Ancestors of the Blackstone Valley Series

The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, Slater Mill Historic Site and the Museum of Work and Culture present  Ancestors of the Blackstone Valley, three free public speaking and oral history presentations about the people and cultural groups who shaped Rhode Island’s historic Blackstone Valley over the last 400 years.


220px-Draper_Factory_HopedaleWednesday, June 25 at 6:30 p.m.It’s Family Business – Draper Mills, Textiles and the Peculiarity of Family Business  at Slater Mill, 67 Roosevelt Avenue in Pawtucket.  Draper Mills, once the largest maker of power looms for the textile industry in the United States, operated in Hopedale, Mass. for more than 130 years. The program will discuss textile industry expansion and how family dynamics shaped the industrial and post-industrial business models. Photo: Draper Mills in 2009, Hopedale, MA.

Friday, July 25, at 6:00  p.m., the series moves to the water, aboard the Blackstone Valley Explorer riverboat, from the Central Falls Landing, 45 Madeira Ave.  See the BVHS on the Go Event–BVHS members will be joining the interpretive cruise on the Blackstone.

220px-Museum_of_Work_and_Culture_WoonsocketThursday, Aug. 14, 4-7 p.m. at the Museum of Work & Culture, Market Square, Woonsocket. Your Family History is a collection event. The museum is compiling an archive of our local work history for an interactive exhibit. This event will allow people to share their photographs or documents, which will be recorded and cataloged (and immediately returned) so that individuals’ heritage can become part of the museum. There will be a location where interviews with people who worked in the local mills will be recorded and preserved as part of history. Appointments will be taken. Photo: The Museum of Work and Culture.

For more information on the series, contact Dianne Mailloux 401-724-2200 or email .

Valley Breeze article  Photos courtesy of Wikipedia.


Come and Play Games of Old at the Smith Appleby House

Come & Play Games of Old at the Smith-Appleby House on Sunday, August 17

1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and children are free.

SmithApplebyGamesEnjoy a colonial fun-filled family day of yard games and watermelon at the Smith-Appleby House in Smithfield, RI, on Sunday, August 17, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Show your skill and challenge others at tug-o-war, sack race, hoops, graces, 9 pin bowling, and “how far can you spit that seed?” Then tour the historical Smith-Appleby House to see and hear what daily life was really like in Colonial Rhode Island during the American Revolution. Tours are led by educators and history enthusiasts in Colonial dress.

The House dates to 1696 and was built by Elisha Smith, the grandson of John Smith “The Miller,” a member of Roger Williams’ original party of six men who left the Massachusetts Bay Colony to start the colony of Providence, Rhode Island, in 1636. Expanded from its original construction as a one-room stone-ender cottage, the delicately restored 12-room historic farmhouse features beautiful cabinet work, varied architectural designs, original stencils, and furnished rooms showcasing an intriguing collection of antiques.

This very special event is part of our Rhody Ramble Open House series. For more information, visit

Tribute to the 1904 World’s Fair at Hearthside House

Hearthside House Museum presents:

Tribute to 1904 World’s Fair at St. Louis

Special Exhibit & Celebration

July 13, 2014, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

hearhsideLincoln, RI—On Sunday, July 13th the Hearthside House Museum is proud to celebrate an important event in our nation’s history—the 1904 World’s Fair held in St. Louis.  In a tribute to this grand Fair, Hearth­side will sponsor a special exhibition and outdoor festival providing visitors with an understanding of the “Greatest World’s Fair ever”, featuring the important role of Rhode Island.

During the 1904 World’s Fair, fifty-three nations came together showcasing the world’s innovations and diverse cultures. The festive atmosphere was non-stop. There were carnival type attractions found along the mile-long “Pike,” where one could get a “bird’s eye view” of the Fair from atop the world’s largest Ferris wheel.

