History of Washington and Kent Counties, Rhode Island

By: J.R. Cole

W.W. Preston & Co., NY, 1889

 

CHAPTER XVI

p. 662

TOWN OF EXETER

Description of the Town.---Noted Places.---Queen's Fort---Beach Pond---Town Organization---Town Officers---List of Town Clerks---Early Settlement---Exeter Hollow---Hallville---Fisherville---Pine Hill---The Exeter Bank---Lawtonville---Browningville---Millville---Boss Rake Factory---Yawgoo---The Town Farm and Asylum---Schools---Churches---Library---Biographical Sketches.

The town of Exeter forms one of the central towns in the continental section of the state. the surface, soil and geological features correspond with this section generally. The rocks are primitive, the soil of a gravelly loam and the face of the country exhibits so much diversity of hill and dale in some sections that it may be in part considered mountainous. The principal natural products are hay, corn oats, rye and potatoes. The eastern portion can boast of no superiority in its soil, and is better adapted to grazing purposes than to the cultivation of grain. On the rocky and elevated eminences is generally to be found a growth of forest timber, embracing oak, chestnut, hard and soft maple, pine and cedar. The tulip tree is a native of the western section of the town, and when in bloom presents a handsome appearance.

The eastern part of the town is drained by Queen's river, the western by the Wood river and several branches. Several ponds are interspersed throughout the town, the principal ones being Deep pond and Beach pond. In 1872 the commissioners attempted to stock Deep pond (which is celebrated for its great depth) with black bass, but the attempt was unsuccessful.. Beach pond is located partly in Exeter and partly in Connecticut, and this place is famous for the exciting scenes enacted here in bygone days.

 

pp. 662-663

The town is situated in the northwestern part of the county of Washington,and is bounded on the north by West and East Greenwich, on the east by North Kingstown, on the west by Connecticut, and on the south by the town of Hopkinton, Richmond and South Kingstown. The town is the third in the state in area, containing 58 square miles, and is situated about twenty-five miles southwest of Providence.

Following is a list of the principal places in the town:

Villages: Arcadia, Exeter Hill, Millville, Yawgoo, Browning's Mill.

Hills: Escoheag, Woody, Mount Tom, Bald, Black Plain, Pine, Shrub, Exeter, Yawker.

Rivers: Flat, Wood, Queen. Brooks: Roaring, Kenyon, Paris, Sodom, Goshen, Mill, Flat Rock.

Ponds: Beach (partly in Connecticut), Deep, Boon, Bailey's, Fisherville, Yawker, Yawgoo, Mill Brook, Tippecansett.

Post Offices: Pine Hill, Exeter, Liberty.

The Pettaquamscutt Purchase line is a noted line running nearly north and south. The famous old Ten Rod Road runs through the entire length of this town, from east to west. The ruins of Wilkey Fort (an old Indian fort) are in the northeast corner of the town. Wolf Rocks, on Yawker Hill, are great natural curiosities.

Queen's Fort is a celebrated place, and affords historical features. It is situated in the northeastern portion of the town, and is a curiously shaped hill, somewhat like a half globe. The sides of this hill on the east, southeast and south are covered with a mass of stones more or less irregular in shape, and so thrown together as to form natural caverns and retreats. The hill is covered with a thrifty growth of chestnut trees. On the top of the hill is a stone wall fortifying its approach. The wall runs east and west, and at either corner were once stone huts, probably the residence of some Indian chief. From both of these points the wall runs south, but only for a short distance, the south side being naturally fortified. William Reynolds resided here some forty or fifty years ago. In a small valley just west of the wall is a unique collection of stones forming an natural cavern, in which it is said Maquus, the squaw sachem, once resided, but the chamber is now nearly filled with rubbish.

 

pp. 663-664

A little to the west of this once enticing retreat for the savage heroineis a sand bank where the soldiers on their celebrated march from RichardSmith's house toward the big swamp halted, expecting to find a body of Indians whom they intended to attack. But upon reaching this place the soldiers found that the Indians had returned to their fortress, leaving them only a quantity of corn, which was safely secured.

Beach pond was once famous for the exciting scenes here enacted. On the last Saturday in June, years ago, the people for miles around were accustomed to congregate here to indulge in horse races, foot races, heaving weights and other games. There is also an interesting spot about a mile west of Exeter Hill, somewhat resembling the Queen's Fort. It is simply a mass of bowlders (sic), which looks as if dumped by some giant power. They consist of large granite stones, some of immense size, many of which are nicely poised, one on the other, forming a picturesque appearance.

The town of Exeter formed a part of the town of North Kingstown until March, 1742, at which time the general assembly incorporated it into a separate and distinct township, with the present name, which was derived from Exeter, England. A meeting of the citizens was held in March of this same year to perfect an independent organization; its history prior to that time belongs to North Kingstown.

 

pp. 664-665

 

The first town meeting held in Exeter was at the house of Stephen Austin, March 22d, 1742. At that meeting Joseph Tripp, Esq., was chosen moderator; Benoni Hall, town clerk; John Weight, town sergeant; and John Wightman, town treasurer. The town council chosen at this meeting consisted of the following persons: John Reynolds, Nicholas Gardner, Jeffrey Champlin, James Rogers, Edmund Sheffield and Joseph Case; constables: Stephen Austen, John Reynolds, John Sweet, George Coon; rate makers: William Hall, Job Tripp, Jeffrey Champlin; sealer of weights and measures: Jonathan Lawton; sealer of leather: John Rathbun, Isaac Gardner, Isaac Tripp, George Sweet; overseer of the poor: John Potter; town auditors: Samuel Casey and Benoni Hall.

