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

NY: The American Historical Society, Inc. 1920

p.  356 - 357:

THOMAS WILLIAMS, son of Joseph and Lucy (Witter) Williams, was born at Pomfret, Conn., Nov. 5, 1779.  At the age of sixteen he entered Williams College, spending two years, and graduated from Yale College in 1800.

He spent three years in teaching, and in 1803 was licensed to preach. In 1804, he studied theology under Rev. Nathaniel Emmons, the celebrated preacher and representative of the Hopkinsian theology.  A life-ling friendship was established, and Dr. Emmons chose Mr. Williams to preach his funeral sermon.  While preaching at Providence, his earnest and forcible manner and eccentricities of person, dress and style, drew large audiences, among whom were many college students, of whom were Judson, the missionary, Drs. Burgess, of Dedham, and Ide, of Medway.

Mr. Williams preached at Barrington at the time of the birth of our historian, and so satisfactory was the preacher to Mr. Bicknell's parents, that he was given the name of the congregational minister of the town, Thomas Williams Bicknell.

Mr. Williams' biographer writes of him:  'He was an earnest, forcible preacher, and his style was marked by occasional eccentricities of manner and speech that served to make his sermons more striking and powerful. His prayers often made so deep an impression on the minds of his hearers that they were remembered and spoken of years afterwards.  His self-sacrifice and kindly spirit secured for him the respect and confidence of all and he was familiarly known as 'Father Williams'.'

By marriage with Ruth Hale, they gave to the world seven children, one of whom, Nathan, becoming a Congregational minister.  Mr. Williams died, at Providence, September 29, 1876, in the ninety-seventh year of his age, honored and beloved by all who knew him.

illustration on facing page: photo, Thomas Williams

p. 357:

JUDGE FELIX HEBERT  --  Prominent in legal circles and in the general life of Providence, and the town of West Warwick, is Judge Felix Hebert, whose career as an attorney and judge and as the holder of several other important public offices has won for him the respect and esteem of the community, and made him an influential man in local affairs. Judge Hebert is the son of Edouard and Catherine (Vandale) Hebert, both of whom were early immigrants to this State from Canada, coming here respectively at the ages of fifteen and seven years.  The elder Mr. Hebert was the son of a prosperous farmer in the Province of Quebec, and in spite of his early age was himself engaged in that occupation before coming to the United States.  Upon first coming to this country, the parents made their home at Coventry, where the young man took up mill work for a time, and was later in business as a custom bootmaker.  Eventually he engaged in the boot and shoe business at Anthony, in the town of Coventry, and while living there was one of the founders (1870), and a trustee for thirty years, of St. Jean Baptiste Roman Catholic Church.  Mr. and Mrs. Edouard Hebert were the parents of thirteen children, one of whom is the subject of this sketch.

The birth of Felix Hebert occurred December 11, 1874, at St. Guillaume, in the Province of Quebec, Canada, during a sojourn at that place made by his father and mother on account of the former's health.  Shortly after, they returned with their son to Coventry, and it was at the public schools of that place that the lad secured the elementary portion of his education.  He afterwards attended La Salle Academy at Providence, from which he was graduated with the class of 1893.  Upon completing his studies at the latter institution, the young man sought for and secured employment as a stenographer with the New York and New England Railroad Company, where he was rapidly promoted to positions of responsibility. He remained with this concern for about three years, when he became secretary to the late General Charles R. Brayton.  Another period of three years was spent by him in this capacity, and he then received an appointment as clerk in the office of Treasurer Walter A. Read, where he worked for one year.  In the year 1899 he was appointed deputy insurance commissioner of the State of Rhode Island, and held this responsible post continuously until 1917.  During this long term he not only discharged his duties to the entire satisfaction of the department, but also took up the study of law, and was admitted to practice at the Rhode Island bar in 1907. In the year 1910 he was chosen judge of the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, and continues to occupy that important and responsible post.  Judge Hebert has made a specialty of insurance law. He is a Republican in politics.  Judge Hebert is a Roman Catholic and is a member of the parish of St. Jean Baptiste, Arctic Centre, of which his father was one of the founders.  He is a member of various societies and clubs, including the Catholic Club, and the Turk's Head Club of Providence.

