THE VENICE OF yinElMCTl
A\RS. F. BURGE GRISWOLD
Bonk > VA^ Cs ( ^ ^
The Venice of America.
«« BY ««
MR.S. F. BUR.GE GRISWOLD.
Author of "The Bishop and Nannette Series."
J>> '3-" 'J-
^/?e Yo\ing ChurchmaLA Co
OCT 2 1900
iUL 13 1901
THE YOUNG CHURCHMAN CO.
c c ^ t ce
C , C C r t
Chap. I.— The Venice of America. ... 9
II —The ''Block House" or Smith's
'' III —Heirs to Smith's Castle. ... 38
*' IV —The Village Proper 58
*' v.— Memorable Habitations. . . 76
VI.— Suburban Haunts 102
i< VII.— The Birthplace of Gilbert
Stuart . Ill
'' Vin.— The Old Narragansett Church. 120
" IX.— New Incumbents 153
X.— The Glebe House and ''Old
** XL— Personal Reminiscences. . . . 194
'' XII.— The New Church 221
" XIII.— Finale 234
View of the Village— Wickford, R. I.
Rev. Samuel Brenton Shaw, D.D. . . 8-9
Block House, Wickford 28-29
View on Main Street, Wickford . . . 58-59
Birthplace of Gilbert Stuart .... 110-111
Mrs. Hannah McSparran 138-139
Rev. Jacobus McSparran 146-147
The Old Church before the Steeple
Blew Down 152-153
Rev. Lemuel Burge 172-173
The Old Glebe in its Original Condi-
Baptismal Font and Communion Ves-
sels Presented by Queen Anne . . 192
Alex. Y. Griswold, D. D., Bishop
of the Eastern Diocese 194-195
The Old Church, Wickford, as now
The ^' Three Decker" 196-197
Church Door, Old St. Paul's .... 199
The Interior— Old St. Paul's .... 216-217
Elisha Smith Thomas, D. D., Bishop
of Kansas 218-219
St. Paul's Church, Wickford— Present
St. Paul's Church, Wickford— The In-
Guild Hall— St. Paul's Church, Wick-
REV. SAMUEL BRENTON SHAW, D.D.
Born in Wiekfoid. (pp. 8 9.)
^ iXf s^
Cbe Uenice of nmerica
THIS is the distinction given to the pretty vil-
lage of Wickford, Narragansett, because of
"the water wherein she lies like a swan's nest,
that doth both fence and feed her."
The old and stately city across the seas, with its
fine palaces, grand churches, and costly relics, need
not be ashamed of her humble namesake in this
Time was, when simple wooden huts were scat-
tered among the small, grassy islets that lay off the
coast of Venetia, and the main occupation of the
people was fishing, and the preparation of salt by
evaporation. The early bridges were wooden
structures made by nailing ])lanks on boats. One
of the first of stone was called 'Tonte della Pag-
lia," ''the bridge of straw," being built with money
obtained by the tax on straw, large quantities of
which were used to thatch the early houses of
Venice. The first church, erected in 432, could
not boast elegance of design or architecture. St.
Mark's and the Ducal Palace were late in raising
their magnificent walls above the Kialto, and cen-
turies passed before the regal splendor of the pres-
ent island city was attained. Who knows what of
beauty and greatness our modern Venice niiiy not
present, when a thousand more years of progress
and culture shall have been added to her existence ?
The natural features of this locality must have
been most charming and attractive when the Abo-
rigines had free and undisturbed possession. No
doubt their hearts swelled with pride and their eyes
glistened, as they surveyed their bright domains,
and felt their kingly power, before the white men
came to reduce their area of territory, and subju-
gate them to the condition of vassals. To skim the
broad bay, and the sparkling rivers, in their birch
bark canoes, or by ''dugouts," or to traverse the
forests and plains, feeling themselves rightful and
sole proprietors of all ; to fisli, and bunt, and shoot,
and maintain life with but little care or toil ; what
more could they desire in these God-given haunts,
that were to them a foretaste of their Great Spirit
hunting grounds, where they were anticipating still
better and more abundant subsistence, when called
away from earth ?
Later, came the colonists, to tempt them to bar-
ter their glorious heritage for comparative trifles —
so many coats and hatchets, and alchemy spoons,
and knives, and pewter porringers, and hoes, and
other articles as were to them new and strange, and
therefore attractive, and over-estimated in value.
Little by little, their ^N'arragansett tract, that
originally embraced nearly the whole of the State
of Rhode Island, as well as the islands of the bay,
was reduced to the ^^Charlestown Reservation,''
where the tribe that had numbered '^five thousand
fighting men and as many as a dozen wigwam
villages within the compass of twenty miles," when
first the white men came to plague them, dwindled
to a wretched remnant, without position or name.
It is pitiable to think how this tribe was stamped
out of existence !
Eoger Williams, Coddington, Gorton, and
Smith, easily obtained land of Canonicus, Mian-
tonomi, and other sachems, for the founding of
white settlements. The Xarragansetts were peace-
ably inclined, and friendly toward the English col-
onists, and were by no means avaricions in the ex-
change of property. Often they gave without
stint or remuneration, and when bargains were
made, the unsophisticated natives were frequently
the victims of English sagacity, or duplicity.
Think of a tract, ten miles long by thirteen broad,
in exchange for "thirteen English coats'' ! That
sale was in Connecticut and embraces the founda-
tion of XeAV Haven, Branford, and Wallingford.
It is a single illustration of the cupidity of the
white men in their dealings with the ^^Red."
The only currency in the early colonial times
was the Indian wampum ^^peage," adopted by the
new settlers. The Dutch called it ^^Sewan." It
was a curious manufacture from the shells of the
"Periwinkle," the "Quohaug," or round clam, and
the "Mussel." The natives cut it into the form of
small beads which they polished and 2:>ierced,
stringing them in ^'arious lengths for convenience
in barter. ^^A fathom of wampnm was a string of
beads the length from finger ends to finger ends of
the two arms extended ; about six feet." The
small dark eye of the Quohang shell was all that
was nsed of that bivalve, and was twice the value
of the white Periwinkle. The Indians used the
beads in their personal adornment, for chains, ear-
rings, etc., as well as in matters of commerce.
Their ^'Treaty Belts" were elaborately wrought
with the different colored beads so as to form in the
native language a record of the transaction, and
one of these pledges was always given in solemn
ratification. I looked in vain, in the Historical
rooms, Xewport, Rhode Island, for some speci-
mens of the belts and strings of wampum peage.
After a serious hunt, the custodian of the curiosi-
ties found in a glass case about five of the black
and white beads, which were the only relics in pos-
session. I did not make any search in the Provi-
dence Museum, but in the Long Island Historical
collection, in the department of Indian relics,
there was one string of wampum and a painted
representation of a treaty belt.
Articles in use not only by the Karragansetts,
but also l)Y the Indian tribes tlirongliont the Amer-
ican Colonies, are certainly worthy a place among
our historic exhibits. As my thoughts while in
Washington, D. C, were not upon this subject, I
cannot tell what may be found in the Ts'ational
Museum, the headquarters for everything of inter-
est to the people of the United States.
The shell money was accepted by the English
and Dutch, in commerce or exchange with the red
men, and specimens of this early currency should
be faithfully preserved.
It is said that Miantonomi gave to Koger Wil-
liams the tract for our own Providence, though I
have somewhere seen that "thirty pounds" were
paid for it. The fac simile of the deed that bears
the names of the Sachems Canonicus and Mian-
tonomi, does not mention any price, though it
The last clause is, "for the many kindnesses
and services done unto us, w^e do freely give unto
him all that land upon the Mooshansick and Wan-
asquatucket rivers" ; so that we may infer that a
portion may have been a free bestowal.
"Aquidneck," or Rhode Island, was purchased
for forty fathoms of white wampum peage; ten
coats and twenty hoes for tlie resident Indians,
and five fathoms of wampum for the local Sachem.
In some historic sketches it is recorded that
^^one of the early settlers gave his coat to the In-
dians, as a recompense for clearing the swamp for
the foundation of the City of ]^ewport, and that
hefore they begun the work, they cut the gilt but-
tons from the coat and strung them as a necklace."
It does not seem amiss to preface my descrip-
tion of our American Venice with some explana-
tory notes concerning the surrounding country.
Drake says: ^^The name N^arragansett, is de-
rived from the Indian word ^^JSTanrantsuack" — ^^A
carrying place" — as there w^as much traffic back
Elsewhere it is said to signify ^^liot and cold."
Madam Knight, the daughter of Capt. Kemble,
of Boston, — ^Svho was, in the year 1656, set for
two hours in the stocks, for the lewd and unseemly
behavior of kissing his wife after an absence of
three years," — says, in her diary of a journey on
horse-back from Boston to ^N'ew York in 1704,
while resting in Haven's tavern near ^^Devil's
Foot" on the site afterward the residence of the
late Wm. Maxwell, Esq. :
^'I listened to a strong debate concerning the
name Xarragansett. One said that the Indians
so called it becanse there grew there a briar of
prodigions height and bigness, the like of which
was hardly ever known, named 'Xarragansett.'
He qnoted an Indian of so barbarons a name that
I conld not write it.''
Perhaps it was in allnsion to this "prodigions
briar'' that the Sachem Canonchet was called,
'"'That aspiring Bramble."
Madam Knight proceeds : ''His antagonist re-
l>lied, 'Xo, it was from a spring it had its name ;'
and he well knew where it was, which was so ex-
treme cold in snmmer, and as hot as conld be imag-
ined in winter, and which was mnch resorted to
by the natives, and was by them called 'Xarragan-
sett,' 'hot and cold/ and that was the origin of the
This would seem to accord with the Kev. Dr.
McSparran's estimate of the climate. He writes:
"The transitions from heat to cold are short and
sudden, and the extremes of both very sensible.
We are sometimes iry'mg, and at others freezing,
and as men often die at their labor in the fields by
heat, so some in winter are froze to death with the
The IS^arragansett country must have been of
great value in the estimation of the colonists, so
eager and protracted was the contention over it.
In 1665 it was erected into an independent juris-
diction called '^The King's Province."
Despite the royal coimiiission and attempted
authority and rule, the ^'United Colonies" con-
tinued to fight for its possession. They invaded
the country, and in 1675, after the "Great
Swamp" fight had almost exterminated the In-
dians, they claimed "The King's Province" as con-
Xot until 1726 was the struggle relinquished,
when the right of jurisdiction was given to Rhode
Island. The remnant of the Karragansetts, after
the terrible slaughter in the South Kingstown
swamp, settled on the Charlestown Reservation,
which was given to Ninigret as a reward for his
neutrality in the combat. He was only collater-
ally related to the family of Canonicus, by the
marriage of liis sister Quaiapen to Maxaniio, son
of that Sacliem. He had not a drop of ^arragan-
sett blood in his veins, and did not deserve that his
progeny should attain to the Sachemship. iNTever-
theless, several of his descendants had that honor.
An eye-witness of the coronation of Queen
Esther, a great granddaughter of old I^inigret, in
Charlestown, K. I., says : ''She was elevated on a
large rock so that the people might see her; the
council surrounded her. There were present
about twenty Indian soldiers Avith guns. They
marched her to the rock. The Indians nearest
the royal blood, in presence of her Councillors, put
the crown on her head. It was made of cloth cov-
ered Avith blue and white peage. When the crown
was put on, the soldiers fired a royal salute, and
huzzaed in the Indian tongue. The ceremony was
imposing, and everything was conducted with
great order. Then the soldiers waited on her to
her house and fired salutes.''
Her son George was subsequently crowned
king, but at twenty-two years old met with a sud-
den casualty, and was killed by a falling tree,
which struck him on the head.
In 1709, j^inigret II. had made a quit-claim of
all vacant lands, except a stri^D running from the
Pawtuxet river around the shore, to Pawcatuck
river, for a fishing privilege.
In 1822, there were 407 Indians on the Charles-
town Reservation, with a church, a missionary,
and fifty pupils at school. In 1838, the number
had declined to 158, only seven being of 'pure !N'ar-
ragansett blood. Since then they have dwindled to
a very few, who have inter-married with negroes.
''In IS SO, the tribal authority was abolished
throudi the agency of the Indian Commission of
Rhode Island. In 1881, the Reservation was sold
for the benefit of the Indians, and they were placed
on the same footing as other citizens. The State
reserved, aiid still cares for, the old burial ground
of the ^arragansett Sachems, on Summit Hill."
Fort ^^Tinigret is an object of curiosity to tour-
ists, but it is thought to have been an outpost of
the Dutch colonists, rather than the work of the
''In 1893, what was left of the tribe gathered
in Charlestown for a final pow-wow. The meet-
ing was in order to discuss the claim for the strip
of land on the shore. Nearly a hundred, more or
less blooded of the Xarragansetts, assembled in the
old meeting-house. The old deeds were produced,
and the justness of the claim was insisted upon ;
but the State holds the quit-claim papers, and the
legal terms enable it to keep possession of the ceded
territory, which is exceedingly valuable."
Anv one who had seen the Indian chiefs ffath-
ered together in large numbers, for the discussion
of disputed rights, must have noticed the stolid
obstinacy w4tli which they cling to their own con-
It Avas my privilege, while in Washington,
D. C, in 1888, to be present when the Sioux dele-
gation listened to the proposition to open their
Reservation to white settlers. Secretary Yilas
gave us a permit to hear his paper from the Gov-
ernment, read before about seventy of the chiefs.
It was a rare occasion to see so many of these
SAvarthy ^^Braves" in solemn conclave. They wore
all sorts of costumes, yet were wholly imconscious
of the incongruity and ludicrousness of their ap-
pearance. ^'Sitting Bull" was prominent, in wide
brown linen trousers, white hat, and an old um-
brclla hugged up under his left arm. My com-
panion gained easy access to a seat appointed him
beside a splendid-looking Indian dressed in a Brig-
adier General's suit, but I, a despised squaw, had
to clamber with difficulty over the Chief's immov-
able leffs, and endure his occasional curious and
contemptuous stare during the session.
I could imagine, from the expressive faces, as
the Government side of the proposed treaty was
explained to them, how hard a task it would be to
gain their conhdence and consent. So many times
had they been deceived, it naturally rendered them
cautious and suspicious.
They were offered in the Bill just passed by
Congress, fifty cents per acre for their lands.
They had stipulated for a dollar and twenty-five
cents, the same as the Government receives for its
acres. Secretary Vilas, for the United States,
wished to compromise by proposing a dollar for
the sale of the first three years; seventy-five cents
for the next two, and fifty cents for the next.
Moreover, so soon as the Indians would accept
these terms, two millions of dollars were to be put
into the United States Treasury for them; or, if
they preferred, five hundred thousand could be
paid to them immediately, and the remaining mil-
lion and a half placed on interest. Should any
one desire an allotment of land, he could have it,
with two American mares, cows, seeds, farming
implements, etc., etc., and twenty dollars apiece
for each Indian, man, wife, and children; that
land not to be subject to taxation for twenty-five
The Government proposed to survey the lands,
and negotiate sales for the Indians, the expenses of
survey and sale to come out of the two millions.
I could understand by the grunts of the In-
dians, and their conference with each other, with
shaking of heads at certain points, that they were
far from appreciating gratefully the proposition.
The result was that they neither accejDted the
Bill as passed, nor the proposed modified form,
and they went home as they came, only wiser by a
personal knowledge of the grandeur of the white
men's K'ational Capitol, and possibly a degree hap-
pier in the consciousness that their wishes and de-
mands were to be peacefully considered rather
than met with arbitrary coercion.
In the ^'Eifty-eightli Annual Eeport of the
Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary
of the Interior — March 2, 1889," is ''An Act to
divide a portion of the Reservation of the Sionx
nation of Indians in Dakota, into separate reserva-
tions, and to secure the relinquishment of the In-
dian title to the remainder, and for other pur-
poses." So far as I can interpret the intention of
the Government, it is ready to yield somewhat to
the will of the tribes, but there always seems to me
an injustice in trying to rout them from their
In the days of my childhood, the Charlestown
Indians came frequently in small parties to en-
camp in the suburbs of our village. They had
substituted for their original garb of beaver and
deerskin, the English blanket, which they wore
over their embroidered garments. Their mocca-
sins were skilfully beaded, and worked with col-
ored grasses, and some of the women w^ould have
seemed attractive but for the wild feathers on their
hair, and the peculiar guttural in their voices, that
frightened us away. The men lay around, lazily
smoking their pipes, while the squaws Avove gaily-
colored birch or rush baskets for sale.
At first we shrank timidly from the swarthy
creatures, especially from the men, but the women
were really gentle, and after a while won our con-
fidence, so that a visit to the tents became a coveted
pleasure, and we hailed with delight the annual
encampment, and gladly played with the bright
pappooses, thus propitiating their half civilized
In the household of our grandmother were two
Indian servants, one full-blooded, the other a half-
''Dorcas" ''stepped a Queen," even when about
her menial avocations. Physically, she was su-
perb, and we held her in great admiration, regard-
ino' her 2:av bandanna turban as a roval crown, and
taking every opportunity to invade her dominions
and share her gracious sway.
Xow and then she would imbibe too freely of
the "fire water," which her tribe owed to the white
race, and at such times she held high carnival up
and down the village streets, singing rollicking
songs, until her kind mistress would go after her
and, leading her lioiiie, nurse her to sobriety.
After such an escapade, she would give willing and
faithful service for months before her wily enemy
could again get her into his toils. She was an
invaluable servant, and proved the possibility of
training a wild, free people to habits of industry
^'Tom/' her son, went to ^^The Banks" in sum-
mer as cook in a fishing vessel, and in winter staid
at home, caring for the horses and the out-door
-chores" and the fires in the house. Sometimes he
helped his mother in the culinary domain, giving
us such fish chowder and clam fritters, as no
epicure could resist.
Our grandmother, who brought him up from
his early boyhood, was to him the impersonation of
beauty and goodness. It pleased him to linger in
her presence on one knee before the hearth, long
after he had replenished the logs, or furbished the
brasses, that he might listen to her wise counsels,
and answer her questions about his experience at
Our joy was to steal into the kitchen im the
evenings, and help him patch his red flannel shirts,
while he told its stories of the great deep. He
gave us all sorts of beautiful shells, and eggs, and
wings, and iridescent breasts of sea-gulls; and he
made for us tiny boats, and carved whistles and
unique toys, such as none of the country shops
could produce. His old sea chest was full of rare
treasures, which he permitted us to examine, and
it smelt deliciously of tar, whose odor to this day
is, to us, sweet with happy, old-time recollections.
Often, when our sailor was upon ^^all fours"
washing the kitchen floor, we made him our patient
steed, riding upon his back around the circum-
scribed space, as in an ordinary curriculum. If
ever we so far encroached as to excite his anger,
he would march toward the dining-room door, with
the threat, "Chilun, I shall have to interduce you
to your gran'mother." But I cannot recall a time
when he really presented us as culprits before this
lenient judge. With his fingers upon the latch, he
relented from his purpose, and, forgiving us, re-
turned to our amusement.
I wonder where these two ''faithful servants"
are in the ''Land beyond the river" ! The Master
knows just what was their light in this world, and
liow tliey followed it. Certainly tliey "ordered
themselves lowly and reverently to all their bet-
ters" while on earth, and that humility is one of
the required virtues.
'Tis true, Tom used to say, when exhorted to go
to the place of public worship : "I can't afford to
get a new suit o' close an' run the risk o' gettin'
'ligion." Yet I remember him generally on Sun-
day mornings upon a high seat in the West gallery,
with face and attitude of strict attention to the
holy service and sermon, and I believe that in the
temple above he will have joy and felicity.
He clung with tenacity to his Indian blood,
and took long walks to the Charlestown Keserva-
tion to see one of the E"arragansett squaws, bring-
ing home to us pretty trifles of her bright bead
work, and braided baskets, and he never deserted
for any other damsel, his own true love.
Cbe Old Block l>ou$e*
OLD VENICE, in the eleventh and twelfth
centuries, had her ^^strong castles" to protect
her from the ^'Dalmatian pirates."
Our village began with this fortress against the
wily and savage natives of the new country.
It was also a "trading station" with the In-
dians, and a dwelling place for Kichard Smith and
his family. He came from Gloucestershire, Eng-
land, in the latter part of the reign of Charles I.,
"because of religious persecution."
For a while he dwelt in Taunton, Plymouth
Colony, but not finding there the liberty of con-
science that he desired, he purchased thirty thou-
sand acres of land of the I^arragansett Indians,
and, floating timber from Taunton to a bend of the
Cove, about a mile to the northwest of our now
populous village, in 1G39, put up, in the thickest of
the barbarians, the first house builded among the
Indians of this neighborhood.
I do not know what he paid for his large tract ;
but, from the dealings of the white settlers gener-
ally, with their red brethren, I infer that the bar-
gain must have been greatly in his favor.
It is true, that the land, so free to the Ab-
origines, had not the value it now possesses, and
perhaps it is wrong to call the spirit of the early
settlers grasping, or avaricious.
Roger Williams speaks of this pioneer of our
village, as "a most acceptable inhabitant, and
l^rime leading man in Taunton," and also testifies
that in his new habitation, ^'he kept possession
coming and going himself, children and servants,
and had quiet possession of his houses, lands, and
meadow, and there, in his own house, with much
serenity of soul and comfort, he yielded up his
spirit to God, the Father of Spirits."
From Greene's Tlistonj of the United States I
quote concerning Smith's possessions: ^'Having
rendered himself popular among the Indians, by
living with them some fifteen years, he then ob-
tained a lease for sixty years of all the land which
forms the present site of Wickford, and reaching
as far as the Annaquatucket river. A few years
afterward he extended this lease for one thousand
years, at the same time increasing largely his
lands, and, in IGGO, he was able to satisfy the
Indians that a reversionary title, to vest at the end
of a thousand years, was of little value, and ob-
tained of them an absolute deed of his whole broad
Smith also had possessions in I^ew Amsterdam,
where he frequently sojourned, and where his
daughter Catherine met the fate that associated
another noted family with this ancient ^^fortress''
and "trading house," and "castle" in Narra-
It is said that "he and his brother John, and
others, received from Director Kieft a patent of
13,000 acres of land at Maspeth, Long Island, with
power to build villages and churches, subject only
to the sovereignty of the Dutch West India Com-
pany." During the greater part of twenty years
Richard Smith is said to have resided in iSTewtown,
The block house is still standing, and is well
preserved, the timber of the ancient structure out-
lasting many generations of our modern buildings.
It is a notable feature in the landscape and has
many historic associations to render it an object
of interest to present and future tourists.
Under its venerable roof Eoger Williams and
Smith had many an important interview regard-
ing the affairs of the Colony. Here also the
''King's Commissioners" from the United Col-
onies met in 1683, and evinced an arbitrary au-
' thority which the Khode Island Legislature re-
fused to acknowledge.
Assembled at Wickford, about a mile away, this
opposing body "ordered the Sergeant at Arms,
with his trumpet and at the head of a troop of
horse, by loud proclamation, to prohibit the Com-
missioners from keeping Court in any part of this
Jurisdiction." Imagine the indignant procession,
moving triumphantly up ''the Lane," as the upper
part of Main Street was then called, and along the
road to "Smith's Castle," and so impressing and
intimidating the Commission that "it adjourned
'to Boston to pursue its deliberations."
The jurisdiction of the '^King's Province" was
the subject of this Council, or Court. ^^In 1685,
Joseph Dudley, as President, by Royal commis-
sion, of Maine, 'New Hampshire, Massachusetts,
and the King's Province, brought together his
Council at ^Smith's Castle,' and in the plenitude
of authority, established Courts, appointed Magis-
trates, and, to obliterate every recollection of their
former political existence, substituted the town
name of Rochester for Kingstown ; Havershanl for
Westerly ; and Bedford for Greenwich."
"Rhode Island, enfeebled by dismemberment,
quietly submitted, until the arrest of Andros, when
she re-established her authority."
The "Block House" is large and square, front-
ing the water. Rabbitt Island furnishes a refresh-
ing green spot not far from the main land, and
the Island of Cornelius, farther to the east, is con-
spicuous, while the village stands out in full view
on the southeast, and the Bay, with Canonicut,
once Miantonomi's headquarters and royal resi-
dence, are plainly visible.
To see "Smith's Castle" now, after over two
hundred years of change and improvement and
cultivation, one can scarcely imagine its pristine
condition, with the tangled natural growth, and
the dread proximity of wild beasts and untamed
savages, when the brave pioneer ventured to fix
here his dwelling.
On a near approach, it presents a fine appear-
ance, though from the road, about forty rods away,
one can only discern clearly the upper story and
roof. Rounding the turn, toward the old entrance
by the red gate, where it is said a traitor was once
drawm and quartered, you get a distinct view of
the house which is located very near to the salt
inlet, and at a sufficient distance from the traveled
highway to escape the noise and dust. There
have been some innovations upon the primitive
structure, but the original timbers are still in the
foundation and frame, and the great beams cross
the ceiling in the principal rooms. The old wain-
scoting and deep wooden cornices, and long, narrow
mantelpieces and wide fireplaces and big brick
oven, bear witness to the antique fashioning, and
despite the few changes made by the successors of
Mr. Richard Smith, and the partial re-modeling in
1680, after the Indians had tried to destroy it by
fire, tliere are indubitable proofs of venerable exist-
ence. Three times in my life I have visited the
place. Once in my childhood, when it was the
abode of a beautiful girl, for whom it was dubbed
Later, I simply stopped outside the premises,
attracted by a vision that put to flight all thought
of hostile Indians or cruel white men, or any
necessity for caution or defence. Hundreds of
barnyard fowls were surrounding their owner, who
scattered lavishly the golden grain, and in all that
region were the evidences of thrift and peace.
Yesterday, I went for a thorough research, in
order to substantiate whatever I may record. The
courteous resident took me all through the man-
sion, and gave me such information as she had
gathered from tradition, permitting me ocular
demonstration as to the number and position of the
rooms, with their peculiar arrangement.
It has been said that there was an iron hook in
the kitchen beam, where traitors were hung, and
that in an upper room were stalls where slaves
were confined, with "holds" to which their feet
were boimd, and that in the cellar was a place of
hiding. But all traces of former terror or bar-
barity have disappeared, and the great, cheerful
chambers, with their charming outlook, are very
enticing to visitors, and make them wish for a simi-
mer sojourn in this historic fortress.
Down by the water-side east of the house, is the
burial place of some of the victims of the ''great
swamp fight." There are no indications of a
ghostly presence. It is said that the cattle will
not eat of the grass that grows upon this spot, but
I picked some bright clover blossoms, that were as
beautiful and fragrant as though nourished by
other than human dust, and as I stood above the
broad grave it was difficult to realize the tragedy
of the dreadful massacre of a past age.