The first records of this meeting read as follows: "Voted and ordered that Samuel Casey, Benoni Hall and Edmund Sheffield are chosen a committee to meet and treat with the committee of North Kingstown to settle the affairs of the money in the Town Treasury, and all other prudential affairs of Said Town of Exeter with Said Committee, and make Return to our next town meeting. Voted and ordered that Benoni Hall, Town Clerk of Exeter, do not Deliver any Record books now in his possession, Till further Orders from this Town of Exeter, and that he defend the Keeping of Said Records at the Cost of the Town of Exeter."

The names of the town clerks, with the dates of their first elections are as follows:

March 22nd 1742, Benoni Hall

June 5th 1760, Benjamin Reynolds

June 7th 1763, William Willett

June 4th 1765, George Pierce

June 4th 1771, Gideon Mosher

June 1st 1773, Nicholas Gardiner

June 1st 1784, Stephen Reynolds

June 1st, 1824, Gershom Palmer

June 5th 1827, Avery Browning

June 4th 1833, Thomas Phillips (Mr. Phillips died in April, 1872 and E. P. Phillips acted as clerk until the June following)

June, 1872, Nathan B. Lewis

June 1888, J. H. Edwards

 

The town officers for the year 1888 were:

Moderator, Stephen B. Weeden

Town Clerk, John H. Edwards

Town Council, Clarke S. Greene, John T. G. Sweet, George F. Barber, Stephen C. Dawley, William G. Rose

Constable, George F. Barber

Sealer of Weights and Measures, Edward P. Dutemple

School Committee, John H. Edwards, George A. Thomas, Warren F. Wilcox;

Superintendent of Schools, Warren F. Wilcox

Overseer of the Poor, Stephen B. Weeden

Assessors, Clarke S. Greene, John H. Edwards, Herbert E. Lewis

Collectors, Simon N. Palmer, John Corey

Auctioneers, John A. Grinnell, George F. Barber

Corders of wood, Elisha P. Phillips, Stephen B. Weeden

Appraisers of Damage by Dogs, Herbert E. Lewis, Franklin P. Tefft, John T. G. Sweet

Pound Keeper, John P. Richmond

Coroner, Edward P. Dutemple

 

pp. 665-666

SETTLEMENT---A large part of the eastern portion of this town was included in that celebrated tract, "Vacant Lands," and was not settled as early as many of the surrounding towns. The first settlers established homes in that section where the land was the most fertile, and where it offered the best facilities for cultivation; but it was not until a long time after the great swamp fight that the town could boast of a settler.

The Wing family were probably the first in the town. They located in the southwestern part of the township, near the Deep pond, and in the first quarter of the eighteenth century other adventurous spirits settled in the western portion also.

Much of the early industry was confined to the products of the forest, and large quantities of timber were cut and marketed for various building purposes.

Among the first settlers of the town of Exeter should be mentioned Robert and Anna Davis Aylesworth, who were residents of the town long before the time of the revolution. In 1700 Robert Aylesworth was summoned to the assembly to answer the charge in court of being engaged in a riot. He was married May 20th, 1708 to Miss Anna Davis. Their children were Robert, Ephraim, Sarah, Mary, Amey, Anna.

Benjamin, son of William and Sarah Bentley, died here in 1774. His father was a currier of King's Towne, R. I.; his son's name was William Bentley.

 

p. 666

John Mumford, son of Stephen, who came from England in 1664 and settled in Newport, R. I., afterward became a resident of Exeter. He was married to Miss Peace Perry October 20th, 1699. Their children were: John, Ann, Perry, Stephen, Peace and Mary. John Mumford filled several important positions of trust for his town and state. In 1703 he was one of three who were appointed by the assembly to run a line between Rhode Island and Connecticut. In 1707 he and James Carder were appointed to survey the vacant lands of Narragansett, and October 28th, 1708, he was appointed on a commission to agree with Ninigret about lands due the sachem to live upon, and in 1716 he was appointed one of a committee to run and settle the dividing line between Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Jeremiah Austin lived in King's Towne in 1722, when North and South Kingstown were set off, and in 1742 in Exeter. He may have resided on one piece of land during all this time. He died in 1754. At that time there were six other Austins bearing the name of Jeremiah, viz.: Jeremiah, Jeremiah, Jr., Jeremiah, 3d, Jeremiah, son of Robert (3), Jeremiah, son of Pasko (3), Jeremiah son of Ezekiel (3) , and Jeremiah, son of Robert (3) (Joseph 2). His son Pasko married Margaret Sunderland October 25th, 1725. Their children were: Sarah, Margaret, Gideon, Daniel, Pasko, Isaac, Hannah, Jeremiah, Elizabeth, David, Jonathan and Stephen. He died in 1774. Jeremiah, another son, married Sarah Austin in November, 1729. His children were: Jeremiah, Elizabeth, Sarah, Thomas, Daniel, Katharine and John. He was surveyor of highways for seven years beginning in 1741. He died in 1778.

Samuel Wait was a resident of Exeter, and died here in 1752. He married Miss Alice Wightman. His children were: Joseph, George, Samuel, Benjamin, Martha and John. The strip of land in Exeter containing about 1,000 acres, including the original lot No. 6 of a division of the Pettaquamscutt purchase, which was the fourth plat laid out, bounded by the Sweets on the south and extending from thence northward along the Queen's river to the old Arnold line and eastward across the Great Plain, and which now embraces the farms owned by Thomas Peckham, Willet Hines and wife, the Exeter Asylum, the widow of Joseph W. Gardner, Ebenezer Slocum and Nathaniel Ennis, came to the Gardners by the right of John Porter, who was one of the original six purchasers. Only one farm of this whole tract has remained continually in the hands of the Gardner family, and that is the one now owned and occupied by the widow of Joseph W. Gardner.

