An Afternoon of Maritime Misfortune in the Ocean State

2:00 pm, March 20, 2022, Blackstone Valley Historical Society, 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI

Presentation by Charlotte Taylor, archaeologist, RIHPHC

RI Shipwrecks
RI Shipwrecks by Charlotte Taylor

Rhode Island has more shipwrecks per square mile than any other state. The south coast and Block Island are the resting places of many shipwrecks, with many more located in Narragansett Bay.

     The first recorded shipwreck in Rhode Island took place in the  17th century, immediately after the arrival of the Europeans, with the grounding of a Dutch trading vessel. Over the centuries, thousands more vessels came to grief in  these waters. Bad weather, human error, equipment failure, and military action accounted for many of these tragic events. Many shipwrecks from the 19th century into the 20th were captured in dramatic paintings, drawings, and later photographs. Archaeologist Charlotte Taylor, author of the 2017 book, “RI Shipwrecks,” (Arcadia Publishing), will speak at the BVHS March 20. She will showcase some of the best pictures and stories from a long litany of maritime misfortunes here in the Ocean State.

     Taylor came to Rhode Island for graduate school in archaeology at Brown University and never left.  She is now an archaeologist at the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, where she maintains an inventory of the location and condition of the state’s shipwrecks. She has been part of the archaeological survey projects on several of the shipwrecks included in her book.


Searching for history with Jim Bailey

2:00 pm, February 13
Blackstone Valley Historical Society
1839 Old Louisquisett Pike
Lincoln, RI 02865

We ask all our guests to wear masks. Thank you.

On Sunday, February 13, historian Jim Bailey will offer a presentation at BVHS on the voyage and great escape of pirate captain Henry Every. An avid “detectorist” for over 35 years, Bailey’s recovery of a late 17th-century Arabian coin in Middletown, RI, led to years of research that ultimately connected the coin to plunder taken by Every and his men of the pirate ship Fancy. Publication of his work in a research journal of the American Numismatic Society in 2017 shed new light on the first worldwide manhunt in history for one of the most notorious criminals of the 17th century.

    Every captured one of the  richest ships in the history of piracy – a large Mughal vessel off the coast of India in 1695. He later returned to England and vanished from the pages of history, eventually earning titles befitting his infamy – The Pirate King, The Successful Pirate, and The Arch-Pirate.

     Bailey’s research into the coin he discovered and other 17th-century Arabian coins found in southern New England was covered by the Associated Press in April 2021 and made worldwide headlines as an opening of the world’s oldest cold case. From the recovery of an obscure silver coin no bigger than a thumbnail, a secret from well over three centuries ago was finally revealed: Before returning to England, Every traveled to the American colonies in the guise of a slave trader and spent time hiding out in Newport, RI.  When he sailed for England, he left behind nearly 40 of his men seeking new lives of comfortable obscurity in the American colonies.

About Jim Bailey

Bailey is a lifelong Rhode Islander from Warwick. He is happily married and has one daughter, one son, two dogs, and too much to do. His discoveries into the history of Every’s infamous pirating career is under development for possible book and film projects. 

World War II Exhibit

World War II Helmets
World War II Helmets from the collection of Kevin Heskin

World War II:  Collection of Kevin Heskin 2-4 pm, November 13

Northgate, Blackstone Valley Historical Society, 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike
The exhibit is free. All are welcome.

On November 13, Kevin Heskin will take us back to the days of World War II, bringing examples of his extensive collection.  Having spent over a decade in search of World War II memorabilia from all over the world, he has uniforms belonging to armies from all major countries, including Spanish, German, Japanese, Italian, and American soldiers. He also has a large collection of weapons: swords, rifles and bayonets, plus gas masks, helmets, map cases, first-aid kits, medals, and many other items from this period.

Join us, and relive the second “war to end all wars” as seen through artifacts from many countries.

 All guests are asked to wear masks while enjoying this exhibit.

