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Pawtuxet VillageGaspee Days CommitteeHazel's Vignettes
      The following are various snippets from Hazel Wade Kennedy as published throughout the years in The Bridge,  the newsletter of the Pawtuxet Village Association, and in Gaspee Days Parade programs.  It should be noted that much of Hazel Kennedy's material appears to have been taken from a noted historian of the previous generation, Horace Belcher.    
       Hazel Wade Kennedy was born in the Christopher Rhodes House at 25 Post Road in Pawtuxet Village. A 10th descendant of Roger Williams on her father's side and 11th on her mother's, she also was a direct descendant of William Arnold, one of the first settlers in Pawtuxet. Hazel was a charter member of the Gaspee Days Committee and active in the Committee for 35 years. Hazel wrote and published 3 books
" Guide to historic Pawtuxet Village (1972, 1975, 1985); Fragments of Time in Pawtuxet (1986) and Bird's Eye View of Edgewood (1989). She was the Church Historian for Pawtuxet Baptist Church and a member of the Pawtuxet Village Association, and Warwick and Cranston Historical Societies. Hazel is listed in Who's Who in Rhode Island and, and in 1979, had an upstairs room at the Bank Cafe named in her honor.  In 1989 she received the Abraham Whipple Award from the Gaspee Days Committee for her years of dedicated service.  Hazel was a society writer for the Providence Journal Bulletin and has been published in numerous magazines. It was a fitting tribute and honor that Hazel Wade Kennedy was named the 1992 Grand Marshal for the Gaspee Day Parade.  We all miss her dearly.
Aborn Tavern by Dwight Miller
The Anthony Aborn Tavern on Bridge Street, Cranston, until raised in 1954.  Pen and Ink drawing by Dwight Miller. Scanned image taken from 150 Years of Harmony by Milton R. MacIntosh, a 1955 book on the history of the Harmony Masonic Lodge located in Pawtuxet Village.  All attempts to contact the illustrator of this book, Dwight Miller, were unsuccessful.

Pawtuxet was included in the Grand Purchase of Providence when Roger Williams received the land from the Indians in 1636. Pawtuxet, Indian name for "Little Falls", was settled in 1638.  In 1638 each proprietor of the Pawtuxet Purchase paid 30 shillings to Roger Williams and was given 100 acres of land, a home lot, farm for planting, meadow and pasture land for cattle and a tract of woodland.  During King Philip's War in January 1676, Indians raided the village, drove off cattle, and burned hay and corn. The youngest son of William Harris, Toleration, was killed.

From its early settlement days it was an important seaport village. During the first part of the 18th century many men of Pawtuxet were engaged in the Triangular Trade which lasted into the 19th century. 

There were several grist mills and sailing crafts would bring corn from Providence and elsewhere to be ground into meal.  Circa of 1810 there stood a large three story textile mill at the Cranston end of the Pawtuxet Bridge, owned and operated by Christopher and William Rhodes. The mill burned January 25, 1875.  The Christopher Rhodes house at 25 Post Road was built in 1800 and is a National Register landmark. William Rhodes house is at 141 Post Road. They are both fine examples of the Federalist period. The Rhodes brothers became wealthy through their textile industries. Besides the Pawtuxet mill they also built the Bellefonte Mill in Cranston, where the first broadcloth was made in this country, and extended their mill interests to Natick, Wickford, Albion and into northeastern Connecticut.

Bailey 4Right:  "Old Fish Hill Landing, Pawtuxet Cove, Rhode Island" by Whitman Bailey, 1935. We're not exactly sure of this location within Pawtuxet Village, and we have no specific reference to it except that at one time, Ed Johnson and Civil War veteran Samuel Greene both ran  fish markets at the foot of Aborn Street.  The artist, Whitman Bailey, was  color-blind, and his black-and-white sketches first appeared in The Stamford Advocate (CT) in 1924. Avid readers watched for his weekly sketches of area locations.  He was most likely descended from Jacob Whitman Bailey, a noted 19th century naturalist, artist, and professor at Brown University.

Taverns were the heart of the village in the 18th century, because the road through the village was the link in the Post Road and was the most traveled highway between Boston and New York. Some of the taverns were the Golden Ball Inn, Mitchell Tavern, Aborn Tavern and the Carder Tavern. The latter is the only one standing today at 118 Post Road, Warwick and was built in 1740.

Fort Avenue, running along Pawtuxet Neck in Cranston gets its name from the fort that once stood on a high bluff at the head of today's Sheldon Street. The fort was built on October 17, 1775 during the Revolutionary War. It went from shore to shore and within the fort was a guard house. Fort Neck was garrisoned by the Pawtuxet Rangers for many years. They were chartered in 1774 as an independent military company and in 1812 it became the Pawtuxet Artillery. After the fort was no longer in use the timbers from the guard house were used in building the dwelling of Captain Alonzo Crandall. The dwelling became known as the "Barracks House" and stands today at 69 Fort Avenue with additions added.