In the large north room on the ground floor of
the ''Castle," the dairy was now kept, and it
brought to mind the fact that the wife of Kichard
Smith gave to :^rarragansett the famous recipe for
Cheshire cheese which became so noted in Khode
Island, and so sought after by all who tasted it.
The front entrance hall is ten or twelve feet
square, with staircase running west, north, and
east, with two landings before reaching the second
story. Under the northern steps is a low door,
with a rnde stone flight leading down, perhaps to
Avernns. The pitchy darkness frightened me,
and deterred me from the descent, which did not
impress me as it might have done the Latin poet.
I w^as satisfied to accept my guide's dictum that
there was a small square room in the cellar which
possibly was the ^'hiding place" in the former days
Two immense square rooms, a dining room, two
bed rooms, and a kitchen, are comprised on the
ground floor. The second corresponds, with the
exception of a kitchen chamber. The garret gives
unmistakable proof of antiquity, and, although the
solid beams and uprights may endure many years
of gnawing, the wood-borers are gradually en-
croaching in their quiet, persistent way, and are
certain to make an obvious impression sooner or
later. The outside surroundings are delightful.
The salt tide flows in winding course through the
grounds to the west, and there is a spring of fresh,
cool Avater for the cattle and domestic foAvls, and
along the ancient stone walls, w^ild shrubs and
vines grow luxuriantly. There is a recent avenue
to the house, to the south of the old red gate.
From a pamphlet, Historical, Literary, and
Critical conducted by Sidney S. Eider, 27 West-
minster St., Providence, K. I., 1883, I quote:
^'Whilom we went to Wickford, for therein lay
the lands staked out by Miantonomi for a trading
house for Koger Williams. It was along the banks
of the 'Cowcumsquissett,' and so Williams calls
the place by the name of the brook. Hereaway,
too, was the famous hostelry, or 'Block House/
built by Eichard Smith.''
I have elsewhere read that when Eoger Wil-
liams went as agent to England, he sold his trading
house to Smith, who put the timbers into his own
building, which was afterward called ''Cocums-
Beir$ to ^'Smith's Castle/'
FKOM Mr. Charles Wilson Opdyke's valuable
Genealogy of the Opdykes of Wessel, Ger-
many, I am enabled to give a thorough knowledge
of the association and alliance of this family with
the old '^Block House/' and with our pretty West-
ern ^^ Venice."
"Gysbert Opdyke, son of Lodowick Opden
Dyck, and Gertrude Van Wesek, came to Xew
Amsterdam before 1638. He was allowed by the
Dutch so much land for every acre surveyed, and
thus became possessed, of much property in !N'ew
York and on Long Island." He owned a residence
in ^ew York, on Stone Street ; the whole of Coney
Island; a farm at Hempstead, Long Island, and
another at ''Cow Xeck."
Records in the Albany State Library prove that
the present Coney Island was, in Gysbert's day,
composed of three islands, the easternmost of
which was for many years known as ''Gysbert's
Island," bnt all three were covered by the patent
"The position and size of his l^ew York lot are
shown on a map published in Valentine's manual
of New York for 1857, page 498."
"The lot mnst have been at least ten rods deep,
57 X 500. The road was among the earliest streets
bnilt upon. Stone Street was once called Brouwer
Street, two or three breweries having been erected
upon it. It was the line of the first road laid out
from the Fort to the present Peck Slip Ferry. It
was one of the best streets in town. It Avas the
first street in :New York paved with stone, which
gave it its subsequent change of name."
In 1638, Gysbert Opdyke w^as Commissary of
"Fort Good Hope," the present site of Hartford,
In 1640, he returned to Germany, but came
back to ^ew Amsterdam in 1642, dra^\^l by strong-
The New York Dutch Church records, "Sept.
24, 1643, married, Gysbert Opten DYck,a baclielor
from Wessel, Germany^ and Catherine Smith, a
Maiden from old England."
The ceremony took place in the Dutch Stone
Church, erected in 1G42, within the Fort at the
Some Dutch manuscript land papers say that
among others entertained at a tavern party, ^Svere
Gysbert Opdyke and his new wife, Catrina, whose
cheeks shone rosy red through the snow-white
In 1645, Gysbert and his father-in-law, Kichard
Smith, Sr., were among the eight representatiyes
for the Dutch Colonists.
In the worst period of the Indian Manhattan
war, Gysbert and his wife Catrina Smith, liyed in
his house on Stone Street, within a few hundred
yards of the battery on one side, and of the East
Riyer on the other, with unbroken breezes from
riyer to riyer, open yiew of the Dutch ships coming
and going on the bay, and pleasant pasture fields
at the rear. How we would like to have sat on
his wooden stoop, under the shade of an old forest
tree ; while the drums beat at the Fort, the children
tished on tlic grassy bank of tlie river, and Gysbert
smoked his pipe, and told sadly of the departed
olory of old Wessel! Bnt gone now, and long
forgotten is the glory of Stone Street. Trade
reached it, and then left it, and few now know the
street, short, cnrved, and lined with brick ware-
honses, bearing closed iron shntters ; it is in mid-
day as qniet as a street of tombs.
'^Jnne 10th, 1646, Gysbert's first son, Lodowick,
was baptized in the Dntch Chnrch of :N'ew Amster-
dam, in the presence of his father and his grand-
father, Richard Smith, and the fiscal de la Mon-
tagne, who acted as sponsors. His childhood and
yonth were spent at 'New Amsterdam, in his
father's honse in Stone Street, or next the City
Hall, and on Long Island, abont Hempstead and
There is a cnrions entry among the :N'ew Am-
sterdam Conncil minntes, concerning Lodowick's
maternal annt, Joan, who made a romantic rnna-
way match with Thomas Kewton, at Flnshing,
'^\pril 3rd, 164<S, William Harek, Sheriff of
Llnshing, for having solemnized a marriage be-
tween Thomas IN'ewtoii, widower, and Joan,
daughter of Kichard Smith, against her parents'
consent, and contrary to law, fined 600 guilders,
dismissed from office, and marriage annulled."
The same date: ''Sentence Thomas ISTewton
for having married Miss Smith aforesaid, fined
300 guilders, and to have the marriage again sol-
emnized after three proclamations."
A daughter, Abigail, the product of this union,
became the wife of her cousin, Lodowick, and from
these sprang our Rhode Island branch.
After the death of Richard Smith, Sr., in 1066,
his grandson is heard of in the old Block House,
Avhere Gvsbert and his children no doubt came to
take possession of their portion of the inheritance.
Though Richard Smith, Jr., occupied it during
his life, ''Smith's Castle," with its broad acres,
eventually fell to LodoAvick Updyke, a portion
coming from his grandfather Smith, another from
his uncle Richard Smith, Jr., and a third from his
union with Abigail Xewton.
From Mr. Daniel Berkeley Updyke of Boston,
Mass., I have obtained the following correct gene-
The children of Gvsbert Updyke and Catherine
Elizabeth — married a Wightman, some of
whose descendants are now living in a venerable
mansion in onr Venice, on the corner of Main and
Fowler Streets; Lodowick— married his cousin
ISTewton; Kichard— killed in the ''Great Swamp
Fight" ; Sarah— married a Whitehead ; Daniel-
died in London, England; James— nnmarried,
died in Wickford, 1729.
The children of Lodowick Updyke and Abigail
Kichard— married an Eldred; Daniel— mar-
ried three times : Arnold, Jenkins, Wanton.
This Daniel was the Attorney General of the
Rhode Island colony for twenty-four years, and
also held other responsible offices. He practised
law in^^ewport, R. L, where he was held in high
esteem as an honorable literary gentleman.
Esther— sister of the Attorney General, mar-
ried a Eosdick; Abigail— married a Cooper; Sarah
—married a Goddard, the progenitor of our dis-
tinguished Rhode Island Goddards; Martha— re-
The children of Daniel the 1st, Attorney Gen-
Lodowiek — the second of the American stock,
who was said to have been ^^in personal appearance
tall and fine-looking. He always wore a wig and
small clothes, and resembled George the third.''
His wife, Abigail Gardiner, was a niece of the
Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Mc Spar ran, of worthy memory.
Mary — married Judge Cole ; Gilbert and Wilkins
— died young.
The 2nd Lodowick's children were :
Daniel — the 3rd, who was also Attorney General
of Rhode Island, and died in 1842 ; he married an
Arnold. James — unmarried ; he lived until 1855,
and received a ^^ension for his services in the War
of 1812. He was a genial, but eccentric man.
We knew him well when we were little children,
and were greatly amused by his courtly manner
toward his favorite in our group, whom he fre-
quently addressed as '^Miss Carolina Adelina Ma-
tilda Cook Brenton, Daughter of the illustrious
house of Brunswick."
He is said to have given the lot in our village
for the old town house, which stands deserted in
the upper part of Main Street. It was built in
1807, and served both for civil and religious pur-
poses. I Avas told by an aged resident of the town
that ''the conditions of the gift w^ere, that the town
house should be used in turn by any Christian body
that needed it, and that for all time ;" but I observe
that it is now simply a storehouse, rented for what-
ever purpose the lessee may choose."^
James had sisters and brothers: —
Anstis — married a Lee; Mary — married a
Munday ; Abigail — married a Keynolds ; Sarah —
married a Hagan ; Lydia — married a Crary ; Lodo-
Avick, 3rd — married a Baker; Alfred — married a
Reynolds ; Gilbert — married a Dennis ; Wilkins —
married a Watson.
The Hon. Wilkins Updyke was born in the
Block House, June 8th, 1784. He resided for some
time at ''Tower Hill," South Kingstown; then for
several years in North Kingstown, and finally
moved to Kingstown village, wdiere he died in
1867. "He was a nobleman in personal appear-
ance and in the generous humanity of his nature.
♦Since writing the above, the town has granted the use of
this old building to the members of the G. A. R., and has re-
paired and improved it for their occupancy.
In the House of Lords he would have been among
his peers, but he did not need titles nor broad acres,
to give distinction. Wherever he sat was the head
of the table, and he would have entertained a royal
Duke at his house in South Kingstown, without
anv sense of social inferiority.''
I recollect meeting him in my early girlhood,
at a dinner in Wakefield, where I was impressed
by his genial manner, and his wonderful gift of
eloquence, as he led the conversation.
His History of the Narragansett Church from
which I, and others who have w^ritten on kindred
themes, have gathered valuable information, has
conferred inestimable benefit upon the State of
Rhode Island, as it embraces the Genealogy of
many of her noted families, as w^ell as a true sketch
of the religious status.
The Hon. Wilkins Hpdyke's daughter Isabella,
was the last of the Updykes born in the Block
House, in IS 12. She married a Virginia Ran-
dolph. Mr. Updyke's son, Caesar, married an
Adams of Massachusetts.
His grandson, Daniel Berkeley Updyke, is liv-
ing in Boston, and has a zealous interest in the
home and cliurch of liis ancestors. He inherits
many valuable papers, Avliieh it is hoped he may
soon give to the world.
I am particular in a minute and correct men-
tion of the Updjke family, because it had so prom-
inent a part in the early settlement of our beauti-
ful Venice, and because prior to the permanent
attachment of the name ^^Wickford," the little
hamlet was by everybody called '^Updyke's New-
About 1709, Lodowick Updyke laid out village
streets and lots, less than a mile from the old
Block House, and began to sell plots to purchasers.
^^Even as late as 1777, the Assembly granted a
charter to the ^]^ewtown Rangers,' a Company
doing duty at ^Updyke's Newtown,' although
the Colonial Eecords, as far back as 1663, say that
the town is for the future called ^Wickford.' "
There are several reasons given for its present
name. Some say it is from ^'Wick's Ford,'' so
called from Mr. Lodowick Updyke, the former
owner of the land upon which it stands.
From the Narragansett Historical Register I
quote : ^The village was formerly an island, and
tlie place of entrance was called ^Tlie Ford,' after-
ward 'Wick's Ford.' "
''The teamsters who drew timber down to 'The
Point,' now Baker's Wharf, at the terminus of
Main Street, complained how bad the Ford was at
night. It was in the road close to where Mr.
Shippee's (now Stafford's) blacksmith shop is,"
and near where the Methodists have built their
"In order to remedy the gloom, they furnished
a lamp which consisted of a wick drawn through
an iron ring, and elevated to burn, the other end
drawing from a vessel of grease, or oil, in an open
j)ot, which contrivance was called a 'Kill Devil.'
In time it came to be spoken of as 'The Ford at the
Wick,' and afterward as Wichford/^
There were no bridges in the early settlement
of the country ; horses and men crossed the streams
in the shallow places, over what was called a
"Corduroy," that is a construction of trees or logs
placed side by side. The water from the Coves in
Wickford met at high tide, and surrounded the
village, so that before the spanning of the channel
from that part of "Elamsville" now called Champ-
lin Street, to "The Lane," now West ::\raiu, the
chiklren had to cross in boats to the Academy
School AYhere the Middle bridge now is, the
land on either side sloped to the shore.
:N'ot until the fierce September gale of 1S15 had
swept away the first simple strncture, was this one
bnilt by lottery, to take its place ; though over an-
other part of the channel. The original narrow
bridge was not rebuilt, but the road where the
Ford and ''Kill Devil" used to be, is so filled in that
it furnishes a stable foundation, and the water is
kept within convenient bounds ; but it may be that
w^e perpetuate the crossing in our village name.
I copy the ''Memorandum of a journey from
Xew London to Boston" drawn up in July, 1704,
by one of the Winthrops :
"After having received a visit from Ninicraft,
ye sachem of ye country, we stood along, break-
fasted at an inn, four miles off, kept by one Capt..
Dibble. After we had baited our horses, kept
along ; came to Wickf ord about noone, stopt there
till Monday, it being very hott. In ye morning,
just as ye day broke, we set out. Came to 'Eliza-
beth Spring' at sunrise, a place so called from my
grandmother's drinking at it in lier travels up to
Connecticut in ve beginning of ve country. It
issnes out under ye bank of ye cove, at ye root of a
large chestnut tree. Wickford also had its name
from lier, it being ye place of her nativity in old
She was the daughter of Edward Keed, County
of Essex, and grandmother of the Hon. C. Win-
throp. It is said that she visited the Block House
in l(3-t5, and suggested to Koger Williams and
Kichard Smith the future name for the village.
Erom the Eev. Daniel Goodwin, for some years
rector of the new church of St. Paul's, ^N'arragan-
sett, I have received the following letter with re-
gard to the English village, from which our own
is said to have been named :
•'I visited Wickford, in Essex, England, when
I was abroad in 1877, and found it a pretty village
in the center of an agricultural region apart from
the sea. A very ancient church had been recently
taken down, and a new one built on the same
foundation, with tlie preservation of some of the
old features. Many of the tiles on the new church
were green with the moss of ages, gathered upon
the old roof. The earved wooden ceiling of the
old Choir had been introdnced into the new one,
and was said to have previously served as the ceil-
ing of tlie Refectory of a monastery the other side
of the Thames — before the Reformation. It was
very beautiful, apparently of oak, nearly black-
ened by time. I visited the rectory, and saw the
rector, Rev. II. TI. Lukin, who gave me a copy of
the baptismal record of ^Elizabeth Read,' after-
ward wife of John Winthrop, Jr., Governor of
Connecticut, and eldest son of the ancient Gov-
ernor of Massachusetts. She was the one who,
travelling through the State 'in ye beginning of
ye country (she died in 1672) visited at the ^^^N'ew-
town-' of the "IJpdykes'' and gave it the name of
''These quotations are from a letter still in exist-
ence in the archives of the Winthrop family, writ-
ten by John Winthrop, the grandson of Elizabeth,
in July, 1704. The record of her baptism is as
follows : "'Elizabeth Read, daughter of Edmund
Read, was baptized ]^ovember 27th, 1614.' I saw
the old parish register. It is bound in white vel-
lum, and looks strikingly like the one of St. Paul's,
Narragansett. The name of Kead is still a com-
mon one in Wickford, England, and I saw the
name on many ancient stones in the old church-
yard, among others, 'Elizabeth Read.'
^'Elizabeth Spring, at Potowomut Station, over
Avliich the late Dr. Eldredge placed a substantial
memorial tablet, was so called for Mrs. Winthrop
on account of her drinking at it, as attested in her
grandson's letter, and in one of Roger Williams
of June, 1675."
As to the present name of our village, it seems
to me very natural that Wyck's Ford should event-
ually merge into Wickford ; but as we speak the
combined name it is pleasant to associate with it
the memory of sweet Elizabeth Winthrop, of the
village across the ocean, and Lodowick Updyke,
born on our own soil, and thoroughly identified
with every interest and improvement in the found-
ation and growth of the place.
In the early settlement, '^every new comer must
submit to a year's probation before being allowed
to settle, and must find some one to be security that
he would not be a town charge."
It is perhaps to this wise restriction that the
village owes its long indemnity from ills to which
other less protected communities are subject.
A century or more after the village had gro^vn
to quite a large population, the ^^Updyke mansion,"
as the ^'Castle" came to be called, was sold by the
Hon. Wilkins, in 1816, to Captain Joseph Cong-
don, and later passed into the possession of Mr.
Rathbone, Mr. Chapin, and finally became the
property of Mrs. Babbit of Pomfret, Connecticut,
and has been sometimes occupied by a tenant, as
a dairy farm.
The original broad area is greatly circum-
scribed, by sales and divisions among the numerous
heirs, some of whom still hold lands and houses
in various parts of the towmship.
Conspicuous among the close friends and ad-
mirers of the Hon. Daniel Updyke, the Attorney
General, was Dean Berkeley, the celebrated phih
osopher and writer, who, after some years of travel
in Italy and France, set sail from England for
Bhode Island, where he landed in !N^ewport Har-
bor, January 23rd, 1729. Swift's "Vanessa" had
bequeathed him four thousand pounds. He bought
a farm adjoining the residence of the Rev. Mr.
Honeyman, rector of Trinity Church, about three
miles from the city, and now in Middletown.
The ^•Hanging Rocks" were within a half mile
from his home, and in this favorite retreat he used
to sit while Avriting his ^'Minute Philosopher" and
other literary works. There is a natural sheltered
alcove where his old-fashioned wooden chair was
placed, and where he spent many hours in outward
and inward contemplation. The old chair became
the possession of the Rev. Gurden S. Coit of Con-
necticut, himself a scholar and author.
Dean Berkeley's verses ^'On the prospect of
planting Arts and Learning in America" are Avell
known, and often quoted. He was a man of high
moral and intellectual ambitions, a fine preacher,
a genial companion and a sterling friend.
For nearly three years he remained in Xewport,
before returning to the old country. On his de-
parture he gave ''White Hall" to Yale College,
New Haven, and also a library of 880 volumes,
together with a portrait, painted by Smibert, the
artist, who accompanied him to America. This
picture hangs in the ''Hall of the Alumni," in
Yale College, and is thus described to me by one
of tlie students :
''The picture is about eight feet long by six
. feet wide. It was painted by John Smibert in
1729, and contains figures of the Dean on the
right, in cassock and bands ; four other men on the
left, and two women seated in the middle— one of
whom holds a child scarcely larger than a doll, but
a perfect littk lady in face and costume/ I have
not been able to find out exactly who these per-
sons are. It is quite impossible to guess, from
any marks of age, for the youngest looking men
have the greyest wigs, and I should not dare to say
wliether they were sons, or brothers, or one a
brother-in-law ! The w^onien look so much alike
that I imagine they must be sisters."
As the Biography marries the Dean ''in 1728
to a daughter of the Eight Honorable John Fors-
ter. Speaker of the Irish House of Commons,'' we
may infer that he is father only to the baby in the
mother's arms, and that this is the little son, born
in 1729. "Lucia," who was born afterwards, was
destined to be left in her lowly bed in Trinity
Church yard, Newport, K. I., in 1731. The men
ill the painting, it seems to me, may be some of the
friends who accompanied the Dean to the ^arra-
In 1733, he sent a fine organ to Trinity Church,
Newport. It is surmounted by a crown in the
centre, supported by two mitres, one on either
side — and these escaped vandalism when some
other royal emblems were destroyed, after the
British Army had evacuated the Island in 1779.
In 1734, Queen Caroline, as a special mark of
favor, conferred upon Dean Berkeley the Bishop-
ric of Cloyne, which he held for nearly twenty
His name is not out of place in this record,
associated as he was with the Pioneer house of our
village, and also with other suburban localities
of which I shall later make mention.
Pope ascribed to him, ^^every virtue under
heaven," and Atterbury wrote of him, ^'So much
understanding, knowledge, innocence, and humil-
ity I should have thought confined to angels, had
I never seen this gentleman." He was said to be
very ''tolerant in religious opinions, which gave
liim a great and deserved popularity with all de-
nominations. All sects rushed to hear him ; even
the Quakers, with their broad-brimmed hats, came
and stood in the aisles.''
Cbe Uillage Proper^
0]^ the streets, the detached houses, with their
well-kept lawns, and gardens, and overshad-
owing trees, present a rural and thrifty aspect, and
give one the happy consciousness that no wolf of
poverty lurks at any door. In the da.js of my
childhood, one could walk from end to end of the
quiet hamlet, and meet only the familiar citizens,
and hear no sound but nature's music, the hum of
insects, the song of the birds, the rippling waters,
and the wind in the tree toj^s.
^ow the influx of summer visitors has changed
the place. There are signs of life and wakeful-
ness and progress. The buzz of factories falls on
the ear, the whirr of the cars and the steamboat's
whistle break the silence, and the coming and
going of travelers on the favorite route from New
York and Boston to XeAvport, keep busy the hith-
erto inert and slumbering village.
Yet, despite the somewhat altered conditions,
there is an advantage over most resorts, in that
solitude and reverie are still possible to such as
love quiet and reflection. In particular localities,
there remain the same rural features, with the
same dream v environments, as in the long ago.
Only last month, I stood on some of the spots
that were familiar to me in the years gone by, and
it seemed as if I had been asleep for a moment,
and had suddenly awakened amid the old familiar
scenes, so truly had the landscape ''held its own."
The Main Street, and that crossing the middle
bridge to Elamsville, now Brown Street, look very
much as they used to do, and the scattered houses
along the shore, some of them, are as they were a
half century and more ago. There is one small
white cottage, especially, that recalls to me the
time when the modern Gondola was drawn up to
the very steps, and the owner went on board from
what I deemed his beautiful castle.
The tide makes up to the stone parapet, and
sometimes submerges the little strip of made
Strolls and drives about the shore and along
the country roads, give a blessed sense of freedom
which one cannot have in fashionable, crowded
thoroughfares, and those who have once enjoyed
the delights of this beautiful, peaceful village, are
certain to return to it again and again. To chil-
dren and young people, it is the perfection of
happiness, with its enticing pleasures of land and
sea. ^'Little Lord Fauntleroy" came, with other
Washingtonians, to si:)end here a few summer
months, and a more rollicking, merry set of boys,
as they gamboled in the waves, or frolicked in the
green woods, one could not wish to see.
I recall this home of my childhood and youth,
when as yet no stranger's feet had traversed its
simple streets, and my own had pressed no other
soil. How dear its dust ! How precious every
stone, and blade of grass, and shrub, and tree!
How charming the white houses, scattered here
and there and holding within their walls the be-
loved people who comprised all my world ! Does
a wider knowledge ever fully compensate for the
satisfaction whicli we realize before we go away
from the place of our birth, and the friends of our
earliest affection and trust t
A selfish feeling of regret for the removal of
ancient landmarks, and for what we call the dese-
cration of venerated objects, may at times possess
us, but true philanthropy must make us desire,
and seek, the general good, and rejoice in every
advance and improvement, whatever personal sad-
ness may be occasioned by changes, or innovations.
Imbued with this spirit, I can note with pleas-
'ure the cars winding around the Cove over which
Ave used to go for huckleberries and blackberries,
that grew thickly where the iron horse now gal-
lops. Prior to 1840, there was no bridge from
Elamsville to the opposite land, where the new
town hall and the Episcopal Rectory, and the Cold
Spring Hotel, and many attractive residences have
risen like magic. Either we had to make a long
circuit over the road past the Academy and the old
Distillery, by the Briar Reynolds house, where Dr.
Soule now lives, in order to reach the John Sher-
man place, since the Hon. David Baker's, or the
Alfred Reynolds' habitation, or Duck Cove, or the
Light House on the Point ; or we skimmed across
the water in a skiff, a mode of transportation
which we greatly preferred to the modern way.
In those good times there were no obstructions
to the view from the ^^Old Doctor's/' our grand-
father's, house. His possessions extended from
the upper wharf to the ''Academy Cove." The
fragrant East garden led down to the water, and
neither ''Shears" nor coal-shed disfigured the
premises, or shut off the beautiful vision of land
and sea. We could watch the vessels afar off,
rounding Canonicut Point, and nearing the loAver
pier, and, when the daily packet arrived from
IsTewport and disembarked her passengers, we
could, as we stood at a northeast window of the
house, through a field glass distinguish the faces
of the people as they started to walk up the Main
We fished from the wharf, Avith black Tom to
bait our hooks and see that no harm should befall
us ; or we roamed by the western shore gathering
shells and snails, and the pretty blue Marsh Kose-
mary or "Sea Heath" in its season ; or poking at
the soldier crabs as thev scrambled from their
holes, or the bivalves that burrowed in the mud.
Or we went sleighing in midsummer, on the old
wooden ''Settle" in our grandfather's drug-store,
the thick buffalo robe covering us, and the double
row of bells making silvery music.
It was fun for us to help pound, or macerate,
the drugs, in the iron mortar, with the heavy
pestle, and to see the transformation into nauseous
pills, or to scrape the hartshorn, or work the diac-
lon salve, like molasses candy, and cool it in long,
smooth rolls. Sometimes we were permitted to
heat a thin-bladed knife and spread a plaster, and
tlien we felt quite ready for a diploma, as thor-
oughly-equipped M.D.'s. Perhaps we had as
high an estimate of the preparation needed for the
practice of the profession as some physicians have,
who take the lives of other human beings into
their hands, and are full medical practitioners.
The sweetest knowledge that we obtained of
drugs was the ''manna," or "angels' food," that we
took from the bottle behind the counter. We
really thought at first that we were feasting on
what refreshed the Children of Israel in the Wil-
There were but three houses on the ^'Ville/'
when in 1804 Dr. Shaw built there. The Maken-
zie house and the Watson and Spink habitations,
are still standing on Champlain Street.
They called the Watson's the ''Batty House" in
my childhood. It had deteriorated into a tene-
ment for poor people, and I recollect carrying food
often to the different rooms. Once I dropped a
dish of string beans upon the ground, but quickly
scooped them up, and, without scruple, delivered
them to a young girl whose hands were like birds'
claws. The old house has been restored to its
primitive glory, and is ow^ned by prosperous and
The small place vis a vis, has for me some tragic
associations, which I cannot easily forget. The
tyranny of a brute nature over the weak and help-
less and dependent, always excited me to anger,
and the mere rumor of acts of violence committed
by a giant of a man toward a delicate woman, so
outraged every tender instinct of my young spirit,
that the influence lingers to this day, though the
little home has for years been sanctified by a
changed and gentle presence.
