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History of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations: Biographical

NY: The American Historical Society, Inc. 1920

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ADDISON PIERCE MUNROE   --  No list of successful business men and eminent citizens of Providence, Rhode Island, but would include the name of Addison Pierce Munroe, retired since August 1, 1909, from the wholesale and retail grocery business.  He was then but in the prime of life, yet he had won fortune's favor as a merchant, and although not a member of the dominant party has served in both branches of the General Assembly, and is the father of some important legislation.  Successful in business and politics, he is prominent in the patriotic orders, his ancestry tracing to the 'Mayflower', and in its course entitles him to membership in all societies based upon early Colonial residence and Revolutionary service.  Of these privileges he has availed himself, and is a member of the Rhode Island Society and of the National Society of Mayflower Descendants, holding official position in both.

The family in Scotland traces to remotest times and in America to William Munro, born in Scotland in 1625.  He was taken prisoner at the battle of Worcester by the forces of Cromwell, and on November 11, 1651, was banished to New England by the Protector, along with others.  He settled at Lexington, Massachusetts.  This branch traces to Thomas Munro, believed to have been a nephew of William Munro, he settling in Bristol, Rhode Island, where his son, John Munroe, was born May 14, 1701.  He married Hannah Rosbotham, fifth in descent from Richard Warren, of the 'Mayflower'.  The line continues through their son, Stephen Munroe; his son, Burden Munroe; his son, Philip Allen Munroe; his son, Addison Pierce Munroe.

Philip Allen Munroe was born in Swansea, Massachusetts, November 27, 1821, and died in East Providence, September 18, 1908.  During his youth he was variously employed, but finally settled in Providence, where he became a grocer, retiring in 1876, leaving a business which extended to Providence, Rehoboth, Seekonk and Swansea.  After retiring from mercantile life he devoted himself to the management of his private estate, including thirty houses and stores in East Providence and Providence. He was a fine business man, a Universalist in his religious faith, and an ardent Democrat.  He married, at Thompson, Connecticut, December 29, 1844, Delana Pierce, born in Rehoboth, July 13, 1823, died at Barrington, Rhode Island, June 19, 1909, daughter of Isaac and Polly Pierce, of ancient New England family, Isaac Pierce, a soldier of the Revolution, tracing to Captain Michael Pierce. Philip Allen and Delana (Pierce) Munroe were the parents of a large family, this narrative dealing with the life and career of their youngest son and eighth child, Addison Pierce Munroe.

Addison Pierce Munroe was born in Providence, Rhode Island, January 2, 1862, and is yet a resident of his native city.  He completed the course of Thayer street grammar school, then studied under a private tutor until entering business life as clerk in the store of his brothers, Lyman F. and Philip A. (2).  He continued in their employ until 1885, then formed a partnership with his brother Philip, they opening a grocery at No. 14 Cranston street. They prospered, enlarged that store, and opened another at No. 111 Washington street, Addison P. becoming manager of the new store.  Addison P. Munroe continued a successful business on Washington street, dealing in both wholesale and retail quantities, until August 1, 1909, then retired, there not then being a single firm or merchant doing business on Washington street who was there when he opened his store on that street in 1885.  Since 1909 he has devoted himself to his private business affairs.

A Democrat in politics, Mr. Munroe early began his active interest in public affairs, serving as president of the Young Men's Democratic Club of Providence in 1899 and 1900.  He represented Providence in the House of Representatives in 1903, being elected by over two thousand majority, although defeated the previous election by a small plurality.  In the House he served on the committee on accounts and claims, and completed a record of usefulness.  In 1910 he was elected State Senator from Providence, was reelected in 1911, and in 1912, at the first biennial election, was returned for a term of two years.  He introduced some important bills during his legislative career, and took active part in the discussions in both House and Senate, and in the latter body was on the committees on judiciary and militia.  He found favor with the independent voter, and at the contest at the polls in 1912 he received a majority of five thousand votes.  At the Democratic State Convention of 1912, Senator Munroe was a candidate for Governor, but in the interest of harmony withdrew his name, although strongly supported.  In 1913 he received the full party vote in both House and Senate for United States Senator, and is a recognized leader of the party in the State.  In 1916 he was the Democratic candidate for Governor, but was defeated at the election.  He was appointed a member of the commission in charge of the new armory for the State cavalry demands, and has rendered other public service of note.