Judge Hebert was united in marriage, September 18, 1900, with Virginia M. Provost, a daughter of Octave and Virginie (Deslauriers) Provost, of Ware, Mass., where the wedding was performed.  Four children have been born to Judge and Mrs. Hebert, as follows:  Catherine Virginia, who is now attending Sacred Heart Academy at Fall River; Adrien Warner, a pupil in the West Warwick High School; Marguerite Rosalie, and Edouard Felix, both of whom attend the public schools of West Warwick.

p. 357 - 359:

C. Ira BigneyC. IRA BIGNEY  --  Coming to Providence approximately thirteen years ago, a country lad with nothing more than a stout heart and a wealth of ambition, Charles Ira Bigney, president and treasurer of the C. I. Bigney Construction Company, has attained success seldom, if ever, equalled. A Nova Scotian boy with natural keenness of the boys of the Provinces, he has successfully climbed the ladder of success.  To-day his name is a by-word in the construction business of Rhode Island and nearby States, and many handsome and substantial structures will stand in the years to come as a monument to his thrift and application to what he selected as his life's occupation.

Success is attained only by dint of great effort, and Mr. Bigney may well look back upon the years of his youth, when, without the usual time allotted to the growing youth for play, he began to build up a future that to-day stands far and away ahead of those who were satisfied to take life as it came.  But thirty-eight years of age, he is what might well be termed a 'self-made man'.  From a Nova Scotian village to a metropolis like Providence is a broad space, but Charles Ira Bigney had the ambition. Backed by a brilliant and creative mind, together with a wiry frame, the sun gradually broke through the clouds that darkened his early days of long labor.  To-day he stands in the heyday of his career. The future holds nothing but greater success, and Mr. Bigney has surrounded himself with an organization composed of men who assume part of the great responsibility which rests on his shoulders.

The C. I. Bigney Construction Company, of Providence, R. I., is the keynote of everything that stands for the best in construction.  Modern construction methods are employed throughout.  This company enjoys the distinction of being the only construction company in this great metropolis of the East which handles the entire work itself from the time the authority is given to build until the finished work is turned over to the owner. The business is conducted on a strictly ten per cent. basis, the only concern operating entirely in this manner in Providence.  Volumes might be said of Mr. Bigney's rapid rise in the construction business. A keen business sense and a pleasing manner in meeting people have been his big asset.

Charles Ira Bigney first saw the light of day in Millvale, Nova Scotia, November 14, 1881, in that little town that sets among the grandeur of the Nova Scotia scenery, and one of the delightful little towns which abound in that section.  He is the son of John Marshall Bigney, now deceased, and Olive E. (Fisher) Bigney, who still lives.  He appeared just an ordinary sort of child in those early days of his existence, but the future has already stamped his destiny.

For a number of years he brightened the home, and eventually the day arrived when he was to begin his education which had its first and only inception in the small public school of Millvale.  The school-room was rather crude, as all country schoolhouses are, and probably even at this early age Charles Ira Bigney saw an opportunity for him in the far distance.  Nevertheless, from one grade to another he advanced until he reached the age of thirteen years.  There was a considerable lot to be done in those days on the farm, and at this age he severed his connection with the institution of learning and became one of the chief assistants of his father on the farm.  There were long tedious hours in farm work, from early morning until late at night.  This, however, did not deter young Bigney and he applied himself with extraordinary effort. The farm prospered under his guidance, and his rare judgment oftentimes guided the family destinies.  When the lad reached the age of twenty-four years the Bigney farm was considered one of the leading stock farms of that section.

Even while engaged in the pursuit of farming, the boy found an opportunity to put his mind to other uses than tilling the earth.  At the age of fifteen years he earned his first money, trading knives and pocketbooks with boys of his own age.  Even at this early age his shrewdness in a trade was commented upon, and later he sold farming implements in conjunction with his work on the farm.  It was a common occurrence, after his day's work, for him to ride his wheel twelve or fifteen miles, make a sale of farming implement, ride back home, and deliver the goods by team from a town some ten miles away before the following morning.  This proves in itself that ambition, once aroused, cannot be denied its right to compete in greater things, if the spirit of advancement is predominant.  When he reached the age of twenty-four years, Mr. Bigney expressed a desire to reach out in the world, and his eyes rested on Providence as he glanced at the map of his schoolboy days.  Undoubtedly this was because his brother, Eden H. Bigney, had selected Providence as the city in which to engage in the general contracting business.

