by Dr. Charles M. Whipple, Jr., Edmond, Oklahoma
Barbara R. Carroll, Exeter, Rhode Island
August 21, 2004
This treatise reviews documentation sources and historical
literature on the first and last sons of Captain John Whipple of
Providence Rhode Island, and their immediate descendants. The western
movement across the American frontier by later representative
descendants of each chronicles the continued influence of these
families on subsequent generations. This is the third in a series of
articles included in a book presently being written by the authors on
the life of Captain John Whipple and his descendants.
(See: The Louquisset Brothers and Yeomen and Princes for previous articles). This is a work in progress. Comments, additions, and documented corrections are solicited. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com . The next article in the series will feature Captain John and Sarah Whipple.
As discussed in previous articles and continued herein, five of Captain John and Sarah Whipple's eight sons established homes on inherited "north woods" properties that had not as yet experienced the civilizing effect of the European ax and plow. The property of each was located to the north or northwest of Providence, a small settlement of between 200 to 300 persons, along the four principle rivers that flow past it into the Narragansset Bay. In the 1670s, Eleazer and William had to travel eight miles or so up the meandering Moshassuck River to its headwaters to establish farms at what became the Limerock Settlement. Samuel received land at that same location, although it appears that he lived and died nearer in to Providence. Specifically, at the time of his death, he resided in the former Roger Mowrey house located on the Pawtucket Road about one-and-one half miles north of the freshwater spring that had, only a few years before, compelled The Reverend Roger Williams to stake a claim to that parcel of untouched wilderness. Samuel's farm was located on the banks of the Moshassuck River next to the newly established town graveyard. Early on, David relocated from his Moshassuck farm, six miles north of Providence, to the Blackstone River, approximately two miles to the east. Benjamin established a home next to the Woonasquatucket River, roughly three miles to the north and west of Town Street. Jonathan's property, slightly more than two miles to the northwest of his birthplace, was beside the slow-moving waters of the West River. John Junior and Joseph lived and died within the environs of Town Street, as did their sisters. Sarah married the son of the village miller, Mary a son of the local Baptist minister. Abigail first married the son of the local lime manufacturer, who owned the first operation of its kind in the colonies. She then married into a family soon to become politically prominent. The approximate locations of the residences of most second generation Whipples are known, with those of Samuel, Eleazer, and Jonathan yet viewable in photographic form.
Eleazer and William, as well as their immediate descendants, realized considerable financial success by developing the rich deposits of limestone on their farms. David and his family immediately became involved in the newly developing and financially profitable boat-building trade on the Blackstone River. Along with his agricultural and lumber businesses, Jonathan owned a wharf on the salt-water side of Providence, as did John Junior, Benjamin, Samuel, and Joseph, they becoming part of Providence's slowly developing import/ export business. This latter enterprise, in which Joseph particularly excelled, allowed him to become one of the wealthiest men in Providence, and was the springboard to high political office at the colony's capitol in Newport. It was John Junior who took up the mantle of public service that his father had modeled for his children. In addition to serving in the paid position of town clerk for many years, as well as representative to the colony's General Assembly at Newport, he was a successful attorney and innkeeper. Joseph, Eleazer, and Samuel also served as representatives at Newport, as did Captain John's sons-in-law. As far as it is known, the single occasion where the names of John and his children (daughters through their husband's names) appear on the same document was a 29 October 1684 tax list of 109 taxpayers. John, John Junior, Samuel, Eleazer, and Epenetus Olney paid 5 shillings, the rest about 1 shilling each.[ 1 ]
It is generally agreed that the Whipples moved to Providence from Dorchester, Massachusetts in order to enjoy religious freedom. Unquestionably, they shared in the unique religious diversity of their new community, and as such, became part of a privileged few on earth to enjoy such freedom at that time. Of the 11 children, Joseph became a communicant in the Anglican Church. John Junior, it is believed, was in later life a member of the Society of Friends, as were his sisters, Sarah and Abigail, and his brother Samuel. The remaining children likely were Baptist. The religious preference of Captain John and Sarah Whipple though unknown had to have been Baptist, Quaker, or irreligious.
As exemplified in the Whipple family, most of the settlement's citizens were members of the Baptist or Quaker communions, and due to this the absence of a central parish church, with its ubiquitous graveyard, was part of their everyday experience. With the added religious bias against the use of grave markers, the nativity and necrology dates of most of the colony's earliest residents likely will not be retrieved. "Whether through poverty or want of skill, or the early diffusion of Quaker ideas, no inscriptions were set over the earlier graves. This primitive custom of sepulture outlasted three generations."[ 2 ] Because of the separation of church and state, churches of several denominations were built throughout Rhode Island. However, each was small and none had a cemetery because families, following a separatist tradition, buried their dead in family plots. "These small family cemeteries are private burial grounds that belong to and are the responsibility of the descendants. Most of them were reserved out of the deed when the farm was sold with words like 'I reserve my family burial ground 4 rods by 4 rods with rights of pass and repass forever.' Most are abandoned, overgrown, and generally decaying."[ 3 ]
Due to the above circumstances, the graves of only three of the 11 Whipple children are yet viewable: Samuel and Joseph in the North Burial Ground, and Eleazer in his family burial plot at Limerock.[ 4 ] The headstones of William and family were moved from their family plot at Limerock and taken to the Moshassuck Cemetery about three miles to the southeast, where a common monument now stands in their stead. The headstones of John Junior and Jonathan, as well as their sisters, the subjects of this present study, long have since disappeared or never were made. Even then, the descendants of Captain John and Sarah Whipple are fortunate that their gravestones and those of three of their children were preserved for future generations.
John Whipple Junior, the oldest child of Captain John, was christened at Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1 November 1641, and died at Providence Rhode Island, 15 December 1700.[ 5 ] He married Mary Olney, the daughter of Thomas Olney and Marie Ashton, at Providence, Rhode Island, 4 December 1663, she dying in 1676. To this couple three children were born:[ 6 ]
Following the death of his first wife, John married Rebecca Brown Scott, the widow of John Scott and daughter of John Brown of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at Providence, Rhode Island, 15 April 1678. To this union two children were born:
"Rebecca's first husband, John Scott, was said to have been killed by an Indian while standing in the doorway of his own house at Pawtucket Ferry in 1677 ... It appears that the entire Quaker Moshassuck settlement went to Newport during that struggle (King Philip's War) and that John Scott and his family returned too soon for safety. The widow remained in Providence ... and there married ... John Whipple, Jr., who was one of the prominent men in Providence colony, and had held nearly every office in town, from constable to town clerk and moderator of the Town Meeting ... The youngest child of John and Rebecca Scott, who was about six years old when his father died, lived with his mother in John Whipple's house. He became Major Silvanus Scott, and early in life entered into the politics of the town, becoming nearly as prominent in his generation as his stepfather had been before him. (Silvanus was given part of the land in the Louquisset that John Whipple Junior inherited from his father in 1663. Silvanus subsequently sold the land to David Whipple, his stepfather's brother.) He married, about 1692, Joanna, daughter of Joseph and Esther Ballard Jenckes. His wife was a sister of Governor Jenckes so noted ... "[ 7 ] Silvanus'daughter, Sarah, married Governor Stephen Hopkins in 1726.[ 8 ] As seen later, the second wife of Governor Hopkins was the granddaughter of Sarah Whipple Smith, John Junior's sister. John, the brother of Silvanus, who likewise grew up in the Whipple home, married a daughter of Edward Wanton. This Wanton family furnished five colonial governors, and is known as the "Fighting Quakers." John Scott's father, Richard, was "the first convert in Providence ... of George Fox, (founder of the Quaker religion) and the persistent enemy of Williams. It is singular that the bitterest foes of Williams, and who gave him annoyance equal to any which he had experienced from the elders of 'the bay' were those in closest contact (they lived next door) with him."[ 9 ] The fact that Quakers seldom married outside the faith gives credence to the assertion that John Junior may have been a member of the Society of Friends at that time.
In 1635, Thomas Olney, the father of John Junior's first wife, a resident of St. Albans, Old England, came to Salem, Massachusetts where he early became associated with those who accepted the views of The Reverend Roger Williams, and on 12 March 1638, was banished from the colony with a number of others. On 8 October 1638, he was one of the twelve men to whom Williams deeded equal shares with himself in the Providence Plantations. He thus became one of the "Original Thirteen Proprietors of Providence."[ 10 ] In 1652, he, along with a minority of members, separated from the First Baptist Church in Providence in order to establish his own church that, among other ideas, continued to teach the doctrine of predestination. His church lasted for some 70 years.[ 11 ] His son, Thomas Junior, was minister there for several years. One wonders whether members of the John Whipple family might not have been communicants in this church instead of the larger and better-known congregation.
The two families were undoubtedly close, even to the point of witnessing marriages between two of their children. Mary, Captain John and Sarah's second daughter, married Thomas Olney's second son, Epenetus, on 9 March 1665. Epenetus and John Junior owned competing taverns in Providence, "Taverns continued to be places of great resort especially before the building of the county court house in 1729. Those of Whipple and Epenetus Olney were famous ... "[ 12 ] It would seem that John Junior's inn was the more luxurious of the two. "Even at this early date a competitor had entered the field, and a rival hostelry now offered the town-meeting not house-room only, but 'fire roome and fireing and Candle at all their Towne Meetings and Council meeteings,' nor does it admit of doubt that the inner man might also be warmed and comforted should the necessity arise. This enterprising competitor was no other than John Whipple Junior. John Junior kept a tavern for many years on Mill Street and a brother, Joseph, was also at one time a licensed innkeeper within the town of Providence."[ 13 ] It is thus seen that at least three of Captain John Whipple's children (John Junior, Joseph, and Mary Whipple-Olney) were actively involved in that business for many years.