 

p. 667

Joseph Gardner, son of Sir Thomas Gardner, of Yorkshire, England, came over with the first settlers, located and died in Kings county, R. I., aged 78 years. He was born in 1601 and died in 1679, leaving six sons: Benoni, died in 1731, aged 104 years; Henry, died in 1737, aged 101 years; William, was killed at sea by pirates; George, lived to the age of 94 years; Nicholas and Joseph, lived also to a great age.

Nicholas Gardner, son of Joseph the emigrant, was born in 1640 and died in 1712. His home is believed to have been at the rock farm near Mooresfield. His sons were Nicholas, George and Ezekiel. He died intestate, leaving one son Ezekiel, a minor. Nicholas, the eldest son, administered upon the estate, deeding to George the land near Kinston and to Ezekiel a farm on the Great Plain. Nicholas (2) married Mary A., daughter of Thomas Eldredge in the year 1709. He was known as Nicholas of North Kingstown, and with William Hall, Nathan Pierce and John Albro, laid out the northwestern boundary of the Pettaquamscutt purchase. About 1737 he moved from the rock farm and settled on the Great Plain. His residence and the place where he died was located on a little round hill east of the road and just sourth of Gardner's Four Corners in Exeter. This land was first owned by Samuel Wilbur, then by Francis Reynolds, then by Peter Reynolds, from whom it passed into the hands of the Gardners. Nicholas died in 1743. His children were: Nicholas (3) born 1710, died 1801; Ezekiel, born 1712; Sylvester, born 1714; and Thomas born 1729.

 

pp. 667-668

Nicholas was known as Esquire Nicholas of Exeter. He built a large house near the Four Corners on the farm where the poor of the town are now supported. He accumulated great wealth, owning much land and many slaves, whom he gave their freedom. He had three sisters. Hannah married John Sweet, who died in Exeter in 1742, and whose ancestors were some of the first settlers of the town, as were the Dawley's , the Arnolds and the Reynolds.

Nicholas (3) also had a son Nicholas (4), whose residence is still standing not far west of the school house near the Four Corners (now owned and occupied by a Mr. Sweet). He too lived to a good old age. He was born May 2nd, 1738, and married first Honor Brown, daughter of Beriah, of North Kingstown, who was sheriff for forty years. She was born May 10th, 1740, and died August 19th, 1760, without issue. He married, second, October 19th, 1762, Deborah Vincent, of Exeter, who was born in 1740 and died May 23rd, 1813. They had two children: Honor, born in 1763, died in 1817, single; Vincent, born December 9th, 1764, married Mary Gardner, daughter of Ezekiel (she was born 1766, died 1831. He died July, 1851); Nicholas (5), born 1769, died in Floyd, New York state, in 1821; Beriah, born November 1771, died in Wickford in 1854; Willett, born February, 1774, died in Moravia, N. Y., in 1856; Elizabeth, born 1776, married Clarke Sisson, of Exeter, whose grandchildren are now some of the substantial men of that town; and Benjamin C., born 1779 and died in Wickford in 1858, all leaving large families.

Willett Gardner left Exeter in 1798 and settled in Hancock, Berkshire county, Mass., where he married Abigail, daughter of Daniel Gardner,December 15th, 1797. She was born in Hancock, November 16th, 1777, and died in Moravia, N. Y., December 16th, 1852. Daniel, her father, one of the first settlers of Hancock, was form West Greenwich, R. R. and was also a descendant of Joseph the emigrant. Their family consisted of five sons and four daughters that lived to maturity: Benjamin, the eldest, died in Moravia in 1868, aged 74 years: Lydia, died in Moravia in 1837, aged 29 years; Daniel, died in Tecumseh, Mich., in 1878, aged 72 years; Louisa, died in Lyons, Ohio, in 1848, aged 38 years; Nicholas, died in Dundee, N. Y. aged 55 years; Minerva, died in Moravia N. Y., in 1879, aged 67 years (all except Lydia were married); Harrison G. O., Alonzo and Deborah, still living---Deborah in Moravia, Alonzo in Michigan. Harrison G. O. Gardner left Moravia in 1841, and moved to Wickford, where he married Frances E., daughter of Isaac Reynolds, and has remained a resident of that village for almost fifty years.

 

pp. 668-669

Harrison G. O. Gardner, above-mentioned, and who furnished these notes of the Gardners, was master of a vessel some seventeen years, until the war of the rebellion, when he served for a time under the provost marshal in removing prisoners and citing men that had been drafted; also in procuring bodies from the different battlefields.

Beriah Brown, the noted sheriff of colonial days, lived near the Ten Rod Road, not far from Wickford Junction. The old house is still in good condition, and is now occupied by a great-grandson of the sheriff. On the south side of the road and not far away, was once the residence of Alexander Phenix, on of the earliest settlers, who died in 1697, leaving a widow, Abigail Phenix, who built a house there in 1711, and had a daughter Abigail, who married Beriah Brown, ancestor of the sheriff. The widow Phenix was a daughter of Samuel Sewal, who was a companion of Miles Standish.

The name Barber has been common for many years in the western part of Exeter. Moses Barber, of South Kingstown, married Susanna Wait. they had a son Moses, who married for his first wife Elizabeth Elred, May 23rd, 1705; and for his second wife, Mary Larkin, April 9th, 1729, who was a resident of this part of Kingstown, it is thought. His brothers, Thomas, born 1699, and Joseph, born 1701, were both known to have been residents of Exeter. The children of Thomas and Avis Barber, his wife, were: Martha, Dinah, Thomas, Mary and Zebulon. the children of Joseph and Rebecca Potter, married February 4th, 1724, were Nathaniel and a daughter.