The day when that country boy from Nova Scotia arrived in Providence is one long to be remembered by Mr. Bigney.  With just the ordinary baggage he rested his eyes on one of the large cities of the East, and as he stood watching the crowds hurrying to and fro he realized that at last he had been favored by fortune and was in a center of activity. With no knowledge whatsoever of the contracting business, he expressed his desire to immediately begin work.  A few days after his arrival he started as a laborer.  After a while he apprenticed himself to the carpenter's trade and mastered this art.  Previous to this he had done everything from digging a trench to wheeling a barrow, and tired was the body and mind that sought its rest at night.  For a period extending over two years his efforts in the construction line were directed towards laboring and carpentering.  Then came a chance, and he was put in charge of some heavy work.  Under his direction the work was done in a satisfactory manner, a number of his ideas being entirely original and a new departure from the ordinary customs employed.  From this time on he was entrusted with far more important work and his first complete change was during the erection of the brick building on Broad street for the Baird-North Company, silversmiths.  It was a structure 75 x 200 feet, two stories, and the builder was complimented when the completed building was turned over to the owners.  During the next four years he supervised the construction of many big buildings in the city of Providence.   Long hours held no horrors for Charles Ira Bigney, and as a matter of fact he was happiest when 'on the job'.  When off the job he was continually devising some means whereby construction could be improved. About this time the health of his brother, Eden H. Bigney, began to fail. The latter's confidence in his brother Ira, as he is better known, brought him into the office and he succeeded his brother as manager of construction with a share in the partnership of E. H. Bigney & Company, with offices at No. 898 Westminster street, where the firm's headquarters are at the present time.

Eden H. Bigney left for the South at this time for the benefit of his health, and the entire business was left on the shoulders of the younger brother.  It was just such an opportunity as he had long wished for, and from that moment the construction company entered upon a new era which has spelled nothing but success all the way.  For a period extending over three years he conducted the business, accepting and putting through new contracts, attending to purchases, and following the work in its progress.

Charles Ira Bigney came into full ownership of the company when his brother sold out to him in May, 1913.  At that time, E. H. Bigney & Company was doing a business of $100,000 a year, but the younger brother found himself with practically no money, and $10,000 worth of stock. It was a condition which would tend to dishearten many, but not 'Ira Bigney'. His first act was to install an engineering and estimating department, and in so doing he was favored with the selection of men who have proved their worth and the respect of Mr. Bigney for his faith in their ability.  The latter is never too busy to praise his different departments, and his contention is always that they cannot be equalled elsewhere.  The first contract entered upon by the C. I. Bigney Construction Company was the construction of the Cadillac building, combined with the Broadway Storage building, which contract was awarded to the company by J. A. Foster, of Providence.  The contract price for this work was $130,000, and from that time on the company went into the building of mills, power houses, foundries, theatres, and residences.  The Empire Theatre in Fall River is the work of the company and vies with anything in the New England States for beauty. The Empire Theatre in Fall River is one of the crowning successes of Mr. Bigney's career.  Early in the construction period of this handsome playhouse, the entrance of the United States into the war occurred. There was a hurry call for steel and the government canceled all civilian contracts in order to fill their own needs.  Undaunted by the many setbacks the work was pushed along until in November of 1918, the magnificent playhouse was opened to the public.  In March of this year the theatre was sold to other interests, and Mr. Bigney well told the story at a banquet of the employees following, when he said, 'We Built The Empire;' we sold it; we made money.'  It was the shortest speech on record, but it contained a wealth of information.