John Junior started his tavern by special request of the town, because its citizens were not adequately being provided for,[ 14 ] three years before his father's death. Apparently John Senior's tavern, established in 1674,[ 15 ] no longer operated and likely had not for several years. This is understandable, considering the devastation of the Indian war of 1675-76 and the long years of recovery needed to rebuild and repopulate the town. When John Senior died in 1685, "he left a large property in land, but the means at his disposal 'for entertainment of strangers' ... was scanty. He had one feather bed, seven pewter platters, five pewter porringers, three old spoons, and (three chairs and a decayed old warming pan) ..."[ 16 ] According to testimony given to the town council by John Junior involving his brother Samuel's niece, Howlong Harris, Captain John Whipple was apparently living with him by the year 1681.[ 17 ] Most of what has been penned about the so-called "prominent" Captain John Whipple Inn, located at 369 North Main Street, should have been attributed to his children's taverns--John Junior's in particular, built approximately two blocks to the north on Mill Street. It is known that John III who inherited this tavern in the year 1700 continued as its owner for several years. The second brother to establish an inn, in 1710, was Joseph: " ... Colonel Joseph Whipple, who at one time kept an inn on Mill Street, but is better known of local fame as a well-to-do merchant, and colonel of the militia raised on the mainland in 1719.[ 18 ]
The Olney tavern's address was just around the corner from Mill Street on Olney Lane. Mill Street led northward from Town Street across from the Whipple property to the gristmill located on the falls of the Moshassuck River. Sarah Whipple, Captain John's oldest daughter, and her husband John Smith Junior owned this mill. Sarah Whipple-Smith and her husband also owned the nearby sawmill: "The Proprietors granted to John Smith, the son of the old miller ... the land next south of the gristmill for a sawmill ... The inns and the 'gaol [jail] house' were ... not far away, and the mill was thus the centre of the old agricultural town."[ 19 ]
"Throughout the colonial times, the inns of Olney ... and of Whipple, while it lasted, were the centers of any unusual excitement, and the principal scenes of public events. Thus, 23d September 1696, the Town Meeting reciting an act establishing an annual fair in Providence, appointed places for setting it up. 'Stalls for the goods shall be in the highway against William Turpin's land, and in the highway at Epenetus Olneys house, near the stocks,' (paid for by John Junior's brother Samuel)---no doubt an effectual persuasive to honest dealing---'and one in the highway against John Whipple's house,' ... Captain William Hopkins (the second husband of John Junior's youngest sister Abigail) was appointed 'clarke of the Market' for the fair. Similar orders were made in 1697 and 1698."[ 20 ]
Mary and Epenetus Olney, who were married 9 March 1665/66, and their children (Mary, James, Sarah, Epenetus, John, Mercy, Thomas, and Lydia) lived in their tavern house in Providence until their deaths in 1698;[ 21 ] at which time, their son James who maintained the business until his death in 1744, inherited the property. Epenetus Junior and family lived in North Providence on Fruit Hill near the farm of Benjamin Whipple, his mother's brother.[ 22 ] Mary Whipple-Olney's descendants became some of Rhode Island's and New England's most respected industrialists, professionals, and statesmen. The oldest house in Centerdale, Rhode Island, built in 1701, was that of Epenetus Olney Junior.[ 23 ] The destinies of the Whipple and Olney families were intertwined for many years.
In the Last Will and Testament drawn by Captain John Whipple in 1682 and proved 27 May 1685, John Whipple Junior was bequeathed the sum of only twelve pence, "excepting thirty acres which I gave unto my son John at the northwest end."[ 24 ] This refers to a deed for a house and land drawn up some 22 years earlier, 23 November 1663. Within two weeks of receiving this property, John Junior married and moved in to his new house.
The photograph below is of the northeast corner of Main and Star Streets. The house and land that was deeded to John Junior was located approximately where the south end of the apartment building now stands. The house would have faced south (to the right of the photograph) with its front door leading out on to Star Street. William Arnold, father of the man from whom Captain John bought the property, had apparently built an expensive house on this corner. In 1650, he was taxed five pounds, twice the sum of any other owner on the street.[ 25 ] The land immediately to the right of Star Street is now the parking lot of St. John's Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Rhode Island. Colonel Joseph Whipple, John Junior's brother, was the leading contributor to the building of the church in 1722. Whipple Hall, the first permanent public school in Providence, was located at the top and to the left of Star Street on Benefit Street, just to the left of the distant red sign in the photograph.
The enrolment of A deede, signed and sealed by John Whiple Senior. As followeth: Know all men by these presentes, That I John Whiple Inhabetant of the Town of providence in the Nanhiggansick Bay in New England (senior). Have ffreely given, granted, and confirmed; and by thes presentes doe ffreely give grant make over, and conffirme unto my sone John Whiple a howse lott, or home share of land which fformerly belojnged unto William Arnold (Now inhabitant of Pautuxett) with all the howsing ffencing,ffruite Trees standing upon the said land or appertaineing thereunto: only Excepting so much of the East part of said lott which belongeth unto Thomas Olney ... Also the aforesaid Lott, or sharae of land containeth in breadth Eight poles according unto sixteene ffoote & a halfe to the pole: Also Two shares of Meaddow lieing in one percell, they being in Esttmation six Acrs (more or less) the which shares of meadow are scituated lieing and being at the south End of the Meadow commonly called the great Meaddow; and on the East side of the fresh river called Moshosick River ... I bought of M'Benedict Arnold Now of Newport on Roade Jland: Also six acres of upland lieing within the Tract of land called the Neck, and neere unto the Now dwelling howse of Arthur Ffener ... Also sixty acrs of land lieing an being neere unto, or about the place commonly called by the name of Louquasqussuck and lieing a crosse the north East End of a percell of land or ffarme which I the said John Whiple due possess as my owne proper Right ... I doe here unto putt my hand and seale, Signed John Whipple. Enroled, May the 14th 1667: by me Thomas Olney Jun': Clarke of the Towne of providence: by, & with the Townes order.
[ 26 ]
The Thomas Olney mentioned in the deed "only excepting so much of the east part of said lot which belongeth unto Thomas Olney," deeded his part of the lot to the young couple at the same time. The Whipple-to-Whipple deed can yet be viewed in the library of the Rhode Island Historical Society. It is interesting that John Junior and Mary were married in the same year that Rhode Island received its Charter, which unlike the other American colonies guaranteed freedom of religion, from the new king of England (whose father had been beheaded by Oliver Cromwell). The Whipples, like their recently adopted frontier homeland, were entering a new and challenging stage of life. As seen in the deed, John Junior and his bride moved into the former house of William Arnold, ancestor of the notorious Revolutionary War trader, Benedict Arnold.
Within less than a decade of arriving in Providence with his parents, at about the age of 18 or19, John Junior became a major participant in a protracted, on-going legal battle to acquire Indian land. His primary opponent in a battle of words and legal machinations was none other than The Reverend Roger Williams, the colony's founder. Indeed, it has been noted that John Junior was considered by the much-revered Williams to be one of his most formidable foes, particularly in the battle of words.
In brief, the youthful John Junior allied himself with his wife's father, William Olney; his brother Samuel's wife's uncle, William Harris; and William Arnold, his sister Abigail's second husband's uncle. These men were the leaders of a consortium of the earliest settlers called "Proprietors," who had for years sought to extend the plantation's boundaries westward for some 20 miles, allowing them to create vast land holdings exclusively for themselves.[ 27 ] Roger Williams, always the champion of the Indians, opposed this plan. The ensuing legal wrangling lasted well into the next century, long after the combatants had died.[ 28 ]
By virtue of two extant letters that Williams wrote to John Whipple Junior (others are known to have been exchanged between them) on 8 July 1669 and 24 August 1669, something is learned of John Junior's personality and character, at least from Williams' point of view. In the August letter, after discussing the inaccuracy of John Junior's unflattering pronouncements against him, and alluding to why the youth had been precipitously drawn under the supposed nefarious influence of his relatives, Williams next addressed the issue of John Junior's own mental and spiritual inadequacies:
" ... Further, since You seeme so fair and innocent in Your owne eye, I pray you to consider Your face impartially ... in the Glasse of these 2 or 3 particulars.
"1. First in all our Towne meetings is it not notoriously knowne that You are so far from being Swift to heare and slow to speake (according to Gods command unto us:) that what ever is propounded or by whomsoever You are the first that lets fly upon it, and betweene Your selfe and Some other begins Dispute and Contention that other Neighbours (though able, ancient, and experienced) scarce find an Interim to utter their Thoughts in the Case and Busines. Whether this be out of quicknes of your mind, or Weaknes of Judgmnt; Out of an Itch of Contention, or Self Conceitednes and pride, let Your Selfe and others Consider it. However I am sure it is not the Badge and Character of a Sober and Peaceable Townsman, least of all a humble Christian.
"2. Secondly How can you be an innocent and peaceable Christian, when Your Selfe (above others of William Harris' disciples) Continually and Voluntarily thrust in your Selfe amongst Your Adversaries, though you declaime agnst their Persons, Meetings and practices, and You to them be as welcome as Water into a Ship or a Moskeeto to the face or bozoome, and have gaind your Selfe The title of one William Harris' spies and Promoters ... If it be a dutie for all of your partie to crosse and contend with your Adversaries why doe they all Neglect their Dutie? ... how can you Wash your Hands amongst your neighbours in the Bason Of Puritie and Christian Innocencie? It is clear, that you beare up your selfe upon the Gentlenes and Patience of your Adversaries ... for they have not feard the presence of any of William Harris's promoters, though no other good can be expected from their presence but Contention, Provocation; further Alienations, and catching hold of all Advantages, according to William Harris's his Machivilliam Maxime 'All Advantages angst Adversaries.'
"If you came as a Messenger from the other Partie with messages or Proposals for Peace and Accommodation, and leave Your Adversaries alone to Consult upon them and upon an Answer, what an Instrument and Angel of peace might be between them ... how far is this from Christianitie, Yea from common prudence and Civilitie?