There was in early times a Mr. Reynolds Barber, whose son, Ellery Barber, owned and operated a saw mill and a shingle mill for many years, near Deep Pond. Reynolds Barber was a cooper by trade. George F. and William E. Barber, now residents of that part of the town are his grandsons. What is now known as Pratt's Mill was established by John Barber in an early day. It was afterward owned by Jason P. Stone and Robert Hazard. Nathan B. Lillibridge next bought it, and he sold it to the present owner, Mr. Amasa, Pratt, who operates a shingle mill, a grist mill and a saw mill.

Anson Greene, a resident of Arcadia, of which place he has been postmaster a number of years, was in 1888 the prohibition candidate of the second congressional district for congress. He has been a member of the legislature a number of terms, and is a son of Esquire Isaac Greene, who was elected to the general assembly continously for many years.

 

p. 670

Thomas J. Hazard, a resident of Escoheag Hill, is still living at theadvanced age of ninety-seven years. He is the son of Lieutenant Jeffrey Hazard. John Austin, who now owns a gold and silver refinery in Providence and is president of the Citizens' Savings Bank, Providence, went from this town a poor boy, with all his effects tied up in a pocket handkerchief. The Austin homestead in Exeter is in a fine state of cultivation, and is a large, fine farm.

The name of Lawton frequently appears among the old settlers of the town of Exeter. The family are descendants of George Lawton of England. He married a daughter of Thomas Hazard. Their son Robert married Mary O'Dell, and their son Robert (2) had a son Benjamin and from this Benjamin descended a Benjamin 1st and Benjamin 2d, from the last of whom (who died in 1825, about seventy years of age, At Exeter Hill, where Elder Wood now lives) came Caleb, John, Benjamin and Clark, and two daughters---Mary, who married Benedict Arnold and settled about a mile southeast of Exeter Hill, and

Patience, who married Josiah Arnold, a brother of Benedict, who lived about one mile from the hill.

Caleb Lawton married Alice Albro. Their children were: Thomas, Samuel and Beriah H. Thomas Lawton owned and operated the cotton mill at Lawtonville for few years; he also kept a store. Beriah H. Lawton, now of Wickford, was elected a senator from Exeter when twenty-one years of age. He has also been representative several terms from the town of North Kingstown.

On the maternal side the Lawtons are descendants of Theophilus Whaley, who married Elizabeth Mills. Their daughter Martha married Joseph Hopkins, father of Samuel Hopkins, the father of Sarah Hopkins, the mother of Alice Albro, the mother of Beriah H. Lawton.

 

pp. 670-671

EXETER HOLLOW.--- This village is situated in the northeastern part of the town, in what is known as Exeter Hill district. In former times there was carried on more manufacturing here than at the present time. This part of the town is drained by Queen's River, and upon this stream and its tributaries were located the various mills.

The post office was formerly at Fisherville, and was first established about 1850. It was moved to its present location about 1864. The store at Exeter Hill was kept at one time by Gardiner Tillinghast. Thomas G. Hunt, the present postmaster, succeeded James Hendtick at this place in 1882. Mr. Tillinghast kept his store where Mr. John Corey now lives. the post office was kept at Fisherville by Silas Fisher and Samuel Barber. The Hall brothers kept it at Hallville. At Exeter Hill it has been kept by Jesse P. Clarke, John Brown. James Hendricks and Thomas Hunt.

William Greene, a soldier of the revolution, purchased a site here, and erected a grist and saw mill. He also and a nail factory and a trip hammer. He continued the business for many years and was succeeded by his sons, until Christopher G. Greene purchased the site in 1846, and erected a somewhat pretentious wooden structure two stories high. An unsuccessful attempt was made here later at "Block Print." Mr. Greene then occupied the mill, and manufactured warps until his death. His sons Albert and William, under the name of Greene Brothers, continued the business a few years. About the year 1873 Andrew D. Shattock purchased the mill, but it was destroyed by fire about one year afterward. The property was afterward purchased of the Greene heirs by Eben Slocum, who now operates a grist mill in the place.

Clarke S. Greene, a public spirited man, and for a number of years state senator, lives at this place. Andrew Lawton had a tannery north of Exeter Hill, which he operated for many years, making a specialty of tanning porpoise hides. These were considered superior to hog skin for the making of saddles.

 

p. 671

HALLVILLE---Hallville is situated about two miles south of Exeter Hill. Beriah Brown built a mill here which he operated for many years, but there has been nothing in the place since the factory was last burned. About the year 1835 Dutie J. Hall purchased the property, and continued the business until his death. His sons succeeded him, but the mill was destroyed by fire, rebuilt, and again burned in 1872. About a quarter of a mile south of the old Brown mill a building was erected by J. C. Dawley for a grist mill. In 1860, two years afterward, the Hall Brothers purchased the property and changed it into a warp factory, and operated it until about 1874. Solomon Arnold erected a factory here about 1820, which was also purchased by the Hall Brothers, who run (sic) it till it was burned in 1871.

One of the first grist mills in this part of the town was built by John Chapman, who died in 1795. It was afterward owned by Moses Barber for a factory, and then by the Hall Brothers.

 

p. 672

FISHERVILLE --- Fisherville is situated a short distance from Hallville, and consists of a small collection of houses. There is at present no business done in the place. About the year 1833 Sheffield and Samuel Arnold built a mill here for the manufacture of warps. They continued this business until 1848, when the property was sold to Schuyler Fisher, who introduced new machinery for the manufacture of jeans and check flannel. Mr. Fisher finally sold the mill and went west. It changed hands a number of times, the Halls owning it last. It was burned in 1873 and never rebuilt. There has been no business at Fisherville since the factory was destroyed by fire.