Champlain Street was a grassy way along the
unobstructed shore to the Academy hill, until Cap-
tain Jacob Smith, of Newport, cast covetous eyes
upon a charming plot, and erected a cottage, now
owned by Governor Gregory.
Then the "young Doctor" Shaw further en-
croached upon my cherished and free domain, and
shut in another strip of the pretty Cove, and made
a home that we call The Lilacs, and that is delight-
ful to visit, though it does not quite compensate for
the loss of the old pleasure along the open shore.
To a certain degree there is an improvement upon
nature, with the choice shrubs and vines, and trees
and flowers. The perfume of locust blossoms
o-reets me as I write, and all around are signs of
I recollect a very pretty early morning scene
of last August, as I sat at a northwest window.
The ''cobs" had their filmy webs spread out upon
the lawn, a marvelous display. There was a regu-
lar line of them, white and glistening, along the
side of the terrace, and there were some on the tops
of the great box trees. On the Cove the fog was
''thick enough to cut," and for awhile hid the water
from my sight. Then, presto ! the sun arose, and
the veil was lifted, and there appeared a trans-
lucent mirror, with houses and trees, reflected up-
side down, and heavens with moving clouds in the
depths below, as well as overhead.
What a wonderful nature ! It is not singular
that men grasp the best localities for the founda-
tion of their human habitations. This street is
now lined with dwellings on the west, and the
opposite side has here and there a house. Still it
is verdant and rural, and the dust and noise of the
more thickly settled and traveled parts do not
AVashington Academy, a little to the southwest
of The Lilacs, was chartered in 1800, and was once
one of the best Institutions in the State of Khode
Island. It is now inclosed and is still valued as a
place of learning. It occupies a hill that slopes
to a beautiful cove, and has, from the summit, the
most extensive and charming view in all the town ;
'Svater, water, everywhere,'' and a most entrancing
landscape. How often we little children used to
wander over the forest-covered premises, amid vio-
lets and May pinks and trailing arbutus and the
sweet fern and huckleberry and bayberry bushes,
Avith roses contrasting brightly with the glossy
Or we would picnic under the shining oaks, and
in our chatter, rival the squirrels that ran up and
down from their holes in the tree trunks, as busy
as though alone in these pleasant wilds.
Many a brillinat scholar has gone out from the
Washington Academy to do honor in other local-
ities, to this Alma Mater of our modern Venice.
Bishop, Professor, Judge, Governor, Mayor, and
Senator, can look back, with grateful pride, to its
fostering care and nurture. Mr. Elam (from
whom our ^^Yille" took its early name) was a
l^ewport gentleman of means. He had a decided
interest in this school, and would, no doubt, have
largely endowed it ?f it had yielded to his wish
that it should bear his name, but ^^the Father of
his country'' prevailed in the minds of the
Trustees, and perhaps the Institution gained in
fame what it lost in fortune.
I wish that portion of the village south of the
]\Iiddle Bridge could still be called Elamsville,
instead of Brown, and Champlin, and Phillips
Despite liis diaappointment, Mr. Elani made
some worthy donations to the Academy, besides a
valuable Encyclopedia. In my mother's day there
w^ere some noted classical instructors in the school,
and some of the ambitious young ladies vied w4th
the young men in the advanced studies, thus fitting
themselves to train, in after years, their own chil-
dren, w^ho might otherwise have failed to receive
such advantages of intellectual culture as their
station demanded, and their minds craved.
Thus does a kindly Providence anticipate and
care for our future needs and desires.
Gregory's Mill had no place in the primitive
Elamsville. There was a shipyard w^ith ship-
building carried on in this spot, as well as in sev-
eral other convenient localities near the water, for
Wickford was once the next commercial port in
Ehode Island to !N'ewport, and many a vessel laden
with Karragamsett products w^ent out from our
wharves, and from Xarragansett Perry, to the
West Indies and South America, and the Southern
and Eastern colonies along the coast.
I used to look across from the southeast windows
of mv grandfather's house to the point of land
where the rectory children now play under the
mammoth trees, and fancy it resembled in its con-
formation the western shore of Africa. The asso-
ciation is lost by the new surroundings. A road
was opened in 1840, and, in 1888, the new iron
structure, with carriage privilege, superceded the
narroAv wooden foot bridge, and fine houses and
cultivated gardens cover the old plot across the
The factory on the hither side is not an attrac-
tive feature, aesthetically regarded; but there are
considerations of enterprise and helpfulness, that
outweigh the mere gratification of sentiment, and
I suppose one ought to rejoice in the smoke and
noise that bring comfort and thrift to many other-
wise needy families.
The sloop Resolution, in which Captain David
Baker so often wafted us across the bay to New-
port, is said to have been built in 18 IG on the
premises now owned by Mr. James Greene, and
was launched in the Cove at flood tide. Planks
were removed from the middle of the bridge that'
connected Elamsville with wliat is now Bridge
Street, for the passage of the sloop to the hjwer
wharf, whence it had its daily embarkation for
years. Steam navigation had not then begun to
stir the waters of onr beautiful bay that has been,
by many, likened to the Bay of Naples. The first
steamboat seen in Providence was the Fire Fly, in
1817. The trial trip of a steamboat between New-
port and ]^ew York was in 1822. The common
mode of transportation by sailing vessels, or sIoojds,
prevailed in our w-aters until the ^o^ws began her
regular trips to [N'ewport after the branch railroad
from the Wickford junction w^as built, and this
route became the favorite way from Boston and
!New York. The General now goes back and forth
over the bay four times at least, in a day.
The old Resolution is a battered hulk on sands
of the shore, but she will always live in the hearts
of her passengers. Many an excursion have I had
on her deck, after she had plowed the waves for
years ! What a mongrel company she carried —
ladies and gentlemen bent on pleasure ; small fruit
venders, intent on profit; inland people, whose
peculiar w^ays w^ere as strange to us as w^ould be the
presence of foreign emigrants; yet always sunny
faces and sunny hearts, that made the trip merry
and glad! At ''the haven where we would be"
there were great attractions. The ''Old Mill,"
Fort Adams with its subterranean passages, the
beaches with foaming billows, etc., etc.
In our home, twelve miles away, w^e could hear
the strong diapason of the ocean waves, heralding
a coming storm, and we loved to draw near and
gambol among them, when they w^ere subdued, and
made gentler music.
To me, one of the most attractive objects in our
village was the Lighthouse, on the neck of land
across from the lower wharf. It was a favorite
project of one of my ancestors, that the peninsula
where this beacon stood, should be called "India
Point," and given up solely to shipping exports.
A new light farther out in the channel now
warns the ships from the rocks. The old one is
yet in existence and is taking a well-earned rest.
In the years gone by, many a sailor hailed with joy
the bright beams from its faithful lantern, and we
children peered through the fog and gloom, with a
sense of comfort and protection, as we thought of
inbound vessels, and saw the never failing glow.
It Avas our rare privilege to mount occasionally to
the cupola, and watch the keeper as he trimmed
the lamps. We realized something of his great
responsibility when he spoke to us of human lives
saved, or lost, through his care or neglect.
Sometimes, especially in the September months,
the wind was fearful in its strength and velocity,
and the waters raged furiously, threatening an-
other gale like that of 1815.
We had learned from our grandmother how a
sloop had, by the waves, been lifted up over the
lower pier, and had run its bowsprit through the
window of a house, and how the people were taken
in boats from the second story of the dwellings near
the wharf, and placed in safety. The impression
of her recital lasted with us, and when the autumn
equinoctial came, we donned our warm wraps and
went to the upper part of our father's garden, in
order that the dreaded overflow of the tides might
not reach us.
This maternal relative told us much about the
old-time localities and people, that have either
changed or passed away.
Bush Hill was once thickly covered with shrubs,
and vines, and trees. In my childhood it was but
a grassy slope, with a few old oaks, and a fresh
water pond at the base, on either side. We used
to go with our father, in the early morning, to this
elevation, to see the sun rise, and to ^^skip" stones
<.^ver the water below.
On the edges of the ponds, there grew the
ground nut, the sweet bulbous root of a coarse
grass ; and the pungent flag root ; and the velvety
brown cat-tails. Big frogs sat croaking on the
stones near the border, or amid the water plants.
Xearly all the beautiful features are spoiled now,
by the digging aw^ay the hill for sand; but there
remains one little fresh lake, where the cows still
slake their thirst, and the wild birds go to drink.
Close by, is a gambrel roofed cottage, where the
old men and women whom I knew, were, in their
childhood, taught the rudiments of book knowl-
edge, and where cat skins were transformed into
pretty muffs. Afterward, it came into the posses-
sion of somebody who wove carpets, and delighted
little people with the gift of bright thrums, cut
from the warp. To perch up beside this good old
dame on the broad seat of her loom, and watch the
swift shuttle as it flew back and forth, was among
the most charming of onr childish joys. The
thump, thump, of the board that pressed tightly
the woof, was music to our ears, and the growling
fabric a mystery indeed.
Many times has the old house changed hands,
until now it has come to be the palace of a Queen,
and the abode of a princess. 'Tairy rings" are
beside the door, and the frequent ^^Bouncing Bet,"
or ''Spanish Pink," grows wild among the grass,
and I never turn often enough into the lane that
leads to the royal domains, where the sceptre is
ahvays graciously held out to welcome me.
The second lane, at right angles with the first,
is fast filling with habitations, and becoming a
street. It was, in the long, long ago, thick with
locust trees, and oaks, and wild vines, and shrubs,
so they say, or they have said; and ''they" here
means the dear old friend who has been my author-
ity as regards localities and aspects, nearly a cent-
ury and a half gone by.
Later, this wild nature was swept away, and
l^eople made a trodden path to the old church, of
which I will speak presently.
In the southeast corner of the second lane, was
the village "hearse house," with the dreadful
vehicle that bore the dead to the last resting place.
How it used to haunt me with its terrible sugges-
tions! The dingy black velvet pall; the close,
black carriage, and all the sad insignia of woe,
took my breath away, and seemed to bring to me a
living death. That obnoxious building has given
place to a glossy leaved white mulberry tree, that
awakens brighter thoughts.
THEKE are houses that we call ''ancient" in
this village of ours — that is not yet three
hundred years old. I look upon them with a ven-
eration begotten of my ancestral blood. Our Saxon
forebears have in deepest reverence whatever shows
the marks of age. The generations in this West-
ern world count for more than those in the old
country. We live longer in the same space of
time, and therefore compute differently. Some
decaying edifices on our main street, seem to me
to have been constructed "in the year one," and T
make spiritual obeisance as I pass them. There
is a large brown house down on the Point, opposite
the old Lighthouse, which was quite a grand dwell-
ing in its prime. It was surrounded by much
ground that lias since been encroached upon by
adjoining habitations, and it must have been quite
an imposing and attractive residence at the time
when Mr. Samuel Brenton took possession. His
ancestors had, in the Colonial days, owned nearly
one third of Newport, comprising ^'Rocky Farm''
and the broad acres where the Lows, and Gris-
wolds, and Russells, and Kings, and Kennedys,
and Rutherfords, and Stuyvesants, and Harpers,
and Fields, and many other wealthy and noted peo-
ple, have their fine residences.
As it has been suggested to me by one of the
most appreciative of the present occupants of that
charming region, to incorporate in these pages
some record of the early proprietors, I gather from
the sketches by Miss Elizabeth Brenton, which
were printed in the E^ewport Mercury of 1853,
Avhatever I think may be of interest to the present
William Brenton left Hammersmith, England,
and landed in Boston in 1634. He brought with
him a commission from Charles I., w^hich
bore the date 1633. The likeness of his Majesty
was at the top, and his seal and signature at the
bottom. It was termed a grant, and allowed him
to take so many acres to a mile, of all the lands he
should survey in the ^N'ew England Colonies.
In after years this parchment was considered a
great piece of antiquity, having been in the Bren-
ton family for more than a century; but it w^as
eventually destroyed by an inconsiderate girl.
William Brenton was made a freeman and
select-man of the Colony of Massachusetts, and, in
1635, was chosen Eepresentative, or deputy of the
general court of Boston. He was concerned in
importations, went extensively into the mercantile
line of business, and made large speculations in
He came into possession of that broad tract ^n
the Merrimac River, I^ew Hampshire, mentioned
in his will, as 10,000 acres. It was long known as
Brenton's Farm, and has been constituted the
township of Litchfield.
In 1638, Mr. Brenton removed to ^N'ewport,
Rhode Island. He was associated with Governor
Coddington, [N'icolas Easton, John Coggshall, John
Clarke, Thomas Hazard, Henry Bull, Jeremy
Clarke, and William Dyer, in the formation of a
township on the Island of Aquidneck.
Their first object was to choose a spot which
would prove the most lucrative landing place. The
Harbor of :Nrew^port was surveyed. The beauty of
scenery, and protecting points around the Bay,
first attracted them to the present site of :N'ewport,
but finding it a thickly wooded swamp, their atten-
tion Avas directed to Easton's Beach. Here they
.found no anchorage for craft of any kind, and
thought it too open to the ocean, to afford a safe
Keturning to their first choice, they hired the
swamp cleared, and the land made firm for build-
They named the town ^N'ewport. The first
street laid out one mile in length, was Thames
Street, and lots ^vere measured off first on the
Parade, afterwards called Washington Square;
and then southerly, crossing Thames, and extend-
ing quite to the water.
The houses were made to face the Bay, Bren-
ton's Point and Goat Island, now Fort Walcott,
being in full view, with the adornment of tall
The early settlers did not anticipate buildings
on the west of the street fronting the water, and as
no room was left for such a purpose, it accounts
for the narrowness of that thoroughfare.
William Brenton's ^'Homestead lot," embracing
six acres, commenced on what is now Spring-
Street, extending Avest to the Bay. On the north
it bounded Mary Street, then called the i^ew Lane,
and on the south it included the houses afterward
owned and occupied by Mr. George Hazard.
In 1638, Mr. Brenton had taken possession of
the Peninsula called Brenton's Xeck, the boundary
of which went in a straight line from the Lime
Eocks east, forming the northern boundary of
Rocky Farm, and extending quite to the sea shore,
on every side, and comprising over two thousand
acres of land of the richest soil, and presenting the
most picturesque scenery.
A short distance west of" the Cove, he had a
clearing made, materials brought from Boston,
and a brick building erected. It was called the
Four Chimney House, and was one hundred and
fifty feet square, and two stories liii;li, witli a hall
sixteen feet wide, through the center of the main
floor. The roof had a railing, seats, and a prom-
enade, commanding a most extensive view. On
the south lay the broad Atlantic ; north and east
the harbor, and the town in its infancy ; west the
blue waters of Narragansett bay. Around this
edifice Mr. Brenton laid out the grounds in mead-
ows, pastures, gardens, and orchards, the enclos-
ures of which were of cut granite three feet wide,
and five feet high, with trees bordering them. He
named the place after his English home, ''Ham-
mersmith," and for many years it w^as his resi-
dence, where most of his children were born, and
where he spared no expense in improving nature
by art. He divided his farm into ''East" and
Over the grazing portion, eleven thousand sheep
roamed, and, upon a terrace, Mr. Brenton had a
building put up for his herdsmen, who were em-
ployed to care for his flocks, and also for the rear-
ing of horses and cattle.
Around the brick house, and in a southwesterly
direction, including Castle Hill, the premises were
cultivated for grass^ and grain, and vegetables, and
poultry, and butter and cheese of superior quality
The Peninsula, now Fort Adams, was a marsh
of wild rose bushes, whortle-berries, and low black-
The hills on the west and south were covered
quite to the shore with delightful groves, and
merry parties came with their baskets across the
bay, for fruit and for pleasant recreation. Castle
Hill Avas noted for the sweet wild strawberries.
^Ir. Brenton had temporary quarters in that
locality for his numerous employes, who were occu-
pied in the various improvements over his large
On a small peninsula lying oceanward, he had
a cottage built for his family shoemaker, for whom
he sent to England, good workmen being scarce in
the early settlement of the Colonies.
AVilliam Brenton's son, Jahleel the Collector,
after the death of his father, gave the place to the
faithful artisan and his heirs, and it has ever since
been called Price's !N'eck.
It used to be a remarkable locality for fishing
and fowling, and only last summer, when I took
the ^^ten mile drive," as I approached this penin-
sula, I saw some sportsmen prone upon the rocks,
with their guns pointed to a bevy of ducks.
The Four Chimney House was partly taken
down and changed into a smaller edifice, which is
now owned by H. F. Batty, Esq. The date of the
original structure, 1638, was upon the chimney
in the garret. How much of the old building was
incorporated with the present I do not know, but
it is said that there is no difficulty in tracing the
ancient outline upon the ground, and that in the
first story can be seen where the posts w^ere sawed
off when the house was reduced to a single story
with gambrel roof. The premises, however, bear
no semblance to a former splendor, when the place
was ornamented with gravel walks, flowering trees,
folding gates with massive pillars, and gardens
where the fir, the box, and the peony, graced the
avenues and the velvety green lawns.
William Brenton held the office of first Presi-
dent of Aquidneck from 1640 to 1647; was Presi-
dent of the Colony from 1660 to 1662; Deputy
Governor from 1663 to 1666; and Governor from
16G6 to lG(i9j when he retired to a more private
He died, leaving the Ilaniniersmith estate to
his son Jahleel, who w^as his executor, and the
guardian of the family of young brothers and
sisters. In the winter they occupied the town
house on Thames Street, and in summer the sub-
He had taken great pleasure and pride in the
wild sublimity of the ancestral estate of Hammer-
smith. The eastern part, wdiere the immense
boulders greet you at every step, he called Rocky
Farm. He enlarged the terrace where his father
had built accommodations for his herdsmen, made
an additional room to the house, placed in it a
choice library, and spent much of his time in read-
ing and study. In front was a view of the broad
Atlantic; on the west, ^^Lily Pond," then noted
for the profusion of wild roses that surrounded it,
as w^ell as for the pure lilies upon its surface.
Selecting the highest point among the hills near
by, he had a clearing made amid the ancient trees,
and seats placed for his visitors, and there many
happy hours were spent.
JJefurc lie left liis home fur Uustuii, lie sent to
England for various fruit trees, which he had
planted at Hammersmith. The ''Rhode Island
Greening" is said to have originated in this coun-
try from his importation, and Cherry Valley takes
its name from the delicious species of cherries
raised by him in that locality.
It must have been very sad to him in after
years, to see the decadence of the elegant grounds
where his boyhood was spent.
With the Indian outbreak, troublous times had
come. The burning of Providence brought terror
and apprehension to all the surrounding country.
Preparation was made for the defence of
Aquidneck. His Majesty's military forces were
put under command of Major John Cranston.
The two large guns, or cannon, which had long
stood in the yard of the late Governor Brenton's
town residence, were removed to Portsmouth for
the service of the Island, and all things presaged
commotion, if not disaster.
In 1694, Jahleel Brenton went to England as
agent of the Colony, returning in 1702.
By the death of William III., and the accession
of Queen Anne, E'athaniel Kay became Collector
of Customs in l^cAvport.
Mr. Brenton died a bachelor, in 1732, at the
age of 77.
Port Adams gives thunderous salutes from the
peninsula that was his before the Government had
As if to hold some claim even in death, near
the fort is a lowly grave containing his ashes.
From a newspaper article I derive the fol-
"Out in the open grounds of Fort Adams, just
south of the works, and near to the redoubt, and on
a level with the surface of the earth, there lies a
slab of blue slate stone that marks the grave of
Jahleel Brenton, son of Governor William Bren-
ton. Upon it there are engraved these simple
In Memory of
Jahleel Brenton, Esq.
Who died November ye 8th, 1732,
Aged 77 years.
"The letters deeply cut do not show the wear
of time, and there is no reason to think that they
may not be as distinct at the end of another hun-
drecl years as they are to-day. The wonder is,
that some team, during all the years that the Fort
was building, did not run upon or over the slab
to its great injury, for one could hardly see it, hid
in the tall grass, until most upon it.
^'Happily, danger— to it— of this kind, has
been averted through the thoughtful consideration
and generosity of Col. George H. Elliot, U. S. E.,
who, at his own expense, has caused to be built
'around it a wall, capped with hammered brown
stone, with beveled edges, to turn off the water
that falls upon it.
''Every lover of E"ewport, who desires to have
its memorials preserved, owes a debt of gratitude
to Col. Elliot for so caring for the slab to which
our attention has been called."
How much more do the descendants of Gover-
nor William Brenton, who visit as strangers the
ancestral domains and rejoice even in this small
span of earth, reserved from the broad acres that
have passed into other possession !
By the will of Jahleel the Collector, his estate
fell largely to his nephew, Jahleel, son of Wil-
liam the Second.
This Jahleel married Frances, daughter of
Governor Samuel Cranston, and great grand-
daughter of Roger Williams.
They lived sometimes in their town house, and
sometimes at Hammersmith, where they enter-
This Jahleel gave the clock that is in Trinity
Church steeple, E'ewport, Rhode Island. He was
one. of the original members of the Artillery Com-
pany, and one of the committee to build the State
house. Despite his large landed property, he had
not always ready money, and gradually the estate
was reduced by various sales.
The beautiful house on Thames Street became
the property of Walter Channing, Esq., since
which time it has lost its original title, and has
been called the Channing House. Commodore
Perry occupied it at one time, and his youngest
son Avas born there.
By his courtesy. President Monroe had his resi-
dence in it, while on a visit to I^ewport. Recently
it was possessed by the heirs of the late Daniel T.
Swinburne, and for a time leased to the late Major
General G. K. Warren, U. S. E., and occupied for
The house was very noticeable, standing some
twenty rods back from the street, and presenting
an antique front. Tw^o noble trees were near the
steps, and two at the entrance to the grounds. I
once had the courage to enter the ancestral prem-
ises, and, through the politeness of the officers in
possession, to ascend the quaint staircase, and
])enetrate as far as the large ^vainscoted chambers.
Since that time the stalwart trees are missing
on Thames Street, and a business structure hides
the grand old house, and when I ventured through
a strange avenue to the rear of the new block, a
little Italian boy ushered me to one of the upper
rooms of the once noted house of my forebears,
and there sat his mother, w4th a huge wooden
block upon her lap, and a hatchet in her hand,
chopping meat for dinner.
Heart sick because of the w^oeful ^^changes and
chances of this mortal life," I turned away, con-
tent never again to seek the old place, but to hold it
henceforth only in memory.
Jalileel Brenton, the second, was the father of
Samuel, who married Susan, a daughter of Silas
Cook, and removed from ^N'ewport to Wickford
late in life.
He built the gambrel roofed house that stands
on Main Street next above the Wickford I^ational
Bank. It was substantially constructed, and re-
tains many of its original features; the low ceil-
ings, narrow wooden mantels over the open fire-
places, and the small panes of glass in the windows.
One of these panes in the east parlor is diamond-
scratched with the nam.e of Mr. Brenton's daugh-
ter, and that of her fiancee, and the date of the
The present owners have a true appreciation of
time-honored places and things, and with almost
ancestral pride, preserve and exhibit the peculiar
marks in the old house.
"Miss Shippee" took me from attic to basement
lately, and she and a courteous brother were en-
thusiastic over every antiquity.
Behind a fire-board, that had existed from the
early days, was an iron crane, still hanging. Great
square foreign bricks formed the hearth, and blue
pictured tiles surrounded the lireplace, the designs
proving their passage from outre mer.
[Mr. Brenton's wife died in this house, and
through reduction of means he was obliged to re-
linquish the place, and occupy the large old resi-
dence by the water side, at the lower end of East
Main Street, where he gave up the ghost.
The Freeborn cottage and other encroachments
circumscribed the premises, but it can easily be
seen that the old decaying brown house was once
monarch in that region.
The Tenant house, on the corner of Main and
Fountain Streets, has seen a good old age and stir-
ring events. One of the inhabitants of the village
tells me that she has some andirons that Avere in a
fireplace in this house, where some of the British
soldiers were roasting a goose which they were
obliged to leave on the sudden evacuation of our
foreign foes. There must have been Tories in
occupation of the premises, and these were prob-
ably regaling their transatlantic visitors.
The Whiteman dwelling; the Spencer house;
the Robert Eldridge home, now the Wickford
House ; Mr. [Koel Freeborn's, the first brick house
built in the village, and several other frame struc-
tures that look as if thej had seen the centuries go
by, greet us as we go about the streets.
Up at the very head of the main street, once
called The Lane, is a place commanding a fine view
of the village, and the Bay. It has always im-
pressed me because my maternal grandmother fixed
envious eyes upon it when I was a little girl, and
often expressed a wish to own it. Mr. William
Talbot, with thorough appreciation of the site as
one of the finest in the town, purchased it several
years ago and calls it Barberry Hill, because of
the prevalence of this beautiful bush in the vicin-
ity. The shrub is rare in some parts of the United
States. It was imported to this country by one
Thomas Gould, son of Jeremiah Gould, who came
to [NTewport from Dorchester, England. He
planted a hedge of it about his house in Quid-
nesset, and the birds spread the seeds, until all
lihode Island was supplied, and Connecticut as far
as the river. Soon after, some man in Plymouth,
Massachusetts, imported them in the same way,
and they have increased in every direction in that
state. It is a beautiful shrub, with pretty yellow
blossoms that change to scarlet fruit hanging in
racemes along the branches. Yon gather the bar-
berries after frost in October. They make an
excellent preserve, which is anti-febrile and good
I cannot understand why the bushes are by
some tabooed, but I find that they are supposed to
injure grain, and that, in 1766, a special act for
their destruction was passed in the town of Middle-
to^vn, Rhode Island. Upon application of any
freeholder, the person upon whose ground they
grew, was required to cut them up within one
month, or in case of his neglect to do so they might
be destroyed by warrant from a Justice, at the ex-
pense of the complainant. Six years, later, in
1772, the Assembly extended this act over the
whole Colony. I suppose the act must have been
repealed, or else it has become a dead letter, for
the bushes line the walls, and present their fruit in
rich profusion, and have done so ever since my re-
membrance. We used to ^^put up" a bushel or
more every autumn, some in sugar, and some in
molasses, as the best remedy for influenza.
From Barberry Hill, The Lane, down to the
Brentoii House, lias become thickly lined with
pleasant habitations, and the old title is no longer
The Jeremiah Chadsey house still stands; the
Spink dwelling is converted into the Elms, a fine
boarding house with broad outlook upon the ball
grounds, with grand stand opposite, and way across
to the Block House and its Cove.