"Lastly if my case were Yours and I were such a Companion, Councellor, and Conferderate of William Harris and such a Spie and Promoter of his Covetuous and ambitious ends so take notice of an cried out on by the Barbarians (Indians) for such Monstrous Stealing of their Countrey I know not how to escape that Thunderbolt Psalm, 50 ... "Now I humbly beseech the most holy and Eternall God to ... punish William Harris and you ... and beg of him to heale our Breaches, and for his Names Sake to spring us Some Providences of Love and peace amongst us. Your unworthy neighbour, RW."[ 29 ]
This appears clearly to be a one-sided vilification of the character of an obviously gifted and highly motivated young man. From another perspective, by carrying out the example set by his father to supplant the wilderness, John Junior clearly exemplified those familial traits that soon enlarged the extended family's ownership of much of Providence and northern Rhode Island. There is no denying that his dual personality traits of a driving ambition and thirst for land appears in others of the Whipple family, particularly in his younger brother Joseph and family, who by the early 1700s were much-admired owners of some of the town's most highly valued property.[ 30 ]
From this perspective, the sons of Captain John Whipple became self-made men, not unlike many others in the English colonies who were determined to take advantage of every opportunity that increased their status and wealth. However, it was this very quality of acquisitiveness in John Junior, and his allies, that Roger Williams vilified in the above letters. Although the ultimate outcome (11 February 1712)[ 31 ] of the lawsuits went against the Harris, Arnold, Olney, and Whipple family syndicate, a great deal of land still came into the possession of their descendants. In the case of the Whipple family, several descendants moved into the generally disputed areas of Cranston, Scituate, and Warwick, living there for several generations under such names as Rice, Carder, Arnold, Harris, Rhodes, and Whipple.[ 32 ] In fairness, later historians note that Harris was concerned, with good reason, about the intent of Massachusetts men as well as syndicates of land speculators to take over much of the Narragansett and possibly end Rhode Island's existence as a separate colony. His motives were not entirely selfish. It should be noted that Williams himself became quite wealthy by selling land.[ 33 ] "Near the end of his life ... Williams lamented the bitter land dispute and his own role in it."[ 34 ]
One event that caused a serious delay in the final disposition of the litigation was an Indian uprising during the years 1675/76. Though the conflict lasted barely 18 months, all but a handful of Providence's 300 to 400 inhabitants fled to Aquidneck Island for safety while much of their town burned to the ground. The colony had forbidden servitude of Indians since 1674, but the incensed settlers were not willing to abide by that law so soon after the war. Hundreds were auctioned off as bondservants under the direction of a committee of five men: Roger Williams, Thomas Harris, Thomas Field, Thomas Angell, and John Whipple Junior. By early 1677 the committee, which now was composed of Arthur Fenner, William Hopkins, and John Whipple Junior, had concluded its work. "Wee whose names are here unto Subscribed having imployed Arther Ffenner, William Hopkins, and John Whipple Junior to make Sale of a Company of Indians to us belonging as by Act of the Comittey doth Appeare, they having made Sale of the Same, and received a part of the pay for the Same, and having proportioned Each man his share of what they have received the which amovnted to Sixteene shillings and fower pence hafle peeny the which sayd svmm wee say wee have received, and Doe hereby fully Acquitt and disschareg the above named persons of the same as witness our hands this first day of January one thovsand, Six hvndred, Seventy and Seven."[ 35 ] Whipples who received part of the proceeds were John Senior and his sons Samuel and Eleazer. Actually, the only Whipple brothers who appear never to have been mentioned in such awards in 1676-77 were William and David. Even the 12-year-old Jonathan was listed.[ 36 ]
John Whipple Junior played an important role in preserving the town's records. "By the time the good people of Providence had sold off their Indian prisoners, reinstated their house-hold goods so far as that was practicable, and settled down once more to a quiet life on the Towne Street ... their first thought was for the preservation their 'Town Books and Records (saved by Gods mercifull Providence from fire and water).' Accordingly four men, who had held the position of town clerk (including John Junior), were appointed to 'view and search the papers, what is wanting or Lost, and make report to the Towne." This was done in October 1677, and the records were in due course delivered to the then town clerk, Daniel Abbott.[ 37 ]
This transfer actually took place almost a year later. "We whose names are here under subscribed, being empowered by an order of this town as before said, have this 23rd day of August 1678 received of John Whipple Jr. the former town clerk, all the said books, papers, parchments, and writing herein before mentioned and particularized, which belong to the town. And do there of in the town's behalf fully, clearly, and absolutely acquit and discharge the said John Whipple Jr. of and from all papers that concern this town. In witness whereof we do here unto set our hands this day and year above said. Signed, Roger Williams & Daniel Abbott."[ 38 ]
The distinction of being the first resident of Providence to receive a grant of land on the west side of Town Street next to the cove and river, for the purpose of constructing a warehouse and wharf, has historically been awarded to Pardon Tillinghast in the year 1680. However, John Junior received permission from the town a year earlier to erect such a structure " ... adjoyneth to the south part of Ware howse lot formerly laid out to John Whipple ffather of the said Now John Whipple (deceased) ... " See the 27 January 1703/04 entry below for details of the transaction. Although the descriptor "wharfe" was not specifically used, there would have been no use for a structure of that size, twice that of Tillinghast's, unless commodities in significant amounts were being imported/exported for sale. As noted below, John's warehouse was kept busy buying and selling for his clients and those of others. He was listed as one of Providence's leading merchants during the decade of the 1680s.[ 39 ] He subsequently sold this property to his brother Benjamin, 6 March 1692/93.
In addition to owning the equivalent of a modern hotel/motel,[ 40 like his father before him, in the days when the holder of such a position was one of the most important public functionaries, John Junior was one of Providence's leading attorneys.[ 41 ] In reality, the two professions were symbiotic: "A tavern keeper in these primitive days immediately radiated influence and power. His place of business was like a club center or exchange ... a permanent parliament in perpetual session, and minute regulation of town affairs was conceived and worked up in these friendly debates. As the Assembly, Courts, Town, and council meetings always sat in central taverns, the landlord often became the oracle of his neighborhood. Sometimes chief of local militia and representative in the Assembly, he enjoyed prominence which in Massachusetts belonged to the Puritan minister."[ 42 ]
It would seem that the profession of the law was similarly profitable, as evidenced in several references to John Junior's practice. At a time when newspapers were unheard of and back fence discussions carried the news of the day, scandal, slander, and gossip often filled the air and occasionally went on record. "On 27 August 1684, Samuel Bennett was obliged to retain John Whipple, Jr., an attorney, to defend him against the suit of Bridget Price. In September, Bridget declared that the said Bennett charged her with being a thief and a vagabond." Even far-away Boston furnished him considerable tort business, for a "Thomas Clarke in his pewtour's shop there, had an altercation with one Mary Brattle. He followed her to Providence where he arraigned her through the busy attorney Whipple"[ 43 ] In his role as an attorney, John Junior played a role in a later important occurrence in early town history. Joshua Verin was one of the five who came in the traditional canoe with The Reverend Roger Williams on the first recorded voyage in 1636. He received a home lot in the division and settled in Providence. However, he immediately became involved in a liberty of conscience conflict that forced him to return to Salem, Massachusetts. Years later, he addressed a request to the town council to maintain his status as one of the original proprietors and retain his property in Providence. Captain John Whipple and others were able to prevail in his favor in the ensuing adjudication. Subsequently, although an absentee owner, Verin was allowed to keep his land. "In 1674 he was represented by John Whipple Junior who held a power of attorney, he (Verin) having gone to Barbados to reside."[ 44 ]
The practice of the corporate side of the legal profession likewise appears to have been a profitable aspect of his busy schedule. Shortly before his death, John wrote to the town council on behalf of a client enquiring as to whether "rivers belonging to the towne are common and ffree to sett up any mill or mills, or Contrary to law so to do."[ 45 ] The General Assembly, in 1707, ruled that towns could determine the use of rivers, coves, etc., providing that they avoided abrogating property rights. "The Quakers usually confined their business to other Friends: at Providence John Whipple (Junior) acted for those in Boston, Bridgewater, Plymouth Colony, Rehoboth, and Newport. He bought rum through Daniel Gould on Rhode Island, and in turn looked after forwarding a trunk full of goods Edward Shippen wanted delivered to Newport. Frequently, too, a correspondent in a distant place made 'my good friend John Whipple' his 'Lawfull Attorney' to collect money or goods or estates due; Stephen Paine of Rehoboth used Whipple to recover what was owed to him from the estate of Leonard Smith of Providence in 1670.[ 46 ] The above has led some to think that John Junior may have been a convert to the Society of Friends.[ 47 ]
In 1672, John Junior and his brother-in-law, Thomas Olney Junior, were recipients of a letter from George Fox, the founder of that newly formed Christian sect, imploring the colony to continue to allow freedom of religion and speech. Fox had for two years been traveling in the colonies, and in that year spent the summer in Rhode Island. "Just before his departure he wrote a singular paper to Thomas Olney, jr. and John Whipple, jr., at Providence known as 'George Fox's instructions to his friends,' which was answered with unseemly severity, the following year, by Olney, in a lengthy article entitled 'Ambition Anatomised'."[ 48 ] It has never entirely been explicated why the letter was addressed to them in particular, unless they held positions of authority or were able to promulgate its message in some way. John Junior was at the time serving in his third consecutive year as town clerk, and Thomas Olney Junior was the long-time minister of a Baptist Church in Providence, former town clerk, and town council member. It seems also, at least at that time, that John Junior was still a Baptist. The above is a portion of a document thought to have been written and signed by John Whipple (Junior).
In addition to the numerous times John Whipple Junior was elected to town and colony offices,[ 49 ] he appeared in Providence Town records on several other occasions. The following is a summary of a chronological listing as extracted from The Early Records of the Town of Providence, 21 Volumes (Providence: Snow & Farnham, 1892-1915). Individual entries are noted with the volume number and page.
John Whipple Junior, Esq., died 15 December 1700, and was most likely buried next to his first wife in a family burial plot on their household lot on Town Street. Whether his remains were subsequently moved, like his parents, to the town's common burial ground has never been shown. He and his wives are not listed in the records, which began in 1848, of the North Burial Ground. "Existing gravestones ... mark only 18 burials here by 1725 ... There undoubtedly were unmarked burials, but without records we have no way of knowing how many. An educated guess would be that ten percent of the burials were marked with gravestones. This would indicate that there were 180 or more by 1725."[ 50 ] It is known that the majority of reinterments did not occur until toward the middle of the 1700s; consequently, there is almost near certainty that John Junior's remains lie near his parents (since their homes were next to each other, likely shared a common burial plot, and bodies thus removed at the same time) and brothers, Joseph and Samuel, somewhere in Sections A or B of the most ancient part of the cemetery. "John Whipple was licensed to keep an ordinary. His south windows looked down upon the 'Whipple burying ground' in the adjoining field."[ 51 ]
At the meeting of the Providence Town Council, 7 January 1701, "Rebeckah Whipple widow of the deceasd John Whipple presented unto the Councill a paper signed by John Whipple & sealed ... as witnessed by ffoure pesons (viz) ... " One of the witnesses was Joseph Whipple, his brother. After subsequent reading of the will, "John Whipple the son, & heir apparent ... hath this day made objections against the said will by ... reason that it is an Jllegall instrument ... he having Rendred [his] reasons for the same to the council." The Town Council took depositions and heard testimony on February 11, and March 11 and 12. Finally, on April 8, it ruled the proffered will to be bogus and consequently invalid.
The ruling was based on the reasoning the John Junior, being blind, did not know the actual contents of the will, he apparently having been read a variant version after the fact. When asked by four witnesses, at a later date, whether the will was his actual intent it not having been read or heard by them either, John Junior replied affirmatively. Thus neither the deceased nor the witnesses had read the piece of paper presented to the Council on 7 January. In addition to this, two individuals testified that John Junior had told them personally that it was not his will to disinherit his son, but being blind, "he must doe as others (his wife and daughters?) have him doe ... " When asked directly if he wanted to disinherit his son, "John Whipple answered no, no that is not my desire ... "[ 52 ]
By the date of the next town council session, 22 April, all parties to the litigation had resolved their differences: "Differences have happened among relatives of deceased-now all considering that to bring it to law would be greatly troublesome to all parties, and great charge, and would cause animosities of spirit and alienation of affection-an agreement was made. To John Whipple, the homestall, dwelling house, barn, and certain lands. To Mary Carder, Elnathan Rice, Deliverance Whipple and Dorothy Rhodes, certain land. Movable estate to go one-third to widow, and the rest in five parts to five children ... "[ 53 ] John III also inherited seven acres from his grandfather Thomas Olney at this time.