On July 13th, the grounds surrounding Hearthside will be filled with the festive sights and sounds that were found along “The Pike,” with turn-of-the-century fashions worn by Hearthside’s volunteer staff, lively rag­time and marching music, and old-fashioned games of skill and chance, and other amusements. The foods made popular at the Fair, such as hot dogs, cotton candy, iced tea, and ice cream cones will also be fea­tured, all adding to a festive summertime outing and giving visitors a taste of what fairgoers experienced.

The 1904 World’s Fair, a centennial celebration of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, was held over a period of just 7 months, and by the end of it, over 20 million people had experienced history’s greatest international exhibition. Throughout the Fair, Rhode Island had a prominent role.

Rhode Island’s pavilion, which represented all that was great about the state, was a reproduction of Stephen Hopkins Smith’s mansion in Lincoln, now known as Hearthside. The design, selected after a competitive process among the state’s architects, was a re-creation of the colonial-style mansion. Its design was meticulous, from the ogee gable to the fabrication of the field stone look used in the outer walls. Design elements for the interior were taken from other Rhode Island homes and buildings.

All of the Fair’s 1,500 buildings were built as temporary structures and then demolished upon completion of the Fair. However, some were saved, having been purchased at the end of the Fair and re-purposed. The Rhode Island Pavilion was one such building. It was moved to another part of St. Louis, and the building became a residence. Sadly though, the architectural details which made it so special were removed.

During the July 13th event, an extensive exhibit will be on display throughout the rooms at Hearthside, which will include photographic displays, interpretive panels, video presentation, and memorabilia, much of it donated to Hearthside by the Murch family who lived in the relocated Rhode Island model in St. Louis in the years following the Fair. The feature of the exhibit will be a custom-built, operating tabletop model of the gigantic Ferris Wheel. Tours throughout Hearthside will be available throughout the day as well.

The Fair embodied the interests and aspirations of a nation at the turn of the century. We celebrated America’s achievements in science, agriculture, technology, and art, with 43 states exhibiting their finest in magnificent pavilions and gigantic ornate palaces which stretched the lengths of several football fields.

In 1904, Rhode Island was a national leader and deemed a “center of productive industry. There were 4,600 active manufacturing establishments, and were growing at such a rapid rate, that it exceeded the rate of percentage of the population. Local companies such as Brown & Sharpe, Gorham, and U.S. Rubber were among those featured at the Fair.

On July 13th, Hearthside hopes to inspire Rhode Islanders to have pride in their state once again with this look back in history and to what was probably our state’s proudest moment. Some statewide organizations that are focused on highlighting the successes of our state have been invited to participate as well as several local companies whose history go back to that time period.

The event gets underway at 10:00 a.m. and will run till 6:00 p.m. Admission is $10/adults; $8/seniors; $5/ages 10-17; under 10 free. Fair foods will be available for purchase.

Hearthside House Museum is located at 677 Great Road in Lincoln. For more information, call 401-726-0597, email, or visit

Built in 1810 by Stephen Hopkins Smith with winnings from a lottery, Hearthside is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It remained a private home for nearly 200 years before being purchased by the Town of Lincoln. A nonprofit volunteer organization, the Friends of Hearthside, have transformed it into a house museum and serve as its stewards. Funds raised from tours and special events help to support its continued preservation.

The World’s Fair 1904 program is made possible in part by a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities

Image: The Rhode Island Pavilion at the 1904 Wor’ld’s Fair, also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.

Albert Klyberg to be inducted into the RI Heritage Hall of Fame


On April 26,  Al Klyberg, noted local historian, will be inducted into the R. I. Heritage Hall of Fame.

The Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame was founded in 1965 to honor the contributions of those whose efforts have added significantly to the heritage of the State of Rhode Island.

Al Klyberg has lived along the Blackstone Canal in Lincoln for forty years.  For thirty of those he was executive director of The Rhode Island Historical Society.  He was the project director for the documentary editions of the Papers of General Nathanael Greene and the Correspondence of Roger Williams.   He managed the development of the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket, was a founding member of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, and principal organizer of the Heritage Harbor Museum initiative.  He has conducted planning studies for Hannaway Blacksmith Shop, Chase Farm, and Moffett Mill in Lincoln and participated in the planning for Kelly House Museum in the Blackstone River State Park.   He was a seasonal park ranger there for ten summers.  Recently, he authored a centennial history of the RI State Parks.

