“The Ghost Army”

“The Ghost Army of WWII” courtesy of Rick Beyer

2:00 pm April 22, 2018
Blackstone Valley Historical Society
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike
Lincoln, RI  02865

BVHS is happy to welcome Rick Beyer, author and documentary filmmaker,  to tell us about his research on the Ghost Army, the WWII deception unit.  This event is free, all are welcome.

The Ghost Army

Dummy Tank in Factory. Courtesy of Rick Beyer

In the summer of 1944, a handpicked group of young GIs landed in France to conduct a secret mission. Armed with rubber tanks, sound effects records, and their imagination, their job was to create a traveling road show of deception on the battlefields of Europe. From Normandy to the Rhine, they conjured up phony convoys, phantom divisions, and make-believe headquarters to fool the enemy. What they did was kept secret for more than fifty years after the war. Their official name was the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, but they are better known today as The Ghost Army

Writer and filmmaker Rick Beyer will detail the manner in which this unusual unit came into being, how they carried out their amazing deceptions. He’ll also explore the Blackstone Valley’s unique connection to the Ghost Army , and efforts underway to award the men this unit long delayed recognition for their accomplishments

Rick Beyer

Rick Beyer

Rick Beyer is a New York Times best-selling author and an award-winning documentary filmmaker. He produced the PBS documentary The Ghost Army and co-authored the bestselling book The Ghost Army of World War II, (with Elizabeth Sayles) that is being developed as a Hollywood movie. He is the president of The Ghost Army Legacy Project, a non-profit dedicated to preserving and honoring the legacy of the deception troops.

Beyer has made documentary films for The History Channel, A&E, National Geographic, and others. He is the author of the popular Greatest Stories Never Told series of history books, as well as Rivals Unto Death a dual biography of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, published earlier this year. He has written for numerous publications, and shared his unique take on history in interviews on CBS, Fox News, MSNBC, NPR, VOA and CNN. A Rhode Island native, he lives in Salem, MA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little-known Tales of New England Aviation

2:00-4:00 pm
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Blackstone Valley Historical Society
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike
Lincoln, RI 02865

 

Come enjoy a talk by  Jim Ignasher, Smithfield historian.   “How did the creation of Smithfield’s first airport in 1932 ultimately change the course of WWII in the Pacific?  And have you ever heard about the bizarre air battle that took place over Boston?   Or what became of a fighter pilot who mysteriously vanished from formation while on a routine training flight over Connecticut?”   On March 18, local writer and historian Jim Ignasher will tell these and other little-known tales relating to New England Aviation.  Free event.  Refreshments afterwards. Donations gratefully accepted.

 

 

 

About the Lime Kilns of Lime Rock: An Exhibit

Wall Kiln west of Louisquisset Pike


2:00-4:00 pm, February 25, 2018
Exhibit at BVHS
Downstairs at North Gate
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike
Lincoln, RI  02865

Note: There will also be special exhibits from the collections of Jim and Dan Bethel.

If you live in Lime Rock, you may be familiar with these mysterious stone structures. But maybe not. Most of them are hard to see, even though you may drive past them often.  This exhibit will walk through seven sites that are part of Lime Rock’s history.  Mining and processing lime was nearly a continuous industry in Lime Rock from 17th century until nearly the 21st century (the Conklin Lime Quarry).  These stone kilns, which bear a strong resemblance to ones in England, are relics of this early industry.

Our original idea was to do a walking tour, but most of the locations aren’t very accessible.

Kiln on Sherman Avenue

Lime deposits were discovered in Rhode Island very early in the colony’s history.  Although limestone was found what is now Johnston, North Providence, and Cumberland, the largest deposits were in Lime Rock, which was then part of the Providence territory and referred to as the “North Woods” or the “Outlands.” In 1730, it became Smithfield.   At some point between 1662 and 1669, Thomas Harris and Gregory Dexter each gained possession of land in the Lime Rock area containing limestone deposits and shortly afterwards began to work them. There is a letter dated August 19, 1669 from Roger Williams to the governor of Connecticut, John Winthrop Jr, introducing Gregory Dexter to his notice as a producer of lime.  Descendants of Thomas Harris and Gregory Dexter dominated the lime business until the early 20th century. The Harris Lime Rock Company was incorporated in 1823, and the Dexter Lime Rock Company was incorporated in 1854, and they later merged.  The Whipples, Jenckes, and Arnolds were also involved in the business of producing lime.

