Providence I - History

Providence I - History

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Providence I

(Sip: cpl. 90; a. 12 4-pdrs.)

From early 1775 British men-of-war, espeeia}ly His Majesty's Frigate Ro$e, preyed on Rhode Island shipping and annoyed the colony's coast. On 13 June Deputy Governor Nicholas Cooke, wrote James Wallace, the frigate's Captain demanding restoration of several ships which Rose had captured. Two days later the Rhode Island General Assembly ordered the committee of safety to fit out two ships to defend the colony's shipping and appointed a committee of three to obtain the vessels. That day the committee chartered sloop Katy from John Brown of Providenee and sloop Washington at the same time. The General Assembly appointed Abraham Whipple, who had won fame in the burning of British armed schooner Gaspee in 1772, commander of Katy, the larger ship and made him commodore of the tiny fleet Before sunset that day Whipple captured a tender to British Frigate Ro$e. Katy cruised in Narragansett Bay through the summer protecting coastal shipping.

The supply of gun powder, an essential commodity scarce
in the Continental Army throughout the Revolutionary War, was desperately low during the first year of struggle for Independenee. Late in the summer of 1775 the shortage in Washington's Army besieging Boston became so severe that he was unable to use his artillery and his riflemen would have been unable to repel an attack had the British taken the offensive.

In an effort to obtain precious powder for the Continental Army, Cooke ordered Whipple to cruise for a fortnight off Sandy Hook, N.J., to intercept a powder laden packet expected from London. He was then to proceed to Bermuda to capture the powder stored in the British magazine there. Katy departed Narragansett Bay 12 September but caught no sight of the packet. Later upon reaching Bermuda, Whipple learned that the Dowder from the magazine was already enroute to Philadelphia.

Soon after she returned to Providence, Katy was purchased by Rhode Island 31 October. Late in November, Katy sailed for Philadelphia carrying seamen enlisted by Commodore Esek Hopkins in New England for continental service. Arriving 3 December, Katy was immediately taken into Continental service and renamed Prouidence.

Captain Whipple assumed command of Columbus, a larger ship; and Captain John Hazard was placed in command of Providenee, later formalized by a commission from Congress dated 9 January 1776. The ships joined a squadron being formed by Congress under the command of "Commander in Chief of the Fleet of the United Colonies" Esek Hopkins.

On 5 January 1776, Congress ordered Hopkins to sail for Chesapeake Bay and elear waters there of the ships of a fleet organized the previous autumn by Governor Dunmore of Virginia. These English and Tory ships had ravaged the shores of the bay and the rivers which empty into it. Once Whipple's
ships had completed this task, they were to move south and elear the Carolina coast of enemy shipping before sailing North to Rhode Island to perform a similar service.

Providence and her consorts departed Philadelphia early in January but, delayed by ice, did not get to sea until 17 February. Deeming it unwise to cruise along the southern coast, Hopkins led his little fleet to Abaeo in the Bahamas which they reached 1 March and staged for a raid on New Providenee. The next day they seized two sloops on which IIopkins placed a landing party of 200 marines and 50 sailors. At mid morning of the 3rd, under cover of guns of Providence and Was p, the Americans went ashore unopposed on the eastern end of New Providenee and advanced toward Fort Montagne which opened fire interrupting the invader's progress. The defenders spiked their guns and retreated to Fort Nassau. The next day Nassau surrendered and gave the Americans the keys to the Fort. Hopkins then brought his ships into the harbor and spent a fortnight loading captured munitions, before heading home 17 March.

Off Block Island, Hopkins' ships captured schooner Hawk belonging to the British fleet at Newport 4 April, and at dawn the next day took brig Bolton. That evening the Americans added a brigantine and a sloop, both from New York, to their list of prizes.

About 0100, 6 April, Andrew Doria sighted HMS Gkmpow, a 20-gun sloop carrying dispatches from Newport to Charleston. The American fleet engaged the enemy ship for one and one-half hours hefore she turned and fled back toward Newport. After daylight Hopkins ordered his ships to give up the chase and headed with his fleet and prizes for New London where they arrived on the 8th.

On 10 May, John Paul Jones assumed command of Providence with temporary rank of Captain. After a voyage to New York returning to the Continental Army about 100 soldiers whom Washington had lent to Hopkins to help man the American fleet, and after returning to Providenee, Jones hove down the ship to clean her bottom and sailed 13 June escorting Fly to Fisher's Island at the entrance to Long Island Sound. Enroute he saved a brigantine bringing munitions from Hispanola from British frigate HMS Cerberus.

