Seekonk, Rhode Island, Vital Records, 1636-1850
First Series. Births, Marriages And Deaths.
A Family Register for the People.
By James N. Arnold,
Editor Of The Narragansett Historical Register.

"Is My Name Written in the Book of Life?"

Vol. IX. Seekonk (including East Providence), Pawtucket and Newman Congregational Church.
Published under the Auspices of the General Assembly
Providence, R.I; Narragansett Historical Publishing Company. 1897.

[Transcribed by Dave Swerdfeger]


While preparing and reading the manuscript for our late published work ("Vital Record of Rehoboth, 1642-1896"), we were very forcibly struck with the large proportion of the matter therein recorded that was so very closely woven into our own State Record, already published in these volumes. As we progressed with our work of compilation, these facts became more prominent. As the matter grew it also became apparent that in print it would produce a much larger work than we at first deemed possible; in brief that it would make two instead of one respectable volumes. Accordingly we decided to publish in the above work cited, the records as found in the original books, and let the new town's record of the western part of old Rehoboth make up this volume. The reader has here the result of our work. The reason given for making this Volume IX is still further emphasized by the fact that half of the territory of Seekonk is now Rhode Island soil and about four-fifths of the matter recorded herein is to all intents and purposes our own state property. In our introduction to our Rehoboth volume we stated that a very unfortunate thing had happened in regard to the town of Pawtucket.

The record book of vital matter of that town from 1828 to 1843 (when the new Vital Registration Act of Massachusetts went into effect) was missing. We have had diligent search and inquiry made, and so far, have not been able to learn or hear anything definite in regard to it. This fact is only one of many that could be given to urge the most urgent necessity of having more than one copy of such very important matter in existence and at different places. In our judgment, it was a very happy inspiration of the framers of the Massachusetts Law of 1843 and of our own framers of our Law of 1850, that required a duplicate copy to be made for the use of the state. It is a well known historical fact to the reader that the town of Rehoboth in February 1812, was divided into two towns of about the same area and the western portion was called Seekonk, an Indian term for the locality. Again, in 1828 the northwest corner lying between Ten Mile and Blackstone Rivera was made a new town and called Pawtucket, also an Indian word, meaning as some authorities say, place of meeting between fresh and salt water, as referring to the falls here. Again in 1861 Seekonk was divided, the dividing line being practically Ten Mile and Palmer Rivers, and the west portion was made a new town and called East Providence.

This latter town, and also the above mentioned Pawtucket, at this same time was ceded by Massachusetts to Rhode Island: in exchange for Fall River, R.I., which latter town was annexed to Fall River, Mass., now forming the southern portion of that city. Pawtucket in turn has also become a city (April 1, 1883), taking the thickly settled part of North Providence on the west side of the falls and uniting to it Pawtucket, Mass. It will be seen here, and it is also well known, that since 1812 the west part of old Rehoboth has grown far greater in population than the eastern, hence as already stated why such a large proportion of the matter here recorded forms to all interests and purposes a part of our own State Record. Again, the old Church, which is now in Rhode Island, forms also a part of the State Record. It is a deep matter of regret with us that the original record of this church (1642 to 1720) has become lost. The present pastor (Rev. Mr. Ferris) expressed to us several times his regret at the loss.

The church is fortunate in one respect, however, at present, and that is that the reverend gentleman has patiently collated the vital matter and neatly copied it into a book which he had made expressly for the purpose. So he has done his part truly and faithfully to preserve what was in existence at this time. As if not feeling sure of his ground for future preservation and as a future security he subscribed for a copy of both our Rehoboth and this volume and ordered them bound in Law Sheep to be owned by the church and to be a part of the Record itself. We commend the conduct of this "level headed" man as an example it would be well to imitate. We wish to extend our thanks to the Honorable General Assembly of Rhode Island for the usual kind aid given us; to the Honorable Town Clerk of Seekonk, Asaph C. Hill, Esq., for the interest and favors shown us, and also for his valuable assistance in reading and compiling our notes for this volume; to the Rev. Leonard Z. Ferris, the present pastor of the First Congregational Church of Rehoboth, for the use of his manuscripts, and many acts of interest and courtesy. Last, but not by any means least, we wish here to record our deep indebtedness to Clarence E. Peirce, Esq., of Pawtucket (who in himself is a fine genealogical scholar and compiler of more than one work on this subject), whose influence led us first into compiling the Rehoboth Records. In fact, the good people of that town certainly ought to thank him for the labor he did in their interests in these particulars. The worthy gentleman has also shown a deep interest in this volume and the many favors and wise suggestions he has offered us on many occasions are here appreciated and acknowledged. Lastly, we thank our patrons for their words of approbation and for their continued interest in our labor. As will be seen by a perusal of our pages, pains have been taken in all cases to avoid all ambiguity. The prime object of the compiler was to so arrange the matter that no one need to be a professional reader to thoroughly understand it, hence the simplicity of the work. Again, the spelling of many names has been retained while others had to be so changed as to come within a reasonable index and not to lose their original identity. We close with our usual admonition. That the reader may be profited, instructed and rewarded for his labor and time while perusing our pages is the earnest wish of the compiler.

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