In May, 1918, the C. I. Bigney Construction Company began the erection of a manufacturing plant at Branch Village, R. I., for the Andrews Mills Company, of Philadelphia.  The plant was entirely designed and engineered by the Bigney corporation, and the structure, together with the equipment, cost in the vicinity of $600,000.  At the present time the plant has just begun operations and the character of construction has attracted the attention of mill owners generally.  Some idea of the growth of the C. I. Bigney Construction Company under Charles Ira Bigney may be gleaned from the fact that business has doubled and tripled in the last five years. The returns from the business have been large and Mr. Bigney might well be considered a man of more than ordinary wealth to-day.  Those associated with him have also enjoyed their share of this world's goods with many good years to follow.

There are many contracts at hand, including the erection of a four-story building on Harrison street, two-story manufacturing building at Mapleville, R. I., two-story silk mill at Valley Falls, two silk mills at Central Falls, a pipe shop and bending plant at the General Fire Extinguisher Company at Auburn, R. I., together with many miscellaneous structures throughout Rhode Island.  A beautiful private residence is under construction in Elmhurst at a cost of $25,000 or more, and a number of mill houses at Esmond, R. I.   In the city of Providence to-day there are three structures in the process of construction, a two-story jewelry factory, a two-story auto service station on Elbow street, the Apco building, 80 x 300 feet, one story, on Eddy street.  The work is being done entirely on a ten per cent. commission basis, as is all the contracts taken by the company.  Early in the present year Mr. Bigney came into possession of a mill at Wakefield, R. I., and to-day it is operating as a braid and shoestring manufactory with a value of $155,000.  Charles Ira Bigney is president and treasurer of the concern and it is known as the Braid & Lace Company of Rhode Island.  The machines installed number more than six hundred, and fancy hat bands are also manufactured. It is somewhat of a new venture for Mr. Bigney, but it has been a big success to date.

As can be seen, the story of Mr. Bigney's career is an unusual one. His life is one which might well be a model for others and it bears out the fact that persistency brings success.  The year, 1918, took Mr. Bigney on his first vacation, when he went through the South for a period of six weeks. In the years before that he felt he never had time to indulge in a short respite from business.  The same spirit which characterized his boyhood days was carried into older life, but eventually he was prevailed upon to take his first real vacation.  He is a member of the Standard Oil Golf Club, West Side Club, Kiwanis Club, Reciprocity Club, Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade. Also business men's clubs in other cities.

p. 359 - 361:

EUGENE FRANCIS PHILLIPS  --  The name Phillips is baptismal in its derivation and signifies 'the son of Phillip'.  The name Phillip or Philip is of ancient Greek origin, and a combination of the two Greek words 'philos' and 'hippos', meaning lover of horses.  The early records of the name are very numerous and show it to have been in use in England and Wales for a period exceeding five hundred years.  It ceased to be popular as a font name after the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth. Emigration to America of members of the Phillips family began early in the colonization period of our history, and from the earliest record of any of the name in New England the various branches here have continued to produce men of sterling worth, who have rendered service in our Republic in the various walks of life, respected and honored citizens, leaders of the sciences, professions and industries.

Arms --  Gules, a chevron argent, between three falcons proper, ducally gorged, beaked and membered or.
Crest --  Out of a ducal coronet or, an arm embowed in armor, the hand holding a broken spear proper, powdered with fleur-de-lis gold.
Among prominent persons of this name, may be cited the following: Adelaide Phillips - Famous American contralto.  Edward Phillips - English author; 'Theatrum poetarum'.  John Phillips, F. R. S., L.L. D., D. C. L. - English geologist.  One of the founders of the British Association for the Advancement of Science; president of the Geological Society of London. Samuel Phillips, L.L. D. -- English journalist. One of the founders of the Crystal Palace Company.  Stephen Phillips - British poet and dramatist. Author of 'Endymion', 'Paola and Francesca', 'Herod: a Tragedy', 'Ulysses'. Thomas Phillips -- English portrait and subject painter.  Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy. Wendell Phillips -- American orator and reformer; president of Anti-Slavery Society.  William Phillips --  British mineralogist and geologist. Author of 'Outlines of Mineralogy and Geology', 'Elementary Introduction to the Knowledge of Mineralogy', 'Outline of the Geology of England and Wales'.  A fellow of the Royal Society.  Richard Phillips, F. R. S. -- Distinguished British chemist.

