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.



“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 a 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: