Bigamy in the East Bay? Perhaps in Past
A Roger Williams University archival-research class unveiled its historic findings at a presentation in the Barrington library on Tuesday evening.
Roger Williams University students gave East Bay residents a surprising history lesson Tuesday about some of their ancestors.
Among the historical facts imparted by a Roger Williams University archival-research class at a presentation on the town’s industrial past in the Barrington library:
- Barrington once grew tobacco for a cigar manufacturer, Jane Fanning, who rolled cigars for customers at the Kinnicutt Tavern on the stagecoach road through town, now County Road.
- Wilmarth Heath, a lawyer, farmer, school teacher and shoemaker, had a substantial collection of farming and manufacturing equipment when he died at age 83 in 1862 at his County Road home.
- Kent Brown, 1765-1822, a former Barrington town treasurer and deacon at Barrington Congregational Church, also was a shoemaker.
- Ebenezer Tiffany, who lived on Maple Avenue, launched Barrington’s ice industry at the Prince’s Pond Ice company in 1860.
- Grindal Chace, 1757-1843, a prominent Nayatt Point resident, had three wives in his lifetime, perhaps two at the same time. A bigamist in Barrington?
- Samuel Bosworth, 1784-1824, was a cooper, tax collector and handled the distillery in Barrington for the town. He also oversaw slave ship auctions in Bristol.
- Benjamin Peck, of the prominent Peck family in Barrington, abandoned his family for Providence, perhaps because of his abolitionist views.
- Capt. James Bowen, a sailor, judge and Barrington’s first senator in the General Assembly, ran a grocery business that sold liquor and gunpowder and he owned two toll bridges.
The historical facts were part of a presentation titled: “People in Place: Manufacturing Households in Antebellum Barrington (1820-1860).” It was sponsored by the Barrington Preservation Society as part of its relationship with the Community Partnership Program at Roger Williams University.
The students were in a class led by Nancy Austin, an archival research professor at the university. They researched the 34 names on the 1820 census that indicated they were manufacturers in Barrington before the Civil War.
“I didn’t even know Barrington had an industrial past,” said Austin.
The students used land evidence and probate records and other historical materials to document that time period. They left behind in addition to their research findings several maps, including a rare 1866 map of Barrington.
One of the students also provided a list of stone carvers whose work can be found on gravestones at all of Barrington’s cemeteries.