Many of the residents of Lime Rock worked part or full-time mining lime and burning it in the kilns, or in related work such as woodcutting, charcoal burning, and making barrels to hold the finished lime.  Elaborate leases of rights to dig lime and burn it were drawn up.  It was additional income for many farmers.  “Smithfield” lime was marketed up and down the east coast, and was considered very fine.  Expediting the shipment of lime to Providence was one of the principal reasons for the building of the Louisquisset Pike.  It was such big business that a bank was needed, and the Smithfield Lime Rock Bank was founded in 1823.

Lime kiln west of Louisquisset Pike

Lime was very valuable in colonial times.  It was chiefly used for mortar and plaster for building.  The “stone ender” chimneys at the Eleazer Arnold House and the Valentine Whitman house were built using local lime. It was also used in tanning, bleaching, blacksmithing, sugar refining, and candle making.  Later it was used as a soil amendment, as it is used today.  In the late nineteenth century, Portland cement took the place of natural lime mortar in building.  Before the discovery of limestone, the early colonists made lime by burning seashells, which was inferior for building.

Concert at North Gate: Jazz and Standards

7:00 pm.  Saturday, January 27
Blackstone Valley Historical Society
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike
Lincoln, RI 02865

 

A concert of some of the most important and influential American songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century, including the most popular and enduring songs from the 1920s to the  1950s that were created for Broadway theatre, musical theatre, and Hollywood musical films. Light refreshments.

Tickets $20.00 Tickets are available at the door, but reservations by email are recommended: michaeldimuccimusic@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Movie Matinees at North Gate

Two special movie showings at North Gate!

January 14, 2018, 2:00 pm-4:30 pm, BVHS will be showing Part 1 of  “Senechonet to Manville: A Journey Through Time,” a historical commentary on the village of Manville, RI, by Betty and Carlo Mencucci, with many photographs and other material collected by Roger Gladu. The movie covers the growth of Manville from colonial times, and ends with the spectacular disasters of the 20th century: the 1924 house gas explosion on Cumberland Hill, the 1920s textile strikes, the 1927 flood, the 1938 hurricane, and the flood and fire in 1955. Free Event.

January 21, 2018. 2:00 pm-4:00 pm,  BVHS will be showing Part 2 of “Senechonet to Manville: A Journey Through Time,” a historical commentary on the village of Manville, RI, by Betty and Carlo Mencucci, with many photographs and other material collected by Roger Gladu. Highlights of this movie include the stories of many Manville businesses through time, Manville in wartime, and much more. Popcorn available. Free event.
Movies will be shown at the Blackstone Valley Historical Society, 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI  02865, bvhsri@gmail.com, 401-862-4202.
Please watch Facebook and the news media in case of cancellations due to weather.

Christmas Open House

North Gate

2:00 to 4:00 PM
Sunday, December 3, 2017

North Gate, 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI 02865

Children (detail:Lime Rock Grange Harvest Supper Series)

You are invited!  We wish to thank our members and friends for their support throughout the year.   Join us for an afternoon of music and refreshments, and maybe even a visit from a man in a red suit!  Bring your family and friends.  Bob Ferri, DJ, will be spinning holiday tunes for us!    Bring a canned good to be donated to a local food pantry.  Free event!

Some Other Historical Holiday Events

Open House and Santa’s Workshop at the Museum of Work and Culture, December 2, 1-5 pm.  The Rhode Island Historical Society invites the community to visit the Museum of Work & Culture on Saturday, December 2, 1-5pm for a free annual Holiday Open House, offered as part of Woonsocket’s Main Street Holiday Stroll. Meet the North Pole Postman, whose latest book features the Museum.  Visitors are invited to decorate cookies from Wright’s Dairy Farm & Bakery, and help Santa’s elves build and test toys in their workshop. Children who help the elves will be entered in a raffle to win a toy train set.  Visitors may also tour the MoWC, which will be decked in its holiday finest.

Hearthside

Hearthside will be hosting several “Old Fashioned Christmas” Events. See https://www.hearthsidehouse.org/old-fashioned-christmas.

 

 

 

Live at North Gate: Michael DiMucci in Concert

3:00 PM
November 5, 2017
Blackstone Valley Historical Society
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike
Lincoln, RI 02865

 

Michel DiMucci

Pianist and vocalist Michael DiMucci in Concert: Americana: Songs from America’s History, from the Revolution to World War I

Tickets $20 ($21.69 with service fee) Tickets are on sale at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3086746. You may also purchase tickets at BrownPaperTickets.com by calling 1-800-838-3006 (24/7).  We will also be selling tickets at the door.