The Pawtuxet Armory stands at the corner of Bank and Remington Streets, Warwick and was erected in 1843 by the State as an armory for the Pawtuxet Artillery, partially in reward for the Pawtuxet Artillery's loyalty to the Law and order party during the Dorr Rebellion..

The Pawtuxet Bank, today's Bank Cafe, stands at the top of Post Road hill and was established by the Rhodes brothers in 1814 to serve the coastal trade of Pawtuxet.

Bailey2Left: "House on Old Elm Street, Pawtuxet, Rhode Island" by Whitman Bailey, 1937.  It turns out that Pawtuxet Village really did have an Elm Street as found in old maps c1895.  The location was from the present foot of Post Road through the center of what is now Pawtuxet Park between Emmons and East View Street.

Wander where you will through the old Pawtuxet, on both sides of the bridge, and you will see architectural styles from 18th century colonial to late Victorian.
Elisha Hunt Rhodes, Union soldier, featured in the TV Documentary, "The Civil War" was from Pawtuxet. His boyhood home was on Broad Street across from Sheldon Street, Cranston. The house is no longer standing. He was a member of the Pawtuxet Baptist Church until 1867, when he joined the Central Baptist Church of Providence.  The book "All for the Union," the Civil War diary and letters of Elisha's was edited by Robert Hunt in 1991, one of six, great-grandchildren. In July 1861, after getting his widowed, mother's permission to join the army, he took the omnibus at 6 a.m. from Pawtuxet to Providence and enlisted in the Army as a nineteen-year-old private. Levi F. Carr, also from the village, was on the omnibus and joined the Army the same day.
(Excerpts from "Fragments of Time in Pawtuxet" by Hazel Wade Kennedy.)
Winder's Cove, Pawtuxet, Cranston was the site in 1792 where Elijah Ormsbee of Providence invented, built and operated a steamboat thirteen years before Fulton 'invented' the steamboat. Elijah's was the first boat propelled by steam to ply the waters of Narragansett Bay. This year, [1992] during August, the Pawtucket Preservation Society celebrated 200 years of steamboating, and gave an Ormsbee - Wilkinson trophy at the Captains Dinner. Wilkinson was from Pawtucket and was the person who cast and bore the cylinders for Ormsbee's steamboat.
In 1769 when a ship was entering Pawtuxet Cove after a sea voyage, Barlow Arnold, age 20, your author's uncle (6th generation), fell from the mast and died. The woman known as the Pawtuxet Witch had prophesied Barlow would never see his home again! He and other Pawtuxet lads annoyed her and the last time this happened, she recognized Barlow and put the curse on him.
Bailey3Right:  "Old Sea Captain's House, Foot of Peck Lane, Pawtuxet, Rhode Island" by Whitman Bailey 1937.

Once upon a time, an elderly woman, slight of frame with white hair, lived with her husband in a little red house on Peck Lane. c1928. During the last years of her life, she became a burden to her husband. Whenever she disappeared from home, he went looking for her. She became very religious and believed no matter what she did the Lord would take care of her. Every day she would stand on the corner of Narragansett Parkway and Peck Lane preaching the gospel. Several times she walked in the middle of today' s Post Road with cars going around her. But, her fatal day came! Her husband found her in the water at the foot of Peck Lane trying to walk on the water. She was crying, "The Lord will take care of me." Her husband could not get to her in time and she drowned.

Random Notes from Hazel:

During the 1700's and into the early 1800's the cove was still a busy harbor with square-rigged sailing ships moored to a line of wharves along the shore.  Seamen were engaged in loading freight bound for ports along the Atlantic coast and to the islands of the Caribbean Sea, while others were unloading freight that had arrived to be transported overland to towns and villages inland. There were warehouses along the shoreline for storage of farm products and manufactured goods. At the Customs House in Providence in 1805 at least 30 fright carrying vessels were registered, claiming Pawtuxet as their home port.  In these days sloops carrying 80 to 100 tons were the leading vessels.

The small coastal village had small and large box-like houses lining the streets.  The rooms were large and usually each one had a fireplace that served the householders for cooking and heating.  In the yards were beautiful flowers, vegetables, herb gardens, and arbors covered with delicious Concord grapes.  Fresh air blew in from the Bay and meadowlands.  People are clams and oysters from the clean salt water and everywhere it was pleasantly quiet and serene.