PINE HILL ---This village is situated near the middle of the town. It contains a post office, a town hall and was the seat of the old bank. The post office was established in 1840, and Thomas Phillips, the first postmaster, held the office for about forty years. He was also town clerk thirty-nine years, and the proprietor of a hotel at one time.

In 1872 Judge Nathan B. Lewis moved to Pine Hill, purchased the Phillips property, and succeeded him in the town clerkship and post office. Mr. Phillips had given up the hotel business years prior to this time. Judge Lewis was clerk of the town from 1872 to 1888, when he moved to Wickford, and the office then passed into the hands of J. H. Edwards, and was moved to his residence east of the village, where the records had been kept for a period of sixty years and over. Joseph E. Gardiner, the successor of Judge Lewis, is the present postmaster. There is no store in the village.

The bank at Pine Hill was chartered in 1833, and from that time until 1865 the town, though always without a lawyer or a doctor or a secret organization, could boast of a banking institution. Its capital was $50,000. Stephen Tillinghast was its first president; the last was Henry Aldrich. Thomas Phillips was the first and only cashier. It did not enter under the national banking system and closed its doors in 1865.

The town hall was erected in 1878 at Pine Hill. The old hall was formerly a dwelling house anciently used as a tavern stand but later the town records were kept there and also the bank. Pine Hill is one of the highest hills in Washington county, it being 578 feet above sea level.

 

pp. 672-673

LAWTONVILLE is situated on the Ten Rod Road west of Exeter Hill. About the year 1795, Samuel Bissell from North Kingstown came to the place and erected a snuff manufacturing establishment, but in 1825 the buildings were remodelled (sic) and changed into a cotton factory by Allen Bissell and G. Palmer, Jr. The mill was burned a few years afterward, when Mr. T. A. Lawton purchased the property, built a new mill and carried on the manufacture of warps until his death. The property then passed into the hands of Mowry Phillips and was changed into a saw and grist mill. Joseph H. Brown, the present owner of the mill, purchased the property about the year 1872.

 

Thomas A. Lawton formerly kept a hotel at Lawtonville. Pardon T. Joslyn has been a merchant in this place for a number of years. He built his present store in 1887. West of Lawtonville and on the Ten Rod Road, Nathan Dutemple settled in 1838, at which time he established the thriving business since carried on under the firm name of N. Dutemple & Son. Nathan Dutemple was a blacksmith. He learned his trade of Christopher C. Greene, of Exeter Hollow and did an extensive business till 1887, covering a period of forty-nine years, when he died. His son, Edward Dutemple, succeeded and is now manufacturing carriages for the wholesale trade. He erected his store house in 1883. His paint shop was erected in 1876. Nathan Dutemple bought the land here (about 30 acres) of Samuel Phillips.

 

pp. 673-674

BROWNINGVILLE is situated a short distance from Arcadia. There is at this place a small cotton mill, now owned by T. T. Hoxsie. A wooden mill two and a half stories in height was erected here about the year 1823 by John Browning, and leased to Robert and Thomas Reynolds for the manufacture of sheetings. Greene and Richardson leased the mill in 1831 and operated it ten years. It then passed into the hands of Mr. Shepardson, who was succeeded in two years by Reynolds Kenyon, who began the manufacture of warps. In 1846. Mr. S. S. Hoxsie purchased the machinery and leased the mill. In 1863 he purchased the estate and enlarged the property to twice its former capacity. From S. S. Hoxsie the property passed into the hands of T. T. Hoxsie, the present proprietor.

 

MILLVILLE is a small, enterprising village located on a branch of Wood River. It contains a few fine houses, two factories, blacksmith and carriage shop, a fine grocery store kept by E. P. Phillips. the lower mill was built by Job Reynolds & Son about the year 1832 and leased to James S. Harris for the manufacture of negro cloth. Mr. Harris was succeeded in 1837 by Joseph G. and Daniel S. Harris, who carried on the manufacture of print goods about seven years, when they were succeeded by Williams & Barber, who continued the business until 1847, when it passed into the hands of Job Reynolds, who manufactured the same class of goods until about 1850. In 1865, after changing hands several times, the mill came into the hands of the present proprietor who carries on the manufacture of warps to quite a large extent. The old mill was destroyed by fire two years ago and a new mill built on the old site.

The cotton mill for the manufacture of yarns is owned by D. L. Aldrich. It is the upper mill and was built about 1840 by Job Reynolds, who operated it for some years. It then passed into the hands of the Spragues. In 1850 Mr. E. G. Phillips died. This mill was destroyed by fire this same year and the privilege sold to the Exeter Bank. Harris and Lillibridge purchased the estate and erected the present mill in 1854. William Greene leased the property. In 1861 the present proprietor took it.

 

THE BOSS RAKE FACTORY was established by Mr. Joshua Boss a few miles west of Hallville about thirty years ago, and the business of manufacturing rakes was carried on by him for about twenty years. The property is now owned by Charles H. Boss, his nephew.

 

pp 674-676

 

LIBERTY is a post office only, the name being given in 1856 upon theremoval of the church to that place. Mrs. Mercy B. Sunderland is postmistress.

 

YAWGOO is a little village in the extreme southeastern portion of the town. The mill here was built of stone and had a capacity for three sets and sixty looms. Charles Allen began manufacturing here in 1846. He first manufactured flannels but subsequently changed to jeans, which he produced for many years, after which the mill stood idle for some time. The property then passed into the hands of George Rose and by him was sold to William Walker. About the year 1861 the Messrs. Babcock, of Westerly, purchased the property, erected several tenements and did a thriving business. It next passed into the hands of A. L. Chester. It was soon after burned, partly rebuilt, and is now operated by James Peckham, who manufactures woolen goods.