As part of the "certain land" above, John III apparently owned his father's property in the Louquisett meadows. John III sold part of this to his uncle Eleazer Whipple: " ... I give (to my son Job) 120 acres in the district of Louquisset Woods and from part of the land bought from my cousin (nephew) John Whipple."[ 54 ]
By virtue of the agreement above, John III inherited the property, originally deeded to his father in 1663, seen below.[ 55 ] He in turn sold the land to his uncle Colonel Joseph Whipple in 1705.[ 56 ] The remainder of the original Captain John Whipple property, extending from the lot (each being about 125 feet in width) of Francis Wickes northward to that of John Green Junior, had been willed to Colonel Whipple in 1685, who in turn willed it to his son John in 1746. "Beyond Scot, along nearly the whole east side of the present 'Constitution Hill' there was scarcely a house. The steep hill-side behind it did not invite purchasers. In 1659, came John Whipple, from Massachusetts. He purchased nearly the whole tract eastward of that part of the Town street."[ 57 ] The only street at the time was Main Street, or "Towne Streete," as it was then called. In the year 1798, this entire area from Star Street northward was still owned by John Whipple, S. Whipple, J. Whipple, and Joseph Whipple.[ 58 ] Note that the additional streets shown in the drawing below were constructed years later.
It is a conundrum why John III's sisters and stepmother would go to such lengths to have him disinherited. He does not appear in town records until late. He apparently was not living in Providence as of 15 April 1687. At that time, the village drew up a list of 27 men who were fit to serve in the militia. John III was not listed, although his father, seven uncles, and two cousins were.[ 59 ] The cousins were Samuel Junior and Thomas, sons of Samuel, and were yet teenagers, while he was 21 years of age. On at least one occasion, seven months before his father's death, John III characterized himself, at age 34, as destitute. In response to a request, he was answered, "In Consederation of the Condtion of the said John Whipple that he is destetude of land & in want of land to improve for a lively hood the Towne doe grant the said John Whipple Tenn Acres of land."[ 60 ]
What character flaws could have led to such a fiscal state? Records show that immediately following the death of his father, he attempted to confiscate the property of his deceased uncle Benjamin Whipple, leaving his cousins, who were yet children, and their mother destitute.[ 61 ] Not only this, due to an apparent flaw in Captain John's 1682 will, the inherited properties of three other of his uncles were challenged as well. Uncharitably, this forced them, in 1708, to buy off John III's claims for an undisclosed sum of money: " ... And lest that any inconveniency or Trouble Should at any time arise by ye Meanes of any PerSon or PerSons WhatSoever Making Claime to any of the lands or Said house in Said Will Given and DeviSed unto any of ye abouve Named PerSons through any apprehension or Conjecture of any defect in Said Will, as they May, SuppoSe for want of Words or formality any Wayes; ffor the prevention therof, & the ye Said lands and HouSe by the Said Will ... Be it knowne unto all PerSons to whome thsSe presents Shall Come That I John Whipple Now of the Towne of Providence ... son of John Whipple & Mary his Wife, formerly of Sd Providence but now deceased. My ffather the Said John Whipple being Eldest son to John Whipple the above Sd TeStator; fffor. & in ConSideration of a Competent Sum of Money in hand to me Well & truly paid by ye above JoSeph Whipple, Samuell Whipple, & ye Heirs of the Sd Benjamin Whipple, & Jonathan Whipple, all of Sd Providence, the Recept whereof I doe owne & acknowledge; have RemiSed, ReleaSed, RelinquiShed, & forever quitt claimed.. .to their full & ReaSeable PoSseSsion & being ... "[ 62 ] That he makes a pointed reference to the fact that he was "now of the town of Providence" seems to indicate that he had resided somewhere else prior to receiving the ten acres described above. He appears to have returned to his childhood home just in time to claim an immense inheritance.
The controversy over the birth of his (or his wife's) first son sheds an added degree of clarity as to the effects of John III's behavior on others. Though it is speculative, he could have lived a significant part of his adult life in another colony until at least the mid 1690s. As seen, he was not listed in Providence military records of 1687, and in December of 1688 his wife gave birth to a child in Taunton, Massachusetts. This child was born approximately one month after his marriage to Lydia Hoare, 9 November 1688. "In volume 44 of the American Genealogist appears an article entitled, Job Whipple of Providence, RI, by H. Minot Pitman, FASG of Bronksville, NY. The gist of the story is that Job Whipple was born prior to the marriage of his purported father, John Whipple and his mother, Lydia Hoar. Mr. Pittman says Job was born in Taunton, probably 25 December 1688 ... oddly there is no record in Taunton for the birth of a Job Hoar or Whipple. The vital records of Providence, giving the dates of birth and marriage for Job Whipple were not entered in the book (Vol.1 p.11) until the month of November 1719. The entry was probably made from information given by Job himself to the clerk and reads: 'Job Whipple, the son of John Whipple of Providence' ... The facts are further supported by an indenture of apprenticeship to be found in the rebound volume now known as, 'Third Town Book B,' made between Job Liddeason (Lydia's son) John Whipple, Jr. and Lydia his wife, all of Providence on the one party and John Sayles of Providence ... This shows that at the time Job had not taken the Whipple name. As apprenticeships usually began at about the age of 7 years and lasted until the age of 21 years, Job was probably born 25 December 1688."[ 63 ]
Could John III's relatives have been disenthralled at this treatment of his wife and son, and other such aberrant behavior? Due to cultural strictures of the time, he likely would not have married Lydia had the unborn child not been his. It is difficult to understand why he, if he had loved and respected his wife, would yet have allowed her child to live through life bearing the stigma of being considered a bastard, and she even worse. Such would have hurt a great many people and caused much embarrassment to his father and sisters.
Unquestionably, this treatment of their daughter and grandson would have been an egregious affront to the Hoare family. Lydia was the daughter of Ensign Hezekiah Hoare, Esq., one of the original purchasers of Taunton, Massachusetts, who had served under Captain Miles Standish in the Dutch wars. They were the politically prominent and wealthy part owners of the first iron works in the colonies. The family lived on "Hoare's Lane" in Taunton. It traced its ancestry to 1093 England and its founding ancestor, Sir William Le Hoar. The castle and estate of Pole Hoar had ever since remained the property of the family of Hezekiah's cousin, Sir Philip Hoar.[ 64 ] The Hoare family likely maintained at best a rather strained relationship with the John Whipples, as would the families of his uncles, and his own sisters. His was not the first instance in which the only son of a rich and powerful father was unable to measure up to familial expectations.
John Whipple III appeared in Providence Township records on several other occasions. The following is a chronological listing of a summary of these taken from The Early Records of the Town of Providence, 21 Volumes, (Providence: Snow & Farnham, 1892-1915). Individual entries are noted with the volume number and page.
Note that there were at least four adult John Whipples living in Providence in the early to mid 1700s. In the year 1700, John III was 34 years old; his son was eight. John III's cousin, Captain John Whipple, known as the "bonesetter," and a Justice of the Peace, the oldest son of Joseph, was 15 years old. John Whipple of North Providence, son of Benjamin, had just been born. Town records only infrequently clearly differentiate them. Numerous entries merely state that an indeterminate "John Whipple" served as a juryman or committeeman, and such. Consequently, the authors have attempted to make discriminations based on known historical data and particularity of circumstances at the time.
It is assumed that until the year 1705/06, the year that John son of Joseph became of age, entries refer to John III, particularly in the matter of town council meetings at his house/tavern. It is apparent that John III took over ownership, and the council continued to meet in the same location as it had during the late 1690s. Entries that mention the office of Justice of the Peace, or sea-faring commerce, as well as his father, siblings, and in-laws, were assigned to John, son of Joseph. John, son of Benjamin, in the few cases he is mentioned, appears in connection with locations in North Providence and his sibling and in-laws. We have not been able to locate any John IV entries at this time.
In addition to Job, John Whipple III and Lydia Hoare had nine other children, including John IV and Hezekiah. Hezekiah was born 17 February 1701 in Providence and there married Katherine Olney 14 July 1723. Katherine's maternal great grandfather was The Reverend Roger Williams through his daughter Mary. Also, Saylesville, Rhode Island was named for her mother's father, John Sayles.[ 65 ] Their son Christopher was born 19 March 1736. Christopher married Mary Proud at Providence on 27 July 1765. He died before 3 December 1796, and she on 13 July 1820 at Providence. They had four children, three of whom died young, and Captain Christopher6 Whipple (Christopher5, Hezekiah4, John3, John2, John1), born 5 March 1773 at Providence.[ 66 ] He died 29 September 1807.
Job Liddeason Whipple married Lydia Harding 2 December 1713[ 67 ] at Providence and there had four children, including Elijah and John. John (1718-1767) was in Glocester Township, Rhode Island before 1742, where his 10 children, including seven sons, were born. Jonah (22 October 1761- 6 January1843), his youngest child, moved to Gilmanton, New Hampshire before 1793, then Quebec, Canada, Sheffield, Vermont, then to Chateaugay, New York. Jonah Whipple and his wife, Hepsibeth Melvin, had seven children, including Nathan, Jonathan, Daniel, and John J.
Jonathan Whipple was born in the year 1800 in Stanstead, Quebec, Canada and died in 1892. He and his wife, Lucinda Kentner, had nine children, including William, who was born in Chateaugay, New York 13 January 1841 and died there 21 October 1927. William and his wife, Mary Ward, had eight children including Jasper9 Whipple (William8, Jonathan7, Jonah6, John5, Job4, John3, John2, John1), who was born in Reese, Michigan 9 March 1883 and died there 10 February 1966.[ 68 ]
Jonah's third son, Daniel, was born in Gilmanton, New Hampshire, and died in Chateaugay, New York 1 August 1885. He and his wife, Agnes McClatchie, had nine children, including four sons: James (1835-1923), who died in Rogue River, Oregon; William (1839-1888), who died in Wadena, Minnesota; John (1849-1924), who died in Hartford, Connecticut; and Alfred (1853-1926).[ 69 ]
John J. Whipple, Jonah's youngest son, was born in Sheffield, Vermont and married Esther Bickford 20 December 1828. Six of their children were sons. He apparently moved back to Canada before his marriage, as least four of his children (Daniel, Ida, Gordon, and John), several grandchildren, as well as his wife were born there. John J's grandson, Ira John9 Whipple (John8, John J7, Jonah6, John5, Job4, John3, John2, John1) was born in Hatley, Quebec, and moved to Iowa around the year 1885 where he married his second wife, Hattie Dunbar. He died at Cheyenne, Kansas 25 January 1940. This couple had three children: Dallas, who was born in Stratton, Colorado, and died in Parsons, Kansas 14 September 1956; Alan (1890-1946), who lived and died at Stratton, Colorado, as did his five children; and Ethel, who married William Armknecht and lived out her life at Colorado, Springs, Colorado, dying there in 1952.[ 70 ]
Robert Farquarhar8 Whipple (Nathan7, Jonah6, John5, Job4, John3, John2, John1) was the son of Nathan Whipple of Gilmanton, New Hampshire. Nathan, Jonah Whipple's oldest son, moved with his father's family to Chateaugay, New York, where he died in 1873. "He married Rachel Farquhar, daughter of Robert and Barbara Farquhar. She was a full blood Scott and came to America with her parents when she was 15 years old. The Farquarhars were very zealous Scotch Presbyterians and Rachel brought her family up in the faith. When Robert F. converted in a Methodist revival meeting and joined that church his mother emphatically declared that he had started on the direct road to hell. Robert Farquhar Whipple, son of Nathan and Rachel Whipple, was born at Chateaugay, N.Y., April 2, 1840 and died at Brockport, N.Y., Jan. 10, 1914. He married Lucy C. Stevens, daughter of Linus and Susan Witherell Stevens, Jan. 1, 1861. She was born July 28, 1840, and died at Brockport, N.Y., Feb. 16, 1914 ... [They] began their married life at Chateaugay N.Y., but in the spring of 1862 moved to Fort Jackson N.Y. where they lived until 1872 when Robert began his life work as a Methodist Episcopal Minister ... At that period it was the custom to move Methodist Ministers ever year or two ... "
In a thirteen-year period he served seven churches in the state of New York. "At the conference in April 1885 he assumed a supernumerary (retired) relation ... Early in the summer he moved to Black River, N.Y. where he bought a lot and built a house on West Street, which he sold later. In 1886 he resumed his ministerial work ... " In the next twenty years he served seven more churches in the state of New York. "He retired from active ministry and moved to Brockport, N.Y. and bought a small fruit farm, where he was living at the time of his death, January 10th, 1914. He was educated in the Common Schools and the Chateaugay Academy. He learned the shoemakers trade and was very expert, especially in the manufacture of 'Mens Fine Boots' for dress wear. He followed that occupation until he entered the ministry. He was a member of the Masonic and Odd Fellows fraternities. Robert and Lucy were the parents of five children including Charles, Robert, and Fred.
