The World War II Collection of Kevin Heskin

Exhibit: The World War II Collection of Kevin Heskin
2:00 pm, February 24, 2019
Blackstone Valley Historical Society
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike
P. O. Box 125
Lincoln, Rhode Island, USA

Collection of Kevin Heskin
Collection of Kevin Heskin

On Sunday February 24th, historian Kevin Heskin will take us back to the days of World War II, bringing examples of his remarkable collection touching upon all aspects of the war, from all of the countries involved. He has uniforms belonging to Spanish, German, Japanese, and American soldiers. In addition, he will show the varied weapons the armies used, including swords, bayonets, gas masks, and more.

Heskin has long been fascinated with World Wars I and II. He has spent more than a decade hunting down everything he can find that memorializes these two devastating times in our history. He has previously brought many objects from his WWI collection to North Gate, and his memorabilia from the second World War is also fascinating.

North Gate will be going back to this historic time from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, February 24. Join us and Heskin, and relive the second “war to end all wars” as seen from different countries’ viewpoints.



Michael DiMucci in Concert at North Gate

Singin’ and Swingin’ Sunday
January 27, 2019 3:00 pm
at North Gate, Blackstone Valley Historical Society
1873 Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI 02865

(this is not a BVHS event)

A concert of tunes from the crooners of jazz, blues and standards

Tenor Michael DiMucci will present Singin’ and Swingin’ Sunday: a concert of tunes from the crooners of jazz, blues and standards taking place at The Blackstone Valley Historical Society on Sunday January 27, 2019 at 3:00PM and featuring Michael DiMucci, tenor; Andy DiPaola, pianist; John Curzio, bassist.

The concert is to take place in the Blackstone Valley Historical Society located at 1873 Louisquisset Pike in Lincoln, RI. Tickets are $25.00 and are available at the door; however reservations via email are strongly recommended: — please provide your name, contact information and quantity of tickets needed.

Light refreshments provided

A concert of timeless, classic music in a historic venue!


Slater Mill

2:00 pm, Sunday, November 18
Blackstone Valley Historical Society
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike
Lincoln, RI 02865

Free; donations welcome.

THIS TALK IS CANCELLED.  We hope to reschedule it next year. Thank you.

Carl Johnson gives a talk on Slater Mill

In American history, the Slater Mill site in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, is justifiably regarded as the inception of the Industrial Revolution in our country. Samuel Slater of Belper, England, at the age of 22, having completed an apprenticeship of six-and-one-half years in Jedediah Strutt’s cotton spinning mill, emigrated from England in September 1789 and arrived in New York that November, bringing with him a thorough knowledge of water-powered spinning machinery. This knowledge was a valuable commodity, since a handful of American manufacturers, such as Moses Brown, who saw promise in textile manufacture—producing high-quality thread and therefore cloth—had been trying, unsuccessfully, to replicate this technology in America. While Slater was New York for a period of several weeks, a ship’s captain informed  him of two men in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, who were planning to open a cotton mill.  Those men were Moses Brown of the prominent Brown family, and Brown’s son-in-law William Almy. Samuel promptly penned a letter to Moses Brown, stating that he had had oversight of and a thorough familiarity with the water-powered spinning mechanisms invented and developed by Sir Richard Arkwright.

Slater spent his first night in Pawtucket as the guest of Sylvanus Brown, who was a respected pattern maker and millwright, and eventually one of the builders of Slater Mill. The date was January 18, 1790. Sylanus Brown—-not related to Moses Brown, although both were members of the Society of Friends, that is to say, Quakers—was assigned the task of interviewing Samuel Slater. Sylvanus and his partners wished to establish just how acquainted was this young Englishman with the details of Arkwright’s spinning works. It so happened that they found in Samuel Slater the ideal candidate for their nascent mill operation. It was in Pawtucket Village, specifically a space Mr. Brown rented within Ezekiel Carpenter’s fulling mill, in December 1790, that Moses Brown, under Slater’s tutelage and in association with William Almy, Sylvanus Brown, blacksmiths and machinists Oziel Wilkinson and his son David, began the first successful cotton spinning business in America.

Drawing from the Blackstone River to provide power for their spinning frames, which was machinery based on English designs but adapted to their Rhode Island location, the “Yellow Mill” opened in 1793 as Almy, Brown and Slater Cotton Manufacturers. It was not officially titled Slater Mill during Samuel’s first decade there, but recognized as such in a colloquial sense.

The much larger and more modernized White Mill across the Blackstone along the riverbank was solely of Slater’s conception. Thereafter, the Yellow Mill would most often be referred to as Old Slater Mill. However, two years prior to Samuel Slater’s death in April 1835, Andrew Jackson, the president of the United States, visited Slater at his home in Webster, Massachusetts, where the president said to him, “Mister Slater, I regard you as the father of our American Manufacturers!” Slater’s reply was, “Yes, Sir. You could say that I wrote the psalm, and the choir has been singing to it ever since.”

Mr. Johnson has worked for Old Slater Mill Association as an interpreter and tour guide for 12 years.



Concert by Michael DiMucci


Michel DiMucci

3:00 pm SUNDAY, November 4: Fundraiser for BVHS!   Americana II: Songs from America’s History, from the 1920’s -1940’s, a concert by Michael DiMucci.