The Sherman Mill was built in 1828 by John R. Sherman, who erected a saw mill at that time and carried on the business until 1854. In 1859 he built a small factory which was used for short periods of time afterward for spinning yarn. In District No. 5, H. T. Woodmansee operates a saw mill formerly owned by Mr. Wilcox. It was owned at one time by the late T. P. Woodmansee, the father of the present owner.

 

THE TOWN FARM AND ASYLUM consists of a tract of land comprising one hundred and thirty acres, which was purchased in 1873 of James Hendricks for the sum of $3,700. the town farm and asylum of Exeter was the result in part of a gift of John Reynolds, formerly of this town but subsequently of Providence.

In a will made August 24th, 1844, and in a codicil dated November 27th, 1852, he left to the town certain bank shares that should revert to the town after the death of his wife and other legatees. The will was admitted to probate in Providence January 24th, 1860, and by its conditions the fund was to be used only in the purchase of a town farm for the care of the poor.

The sum of $16,700 has already fallen to the town, out of which the present farm and buildings have been purchased. John Corey and others established the present system of taking charge of the poor in 1872, and it was managed by Mr. Corey for several years. Mr. Stephen B. Weeden is the present overseer of the poor.

 

SCHOOLS ---The first school house in the town of Exeter was built at the east end of the town on the Ten Rod road. It was erected in 1766, and was the result of a gift made by Samuel Sewal, of Boston, who gave five hundred acres of land in the new town of Exeter in 1696 to maintain a grammar school for the children of the inhabitants of the town. Nothing was done about the matter until the gift was revived by petition to the assembly in 1766, and powers were granted to carry it into effect. The law enacted by the general assembly in 1800, requiring the town to maintain at least three schools, probably had its salutary effect, but as late as 1828 there werem but three school houses in the town in which winter schools were kept. The inhabitants then numbered 2.581. The town was then allowed $183.86 from the state fund. In the year 1839 the town of Exeter expended $508.05 on her schools, and had 284 pupils in attendance. Now the town spends annually $4,000 and over for the education of the young, while the interest manifested by the people in the cause deserves highest praise.

There is a division of the town into thirteen school districts. The school buildings are plain, neat wooden structures, and fitted up with modern improvements and conveniences. The intelligence and culture of the citizens of this town at the present day are largely due to the educational facilities they have had in the past. In this rural town no license for the sale of intoxicating liquors has been granted for over fifty hears; and the law-abiding spirit of its citizens is such that they have never had a resident lawyer, which certainly speaks well for the good influence of their schools, as well as for their churches.

 

p. 676

BAPTIST CHURCH, EXETER ---The Baptist Church in Exeter was founded by David Sprague, a native of Hingham, Mass., in 1750. Mr. Sprague moved from his native place to Scituate, R. I., where he was converted and received as a member of the Six Principle Baptist church in that town, then under the ministry of Reverend Samuel Fiske. He next removed to North Kingstown, united with the Six Principle church (Baptist), and preached very acceptably to the people of that town for many years. He was ordained as colleague to Elder Richard Sweet in 1737, but after his ordination began to advocate Calvinistic views, causing no little uneasiness and dissatisfaction in the church.

For this reason he was dismissed from the congregation, and went next to the Six Principle Church in South Kingstown in 1750. His extreme Calvinistic views caused some disturbance, and in the autumn of 1750 he removed to Exeter and founded the Baptist Church in that town. His congregation in this place was made up largely of New Lights. As early as August 22nd, 1751, articles of faith were adopted by the church, setting forth the views of the Calvin Baptist denomination, the church entering into associational accord with their pastor. In 1753 a deed of land was conveyed by Simon Smith to Elder Sprague and the deacons of the church, upon which the society erected their church building. On a portion of this land a burying ground was set aside for the interment of the dead.

By reference to the indenture, made February 12th, 1753, "In the Twenty Sixth year of the Reign of Our Sovereign Lord George the Second, King of Great Britain, etc.," we learn that at the time Joseph Rogers and Philip Jenkins were deacons of the church, that the lot purchased was in consideration of love and good will, and was "Ten Rods Long and Six Rods wide, containing a Quarter and Half Quarter of an acre of land," and was for the use of "said church and their successors in Said Principles and none else. During the full term of Nine Hundred and ninety nine years from and after the Date hereof and no Longer."

On the 23rd of May, 1753, a large gathering of the New Light churches of New England, representing twenty-five churches, met with the Exeter church to settle terms of fellowship and communion at the Lord's Table, and a similar meeting was again held with the church on the second Tuesday in September 1854. The decisions of these two councils in Exeter were in favor of open communion. The church had a meeting September 17th, 1757, at the meeting house, to hear from their pastor, Elder Sprague, the reasons for his long absence. At the meeting of July 15th, 1757, by a council, Elder Sprague read an epistle in which he laid down many reasons for meeting with the church, and enjoined some things for the church to remove, retract and confess before he would consent to walk with them. Joseph Rogers attempted a reply, but the elder would not hear, and abruptly left the house. On the 19th of November following, the church acting upon the advice of the council held on the 3d of November withdrew from their pastor, and appointed Joseph Rogers and Philip Jenkins to carry their withdrawal to him.

Soon after Deacon Philip Jenkins felt that he was called to preach the gospel and take the watch care of the church, but the church not being agreed on this matter he left it, together with a number of those who were attached to him." "Deacon Jospeh Rogers, about the same time, had a grievous difficulty with another brother, in consequence of which he also left the church.

 

pp. 677

"The following is a copy of the record of a church meeting, held in the early days of the history of this church in Exeter." "After a church meeting especially appointed preparatory to communion, at the meeting house in Exeter, May ye 27 day, 1858, after solemn prayer and supplication to God for wisdom to direct proceedeth as followeth:

To our covenant with God and with one another. Brother Joseph Rogers appeared and owned his covenant." Following are the signatures given: Philip Jenkins, John Gardner, Samuel Gardner, Daniel Gill, Simon Smith, Thomas Place, Anna Aylesworth, Anna Harrington, Catharine Potter, Margaret Spencer, Sarah Spencer, Mary Smith."