Michael DiMucci studied piano with the late Chester Fruscione of Trenton, New Jersey and further at the Westminster Conservatory of Music in Princeton, NJ, where he also studied pipe organ. Mr. DiMucci has played at several RI venues for special events as well as his own concerts and recitals such as Linden Place, Blithewold Mansion, Mount Hope Farm, The Dunes Club and others. As a singer, Mr. DiMucci apprenticed at Boheme Opera in Trenton, NJ for two seasons with Maestro Joseph Pucciatti and currently studies voice with RI baritone and Artistic Director of Opera Providence, Rene de la Garza. He has performed throughout the New England area in large and small venues for concerts, private recitals, special events and weddings and was a regular guest artist at the University of Rhode Islands Opera Workshop. There Mr. DiMucci performed many lead tenor roles including Tamino in The Magic Flute; Nanki-Poo in the Mikado; Ralph Rackstraw in H.M.S. Pinafore; Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi and Matt/Larry in Face On The Barroom Floor. Mr. DiMucci also performs in concerts and recitals for Opera Providence as a guest singer. Because of his diverse musical background, Michael is at home singing Broadway/Musical Theatre, Opera, classical literature, as well as jazz and the American Songbook.

German and American Helmets-WWI from the collection of Kevin Heskin

World War I Exhibit

Meet and Greet with Michael after the concert. There will be refreshments while you enjoy a World War I-themed exhibit from the collection of Kevin Heskin, on display for the concert.

 

Some photographs of the event, by Jim Hendrickson.

Michael DiMucci
The March of the 26th Yankee Division

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael DiMucci playing the organ at North Gate

 

Part of Kevin Heskin’s collection

 

Some memorabilia belonging to Jason Dionne’s grandfather, a dispatch rider in WWI.

The General and the Adman

President Eisenhower with golf buddies William E. Robinson (Coca-Cola Company’s Chairman of the Board) and George Allen (business executive) at Eisenhower House, 9/14/1958, courtesy of Madeleine O. Robinson and the DEM.

2:00 p.m. October 15, 2017
BVHS (North Gate, Downstairs)
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike
Lincoln, RI  02865

A talk about President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his friend and advisor, Rhode Island native son William “Bill” Edward Robinson,  by Madeleine O. Robinson, PhD (URI ’80).

Free.  Light refreshments.

Even as a young girl, Madeleine was always fascinated by the career of her cousin, Bill Robinson.   Brought up in Central Falls, Bill was drafted into the army shortly after he graduated from LaSalle Academy in 1918.  However, the war ended before he completed his training in New York City.  He decided to stay there, and enrolled as a student at New York University.  To support himself, he reported campus news to a local newspaper as well as gathered ads. Thus, he began his career in advertising.

At times Bill would come home to Rhode Island to visit.  Some of these visits included ones to Madeleine’s family in Cumberland, especially to see her father, Thomas “Tom” Robinson, who was one year younger than Bill and a former childhood friend.  Both attended Holy Trinity School in Central Falls.

Over the years, her father would keep Madeleine and family updated on Bill’s activities.  Those reports became more and more interesting as Bill advanced in the newspaper world in New York.

Beginning in 1944, Bill became involved with Eisenhower in attempting to revive the international edition of the New York Herald Tribune in France.  Gradually they became friends as Ike took over the presidency of Columbia University, then through the presidential campaign, into the White House years and beyond.

Madeleine’s talk will emphasize the unique relationship of two boys who began life in opposite directions, and who might not ever have met in ordinary life.

Copies of the bound and printed article will be for sale at the lecture for $2.00 each.


3:00 PM, November 5, 2017
Blackstone Valley Historical Society
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI 02865

Michael DiMucci in Concert: Americana: Songs from America’s History, from the Revolution to World War I

This is a fundraiser for BVHS. Tickets $20.00

Michel DiMucci

Tickets are on sale at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3086746, at BVHS during events, and at the door.  You may also purchase tickets at BrownPaperTickets by calling 1-800-838-3006 (24/7).

 

 

 


Marker from Nipsachuck dig (2012-2013) in North Smithfield, “Lead Shot East Side”

Finally, October is Archaeology Month.  Here is the list of activities this month from the RIHPHC: http://www.preservation.ri.gov/archaeology/17october.php

 

Great Road Open House Day

September 23, 11-4 p.m.  Smithsonian Museum Day Live!