Exhibit: Dan Bethel Collection on Oct 23

Sketch of Moffat Mill Collection of Dan Bethel

1-4 p.m. October 23, 2021, Blackstone Valley Historical Society, 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI 02865.

Dan Bethel, who has amazed us with his collections on historic Lime Rock, and on Lincoln’s vanished dairy farms, will be having a new exhibit on October 23.

He has created two exhibits from his collection. The first exhibit will feature Moffett Mill, and the second, items from Lincoln’s 1971 Centennial.

Lincoln Centennial: This exhibit will showcase 90 newspaper articles on the many events from start to finish of the Lincoln Centennial in 1971. It will also include 20 snapshots of the River Road parade and other collectible items from the day.   

Moffett Mill: The other portion of the exhibit will showcase a large and comprehensive look at the Moffett Mill and the Moffett family.

    Several large and small display cases will  showcase everything from a blacksmith’s ledger to daily work journals to pictures of the mill as well as personal  items like books and family pictures, even two photos of the family car!

Great Road Day Sept 25

The Blackstone Valley Historical Society will be open 1-4 pm on Saturday, September 25 as part of Great Road Day.

Northgate Toll House (1807) 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI.  Open 1:00 pm-4:00 pm. The home of the Blackstone Valley Historical Society. This two story building was originally built as a tollgate and residence for the toll collector for the Louisquisset Turnpike. The Pike, faster and straighter than Great Road, was the highway of its time and was built to expedite the shipment of lime to Providence. In later years, the building served as Lime Rock Grange #22, a gathering place for local farm families. It was sold to the BVHS in 1971 for the sum of one dollar.

Exhibit at Northgate:  The Papers of Arnold Jenckes. Jenckes (1797-1873) was a farmer and a cooper, who made lime casks for the Harris Lime Company. His farm was near the present-day Lincoln Mall.  The papers include bills, receipts, paid IOU’s, a running tab at a general store, his commission as captain of the militia, and lists of the members of his company. These bits and pieces, that may have come from his desk drawers, allow us to see a little bit of an everyday farmer’s life in the 19th century. 

Lincoln became a town only a few years before Arnold Jenckes died.  He was a son of Rufus Jenckes, who lived on Jenckes Hill Road, and a descendant of Joseph Jenckes, the founder of Pawtucket.  In 2017 Eleonore Costa donated this collection of his papers that she and Margaret Ott discovered at Lampercock Spring Farm on Wilbur Road in the 1960s.

We will be displaying the March 10, 1871 issue of the Central Falls Weekly Visitor, which was published from 1869-1891, showing the entry about the “Smithfield act” where the announcement that “the act dividing the Town of Smithfield into three towns under the names of Smithfield, LIncoln, and Slater, and annexing a portion of the town to Woonsocket was passed unanimously” by the state senate.

Arnold’s Lonsdale Bakery (1874) 1873 Louisquisset PikeLincoln, RI Open 1:00 pm-4:00 pmThis one-story, one-room bakery was relocated and rebuilt in its current spot adjacent to Northgate. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Jenks Arnold began a Lincoln business in 1874 that lasted nearly 100 years. The bakery contains a collection of antique baking equipment and memorabilia relating to Arnold’s Lonsdale Bakery

Great Road Day 2021

When the Town of Lincoln separated from Smithfield in 1871, Great Road was already 200 years old, having been built in 1683.  What is remarkable is that some of the original buildings still remain where they were during those earliest years when Great Road was the one of the country’s first highways.  It ran between Providence and Mendon, Mass.  Today, there are a number of 17th, 18th and 19th century buildings as well along this historic roadway that have been preserved and are open to the public.  

