Remembering 8 times great grandfather, Joseph Jenks, Jr.

302 years ago, 4 January 1717, my 8 times great , Joseph Jenks, Jr. died in Pawtucket, Providence County, Rhode Island.  He was English born in 1627 and joined his father, Joseph Jenks, Sr. (the inventor) in Saugus, Massachusetts, at the Iron Works.  He married Esther Ballard in 1655.  The couple had 18!! children: Daniel, Mary, Joseph III (1656), Elizabeth (1658), Sarah (1660), Lemuel (1661), Nathaniel (1662), James Varnum (1663), Esther (1664), Eliza (1665), Mary (1666), George Foster (1667), Ebenezer (1668), William Thompson (1669), Albert Carlysle (1671), Joanna (1672), William (1674) [my 7 times great grandfather), and Abigail (1676).

From the History of Pawtucket, RI

“Joseph Jenks, Jr. is noted as the founder of Pawtucket. He was a young ironworker, born in England, who had come to America to join his father. Joseph Jenks, Sr. had organized and operated the first American iron works at Saugus, Massachusetts. In 1670, young Joseph left Saugus intending to settle in Warwick, Rhode Island on the “Pawtuxet” River. It is not certain just how he learned of the more powerful “Pawtucket” Falls on the Blackstone River, but with a readily available supply of timber and near by bog iron ore, it was the ideal place to build his forge.

This area was still wilderness then. It was the northern boundary of Roger Williams’ settlement of Providence, but had remained quiet woodland and fertile flood plains. On October 10, 1671, Joseph Jenks, Jr. purchased 60 acres of land on the west bank of the Blackstone River. This transaction marks the establishment of the first permanent settlement of Pawtucket.

The King Philip War

The small Jenks settlement was burned to the ground in 1675 during the King Philip War. The Indians of the New England region had been feeling the expanding power and presence of the English colonists. Massasoit, the Wampanoag chieftain, had managed to maintain friendly relations with the colonists. He dies in 1660, and in 1662 was succeeded by his son, Metacomet, also known as King Philip. The Wampanoags nursed an increasingly hostile attitude toward the white men. In 1675, after a series of aggravations, the Indians finally attacked. Many colonial towns were either wholly or partly destroyed during the war which finally ended in August 1676, when King Philip was killed. The results of the conflict were disastrous for everyone and almost fatal for the Indians, who would never regain their strength in southeastern New England.

The Jenks forge was rebuilt when the King Philip war ended, and soon there was a small village clustered near the Pawtucket Falls. It included several stone-ended dwellings, the forge, the foundry, a gristmill, and sawmill. Despite the small size of the village, it was an important center for iron products such as farm tools and housewares that were vital to the survival of early settlers.”

As a side note, while residing in Saugus, Grandmother Esther was presented at the Quarterly Court, in 1652, for wearing silver lace and fined for this practice.  Come on folks, 18 children, wasn’t she entitled to a bit of fancy just for her?

About Pat Shaul

Genealogist / Family Historian; Blog started as a record of my Grandfather's post card collection which ran for 15 months. Then, in June, 2017, I changed over to reporting and commenting on notifications from the ANCESTRY app "We're Related" I then started to provide snippets into ancestor biographies on the dates that were significant anniversaries.
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