Michael DiMucci, tenor and pianist, presents a concert of songs and their stories from America’s past. This program features well-known melodies from the Roaring Twenties & Jazz Age to the 1930s during the Great Depression and the beginnings of Old Hollywood to the Big Bands and crooners of the 1940s as our country approached the era of World War II.  Tickets $20 ($21.69 with service fee) are available now.  Click the link below.  We will also be selling tickets at the door.


October Events


Fan base

7:00 pm, SATURDAY OCTOBER 20:  The Corpse That Drove a Hearse – and Other True Tales of the Macabre.

A Halloween presentation by Jim Ignasher, Smithfield Historical Society. In this talk, he discusses the Victorian fear of being buried alive, cases of re-animation, and the steps some tried to take to avoid such a fate. Then there were those who actually made a living at being buried alive. It includes stories relating to “points of law” beyond the grave, and finishes with a bizarre love story. The talk is oriented for adults.

Hauntings by Day, Hauntings by Night:  Also in Lincoln, Hearthside will be hosting several related events between September 25 and November 1, including an exhibit, Gone but Not Forgotten: Victorian Mourning Customs, which will be on view October 14, October 20, and October 27.


Stone Wall

Stone Walls of Rhode Island
On Sunday, October 14, Rhode Island state archaeologist Timothy Ives gave a great presentation  on the history and character of R. I.’s stone walls as part of RIHPHC’s Rhode Island Archaeology Month.   Over 100 people attended.


Great Road Day

11:00-4:00 pm, September 22, 2018 BVHS’s Northgate Toll House and the Arnold’s Original Lonsdale Bakery will be open for Great Road Day.  BVHS will be 60 years old.  Stop by for a piece of birthday cake. BVHS, 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI  02865. Free event.


Tree Reflection in the Canal

Northgate will have a special exhibit of the photography of Madeleine O. Robinson, Reflections in the Water: Photographs of the Blackstone Valley.   The Blackstone Canal is the subject of many of the photographs. Dr. Robinson, a Cumberland resident, has shown her photographs at the Attleboro Arts Museum and won awards.

July News

Kelly House Replica Barn

4:00 pm, Wednesday, July 18: Ribbon-Cutting Celebration at the Kelly House Barn, Captain Wilbur Kelly House and Transportation Museum, Blackstone River State Park, 1075 Lower River Road, Lincoln, RI  02865

All are welcome to celebrate the completion of the replica of the milking parlor barn at the Capt. Wilbur Kelly House.  The barn stands on its original site, thanks to a grant in 2016 from the Champlin Foundation to the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.  It will give the park rangers additional interpretive space, and give school groups a place to gather when visiting the Kelly House Museum. Al Klyberg helped develop this project, and looked forward to seeing the farm/factory aspect of early industry incorporated into the tour. John Houghton from BVHS has also been involved in this project.

For more information, see this 2016 Valley Breeze article:


Craign Chartier near grave shaft

July 7: Archaeologists investigate at the Sprague Cemetery from Ken Postle.  Archaeologists Craig Chartier and Greg Lott from Plymouth Archaeology excavated at the lot next to the Sprague Cemetery on Saturday.  Shelby, who was a member of the Cumberland High School Archaeology Club and who is now a second year archaeology student at RIC was also present.  They made several significant finds including a grave shaft showing “a perfect outline of the original casket” which yielded nails, wood and even a metal handle with a copper pin in it.  Photograph courtesy of Ken Postle.  See the full post at


July 2-30: BVHS Exhibit at the Hayden Gallery: An Elaborate History: The Cumberland Ballous.  2nd floor of the Cumberland Public Library, 1464 Diamond Hill Rd, Cumberland, RI 02864



BVHS Annual Tour of Cogswell Tower

Cogswell Tower

6:30 pm, Wednesday June 20, 2018

Meet at the entrance to Jenks Park on 580 Broad St, Central Falls, 02863

Don’t miss BVHS’s annual Tour of Cogswell Tower led by Bob Ferri, Central Falls City Councilman. Meet at the entrance to Jenks Park on 580 Broad St, Central Falls, 02863.  Climb to the top of the tower, and go underneath the Tower to see the Grotto. Free!


Kevin Klyberg explains how the War of 1812 kickstarted the Industrial Revolution

1:30 pm, May 20, 2018  Annual Meeting of BVHS
2:00 pm, May 20, 2018 Kevin Klyberg, The War of 1812 and the Development of the Blackstone Valley

Moffet Mill
Moffet Mill

The War of 1812 played a major role in the industrialization of the Blackstone Valley. While obviously no battles were fought here, the War of 1812 and the embargoes leading up to the war played a key role in launching the first textile industry boom in the Blackstone Valley, and therefore the United States, according to Kevin Klyberg, a national park ranger, who will be giving the annual Christine Nowak Memorial Lecture on May 20 at 2:00 pm.

Klyberg continues, “The ban on importation of textiles from Europe, beginning in 1807, inspired the creation of dozens of new textile mills across the Blackstone Valley.   In many ways, the cotton mill boom of this era is what really made the Industrial Revolution revolutionary, as it expanded the textile industry beyond a handful of sites. By 1815 the Blackstone Valley had transformed into an industrial landscape, and the United States was on its way to becoming a manufacturing powerhouse. “

Ranger Kevin Klyberg has been working with the National Park Service for 21 years, first for the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor and now for the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park ( .

During that time he has shared the sites and stories of the Blackstone Valley with thousands of visitors.

The Christine Nowak Lectures were begun in 2013 in memory of Nowak, a respected local journalist and past president of the Society.

Free event. All welcome.  Refreshments.  Meeting downstairs, Lecture upstairs.