"Fred E. Whipple was born at Chateaugay, N.Y., Dec.22, 1861. He married Elsie J. Humes ... of Harrisville, N.Y. May 19, 1883. They had two children, Lucia and Harlan F. Whipple. Fred and Elsie Whipple began housekeeping at Black River, N.Y. soon after they were married. In 1886 he built a house on Maple Street in that village where they lived until 1906.On March 12, 1883 he bought a small store ... which proved to be a poor venture and he sold out and engaged as clerk with Poor & Son. This store retained him as manager when he entered a co-partnership with A.W. Hadsell and ran the store under the name Whipple & Hadsell until it burned Feb.19, 1890 in the disastrous fire which wiped out the entire business section of the village. On Oct. 1st 1890 he engaged as office manager with Dexter's Sons, chair manufacturers at Black River. In 1907 he was assistant manager (of F.W. Woolworth Co.) at Lorain, Ohio and that fall was transferred to Cleveland, Ohio, in that same capacity, where he remained until 1908 when he was made manager of the store at Oil City, Pa., where he remained until resigned from the syndicate on Jan.1, 1915. On Feb. 25, 1915 he ... opened a novelty store which he ran as F.E. Whipple & Company. On May 1st 1918, he accepted the position of cashier of the First National Bank of Harrisville, N.Y. Fred E. Whipple was always active in civic affairs. He was a zealous worker for the incorporation of the village of Black River in 1890, and the incorporation of the fire department in which he served 12 years, in the establishing of the Black River High school and the cemetery association. He was village clerk for several years and village president for two years (1903-05)."[ 71 ]
"My connection to the Job Whipple family is through Charles Wesley Whipple, the brother of Fred Whipple. Charles was my grandfather and resided in McConnellsville, NY where he was a furniture-maker. His son, Robert J. Whipple, born May 15, 1914 is my father. Dad was born and raised in upstate New York where numerous Whipples lived. He went to medical school at Cornell University and became a Navy doctor during WW II, seeing action on both destroyers and aircraft carriers in the Pacific. He was sitting in the officer's mess having a cup of coffee when a Kamikaze crashed through the flight deck of the USS Shangri-La. Retiring from the Navy in 1965, he became West Coast Medical Director for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company until his retirement in 1977. He died in Concord, California 15 August 2001.
"My dad married Gwendolyn Hunt of Semora, NC and had two children; Barbara, born September 25, 1945, who is a professional photographer in Houston, Texas, and me Ronald J.11 Whipple (Robert10, Charles9, Robert8, Nathan7, Jonah6, John5, Job4, John3, John2, John1) born February 12, 1947. I was a Navy pilot, Alaskan bush pilot, and am currently serving as Manager of Flight Safety Operations for American Eagle Airlines in Dallas, Texas where I reside with my wife, Gwendolyn (Lee) whom I married September 2, 1982, and two sons, Eric J. Whipple, born March 21, 1986, and Glenn J. Whipple, born July 14, 1988. Children by previous marriages include Kelly Jean Whipple, Kristopher Whipple, born February 3, 1976, and Josephine Whipple born January 12, 1982 who graduated from West Point Military Academy May 28, 2004."[ 72 ]
Sarah Whipple, oldest of the Whipple daughters, married into another of the founding families of the town. Immediately upon immigrating to Providence with her family in 1659, she married John Smith Junior, son of her father's former neighbor in Dorchester, Massachusetts. John Smith Senior's home in Massachusetts was at Ponkapog, in the southern foothills of the Blue Mountains. His name appears on the records of Dorchester in connection with a small tract of land "about the mill." Captain John Whipple lived near this same mill, and is thought to have played a role, as an indentured servant, in its construction for Israel Stoughton in 1634.[ 73 ]
Smith was exiled after the Massachusetts General Court ordered that, "John Smyth salbe sent within theis 6 weekes out of this jurisdiccion for dyvers dangerous opinions, wch hee holdeth, & hath divulged, if in the meane tyme he removes not himselfe out of this plantation." He immediately joined Roger Williams, William Harris, Joshua Verin, Thomas Angell, and Francis Wickes as they fled through the wilderness to the mouth of the Moshassuck River. Williams stated on 17 November 1677, "I consented to John Smith, Miller, at Dorchester [banished also] to go with me." He was given the exclusive right to operate a gristmill on north Mill Street as long as he provided satisfactory service in grinding corn for the townsmen. He served as Town Clerk in 1641 and died in 1647. Below is a photo of the commemorative plaque that marks the location of the Smith gristmill. It is located approximately 100 yards northwest of where Mill Street crosses the Moshassuck River, and on the north side of the present Girl Scouts of America Building.
"Long before jail or meeting-house, the Town mill was the earliest institution of the Plantations. It received much careful oversight from the Town meeting ... The mill fixed the centre of the town at the North end, and long kept it there. Around and near it, those who were able, set their houses, and it became not merely the nucleus of population, but the place of public rendezvous and exchange. It served the same purpose as the meeting-house in early Massachusetts, or as the newspaper and insurance offices of later days ... it took part in many a sturdy encounter of the Baptist, the Gortonian, and the Quaker ... During one hundred and eighty years the Town Mill fulfilled its office, and was one of the last memorials of primitive times. It was destroyed at last, by the Blackstone canal ... "[ 74 ]
Sarah Whipple and John Smith Junior inherited the Smith mill property, started a nearby sawmill on their own, and carried on the family businesses along with their 10 children (John, Sarah, Alice, Mary, Joseph, Benjamin, Israel, Daniel, Elisha, and William). Sarah died after 21 May 1688 and her first husband in 1682.[ 75 ] The mill stayed in possession of the family for several generations.[ 76 ] The entire Sarah Whipple-Smith family is thought to have been members of the Society of Friends. And as noted, Sarah's granddaughter, Anne Smith, married Stephen Hopkins in 1755, a few months before he became governor of Rhode Island at a Friend's Meetinghouse in Smithfield.[ 77 ]
Lieutenant Jonathan Whipple, youngest child of Captain John, was born in 1664 at Providence Rhode Island, and died at Providence 8 September 1721. He was married to Margaret (Margary) Angell about the year 1690. She died after 1703. Margaret and Jonathan had seven children:[ 78 ]
The marriage of Jonathan and Margaret is the second occasion where the children of Captain John and Sarah Whipple married into the same family. (Margaret Angell's older sister, Alice, had married Eleazer Whipple, Jonathan's older brother.)[ 79 ] Jonathan's father-in-law, Thomas Angell, and mother-in-law, Alice Ashton, were born in Old England. Thomas Angell came from London as a servant or apprentice of The Reverend Roger Williams as a boy of 12 or 13, and moved to Providence with him some five years later. On 27 July 1640, he was one of thirty-nine signers of the agreement to found a government at Providence. He held several town offices, despite being illiterate (or at least unable to write), including membership on the town council and commissioner. His name appeared on several documents along with the names of the Whipple brothers, including the 5 June 1676 Providence town meeting, where five men were chosen to settle the question of what to do with the surviving Indians subsequent to King Philip's War. As one of the five, Thomas Angell subscribed to the decision that they should be placed in servitude for a number of years, according to their present ages. Other colonies were not so generous, either killing their vanquished foes or selling them to slavery in distant lands.[ 80 ] It should also be noted that Jonathan's oldest brother John Junior's mother-in-law was Marie Ashton, Jonathan's mother-in-law's sister.
Through his father's last will and testament Jonathan received "twenty-five acres on which he now dwelleth. Also, I give unto my son Jonathan, one division of land which is ordered by the town to be laid out between the 'seven mile line' and the 'four mile line' and papers already drawn for." In an addendum to the will, Jonathan also received "one of his rights of land and common, on the west side of the 'seven mile line,' to be unto him, his heirs and assigns forever; and that that was his mind when the said will was written. However, it was omitted in part by the scribe of the said will."
As seen below, Jonathan sold this latter property to his brother, Joseph, about ten years later. He subsequently bought over 150 acres of land (in addition to the one division, usually 100 acres, of land between the four-mile line and the seven-mile line) over the years nearer to his homestead, including 10 acres from his cousin, James Dexter, on 20 September 1701, "which is described in the deed as laying about one and a half miles Northerly from the salt water or town harbor, bounded on the south and west sides, by the river called the West river, and on the north by his own lands, which evidently was the land that was given to him by his father, by will, where he then lived."[ 81 ] Jonathan built the house opposite, at 238 Lexington Avenue, about the year 1701.[ 82 ] The photograph was taken about the year 1925. This and those of his brothers, Samuel and Eleazer, are the only known images of houses built or lived in by any of the first two generations of Rhode Island Whipples.