Providenee next escorted a convoy of colliers to Philadelphia arriving 1 August. There, a week later, Jones received his permanent commission as Captain. On the 21st, Providence departed the Delaware Capes to begin an independent cruise, and in a few days took brigantine Britannia and sent the whaler into Philadelphia under a prize crew. On 1 September daring seamanship enabled Jones to esoape from British frigate Solebay. Two days later Providence captured Sea Nymph, carrying sugar, rum, ginger, and oil, and sent the Bermudan brigantine to Philadelphia. On the 6th Providence caught brigantine Favourite carrying sugar from Antigua to Liverpool, but HMS Galatea recaptured the prize before she could reach an American port.

Turning north, Jones headed for Nova Seotia, and on 20 September escaped another frigate before reaching Canso two days later. There he recruited men to fill the vaeaneies created by manning his prizes, burned a British fishing schooner, sank a second, and captured a third besides a shallop which he used as a tender. Moving to Ile Madame, Providenee took several more prizes fishing there before riding out a severe storm. One more prize, whaler Portland surrendered to Providenee before she returned to Narragansett Bay 8 October.

While Providence was at home, Hopkins appointed Jones Commander of Alfred, a larger ship and the Commander in Chief's flagship on the expedition to the Bahamas. Shortly thereafter, Capt. Hoysted Hacker took command of Providence. The two ships got under way 11 November. After ten days they took brigantine Active and the next day took armed transport Mellish carrying winter uniforms and military supplies for the British Army. On the 16th they captured snow Kitty. The next night, Providenee, troubled by leaks which had developed during bad weather on the cruise headed back for Rhode Island and arrived Newport two days later.

The British seized Narragansett Bay in December 1776 and Providence with other American vessels there retired up the Providence River. In February 1777, under Lt. Jonathan Pitcher, Providenee ran the British blockade, and after putting into New Bedford, cruised to Cape Breton where she captured a transport brig loaded with stores and carrying two officers and 25 men of the British Army besides her crew. Under command of Capt. J.P. Rathbun, Providenee made two cruises on the coast and about mid-January 1778 sailed from Georgetown, N.C., again bound for New Providenee in the Bahamas, this time alone. On 27 January she spiked the guns of the fort at Nassau, taking military stores incIuding 1600 pounds of powder, and released 30 American prisoners. She also made prize of a 16-gun British ship and recaptured five other vessels which had been brought in by the British. On 30 January the prizes were manned and sailed away. Providence, with her armed prize, put into New Bedford.

During the early part of April 1779 Providence was ordered to make a short cruise in Massachusetts Bay and along the coast of Maine. She later sailed south of Cape Cod and on 7 May, captured HMS Brig Diligent, 12 guns, off Sandy Hook. She fired two broadsides and a volley of muskets during the engagement and Dilipent, with mast rigging and hull eut to pieces, was forced to surrender. She then was assigned to Commodore Saltonstall's squadron which departed Boston 19 July 1779 and entered Penobseot Bay 25 July. She was destroyed by her crew, with other American vessels in the Penobseot River, 14 August 1779, to prevent her falling into the hands of the British.


In 1939, the PHA was officially established to provide affordable, clean and decent public housing to poor, working families who lived in the deplorable slums of that era. Over a 58 year period, the PHA constructed more than 2,600 units of public housing throughout this great city. Since 1976, the PHA has come to administer over 2,700 Section 8 vouchers.

The PHA’s devotion to provide housing and services to those in need is persistent, enduring, and innovative. The agency’s commitment to be a better neighbor, to actively pursue ways to improve the health and safety of our residents, to strategically align visions with our community partners and to help people grow has never waned. The PHA, its staff and residents, look forward to continuing to provide homes and service to the greater Providence area.

Currently, the PHA administers 2,601 public housing units that house over 5,500 residents. These units are designated as elderly/disabled, family, and scattered sites developments. It oversees the administration of 2,700 Section 8 tenant based and project based vouchers that generally allow low-income families to rent in the private market.

The PHA is a quasi-governmental organization, governed by a Board of Commissioners appointed by the Mayor and Providence City Council, and run by an Executive Director who reports to the Board.

