was 
appointed to collate and arrange the manuscripts deposited 
in the Northern Library during the past year, by vote of the 
City Council of Providence, with authority to cause as many 
blank books to be made as he may deem requisite for the 
reception and preservation of said manuscripts, and to draw 
upon the treasurer for the expense of such books." 

It will be observed that no list or particular description of 
the papers is given, nor do the records of the Society any- 
where show the number or the nature of the manuscripts 
thus deposited. No further mention is made on the records 
of the society, relative to this deposit, other than that included 
in a list of the additions to the Northern District Cabinet 
for the year extending from July, 1845, to July, 1846, 
wherein it is stated that there are : " four bags of documents on 
deposit, to be surrendered when called for ; a receipt having 
been given for the same to the City Clerk by the cabinet 
keeper." A careful examination of the citj^'s files fails to 
disclose this receipt, but it was probably no more in detail 
than the entry made on the records of the Society, 

In the course of their official investigations, the Commis- 
sioners have had occasion from time to time to refer to the 
great number of papers and documents relating to the 

CITY DOCUMENT. [Si). '29. 

proceedings of the town which were included among the manu- 
script collections of the Rhode Island Historical Society, and 
which gave unmistakable evidence of having been at one 
time the property of the town. 

This is now satisfactorily explained, and the Connnis- 
sioners think it proper that the attention of the City Council 
should be called to the fact so that these papers and docu- 
ments, no less than the others of like character and descrip- 
tion belonging to the city, may be placed in suitable form for 
preservation, in accordance with the modern methods which 
have been devised for preserving old manuscripts. 

The Rhode Island Historical Society has long been recog- 
nized as a proper depository for valual)le manuscripts and 
documents by State, City and individuals ; indeed, the 
General Assembly of Rhode Island makes an annual appro- 
priation for caring for its property there deposited, and it 
has recently, in recognition of the service rendered by 
the society in this respect, seen fit to increase the amount of 
that appropriation. 

For nearly half a century this honored old society has 
cared for the papers of the city there deposited, not only 
without remuneration, but even at some expense to itself ; 
and it is fortunate that these documents were placed in so 
secure a depository, for, had they not received such foster- 
ing guardianship, it is not unlikely that, among the vicissi- 
tudes to which they would have been exposed, many of them 
now of inestimable value to the municipality would have 
been lost or destroyed. 

The authority granted the Record Connnissionersto collect, 
print and preserve the early records of Providence, does not 
restrict them to any particular records, so long as they are 
the records of the town of Providence ; but before taking 
any steps toward exercising any authority over the records 
in the custody of the Historical Society, or towards putting 
them in order, the Commissioners feel that the City Council 


should be informed of this deposit and its consent should be 

The papers in the custody of the Historical Society, under 
the resolution of the City Council hereinbefore referred to, 
are none the less the property of the city than they would 
be if they had not been placed in such custody. 

The work on the " Providence Town Papers " has so far 
progressed that an opportunity is now presented for the 
Commissioners to give these papers proper attention without 
interfering with the plans which they have outlined for caring 
for the documents now in their immediate custody. 

All of the papers in the city's possession, outside of the 
Historical Society, previous to the year 1800, that have 
come to the knowledge of the Commissioners have been 
brought together, arranged, repaired and mounted in books, 
and an index to all of them up to and including the year 1790 
has been nearly completed. 

In view of the fact that a considerable portion of the 
records contained among the papers of the Rhode Island 
Historical Society will fill up the break which has previously 
been referred to, viz : the years 1675 to 1692, it would be 
wise if attention could be given to these records and a sim- 
ilar method pursued with them as with the other papers of 
the city, so that the documentary possessions of the city 
previous to the year 1800, wherever located, would be as 
complete as it is possible to make them. 

Some years ago the Historical Societ}' had these papers 
of the city inserted in scrap books along with other miscel- 
laneous manuscripts of its own, and any attempt to put the 
city's papers in proper order will require that certain of the 
Society's possessions be disarranged. 

The care which this Society has given to this property of 
the city during these many years would in justice seem to 
demand that the city, in caring for its own documents, should 
see that the Society's documents do not suffer by any 
re-arrangement, and that they are left in proper order. 

8 CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 29. 

To this end the Commissioners recommend that, in the 
prosecution of their work, they may be authorized to apply 
a part of the last appropriation for their use, and, therefore, 
respectfully ask for the passage of the accompanyinfr resolu- 

Horatio Rogers, 
G. M. Carpenter, 
Edward Field, 

Record Commissioners. 

Providence, R. I., December 4, 1893. 

No. 715. Resolution Directing the Record Commissioners 
to Cause Certain Old Documents Deposited in the 
R. I. Historical Society to be Repaired. 

[Approved Decembers, 1S93.] 

Resolved, That the record commissioners be and they 
are hereby directed to cause the old papers and docu- 
ments deposited in the Rhode Island Historical Society, 
by resolution of the City Council passed March 10, 1845, 
to be suitably repaired, classified, inserted in books, and 
indexed ; and to also cause such manuscripts belonging to 
said society as may be disarranged by such repairing and 
classifying, to be arranged satisfactory to said society. 



[No. 29. 




Early Town Records, 

[Pkkskxted December 4, 181)3.] 

J. A. & E. A. Reid, City PiaNTKHs, 

Dyer and Pine Streets. 





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