By virtue of having access to almost unlimited virgin stands of timber, and living so close to the town's salt-water harbor, Jonathan and three others applied for land to build a wharf. On 19 May 1707, the town council ruled that "they shall have the vse of a percell of land by the salt water side in the Towne, that is to say from the Towne street west ward to the sea Chaniell for the vse of laying Timber, Boards, or other matter for transportation ... and of loadeing of Boates ... " This enterprise was an obvious success, for as noted herein his descendants were for over a century actively involved in the "Jonathan Whipple Sawmill" on the West River.[ 83 ] There is no direct mention of it in his last will and testament. In that document, as throughout his lifetime he was consistently referred to as "yeoman" or "husbandman," although the lumber business undoubtedly was a major source of income:
I Jonathan Whipple of the Towne of Providence in the Colony of Rhoad Jsland and Providence plantation in New England: yeoman: being sick and Weake of body but of sound and dissoposeing mind and member praise be given to God for the Same; Doe make this my Last Will and Testament: in manner and forme following: first and principally I Commit my spirit into the mercifull hands of Almighty God my creator and my body I commit to the Earth to be decently buried after the discression of my Executors hereinafter named and as to the outward and worldly Esstate the Lord hath Lent mee in this present world: I Give and bequeathe as followeth
Jmprimis: my will is that my son Thomas Whipple shall pay unto his Brother Jonathan Whipple the Sum of five pounds in Good and Lawfull Bills of publick, Creadit or Currant money of New England.
2nly my will is And I doe hereby Give and Bequeathe unto my two Sons Jonathan Whipple and Thomas Whipple: all my lands both devided and undevided which are scituate Lieing and being with the Towneship of Provident aforesaid that I heave not before disposed of by deedes of Gift: To be Equally devided betwixt them my aforesaid two sons Jonathan Whipple and Thomas Whipple and to be unto them theire Heirs Executors administrators and assigns To have and To hold with the previledges and appurtinanses theire unto belonging forever
Jtem I Give and bequeathe unto my son Jonathan Whipple my Cane
Jtem I Give and bequeath unto my two sons Jonathan Whipple and Thomas Whipple: my wareing Apparrill to be Equally devided betwixt them
Jtem I Give and bequeath unto my Loveing Wife Anna Whipple one third parte of all my housing: and one third parte of my homestead Lands orchard and appurtinanses theire unto belonging: and aloes one third part of all my moveable Goods and Esstate to be for her use during the term of her naturall Life providing shee Remaine a widow: Butt in Case shee marrey then for the sd moveable Esstate to goe to my Executors for them to dispose of amongst my Children as they shall see Cause.
Jtem I Give and bequeathe unto my daughter Alice Whipple the sum of twenty pounds to be paid to her by my Executors in Goods merchandize or publick Bills of Creadite and to be Leavied out of my Esstate.
Jtem I Give and bequeathe unto my daughter Parrataine White the Sum of five pounds to be paid to her by my Executors in Bills of Creadite or moveable goods as they may be Raise out of my Esstate
Jtem I Give and bequeathe unto my daughter Mary Haman the Sum of ten pounds to be paid to her by my Executors Jn Bills of Creadite marchandize or moveable Goods as it Can be Raises out of my Estate
I Give and bequeath unto my Grandson Jonathan Haman my Gun And my Will is that what silver money I have shall be Equally devided amongst my wife and all my Children Each to have an Equal parte thereof And my will further is and I doe here by order that my daughter Alice Whipple shall have the Liberty of dwell in my dwelling house during the term of her Naturall Life provided shee Remaine single and unmarried. And my will is that after all my debts Legaces funeral charges and other Expences are duely paid: then what after Remaines of my moveable Esstate Jf any there be shall be Equally divided and I doe freely Give it unto and amongst my five daughters namely Sarah Irons Marjary Barnes Parrataine White Mary Hamman and Alice Whipple to be Equally devided amongst them.
And I doe name Ordaine and Apoynt my two sons Jonathan Whipple and Thomas Whipple my sole Executors to this my Last Will and Testament to Receive and pay all my debts: and Execute this my Last Will and Testament according to the true Jntent and meaning therof: and also to take Care to provide things sensory for my Wife provided shee Remaine a widow after my decease Jf what I have Given her be not sufficient: Jn witness whereof I doe here unto sett my hand and seale this fifth day of september Jn the year of our Lord one thousand seaven hundred and twenty one. Jonathan Whipple, his mark.[ 84 ]
Enumerated as part of his inventory of movable goods was one Negro boy valued at 47 pounds, the most expensive item in the inventory of approximately 220 pounds. Jonathan, it would seem, was a slave owner. His second wife Anna, who died four years later, willed all of her possessions valued at just over 105 pounds to her stepdaughter Mary Haman.[ 85 ]
As noted above, "Jonathan Whipple at his decease gave his land or farm to two sons, viz: Jonathan and Thomas, to be equally divided between them. This farm or land is situated in what is now the town of North Providence, a little north of the Waunscot factory, and has been retained in the name ever since the first settlement of the country. At this place there has been four Thomas Whipples lived in succession, and it has always been understood by them that they were a distant connection to those Whipples who live at Fruit Hill."[ 86 ] The 300-acre property of Jonathan's brother, Benjamin, was located approximately one mile southwest at Fruit Hill. This property, and that added by Benjamin's descendants, abutted the Woonasquatucket River on the west and was within a stone's throw of Jonathan's property on the east at the West River. Benjamin Senior's house, built in 1684 but no longer standing, was located just west of Fruit Hill Avenue near its intersection with the Providence line about one block from the river. Its present day address would have been on Metcalf Street.[ 87 ] Richard4 Whipple (Daniel3, Benjamin2, Benjamin1) sold what was left of the original property, 80 acres or so, soon after his father's death in 1792 and moved to Massachusetts.
The map below shows the approximate limits of the land of Jonathan and his sons. As was to be expected, later descendants of both brothers purchased nearby properties to add to the combined estates, so that in time their properties stretched from Smithfield Township (now Lincoln) on the north to Providence on the south. The letter "A" indicates the approximate location of Jonathan Senior's house, shown above, built around the year 1701. The letter "B" denotes a house built by Thomas Senior, in 1719, as shown on a map drawn in the year 1835.[ 88 ] It is assumed that Jonathan Junior inherited his father's old house. The southeast portion (lower right) of the "Whipple Estate" was sold to the Wanskuck Company as late as the 1880s and 1890s, thus ending approximately 220 years of Whipple ownership. The letter "C" indicates Whipple's Pond, the adjacent Whipple house, and the Jonathan Whipple 1772 (or earlier) Sawmill. The North Providence Township line extended further to the south in the early years; thus in Jonathan's day the south portion of his property was not within the city limits of Providence as shown on the map below. The letter "D" shows the approximate location of the Benjamin Whipple Senior house.
"Wanskuck appears in Providence records as early as 1655. The name, also spelled Wanscott, Wenscott, or Wenscutt in old documents and still pronounced with a final 't' by present-day residents, is an Indian word perhaps meaning 'low lands,' an apt designation for this territory bracketed by steep hillsides (see USGS map). The area was part of a section of the Providence 'north woods' set off as a separate town in 1765. Residents petitioned to have the new municipality called 'Wenscutt' but officials insisted that it be called North Providence (the Wanskuck vicinity was reannexed to Providence in 1874)." In 1772 the North Providence town council authorized the layout of a road through Wanskuck ' ... leading by Jonathan Whipple's sawmill.' That highway, known for many years as Old Sawmill Road, is now Veazie Street, and the sawmill stood near the Veazie Street Bridge over the West River. Though the mill is gone, a gambrel roof, center-chimney dwelling still standing at 9 Houghton Street, behind the Steere Mill, may well be the old Whipple homestead ... With this road system in place, water privileges along this section of West River were opened to development. In March 1811 Providence merchants ... purchased a tract of land with a mill privilege on West River, downstream from the Whipple land and sawmill. The company foundered, however, and in 1816 and 1817 various creditors brought suits against the partners for repayment of debts ... "The Wanskuck Company continued to prosper through the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In 1882 it purchased the Whipple Estate further up West River, site of the old eighteenth-century sawmill and a late cotton mill established by 1835 and known as Thomas Whipple's Factory. Two years later the Steere Worsted Mill was built on the Whipple property."[ 89 ]
On the above map, the letter "A" is Whipple's Pond. Letter "B" was the location of Jonathan Whipple's sawmill. Letter "C" represents the location of the former Whipple Cotton Factory. Letter "D" is the Thomas Whipple house at 9 Houghton Street. The National Register's description of this house is as follows: "Houghton Street 9 (late 18th or early 19th century): A one and one-half story, flank-gambrel-roof, shingled dwelling with a massive brick center chimney, a 4-bay façade, and front entrance in a small 1-story ell on the west side, and an entrance in the east side. The property from Whipple's Pond to Veazie Street, occupied in part by this house and the Steere Mill (see entry at 81 Wild Street), belonged to the Whipple family for more than a century prior to its acquisition by the Wanskuck Company in 1882. By 1772 Jonathan Whipple was operating a sawmill here on the West River near a newly established road which is the present Veazie Street. This house may date from that period or earlier, and was certainly standing by the time Thomas J. Whipple was operating a factory near the site of Steere Mill in the early 19th century."[ 90 ] It is likely that Jonathan III built the Houghton Street house as well as the sawmill. The house on Houghton Street was no longer standing in March 2004 when the present authors tried to locate it.
Also seen on the map is the Roger Williams Baptist Church designated by the letter "E". The Whipples played a part in its founding and prosperity: " ... The entrance tower contains a belfry with pairs of louver-filled pointed arches on each side, and each end of the tower transept has a single, large pointed-arch window with 'Roger Williams Baptist Church' in bronze lettering applied in a line undulating over each window. The congregation's inception dates before 1865, with the organization of Sunday school that met first in a private home, then in a room at the Thomas Whipple Mill (formerly near the site of the Steere Mill, now demolished). In 1866 the Metcalf family donated the triangular plot at the corner of Veaszie Street and Woodward Road to the congregation ...[ 91 ]
A portion of the Whipple estate located at 383 Woodward Road, north of Wanskuck Park in North Providence reveals more of the extent of the original Whipple Estate. "This property was an empty lot through the 1890s, when ... purchased it from devisees of the estates of Thomas and James M. Whipple ... "[ 92 ] As discussed later, the Whipple property was sold off because there was no one left. After the death of Thomas J. Whipple in 1868, his brother James continued to maintain the estate. However, James, who died in 1885, never married, and the sons of Thomas had long since left the area.
Lieutenant Jonathan Whipple appeared in township records on several other occasions. The following is a chronological listing of a summary of these taken from The Early Records of the Town of Providence, 21 Volumes (Providence: Snow & Farnham, 1892-1915). Individual entries are noted with the volume number and page.
It is assumed that Jonathan Whipple Junior was, like his father, a lumberman and farmer. He was born in 1691/92 and died at the age of 49 or 50, on 6 August 1741. He married Amy Thornton 24 October 1717 in Providence. To them three children were born, Mary, Amy, and Jonathan III.