The old town house, built in 1806, is deserted
for the new. A Methodist church has sprung into
being where Wick's Ford and tlie Kill Devil once
reigned. The low land has been so elevated, that
even at highest tides the coves no longer meet.
On Pleasant Street, which runs north at right
angles from lower Main, there was once a large
square house with spacious grounds. It embraced
an extensive view of the Bay, Quonsett Point, Ca-
nonicut, and other land, and was called the finest
estate in the viUage. It was the residence of Mr.
Peter PhillijDS, whose family came from Exeter,
England. The Phillipses were among the early
settlers in ^arragansett, around Wickford. Our
own Exeter was probably named by them, as they
had estates in that town. The Hon. Peter was a
bachelor, ''a geiitloman of polished manners. He
was very spare in person, wore a bagged wig, and
always dressed with neatness. He attained to con-
siderable eminence, having served in the State
Legislature and Senate, and also as Judge in the
Supreme Court of Rhode Island, and as Chief
Justice in the Court of Common Pleas. All the
Civil and Military appointments conferred upon
him by the Legislature or the people, he discharged
with ability and fidelity."
He died in his own house at an advanced a2:e,
and was buried beside his residence, in a spot previ-
ously selected by himself. This grave was on the
right side, as jou entered the front door, and was
covered with a large oblong flat stone slab, that
bore an appropriate inscription.
Despite the superstitious awe with which the
village children regarded this ghostly relic, they
assembled daily under the two great shady button-
woods just outside the enclosure of the mansion,
and enjoyed the strong swing that was suspended
from a branch for their benefit. The house was
once temporarily occupied by my grandfather, be-
fore he built on the ''Ville,'' and under its roof my
mother was born, thus consecrating for her own
offspring, the premises that Avonld otherwise have
for them less sacred associations.
Before this fact was revealed to ns, we sought
the buttonwoods simply for amusement. Since
then w^e have made frequent commemorative pil-
grimages, and brought awav such precious trophies
as old wrought nails from decaying boards, or lime-
encrusted bricks and bits of stone from tlie ancient
It is one of the very choicest localities in the
town, if we prize the stretch of water on the east,
and the broad rural sweep on the west, ^ot far
to the north is the Point Wharf, with the deep salt
inlet, where the sharks used sometimes to come. A
little distance to the south, at the end of Bay
Street, w^ater again, everywhere w^ater in this
bright Venice of ours.
Mr. Chapelle had the good taste to select the
old Phillips site for his new residence, which dom-
inates one of the most charming views. His house
is in no wise like the former structure. The old
building with all its memories, still stands in my
vivid imagination, and must defy all the attempted
ravages of time.
The monumental slab, that nsed to beget in us
so much awe, has been removed to the new ceme-
tery outside the village, and there is nothing left on
the old premises to detract from the brightness.
The Phillips farm house yet remains, next to
the Belville station, about a mile southwest of our
village. Mrs. Alice Morse Earle, in her valuable
article in the New England. Magazine (January,
1893), thus describes it:
"The rooms are built around a chimney twenty
feet square, in whose wide fireplaces a whole ox
could literally have been roasted. The great iron
hooks over the fireplaces, and beside the doors,
upon which the old Phillips families hung their
flint locks, are still firm, and there are curious
drawers in the chimney pieces for pipes and to-
bacco. So much room does this great chimney
occupy, that there is no central staircase; only
little winding stairs at the extreme corner of the
On the right of the Peter Phillips home, you
turn down a short street toward Fowler. It is
called Friend Street, because, in my childhood
days, a Quaker Meeting House stood there. The
congregation dwindled, and ''the building was sold,
and removed to Hamilton, where it was converted
into a dwelling house."
Opposite its western end, and fronting on
Fowler Street, just north of the stepping stones
that lead to the old Xarragansett Church, was a
tumble-down habitation, where there lived a rem-
nant of the ''Rome" slaves, a peculiar family of
negroes, that interested us children to a wonderful
Mr. Rome (pronoiuiced Room) owned a fine
estate in Boston Neck, west of Narragansett Bay.
He came from England to Rhode Island in 1761
as the agent of the house of Halsey & Hopkins, and
Avas afterward appointed the agent of the British
creditors generally. He lived in ^NTewport, win-
ters, and in the summer occupied his country man-
sion, which he called Bachelor's Hall. It was
highly finished and furnished. The beds were
concealed from view in. the wainscots. When the
hour for retiring arrived, a servant would touch a
spring in the ceiling and the bed would protrude
98 . .
itself, as if by magic, prepared for the reception of
its tenant. Mr. Kome occasionally gave large
parties at liis "little country villa," entertaining
his friends with sumptuous hospitality.
Unfortunately, in the contest between England
and her colonies, he espoused the cause of Great
Britain, and l)ecame obnoxious to the General As-
sembly of Ehode Island, Avhich caused his arrest
on charge of "corruption, and partiality against
the -Legislature, and the Courts and Juries of the
Colony — with the advice (in a letter sent to a
friend in Boston, and thence to London) to annul
the charter and create a government more depend-
ent on the Crown." He was brought before the
Bar, where he made such evasive and contemptu-
ous answers that he was put in the common jail,
and there remained until the House rose.
Soon after his release, apprehending danger, he
fled on board the Man-of-war Rose, then lying in
the Xarragansett Bay. His property was confis-
cated by the State, and all his effects were sold, and
the money was paid into the general Treasury.
The only vestige remaining in later days, was
this family from his household servants.
Old Pero, sliort, square, grizzly haired, and thor-
oughly African in features, used to take our Tom's
place at my grandfather's stable in the summer,
and do such chores as needed his care around the
house and grounds. His wife was a large dow-
ager-looking woman, but always ill from taenia.
She kept stately seclusion in the west chamber, ad-
mitting only such friends as she desired to see.
Eters was the only room in the rickety house that
was really habitable, and it was at the risk of one's
life to surmount the gaping stairs and get over the
loose boards of the ante-chamber to the grand pres-
ence. But we were strongly attracted and dared
every obstacle in order to penetrate to this wonder-
The place was to us full of mysteries. There
were two deaf mute daughters and one deaf and
dumb son, and a little grandchild, three years old,
who could not stand upright, but hopped about like
a toad. ^N'ear by was a frog pond, that was by
some thought to have a pre-natal influence in the
case, but the doctor laughed at the old wives' the-
ories, which were put to flight when strength came
to the posterior muscles, and the boy walked like
other human beings.
His mother had twin babies, for which we made
duplicate suits. The tiny beings were cunning
enough, with their black woolly heads, side by side
on the white pillow, and it pleased us to see them
in the pretty pink frocks, and ^^bird's eye'' bibs
that our hands had fashioned.
The clumsy mother overlaid one of them one
luckless night, and we lost interest when the nov-
elty was gone, though we were not permitted to
abate our charity.
A MILE or more northwest of the clustering vil-
lage houses, is a large boulder, so poised upon
a foundation rock, that it can, by the slightest
effort, be stirred to a cradle-like motion. The
rumbling reverberation is soft or loud, as we choose
to make it. It is said that the Indians used this
method to summon their Council, or as an import-
Whatever purpose it may have served to the
w^ild men of the forest, our young people made it
a happy and frequent rendezvous. From the sum-
mit we could see Newport, Bristol, and Eall River,
in the sunlight, and the deep blue waters of the
ISTarragansett Bay intervening. All around us
were bayberry and sweet fern, and low black
huckleberry and trailing blackberry vines, and
fragrant wild flowers. Locust trees edged the
stone walls, and swung their sweet incense to the
breeze. Clematis crept along the thick bushes,
and many varieties of shrub and blossom garnished
the roadside all the way from the village to our
favorite Hall's Rock.
Buttercups and daisies adorned our shorter
-route home, across the meadows, and the breath of
the gentle cows, and the scent of new milk dropping
from full udders, and the beautiful sunset glow as
the day was drawing to its close, are among very
pleasant memories. From spring to autumn, the
'Svayside trimmings," as our lovely friend calls
the wild blossoms, kept our course triumphal with
their succession of floral beauty. The bright dan-
delion, the violets, the ''bluets" or ''innocence," the
tansy with military buttons, the golden rod, the
sumach, rich and velvety ; oh ! so many treasures
spread freely and lavishly all along our path
through life !
From the Rolling Rock we sometimes extended
our walk to the legendary spot where the Devil
planted his foot, as he stepped from Canonicut to
There is its distinct imprint, thongh not the
cloven formation that is generally attributed to his
Satanic JMajesty. It is very large, like the foot of
a giant. Cerberus no doubt accompanied his mas-
ter, for there are also dog's tracks in the rock. We
never dreamed of disputing the truth of the tradi-
tion, and even now we retain a degree of credence
in what was, in our childhood, positive faith, so
that a renewed pilgrimage to that famous region is
a strictly performed function whenever we are any-
where within reach of the locality.
The once charming and hospitable mansion a
little to the south of the Devil's Foot, w^as our
constant attraction and frequent rest after our long
tramp. There in our young days, dwelt some de-
lightful literary old friends. The site was origin-
ally where Haven's Tavern stood on the high road,
a resort for travelers.
Then the wheel of fortune brought a more gen-
tle and gratuitous hospitality. Xow the place is
wholly changed. Strangers occupy the premises.
The beautiful nortli garden plot has run to grass.
The moss roses that once peeped throiii>:h the picket
fence no hjnger greet us as we pass ; the wealth of
cultivated flowers is gone.
But for immortal happy memories, it would be
sad to traverse the old paths again.
Coming back toward the village, not far from
the Block House, on the opposite side, a few rods
up Stony Lane, is a farm house, that once was
white and thrifty in all its environments, and still
bears a comfortable aspect.
There lived Mr. Benjamin Smith, with his
genial wife and their son and daughter, and a troop
of merry grandchildren.
Can we ever forget the sweet cordiality with
which we were entertained, as, with empty tin
pails, en route for berries, we unceremoniously be-
sieged this delightful abode ?
The dear old lady never failed in her genuine
welcome, and the children were eager to join us in
our raid upon the bushes not far away ; and when
we were tired, after filling our pails, there was a
feast of huckleberries and sweet new milk at the
big table under the farm roof, and light rolls from
the bake kettle, and ^'hearts" and ^^ronnds" that
were the rnle for company in those days.
I recall the cool, large room, Avith the mistress
at her flax wheel, and the humming sound that was
music to my ear.
The place seemed so i-emoved from the outer
world. The atmosphere was calm and peaceful.
There was no seeking after fame or notoriety. The
worthy people lived what some would call their un-
eventful life, free from ostentation or display.
Still, they wrought well their appointed tasks, and
made their indelible impression ; and, though sleep-
ing in their lowly graves on the old farm, they live
in our grateful hearts.
Southeast of the village lies Ilomogansett, the
location of one of the summer residences of the
^N'arragansett chieftains, and the place of their
annual festivities. Within this Indian area is
Duck Cove, once in possession of a practical farmer
who utilized the acres for the production of such
crops as would prove the most remunerative.
Then it passed into the hands of a dear, silver-
headed old gentleman, with a family whose a}s-
thetic taste transformed it into a most charming
abode with just cnougli of artificial culture and
adonunent to make more ])roniinent the natural
grace. The original dwelling, with slight addi-
tions, stands where it always did, and is a pleasant
feature in the landscape. From the front piazza
one looks over a rocky, grassy slope, through forest
trees to the sparkling water, and all around is rural
A fine mansion has been built near by, by Mr.
Randall Greene, son-in-law of Judge Pitman ; and
just beyond, in full view of the Bay, is the resi-
dence of Mrs. Earle, one of whose sons married the
Alice Morse whom I have quoted, the author of
several interesting books on ^N'ew England, and of
other worthy literature. Mr. Dyer, son-in-law of
Mrs. Eandall Greene, has the ancient cottage and
some of the Duck Cove land, where he has con-
structed the Homogansett green-houses that per-
fume the air with their blossoms.
From the windows of Mrs. Greene's fine house
there are varied views. Here are green lawns,
thrifty vines, stalwart trees, and blooming shrubs.
There, are glimpses of rippling water, or cool, dark
pools, with the shadow of waving branches, and
now and then glints of sunlight through the flutter-
ing leaves. Then there is a sight of the village,
and the Bay, and the charming coves making up in
all directions. It is very delightful in this sub-
I spent a hapj^y day there recently, and strolled
with mv friend across a rustic bride-e that led to
a point of land beyond the Cove, where the wild
ducks like to brood. The sandy beach on that
neck affords excellent bathing facilities, and the
green knoll above the shore, is refreshing with
aromatic shrubs and the sweet wild rose. We sat
a long time in a sheltered spot in the quiet of that
delicious June afternoon, talking and dreaming
the precious hours away.
Could it be that the braves, Canonicus, and
Miantonomi, and Canonchet, had frequented these
very haunts, and danced their war dances, and
smoked the pipe of peace, and glided over the beau-
tiful Bay in their birch canoes, and roamed the
thick woods in the neighborhood, and here signed
the treaties with the white settlers?
Almost I expected to see the red men leap out
from the thick bushes and avenge themselves for
our intnision; but none came to disturb our per-
Many were sleeping calmly in their burial
ground not far from the farm house, on the other
side of the bridge ; and we went there to muse amid
the rouffh head and foot stones that mark the
My friend told me that one of her brothers, and
my Uncle Doctor, and a certain Dominie, once ex-
humed from this ground the skeleton of an Indian
of unusual height, and from the care with which
he had been embalmed in Indian fashion, they con-
sidered him a man of consequence in his tribe, per-
haps one of their chiefs.
The skull was given to the Dominie, to take with
him to his distant home. This, with other relics,
was left over night with his luggage, standing un-
guarded upon the depot platform. Thieves opened
one of the packages, in hope of booty, when they
were glared at by the ghastly Indian trophy, and
were so terrified that they dropped the skull, and
fled without gain.
I saw at Duck Cove some of the eggs of a big
turtle that had come from its watery haunts to
make its nest in the hot, dry sand that would hatch
for it its numerons progeny. 1'here were twelve
pretty white globes already laid ; they were about
an inch and a half in diameter. If the creature
had accomplished only this small proportion of the
three hundred to be deposited, it had yet quite a
task before it. As it is said to take three occa-
sions, at three weeks' intervals, laying one hundred
eggs at each time, the presumption is that it had
been suddenly disturbed.
This was a large, fierce specimen, and had been
previously captured, for there was upon its back
a name and date. It snapped furiously at a stick,
and though tied by strong cords, made its escape.
Cbe Gilbert Stuart Place*
Tins noted locality is about four miles to the
southwest of the village. There still remains
an unpretentious house, that was the birthplace of
the celebrated artist. It is said that between the
years 1716 and 1750, one Dr. Thomas Moffat, a
Scotch physician of the Boerhaaven school, emi-
grated from Great Britain, and settled in the ^'Gar-
den of America," as Rhode Island is called by the
historian, Collander. ^ot being able to succeed in
his profession, he conceived the idea of cultivating
tobacco and making snuff, to supply the great
quantity that was imported every year from Glas-
gow. As there was no man in this country skilled
in the manufacture, he sent to Scotland and ob-
tained a competent millwright, by the name of Gil-
bert Stuart. Selecting for his mill a proj^er stream
in Karragansett, the first snuff manufactory in
New England was there erected. The Scotch citi-
zen so prospered, that he soon inarried a very hand-
some woman, the daughter of Captain John
Anthony, a Welshman, who o^\aied a farm on
Rhode Island near Newport, which he sold to Dean
The Narragansett Church record makes this
^^April eleventh, 1756, being Palm Sunday,
Doctor McSparran read, preached, and baptized a
child named Gilbert Stuart, son of Gilbert Stuart
the snuff grinder. Sureties, the Doctor himself,
Mr. Benjamin Mumford, and Mrs. Hannah Mum-
This child was destined to become one of our
most noted artists, whose name and fame will sur-
vive the centuries.
^Tetters addressed in his after years to a friend,
have the middle name Charles, but it is said that
through fear of betraying his father's Jacobite
principles, he dropped this part of his Christian
name, and never used it in the days of his notori-
ety. At tliirteen years of age the precocious youth
began to copy pictures, and at length attempted
likenesses in black lead/'
Cosmo Alexander, a Scotch artist traveling in
this country, was attracted by the ambitious lad's
obvious talent, and gave him some valuable instruc-
tion, afterwards taking him with him to Edin-
burgh. The death of this patron soon occurring,
young Stuart returned to iS'ewport, and there occu-
pied himself with his art. Subsequently he spent
some years in England, where for two years in
London, he made little progress, and suffered
greatly from poverty. Then he became acquainted
with Benjamin West, in whose family he resided
for several years, and from whom he received valu-
able assistance. He soon rose to eminence as a
portrait painter, rivaling Eeynolds and the best
English artists of the day.
Subsequently he lived in Dublin and Paris, and,
in 1793, returned to end his days in his native land.
It is said that as a painter of heads, he holds the
first place among American artists, except Copley,
and that his flesh coloring was very fine. His por-
trait of Washington, which was his highest ambi-
tioii, and which he painted in Philadelphia, has
long been considered the standard likeness, and is
the original of innumerable copies. The first
study, together with a head of Mrs. Washington,
is in possession of the Boston Athena3um.
From Stuart's daughter Anne, we have some
additional interesting items concerning her noted
She says : "After he had struggled through a
great deal, while in London, his pictures in the
Royal Academy attracted the attention of some
noblemen, and he was employed by all the most
distinguished people. He then married Charlotte
Coats, in the town of Reading, in the County of
Berkshire, in England, after which he went to Ire-
land for the purpose of painting the Duke of Rut-
land, then Lord Lieutenant of that Kingdom. Un-
f ortimately the duke suddenly died, and was buried
on the very day of Stuart's arrival ; but the artist's
fame had reached Dublin, and he lived there for
some time in great splendor, and was sought, and
fully employed, by the nobility. After his return
to America, while he was absorbed in the j^ortrait
of Washington, the Duke of Kent offered to send a
slii}) of war to take him to Halifax, in order to
paint his portrait, which proffer he declined.
''When qnite young he had accomplished a like-
ness of Sir Joshua Keynolds, which was consid-
ered the finest ever painted. A few years previous
to his death he was asked to paint a head of himself
for the Academy of Florence, Italy, the greatest
compliment ever paid to an American artist ; but
he did not comply with the request, so little value
did he set upon such honors.
''He had twelve children, some of whom inher-
ited his genius."
The house in which he was born is still stand-
ing. It has been somewhat transformed, though
the bedroom where he first saw the light is left un-
changed. On the south side, the building has two
stories, and on the north, one story, the north sil]
resting on the mill dam. The lower story was
used as the snuif mill. The snuif mill has gone
down and a grist mill has taken its place. The
house is situated at the head of Petaquamscott, or
Xarrow Kiver, about fifty rods above where the
river empties into the pond.
The location is picturesque and delightful, but
very secluded. The old place is an object of curi-
osity and interest to tourists, and parties from Xar-
ragansett Pier, and all the adjacent summer re-
sorts, make excursions to the "old snuff mill/' and
row on the pleasant river.
An enterprising individual recently purchased
the premises, and dividing the attic into several
rooms, and making some modern improvements on
the main floor, intended to convert the house into
a profitable boarding house, or a wayside cafe.
During the progress of alterations, however, he had
a quarrel with one of the workmen, whom he shot
and killed; thus ending his own proposed career,
and securing for himself a prison, if not the death
It is but lately that I stepped over the threshold
of the simple room where Gilbert Stuart was born.
The heavy old wooden door was still hanging upon
its original hinges, and a sort of sacredness pos-
sessed the little place where the famous son of the
snuff grinder drew his first breath. Outside the
house, a wooden platform was built over the mill
dam, to the very trunk of the ancient willow on the
bank of the stream. I stood and listened to the
musical How of tlic water, and dreamed of the
promisiiig little artist playing under the graceful
tree, or busy in his crude efforts to improve the
genius that would have expression.
About tw^o years before his death, Gilbert Stuart
visited the home of his nativity, and spoke of the
old willow as "quite small'' when he was a boy, and
of the northeast bedroom on the ground floor, as the
place in which his mother told him he was born.
"'^liss Jane Stuart, the youngest daughter of the
artist, was a portrait and landscape painter of de-
serA^ed celebrity. Her copies of her father's Wash-
ington are executed with truthful fidelity. The
originals were taken by him at the request of the
Legislature of Ehode Island, and conspicuously
placed in the Senate Chamber of the State House
As everything relating to the family of a noted
individual is of interest to later generations, it may
not be amiss to record that in the beginning of the
Revolutionary struggle, Stuart's father emigrated
from ^N'ewport, Ehode Island, to ^N'ew^wrt, 'Nova,
Scotia, leaving his family to follow him at their
Mrs. Stuart preferred a petition to the General
Assembly, for liberty to join her husband, stating
that he was possessed of a tract of land in the town-
ship of jSTewport, ISToya Scotia, under improyement,
and that as he could not maintain his family in the
Colony, and purposed to remain on his 'Novsi Scotia
farm, her wish and her duty was to go to him. She
expressed herself as ^'willing to giye the amplest
security that nothing but the wearing apparel and
household furniture of the family, and necessary
proyision for the yoyage, should be carried with her
and her family."
The Assembly yoted ''that the prayer of this
petitioner be granted, and that the sloop Boss be
permitted to sail under the ins^^ection of Messrs.
John Collins and Dayid Seers of I^ewport in this
Colony, or either of them."
Here we lose sight of the old people.
The artist's son, Charles, who died at the age of
tAventy-six, was a landscape painter of promise.
Gilbert Charles Stuart died in Boston, July,
1828, aged seyenty-two.
The tragedy that shocked the whole neighbor-
hood of the Stuart house, has cast a pall that cannot
easily be removed. On my last recent visit I was
impressed as by a ghostly presence. The mill pond
was quiet ; the wheels were still. The old willow
droojDed over the water in silent reflection. The
only signs of life were two little children, some
dogs, and a brood of chickens scratching in the
gravel before the house door. Some flat bottomed
boats Avere moored to the little bridge that spanned
the pond. It might have been made such a pleas-
anf retreat. By its rural environments it is well
fitted to attract the lovers of nature.
It is a sad pity that the ungoverned passions of
men can so change what should be the scene of joy
and peace !
Cbe Old eburcb.
SITUATED on a green and retired spot at the
end of a lane that is fast becoming an inhab-
ited street of our Venice, standing solitary and
comparatively useless, is a rustic and venerable
building that bears, both within and without, the
evident marks of old age. Nearly two hundred
years ago it was built upon another foundation,
about five miles from its present site, the land being
given by Lodowick Updyke, who was born in 1646.
Driving from Wickford to the southwest, through
Allenton, along the Ridge Hill road, we pass
Pentazekias Corner, and soon come to a spot that
now seems desolate indeed. The present isolation
from all signs of human habitation might well lead
us to wonder at the choice of this locality for a
place of Divine worship, but for our knowledge of
the condition of things in this part of Narragansett
in tlie early colonial times. There were then scat-
tered over South Kingstown and Boston Neck, and
the region round about, large landed proprietors,
with their fine houses, and many slaves and de-
pendents; and a church in this spot was equi-
distant from most of the congregation. Prior to
its erection, the English Churchmen settled in this
pai^t of the country, worshipped in private houses.
Earnestly desiring positive and stated priestly
offices, and a holy temple for the worship of Al-
mighty God, they applied to the Bishop of London
for a clergyman.
The Kev. Christopher Bridge was transferred
from King's Chapel, Boston, then an Episcopal
church, and became, in 1706, the regular incum-
bent of St. Paul's, Xarragansett. It is said to have
been under his rectorship that the church was built
in 1707, by the voluntary contributions of the peo-
ple. The records of the time speak of it as ^'a
timber building, commodiously situated for those
who generally attend divine service. It is distant
from Providence, the nearest church, twenty-seven
miles/' It was a plain, oblong structure, with
curved ceiling; many windows, some of them
arched, and all with innumerable small panes of
glass. A Avide gallery was added, in 1723, on the
front and two sides, with six round, substantial
pillars upholding it. There was an old-fashioned
Avine-glass pulpit, with reading desk below. The
chancel and altar w^ere in the east, apart from the
place of Common Prayer and preaching. Square
box pews surrounded the sides, and Avere in the
center. A broad double door of entrance was in
front, and a smaller one on the west. There was
originally no tower nor spire. Access to the gal-
leries was by stairs leading from the main floor.
To the people of the present day, the obstacles to
Avorship in that church of nearly two centuries ago,
Avould seem insurmountable. Far removed from
the residences ; no communication except by ''drift-
ways" or cattle paths, through the different planta-
tions; no luxurious carriages; only the horseback
rides to and fro, Avhatever the state of the weather ;
nothing but heated soapstones, or little tin foot-
stoves, with live coals, to make the frigid tempera-
ture in winter endurable. Who among us would
often brave such discomforts in ordcjr to reach the
House of God ?
Despite these drawbacks, we may be certain that
in those times of sterling faith and unwavering
principle, the sacred duty of Sunday observance
was strictly performed, and that absence from any
religious service was rather the exception than the
I can imagine its being very delightful on a
bright summer day, to mount a fine steed, and on a
pillion behind an "old school" gentleman, with an
attendant servant to open the gates or let dow^n
the bars, traverse the rich domains of old Karra-
gansett. ITpdyke's and Channing's pictures of
that age and country, with the courtly manners, the
rich costumes, and superior culture, and broad
hospitality, are most enticing and attractive.
Perhaps distance lends enchantment. But there
can be no glamour over that old time getting to
church, amid sleet and snow^, and the pinching
ordeal as the congregation sat to hear the long ser-
mon, while the mercury was many degrees below
The Kev. Islr. Bridge, the iirst regular rector of
St. Paul's, is spoken of as ^^a religious and wortliy
man, a very good scholar, and a fine, grave
preacher. His performances in the pulpit were
solid, judicious, and profitable. His conversation
was agreeable and improving. Though a strict
Churchman in his principles, yet he was of great
respect and charity to dissenters, and much es-
teemed b}^ them. He was bred at the University
of Cambridge, England."
He did not remain long in ^arragansett, but re-
moved to Rye, ^ew York, where he died in 1719.
In 1717, the Society for the Propagation of the
Gospel in Foreign Parts sent the Rev. William
Guy as missionary over the ^^arragansett parish.
He had been laboring in Charleston, South Caro-
lina, and at St. Helen's, Port Royal, "the whole na-
tion of the Yammosee Indians being included in
After tlie desolation of his parish by the Indian
war of 1715, he was sent to l^arragansett at a sal-
ary of seventy pounds.
"Pie entered upon his new mission with much
zeal. The members of the Church of England re-
ceived him with tokens of joy. They presently pro-
vided him wltli a convenient lumse, and Lecanse it
was at some distance from the clmrch, they pre-
sented him with a horse, and in many ways showed
marks of their favor. He was well respected by
the people, and several who lived regardless of all
religions before he came, began to be constant at-
tendants at Divine Worship."