Through his descent from Richard Warren he gained membership in the Rhode Island Society of Mayflower Descendants, and has served the society as treasurer, deputy governor and governor.  In 1912 he was elected deputy governor-general of the National Society of the same order; is a member of the Society of Colonial Wars, Sons of the American Revolution, and Rhode Island Historical Society.

Senator Munroe married, December 22, 1885, Annie Burnside Hopkins, born in Cranston, Rhode Island, August 12, 1861, daugher of Nelson and Emily Greene (Bateman) Hopkins.  Mrs. Munroe is a member of the Society of Colonial Dames, tracing to seven Colonial ancestors, and a member of Gaspee Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, by right of descent from Spencer Merrill.  Mr. and Mrs. Munroe are the parents of two sons, Chester Pierce, a salesman, who married Mary Doris Davenport, and Harold Bateman, a salesman, who married Esther Louise Whipple.

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FRANK C. ANGELL  --  Angell is one of the oldest family names in Rhode Island, and dates back to the time when Roger Williams fled from the Massachusetts Colony and settled upon land he had previously purchased from the Indians, and which he, in gratitude to God's merciful providence to him in his distress, gave the name of Providence.  At the time he came to Providence he was accompanied by Thomas Angell, Joshua Verin, John Smith, William Harris and Francis Wickes.

Thomas Angell, the original or founder of the Angell family in Rhode Island, came from England in 1631, in the ship 'Lion', when he was a lad of twelve or thirteen years and apparently in charge of Roger Williams, whose protege he seems to have been.  What part of England he came from or who his parents were, we have little knowledge.  He remained with Roger Williams while in Boston and accompanied him to Salem, and when Roger Williams fled from Salem an account of persecution he went with him, and a little later was one of the little party of five who accompanied him when they settled upon the banks of the Mooshausick river in 1636, and founded the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

Johnston Centredale MapWhen the first division of land was made among the Providence settlers, Thomas Angell received in common with the others a six-acre lot of land, although he was too young (being still a minor) to sign the civil agreement entered into by the other members of the pact, but which he signed afterwards.  His lot, however, was number two on the division list, and included the land on which the First Baptist Church of Providence now stands, and a part of the section traversed by Angell street.

As the colony increased in number, and personal safety became more secure, the pioneers naturally pushed their way back into the country a few miles form the Providence settlement, and took up land from the commoning, as the public lands were called.  Among those to so push out into the common land and take up holdings therein were Thomas Angell, John Smith, Epenetus Olney and Richard Pray, and these seem to have been the pioneers in the settlement of that portion of the Woonasquatucket valley, which afterwards became known as Centredale, North Providence.

Thomas Angell married and had two sons, John and James, and five daughters, Amphillis, Mary, Deborah, Alice and Margaret.  He died in 1695, but during his life he had taken  up several tracts of land and one of these claims he gave to his grandson, James Angell, son of John Angell, who afterward sold it to his brother, John Angell, Jr., and upon his death the farm passed to his son Stephen.  This farm was located on the west side of the Woonasquatucket river, and included the land near the present railroad station at Centredale, extending along the west side of the river nearly to the Smithfield line as now laid out.  This farm contained about two hundred acres, and covered the present site of the village of Graniteville, as well as a portion of Centredale. (Annals of Centredale).

Stephen Angell, to whom the farm reverted, married Martha Olney, and they had nine sons and two daughters, their seventh son John, at the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, hastened to join the American forces, and fought at the battle of Bunker Hill, and assisted in throwing up the embankment. He served during the war and was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the Second Regiment of Militia in the county of Providence.  The second daughter of Stephen married her second cousin, Colonel Israel Angell, son of Oliver, who was the son of Hope, son of John, son of Thomas Angell.  Colonel Israel Angell took active part in the War of the Revolution, and led his regiment in many of the important battles, receiving two gold medals in testimony of his bravery, one from General Washington and one from General Lafayette.

The sixth son of Stephen Angell was James Angell, who married Amy Day, daughter of Nathaniel Day, who had settled on a farm in North Providence, which he bought from John Whipple, January 6, 1737, who shortly before (March 15, 1736), had bought from John Smith, who took it up from the commons, as the public lands were called, about 1680.  Upon the death of Nathaniel Day, he gave it to his son-in-law, James Angell, who continued to till and improve the farm until his death, when he gave it to his youngest son, Nathaniel.  In 1824 Nathaniel sold a portion of the land to his brother James.  This purchase now constitutes the business portion of the village of Centredale, North Providence.