Jonathan Whipple III, born 8 December 1723, was forced to take over the family businesses at the age of 17 when his father died at a relatively young age. Anne Smith, his wife, was born in 1719 and died 29 October 1810. She was the daughter of Edward Smith and Mercy Mowrey. Her paternal great grandfather was Thomas Angell, and her maternal great grandfather was Roger Mowrey. Both were prominent men in early day Providence history. Their descendants married into the extended Whipple family on several occasions.
As shown previously, Jonathan III was the owner of a sawmill by 1772, which apparently had existed for several years. The photo below was taken at the intersection of Veazie Street and the West River, the location of the sawmill that was likely founded by his grandfather in the late 1600s. It is not known how prosperous his business enterprises were but according to the number of recorded real estate transactions, he and his family owned large sections of timberland as far north as Smithfield Township. Jonathan Whipple III died 5 November 1805. In his last will and testament he bequeathed to his wife Anne "the use and improvements, rent and profits of all my estate, real and personal, for and during the term of her natural life." To his daughter Vashti he gave "money and furniture." His son Eleazer received "one dollar, he having received by deed a full portion and share" of the extensive estate. His grandson, Jonathan Randall, son of William Randall, was given the homestead farm of 60 acres in North Providence and Smithfield, and cattle, horses, sheep, one feather bed, silver spoons, brass kettle, etc. "The will was not to be in force until the decease of my wife."[ 93 ]
In the deed for a full share above, Jonathan bequeathed to "my son, Eleazer Whipple yeoman, about 90 acres with the Dwelling house, barn, corn crib, and other buildings, sixteen rods of land Viz, four rods square at the Burying Place within the afore described premises which I reserve for Burying Ground." The boundaries for the property were "ajoining the Joseph Whipple (son of Benjamin Junior) house, Joseph Whipple home farm, my other lands."[ 94 ] The deed was attested to by Oliver Angell and Christopher Brown.
As noted, Vashti Whipple married William Randall and bore him seven children. They lived on a farm near her father. She and her entire family were buried in the North Burial Ground in Providence.
Eleazer Whipple, the son of Jonathan III, was born about 1750 and died 3 August 1825. It is supposed that he worked with his father and eventually took over the ownership of the sawmill and farms. However, no mention of a sawmill was made in his father's last will and testament. He married Deborah Cushing 19 December 1781.[ 95 ] Deborah was born about 1745, died 2 February 1827, and was buried beside her husband. She was the daughter of Elijah Cushing a descendant of William Cushing who came to "Hingham in New England" in 1638 at the age of 50. He was "progenitor of many eminent descendants," dying in 1660.[ 96 ] The 1805 will, when Eleazer was 55 years old, makes no mention of possible Eleazer children. That Eleazer and Deborah apparently were childless may be the reason that Henry Whipple, in his 1873 book, knew nothing of Jonathan Junior descendants.
The burial sites of Lieutenant Jonathan Whipple and his oldest son are unknown. Jonathan Whipple III was buried in the Admiral Esek Hopkins Cemetery, as was his son Eleazer. On July 7, 1891, the Providence City Council voted to move the Hopkins Cemetery to make way for Admiral Esek Hopkins Square. In August 1900, 102 graves (23 marked) were thus moved from the Hopkins Cemetery to the North Burial Ground in Providence. It took nine years after the vote to actually move them.[ 97 ]
The four consecutive Thomas Whipples, referred to earlier, who lived on the property for approximately 175 continuous years, began with the second son of Lieutenant Jonathan Whipple, Thomas Senior, who was born 26 February 1693/94 and died 13 October 1770, intestate. He was buried in the Thomas Whipple lot, Wanskuck Section, Providence. On 5 January 1767, Thomas was adjudicated to be mentally incompetent: "Thomas Whipple of No Prov is deemed non corpus mentis and not of sufficient discretion to manage his estate and transact his secular affairs."[ 98 ] The Town Council appointed John Comstock of North Providence, Esq., as guardian. Thomas married Naomi Dexter 18 April 1720. Naomi Dexter (1698-1777) was the granddaughter of Stephen Dexter and Abigail Whipple Dexter Hopkins, the youngest daughter of Captain John Whipple. On her mother's side of the family, she was the great granddaughter of Thomas Harris, who accompanied The Reverend Roger Williams to America in 1631. Thomas and Naomi were parents of nine children, including one son, Thomas Junior.
Thomas Junior was born 8 July 1725 and died 30 December 1777. He was, like his parents, buried in the Whipple Lot. He was married to Anne (Amy) Harris, who died after 21 July 1789. They had ten children, including Nicholas, Christopher, George, Henry, and Thomas III. Thomas' will was dated 4 December 1777, and included among the many bequests to his wife Anne, his sons Christopher, Nicholas, Thomas, Henry, and George, and his daughters Abigail Smith, Anne, Sarah, Dorcas, and Amey Whipple: "To my Son Christopher Whipple, all that part of my Homestead Farm that I purchased of Jabez Whipple ... dwelling house, corn crib, old grist mill, one half of 20 acre wood lot lying in Smithfield ... and one desk that was my father Thomas Whipple's, and one gun called the old gun ... Unto my son George Whipple the lower part of my meadow nigh the place called the old saw mill ... Unto my two younger sons Thomas Whipple and Henry Whipple all the remainder part of my farm what I have not disposed of in this will, Together with the dwelling house, Barn Crib, Cider House, and all other building thereon standing and to be equally divided between them ... "[ 99 ] Ann Whipple, relick and widow of Thomas Whipple, on 21 June 1779, refused to accept the terms of the last will and testament of her late husband.[ 100 ]
Nicholas was born 25 March 1751 and died 25 May 1828. He married Prudence Olney 31 July 1774. Nicholas and Prudence moved, in 1775, to Pomfret, Connecticut, where they lived out the rest of their lives. Nicholas Whipple Junior was born 7 September 1776 and died 20 April 1855. He was buried at Rensselaer County, New York. He was listed in the 1825 New York census as a resident of Fairfield, Herkimer County. He was employed as overseer of highways for that county in 1845. The son of Nicholas Junior was Willoughby7 Whipple (Nicholas6, Nicholas5, Thomas4, Thomas3, Jonathan2, John1), who was born in Fairfield, New York in February of 1833, and is listed as a student in School District 7 of Herkimer County in 1848. He was living in Salisbury, Herkimer County in 1858. His son was Clayton Whipple, who died at the age of 25 in 1895.Willoughby Whipple died 25 March 1902.[ 101 ]
Christopher had one child, Abigail, and lived on a part of the homestead farm east from where his father lived. George settled in the Township of Burrillville, Rhode Island, married Dorcas Brown, and had one son, John, who was born in 1828 and died 14 October 1917. He was buried in the Harrisville Cemetery, Hill Road, Burrillville.
Thomas III was born 17 September 1766, died 7 September 1843, and was buried beside his father and mother. He was 11 years old when his father died. Thomas lived and died on the homestead farm that his father and grandfather had developed. He married Lydia Humphrey, 7 June 1790, they becoming parents to seven children, including James, born 1809, who never married, and Thomas J. Whipple. Thomas III was the founder and owner of a cotton mill located on the West River. In his last will and testament he left to his son Thomas "certain part of my homestead farm in No Prov, Cotton Mill, water privilege, privilege of flywings, machinery, tools, other articles in Cotton Mill." To his son James he bequeathed "all the remaining part of my farm, woodlot in Smithfield, stock of cattle, horses, etc." He left various articles to his daughters Martha Whipple, Ann Whipple, Amey Arnold, Sarah Loring, and Julia Barney.[ 102 ]
Thomas Jefferson Whipple was born 30 November 1801, died 14 May 1868, and is buried in the North Burial Ground in Providence.[ 103 ] According to Henry E. Whipple, he lived about half a mile west of the Wainscott Woolen Mill in North Providence and owned a cotton or woolen mill west of his house. His wife was Susan Cowing. Thomas and Susan had seven children, including five sons, two of whom (George and Henry) had sons. George W. Whipple moved to Chicago, Illinois and is known to have had one son Frederick George Whipple; John C. Whipple was unmarried; Charles Mortimer Whipple, the father of Lois, died in 1907; Albert Whipple died as a child; and Henry Franklin Whipple, born 18 November 1849, died 23 January 1936, and was buried in the Harmony Cemetery, Glocester, Rhode Island. He married Adelaide Carter and had two children, Sylvia and Elliott8 Whipple (Henry7, Thomas6, Thomas5, Thomas4, Thomas3, Jonathan2, John1), Elliott Whipple married Nettie Horton 5 June 1907 in Rhode Island. Their children, Russell and Virginia, both died in Yakima, Washington in the late 20th century.[ 104 ]
All four Thomas Whipples were buried in the Thomas Whipple Lot in the Wanskuck Section of North Providence. This cemetery could not be found when the Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Project tried to find it. There is an article concerning its desecration in the 6 March 1910 edition of the Providence Journal. Thomas J. Whipple, and immediate family, were subsequently reinterred in the North Burial Ground.
In the end, the descendants of Captain John Whipple, who bequeathed his 1665 proprietor right of land located "one and one-half miles northwest of the Great Salt Cove" to his youngest son, sold the remains of their ancestral estate on the West River between the years 1882 and the 1890s. Thus was terminated the over 230-year presence of the Jonathan Whipple family in the Wanskuck. The great-great great grandchildren of Lieutenant Jonathan Whipple thus began their own twentieth century odysseys in other parts of the state and nation.
Abigail Whipple Dexter Hopkins, youngest daughter of Captain John, died in Providence 19 August 1725. The date and place of her birth are unknown. It has historical been placed at Providence about 1660. This arbitrary nativity assignment assumes that since records of her christening in Dorchester have not been found, she must have been born after the family's move to Providence. This places her birth four years subsequent to her brother David's christening in 1656, which is inconsistent with the ordinal positioning of her siblings.[ 105 ] As will be discussed in the next article in this series, it may well be that her parents had been adjudicated anathema in Massachusetts society by the time of her birth in 1657/58, thus obviating her christening. It is known that the Whipples sold their property in Dorchester less than one month after Massachusetts passed a law, 19 October 1658, which required Quakers to absent the colony on pain of death.[ 106 ] Abigail is thought to have married Stephen Dexter in 1672, highly unlikely had she been born in 1660. Her husband was born 1 November 1647 and died in 1679. They were the parents of two children, John and Abigail.