(I)  Michael Phillips, immigrant ancestor and founder of this branch of the Phillips family in America, emigrated from England and settled in Rhode Island as early as 1668, during which year he was made a freeman in Newport. He died in Newport before 1689.  The maiden name of his wife, Barbara, is not known.  She died after 1706.  After the death of Michael Phillips she married Edward Inman, who on August 17, 1686, deeded sixty-six acres of land north of Providence to Joshua Clarke, the husband of her daughter.  On August 26, 1706, she declined administration of the estate of Edward Inman.

(II)  Joseph Phillips, son of Michael and Barbara Phillips, was a resident of Providence, R. I., where in August, 1688, his name is found on the list of taxable persons.  On June 16, 1713, he was taxed six shillings.  He married Elizabeth Malavery, daughter of John and Elizabeth Malavery.  She died about 1719.  Joseph Phillips died September 3, 1719.  His will, dated August 21, 1719, was proved October 5, 1719, and named his wife Elizabeth, executrix.  The inventory of his estate amounted to £105 5s.  He was owner of much property in Providence, which he bequeathed to his wife.

(III)  Jeremiah Phillips, son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Malavery) Phillips, was born in Providence, R. I., between the years 1700 and 1705. After his first marriage at Providence, November 5, 1730, he removed to Gloucester. He married (second) in Cloucester, Dinah Inman, October 23, 1753.  He married (third) April 6, 1755, Rachael Inman.  He was a man of prominence in the local affairs of Gloucester.

(IV)  Jeremy Phillips, son of Jeremiah Phillips, was born at Smithfield, R. I., about 1748, and removed with his father to Gloucester.  He resided in Gloucester for the remainder of his life.  He was a farmer on a large scale. Jeremy Phillips died in Gloucester, in 1822, aged seventy to seventy-five years, and was buried on his farm, near several other graves.

(V)  David Phillips, son of Jeremy Phillips, was born in Gloucester, R. I., where he died August 9, 1847.  He married Amy Smith.

(VI)  David Gresham Phillips, son of David and Amy (Smith) Phillips, was born at Scituate, R. I., July 10, 1804, and was educated there. He later became the owner of the Phillips Tavern at North Scituate, R. I.  David G. Phillips married, at Scituate, Maria Rhodes, and all his children were born there.  Children:  Emeline Rhodes, born Aug. 25, 1827; Abby Fenner, born Aug. 4, 1829, died Jan. 26, 1832; Ostrander, born Nov. 1, 1831, died Jan. 15, 1873; Elizabeth Braman, born Jan. 9, 1834; Abby P., born March 9, 1837; Herbert, born March 12, 1839; Alice Arnold, born Oct. 4, 1841; Eugene Francis, mentioned below; Charles Field, born Oct. 27, 1847, died in Oct., 1847.

(VII)  Eugene Francis Phillips, son of David Gresham and Maria (Rhodes) Phillips, was born in Providence, R. I., November 10, 1843. He received his early education in the public schools of the city of Providence. During the last years of his course in high school came the outbreak of the Civil War, and its accompanying mad eagerness for war on the part of the youths in every section of the country.  Mr. Phillips left school to go to the fighting line, enlisting in the Tenth Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  After serving his term of enlistment he returned to Rhode Island, and continued his education.  He immediately entered the business world, and for a period of several years engaged in various lines of endeavor.  In 1878, after being in banking, Mr. Phillips began experiments on the manufacture of insulated electric wire. He was an organizer of great resourcefulness and genius, and the infant industry which started in a small shed in the rear of his home in Providence has since grown to enormous proportions, and is to-day one of the largest steel and copper wire manufacturing establishments of the kind in the world. Discoveries in the field of electricity greatly developed the possibilities of the new industry, and through his ability to foresee the size and importance of the manufacture of insulated wire, and its value in extending and broadening the uses of electricity, Mr. Phillips was able to bring the business to the place which it now holds.  The first plant of the company was located at the corner of Stewart and Conduit streets; in 1890 the factory was enlarged to include the entire square of which the two streets above named form part. In 1893 another addition to the plant was necessary, and since the city did not afford efficient nor ideal conditions for work, the present site on the Seekonk river, in East Providence, was purchased from the Richmond Paper Company, and the factory altered and modified for the manufacture of wire. The presence of an industry of such size in the vicinity, and the opportunity for employment which it afforded, caused the speedy growth of a village which was named Phillipsdale in honor of Mr. Phillips.  Since its very inception, he has been the guiding genius of this huge project, and responsible for its success in a greater measure than any one connected with it.