Upon the death of James Angell the estate passed to his son, James Halsey Angell, and from him to his sons, George F. and Frank C. Angell, the last named having still in his possession a large part of the estate, including the homestead place, where he now resides.  Thus we have the full line of descent from Thomas Angell, the original or founder of the Angell family in America, to Frank C. Angell, as follows:  Thomas; his son John; his son John, Jr.; his son Stephen; his son James; his son James, Jr.; his son James Halsey; his son Frank C. Angell.

James Angell, of the fifth generation, son of James and Amy (Day) Angell, was born December 5, 1781, and died at the age of eighty-nine.  He never had a sick day until the illness which caused his death.  'As an evidence of his wonderful vitality it is stated that at the age of eighty-two years he would go into the field and do what would be considered a good day's work for a man of forty years; and in the haying season would take his scythe and mow with the rest of the men.'  When a young man he went to New York State, purchased a farm near Saratoga, and in 1808, with his wife and two children, made the journey thither in an ox cart.  They remained there until 1811, when he, in the same manner in which he had gone, returned to Rhode Island, leasing the farm and tavern known then as the 'Thayer Stand' on Fruit Hill, which he renamed Fruit Hill Tavern. In 1822 his lease expired, and in the spring of 1824 he began the erection of a structure at Centerdale, which was soon noted as the most popular and hospitable tavern in the northern part of the State.  The emblem selected by James Angell for his swinging signboard was the American Eagle, elaborately painted with the name 'Center Hotell' at the top.  It is still preserved as a souvenir of ye olden times.  He resided over the hotel from 1824 until 1841, and gave it the reputation of a 'model hostelry'.  He was very careful that no one drank to excess at the bar, no cards or gambling devices were ever allowed on the premises, and this policy was strictly adhered to by his sons who succeeded im, the tavern being under the management of James Angell and his sons for forty-five out of the first fifty years of the existence of the Centerdale Tavern.  The hotel estate was then conveyed to his son, James Halsey Angell, who owned it until his death, July 1, 1890, when it passed to his oldest son, George F. Angell, when upon his death, August 18, 1894, it passed to his widow, Sarah L. Angell, who was its owner until August 25, 1897, when, after one hundred and sixty years of Angell ownership, it was sold, and passed out of the Angell family.

James Halsey Angell, son of James and Selinda (Ray) Angell, was born at Centerdale, Rhode Island, May 10, 1822.  He obtained a good public school education, and began his business life as an accountant in the Allendale mill, also was a clerk in the village store, which he afterwards conducted until 1848, when he sold his business and succeeded his brother Nathaniel as proprietor of the Centerdale Hotel which, at that time, was conducted as an old-time tavern stand.  He conducted the hotel successfully until April 1, 1858, when he withdrew and moved to a farm which then belonged to his father, but upon his father's death in 1870 it passed to him.  The farm is now included within the limits of the village of Centerdale.  In 1854 'Halsey' Angell, as he was familiarly known, was appointed postmaster of Centerdale, an office he held for many years.  He took active part in town affairs, held many offices of trust and responsibility, settled many estates, and was much sought for in counsel and as an arbitrator of the disputes or arguments which arose between the villagers.  For thirty-three years he recorded the daily doings of the farm and village, not a day being missed.  This record ceases only a few months before his death, and in all matters of historical import the diary is accepted as authority.  When, in later years, his son prepared the volume herein frequently referred to -- 'Annals of Centerdale' - he found the old diary kept by his father a valuable aid.

Roger Williams Lodge, No. 32, Free and Accepted Masons, of Centerdale - picture by Beth HurdMr. Angell was made a Mason in Temple Lodge, No. 18, of Greenville, September 5, 1868, and in 1876 was one of the organizers of Roger Williams Lodge, No. 32, Free and Accepted Masons, of Centerdale, and when a charter was granted his name was engrossed thereon as a charter member.  At the first meeting of Roger Williams Lodge he was elected treasurer, and held that office continuously until his death, fourteen years later.  When the time came to pay the last token of respect, his Masonic brethren of Roger Williams Lodge paid him the tribute of the beautiful burial rite of the order.