Klyberg holds history degrees from the College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio and the University of Michigan.  He received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Rhode Island College and was appointed to the National Museum Services Board by President Jimmy Carter.

Biography from





In Search of Roger Williams-Lecture on March 27

In Search of Roger Williams

Rhode Island historian and RIC Emeritus Professor J. Stanley Lemons will present In Search of Roger Williams, a lecture about the evolving images of the founder of Rhode Island, on Thursday, March 27, 7-8:30 p.m. in the Forman Center, Room C, at Rhode Island College, 600 Mt. Pleasant Ave., Providence. Co-sponsored by the RIC Department of History and the Ridgway F. Shinn Jr. Study Abroad Fund, this event is free and open to the public.

More books have been written about Roger Williams than any other 17th-century American, but some of the facts about Williams are simply fiction, said Lemons.

For example, writers have referred to Williams, a Protestant theologian who founded Rhode Island as a haven for religious liberty, as a “Seeker.” Williams was not a Seeker, said Lemons; this label was first given to him by his opponents. “In the 1640s, to discredit someone, you called him a Seeker, which was like calling someone a Communist in the 1950s,” he said. “Seekers were considered a heretical group who denied the divinity of Christ and the existence of Heaven and Hell, among other Christian doctrines. These were beliefs that Williams abhorred. He was a Puritan, a deeply religious man, who considered himself a witness for Christianity. His writings are saturated with biblical quotations and references to Scripture.”
By the mid-19th century, when the idea of religious liberty had come to be regarded as part of the American way of life, Williams was raised to heroic stature, said Lemons. “During that time, Williams was characterized not as a religious man but as a philosophical champion of democracy, so much so that they nearly transformed him into a New Deal Democrat by the 1930s. This was the gravest misconception by writers, because they stripped the theologian of his deeply religious character,” he said.

Lemons has twice been recognized by the American Association of State and Local History with the Award of Merit (their highest award) for his contributions to Rhode Island history. He served as professor of history at Rhode Island College for 39 years and is author of “The Elect: Rhode Island’s Women Legislators, 1922-1990” (1990); “FIRST: The First Baptist Church in America” (2001); and “Rhode Island: The Ocean State” (2004). In 2013 he contributed a volume to the “Baptists in Early North America” series and this August, Baylor University Press is publishing a book co-authored by Lemons, Linford Fisher and Lucas Mason-Brown titled “Decoding Roger Williams: The Lost Essay of Rhode Island’s Founding Father.”

Established in 1854, Rhode Island College serves approximately 9,000 graduate and undergraduate students through its five schools: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, the School of Social Work, the School of Management and the School of Nursing. For more information, visit

Call for Information-Blackstone Valley men who served in WWI

BVHS would like to acknowledge the one hundredth anniversary of the start of World War I by honoring those local men who served in that war.  If you have a relative who served in that war we would like to collect photos, military rank and service history and biographies of that loved one to use in a special display we are planning.  These will then be kept in our archives to document the Blackstone Valley s contribution to this historic event.  If you have questions or wish to contribute to this project, please call or email Susan Clarke at 451-0921 or

Cumberland Historical Scavenger Hunt

NinemenCumberland Historical Scavenger Hunt

The Cumberland Park and Recreational Department is holding its first Historical Scavenger Hunt.  Join in and receive a “time traveler” passport that will send you to find 10 locations using clues that span four centuries of Cumberland history.

The official registration day is Saturday, March 8 at the Diamond Hill Ski Park Lodge Building, noon to 3:00 p.m., but you can register early by calling 401-334-9996.   The fee is $10 per team or $5 for an individual.  Participants will have until Saturday, March 30 to complete the hunt.

Valley Breeze Article

Picture:  “Nine Men’s Misery” Memorial from Wikipedia Commons.