Early Black History in Providence

Providence’s roots reach back hundreds of years and its streets are lined with beautifully preserved historic architecture. The city is teeming with fascinating stories from long ago, many of which have been largely untold — especially those about the lives of 18 th and 19 th century slaves — until now. The city has had to reconcile its place in history as the birthplace of religious freedom with its role in the slave trade.   

Day 1

Start the day with delicious specialty doughnuts from Knead Doughnuts in downtown Providence. Then begin the day&aposs exploration by embarking on the Providence Walks: Early Black History Self-Guided Walking TourThis tour explores Providence’s Black history, from the early days of the colony to today. Roger Williams founded Providence in 1636 on land inhabited by the Narragansett, Wampanoag and other tribes. By the mid-1700s, Rhode Island slave traders were a dominant force in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the majority of the town’s and colony’s economy was connected in some way to the trade. Learn about this history, while also bearing witness to the stories of these early Black Rhode Islanders. The legacy of slavery and its aftermath is deep, uncomfortable, and, in many ways, has been hidden and silenced. Despite this, generations of Black Rhode Islanders lived and thrived. Taking this tour is an act of remembrance, honoring the lives of those whose stories are only partially known, but who contributed significantly to the city you see today.

One of the many informative stops on the tour is the Stephen Hopkins House. The ten-time governor of Rhode Island enslaved at least six people in this house. It is one of the few places in Rhode Island to view both the workspace and sleeping quarters of enslaved people. The Sally Gallery at John Brown House is another important stop. This educational space is free to visit and tells the story of the slave ship Sally and its terrible and violent voyage from Providence to West Africa, as well as the bookkeeping ledger that tracked human tragedy as a "business expense." While there, be sure to check out the entire museum. It tells the story of John Brown, who grew wealthy from his family’s shipping business which included privateering, the Triangular Slave Trade and the China Trade. This home, one of the grandest in the United States, played host to presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams. 

Other points of interest on the tour include 57 Benevolent Street, the former home of black veteran Richard Cozzens. Mr. Cozzens enlisted to serve in the American Revolutionary War as part of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment. The North Burial Ground, also on the tour, is one of the oldest cemeteries in Providence.   

Recorder of Deeds

The recorder’s office registers documents relating to land evidence (deeds, mortgages, liens, etc.) for the City of Providence. The office maintains the paper and digital holdings of the City’s non-archived land evidence records. We provide accurate and courteous service to customers requiring land document assistance and recording as well as execute the state law to monitor foreclosure mediation compliance to protect the City’s homeowners.


  • You can access the vault for title searches by booking a two hour slot with the Recorder’s Office. Call 680-5545 between 8:30am and 4pm Mon-Thurs to make a reservation Starting June 4, City Hall will be open Fridays too.
  • Admission to City Hall is through the rear door of City Hall (handicap entrance). Upon arriving, ring the doorbell at Rm 506 at the time of your reservation for admittance.
  • Room capacity may vary with Covid restrictions, but you must wear a mask when working in the vault.
  • Please structure your work so you can complete your research within the time slot you reserve.

Upcoming City Hall closings:

  • Monday, May 31 for Memorial Day
  • Monday, July 5 for Independence Day
  • Monday August 9 for Victory Day
  • Monday September 6 for Labor Day

Electronic Recording

Providence accepts electronic document recording (eRecording) through CSC and Simplifile. Due to staff furloughs, your document may be queued but not recorded until the following business day. For fees and set up contact the provider.

Payment for Recording or Copies

  • We accept checks and money orders only. We will accept currency (exact change) for up to two copies (in other words, $3.00)

Recorded maps and drawings

  • As of November 12, 2019, previously available only in City Hall in the Docuware terminals, are now merged with all other recordings and are available online.

Non-resident Landlord filing

Non-resident landlords must comply with RIGL sections 34-18-22.3 (designation of agent) and 34-18-57 (absentee landlord enforcement act) by registering with the RI Secretary of State and filing information with this office.

In complying, we recommend recording the Secretary of State’s form with us and annotating on the form the absentee landlord’s phone number.

The Secretary of State’s form (“Designation of Agent for Non-resident Landlord” form 34-18-22) is available online at (look under Miscellaneous Filings).

During the COVID emergency, only half of our staff is working at any given time. As always, you can use the “Contact Us” link to request assistance.

The City’s on-line database of land evidence documents from August 1, 2004, to the present. There is no cost to view these documents, although a charge will apply to print copies.