PAWTUXET BRIDGE.  The earliest bridge across the Pawtuxet River was a rope bridge used in the seventeenth century.  The first small wooden bridge was built around 1711 and was located close to the falls where its abutments got the full force of the river as well as the tide in the Pawtuxet Cove.  It frequently required repairs and was carried away in the spring floods of 1771 and 1784.  In 1810 a new stone bridge was built and in 1884 a twin arch span was erected of stone.  In March 1886 the river overflowed its banks and the force and volume of water that poured over the dam filled the arches, built of stone and moved the Warwick end slightly on its abutments. In the early twentieth century Pawtuxet Bridge and the rocks in the Pawtuxet Falls were frequently the target for graffiti artists.  To counteract this, the Pawtuxet Old Home and Improvement Association planted quick-growing vines to grow over the rocks and walls on each side of the falls.  The bridge was widened in 1932 with reinforced concrete construction faced with stone masonry.  Repairs to the bridge are the joint responsibility of the Cities of Cranston and Warwick, and it marks the unity of the two sections of Pawtuxet Village.

Vignettes from Other Sources: 

Bailey-Foot of Bridge St. 1937Right:  "Foot of Bridge Street, Pawtuxet, RI", by Whitman Bailey, 1937
By 1935 Pawtuxet was in the middle of the great depression---the community was an assemblage of run down houses & few people were of the old moneyed class. The channel had silted in not allowing any deep draft vessels to enter-----no fish processing plants, no factories---well, no nothing---a village of Swedes & old Yankee's stock who were employed in Providence in factories or domestics.

Totowamscut was the Narragansett Indian term for "bridge" and was applied to the rock crossing that existed just above Pawtuxet Falls before white settlers came to inhabit the place in 1636An older wooden dam was replaced with a concrete spillway in the 1920s.

Cranston City Council members at the time of the construction of the present Pawtuxet Bridge were Amasa Sprague, James Budlong, Charles Bloomer, Henry Tucker, Charles Pate, Alonzo Stanley and Phineas Conley.  The bridge was constructed by Garvey Brothers and H.G. Macomber. The engineer for the bridge was Joseph Latham, whose final plans led to what we now know as the “Pawtuxet River Bridge.”

Eddy Street in Providence had its origin in the form of a toll road or turnpike to the Village of Pawtuxet.  Built in the year 1825, it began at Eddy's Point near to what is now the junction of Ship and Dyer Streets and continued to Berwick Lane within a half mile of Pawtuxet Bridge.  The franchise called for "one toll gate not to be within two miles of the State House."  At the time, the State House was located on North Main Street, Providence.  In the year 1853, a company was formed to build and operate a Plank Road from Providence to Pawtuxet.  A charter and franchise was granted but the project was abandoned without explanation.

Pawtuxet1870map500 Horse drawn and, later, electric, trolley cars were the main modes of transportation to and from Pawtuxet Village in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. The Union Railroad Company operated both the Broad Street Line from Providence south into Pawtuxet, and the "Bumble-Bee" trolley from Pawtuxet west into the Lakewood neighborhood. During the summer, open air "Bloomer cars" were employed that we speculate got their name by transporting workers to and from Pawtuxet Village to work in the C. G. Bloomer's Sons jewelry factory located on Commercial Street. 

The USS Pawtuxet was built at the Portsmouth (NH) Naval Shipyard in 1864 as a "Double Ender" and a "Side Wheel Steamer. She served in the Union blockade of southern ports, and bombarded Confederate forts in Delaware and North Carolina. After the Civil War ended, the Pawtuxet was decommissioned in June 1865, and sold off in October 1867. This ship was also listed in the Register of Ships of the US Navy under the misspelling of Pontoosuc

For those confused with the name of Pawtuxet and the similar names of two other Rhode Island locations, Pawtucket and Pawcatuck, check out the amusing discussion at http://www.whipple.org/docs/paws.html

Books about Pawtuxet Village:
  • Second Nature, Blooming in Pawtuxet Village, by J.H. Hartman & S. N. Hartman
  • Pawtuxet Village: National Historic District ~ The Cranston Side, by Janet Hudon Hartman, 2008
  • Fragments of Time in Pawtuxet, by Hazel Wade Kennedy, 1986
  • Images of America: Pawtuxet, Rhode Island, by Henry A. L. Brown & Don D'Amato, 1997
Left: Pawtuxet Village Subscribers Business Directory 1870 mapClick map to access high resolution original image

Also check out these 1870 D. G. Beers Maps courtesy of RIGenWeb:
  • Cranston-Pawtuxet/Edgewood
  • Warwick-Pawtuxet/Conimicut

  • Go To List of Pawtuxet Village Historic Homes and Buildings
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    Revised 06/2008    vignettes.html