In 1719 he returned to St. Andrew's Church,
Charleston, where he died in 1751, after an excel-
lent work among his people.
In April, 1721, the Kev. James McSparran ar-
rived from England, and took charge of St. Paul's,
Karragansett, which had for several years been de-
pendent upon the occasional ministrations of the
Rev. Mr. Honeyman, rector of Trinity Church,
As Updyke's Narmgansett Church gives no ac-
count of Mr. McSparran's antecedents on this side
of the Atlantic, I copy what I have gathered from
Munroe's History of Bristol and also from the re-
searches of the late Mr. George Jones of Phila-
delphia, w^ho had personal access to reliable records
in the First Congregational Church in Bristol,
^'In 1718, a Yoiing man of Scotch-Irish parent-
age, and bearing credentials of a Licentiate of the
Presbytery of Scotland, and who had but lately
landed in Boston, came to visit a relative in
Bristol. The pnlpit of the First Church at that
time being vacant, he was requested to preach,
which he did the next Sunday. His wonderful
oratory made such an impression upon his hearers
that he was invited by a vote of 73 out of 76 to be-
come their pastor. He accepted, and one hundred
pounds were voted for his salary, and the same
amount toward the expenses of his settlement.
''Tor a short time all went well, but after awhile
some reports began to be spread about, derogatory
to his character and conduct. An angry partisan-
ship arose, some believing the stories, and others
having implicit faith in their pastor."
"Xo records of the charges against Mr. Mc-
Sparran have been preserved," says one writer.
^'i^othing but 'unguarded conversation' was ever
charged against his life in this town," adds another.
''Committees were raised, the rumors thor-
oughly investigated, and the result was favorable
to Mr. McSparran. He continued to preach with
eloquence and great power, and his Christian life
and deportment were satisfactory.
''Then his credentials, as a Licentiate, were
questioned. He proposed to return to the old
country and obtain undoubted ratification of his
papers and license. The town voted and resolved,
Hhat leave be given to Mr. McSparran, our Minis-
ter, to take a voyage to England or Ireland, in
order to procure a confirmation of his credentials,
the' truth of Avhich being by some questioned, and
that he return to us again some time in June next
ensuing, and proceed in ye work of ye ministry, if
he procure ye confirmation of ye aforesaid creden-
tials.' He sailed; the date of his embarkation is
'^On the 20th of June the town had heard noth-
ing of the absentee, and voted to await his return
until the following September."
The Manual of the First Church says, ^"This
period also passed without his return, or any report
from him, and the town was then ready to cooper-
ate with the Church in securing another pastor."
Mr. Munroe continues : ^^But Mr. McSparran
never came back to the Congregational Church.
Either npon the long voyage^ or while he was in
England, a change came over his ecclesiastical
views. Perhaps the treatment he had received at
the hands of the Massachusetts ministers, may
have led him to question the truth of the religions
dogmas held by them."
On the 21st of August, 1720, he was admitted
to deacon's orders in the Church of England, by the
Bishop of London. On the 25th of September, he
was ordained to the priesthood by the Archbishop
of Canterbury, and on October 23rd, was com-
missioned a Missionary to the Province of New
England. He shortly after re-crossed the Atlantic
as the Missionary of the Society for the Propaga-
tion of the Gospel in Eoreign Parts, to Xarragan-
sett, in 'New England, "who is to officiate in
Bristol, Freetown, Swanzy, and Little Compton,
where there are many people, members of the
Church of England, destitute of a minister."
Munroe says : '^The result of this action of
Mr. McSparran was the formation in Bristol, of
St. Michael's Church. People who had clung
to him closely in liis time of trial were naturally
influenced. The establishment of St. Michael's
by liis instrumentality made his opponents still
more bitter^ and tlie pecnliar circnmstances made
the relations between the Congregationalists and
the Episcopalians more nnpleasant."
Mr. Bnrt says of Nathaniel Cotton, the third
pastor of the Congregational Clinrch, ^^he went
throngh a world of trouble with the Church party."
The town records contain many protests from
the Church of England against what were termed
"the lm just and intolerant actions of the CouPTCffa-
To one conversant with the religious history of
the Colonial period, it cannot seem singular that
Jh\ McSparran had sufficiently experienced the
strict and unreasonable notions of the Puritans of
that time, and that he was led by their exactions
and intolerance, to such reflection and study as
made his transfer to the "Catholic and Apostolic
Church" a matter of principle as well as choice.
His America Dissected abounds in expressions
that prove his acquaintance with the religious con-
fusion of the various sects, to have been the school
to bring him to a settled Eaith.
Speaking of the "Brownists," he says of their
organization and leader : ''A young clergyman of
fire and zeal over-proportionate to his discretion,
drew the first dissenting disciple after him, who,
though he boasted he had been in every prison in
England for conscience' sake, yet when he cooled
and came into the Church again, by a recantation,
he found it easier to mislead, than to induce his
followers to find the right road again."
He also quotes from Hutchinson : '^By a letter
dated from on board ship Arabella, in Plymouth
Harbor in England, begging the prayers and the
blessings of the Bishop and clergy of England,
these Massachusetts Puritans disclaim any design
of separating from the Church of England, avow-
ing their intention to be only a secession in point
of place, but no departure from doctrines or wor-
ship. Xotwithstanding that pretence, they were
no sooner settled in their new habitations than
their old unopened purposes appeared. The Com-
mon Prayer was outvoted, and extempore prayer,
then called the new way, was preferred to the old
Liturgic method of worship. From this time they
who clamored so loud against persecution, and the
measures taken in England to exact uniformity,
imniedicitely inacle a law that nunc slionld be free
of their jurivsdiction, or capable of the privileges of
their Xew Colony, but such as were members, that
is in their sense, actual conmiunicants in their new
modeled churches. Many Churchmen and some
Anabaptists who accompanied them in their em-
barkation, expecting to meet Avith no molestation
on account of their principles and way of worship,
expressed their dissatisfaction, and refused sub-
mission to their law. Whereupon they were first
disfranchised, and an actual sentence of banish-
ment pronounced against them unless they submit-
ted by a short and certain day."
Whatever may have caused Dr. McSparran to
leave the ranks of the Dissenters, and attach him-
self to the old Historic Church, he clung from this
time forward with zealous tenacity to her doctrine
and fellowship, and strove to win others to a sim-
ilar devotion. Soon after his settlement in St.
Paul's he was united in wedlock to Hannah, daugh-
ter of William Gardiner of Boston Xeck, Xarra-
In the Blessed Virgin month, while the fresh
spring fragrance of apple l)lossoms and violets
made delicious the air, the good Doctor led his
American bride to the altar, where the Rev. Mr.
Honeyman made of the twain one flesh.
Mrs. McSparran's portrait presents a beantifnl
and attractive woman, with large, dark, expressive
eyes, wavy hair, a plump face, and a graceful
Long previous to Dr. McSparran's coming to
dwell in the JsTarragansett country, the Chief
Sachems, in 1657, had sold to seven purchasers,
for sixteen pounds, a large tract of land, fifteen
miles long and six or seven broad. In 1668, a
majority of these purchasers set apart three hun-
dred acres of the best of this possession to be for-
ever and as an encouragement, the income and im-
provement thereof wholly for an ''orthodox per-
son" that shall be obtained to preach God's word to
Potter says, in his history of A^arragansett, "It
would seem that no deed or more formal convey-
ance Avas ever made. It was surveyed and platted
and the words ^to the Ministry' entered in tlie
From the names of the purchasers one might
judge the gift as designed for the support of the
Church of Enghiud, in the Narragansett country,
but in this new huid the term ^'Orthodox" was
capable of a broad interpretation, and after long
years of dispute between Episcopalians and Pres-
byterians, over the legacy, singular to say, it was
by British Judgment given to the Congregational
Church at Kingstown, Rhode Island.
The Rev. Dr. McSparran, desiring a settled
residence, with an eye to the remarkable beauty of
a most charming locality, purchased land and built
a house at the foot of a high hill, that has ever since
been called by his name.
Whoever stands near the old ''Glebe," and casts
his glance on all sides, must be delighted with the
variety and grandeur.
On the west rises a double range of hills, run-
ning for some distance north and south, and pre-
senting a rugged yet pleasant aspect. The eastern
vicAV embraces broad meadows, leading down to the
Petaquamscutt River, which has its source some-
where near the Gilbert Stuart place in :N"orth
Kingstown, and pursues its way south for miles,
emptying finally into the Atlantic Ocean.
It is a brackish stream, subject in its lower
course to the salt tides that give volume and pic-
turesqueness. In some of its southern variations
it is broad and deep, but in the more northern local-
ities it deserves the name ]^arrow Kiver. Trees
and shrubs skirt its banks in many places, making
it sylvan and beautiful.
Beyond it, on the west, lies Boston ^N'eck, with
its rich and fertile tract, shining green between the
river and ^arragansett Bay, over the blue Avaters
of which is Canonicut, and beyond this the Harbor
of Newport, and the city looming up, with its
roofs, and spires, and shipping, in perfect clear-
ness. Away to the southeast, the grand Atlantic
swells and foams in the far distance, yet is dis-
tinctly visible from the upper rooms of the Glebe,
and from the summit of the hills.
In this choice spot, where Dr. McSparran fixed
his habitation, there was rare enjoyment, not only
of a superb nature, but also of tlie many congenial
neighbors and the gifted friends who came from
I^eAvport and Boston, and even from Virginia, to
share the free hospitality of the Colonial families
The Honorable Wilkiiis U[)dyke lias left such
vivid descriptions of the manners and customs of
that time, and that h^calitv, that all subsequent
records are but quotations from his graphic pen.
Still it is not amiss to avail one's self of his re-
search, and thus give interest to this book.
The extent of individual possessions before the
American Revolution, was so entirely different
from the farmers' ownership of the present dav,
that it seems to us fabulous. Plantations five, six,
and ten miles square; thirty, forty or fifty cows;
as many as a hundred horses ; from four or five
hundred to a thousand sheep ; twenty or thirty or
fifty slaves; these would constitute a marvelous
estate in this our age. But the Hazards and Rob-
insons, and Gardiners, and Stantons, and others of
like celebrity, improved thousands of acres, and
exported rich produce from herd and field and
dairy, lading vessels with horses, and calves, and
fatted bullocks, and grain, and butter and cheese.
Besides this export from the home yield, much
Avool and flax Ave re manufactured for the large
households, Avhich sometimes numbered seventy or
more in parlor and kitchen.
The intellectual status of the society of Xarra-
gansett was superior. The Browns, and Potters,
and Brentons, and TTpdykes, and Babcocks, with
their peers, owned large and valuable libraries and
fine paintings. The Eev. Dr. McSparran pos-
sessed many rare classical volumes, and was highly
educated, and graduated in the University of Glas-
gow, and received Avorthy testimonials of character
and learning, from William, Archbishop of Canter-
bury, and from John of Tx)ndon, in his letter mis-
''Into his family he took young gentleman stu-
dents, as was the usage of the times among clergy-
men. Thomas Clapp, the efficient President of
Yale College, completed his education under him."
The Doctor must have been a man of Herculean
strength of mind and body, to accomplish all that
was demanded of him in his social, sacred, and
other duties. His parish seemed to have no
bounds, for we read of ministerial functions exer-
cised in Warwick, and Coeset, which was a part of
Warwick, in Freetown, Swanzy, Little Compton,
Canonicut, and wherever opportunity called, ''in
several corners of Xarragansett."
Of himself lie writes in his America Dissected:
'*By my exertions and ont labors, is bnilt twenty-
hve miles to the westward of me, AVesterly Church,
but not now under my care. Another sixteen miles
to the northward of me, where I officiate once a
month, the Warwick Church; and at a place six
miles farther off, on the Saturday before that
monthly Sunday, I gathered a congregation at a
place called l^e^v Bristol, where now officiates a
missionary from the Society, and I was the first
Episcopal minister that ever preached at Provi-
dence, where for a long time I used to go four times
a year. That Church has now a fixed missionary
of its own. I took notice before of my labors at
Xew London in Connecticut, and w^ould to God I
could boast of more success ! But toil and travel
have put me beyond my best, and if I am not re-
warded with a little rest in Europe, where my de-
sires are, I have strong hopes of infinitely desirable
rest from my labors, in those celestial mansions
prepared by my dear Kedeemer."
The Westerly Church spoken of in this letter,
was built on a lot of land given for that purpose by
George Ninigret, Chief Sachem of the I^Tarragan-
sett Indians. It joined the Clianiplin farm, and
when the chnreh went down, was held by them in
It Avas on the Charlestown side when the tovm
of Westerly was divided, and must not be confused
with the present church in Westerly.
Dr. McSparran wrote, in 1752, of his clerical
efforts, when he had been for thirty years in Narra-
He was a staunch Churchman and earnestly de-
sired the unity of all Christian bodies. His
dictum was, ''But for the prejudice of education,
the separation our fathers made had been long ere
now healed up by their sons."
His family ties were exceedingly tender and
affectionate. These were destined to be suddenly
In London, where he was on a visit with his
wife, on the twenty-fourth of June, 1755, Mrs.
McSparran died of small pox, and was interred on
the twenty-fifth in the Broadway Chapel burying
The Church record says: "Wm. Graves
preached the funeral sermon and buried her.
MRS. HANNAH McSPARRAN.
Brioadier General Samuel Waldo, Christopher
Hilly, Esq., Mr. Jonathan Barnard, all three New
England men; and George Watnumgh, an Eng-
lishman, were her pall-bearers. Dr. ]\lcSparran
and Dr. Gardiner's son John, were the mourners.
The corpse was carried in a hearse drawn by six
horses, and there were two mourning coaches, one
for the bearers, the other for the mourners. She
• was the most pious of women, and died, as she
deserved to be, much lamented."
I copy from a letter of Mr. Daniel Berkeley
Updike to the Khode Island Historical Society,
the following interesting account concerning Mrs.
McSparran's burial place :
''When in London in the summer of l^SC), T
determined to find her grave if possible. It will
be noticed that the entry in the records of St.
Paul's, states that Mrs. McSparran was buried in
Broadway Chapel Burying Yard, in Westminster.
I was unable to find any church of that name in
the district of Westminster, but, after some uncer-
tain search, in the neighborhood in which I was
told Broadway was, I noticed a street named Great
Chapel Street. Thinking this name might prove
a clue, I followed the street until I came to a mod-
ern Gothic church of considerable size, on the cor-
ner of Great Chapel Street and Little Chapel
Street, the grave yard being bounded on the south
by the well-knowTi thoroughfare of Victoria Street,
that portion of which, I subsequently found, was
formerly called The Broadway.
"Calling on the Vicar, the Eev. F. K. x\glionby,
I ascertained that it occupied the site of a church
formerly known as the New Chapel in Tothill
Fields, the Broadway Westminster, founded in
1631 as a chapel of ease to St. Margaret's, West-
minster, in which parish it was, by Dr. Durrell,
Prebendary of AVestminster.
"The bequest of the founder proving insufficient
to complete the chapel, a public subscription was
opened, to which Archbishop Laud contributed
one thousand pounds. The groimd around the
chapel was consecrated as an additional burial
ground for the mother parish, and all rights of
registration and fees were reserved to the incum-
bent of St. Margaret's.
"The chapel, before it acquired the status of a
District Church, was served by a chaplain elected
by the vestry. The most eminent of the chaplains
Avere Dr. George Smallridge, Bishop of Bristol,
and William Romaine, anthor of The Life of
Faith, and The Walk of Faith.
^^The present chnrcli is within the parish of St.
Margaret, and is distant from the mother church,
and from Westminster Abbey, about a quarter of
^'Mr. Aglionby kindly gave me permission to
inspect the grave yard (which is not accessible to
the public), as well as to see the interior of the
church itself, after the w^eekly services, as the
aisles contain many memorial stones.
^^Accordingly I spent, later, some time in exam-
ining the stones in the church yard (now disused
but exceedingly w^ell cared for) before proceeding
to the church.
^^After a short search I was rewarded by finding
a flat stone, a parallelogram in shape, with the
following inscription, which I give precisely as it
now stands :
'* 'Here lyes
Wife of the Rev.
of New England.
Who died June ( ) 4th, 17 ( )
in the ( ) year of her A( ),'"
'''The stone is exceedingly defaced by wind and
-'As one enters the path of approach to the
church, from Victoria Street, it lies on the left
hand side, about fifty paces along the path from
the street, and perhaps six feet on the left of the
"A map on a large scale, which includes Christ
Cliurch and its immediate neighborhood, gives
almost exactly the position of this grave. A copy
of this map is in possession of the Rhode Island
''I am happy to say that during a few days'
stay in London in ^November, 1887, I again saw
the Vicar, who kindly gave me permission to have
the inscription on this stone re-cut, and rehabili-
. tated as far as is possible. This I hope to do, and
thus preserve a few years longer the memorial of
the resting place of a kinswoman and a daughter of
'-Boston, April 30th, 1889."
It was a bitter home-coming of the good old
Doctor, after laying his wife in her lowly bed in
the far-off land. We may well believe that the
Glebe house was a lonesome dwelling without the
gentle presence that had for so many years
Sorrowful, and bowed down by his great loss,
the Rector of St. Paul's became seriously affected
in his health, yet faithfully pursued his clerical
duties. It was while ministering during the win-
ter, to the people of Providence and Warwick, that
he took a severe cold which proved fatal. He died
of quinsy, in " his house in South Kingstown,
December 1st, 1757, and was buried under the
Communion Table of St. Paul's, I^arragansett, on
the 6th of December.
^'The Rev. Mr. Usher, of Bristol, read the ser-
vice, and the Rev. Mr. Pollen, of Xe\\q^)ort,
preached the funeral sermon. The pall-bearers
were the Rev. Messrs. Pollen and Learning of New-
port ; Rev. Matthew Graves of New London ; Rev.
!Mr. Leaming of Providence; and Messrs. Eben-
ezer Brenton and John Case, Church Wardens.
There were rings with mourning words, and gloves,
• given to the pall-bearers."
Dr. McSparran died in his chair. A descrip-
tion of this relic may be of interest :
"After the Rev. Doctor's death, his goods were
sold at vendue. The chair that he died in was
bid off by (^Wickman') John Hazard. It was
very handsome, and was placed by Mr. Hazard in
his best room. A feeling of superstition sent the
chair to the garret. When Mr. Hazard removed
to Westerly, the chair was left in the old house
and somebody appropriated it. It had a very
high back with top rolled over and ornamented,
arms also ornamented. Seat rolled under in
front, fore-legs in imitation of lion's paws ; natural,
dark hard-wood; no leather or other covering."
If it could be found, it would be well to secure
it for the Providence or ^^TcAvport Historical
Mr. Wilkins Updike, in a Memorandum en-
titled Reminiscences, speaks of an accident that
was supposed to hasten Dr. McSparran's death.
It seems that on his way home from some minis-
terial function, he stopped for the night at tlie
"Updike Mansion," or old Block House. "At
family prayers, when about to kneel down, he
rested one hand for support on a mahogany table,
which gave way and he fell, hitting his head and
causing the blood to flow. He proceeded in his
devotions, and then suffered the wound to be cared
for, and the next day went home, where he was
taken ill, and only lived for a few days."
There is, however, no doubt that the virulent
throat trouble was the immediate cause of his
The Dominie was wont, on long journeys about
the country, to carry with him the conveniences
for making a good cup of coffee, of which he was
very fond, and which refreshment was needful for
him after great fatigue.
Mr. Daniel Berkeley Updike says ^'his odd lit-
tle inlaid coffee-mill still remains in our family."
I found somewhere this description: '^It is
about six inches in height and is in the form of a
hollow cylinder of brass, standing on a box con-
taining a drawer, into which the coffee falls after
being ground. The top of the cylinder is fitted
with a crank turning at right angles to it, and
attached to a corrugated shaft, between which and
the cylinder the berry is crushed. The wood-
w^ork of the mill is black walnut."
In his will Dr. McSparran '^devised his farm
for the use and support of a Et. Eev. Diocesan, if
one should be sent over to America, whose juris-
diction should include the >Tarragansett country,
provided he came within the term of seven years
after Mrs. McSparran's death. Otherwise the
estate to be divided between his nephew, James
McSparran, and Mrs. McSparran's brother, Dr.
Sylvester Gardiner, of Boston."
Xo Bishop appearing within the specified time,
the other devisees obtained the legacy, which they
subsequently sold to the parish of St. Paul's ''for a
Glebe, for the perpetual benefit of St. Paul's
Church forever; Dr. Gardiner generously donat-
ino' one hundred dollars from his share. Messrs.
Willets, Case, and Brown, of the Parish, are also
said to have given as much as two hundred and
fifty dollars each, toward the purchase."
Dr. McSparran had, in his will, given ''a con-
venient spot of groimd on the nortliAvest corner of
his land, for a church and a burial place, if need
should hereafter require," but the necessity never
occurring, the provision was not accepted.
What became of his books and manuscripts I
do not know, excepting that a diary has recently
come to light, and has been promised to the world,
by the Providence Historical Society, which has
it in custody.
This Diary has lately been published (1900).
His America Dissected was printed in Dublin,
before his last visit to his native land. It is a
graphic account of the American Colonies at the
time of his residence in the E^arragansett country,
and is of value as a rare and correct description.
I have never seen it elsewhere than as an Appendix
to the History of the Narragansett Church, which
is a subscription book, and has long been out of
A portrait of Dr. McSparran by Smibert rep-
resents him as a full-faced, full-bodied, genial man,
with clear, earnest eyes, and mouth expressive of
great sweetness. His broad, high forehead beams
out from under a curled wig. He wears the black
scholastic gown, white neckerchief, and sheer
linen-cambric bands, and his whole appearance in-
dicates a cheerful, happy nature.
From a time-worn parchment-covered ^^Record
Book" belonging to St. Paul's, :^arragansett, 1720,
I copy some quaint entries during the ministry of
''May 29, 1723. Agreed with Thomas Peck-
ham, Sr., to lathe and plaster the church, and sd.
Peckham is to have six £3 and 4d. for overhead
and rainging, finding sd. Peckham materials in
place, and sd. Peckham finding himself, and vic-
tuals, drink, washing and lodging, and sd. employ-
ers to find laborers to make mortar, and find sd.
^^And further, sd. Peckham is to assist sd. la-
borers in their w^ork, and ye sd. Peckham is to be
allowed for it. Voted likewise that a subscrip-
tion be presented to all well-disposed persons, to
obtain their charitable benefaction to defray the
charges that will accrue in the building of the gal-
leries and other necessary repairs in the church. '^
''On Saturday, the 15th of June, 1723, we had
the melancholy news of ye death of ye Right
Reverend ye Lord Bishop of London. May God
Almighty direct his Majesty in the choice of his
successor, yt may befriend ye cause of these Amer-
''July ye 5th, 1723. We had ye news of the
translation of the liii»-lit Kevorencl Father in God,
Dr. Edmond Gibson, from the See of London, in
the room of Dr. Jno. Kobinson, deceased, and a
gratulatory letter sent him by the minister and
vestry at Narragansett, August ye 5th, 1723."
''July 31st, 1723. Dyed very suddenly, Moses
Parr, the first sexton of the Church of St. Paul's,
and was interred August ye 5th."
1724. ''School teacher sanctioned by S. P. G.,
London, for Karragansett, at the annual stipend
from the Society, £10, and he was to teach gratis,
such and so many, and no other children, as shall
be recommended by, and have a full certificate
from ye minister, or incumbent for ye time being,
yt such child or children are proper objects of the
"April 20, 1741. Voted that the ministerial
salary be henceforth paid by contribution, and that
the contribution be collected by the Church war-
dens, or their assistants, in the same manner it is
done at ^Newport Church, that is to say by carry-
ing the box from pew to pew."
"On the 12th of July, in the church in Coeset
(alias Warwick), and on the 19th at St. Paul's,
Xarragansett, was read liis Majesty's order for
the form of prayer to be used, for the Royal fam-
ily, viz't — ^so far as relates to adding the clause,
Hhe issue of the Prince and Princess of Wales/
by me, James McSparran."
"At the Church of St. Paul, Sunday, the 24th
of November, 1751, after divine service, ye gentle-
men of ye vestry of said congregation stayed, and
considered the complaint of ye Reverend Dr.
McSparran, Pastor of this church, setting forth
that he is greatly aggrieved, and bro't under op-
pression by the Assessors, or Rate Makers of South
Kingstown, within said Dr.'s Cure. After consid-
ering that matter in all its circumstances, they
came to the following resolution, and vote :
"First they humbly apprehend that it never
was the intent of ye Legislators of this Colony to
consider Clergymen as taxable inhabitants, thai
therefore the voting said gentleman, contrary tc>
the general custom of I^ew England in such cases,
and without any express law to the purpose, is a
piece of undeserved disrespect to him, and in him
to every man and meniber of the Church of Eng-
land in this Colony. And they think it their duty
to abet his cause, as far as in justice tliey may, and
aid him in obtaining that exemption from taxes,
servile, civil, and other duties which they consider
him entitled to, in virtue of his high and holy
office ; But —
^'Secondly, as they profess themselves disciples
of Christ, the Prince of Peace, and would desire an
amicable end to be put to this vexatious affair, it
was voted that Messrs. Jno. Case, Esq., Mr. Chris-
topher Phillips, Mr. Jno. Gardiner, and Mr. Sam-
uel Browne, should write to the Assessors, and
desire them to call in and re-consider that Kate
Bill, and either generously (as they apprehend
they ought to do) expimge and erase said Doctor's
name and Kate, or, at least, order their Collector
to forbear either distraining goods, or imprisoning
the person of the said Doctor, until an opportunity
afford of knowing the mind of ye Legislature in
that matter, and a letter was wrote, and signed
by these four gentlemen according to ye purpose of
the above resolution."
At February Sessions in Providence, 1769, 12
years after the death of Dr. JMcSparran, it was
voted that ''all lands or other real estates, granted
or purchased for religious uses^ or for other uses
of schools within this Colony, be, and the same are
hereby exempted from taxation."
H ^ '^ M"^l
1|- 'm I ^\^, £
THE OLD CHURCH.
Before the Steeple Blew Down. (pp. 15:2-153.)
THE Eev. Samuel FayerweatKer was appointed,
by the S. P. G., as successor to Dr. McSparran,
and opened his mission xingust 24, 1760. More
than two years had elapsed since the decease of the
former Rector, and the Parish had only infrequent
ministrations. It was with great joy that the
people hailed the newcomer.
"The Society offered £50 salary per annum,
with the condition that St. Paul's Parish should
provide £20 and a suitable Glebe, as it promised
"Mr. Fayerweather Avas a native of Boston,
Mass. He was graduated from Harvard College
in 1743. Was ordained a Congregational min-
ister, and was settled over the Second Congrega-
tional Church in IN'ewport in 1754. He went to
England, where he was ordained Presbyter in the
Episcopal Church in 1750. The degree of Master
of Arts was conferred upon him by the University
of Oxford, the same year."