Providence: History

Topics include Dining Scene, United States: For Foreign Visitors & more!

Providence was founded by Roger Williams in 1636, making it one of the oldest cities in the United States. Williams founded Providence after he was banished from the Massachusetts Bay colony on the basis of his religious views. Williams founded Providence on the premise of complete religious toleration, making Rhode Island a haven for thoise persecuted for their beleifs in less tolerant parts of New England. Most notable among these were the Quakers from Boston. The land Roger Williams used to found Providence had been the tribal domain of the Narragansett Indians.

In 1680, Providence's days of prosperity began when a wharf was built to facilitate trade. As a key port city port in the 1700's, fortunes were made in shipbuilding, whaling, trade with China and the thriving triangle of trade in Molasses, Rum and Slaves. Many Newport merchants fled to Providence when their city was occupied by the British during the Revolutionary War, and ended up staying in Providence. Foremost among them was the Brown family. John Brown, a merchant and shipbuilder, opened trade with China. Joseph, an architect, designed many of the city's finest buildings. Nicholas donated land and money to establish the university that bears the family name. Moses began the American industrial revolution by financing the first water powered spinning mill.

Providence is now the largest city in Rhode Island. It is the third largest in New England after Boston and Worcester.

Academics & Apply

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Rhode Island’s Haunted History

Like much of New England, Rhode Island has a haunted past that still can make your skin crawl. While Rhode Island may not have participated in the hysteria around witchcraft, it does have its fair share of historical occurrences that have left its mark on this tiny state’s haunted history.

Rhode Island was founded on the principle of religious and political freedom and was only able to keep itself from being consumed by the hysterics that took over much of Massachusetts and Connecticut until 1892.

When the bodies of an Exeter family were exhumed with hopes to banish an undead spirit that had been slowly killing a family. When the bodies of the mother and two daughters were revealed, the youngest daughter was found to have a flush complexion and blood in her veins. Her name was Mercy Brown and the towns folk deemed her the first American vampire, only after burning her heart and liver and drinking the ashes.

This story traveled fast and made its way into newspapers all over, it thought to have inspired Bram Stoker’s, Dracula and H. P Lovecraft’s The Shunned House. You can still visit her grave today at the Chestnut Hill Baptist Cemetery in Exeter.

The Coventry homestead of the famous Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene, has had its fair share of paranormal experiences. Sounds of horse’s hooves and carriages approaching the house can be heard and moving objects throughout the house have been witnessed. The house is now a museum where you can visit and take a chance at experiencing the other worldly.

Another unlucky lady, that lived a privileged life, ripe with tragedy and marked by the death of her children, Alice Vanderbilt lived in one of Rhode Island’s most prominent “cottages” during the summer months. This “cottage” is said to be one of the finest homes built during the gilded age and is now Rhode Island’s most visited attraction,

The Breakers mansion, in Newport. It is said the Alice’s ghost has been haunting the home since her death, trying to relive the happier times of her life.

Another of Rhode Island’s more magnificent buildings is thought to be haunted by a man who holds a prominent place in Providence’s history. In 1878 Providence City Hall was completed under the supervision of Providence’s longest serving mayor, Thomas A. Doyle. He died in 1886 and was honored with an elaborate wake at City Hall. His love for Providence ran so deep that he has chosen to roam City Hall for the rest of eternity.

One of Providence’s most popular hauntings is thought to be the result of a broken engagement between two very impassioned writers, Edgar Allen Poe and Sarah Helen Whitman. Poe and Whitman had a literary love full of passion and spiritualism. She was a poet and a spiritualist and he, well, was one of America’s finest writers. They spent many hours together in the Athenaeum Library in 1848, where their engagement would ultimately end, by a letter, given to Whitman stating that Poe was not holding up to his promises of sobriety. Poe died a year later and they never saw each other again. Some say Poe still roams the aisles of the Athenaeum waking up sleepy readers as he goes.

One of the more sad and disturbing historically haunted places in Rhode Island is The Ladd School in Exeter. This school was often overcrowded and poorly staffed, which lead to the death of many of its students. The school was opened in 1908 and was abandoned in 1994, thousands of people came through and died in this school. People have claimed to see ghostly figures and have heard screams, moans and other disembodied voices.