Public-spirited and interested in all that pertained to the general good of his community, Mr. Angell found a worthy outlet for his activity in many ways, one of his interests being the Union Free Library, which he took an active part in founding, and for fifteen years, until his death, served as its treasurer.  He was highly-esteemed wherever known, and in the village where his life of seventy years had been spent he was the most honored. During the hours of this funeral services all places of business in Centerdale were closed, this last mark of respect being gladly rendered by his friends of a lifetime.  He was a man of fine appearance and charming personality, a loving husband and father, a good citizen, and a loyal friend.

Mr. Angell married, in 1842, Sarah Angell Capron, born June 23, 1824, died April 27, 1893, daughter of Edwin and Deborah (Angell) Capron.  They were the parents of two sons, George F. and Frank C. Angell.

From such antecedants comes Frank C. Angell, of the eighth American generation, tracing directly in male line from Thomas Angell, the founder, and a friend of Roger Williams.  He is the younger son of James Halsey and Sarah Angell (Capron) Angell, and like his father is a lifelong resident of the village of Centerdale, Rhode Island, to which he came a very small boy, his birthplace, however, being the village of Allendale, Rhode Island, where his father was then a merchant.  He was born March 9, 1845, was educated in the public schools, and in youth learned the harness maker's trade.  He became an expert workman, established a shop and store in Centerdale in May, 1877, but he soon was compelled to seek enlarged quarters.  These he found in the building he erected in 1881, known as the Masonic Hall Building, the harness shop occupying nearly the entire lower floor of that building.  With the increased room he was able to add new lines to his stock, and there conducted a successful harness business of over a quarter of a century in Centerdale.  Since then he has been engaged in the real estate business.

In the summer of 1868 Frank C. Angell, Marcus M. Joslen and Alexander W. Harrington initiated the movement to establish a free public library in Centerdale, then a country village of less than two hundred people.  After preliminary meetings an organization was effected, known as The Union Library Association, and on May 13, 1869, a constitution and by-laws were adopted.  The first list of officers of this association, which has always been under the care of Frank C. Angell, who has served as librarian from the opening day in 1870 until the present (1918), with the exception of two years, 1871 - 72, is of interest now, as the first half century of its life is nearing a close:

John C. Budlong, President
Alexander W. Harrington, Vice-President.
John Marsh, Vice-President.
Harrison J. Turner, Vice-President.
George W. Remington, Treasurer.
Frank C. Angell, Secretary.
Alexander W. Harrington, Corresponding Secretary.
Frank C. Angell, Librarian.
John C. Budlong, Director.
George T. Batchelder, Director.
Benjamin Sweet, Director.
Marcus M. Joslin, Director.
Israel B. Phillips, Director.
John Marsh, Director.
George W. Remington, Director.
The Union Library Association was incorporated in 1870, the library building thrown open to the public, July 4, 1870, at high noon, three hundred and fifty volumes being on the shelves.  On February 17, 1877, it was voted a free public library, under the act of the Rhode Island Legislature of April 15, 1875, and has so existed, prosperous and useful, its six thousand volumes and other privileges free to all.  Mr. Angell's term of service as librarian covers a period of forty-six years, his interest yet a deep and abiding one.

His connection with Roger Williams Lodge, No. 32, Free and Accepted Masons, is an equally remarkable one and constitutes a record.  He has been secretary of the lodge (of which he and his father were charter members) for forty-three years, 1875 - 1918, and is the senior secretary of the Rhode Island Masonic body.  He was made a Mason in Temple Lodge, No. 18, in 1874, and is a member of the Masonic Veterans Association, also Scituate Royal Chapter, No. 8.  For twenty years he has been a warden of St. Albans Episcopal Church; is and has been for eighteen years town treasurer of the town of North Providence; has served as member of the Town Council; as a tax assessor, and in many ways his public spirit and loyalty to Centerdale have been manifested.  He is the author of 'The Annals of Centerdale', from which voluminous extracts have been made in compiling this review, and in matters historical is a local authority.  He is a worthy representative in the twentieth century of this worthy family founded by Thomas Angell in the seventeeth century, this nearly three hundred year period finding Angells upon the land owned by the first of the name in every year without lapse or break of continuous ownership.


These documents are made available free to the public for non-commercial purposes by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project. Transcription and pictures 2001-2 by Beth Hurd

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