He found St. Paul's in rather a reduced state,
but after a year of faitliful labor and effort, he
reported "a favorable increase, and a growth in the
Grace and virtues of the Christian life."
In a letter to the Society in England, 1761, he
"deplores the severity of the temperature in the
church in winter, and begs permission to hold ser-
vices (as did his predecessor), during the extreme
cold season, in his house, the Glebe."
In response to his request, the Society '^desires
him, if possible, to make his church warm and com-
fortable in the severest weather, but, if that cannot
be done, and his house is large enough for the re-
ception of all who are willing to attend, the poor as
well as those of better rank, he may have leave to
perform service in his own house when it is abso-
lutely necessary, and not otherwise."
The Rev. Dr. Fayerweather is said to have been
"popular in his parish. He was an able and in-
dustrious preacher, and left several inaiiiiscript
volumes of sermons, wliieli arc reputed by those
who liave perused them to be productions of talent
and piety/' He read the Church service with
great effect, and those who survived him speak of
the solemnity and pathos with which he performed
these devotions, as impressing them to this day.
Upon occasion, he could depart from his gravity
as the following oft-repeated incident proves :
Eeprimanding his parishioners for their negli-
gence, in attending church, he said, ''You have a
thousand frivolous excuses (naming several), but
there is none more common with you than the plea
of foul weather; but come here, and you will
always find Fayer weather."
In one of his reports to the S. P. G. in 1762, he
w^rites that ''he has his dwelling in the midst of
persons who take too many occasions of expressing
great bitterness against the Church of England.
Thus situated he finds it best to be mild and gentle,
peaceable and forbearing, which the Society ear-
nestly recommends to him and to all their mission-
aries. In consequence of this behavior, he says,
'several have lately conformed to the Church from
the Anabaptists and other persuasions.' In this
part of x\merica he finds immersion preferred to
sprinkling, among persons of adult years, and
whenever it is required he administers it in that
way, as the Church directs."
The old Kecord Book says :
"June 20th, Mr. Fayerweather went to ^N'ewport
with design to take a passage for 'New York in
Capt. Leigliton, and being detained by contrary
winds, preached both Sundays for the Kev. Mr.
Bro^vne. July 9th, sailed for New York and on
the 12th, preached in the city, in Trinity Church,
for the President of the Episcopal College, the
Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson. From I^ew York Mr.
F. proceeded to Philadelphia, and preached for the
Rev. Dr. Barclay and the Rev. Dr. Auchmuty.
"Aug. 9th, preached for Mr. Aspinwall's
church, Flushing, Long Island. The 16th, on a
sacramental occasion, in St. George's Chapel, New
York, and in the afternoon of said day, at Trinity
Church, for the Rev. Dr. Auchmuty, to a very
large and respectable congregation.
"On the 21st, embarked and sailed through part
of the Sound, and on the passage had the misfor-
tune to be cast away in Hell Gate, and being de-
tained by a hard northeast storm, went ashore at
Pell's Manor, and it was the 30th of the month
before he arrived at Newport, which he blessed
God, the Almighty, his great Preserver, for."
^^Sept. 6th. Mr. F. preached to his own little
flock, who seemed pleased with his return home.
O ! may he do much good among them, and always
meet with Divine Philanthropy, and protection."
"May 30th (the following year), being Whit-
sunday, an adult offered himself to Christian Bap-
tism (who had been bred in the Anabaptistical
way) hypothetically, as the Church and Canons
direct, by the name of Benjamin."
•^July 4:th, it having for a long time been dry
ivhether; the land being afflicted with the judgment
of drought, Mr. F. improved such a Providence
from these words, 'And he prayed again, and the
heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her
"On the 17th of July, 1762, Mr. F. preached in
the Baptist meeting house, to a large congregation
and performed the Liturgy of the Church of Eng-
'Teb. the Ttli, lT6e3, Mr. Faverweatlier was
married to Mrs. Abigail Bours, the surviving relict
of the late Peter Bours of Marblehead, in the
Church at ^N'ewport, by the Kev. Marmaduke
Browne, and that day (an exceeding cold day)
preached on the occasion from these words, to a
large auditory, ^Do all to the glory of God'."
"April the 4th, 1763. Mr. Wm. Davis, and
family, moved away from the Parsonage House,
where they had lived with Mr. Fayerweather for
two years, in great unanimity and peace."
''May 16th, Mr. F. bought a servant, of J.Gard-
iner, Esq. May he prove a true and faithful ser-
vant of Jesus Christ!"
It is right to speak here of the care of the
Church for the spiritual welfare of the slaves, at
this sad period when traffic in human beings was
permissible, and common, in the ^ew England as
well as the Southern Colonies.
During Dr. McSparran's incimibency of St.
Paul's parish, there are frequent records of his
faithful ministrations to the colored race.
In one of his reports to the S. P. G. he speaks of
''spending an hour every Sunday, immediately pre-
ceding divine service, in catechizing, and instruct-
ing these poor wretches, who, for the most part,
are extremely ignorant, and whether from the nov-
elty of the thing, or, as he hopes, from a better
motive, more than fiftv gave their attendance."
Another report is: ^^Catechized the negroes,
and there were near about, or more than one hun-
We may well believe that Mr. Fayerweather
continued the religious oversight and instruction
of the slaves, for whom the British Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts had
tried to provide.
Dr. Fleetwood of St. Asa^Dh's had, in 1711,
preached a sermon setting forth the duty of teach-
ing the negroes in the Christian Faith. His ad-
dress was printed, and sent to all the missionaries.
One exhortation is : ^'Let me beseech you to con-
sider them not merely as slaves, and upon the same
level as laboring beasts, but as men slaves, and
ivomen slaves, who have the same frame and facul-
ties with yourselves, and have souls capable of
being made happy, and reason, and understanding
to receive instruction in order to it."
In conformity to this injunction the mission-
aries were obliged to gather together the colored
people of their charge, and devote a certain portion
of time to their religious instruction.
Dr. McSparran had addressed his parishioners,
in emphatic language, in condemnation of the pre-
vailing opinion that it was inconsistent to instruct,
baptize or admit slaves to the Holy Communion;
and w^e may be certain that his successor was as
conscientious in his Christian duty in this regard.
By the Census of 1748 - 9, the town of South
Kingstown had more negroes in it than any other
to^vn in Ehode Island, except ISTewport. This is
also true of the Census of 1774, and of 1783.
There were some importers of slaves in. ^N'arragan-
sett before the passage of the Act of June, 1774,
prohibiting the importation of slaves into the
Ehode Island Colony, and the old families owned
A few more entries from the register of Dr.
Fayerweather's day may interest those Avho cannot
have easy access to the ancient records.
"April the 1st, 1771. It was referred to the
Minister, Mr. Fayerweather, and to John Gardi-
ner, a Warden, to ask Mr. Wliaily, a carpenter, to
meet Avitli us on the 15th, in order to give his
opinion and judgment relating to the old church,
as to its being Avorth repairing or not. Accord-
ingly, on the 15th we met in St. Paul's Church, at
2 o'clock in the afternoon. Messrs. Whaily and
Cole pronounced the old church to be in a ruinous
state, and almost past repairing. That it might
indeed be j^atched up for awhile, but that the cost
of repairs would be but little short of building a
new church. The next question was the erecting
of a new church, proposed to be on the spot of land
in South Kingstown left by the late Dr. McSpar-
ran, on the 'hill lot' — so commonly called."
Anybody who has seen the bleak and exposed
spot where the old church had contended with wind
and weather for even sixty-four years, would
scarcely wonder that the building seemed unfit for
repairs even at that early period, and yet the frame
still presents a stronger aspect and better endur-
ance, than does many a modern structure.
There is one very peculiar record within the
old parchment-covered book, which I must think
was made by other than the Kev. rector, the Har-
yard graduate. Possibly it may have been written
by the Clerk of the Vestry, who was a pious, but
simple minded man.
It runs thus: ''On Friday the 8th of April,
1TT-1-, Col. Ephrain Gardiner, a member in full
communion with St. Paul's, was siezed in his field,
with an apoplexy, and on Saturday the 10th he
died, and on Wednesday the 13th he was buried.
Before his interment his corp was carried into St.
Paul's Church, where a funeral sermon was
preached by Dr. Fayerweather, by the desire of the
bereaved family, to a very large, serious, attentive
congregation; consisting as it was judged of above
300 people. After divine service was over, the
funeral obsequies was carried in procession to the
farm of Capt. Samuel Gardiner, and buried there,
after the manner, and according to the method, of
the Church of England."
The last entry made by Mr. Fayerweather, is
Sunday, :N'ov. 6, 1774. His ministry from that
time seemed to be rather from house to house, than
in the parish church.
''The controversy between the colonies and the
mother country, had at this period assumed a seri-
ous aspect. The majority of the society of which
]\Ir. Fayerweatlier was pastor, being Whigs, they
objected to the use of prayers for the King and the
Royal family, and for the success of his majesty's
arms. The rector felt that he could not conscien-
tiously dispense with them, without the violation
of his ordination vows, although he was personally
esteemed as a friend to the American cause. The
church was consequently closed, and Mr. Fayer-
weather preached occasionally in private houses,
until his death, which occurred in the summer of
He was buried beside the Rev. Dr. McSparran,
under the old church altar.
He says in his will : "I give all my library
and books to King's (now Columbia) College, and
ten pounds sterling, and my large picture of my-
self. And my desire is that the Corporation may
suffer said picture to be hung up in the Library
room of said College forever.
^^Also my silver framed square picture of my-
self, to my sister Hannah AVinthrop of Cambridge.
My wife's picture of herself to her >Tiece, the wife
of John Channing. My oval picture of myself,
framed with silver, to in\' nephew^ John Wintlirop
of Boston, ILerchant.''
I further quote from the Histonj of the X(u ra-
gansett Church :
"The executor of his will, ^latthew Robinson,
Esq., received Mr. Fayerweather's effects, and be-
ing aged and infirm, neglected tlie injunctions of
the testator. He died ten years afterward at an
advanced age, and insolvent, and the pictures be-
queathed by the Rev. Mr. Fayerweather were sold
at auction as Mr. Robinson's property, there not
being any legatees or friends in this quarter to
''The large picture, painted by Copley, in his
academical honors, is now in my house," says the
Hon. Wilkins Updike. ''The other portraits
were in the towai some few years since. His
library was also sold and is now lost, except a few
volumes in the j^ossession of the Church in Xarra-
From another source I learn that "a portrait of
the Rev. Dr. Fayerweather was left by the pur-
chaser, Mr. Hazard, at the Glebe for awhile, and
some mischievous children, living there, made a
target of it, sliootino- out the eyes, and so defacing
it as to render it useless."
Whoever is in possession of any of the books or
])ictures of this worthy rector of the old church,
would do honor to his memory, and service to
Columbia College, by placing in that institution
such relics as Avere designed for it by the Rev. Dr.
Fayerweather's last will and testament.
The unsettled state of the country, subsequent
to the Revolution, paralyzed the churches in many
quarters, and St. Paul's sadly felt the general de-
pression. During the war, the church had been
used as a barrack for the American soldiery, and
the Parish Record contains no entry from 1774 to
-Vpril 178-1:, when nine persons met together, and
a Committee was appointed to invite the Rev. Mr.
Fogg, the rector of the Episcopal church at Pom-
He declined the invitation, and the Society did
not meet again until 1787, when the Rev. William
Smith was appointed rector.
^']\[r. Smith had the reputation of great learn-
ing. He was thorough in his knowledge of Eccles-
iastical History; was enthusiastic in the study and
love and composition of music, and was a con-
structor of Clinrch organs. To him we owe the
Prayer Book ^^Office of Institution of Ministers
into Parishes or Churches," and also a large work
on Primitive Psalmody, designed to show the im-
propriety of singing Metre Psalms in public wor-
ship, and the wisdom of returning to the ancient
practice of Chanting. During his incumbency it
is said that the Venite was first chanted in Amer-
ica, in St. Paul's, l^arragansett.
"Mr. Smith had a great fondness for preaching
extemporaneously. He had the Scotch accent, but
was interesting, instructive, and eloquent. His
birth and education were in Scotland.
''He left St. Paul's for Trinity, ISTewport, in
1790. In 1797, he accepted a call to IN'orwalk,
Conn. ; had a common school in E'ew York in
1800; was principal of the Episcopal Academy,
Cheshire, Conn., from 1802 to 1806; officiated for
a while in the parishes of Milford and West
Haven, and occupied much of his time in writing
upon theological subjects; was the author of a
series of Essays on the Christian Ministry, and
died in :N^cw York, April 6, 1821. Great respect
was paid to liis opinion and learning."
Succeeding Dr. Smith, in 1791, Walter Gard-
iner Avas chosen Lay Reader in St. Paul's, l^arra-
gansett, and afterwards rector, in which office he
continued until 1794. lie was connected with the
Rev. Dr. McSparran, and the Updikes, Robinsons,
and many old Karragansett families.
In 1794, the Rev. Joseph Warren had the rector-
ship of the parish. During his incumbency, ''De-
cember 3rd, 1799, the vestry voted, 9 to 2, to re-
move the old church from its original, and incon-
venient location, to the village of Wickford, and to
build a ncAV church for the South Kingstown people
on the site given for that purpose in the will of the
Rev. Dr. McSparran, and that the rector preach
alternately in Wickford and in South Kingstown."
In 1800, the old church was taken down, carried
to its present site, and put together again upon the
lot donated by Lodowick Updike, grandson of the
Lodowick who gave the former foundation. By
this removal the graves of the Rev. Drs. McSpar-
ran and Fayerweather were left without monu-
meiit, surrounded by many other deceased parish-
From my maternal grandmother I learned that
when the old church was re-constructed, the pews
were not put in place immediately, but that for
some little time the parishioners sat upon long-
boards that were propped by strong logs. Then the
sixteen square ^^box'' pews were given their old
position around the walls, and in the center were
put ten long slips, instead of the former square
The Chancel was semi-circular, with an old-
fashioned, high, oblong reading desk and a "wine
glass" pulpit above, to which one winding staircase
led. The altar was by itself, on the east. Later,
the communion table was placed in front of the
reading desk, against the pulpit.
In 1809, Mr. Isaac B. Pierce of Xewport be-
came Lay Reader.
In 1811, a steeple was built at the west end of
the church, and a new entrance made to the galler-
ies, which had previously been reached by a stair-
case from the main floor.
In 1812, the Rev. James Bowers was elected
rector, holding services in tlie parishes of Korth
and South Kingstown, until 1814.
Theve was then a vacancy until 1817, when Mr.
Lemuel Burge, a Candidate for Holy Orders, was
sent to St. Paul's, ^^arragansett, by Bishop Gris-
wold, with this commendation from the Rev. Tru-
uian Marsh, of St. Michael's, Litchfield, Conn.:
-I am well satisfied he is firmly attached to the
government, doctrine, and discipline of the Epis-
copal Church. He is a good scholar, and reads
tlie prayers of the Church with great propriety,
and solemnity, and bids fair to be a useful clergy-
Just previous to the coming of Mr. Burge, the
first Sunday School that was ever had in the vil-
lage of Wickford, was started by Mr. John Brown
of East Greenwich, in concert with, and by the
advice of Mr. Waldo, a Presbyterian minister.
These gentlemen gained the interest of ]\Irs.
Wm. G. Shaw, a Churchwoman, who was a daugh-
ter of Mr. Samuel Brenton, and she so persuaded
the people, that in the course of a few months there
Avas a gathering of such numbers as put to blush
the present diminished schools.
From her diary I copy:
"Elamsville, 1817. The 1th Sunday in June,
two large black girls^ five women, and seven chil-
dren, attended my house. My sister's daughter,
Susan Mumford, and my three eldest daughters,
teach classes, and my third son also, aged twelve."
By the last of August her record is :
"To-day near a hundred children attended, and
walked in procession from the Acaden\v to the
town house, to hear the Methodist preaching."
Mrs. Shaw's diary also speaks of the assembling
of "sixteen ladies in the new Baptist meeting
house, for charitable work among the jDoor," and
of her "walking with Sarah Baily two miles out of
town, and calling at every house for subscriptions
of money and clothing. The men, too, contributed
for the welfare of the needy children."
The old way of religious instruction was by
catechizing in the church, a method of training up
children which the good old Dr. ^IcSparran said
"the people were wonderfully enamored with."
It was not originally the design of the Sunday
Schools to teach such as could have home care and
culture. Only such as Avere destitute of these
family advantages and privileges, were to be
songlit out, and Cliristianly nurtured and taught,
and with this idea the Sunday School in Wickford
While Mr. Burge was Lay Eeader in ISTorth and
South Kingstown, a church was built at Tower
Hill by his energetic help.
"May 3rd, 1819, John J. Watson, Esq., and Dr.
Wm. G. Shaw, were, by the vestry of St. Paul's,
appointed a Committee to present their most grate-
ful thanks and acknowledgements to Mr. Lemuel
Burge for the many disinterested and important
services rendered to this Society during an officia-
tion amongst us."
Mr. Burge had gone to l^ew York for ordina-
tion, not designing to return to the E"arragansett
parish, but yielded to a renewed unanimous call.
"On Friday, April 1st, 1820, he was ordained
deacon by Bishop Hobart, in St. John's Church,
Varick St., and on the 4th of August, 1820, was ad-
vanced to the priesthood by Bishop Griswold, in St.
John's Church, Providence, R. I.
"June the 6th, while yet in the diaconate, he
was married in the old church, by the Rev. Salmon
Wheaton of Trinity Church, Xewport, to Elizabeth
Frances, daughter of Dr. Wm. G. Shaw, and Eliza-
"He took his young and beautiful bride to the
Glebe house. South Kingstown, for their earliest
residence. There their eldest child was born, but
they removed to Wickford after a year or two and
the Glebe ceased to be the abode of the Kectors of
The American Revolution had made great
changes in the ^arragansett country. The
Landed Aristocracy became reduced in their pos-
sessions. Large tracts were divided into small
farms, which passed to other hands.
The Church felt the sad reverses, and when
the Rev. Mr. Burge entered upon his Rectorship,
St. Paul's was no longer under a Missionary
Board, but was dependent upon the subscriptions
of the parishioners, with the added accruments
from the Glebe property, and a few donations
Avhich varied from time to time, according to the
condition of crops, and other productions.
By the time the Rector's family was increased
by the advent of five children, the small support
from the Parish was wholly inadequate to the
Therefore this brave servant of God, nnwilling
to press the people beyond their ability, followed
the example of the Apostle Panl, and ministered
largely to his own needs, and to those of the home
brood. Like his predecessor. Dr. McSparran, he
took into his household young gentlemen for edu-
cation. Among these were Charles Smith, the
stepson of Bishop Griswold, and Thomas Tales,
subsequently a worthy Presbyter in the Church.
]\Ir. Purge never allowed any other care to inter-
fere with the sacred duties of his holy office, which
were discharged with loving and earnest fidelity.
To preach the Gospel was his paramount desire,
and never failing delight. So great was his zeal
and interest in his church and parishioners, that
even when health and strength failed, he could not
bear to give up his cure, and such was the sincere
esteem and regard of his people, that twice when
the need of rest induced his resignation, he was so
eagerly and unaimously recalled, that he resumed
for a while his work among them, until positively
feeble health forced him to give up the care of
a parish and remove to another locality.
In 1823, he was commissioned by the Parish of
St. Paul's to go to Albany and purchase a bell for
the old church. He spent a whole week going
from l^ew York up the Hudson in a sloop. The
bell that he bought weighed 430 pounds, less by
2,570 than that of the Baptists, which was not as
sweet-toned, but was much more powerful. Many
a time have I heard it toll the departure of some
soul from the village.
In after years the church bell became cracked,
and was exchanged in part payment for the one
that now summons the people to the new church.
• From 1817 to 1832, the Kector of St. Paul's
preached alternately in the N^orth and South
Kingstown churches. It was no small undertak-
ing to travel back and forth for so many miles in
all weather, hot or cold, wet or dry, though the
old-time horseback riding was superceded by the
two-wheeled chaise, and other vehicles.
There was, moreover, but little spiritual pro-
gress to encourage the faithful worker in God's
In 1824, Mr. Burge reiDorted 29 communicants,
35 Baptisms, 30 Sunday Scholars. In 1829, 43
After this the Baptists began a Sunday School
which took some scholars from the Episcopal
The fluctuations were disheartening, but the
good Rector never despaired, and the fruit of his
persevering effort is evident even to this late
period, while he is at rest, and other men have
entered into the enjoyment of it.
The separation of the E'orth and South Kings-
town parishes in 1833 rendered the duties of the
Rector of St. Paul's less arduous. Tower Hill
Church had missionary care, and finally united
with the Wakefield congregation. The building
that Mr. Burge had been instrumental in erecting
was blown down in a severe gale, and never re-
stored, the population of that region becoming so
sparse, that a place of worship was no longer
needed in that locality.
Mr. Burge was an old-fashioned Prayer Book
Churchman. Part of his theological training was
by his Pastor, the Rev. Truman Marsh of Litch-
field, Conn., and part by the learned Dr. Wni.
Smith. I suppose he would now be called some-
Avhat ''advanced," as he eschewed the broad, free
notions of many of his contemporaries, and saw
''nothing amiss" in the noted Oxford tracts that
made such a furore in his time.
His own sermons were plain, yet pungent, and
bear worthy comparison with some of the modern
pulpit utterances. But his chief attraction lay in
his reading of the service. This was incompar-
able. When officiating at a marriage, he used no
book, and his tone and manner made a wonderful
During his incumbency of St. Paul's he wore
the black gown and white linen cambric bands,
and, as the fashion was, black silk gloves in desk
and pulpit. There was no place for a change from
surplice to gown. The custom of those days was,
when one wore the surplice, or robe of purity, to
use it only when reading the service, and to sub-
stitute the black, or scholastic gown, when preach-
ing or "using one's own words."
Parson Warren had an old-fashioned, wide,
white linen surplice, for I have heard from an
aiitlieiitic source, that it took my grandiiiotlier
three weeks, at intervals, to darn the little bracks
that time had made in it, and a member of his
Parish who is nearly a hundred years old, speaks
of the Parson's awkwardness in changing his robes
behind the desk.
The use of bands has passed away as a minis-
terial accessory. I have often wondered what was
the significance of the "bands" wdiich my father al-
ways Avore in church, and which we daughters took
a sacred pride in making, and in keeping im-
The Pev. Dr. Dix says : ''My impression is
that they were intended to symbolize the Law, pos-
sibly the two tables of the Law. Certainly they
were not of Puritan invention, for they were worn
almost universally as a part of the costume of the
Roman Clergy. An engraving of Cardinal Du-
bois, which now hangs in my library, represents
him in a magnificent and very large pair of bands,
seemingly black with a white edge. He was born
in 1(356 and died in 1723. I may also here note
that the French and English Barristers still wear
bands as a part of tlieir professional costume.
The French lawyers wear, or did when I was last
in Paris, great big bands reaching half way down
their chests, besides which they wear small bi-
rettas and black gowns."
The Eev. Prof. Russell says: "I began my
ministry with them, and in those days a clergyman
would as soon have gone without his stole as with-
out his bands. It appears that originally they
were a part of every gentleman's dress, being sim-
ply the ends of the long neck-tie. The Judiciary
held to them with gown and w4g."
A German Lutheran minister told me the other
day that they are a part of the stole, for which
they are substituted in his Church.
The Rev. Mr. Burge Avas transferred from the
Diocese of Rhode Island to that of 'New York,
September 29th, 1858, and there, when his health
would admit, exercised the functions of his sacred
office wherever they were needed or desired. In
Greenfield, Flatbush, Bay Ridge, Port Hamilton,
and East New York, as well as in the various
Brooklyn churches, his voice has often been heard.
His latest ministerial association was at St.
Peter's, with the Rev. John Paddock. In that
Parish lie received tlie filial attention of the Eec-
tor, and the loving consideration of the congrega-
tion, nntil his sndden death by a sad casualty in
It was wliile pursuing his route home from
Xew York, after a visit to a married daughter
there, that on Broadway, near Chambers Street,
he was knocked down by an express wagon, and
received the injury which in two weeks ended his
''A man without reproach," was the testimony
of one of the Wardens of his old St. Paul's Parish ;
and the Eesolutions of St. Peter's Vestry are ex-
pressive of heartfelt esteem of this aged saint,
whose departure they sincerely mourned. His
funeral was from St. Peter's, and his burial in
He was a descendant of the Mugglestones of
Mugglestone Manor, near Shrewsbury, England,
which came into possession of the Stanlys, by
intermarriage with the female branch.
As this record would be vohmiinous indeed,
should I attempt the personal history of each in-
cumbent of St. Paul's, :Nrarragansett, church, I am
reluctantly forced to the simple entry of all the
subsequent Rectors, with the duration of their
The Rev. Francis Peck occupied the Parish,
from June, ISo-t, to September, 1836, while his
predecessor was recuperating from a temporary
After Mr. Purge's final resignation in 1840, the
following clergy were at various times in charge :
Rev. John H. Rouse, July 7, 1840, to June 5,
1849 • Rev. Daniel Henshaw, Sept. 17, 1849, to
March 14, 1853; Rev. A. P. Flanders, May 8,
1854, to April 2, 1866 (Mr. Flanders was absent
as Chaplain of the 4th R. I. Regiment from Sept.,
1861, to 'Nov., 1862) ; Rev. W. H. Collins supplied
from Oct., 1861, to Oct., 1862; Rev. I. J. San-
derson, Oct. 15, 1866, to Sept. 14, 1868; Rev.
Daniel Goodwin, April 6, 1869, to Xov. 1, 1874;
Rev. George J. Magill, Feb. 15, 1875, to March
30, 1876; Rev. Wm. W. Ayres, June 12, 1876, to
Oct., 1887; Rev. A. J. Thompson, Oct. 23, 1887,
to July, 1890 ; Rev. Samuel Porden Smith, July,
1890, to 1897; Rev. Dr. Goodwin officiating from
1897 until the call of Rev. Frederick Cole, the
re e : 'WMiii^
mmw ■ ioB
Cbe Glebe l>ou$e and the Old Foutidatloti*
THE last clerical incumbent of the Glebe was the
Rev. Lemuel Burge.
A description of the place as it originally was,
says: "The interior of the house presents those
rough hewn timbers, massive beams crossing the
low ceilings, with the solid paneling, and elaborate
and inaccessible mantel-pieces of the colonial
period, cavernous fire-places, grim black rafters
supporting the gambrel roof, etc., etc. The chief
room, with windows on three sides, was the house-
hold chapel, where the congregation frequently
gathered for social worship."