Many historic properties in Lincoln will be open this day for Great Road Open House Day.  Hearthside, Hannaway Blacksmith Shop, the Moffat Mill, the Pullen Corner School House, the Eleazer Arnold House, the Saylesville Friends Meeting House, the Valentine Whitman House, Mt. Moriah Lodge,

Arnold’s Lonsdale Bakery and North Gate at BVHS are scheduled to be open this day.

Nathaniel Ballou House

Special exhibit at North Gate: An Elaborate History: The Cumberland Ballous.

In the summer of 2015, the BVHS received an old photograph album from Arnold Robinson of Roger Williams University.  It had been given to him by the children of the late Anne “Pete” Baker, a prominent preservationist architect.  Since the pictures in the album related to Cumberland, he thought that researchers might find it more easily if it were in the Blackstone Valley, so he sent it to BVHS.   The list pictured here was tucked in the album.  We are not sure if the original owners made the list.  Someone had marked each picture in the album with a post-it note, naming each picture in order according to the list.  There were several loose pictures in the back, of men perched on immense rocks.  The same three men and a boy appeared in several of the pictures.

Scott House, Ballou Photo Album

Oddly enough, most of the pictures seemed to be of abandoned houses, or at least houses in need of serious repair.  The photographs of the Ballou Meeting House and the nearby cemetery were easily recognized.

A few months later, we happened on a post by Diane Boumenot, in her blog called “One Rhode Island Family” entitled “The Ballou Pioneer Settlers”.  Diane wrote about a booklet written by Col. Daniel R. Ballou for the Annual Meeting of the Ballou Family Association of America, held on September 5, 1914.  It was called, “The Ballou Pioneer Setters of the Second Generation in the Louisquisset Country and How They Lived,”  and explained how to find the houses of the earliest Ballous, who settled in what is now Lincoln, RI.  Col Daniel briefly touched on Maturin’s second son James, who purchased a large tract of land in Cumberland and divided it among three of his sons.  Suddenly the album made sense. What if some Ballou descendants had decided to research the ancestral places of the Ballous in Cumberland?  And one of them was a photographer?

Beacon Pole Hill

The blog post included several illustrations from a vast Ballou Genealogy. “An Elaborate History and Genealogy of the Ballous in America,” by Adin Ballou, published in 1888, is a 1323 page tome about the descendants of Maturin Ballou.  Two of the illustrations were nearly identical to the pictures in the album, and the album pictures were correctly identified according to the book.

We set out to identify the rest of the photographs in the album. There is still work to do, but this exhibit is about what we found.  Sadly, we have not found any of the houses pictured still standing.  Perhaps this part of Cumberland was too remote and the farming unspectacular, and so over time, they were abandoned.

End of Summer

Women posing at Jenks Park. Picture shared by Michael Brule at the BVHS Cogswell Tower Tour on June 28.

We had fun at our summer events!  BVHS’s Annual Tour of Cogswell Tower in Central Falls drew an crowd, and all enjoyed it.  Many people shared their memories and even pictures of the park. Michael Brule of Central Falls brought this astonishing photo of three women at Jenks Park. He says that one woman is a member of the Flanagan family.

Francine Jackson answering questions after the talk
Francine Jackson answering questions after the talk

We also drew a crowd for Francine Jackson’s talk about eclipses.

 

 

 

North Gate from the Louisquisset Pike

Please note that we’ve updated BVHS’s  Upcoming Events page!   Our next event is September 23, where we will be open for Great Road Open House Day.  In the meantime, we are listing some other late summer historical activities in the Blackstone Valley.

 

Hearthside

On August 24, 6:30 p.m. Hearthside will be doing a guided evening tour.

 

 

Don’t miss the last of the free Ranger Walks and Summer Saturday Tours at the Blackstone Valley National Historic Park.

August 20, 2017, 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.   Frederick Douglass 200th Birthday Community Celebration,  at Adin Ballou Park in Hopedale, MA.

August 24, 2017, 6:30 p.m. Ranger Walkabouts: Reclaiming an Industrial Landscape, Kelly House, Blackstone River State Park, 1075 Lower River Road, Lincoln, RI

August 26, 2017, 10:00 a.m. 17 Saturdays of Summer: Healthy Parks/Healthy People: Fun ways to keep you and your park healthy, North Smithfield Library 20 Main Street Slatersville, MA.

August 31, 2017, 6:30 p.m. Ranger Walkabout: Slater Mill and the Pawtucket Falls, Slater Mill Historic Site, 67 Roosevelt Avenue, Pawtucket.

We will be open on September 23 from 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. as part of Great Road Open House Day in Lincoln, and Smithsonian Museum Day Live.