On May 21st, 1763, the records show a better scale of feeling in the church. At this meeting Solomon Sprague acted as moderator, and Seth Eldred as clerk, and soon afterward Solomon Sprague was called to the pastorate, but did not at that time accept. In July, 1766, Elder David Sprague, their former pastor, returned, and was cordially received to their membership. He also at this meeting tendered his services to the church as pastor, which was followed by a declination, the members evidently showing a preference for his son. At this time the membership of the church numbered about seventy-seven. Elder David Sprague died in Exeter in 1777, and was buried beside the old church, reared chiefly through his instrumentality. He is represented as being a man of pure character, superior abilities, happy address and winning spirit, and had been a faithful minister for forty years.

Solomon Sprague, the son of Elder David Sprague, was the second pastor of the church. He was born April 2d 1730, was converted in early life, and ordained in the church June 1st, 1769. He was a physician as well as a preacher, and honored both professions; but on account of his occupation as a physician he was unable to make pastoral visits among his people, and in October, 1772, the church appointed a number of faithful and gifted brethren to assist him in visiting his flock. In September, 1775, the church voted to send Elder Solomon Sprague, Elder David Sprague, Joseph Case, Jr.., and other brethren to assist in the ordination of Elisha Greene to the pastoral care of the church in West Greenwich.

Elder Solomon Sprague was assisted in the ministry by Joseph Case, who removed in 1791 to Petersburg, N. Y. Elder Solomon Sprague died February 26th, 1794, after an honored pastorae of about twenty-five years. As a pastor he was faithful, much beloved and successful. After Elder Sprague's death a leader in the church offered to take the pastorage, but the society declined, and remained without a pastor until 1806, when, on April 5th, Elder Gershom Palmer was installed pastor. Elder Palmer's pastorate of about twenty-five years was very successful, the church having increased in 1825 to seven hundred and thirty-eight members.

 

pp. 678-680

During this pastorate the old church becoming too small to accommodate theincreased membership, a new one was built in 1816. The first structure was a two-story house, and had a gallery around it, excepting on the north side, where stood the pulpit, with a fire-place near the center of the house. The new church was erected by Daniel Spink in 1816. It was thirty four feet by forty on the ground, with a convenient gallery and a row of pews around the walls of the house below, and the remainder of the house above and below was seated, except two alleys. The two alleys led from the doors, and were three feet wide. The pews were sold at auction July 16th, 1816, by Gould Gardner, the names of the purchasers with amounts paid and numbers respectively, being as follows. Pew No. 1, John Vaughn, $42.75; 2, Jonathan Congdon, $40.00; 3, William Greene, $40.00; 4, Benjamin C. Gardner, $49.00; 5, Nathan Dawley, $40.00; 6, Robert H. Brown, $40.50; 7, Whitman Thurston, $42.00; 8, Jeremiah G. Northup, $45.00; 9, Caleb Arnold, Jr., $13.50; 10, George Gardner, $31.00; 11, Benjamin Lawton, $18.50; 12, Gardner Champlin, $16.00; 13, Daniel Champlin, $45.00; 14, Arnold Ellis, $44.00; 15, Samuel Shearman, $42.50; 16, Thomas Phillips, $43.00; 17, Benjamin Fowler, $50.00; 18, Clarke Sisson, $43.00; 19, Pardon Whitford, $48.00; 20, Russel (sic) Joslin, $58.00.

 

Mr. W. H. Arnold, in speaking of Elder Palmer in the Narragansett Historical Register, says: "In April, 1827, the church commenced labor with a number of brethren who had stopped their travel on account of being grieved with Elder Palmer for reporting a story that they deemed repugnant to the truth. At a subsequent meeting in May, after hearing the charges against Elder Palmer, made by these brethren, the church voted that they were not satisfactorily proved." But the difficulty remained; these brethren were not satisfied, and finally the church, at their request, agreed, April 19, 1828, to call a council of neighboring churches to advise with the church respecting their decision in the matter. This council met May 17, 1828, with Elder Jonathan Wilson Moderator and Smith Chapman clerk. After carefully hearing and weighing the evidence, they decided that these grieved brethren had some cause of grief, and advised the church to treat them tenderly, and advised these brethren to strive for reconciliation, and also advised our believed brother Palmer to strive with all his power to help the minds of these brethren."

On the 11th of June another council convened at the meeting house in Exeter, by request of the aggrieved members of the Exeter church. This council consisted of twenty pastors and brethren, representing eight churches in the Stonington Union Association, and after hearing the evidence resolved, "That we consider the portion of the church of Exeter who now style themselves as the church, have upheld Elder Gershom Palmer in a palpable falsehood, for which cause we consider they have departed from the gospel order, and as the portion of the church styling themselves aggrieved members have in our opinion taken gospel measures to effect reconciliation, and have perpetuated their efforts till the door was closed against them and all hope of success expired; from the above considerations we do give fellowship to said aggrieved members as the Baptist Church of Exeter. Resolved, That we recommend to said church to represent itself as such to our next Association.

"JON. MINER, Moderator,

"SIMON CHAPMAN, Clerk."

 

This decision, however, did not lead to a peaceable adjustment, and after another council was held, July 2nd, 1829, and another one on the 29th of the same month, it was decided on the 5th of August, 1829, to withdraw the hand of fellowship from Elder Palmer, three deacons and a number of members.