These are only a few of the many tales of haunted lore that still spook locals in Rhode Island. To get a taste of the real or fake thing check out one of the many events honoring Rhode Island’s dark history. There are excellent ghost tours in Providence and Newport led by enthusiastic, costumed guides drawing you into the history and the mystery. If you are looking for more of a scare than a historical creep there are several haunted houses in old mill buildings all over the state.


The Rhode Island Native American Indian, the mighty Narragansett Tribe, lived on the Hill centuries before the white man arrived, and continued to hold ceremonies on the Hill into the 1920s. In 1636 Roger Williams, accompanied by a group of five other ‘believers,’ obtained land from Narragansett Sachems Canonicus and Miantonomi and named his settlement Providence in thanks to God. The northwest boundary of this land, set forth by Williams and the Sachems, was the Great Hill of Neutaconkanut.

In 1829, the King family purchased the Neutaconkanut Hill land, from heirs of the Borden family.The King family tree includes such prominent and historical Rhode Island families as the Sprague (past RI governor), Borden, Allen, Waterman, Lawrence and Weeden. Family member Samuel Ward King, Governor of the State in June 1842, defeated Dorr in what is known as the Dorr Revolution. The original King Homestead stood on a 16-acre portion of the Hill, known as King Park. The last surviving member of the family, Abby King, willed what remained of the land to the City of Providence, with the stipulation that there be no development on the land.

Reminders of the past: the remains of a band stand where Sunday afternoon concerts were held in the 1930s and 40s. The King Monument, erected in 1905 by Abby King in memory of her family, still stand as a tribute to the King Family who left us this gift of nature.


Between 1880 and the late 1960s, Providence was home to a bustling Chinese American community. Its Chinatown had two successive centers: the first stood on Empire Street and the second on Summer Street between Broad and Pine. Providence’s Chinatown is a project to rediscover these locations and to connect this history to Rhode Island’s modern Chinese diaspora.

This site-specific exhibit is based in window fronts downtown where the first Chinatown used to stand. A collection of documents, images, objects, and oral histories are also on display at the Rhode Island State Archives.

This exhibit is an effort to share the history of Rhode Island’s Chinese community and create a permanent archive.

A map of the exhibit locations in downtown Providence.

Self-Guided Tour

Walk the streets where Chinatown once stood and discover the stories of its community.

View cultural artifacts and historic maps

Immigrating to Providence and RI

Creating social and business networks

Stories of church life, military service, activism

Household Sewing Machine Trade Card

Trade card, circa 1882 – 1890s, for the Household Sewing Machine Company. Many differently designed trade cards can be found online for this company, some showing Household as the manufacturer and the earlier showing Providence Tool Company. This particular one shows a winged imp or fairy opening the back of an envelope (a common theme back in the day) to reveal a beautiful Gothic Revival (?) mansion nestled back among some surrounding trees.

The illustrations and company info below can be found in the 1889 publication The Industrial Advantages of Providence, R. I.(Google eBook).

Household’s Machine Plant at 103 Wickenden Street, Providence, Rhode Island

Household’s Cabinet Plant at Crary and Langley Streets, Providence, Rhode Island

The Household Sewing Machine Company was incorporated in August of 1882, having purchased the Providence Tool Company (where the first Household sewing machines were made.) Both the machine and cabinet plants were steam-operated and in 1889 employed about 325 skilled workmen. The cabinet shop produced “…high class cabinet work for all kinds of other manufacturers…” as well as the wooden cabinets and cases for Household sewing machines, though the company’s chief product was it’s sewing machine.

Household went out of business in 1905 (or perhaps officially in 1906 if various online sources are correct.) The following are two newspaper clips showing their auction ad, and shortly afterward, someone advertising his purchases from this auction, which he was then selling…. All a little sad, but imagine today what a picker’s dream it would have been!

November 1905 auction ad from the Boston Daily Globe

December 1905 ad from the Boston Daily Globe for Corliss Engines for sale

Note: Since we do keep finding these “Into Or Out Of The Envelope” type designs on trade cards, postcards and the like, a separate category will go up now, under this ridiculously long title. I thought about lumping them in with our Breakthrough category, but really they deserve their own space, since the two themes are related but not the same.

Trade Card. Circa 1882 – 1890s. Household Sewing Machine Co.

Price: $10.00 Size: About 2 and 3/4 x 4 and 3/4″

Sources: McKinney, James P. (Ed.). (1889). The Industrial Advantages of Providence, R. I. Providence, RI: Jas. P. McKinney. (Google eBook).

Watch the video: 1 God, Providence, and History


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