The infant industry was named the American Electrical Works and is one of the largest and most important plants of its kind in the world, controlling an industry whose importance cannot be overestimated.  The annual output of the concern covers wire and cables of every description, from heavy telephone and street cable wire to the delicate silk covered wire used for testing.  The plant at East Providence is complete in every detail, having within itself all facilities needed for the line of manufacture which it carries on.

In 1900 the American Electrical Works consolidated with the Washburn Wire Company, which enabled them to add the steel business to their already large variety of manufactured goods.  The copper department to-day consumes more than thirty million pounds of copper per annum. The steel department, equipped with open hearth furnaces, make their own steel, using pig-iron as a basis.  The quality of the metal produced is better than any other of American manufacture and is equal to the best Swedish steel.  In 1889 Mr. Phillips established a similar plant in Montreal, Canada, which also holds the distinction of being one of the largest of its kind in the Dominion. This plant is known as the Eugene F. Phillips Electrical Works, Ltd.

Eugene F. Phillips was a man of broad understanding, tolerance and sympathy, and thoroughly democratic in his tastes.  He was greatly loved by his employees, and  highly respected and honored by his associates in the business world.  He was one of the most prominent citizens of Providence, though never active in the official life of the city. He attended the Congregational church of Providence, and gave liberally to the worthy charities of every denomination.  He erected the Grace Memorial Church (Episcopal) in East Providence, in memory of his daughter Grace, who died in childhood.

Mr. Phillips married, October 30, 1867, Josephine Johanna Nichols, daughter of Samuel and Nancy (Baker) Nichols.  Mrs. Phillips is also a member of one of the oldest families of the State of Rhode Island, and a lineal descendant of the founder of the family in America, Richard Nichols (see Nichols).  The children of Mr. and Mrs. Phillips were:  Eugene Rowland, mentioned below; Edith Josephine, born Dec. 2, 1873, died unmarried, Oct. 19, 1907;  Frank N., mentioned below;  Grace, born May 18, 1878, died in March, 1882.  Mr. Phillips died in Providence, R. I., February 22, 1905.  He was affiliated with the Republican party, and was a member of the Agawam Hunt and Powham [sic] clubs, and a member of What Cheer Lodge of Masons.

(IX)  Eugene Rowland Phillips, president of the Washburn Wire Company, son of Eugene Francis and Josephine Johanna (Nichols) Phillips, was born in Providence, R. I., January 17, 1871.  He received his early education in the public schools of the city.  Upon finishing his studies, he went into the business of manufacturing with his father, there learning the details of business management.  He began his connection with the American Electrical Works in a comparatively minor and unimportant position, gradually working himself, through force of ability, to the position of influence and responsibility which he now holds.  His success and achievement in the business world have been wholly his own, and been accomplished by the influence which his father's eminence in business affairs might naturally have brought to bear on his career.  Mr. Phillips and his brother, Frank N. Phillips, are the leading active managers of the large manufacturing industry represented by the Washburn Wire Company and the American Electrical Works.

Mr. Phillips is well known in the social and club life of the city, and is a member of the Rhode Island, Country, Agawan Hunt and Metacomet Golf clubs. He served as a councilman of East Providence, being elected to office on the Republican ticket.

Eugene Rowland Phillips had two daughters:  Ruth, who married Walter J. Stein, of Chicago, Ill., a prominent banker; and Miriam, who married Edmund Parsons, and is a resident of Boston, Mass.

(IX)  Frank N. Phillips, president of the American Electrical Works, is a son of Eugene Francis and Josephine Joanna (Nichols) Phillips, and was born in Providence, R. I., July 6, 1874.  He attended the public schools of Providence, where he prepared for college. He later attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he pursued a three year course in electrical engineering.  Returning to Providence, he entered the office of the American Electrical Works, and gradually worked himself up through the various departments of the work to his present post.