On Saturday, September 25th, the annual Great Road Day welcomes visitors for free admission to 10 of these sites.  Those sites include: Arnold House (c.1693), Saylesville Friends Meetinghouse (c.1703), Mount Moriah Lodge (c.1804), Northgate-Blackstone Valley Historical Society (c.1807), Arnold Bakery (c.1874), the Valentine Whitman House (c.1694) as well as Hearthside (c.1810), Moffett Mill (c.1812), Hannaway Blacksmith Shop (c.1880), and the Pullen’s Corner Schoolhouse (c.1850).  The buildings represent an impressive sampling of what was located here in the community during the time when the town was formed.  The event runs from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

As part of the Town’s commemoration of its 150th anniversary, two shuttle buses are being provided to make visits to all the sites easier, with continuous runs between each site and parking areas.  Parking is available at lots at Gateway Park, Chase Farm Park, Hearthside, and at Mt. Moriah Lodge.  Roadside parking at Whitman House and Northgate. To further encourage visits to each site, a Passport will be given to each, which will get stamped at the individual sites, and if all 10 blocks are stamped to show that the visit was made, then a gift will be given.
At the Valentine Whitman Jr. House, stop in to learn how Preserve Rhode Island, who recently acquired this stone-ender house from the town, plans to restore the building and give it new life.  The house was the site of the first town meeting of the town of Smithfield.  

The Mt. Moriah Lodge is one of the earliest Masonic lodges in the state and where  the most notable early town residents were members.  The Lodge opens once a year to the public which is on Great Road Day.  The first structure on this site was a one-room schoolhouse, but in 1804 local masons established a new lodge here.  Today, meetings are still held by the lodge regularly. 

At the opposite end of Great Road’s Historic District is a rare journey back to the 17th and early 18th century that is featured at Historic New England’s Arnold House, a unique stone-ender house with a massive chimney end wall, as well as the Saylesville Friends Meetinghouse, one of the oldest continuously-used Quaker meetinghouses in New England.  Both properties feature the stories of the town’s earliest settlers, the Arnolds, and other notable family names of Lincoln’s early residents.

At the center of it all is the Great Road Heritage Campus at Chase Farm Park, where several of the historic buildings are located.  At the entrance to the Park is the Hannaway Blacksmith Shop, where visitors can watch the blacksmith shape hot metal into useful implements.  Next door at the recently relocated one-room schoolhouse, Pullen’s Corner but also known as the “Hot Potato Schoolhouse”, visitors can learn what lessons area farm children of all ages were learning here together, what recess was like, and even what the original outhouse might have looked like.  

Board the shuttle bus to take a tour of the Moffett Mill, accessible only by the shuttle, to this rare relic that appears to be frozen in time, with original tools and belt system that operated the machinery in this wooden machine shop still in place.  This mill did custom work for area businesses and farms, from making parts, to wagons and buggies, to laces for shoes and corsets around the period of the Civil War.  

What were the fashions of the day?  Find out with a trip to Hearthside and see examples of dresses, underclothes, and a man’s uniform from the Civil War.  Docents in period attire welcome you to explore through three floors of this stone mansion.  Besides the indoor exhibits, a small Civil War encampment will be set up on the grounds, and fall treats will be for sale of home-made apple crisp, popcorn, and apple cider.  A selection of books about the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln are available for purchase in Hearthside’s Gift Shop too.

BVHS Annual Meeting

We hope you are all well and looking forward to the coming year of events. As always, your suggestions and participation are welcome.

The BVHS Annual Meeting and Election will take place at 1:30 June 27 at North Gate at 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike, where board members will be elected and reports will be presented. It will be an in-person meeting after this long year of Covid-19. The Nominating Committee for the BVHS, Don Coelho, Robert Ferri, Richard Walker, Kevin Heskin, and Kevin Bedford, announces that the slate of officers remains the same: Jason Dionne, President, Lori Melucci, Vice-President, John Houghton, Treasurer, Francine Jackson, Secretary, Gail Harris, Director and Member-at-Large, Bob Ferri, Director and Member-at-Large, and Don Coelho, Director and Member-at-Large. If you are interested in joining the board, which organizes history-related activities, lectures, and exhibits and cares for North Gate, the Bakery, and the Fire Station, please contact Don Coelho at Nominations will be also be taken on the floor at the meeting.