Stephen and his father, Gregory, began "burning lime" in the mid-1660s on their property immediately west of the farms of Abigail's brothers William and Eleazer, and her sister-in-law Mary Harris Whipple's father's family at Limerock, about eight miles north of Providence. These families eventually went into the lime-manufacturing business together. Gregory Dexter was mentioned in a letter from Roger Williams to John Winthrop Junior, Governor of Connecticut, 19 August 1669. Part of the letter reads, "Sir I have incouraged Mr. (Gregory) Dexter to send you a Limestone and to salute You with this inclosed. He is an intelligent man, a Master Printer of London, and Conscionable (though a Baptist) ... Sir if there be any occasion of Your Selfe (or others) to use any of this stone, Mr. Dexter hath a lusty Teame and lustie Sons and a very willing heart being a Sangwine Cheerfull Man to doe Your Selfe or any service upon very honest and cheap Considerations ... "[ 107 ] "This limestone had been dug up at "Dexter's Lime Rocks" on Hackleton's Rock between the Moshassuck and Blackstone rivers in present Lincoln ... Just how soon the Dexter limestone began to be hauled in carts to Boston is now uncertain, but by the early eighteenth century it was a common occurrence on the Post Road."[ 108 ]
In explaining why the village of Limerock was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission stated, "The monopoly which the Dexters, Whipples, Harrises, Jenckesses,and Mowreys held for so long over the industry ... kept Limerock a close community; the interconnections among these families were labyrinthine and contributed to the social and physical stability of the village."[ 109 ] Gregory Dexter died in the year 1700, Stephen in 1679;[ 110 ] however, his son John and several more generations kept the Dexter family in the lime manufacturing business for another century and a half.[ 111 ]
After the death of her husband, Abigail married Captain William Hopkins in 1682, their son being Major William Junior. William Junior's son was Governor Stephen Hopkins. William Hopkins Senior's father, Thomas, came to New England with his sister Frances Man, and their uncle William Arnold in 1635. He followed Roger Williams in 1636 from Plymouth to Providence. He at first was assigned to a home share of land situated near the south end of the town, it being the fourth lot south of what is now known as Powers Street. He later moved to a location west of the Pawtucket River, about ten miles north of his first assigned home lot. At his death in 1684, his son Captain William inherited the Pawtucket property and subsequently passed it on, in 1723, to his son Major William. Major William Hopkins, in turn, sold a portion of it to Colonel Joseph Whipple on 22 August 1724, a plot of land estimated to contain 80 acres. On 19 October 1728, he mortgaged "his dwelling house" to Colonel Whipple and soon removed to Scituate, as he was a resident there by 10 April 1733. In these deeds he was called a carpenter.[ 112 ] Joseph Whipple was Abigail Whipple's younger brother. The young Dexter widow apparently met William Hopkins Senior while he lived on the Pawtucket farm of his parents, since her first husband's property was also located in the Pawtucket (Louquisset) area. They appear to have moved to Towne Streete in Providence immediately after their wedding. The portrait of Stephen Hopkins below hangs elevated above the fireplace in the Corporation Room in University Hall (the building in the portrait) of Brown University. The caption reads Stephen Hopkins, First Chancellor of Brown University, 1764-1783.
"He was the first Chancellor of Brown, a chief justice and four-time governor of the state. He even signed the Declaration of Independence, but after Stephen Hopkins died in 1785 no one was too sure what the ol'guy looked like. In fact, for nearly two centuries he was mistaken as someone else, a mistake that was only corrected about 20 years ago when a new painting of the colonial statesmen was hung in the State House ... The mix-up began when 'Signers of the Declaration of Independence,' the famous painting by 18th-century artist John Trumbull showing all of the signers of the historic document, mistakenly identified Hopkins as John Dickinson, the representative from Pennsylvania. Trumbell painted the work between 1788 and 1795 ... When Trumbull was ready for Hopkins, the Rhode Islander was dead. It is believed that a relative of Hopkins became the stand-in for Trumbull's original painting ... In 1819, Congress approved funding for a large engraving of the painting for the Capitol Rotunda. At that time, Trumbull mistakenly concluded that Dickinson- a Quaker pictured wearing a Quaker's hat - was Hopkins, who also was a Quaker. It was a mistake easily made, since the painting contained 47 individuals... Trumbell's sketch of Hopkins' relative remained undiscovered for nearly 200 years, when an art historian spotted the discrepancy in the 1970s. John Hagen, the artist responsible for correcting the 200 year old faux pas and revealing Hopkins' true likeness, has put the finishing touches on a second Hopkins portrait that will hang in the Corporation Room of the University Hall ... "[ 113 ]
"Knowing nothing of armed ships, he (Adams) made himself expert, and would call his work on the naval committee the pleasantest part of his labors, in part because it brought him in contact with one of the singular figures in Congress, Stephen Hopkins of Rhode Island, who was nearly as old as Franklin and always wore his broad-brimmed Quaker hat in chamber. Adams found most Quakers to be 'dull as beetles,' but Hopkins was an exception. A lively, learned man ... he suffered the loss of three sons at sea, and served in one public office or other continuously from the time he was twenty-five. The old gentlemen loved to drink rum and expound on his favorite writers. The experience and judgment he brought to the business of Congress were of great use, as Adams wrote, but it was in the after-hours that he 'kept us alive.' His custom was to drink nothing all day, nor 'til eight o'clock in the evening, and his beverage was Jamaica spirits and water ... Hopkins never drank to excess, according to Adams, but all he drank was promptly converted into wit, sense, knowledge, and good humor."[ 114 ]
"Hopkins was a grand figure who had seen a lot in life. You can't miss him in the painting. He's at the back with his broad-brimmed Quaker hat on. In after hours he loved to drink rum and expound his favorite writers. 'He read Greek, Roman, and British history, and was familiar with British poetry,' wrote John Adams, 'and the flow of his soul made his reading our own and brought recollection in all we had read..."[ 115 ]
Hopkins reputation as an extraordinarily intelligent and well-read person in the Continental Congress has been traced to his roots in the home of his childhood. His father, Major William Hopkins Junior, the only child of Captain William and Abigail Whipple Hopkins, lived in Cranston, a suburb of Providence, where Stephen was born in 1707. His mother was Ruth Wilkinson daughter of Samuel Wilkinson and Plain Wickenden.[ 116 ] The Wilkinson farm in Smithfield was near the farms of Abigail's brothers Eleazer, William, and David and that of her deceased first husband, Stephen Dexter. "His grandmother, Abigail, was a daughter of Captain John Whipple, very prominent in plantation life about 1660-1685. The best instruction of all came from his mother, and it was thorough and comprehensive. His grandfather, William, taught him mathematics and surveying. (Actually, all four grandparents lived into the 1720s, thus conceivable made a direct contribution to Stephen's personality and intellectual development.) Although his formal early education was limited, yet he excelled in the practical branches of mathematics, particularly surveying."[ 117 ] It would appear that Abigail was quite assertive, opinionated, and outspoken when compared to typical women of that time. She objected to the town council that she was forbidden to vote, and almost single-handedly caused the Providence town council to change its scandalous policy of taxing "poore widows of low condition."[ 118 ]
In 1731, Hopkins early began making trips to Newport to participate in the philosophical society, as one of its youngest members, founded by George Berkeley. His cousin, Captain Joseph Whipple Junior, his grandmother Abigail's brother's son, was a fellow member of the society, and served as deputy governor of Rhode Island from 1743 to 1746, as did his son Joseph III, from 1749 until 1754.[ 119 ] Hopkins helped found the first library in Providence in1750; he himself cataloged its first collection. He helped found Providence's first newspaper in 1762. Indeed, the intellectual vigor of his mental powers enabled him to eventually surmount the lack of formal educational opportunities, and his ardent pursuit of knowledge, at length, placed him among the distinguished men of his day.
As noted, after mortgaging their farm to his uncle Joseph Whipple, his parents moved to Scituate, a few miles west of Providence, when Stephen was a young man, where his father earned his living as a farmer. For several years Stephen followed the same trade. It was while living there that he was chosen town clerk, and afterward elected a representative from that village to the general assembly at Newport, where he became speaker in 1741. He became a justice of the peace, and subsequently a justice of one of the courts of common pleas. Then, in 1733, at the age of 27, he became chief justice of the court in that district.
He moved to back Providence in 1742 where he erected a house in which he continued to reside for the rest of his life. The house is still standing at the corner of Benefit and Hopkins Street and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The memorial plaque below, on one corner of the house, commemorates his life and work. At Providence, he immediately entered the mercantile trading and ship building businesses, as well as engaged in what the British considered to be illegal smuggling. He was a partner with the Brown brothers (for whom Brown University is named) in that regard, co-owning an iron foundry with them. Hopkins served as the first Chancellor of that same school in 1764. The Brown brothers, Nicholas, Joseph, John, and Moses, exchanged the profits from these iron products in their slave trading business. At about the time of the Revolutionary War, they employed about 75 men. Then during the war the foundry produced guns and ammunition.
Subsequent to his move to Providence, Hopkins was often moderator of the town council and represented the town almost constantly in the general assembly at Newport, and was its speaker in 1744 and 1749. He became Chief Justice of the Superior Court in 1751, and in 1754 was a delegate to the Albany convention in New York where he voted for Benjamin Franklin's plan for the union of the colonies.
Ten years later, as governor of the colony, Hopkins wrote a pamphlet in defiance of England's intent to impose a tax on sugar. Called, 'The Rights of Colonies Examined,' it was one of the first assertions of colonial rights. He asked, "Can it possibly be shown that the people in Britain have a sovereign authority over their fellow subjects in America? All laws and all taxation that bind the whole must be made by the whole. Thus early in the quarrel with the mother country, Rhode Island raised the cry no taxation with out representation."[ 120 ] This pamphlet was widely distributed in America, bringing Hopkins instant fame through out the colonies.
In summary of his Rhode Island political career, Hopkins served in the general assembly from 1732 until 1752 and 1770 to 1775, and was its speaker in 1738 to 1744 and in 1749. He was elected governor ten times1755-56, 1758-61, 1763-64, and 1767, and appointed chief justice of the Superior Court in 1751.
While attending the Continental Congress, where he served from 1774 until 1776, Hopkins helped to draft the Articles of Incorporation and served on the committee responsible for the development of the Continental Navy. He persuaded the Congress, in 1775, to outfit 13 armed vessels and to commission them as the Navy of the united colonies. He saw to it that Rhode Island received a contract to out fit two of these. He was able to get his brother, Esek, commissioned as Commander-in-Chief. His brother-in-law Abraham Whipple, the great grandson of his grandmother Abigail's brother Samuel, was then appointed Commodore of the Navy. Abraham and Esek had received their maritime training on slave ships owned by the Brown family. Admirably, Hopkins, along with Moses Brown was primarily responsible for securing action against slavery. In 1774, the Rhode Island general assembly passed an act prohibiting the importation of slaves. He also led the fight in the Continental Congress to ban slavery. At the time he signed the Declaration of Independence, Hopkins was almost 70 years old and of poor health due probably to a paralytic stroke. He had to guide his writing hand with his other hand, while stating that "My hand trembles, but my heart does not." Due to his deteriorating medical condition he resigned in September of 1776. He continued to serve his state during the year that followed and even attended several New England political conventions. In 1780, however, he left politics all together.
Stephen Hopkins, Esq., Governor of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, died 13 July 1785. The state of Rhode Island erected a monument to him in the North Burial Ground on which, with other commendations, is inscribed these words, "His name is engraved on this immortal record of the Revolution, and can never die."[ 121 ]