Historical Sketch of the Town of Pawtucket [RI]

The Historical Sketch of the Town of Pawtucket [RI] by Rev, Messena Goodrich, per the Town Council was originally published in the centennial year, 1876. Since my Jenks branch was residing there in the early 1600s to 1700s, I decided to buy this book to see what was recorded. Starting on pages 17 – 18, the following appears:

“Perhaps space enough is been given to the municipal history of what now constitutes the town of Pawtucket. Another, perhaps more interesting, grants now claims are a consideration. The civil history of the place begins with Joseph Jenks [my 8 times great grandfather]. Respecting the time of his emigration hither and the circumstances under which he came to the neighborhood of Pawtucket Falls, a distinct and doubtless a very trustworthy count has been preserved by some of his descendants. His father [my 9 times great grandfather] who bore the same Christian name is supposed to have come from England with Gov. Wolf Winthrop; and Lewis, in the history of “Lynn, speaks of him in the following strain:” Joseph Jenks deserves to be held in perpetual remembrance in American history, as being the first founder who worked in grass and iron on the Western continent. By his hands the first models were made, and the first casting taken of many domestic implements and iron tools. “On 6 May, sixteen forty-six, “the general court of Massachusetts resolved, that,” in answer to the petition of Joseph Jenks, for liberty to make experience of his abilities and inventions for you making of engines of for Mills to go with water for more speedily dispatch of work and formerly, and mills for you making of sides and other edge tools, with the new invented sawmill, that things may be afforded cheaper than formally, and that for fourteen years without disturbance by any other settled up no like inventions; this petition is granted.” In May, sixteen fifty-five, he obtained another patent for an implement of the manufacture of sides quote for the more speedily cutting of grass for seven years unquote the old English side, previously in use, it may be remarked was a very clumsy instrument, short and thick like the Bush and’s stab sides. His invention gave greater length and thinness to the plate and wielded a bar of iron on the back of to strengthen it. Indeed, no radical changes has been made in that useful instrument since and stay.

In the interval between the two dates named, the younger Jenks followed his father to the New World. He becomes acquainted with the improvements that his father made, and gains skill in his craft. But one circumstance breeds alarm in his mind. The population is rapidly increasing near Lynn, and making fearful havoc with the forests. It was long before the capabilities of anthracite had been found out, and forges and furnaces were wholly dependent on charcoal. The same enterprise spirit that had induced him to cross the ocean prompts him to seek a new home. Doubtless, as Roger Williams removed from Salem, when he fled to this region, he had left some friends there who were anxiously watching his career. Perhaps the fact already adverted to, that the Indians were growing fastidious about their hatchets and other tools, makes the colonists in this neighborhood solicitous that some skilled ironworkers should remove hither. Word soon reaches Lynn, therefore that the shores of the Pawtucket are dark with a thick forest and that there are cataracts on the stream, affording ample power to carry such mills as the elder Jenks is been devising. And the young man resolves to come to Providence plantations, and naturally chooses for his new home a site near the lowest falls on the river.

The traditions spoken of represent that he came here in the year 1655. As his eldest son was born in 1657, perhaps he was already married, and his house is said to have stood on the spot on East Avenue now occupied by Mr. Joseph T Greene, who lives in the house reared by his grandfather Timothy Green. It is supposed that his first purchase of land was made the family by the name of Mowry. A copy of the deed of land the subsequent purchase however was found by Dr. Benedict in the records of the proprietors common lands of which company Judge Staples was clerked twenty-two years ago.”

Also, probably contributing to 8 times great grandparents’ decision to leave Massachusetts for Rhode Island, was Grandmother’s conviction for wearing Silver Lace. Her fine was 2 shillings. Grandfather minted the Pine Tree Shilling for the colony. Hmm…..

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.
This entry was posted in Ancestry, Genealogy, Jenks. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s