We invite you to join the meeting and attend the annual Christine Nowak Lecture that follows. This year the lecture will be by Ken Postle, whose efforts to preserve Blackstone Valley history through conservation of its historic cemeteries have often been chronicled in this newsletter. The title of his talk topic will be “Inconvenient Burials.”

Exhibit: World War II Collection of Kevin Heskin

This exhibit has been postponed until spring. The current indoor and outdoor social gathering limit is 10 people. Although we are disappointed, we hope everyone will stay well and safe and we look forward to seeing you next year.

2-4 pm, Saturday, November 21, 2020

The World War II Collection of Kevin Heskin

Blackstone Valley Historical Society, 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI  02865

On Saturday, November 21st, Kevin Heskin will again bring an exhibit of his remarkable collection of World War II artifacts to North Gate.

Heskin has long been fascinated with the twentieth century World Wars.  He has spent more than a decade hunting down everything he can find that memorializes these devastating times in our history. His collection includes German, Italian, French, Spanish, British, and Japanese pieces as well as American ones. 

In 2017, he amazed us with his exhibit of his World War I collection at BVHS, and in February 2019, he showed many pieces from his World War II collection. This month, we will have the opportunity to see more highlights from his World War II memorabilia, including uniforms, helmets, map cases, gas masks, rifles, and other items that have survived from the 1940s. 

Don’t miss this event!   We ask that all our guests wear masks and practice social distancing while viewing the collection.

Dairy Days: An Exhibit by Dan Bethel

2:00 – 4:00 pm, October 24 , 2020. North Gate, Blackstone Valley Historical Society

Do you remember when the milkman came to your door, with real milk bottles, some of which were topped with cream? Dan Bethel will take us down Memory Lane, with his collection of bottles from many of the local dairies.

Milk Bottle
Chase and Butterfly Farm

Approximately one hundred milk bottles from Lincoln dairies will be displayed. Many farms will be represented, with different types and styles of bottles,  including painted and slug versions, and many size variations. Other dairy farm items like milk caps will also be on display.

Dairies represented in this exhibit will include Maplehurst,  Henry Jordan Farm, Chase Farm, Butterfly Farm, Chase & Butterfly Farm, Lincoln Woods Farm, Comstock Farm, Rene Lamare, Manville Dairy, Stony Brook, Theinert Farm, Fair Oaks Farm, Pascale Farm, Lonsdale Co. Farm, Jordan Bros/Echo Farm, El Rancho, Carl Franz, Ulrich Demaris, Highland Cottage, Maple Farm, and Clarke Farm.

Dan Bethel is known throughout the Blackstone Valley for his many and varied local collections. Come enjoy a trip back to the more simpler days of having milk delivered right to your door!

Unfortunately, no milk, or other refreshments, will be available. We ask that our guests wear masks.

Great Road Day

BVHS will be open on Great Road Day, September 26, 2020 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. We will be showcasing the work of Greg Duhamel, Johnelle Bergeron, and Ken Postle and all of the other volunteers who have been doing wonderful work restoring historic cemeteries. This exhibit will focus on their work in 2020. Please stop by see some pictures of some of their work from the Facebook group, River Road and Blackstone River Valley Cemeteries. The Arnold’s Lonsdale Bakery will also be open. Please stop by!

Johnelle Bergeron repairs a gravestone

We ask that everyone wear a mask. We want to have fun and be safe. Thank you.

On Great Road Day, many of the historic properties on Great Road will be open from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, including Hearthside, Hannaway Blacksmith’s shop, Pullen’s Corner Schoolhouse, Mount Moriah Lodge, and the Saylesville Friend’s Meetinghouse and Cemetery.

Great Road Day Flyer

Great Road Day Map