For several years Mr. Phillips has been active in the political life of Providence.  He has served as councilman of the First Ward of Providence for six years, and now holds that office.  He is also well known in social and club life, and is a member of the Rhode Island Country Club, the Wannamoisette Country Club and the Pomham Club, and a member of Adelphi Lodge of Masons.

Frank N. Phillips married, November 15, 1898, Edith R. Peck, daughter of Leander and Sarah (Cannon) Peck, of Providence, and a member of an old and distinguished New England family.  They have two children: Charlotte and Donald Kay.

p. 361 - 362:

SAMUEL NICHOLS  --  The name Nichols is baptismal and signifies 'the son of Nicholas'.  It has always been popular in England and is found in various forms among the earliest records.  The names of William Nicoll, County Salop; John Nicole, County Oxford; and Stephen Nichole, County Oxford, are found in the Hundred Rolls, of 1273.  Record of the names Alicia Nicholmayden and Robertus Nichol-man, meaning 'servants of Nichol', is found in 1379.  'Thomas Nicholls, County Middlesex', is found in the register of Oxford University in 1575.  And among other public records are found the names of James Nickleson, of Canterbury, in 1687, and Robert Nicholls, London, 1707.  The Nichols coat-of-arms is as follows:

Arms - Gules, two bars ermine, in chief three suns or.
Crest - Out of a ducal coronet or, a demi-lion rampant, argent.
(I)  Richard Nichols, the progenitor of the family in America, emigrated from England and settled in East Greenwich, R. I., where he died prior to 1721.  He was survived by his widow, Phebe Nichols, who died prior to March 25, 1721, the date on which her will was proved at Warwick, R. I.

(II)  Richard (2) Nichols, son of Richard (1) and Phebe Nichols, was born in Rhode Island about 1705.  He later removed to Warwick, where he married, August 8, 1736, Elizabeth Pierce, of Rehoboth, Mass.

(III)  Israel Nichols, son of Richard (2) and Elizabeth (Pierce) Nichols, was born in Rehoboth, Mass., October 8, 1741.  He married, in Rehoboth, November 22, 1765, Robe Millerd.  He served throughout the Revolutionary War as an officer in Captain Peleg Peck's company. His name appears on a list dated at Taunton, September 30, 1776, of officers appointed by Brigadier-General George Godfrey, to serve in a regiment raised from his brigade for three months' service under General Spencer, agreeable to orders of the Council.  In December, 1776, at the alarm of Bristol, he was second lieutenant of Captain Stephen Bullock's company, Colonel Thomas Carpenter's regiment.  On June 26, 1778, he signed a petition with other officers of his regiment, asking for a new election of officers. Israel Nichols died in Rehoboth, Mass., December 9, 1800.

(IV)  Israel (2) Nichols, son of Israel (1) and Robe (Millerd) Nichols, was born in Rehoboth, Mass., September 16, 1768.  He married, June 15, 1791, Johanna Horton, daughter of Comfort and Johanna Horton. She was born November 2, 1772, and died March 28, 1854.  Israel (2) Nichols died November 16, 1822.

(V)  Samuel Nichols, son of Israel (2) and Johanna (Horton) Nichols, was born at Rehoboth, Mass., January 4, 1809, and died at Dighton, Mass. He was a farmer on a large scale in Rehoboth, later removing to Providence, R. I., where he retired for nineteen years before his death.  He married, in Rehoboth, December 23, 1832, Nancy Baker, daughter of Samuel and Patience (Pierce) Baker, of Rehoboth, where she was born March 15, 1814.  Their children were:  1.  Otis H., born in 1835, died at Rehoboth in the fall of 1854.  2.  Nancy Emily, born Sept. 20, 1837; married Daniel Horton, of Dighton.  3.  Phebe Asenath, born Aug. 18, 1839; married Colin C. Baker, of Providence, R. I., and died in California. 4.  George Dexter, born Aug. 26, 1841.  5.  Josephine Johanna, born June 5, 1849; married Eugene F. Phillips.


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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