My mother used to tell us of her honeymoon,
passed in that weird and lonely habitation, and of
the welcome coming of our eldest sister, to give
brightness and cheer.
:N'ot until I was a child of eight or ten years old
did I make my first visit to the precincts that were
so hallowed to my imagination through her graphic
descriptions. Yoimg though I was, I was singu-
larly impressed by everv feature of the lonely yet
beautiful country — the rough roads; the stony
land; the green woods; the high hills; and the
charming glimpses of river and sea.
When we reached the long, steep McSparran
Hill, I could have leaped for joy, as I discovered
at its foot the dusky, brown house that once held
the venerated McSparran and Fayerweather, as
well as my own beloved progenitors.
Kude stone steps up an embankment that was
securely walled, another short flight to a second
terrace, a walk through a path bordered on each
side by gooseberry bushes, and a few old-fashioned
flowers and shrubs, and I reached the entrance to
this plain but substantial building, that had borne
the storms of many years. The tenants were
apparently poor in this world's goods, but
abounded in that rare quality, a free and whole-
souled hospitality. I could appreciate the gude-
wife's putting aside her household duties, in order
to accompany lier little guest to the fruitful black-
berry vines that covered the rocky fields near by.
My grandfather had left me in her care while
he crossed the l^arragansett or South Ferry, on his
favorite passage to N^ewport. I^ever shall I for-
get that rustic visit. The ^^big room/' the simple
and quaint adornments, the gay red-and-black
flannel fly-catcher suspended from the center of the
great crossbeams; the family dinner, with dessert
of custard pie made wdth quails' eggs instead of
hens' ; the tottering-legged old dog that feebly fol-
lowed my steps; the little square window panes
through which my mother had gazed upon the
Petaquamscutt and upon the quiet landscape.
I ran to the top of the high hills back of the
house and looked abroad upon Canonicut Island,
and the Bay, and ^Newport glistening in the sun-
light beyond, and, afar off, the broad Atlantic. It
was an awesome view, as I stood alone amid the
vastness and silence of nature, and I wanted my
grandfather to hasten back and take me to a living
presence. But for the green meadows and cattle
grazing, and fields of corn, and thrifty vegetables
close bv, I would have been still more homesick, I
Later in my life I visited again the dear old
Glebe, that must always have for me a peculiar
charm. It was in October, after frost. The sun
had scarcely risen when I took my seat in the
Stonington cars from East Greenwich. A white
rime covered the meadows, and glistened with
myriad gems. The woods presented a varied as-
pect, as we flitted past ; now a reddish brown, then
a bright scarlet ; here the tall, silvery boles of the
birch, with crests of green and gold; and there a
mirror of water reflecting sky and trees. E'ow and
then a grove of cedar or pine, to brighten the ap-
proaching wintry dearth.
At Kingston Junction I took the branch road
to ^N^arragansett Pier, where a kind friend was to
meet me, and drive five miles to the desired point.
The hotels at the great resort were deserted, the
day was calm, and there was little surf. The roar
of ocean was subdued. We gladly turned inland,
toward McSparran's Hill.
Soon the Petaquamscutt was visible, widened
to a glassy lake, which spread north and south as
far as the eye could reach. What joy to me to
come again to the ohl brown house ! . The lihac
bushes still hedged the terrace; the honey blobs
were. gone from the gooseberry bushes, and the
''sweet pinks" had withered on the ancestral roots,
"tlie remnant from Dominie Burge's planting," I
Through a small entry we passed to the right,
into the ^^great room," which has been changed by
tenants to suit their convenience. It pleased me
in imagination to do away with the partitions, and
repeople the broad space with the old time wor-
shippers. T could fancy the hurtling storm sweep-
ing over the country driftways, and rendering ac-
cess to the old church o^uite impossible. I could
see the zealous Christians making their way to the
comfortable home chapel, and gathering around
the long table that served as altar and pulpit. In
the wide fireplace the big logs blazed and crackled.
Ihe face of the genial rector glowed with his
heart's loving kindness toward his earnest flock,
and prayer and praise hallowed this temporary
sanctuary, where masters, mistresses, and servants,
joined in the solemn worship.
In one's drives abont that part of the l^arra-
gansett conntry, one can now scarcely realize its
former condition, when the ''Plantations" were
under good cnltivation, and bronght worthy rev-
enue. Hundreds of broad acres with rich grass
and large herds of cattle, and extensive grain fields,
and every indication of wealth and thrift, char-
acterized the colonial days. The spacious man-
sions with lordly gentlemen in scarlet coats, with
lace ruffles, small clothes, silk stockings, brilliant
knee and shoe buckles, hair frizzed, clubbed, or
queued. Queenly ladies in brocaded silk or shin-
ing satin, cushioned head dresses, and high heeled
slippers, have no more place in that comparatively
barren domain. The change is marvelous. The
numerous servants have dwindled to one or two
helpers. The loom and wheel are silent. The
land is sterile, save here and there a small garden
plot that is carefully cultivated by its owner. It
saddens one to mark the deterioration and obvious
devastation. Yet the ghosts of a departed grandeur
haunt the old places, and have for me a singular
attraction and fascination.
Once again, recently, I sought the old Glebe.
We drove from Wickford up past Wasliington
Academy and the Eomaii Catholic church, through
Bellville and Silver Spring; along Kidge Hill,
with the thick woods to the right and rolling coun-
try to the left, the trees on the right towering far
above the -road, with their trunks extending a hun-
dred feet below. Past Watson's Corner we w^ent ;
down Walmsley Hill and along the green lane,
with the beautiful river for miles on our left, and
beyond it, Boston Neck and E'arragansett Bay.
Our route was lined with verdure and blossoms ;
chestnut and oak ; low birch and locust ; wild roses
scattered everywhere, and thrown in garlands over
the sweet fern and bayberry bushes ; and wild iris,
and other flowers in the swampy meadows, and
along the stone walls.
The old house was desolate indeed. No signs
of habitation, except a few thrifty geraniums in a
circle in the front yard, and a kitchen garden not
far aw^ay. Peeping in at the curtainless windows,
after knocking repeatedly at the door, and meeting
no response, Ave saw only dismantled rooms.
Despairing of entrance, we were about to leave,
when a sprightly young man, with a handsome
Scotch collie, came from the direction of the river
to greet its. He politely gave lis permission to
view the interior of the house, apologizing for the
condition of things, and saying that he and another
young Southerner, had come in the depth of winter
to keep Bachelors' Hall in the famous ^N'arra-
gansett country, where a lady friend had purchased
the McSparran premises. 'Now that summer had
come, they were thoroughly enjoying their rural
freedom. With the help of horses, dogs, boat, and
guns, and a bout occasionally at agriculture, they
passed the time very happily as a change from
We took advantage of the privilege to examine
the antiquated dwelling in every part. It seemed
fast falling to decay. The ^^Ell" was entirely
gone, and the frame work and windows of the main
l)nil(lin^- showed marked siffiis of acre. The im-
mense fireplace had been contracted for stoves, and
altogether there were few traces of the former
aspect, either within or without. I was informed
that the present owner does not wish the house re-
newed, but there need certain repairs to keep it in
existence. With its historic associations it ought
to be preserved as a sacred relic.
Upstairs and down, the great rooms are cut up
into small ones, four or iive on each floor. A
rou2'h, unfinished attic is the chief reminder of
The outside natural scenery can never change.
The place might be made very charming as a sum-
mer residence. Wakefield, and Kingston, and
E'arragansett Pier, and Wickford, and Newport,
are easily accessible.
I learn that a lead mine has lately been dis-
covered on the premises, and, sentiment aside, this
may give intrinsic value to its possession.
Leaving the Glebe, we pursued our route to the
old Foundation of St. Paul's. Many of the grave
stones are dilapidated and the inscription obliter-
ated, but upon some, the names of the ancient
families are legible.
Amid the loneliness and desolation of this burial
p-round, there is a noticeable monument, a cross
of white marble, bearing this inscription :
"Erected in grateful memory of James McSparran, D.D.,
Missionaiv7 of the S. P. G., and Rector of the Church then here
from 1721 to his death, 1757.
By the authority of the Diocese of Rhode Island
He was buried beneath this stone.
Here also lie the remains of the Rev. Samuel Fayerweather,
his successor, from 1760 to 1781.
St. Paul's Church was built here in 1707, and removed to
There is also a stone recently put by loving
relatives, ^^In memory of Samuel Brenton, and his
wife, Susan Cook."
The yard has a respectable wall around it, but
Avild blackberry vines trip one at every step, and
only in one corner did I see a vestige of former
care and culture, in some old-time box, lilies, and
phlox, and a stunted evergreen tree.
The sexton's house, near the bars where we
enter the grounds surrounding the Foundation, is
pretty nearly demolished, but so long as there is
the slightest remnant, it will be of interest to
tliose who have any knowledge of the venerable
Martin Reed, who not only had the charge of the
church edifice, but was also parish clerk, and
always ^^led the singing, and often in the absence
of a clergyman, read the service in church, and at
''He was the son of Robert Reed, the Com-
mander of a merchant ship, who was accidentally
killed when entering E'ewport, leaving all his
effects undefined and unattainable. His widowed
mother bound out this seven-year-old son to a Dia-
per Weaver, and died."
The boy grew up with great yearning for knowl-
edge, and with the ambition to distinguish himself
as a manufacturer, which he did.
He was the, father of the Rev. Dr. John Reed,
of Christ Church, Poughkeepsie, IsTew York, w^ho
administered to him the Holy Sacrament at the
time of his death, at eighty-one years of age. The
Rev. Mr. Burge officiated at his funeral.
It will not be out of place to speak here of the
sacred vessels at this period in use at the Holy
During the incumbency of the Rev. Dr. Mc-
Sparran, a silver taidvard was presented to St.
Paul's, with this inscription :
"A legacy from Nathaniel Kay, Esq., for the use of the
Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul's, Narragansett.
Lux perijetua Credentibus sola,
lector of the King's Customs for the Colony of
Rhode Island. He was liberal toward the Church
of England, and gave valuable legacies for parish
schools in Bristol and Newport. He lived near
the head of Tonro Street, where he died in 1734,
and was buried in Trinity Churchyard, just at the
left as you enter the gate."
Long before the gift of the tankard from Mr.
Kay, Queen Anne (deceased 1714), who seemed
to have the Church in the American Colonies very
near her heart, sent to St. Paul's, ^arragansett, a
BAPTISMAL FONT AND COMMUNION VESSELS.
Presented to St. Paul's Church by Queen Anne.
silver chalice, paten, and baptismal basin, which
were our admiration and peculiar care all the days
of our life in the old church.
The cup bears the following marks :
1. An inverted Gr, which is the maker's mark,
John Gibbons, Forster Lane, London.
2. Britannia Lion's head, erased, which marks
the cycle from March, 1696, to June, 1720.
3. The year mark, or date letter, in this case
E, and fixing date as 1706-7.
The paten has the same marks.
In . addition, the chalice is marked "Anna
The cup and paten are kept as sacred relics,
and, since much worn, new vessels are substituted
for general use.
By a singular order of the vestry, July 24,
1851, the baptismal bowl was melted and con-
verted, I think, into the paten now in use.
Its alienation from the original shape and pur-
pose, is a cause of deep regret, especially to those
who grew up in the old church, and knew no other
AS I return to the Venice of mv nativity^ after
years of wandering, and of residence else-
wlierCj so many vivid memories crowd upon me
that it is difficult to record theui with anything of
system, or continuity. I shall, therefore, make no
attempt at order of narration, but shall write spon-
taneously, as heart and thought may dictate.
Among the happy recollections of my earliest
childhood, the old brown church in the Lane is
Better to me than St. Mark's of the City across
the Seas, w4th its glory and beauty of architecture,
and painting, and sculpture, and rich adornment,
is the rude structure in which I received Baptism
in my infancy, and C(miirmation in my earliest
ALEX. V. GRISWOLD. D. D..
Bishop of the Eastern Diocese, (pp. iy4 195.)
teens at the hands of Bishop Griswokl, and where
I was rooted and grounded in the doctrines of the
That dear ohl saintly })rehite conies before me
in his peculiar garb, small clothes and silk stock-
ings, that quite prevented my recognition of one of
his order in any other costume until recent unison
of style has regulated my ideas.
In his visitations to St. Paul's, he ahvays stayed
at my father's house, and his serene face, sweet
voice, and gentle manners, were to us children a
felt benediction. Sometimes Mrs. Griswold ac-
companied him. I recall one season in particular
wdien she kept her bonnet on all day, at meals, and
still Avore it Avhen she retired to her room for the
night. -My curiosity was not satisfied until I
heard her say to my mother, that she adopted this
rule in order to obviate the necessity and incon-
venience of taking caps wdth her upon her journeys
with the Bishop.
The old church was thronged when the annual
visitation of the Diocesan was made, as well as on
every special or festive occasion.
From the quaint ''Campanile," the soft-toned
bell called the villagers to worship. Often have I
cliiiil)e(l the narrow stairs leading to the snmmit of
the tower where the metal tongue held sway, that I
might get a peep at the broad country through the
four latticed windows just below the summit.
One calm Avinter night, December the thirty-
first, 1866, this steeple fell to the ground and was
never replaced, as the old church had been deserted
in 1848 for the ncAV one.
I miss this feature, but they say the building is
now as it was originally when the people went
through ^'driftways'' to reach it, and held pleasant
chat, before the hour of service, around the "Old
It is my habit, nowadays, when in my native
village, to go often to the quiet, secluded church
for reverie, aud couniiuniou with the past.
The very walls are eloquent. I hear no more
profitable preachment than the c^choes of the long
The scenes of other days revive. The square
^'boxes'' rise before me and are peopled wdth famil-
iar forms and faces. To the warden's pew is at-
tached the official staff, black, with top and spiral
band of gilt. The chancel is semi-circular, with a
''three decker" arrangement, communion table,
reading desk, and wine-glass pulpit, wdth so nar-
row^ a seat that one could not comfortably rest upon
it. Back of the pulpit, high above the preacher's
head, are two small paned windows, draped with
green moreen, fringed, and heavily tasseled, and
looped up, and held by rods and gilt adornments.
The cushions for Bible and Prayer Book, on pulpit
and desk, are of crimson velvet, with fringe of the
same color. The old w^orn Bible is still there, but
the modern incongruous, oak-stained pulpit was
substituted for the original in 1835, when a new
clergyman had charge, and the chancel was then
made straight, and three narrow pews, on each side,
were formed from the square ones previously exist-
I shut mv eves to this strange appearance, and
dream on of the olden time. The singers are in
the front gallery, opposite the clergyman. A tun-
ins; fork indicates the key, and a big bass viol
accompanies the voices. A few years pass, and a
small pipe organ is substituted, and manipulated
by the rector's two eldest daughters, and their aunt,
alternately. Frequently there is the addition of a
flute played by one of the wardens.
The voluntary is sounding in my ears. The
footsteps of the assembling congregation mingle
with the music. The rector, followed by a troop of
little children, comes in his robes along his garden
path, through a small gate, across the lane, to the
house of prayer. The service begins.
After the second lesson a baby is presented for
Baptism. As is often the case on such occasions,
when the prescribed number of sponsors has not
been provided, ^^Aunt Lee" or one of her sisters of
the Updike family, steps forward to fill the gap.
I wonder how many regenerate children in the
rimrcli Trinnipliant will bo claimed as the spirit-
ual progeny of those dear old ladies !
The Slimmer time in the church in the lane is
delightful. The door and windows are flung wide
open. A broad expanse of the heavens is visible,
and the sweet, fresh air exhilarating. Young peo-
CHURCH DOOR, OLD ST. PAUL S
plo and old, are dressed in delicate soft cambrics
or muslins, as l)ocomes the heated season. There
is little vain show. It is an age of sense and
reason, and restfulness and peace.
The winter brings a different aspect, though
as blessed an experience. The Christmas time
especially, is most precious in all of its associa-
tions. Resinous evergreens, pine and cedar, and
graceful creeping jenny, rise from floor to ceiling,
making a perfect forest of the lioly temple. For a
week, busy hands have been adorning and making
glorious the place for the coming of our Lord and
Saviour, the Babe of Bethlehem.
On the eve of the jN'ativity, the windows of the
church are ablaze with lighted candles in every
pane, and the country around is attracted by the
Through all of my childhood, there was never a
Christmas Eve without this commemoration. The
service in church, with jubilant song, and solemn,
yet hopef itl, sermon, seemed a sacred prelude to the
bright morn when Christ the Lord was born, and
the feast was kept in all its fulness. I can never
cease to feel the hallowing influence of the old time
Christmas seasons in St. Paul's, !N"arragansett.
The marks of the profuse decorations are still
visible on walls and pillars, ^o one regarded it
as a defacement to drive nails ever^^vhere if only
the end were attained, and the house of God was
made beautiful. The prints are suggestive to us,
who can fill out the artistic designs.
During most of the earlier i^ew England win-
ters, the lanes leading to the old church, were white
and crisp with snow. ^lerry sleigh bells saluted
the ear, as the parishioners came from far and
near, to keep holy day.
Sometimes the frost and cold were so severe, and
the paths so untrodden, that the worship was held
in the rector's parlor, as it used to be in the Glebe
About the centre of the main street, opposite
what is now AVall Street, and next to the Wickford
House, was the residence of the rector. It is a
gambrel roofed, two story and attic building, with
an ^^Ell," which has been added, since occupied by
After some years of roving from tenement to
tenement, the ^'Dominie" anticipated a portion of
his patrimony, and purchased with it a positive
home for his family, where holy and happy associa-
tions might cluster and be fixed. When the wind
was fierce, and snow and sleet were driving furi-
ously, a few of the nearest neighbors used to assem-
ble around the rector's hearthstone, for prayer and
praise. I can hear the w^ailing sound of the wind
through the key hole, mingling weirdly with the
tones of the quaint spinette, and the accompanying
voices. The old-fashioned fireplace sends forth a
cheery hlaze, the logs sparkle and crackle, and the
polished brasses reflect serious faces. The gravity
of their elders influences the children, who sup-
press all mirthful impulses, and deport themselves
as becomes the day and the occasion.
A description of this Xew England home in
those earlier times, may not be amiss. To many
of the present generation the things that were to
me precious realities, seem mythical.
The mode of life is now so entirely different,
and household arrangements and utensils are so
In my earliest childhood, the gaping chimney
places made fresh and healthful the air of the liv-
ing rooms, and sleeping apartments. In summer
we filled them with evergreens, or ferns, or the red
berried Asparagus; and in winter the glowing
flame and coals were wondrously attractive.
What suggestions in the long black crane with
hooks and trannnels ; the hanging pots with savor
of good things to come; the iron bake kettle with
blaze beneath, and live coals on top, and browning
biscuits peeping out when the cover was raised an
iiK'h for the purpose of inspection; the Dutch oven
on t\\v hearth, with goose or turkey, or other tempt-
ini>' fowl, odorous of sweet herbs and spices, as the
erisi)ing j^rocess goes on, making impressive the
proverb in Lorna Doone, ^'The joj of the mouth" is
the nose before."
The old hearthstone has other recollections for
us. There, before the lucifer match was common,
we made tinv splints from pine shingles, and
dipped the ends into melted brimstone, and
scorched linen to put in the tinder box, with flint
and steel, so that in an emergency we might strike
a spark, and be certain of a blaze, even though the
curfew should fail, and the hidden coals be worth-
less and dead.
AVe had not one of those copper devices that
some peo2)le used to put close against the chimney
back, over the hot ashes ; but the brands and living
end)ers were always raked together at bed-time, and
thickly overspread with ashes, and generally, this
preserved the nucleus for the next day's fire.
When it failed, we either got a burning brand
from one of our neighbors, or flint and steel created
the spark that lighted shavings and charcoal, and
soon prodnced a brilliant result.
Often a loaf of brown bread had its bed in the
hot asheSj and was drawn forth steaming and de-
licious for the early meal.
At eventide our father ^^hunted'' apples on the
live coalsj for us, or roasted chestnuts, or popped
corn. Never mind if he was a grave clergyman,
with sober official duties to engage his highest
thoughts and earnest attention. Like his divine
Master he could stoop to embrace the children, and
suit his benefactions to their simple and innocent
desires. Whenever he could serve his family,
without neglecting other claims, he was found in
the domestic circle.
Inventive to an unusual degree, he made for his
children toys that they could not have purchased.
There are still preservd among us, perfect models
of the old brown church, which it pleased him to
construct when we were men and women, and when
he himself was nearing the temple not made with
Beside the old fireplace, in the gambrel roofed
homestead, there hung leathern bellows, with brass
nails, and a long handled copper "warming pan,"
that tempered the cold sheets of our beds in the
It was no hardship to undress beside the fire,
and run upstairs to jump into a nest so lovingly
If we had been good children during the day,
our father never failed to put some token of his
approbation under our pillows after we had fallen
asleep, which proved next morning a pleasant
greeting and happy stimulus. It was perhaps a
very trifle ; a sugar Gibraltar, a fig, some raisins or
"oonkles," a stick of candy. The motive magnified
the gift, and made of it a great fortune.
My mind constantly reverts to that dining room
hearth. It was there that the Dominie, at a mo-
ment's notice, produced '^Shank's horses," upon
which he trotted his babies, to their delectation,
and where he played "Come ze Come" with the
older offspring, or told stories to keep the young
brood diverted, while the Dominess pursued some
It was there that we most frequently gathered
when "Frigidata" drove us indoors, to spend our
evenings in close companionship with one another,
and it was there that we not only had games and
various amusements, but also lessons and profitable
converse, that would help and bless us through all
At this crowning season of the year the old
chimney gave best, most marvelous cheer, and the
little funny man with frost-covered beard, came
down amid the soot, and left treasure for us while
we slept and dreamed bright, happy dreams.
In summer time the earthern furnaces weie
placed in tlie chimney or out of doors, that the
deadly fumes might prove harmless. Anthracite
had not as yet become a general article of fuel.
Great, hooded carts went up and down the village
streets, their blackened drivers crying out their
welcome commodity, "Charcoal ! Charcoal !"
It was so easily kindled ! Besides the portable
coal furnace, sometimes the "gypsy kettle'^ hung on
its tripod, and, heated by blazing fagots, cooked
potatoes for the swine, or helped the housewife
with her soft soap, that old time, invaluable con-
coction from lye and the refuse grease. It was no
small task to meet the demands of j^ew England
honsekeeping in that day.
In the antnmn especially, there were Ilercnlean
preparations for the cold season. The larder must
be richly supplied. Dried apples and dried pump-
kin, with all sorts of preserved fruits ; sweet corn,
and pickles ; corned beef, and Y>ovk ; spare rib, and
tenderloin ; head cheese, and souse ; salted scraps,
and long links of stuffed sausages ; mince pies,
piled high on the store-room shelves; firkins of
apple sauce ; ''sounds and tongues ;" mackerel and
herring. All required the personal thought and
supervision of the female, as well as the male head
of the family.
Then came quiltings, making of comforters and
thick woollen garments for the wintry reign.
The changing seasons brought busy work to the
^ew England rectorj^, where the golden god was
chary of his favors, and every inmate had to lend
a helping hand for the well being of all.
So far as style and luxuriousness of furniture
concerned, it was a very simple age. The painted
or sanded floor was common for back rooms, and an
ingrain carpet for the parlor prevailed in most
families, until gradually all the rooms were cov-
ered, some with '^Venetian/' otliers v\dth rag, and
by-and-by a Brussels made its entree here and
there, though that frugal rectory never arrived at
It was a pleasant home, with all its self-denials ;
plenty of room, an unstinted table, health, joy, and
love, abounding. What more could one want ?
The front entry of the old house was so spacious,
compared with most vestibules in village homes,
that we rightly dubbed it ^'Hall," and sat there at
twilight, with our guests, looking out upon the
water opposite, and the boats gliding through the
On the ledge of tlie staircase were two fire-
buckets. A law of the Ehode Island Colony, in
1Y54:, made it obligatory that every householder
should keep two good leathern buckets, capable of
holding at least two gallons each, with the owner's
name painted legibly thereon, to be kept in some
convenient place, under penalty of, at first, twelve
shillings, but which finally reached five dollars.
These buckets always hung or were kept in the
front entry, and were only used in case of fire, and
if no male person was in the house to take them,
they were placed upon the front doorsteps to be
used by the first passer by. They were annually
inspected by the town sergeant, or one of the town
constables, and a fine was imposed when they were
in a useless condition.
Even after 1794, when fire engines were im-
ported from London, the buckets w^ere still in use,
and passed by double line, from hand to hand, to
be emptied and refilled. Hundreds at a time were
sent over from Holland. They were very strongly
made, stitched and bound, and lasted a long time.
After fifty years' absence I unearthed from the
garret eaves of the old house in Wickf ord, two fire
buckets with the name "L. Eurge'' as fresh as if
just painted. It is a fashion nowadays to cherish
the relics of the past, but unfortunately, most of
the possessions of our early childhood were scat-
tered before we could appreciate their future value,
and can be recalled only by memory.
Flax and woollen wheels, ^^scairns," reels, bob-
bins, old-fashioned looms ; all these we used to see
in our neighbors' houses, and some of them were
familiar under our own roof, though we were a
little later than the period of general home manu-
factures. The graceful tread and motion of a
beautiful woman near our habitation, fascinated
me, as she went back and forth whirling her big
wheel, and twisting the fleece upon the spindle;
and I have in mind a dear old lady with hetchel
and flax ; and another casting the swift shuttle, and
pressing closely the gay woof with the heavy board.
It was a pleasure and an education to see these
things in their progress, and the Dominie's chil-
dren early learned, from beginning to end, the
production of linen, woollen, and silk. The latter
fabric they knew from the tiny black eggs, to the
infinitesimal worms ; the shining mulberry leaves
for food ; the fast developing creatures, whose
voracious nibbling sounded like rain upon the
housetop ; the shedding coats ; the translucent
bodies; the pretty yellow cocoons among the bay-
berry bushes ; the picking of the floss from the balls
that were to be baked in order to kill the millers ;
the white Avinged moths, that were allowed to eat
their way from other balls and ensure a future
Xot only this, but a boiler was set in the attic
chimney, and a skilful woman summoned to go on
with the process. We watched her eagerly as with
thorny tw^igs she struck the cocoons that swam in
the hot water, and so gathered up the silken threads
and wound them upon a great reel. How fine and
beautiful it Avas ! and how mysterious a transforma-
tion from the black pin head dots that we had first
seen on a small sheet of paper.
Then came the twisting of silk into coarser, or
finer, and then we lost sight of it, as it was sent
away to be dyed and woven into the glistening
fabric that forms our royal robes.
Our father was aesthetic in his tastes. His acre
of bare ground, he made into an enchanted place.