 

pp. 680-681

The fourth pastorate was begun under Elder Levi Meech, who united with thechurch and became its pastor in 1831. During his three years' stay at thechurch was blessed in the conversion of nearly fifty members. On the 7th of September, 1831, Russel Joslin and Daniel Sweet were ordained to the office of deacons of the church. In October of this year the church petitioned the general assembly and it was incorporated. In the year 1832 the church held meetings that resulted in a glorious revival of religion. On May 17th, 1834, Elder Meech received letters of dismission. In August, 1836, the church voted to sever their connection with the Stonington Union Association and unite with the Warren, on account of the greater convenience of attending. At this time, the membership was four hundred and seventy four.

 

Elder Benedict Johnson began the next pastorate on October 14th, 1837, and on the 16th of December following the church decided to build a new house "40x32 feet to be located on Christopher Greene's land near Solomon Lawton's on the hill." The house was built at a cost of $1,500 and was dedicated October 4th, 1838. The building of the house was under the superintendence of Deacons Russel Joslin and Daniel Sweet, together with C. C. Greene and Stephen H. Gardiner. Mr. Charles Reynolds gave the timber for building the house and his son, Henry Reynolds, claims to have struck the first blow in the cutting. Following the dedication an interesting revival of religion took place and in 1845, the long standing difficulty existing in the church, in consequence of Elder Palmer, was satisfactorily settled, "and a certificate to this effect was signed by the clerk of this church and the clerk of the church under Elder Palmer," the two churches thereafter recognizing each other a sister churches.

On March 20th, 1847, Gershom P. Shearman, grandson of Elder Palmer, was licensed to preach the gospel. George R. Northup in March, 1850, withdrew from the field and Elder Johnson returned to the pastorate of the church.

On June 15th, 1854, a council voted to ordain Gardner Tillinghast on the 5th of July following, at which time he was ordained as assistant pastor. On October 20th, 1855, a license was given Albert B. Tefft to preach the gospel. In July, 1854, T. A. Hall was set apart as deacon of the church.

In 1856 Reverend Gardner Tillinghast supplied the pulpit, and in August following became pastor and died the following December. In 1858 Reverend Benedict Johnson returned to the church. In the winters of 1857 and 1858 union meetings were held with the Liberty church at the Jefferson Hall, Fisherville, at which time forty-four additions were made. In the autumn of 1860 Reverend George R. Northup took the pastoral care of the church and labored faithfully for two and a half years.

 

pp. 681-682

In 1863 the church was again without a pastor, but for a part of the timewas supplied by Reverend J. W. Carpenter. George Chappell supplied the desk for a number of years beginning in 1864. From 1866 to 1867 Reverend J. L. Wightman officiated. In 1867 the church united with the Narragansett Association. On June 6th, 1869, Reverend Benedict Johnson again united with the church and began his pastoral labor and died on the 28th of June following, aged sixty-four years. He was buried in Exeter cemetery, near the church, and his son William, who died January 15th, 1871, and his wife Ruth Johnson, who died November 19th, 1877, were laid beside him.

On April 10th, 1870, Reverend G. R. Northup began his pastoral labors in the church. An interesting revival of religion took place in 1872 and thirty-eight were baptized. On August 31st, 1872, Willet H. Arnold was appointed clerk of the church and was made deacon on November 2nd following. Elder Northup removed from the church on March 4th, 1877, and on the 3rd of June, 1877, Reverend S. D. Burlingame was employed to supply the church two Sabbaths in a month for no definite time, he continuing in this work until April 11th, 1878, when he was followed by Reverend J. H. Edwards, who preached two Sabbaths in a month until January, 1881. From this time forward to April 1882, the church was supplied by Reverend Justus Aldrich, state missionary, and Deacon Whitman L. Wood.

On May 6th, 1882, Reverend J. H. Edwards was called to the pastorate. The church has a total membership of 74. The clerks of the church have been as follows, copied from the records of Willet H. Arnold, in 1863, viz: Joseph Rogers, 1757; Thomas Joslin, 1760; John Gardiner, January 6th, 1770; Joseph Case, Jr., September 12th, 1770; Benjamin Fowler, 1772; Jonathan Dean, about 1790; Pardon Tillinghast, about 1796; James Clark, 1805; George Sisson, 1814; Beriah Brown, 1821; Christopher C. Greene, 1826; Nathan Dutemple, 1860; Willet H. Arnold, August 31st, 1872.

 

p. 682

BAPTIST CHURCH, LIBERTY ---This society obtained their character in 1856,and during that same year erected their present church edifice. Elder Pardon Tillinghast was their first pastor, and labored many years. He was succeeded by the present pastor, Reverend J. W. Carpenter, who has been here for many years. They have a large membership, a flourishing Sabbath school, and the society is in a very prosperous condition. From this society the Advents obtained a lease of the old church lot, which cast a new firebrand into their midst. The old meeting house was a stock concern, and becoming greatly dilapidated the town condemned it, and it was torn down about 1872. The Advents next succeeded, the wreck was cleared away, their new edifice erected, and under the ministration of Elder E. R. Wood that society is a fast growing in strength and numbers.

pp. 682-683

 

THE OLD SIX PRINCIPLE BAPTIST CHURCH still has a few members, and they have had an organization in the town for more than one hundred years. They have a good library of about five hundred volumes, and a good Sunday school.

THE WEST GREENWICH BAPTIST CHURCH is situated at Millville. the church was erected in 1858. Services are held at this place and at Nooseneck, both of which places are under the same pastor.

 

p. 683

THE MANTON LIBRARY of Exeter was established some years ago. The original society was a corporation, but the company finally donated their books to the town, which in number have now increased to a well selected library of about fourteen hundred volumes. The library receives a fund from the state of $75 annually for its support, and the town also donates such funds as are needed. Mrs. Phebe Edwards is librarian.

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