Dividing it into four squares, for garden,
orchard, grain, and flowers, he surrounded all with
the quick growing mulberry, and bestowed faithful
culture, until by the time the home brood had
grown old enough to appreciate, it yielded every
variety of orchard fruit and vegetables and frag-
A shaded path led up to the old church. On one
side were great beds of the sweet pink, and all
along the other, we children had our ^^patches,"
each child an individual plot, that we might sow
and plant at pleasure, and cull from at will.
Such emulation ! Such floral designs ! Crosses,
and hearts, and circles, coming up green and
charming and mysterious from the dusky ground,
and developing and flowering, to teach us the most
blessed of lessons concerning the Resurrection
from the grave, and our own wonderful uprising
and immortality, and future glory.
A beautiful avenue was at right angles from the
long path, with a pretty sunmier house at the end.
Another rustic little building stood near the home,
overshadowed by two apple trees, and between us
and '^neighbor Spencer's" was a verdant lawn, with
a profusion of rose bushes here and there to shed a
The old barn that used to be our grand theatre
of amusement, was moved up opj)osite the church
and made into a dwelling house, that possibly it
might add somewhat to the minister's income. It
stands there now, facing the deserted temple, and
has long ago passed into strange hands.
I call it the ''Grange," for auld lang syne. May-
be the namc^ may be adopted ])y the new owner.
To see the minister's former possessions in their
])resent condition, one could never imagine the old
time attractiveness ; there has been such cutting off
from the original area.
Part has been added to the grounds of Mr.
Aaron Thomas ; a portion is owned and occupied
by Mr. Steere ; and the ''Grange/' with land ad-
joining, has another proprietor. The small re-
maining space, with the main house, purchased by
]\riss Eachel Greene, and a new one crowded on
the rear ground, gives no suggestion of what has
It was the dream and desire of Mr. Burge to
liave a broad street through these grounds, from
tlio old church to the centre of the village, and to
renovate and improve the ancient and venerable
l^uihling, rather than alienate lieart and thought
and holy worship, from the long cherished temple.
lie offered to give part of the land for this pur-
pose ; but other plans prevailed, and his proposition
was not accepted, and after his removal from Wick-
ford, the new church was built elsewhere, and the
old one left desolate.
Over the door of the deserted building are the
dates, 1707, and 1800. Surmount iug it, a trumpet
vine struggles for life, and puts forth some bril-
liant blossoms. In the yard a few graves are left
from among those that have been removed to the
cemetery beyond the village. The eldest daughter
of the old rector sleeps her long sleep in the shadow
of her spiritual home. In the Glebe house she was
born; in the old church she w^as "regenerated by
water and the Holy Ghost." There also w^as she
confirmed, and at this altar she received the em-
blems of her Saviour's dying love, in the sacrament
of the Body and Blood. It was there she was
married in the summer time, and close by she
rests, until the voice of Jesus shall say to her,
It is a pleasant place to sleep.
People come from far and near to look at the
old church. I stood recently in the grave-yard,
where a party of excursionists, the Knights of
Pythias from Pawtucket, with their families and
friends, w^ere examining the names on the head
stones. Having with me the key of the sacred
edifice, I was enabled to show these strangers the
interior, that has for me such hallowed memories.
Wlicii inside I spoke to tliein of the earlv days
and pleasant associations. Immediately, with that
sympathy which unites all the children of the
Great Father, they broke forth into singing —
"Blest is the tie that binds
Our hearts in Jesus' love ;"
"Nearer, my God, to Thee,"
and finally, at my request,
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow,"
to the tune of "Old Hundred."
Some of the Presbyterian elders stood in the
chancel where my departed father had so often
read the solemn words of our incomparable liturgy,
and my heart was touched by the feeling that
despite the difference of dogmatic training, there
exists in all the true children of God the essential
element of Divine Love and fellowship.
Another occasion of great interest was the bap-
tism, in this old church of its ancestors, of the
grandchild of Mr. Allan Thomas, and nephew of
the late Bishop of Kansas. The father and
mother, Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Thomas, with true
sentiments of reverence and appreciation, Avished
the sacrament to be administered within these
walls, consecrated by years of solemn services, and
lialloAved associations. With exquisite taste they
adorned the holy place with flowers and ferns, and
the little babe was made ^^a member of Christ, the
child of God, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of
Heaven,'' beside the chancel where so many of its
relatives had in times past been "regenerate, and
grafted into the Body of Christ's Church."
Later, the children of the Honorable David
Baker were taken for holy baptism to this same
dear old St. Paul's, proving how true is the venera-
tion for this Mother of the ^N'arragansett churches.
To have been participants in any sacred service
or blessed Sacrament in this historic and time-hon-
ored edifice, is something to look back upon as a
very precious privilege.
When, after long years of desertion and soli-
tude, in August, 1885, the old church was reopened
for a series of Sunday services, the birds that had
made their nests and hatched their young on God's
holy altar, had to be driven out from their quiet
It was a happy and festive occasion ; the assem-
r|^""|'IIMjH f •■ —==; — , .
THE interior-Old st. Paul's.
As it is to-day. (,pp. :216-:217.)
bliiig of anotlior c'oiioration within their Father's
\"ery few of the aged members were still upon
the earth, but those who yet lived, hastened joy-
fully to the old home to help keep the feast.
The orchestra from Hamilton made memorable
music, such as had not resounded through the place
since the days of the big bass viol and the flute, that
accompanied the voices in the long ago.
The Rev. Wm. Ayres, now of Kansas, inaugur-
ated the revived worship in old St. Paul's. He
writes concerning this relic of other times :
""Among my remembrances the rescue of the old
church from destruction by the elements, is prom.'
ment. It was repaired and restored to its early
condition and bids fair to last another century at
least. A wise conservatism, at a time when, in
some quarters, symbolism has run mad, and hier-
archical pretences come to the front, is immensely
valuable, and nowhere can it be more fitting than
in one of the oldest parishes which continues to be,
as it always has been, one of the potent influences
upon the Church in America. This may be abun-
dantly evidenced in many instances in the begin-
ning, and in all the long past, by the preaching
from the N^arragansett Church, and by the devo-
tion and example of those brought up in St. Paul's
and who are noAv scattered abroad.
''But the most conspicuous proof is to be found
at present, in the life and labors of the Bishop of
Kansas/'^ a true son of St. Paul's, ^N'arragansett.
In and through him, it may be said that the leaven
of the old church still works mightily, and that,
too, in a region utterly unknown to its founders,
and but dimly known, and considered a desert, by
the last generation, yet now having a million and
a half of inhabitants.
'The influence here is not all that the old church
is accomplishing through Bishop Thomas. In an-
other great Western State his educational efforts
vied with the pastoral, and he practically founded
at least one valuable Theological School. Under
his wise and energetic ministrations, and attracted
by the singular beauty and devotion of his char-
acter, the Church in Kansas is making sure and
steady progress in numbers, and spirituality. For
The Rt. Rev. Elisha Smith Thomas, D.D., died 1895.
ELISHA SMITH TBOMAS. D. D..
Second Bishop of Kansas (pp. r318 :.M9.)
this Ave owe a debt tu the ohl Xarragansett chureh,
as well as to our late beloved and sainted Diocesan,
the Kt. Kev. Thomas Hubbard Vail, D.D."
Bishop Thomas' remains w^ere taken to Wick-
ford, and for some hours lay in state in the new
church. He was robed in the episcopal habit with
purple stole. The casket was covered with a violet
colored pall wdth white border, and violets and
wdiite flowers adorned the chancel.
Bishop Clark, of Ehode Island, read the burial
service, and the Kev. W. W. Ayres delivered the
sermon. There w^ere present besides the rector of
the parish. Rev. S. Borden Smith, four of the
former rectors, Messrs. Henshaw, Goodwin, Mc-
Gill, and Ayres.
The Bishop w^as laid to rest in Elmwood
Cemetery, a few miles west of the village, where
the committal service was read by those who had
long known and loved him. A beautiful Ionic
cross marks his grave.
It seemed fitting that one whose first breath was
drawn in our beautiful Venice, and whose early
life was spent in our pleasant village haunts,
should come home to sleep among his own people,
who will proudly point out his grave and speak
gratefully of his high mental attainment, and,
above all, of his devotion to our Almighty Lord,
and to the extension of His Kingdom upon earth.
Cbe new eburcb*
IT stands on the right hand, on Main Street,
abont half way between Bridge Street and the
The corner stone was laid on the first day of
September, 1847, by the Eight Eev. John P. K.
Henshaw, then Bishop of Ehode Island, assisted
by the Eev. Messrs. Vail, Cooke, Crane, Eames,
and the rector of the parish, the Eev. John Hill
The church was consecrated on St. Paul's Day,
the twenty-fifth of January, 1848. The sermon
was by Bishop Henshaw, and there were present
of the clergy, Messrs. Burge, Crane, Vail, Eames,
Carpenter, and the Eector, all of whom have passed
to their eternal home.
The new edifice is of wood, tasteful in archi-
tecture, and of seating capacity for about four
hundred people. A recessed chancel is at the
southern end, and at the north is a gallery with
Oriel, stained glass wdndow.
The altar is of richly carved oak in three panels
with the sacred symbols — the Lamb triumphant;
the chalice and ugit^n, upon a crow^n of thorns ; and
a pelican feeding her young. The top is of Dove
marble, with five crosses cut, one in the middle,
and one at each corner, and this inscription :
"A gift to St. Paul's Church, by Mrs. Anstis Lee, Daughter
of Lodowick Updike, Esq. She died in 1864, in the 100th year
of her age."
She had some years before presented an im-
ported table as an altar for communion purposes,
in the old church, and when the ncAV one was built,
it was also used there.
Recently Mr. Daniel Berkeley Updike, a grand-
nephew of Mrs. Lee, contributed toward the erec-
tion of a beautiful altar, and consented that the
consecrated slab should be inserted, and the mahog-
any frame incorporated with the chapel altar, so
that the intention of the departed donor is still
respected and fulfilled.
■im»Hmimniimm|[mn i.tii.i^m ||
ST. PAUL'S CHURCH. WlCKFOBD, R. I.
The present edifice (pp. 222223.)
The chancel wiiuloAV is a memorial of ^^frs.
Abigail Reynolds, a sister of Mrs. Lee. Tlie
central lancet represents Panl the Aged, with the
Bible in his right hand, and the sword of his mar-
tyrdom in his left. In the two other lancets are
the symbols of the fonr Evangelists: St. Mat-
thew, the Ox; St. Mark, the Lion; St. Luke, the
Angel ; and St. John, the Eagle.
The choice book devoted to the altar service, is
the gift of Mr. Daniel Berkeley Updike. It is
one of the Revised, limited and costly edition of
the Prayer Book of 1893, the plates wdiereof were
The offices are exquisitely and elaborately illus-
trated by appropriate symbolic figures and flowers,
Mr. Updike himself being one of the chief design-
The brass ''Rest," Bible and Prayer books, and
hymnals, for altar, pulpit, and lectern, are from
St. Agnes' Guild, that is faithful in supplying
such needs as may from time to time occur.
The font stands in the southeast, near the door
leading into the chapel, which adjoins the church
on the east. It was presented by the Rev. Samuel
Brent(3n Sliaw, whose early associations were with
old St. Paul's, ]^\'arragaiisett, and whose long min-
istry was exercised in Vermont, Lanesboro, Mass.,
and Barrington, Rhode Island. There is an oak
cover, with brass cross, and a handsome brass ewer,
thus inscribed :
"A thank offering to St. Paul's Parish.
Clarence Thomas, Baptized Sept. 21.st, 1889,
Rt. Rev. Elisha Thomas, S.T.D."
Over the chapel door on the East from the chan-
cel, is a white marble tablet,
"In memory of the Rev. James McSparran, D.D.,
for thirty-five years the minister of St. Paul's, Narragansett
He departed this life
Dec. 1st, 1758.
In memory also, of
Rev. Samuel Fayerweather,
his successor, who died 1871.
Both were Missionaries of
the S. P. G. F. P.
3rd Jubilee, A.D. 1861."
In East Greenwich there is a very beautiful
lancet wmdow in the chancel, ''In memory of the
Eev. L. Burge, and Elizabeth, his wife," a tribute
from the late Gov. Wm. Greene and Mrs. Greene,
who was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Burge.
During a residence of nearly two years in East
Greenwich, Mr. Burge had been thoroughly identi-
fied Avith the parish of St. Luke's, and had fre-
([iiciitly olHciatcMl in tlic old dniivli in association
Avitli its rector, the liev. Dr. Crane.
A brass cross has lately been placed in the chan-
cel of the new St. Paul's, Wickford. The base
bears this inscription :
"In memory of the Rev. Samuel Burge, who for twenty years
ministered in old St. Paul's Church, Narragansett.
'He being dead yet speaketh.'
'God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord,
Jesus Christ.' "
By the font in the new church is a window, ''In
memory of Gideon Freeborn, who for fifty years
served as vestryman, and warden of St. Paurs,
and thirty years as superintendent of the Sunday
The central representation is the Baptism of
our Saviour. Above is the Dove. Below, the
Cross, with vine and grapes surrounding a scroll
with the text, ''T am the true vine." The windoAV
was from loving relatives, joined by the Sunday
The next window is a memorial to Mrs. Char-
lotte Thomas — ]\rary Magdalene in the garden of
the tomb, kneeling at the feet of her risen Lord.
The lower ])anel bears a scroll with tlie ejaculation,
"Eahboni !" Xear by is an oaken frame with
••To the glory of God and in memory of Allen M. Thomas,
for five years Warden and for fifty-two years Vestryman and
Clerk of St. Paul's. Born 1806— died 1887.
" "Lord, I have loved the habitation of Thy house, and the
place where Thine honor dwelleth.' Ps. 26 — 8."
l\iblot and window are in memory of the father
and mother of Bishop Thomas.
The organ is on the east from the chancel, and
is the l)e(}uest of "Esther Chappel Sanford," who
left in her will, three thousand dollars for the
organ, and for the Gnild of St. Paul's. This in-
strument was placed in the church on St. Paul's
Beside it is a finely-painted window,
••To the glory of God, and in tender memory of Hannah
Born July 11. 1838,
Died Jan. 5, 1877."
A crown, with stars and lilies, adorns the upper
panel. The central one has the figure of St.
Cecilia, below which is this tribute to the departed
member of St. Paul's, who for some years played
on the organ, led the choir, and also that of the
Hamilton Mission :
"In her, as though in instruments of music,
Faith did with her own fingers touch the strings,
discoursing high of virtues excellent." The lower
])anel with the inscription, is illuminated with the
Passion Hower, and other ornamentation.
On the same side of the church is a beautiful
^vindow, with Clirist healing the sick, wdio are
grouped about Him in imploring attitudes; a
Greek cross above, a scroll below, with the words,
"The Lord will take away from thee all sickness."
Crowns, and palms, and other jubilant emblems
surround the monogram, I. II. S.
The inscription is :
"To the gloi-y of God, and in loving memory of William
A. Shaw, M.D.
Warden of St. Paul's Church, 1837-1879."
There is another most apj^ropriate memorial
gift, of a pocket communion service for the sick,
from the son and daughter of this lamented ^^good
physician,'' and two choice altar vases have been
lately presented by Elizabeth Brenton Shaw in
loving remembrance of her brother, John P. C.
Shaw, departed this life Dec. 13, 1899.
A most beautiful window, on the opposite side
of the nave, has been placed by Miss Carrie ^N'ew-
ton, in memory of her sister, Mary, recently de-
parted this life. A female figure stands with spir-
itual face raised triistfullv toward heaven. Her
right hand rests upon the Cross, and in her left she
holds a hunch of Easter lilies. The Holy Dove
is seen above the emblem of onr Faith. The lower
•panel of the windoAV is filled with lilies. The
scroll contains the record, ^^In the Cross of Christ
Miss Kewton has also given a window in mem-
ory of her sister Elizabeth — a kneeling figure be-
fore the altar, with clasped hands, and eyes up-
lifted tow^ard the table of Commandments, while
she fervently ejaculates:
"Oh, how I love Thy law !"
A rare cross has been placed upon the altar by
Mr. Strowbridge, in memory of his lamented w4fe
The clock in the tower of the new St. Paul's, is
from one of the recent rectors, the Rev. Daniel
Goodwin, who by this benefaction to the parish,
has also greatly blessed the inhabitants of the
The exquisite pulpit in the new St. Paul's is six
feet high. The base is oak in Gothic style, corres-
ponding to the altar. The upper part is brass, the
coluiniis twisted to agree with the lectern. There
are five j^anels carved in brass. The center front
shows tlie cross with monogram I.II.S. and the
episcopal signs, mitre and crosier. On the first
panel to the right, is the sword, emblem of St.
Panl. The second has the Agnus Dei — the "Lamb
f God." On the first panel to the left is the open
l)ook, emblematic of St. John. The second has a
double triangle, with dove, emblem of the Holy
Trinity. The pulpit is finished at the top by a
railing of oak, with a brass insertion ])earing the
'•For the preaching of the Word, and in tender memory of
Klisha Smith Thomas, late Bishop of Kansas."
Other bequests have been made to the church by
its grateful members.
I copy from the records :
''A Glebe was given for the use of the church in
jSTorth Kingstown, by one Mr. IN'orton A. Taylor,
in Xewport, which was transferred by General
Assembly, and which was sold for one hundred
pounds sterling to be used toward the JMcSparran
''In 1870, a legacy certificate for eight shares of
stock, twenty-live dullars per share, par value, from
James Updike, through Daniel, his nephew, de-
posited in the AVickford Xational Bank,"
''From Mr. Allen Thomas, forty shares of Bank
stock, at iifty dollars per share, in Weybosset Bank,
Providence, one hundred dollars annually of the
interest to go toward the salary of the rector; the
rest of the yearly interest for other Church needs.''
''Sixteen shares of stock, ninety dollars per
share, from ]\Iiss Mary Esther Freeborn, daughter
of Gideon, in Union National Bank, ISTewport, E.L
part of the annual interest for the rector's salary,
and i^art for the general expenses of the church.''
"One thousand dollars from Mrs. Samuel
Pearce — Wickford National Bank — toward the
Endowment Fund for church exj^enses."
''Fifteen hundred dollars from Mr. Allen Chad-
sey, to be devoted to keeping the church in repair."
In addition to the bequests alreadj' recorded,
there is the recent legacy of one thousand dollars
to St. Paul's Church, and fifteen hundred dollars,
and a sofa, to St. Paul's Guild, from Mrs. Rhoda
Ann Chapj)el Eldred, lately deceased.
It is with gratitude that I also mentir)n her
generous remembrance of her old rector, Rev. L.
Burge, by the gift of five Imndred dollars each,
to two of his daughters.
A recent offering is a beautiful Prayer desk
from Mr. and Mrs. Hambly, in memory of Miss
Another gift is from Mr. Esl)on Sanford — an
altar rail, of oak and brass, in memory of his
departed wife, who belonged to the Altar Guild.
Miss It. A. Shaw has left recently to the eliureh a
legacy of two hundred dollars for St. Paul's.
Among the faithful members there seems a
conscientious thought of the dear old Mother from
whom they have derived their spiritual care and
nutriment, and they gratefully express their sense
of their obligation, by a tangil)le offering when
they come to die.
Belonging to the church property there is a
pretty rectory, just beyond the new Bridge; on
Hamilton Avenue facing the water and h»:>king
across upon the church spire. The Guild IIous?
stands next to the rectory on the Avest.
But for the depreciation of bank stock, and
some iTiifortimate investments, the parish of St.
Paul's would be in excellent financial condition.
Though not wholly a parochial institution, this
was the original design of its erection, and prop-
erlv it should belong to St. Paul's.
. ■-- \_
„„- — ^-^^H
r X r
" \' 31
.? '■"''"" ■
GUILD HALL — ST. PAUL\s CHURCH, WICKFOKD, K.
There could be no more charming locality than
its foundation. The water laps the stone wall of
its embankment, the channel being near, and so
deep as to admit vessels of quite large tonnage.
Great schooners and brigs come up to the wharf
close by, and the ^arragansett Pier Ferry steam-
boat winters near the bridge. Up the Cove tliere
is a c'liarming sweep, with pretty residences upon
the shore on either side, and sail boats and skiffs
ii'lidiug back and forth,
Ah:)ng the Avenue there is much driving in sum-
mer past the Guikl House and rectory, toward
( 'okl Spring Beach and out toward Hamilton and
the country roads.
Opposite lies Oakland, originally called "i\.r-
goo,-' from the first intelligible utterance of an
It is one of the choicest sites just beyond the
new bridge, and is frequently the scene of innocent
festivity, as in clam bakes, lawn parties, etc., etc.
It is now the property of the Hon. Mr. Gregory.
IX summing up the beauties and advantages <~)f
our village, I think the chief attraction is our
glorious Xarragansett Bay, whose arms embrace
it, making it the charming Venice of our dearest
We have no ceremonial of the ring to wed us to
the all-pervading waters ; nevertheless, our attach-
nient is strong and enduring.
The ebb and flow of the tides bring freshness
and health to the people, and fish, and bivalves,
and Crustacea, give to them free and welcome
nutriment, besides furnishing a profitable industry
in the export to inland towns.
Tears ago, the Block Island fishermen, in tar-
paulin hats and capes, swarmed to our j^iers, witli
tlieir iiieiiliaden laden boats, landing their cargoes
for the enriclnnent of tlie suburban farms.
This metliod of fertilizing proved offensive,
and was soon discontinued, but there is other ample
encouragement for line and net, and an unfailing
market for lobsters and scallops, and various pro-
ductions from Bay and shores.
AValking one day recently along Washington
Street, which borders a portion of the south shore,
I was curious to know the meaning of a long line
of small, creamy looking substances that hung in
the sunlight. On inquiry I was informed that
these were the skins and bladders of the "weak
fish," and were sent in large quantities to a Phil-
adelj^hia glue nnuiufactory.
For bathing there are on the shore east of
Pleasant Street, and at Cold Spring, facilities that
cannot be surpassed.
Phillips Brooks speaks of the custom among the
Venetian nurses of fastening strong cords around
the waists of the children, and holding to them,
when their charges would venture too far in the
water. Our young people rollick fearlessly in the
briny waves. They need no tether, nor restraint.
Some of them are like mermen and mermaids, and
swim gracefully out to the legendary rock, where
tlie poor lovesick Indian, who dared raise his eyes
to the Sachem's dauditer, was bound until the
oyerAvhelming tide choked his presumption.
There is one locality that was, in our childhood,
considered dangerous. It was at the end of Fowler
Street, and nearly opposite Cornelius Island. Our
father owned the beautiful Point lot now in pos-
session of ]\Ir. John Lewis, and, as we often played
there, it was necessary to warn us against yielding
to the temptation to venture into the water near by.
Sharks had been seen there ; moreover the sands
shelved, and the foothold was treacherous, so that
one stepped into unlooked for depths, and was sud-
In ITS 2, whales are said to have been noticed in
the Bay, and now and then sea monsters came from
their ocean home to reconnoitre strange waters.
This summer an immense sea turtle was caught
in the weir of one of the townsmen, and served as
a wonderful exhibition to those who had never seen
so large a specimen. The length was fully six
feet, and the adamantine l)aek upheld a heavy man,
with whom the creature moved about as though the
burden were but a feather's weiglit.
To tre^ad the floor of the sea wouhl no doubt
bring marvelous revehations ; but I am content to
traverse tlie liquid surface, and enjoy the varied
beauties from a ship's deck.
The ^N'arragansett Bay affords real delight as
one sails its length and breadth, of eighteen miles
by from three to twelve, and notes the beauty of its
islands, and the attractive settlements along its
By it, the state is unequally divided, the greater
part of territory being on the west. To the north
lies Providence, east are Bristol and Fall Ptiver,
Pawtucket, East Greenwich, Wickford, and
smaller villages lie west, and Block Island is ocean-
Avard, at the entrance of the Bay.
Aquidneck, Canonicut, and Prudence, are
prominent among its islands, and the lesser ones
are picturesque, and noticeable in the midst of the
blue waters. ]^o wonder that the Colonies coveted
such possessions as would give them command of
the IsTarragansett Bay ! Its harbors are capacious,
affording entrance to ships of large tonnage, and
thus proving of iireat advantage to trade and com-
From Arnold's Comprehensive History I quote:
''The Xarragansett Bav wliicli seemed the des-
tined refuge for the outcasts of everv faith, at-
tracted the wanderers by its fertile shores, and
genial climate. The King's Commissioners re-
ported it as 'the largest and safest port in E'ew
England, and nearest the sea, and fittest for
AVe are proud, too, of the braverv that stirred
its waters during foreign invasion.
The Liherfy and the Gaspee and the Rose Frig-
ate, and the Swan, speak of energetic and fearless
action. And the first broadside by Commodore
Whipple against a portion of an invading navy,
still echoes along our shores.
But Ave prefer the calmer memories that cluster
around our pleasant Bay.
Dickens pictures '"Little Dorrit" gliding over
the Grand Canal in the far away Venice, or sitting
in her balcony overhanging the water, or leaning
on the broad cushioned ledge looking over and
watcliiiii^' the sunset, and the hhick gondolas, and
dreaming away the hours.
We skim the blue dee]) in our Avliite sail boats,
or our flat bottomed dories, or keeled skiffs, or we
gaze from our windows upon a beautiful landscape,
sea-girt and sea-enlaced, and are rapt in liappy con-
templation and reverie.
We may lack the oriental brilliance of the for-
eign city ; the creamy white palaces on the Eialto,
tiled in red, and topped with quaint chimneys,
oyerhanging balconies of marble, fringed with
flowers, with gay awnings above, and streaming
shadows below; the narrow quays crowded with
people, flashing bright bits of color in the blazing
sun ; swarms of gondolas, bareas and lesser water
spiders darting in and out ; lazy, red-sailed luggers,
melon loaded, with crinkled green shadows crawl-
ing beneath their bows, while at the far end, over
the glistening highway beaded with people, curves
the beautiful bridge, ''an ivory arch against the
Hopkinson-Smith gives this vivid descrip-
tion, and also speaks of "the picturesque gondolier
with loose shirt, throat and chest bare, and head
bomid Avitli reel kerchief; of the rambling houses
three or four stories high on the lagoon, where the
fishermen live, and the boats with gay colored
sails, and the anchored huge wicker crab and fish
There are deep, dark shadows and very sad con-
trasts in the Venice abroad. Her ^^Bridge of
Sighs," her dreadful prison, and the terrible fate
of those who crossed the beautiful span, always
l^resent hideous thoughts amid the grandeur and
We dwell with sweet peace in our serener haven,
content that it only resembles its Old World ances-
tor in some of its natural features, and rejoicing
that no image of oppression or death meets us as
Ave look into the placid waters that clasp and make
cheerv our beautiful
OCT 2 1900