Woonsocket Falls Village was founded in the 1820s. Its fortunes expanded as the Industrial Revolution took root in nearby Pawtucket. With the Blackstone River providing ample water power, the region became a prime location for textile mills. Woonsocket as a town was not established until 1867 when three villages in the town of Cumberland, namely Woonsocket Falls, Social and Jenckesville, officially became the town of Woonsocket. By this time the beginnings of the French Canadian emigration had definitely been felt.
In 1871, three additional industrial villages in Smithfield, Hamlet, Bernon and Globe, were added to the town establishing its present boundaries. Woonsocket was incorporated as city in 1888.
1840s - French Canadians Recruited from Quebec to Work in Mills
French Huguenots, Dexter and George Ballou, were pioneers in Woonsocket's textile industry. As the textile industry in Woonsocket grew, so did the need for mill workers. The first French-Canadian families were recruited from Quebec to work in the mills of Woonsocket in the 1840's. Once started, this migration would continue for almost a century.
1868 - Fire at Woonsocket.
A fire was discovered in the large brick storage and dry-house owned by Messrs. WARD and HARRIS, in Woonsocket, about noon to-day. The fire originated in some wool waste, and was confined to the first and second stories. A large stock of goods in cases were slightly damaged; also considerable cloth on the dryers. The third and fourth stories were injured by water. There is the following insurance on the goods; $5,000 in the Home, New-Haven, and $5,000 in the Merchants', Providence, which will pr...
1869 - Extensive Fire in Woonsocket, R. I., - Estimated Loss $100,000.
WOONSOCKET, Wednesday, June 2. The most extensive fire that ever occurred in this village took place last evening at Elliott's Mills, breaking out in the room occupied by W. E. Hubbard, carpenter and builder, about 9 o'clock. The whole range of buildings, with a large amount of valuable lumber and manufactured stock are entirely consumed, with much machinery, and the fire is still burning in the lumber. The buildings all belonged to Nathaniel Elliot, and were occupied as follows: One large room ...
1869 - A Woonsocket (R.I.) man offers $100 reward for the detection of the poisoner of his three pet kittens.
St Joseph Herald
Saint Joseph, Michigan
January 23, 1869
1872 - The first French-Canadian parish in Woonsocket was "Precieux Sang" - Precious Blood Church - established 1872.
1874 - LOSSES BY FIRE. DESTRUCTION OF THE SOCIAL MILLS IN RHODE ISLAND - LOSS $700,00 TO $800,000.
The Social Mills, in Woonsocket, R. I., running 50,000 spindles and 1,000 looms on cotton goods, was entirely destroyed by fire yesterday afternoon. The fire caught at 3 o'clock from the friction of the main belt about the middle of the structure, which was 600 feet long, built of stone and brick. The flames spread rapidly, but the employes[sic], 700 in number, probably all escaped safely. All the efforts of the Woonsocket Fire Department, including two steamers, were unavailing. Aid was asked o...
1875 - FIRE IN WOONSOCKET, R. I.
About 1 o'clock yesterday morning an attempt was made to burn the mansion of George C. Bolton, in Woonsocket, R. I. A wood-box saturated with kerosene-oil was set on fire, but the smoke awakened a servant girl and the fire was extinguished. An hour later an incendiary fire broke out in the Woonsocket High-school house, which was entirely destroyed, together with valuable chemical and philosophical apparatus, books, three pianos, &c. The building cost $14,000, and with the contents was valued at ...
1882 - LARGE FIRE IN WOONSOCKET. A DEPOT AND SEVERAL STORES DESTROYED - LOSS ABOUT $100,000.
BOSTON, Mass., Jan. 25. - A special from Woonsocket, R. I., says: "A fire broke out at 2:30 A. M. in the basement of the Providence and Worcester Railroad Company's depot, occupied by Charles W. Talcott, steam and gas pipe fitter. The flames soon enveloped the whole building, destroying the ticket and Western Union Telegraph offices. with their contents, and Early & Prew's and Jenecks's express offices. The fire next communicated to Dr. D. M. Edwards's Block, in which were several stores and off...
1883 - LOSSES BY FIRE. The Woonsocket Hotel Partly Burned, The Escape of the Guests.
WOONSOCKET, R. I., Sept. 29. - The Woonsocket hotel, owned by Cook, Mason & Co., was damaged to the amount of $10,000 by fire from a defective flue this morning. The night clerk notified the inmates, who escaped. The hotel was insured for $14,180 and the furniture for $5,000. P. W. Houghton loses $1,000, insured for $2,000 in the Union of Philadelphia; Sharon Brothers, dry goods, lose $3,500, insured for $2,000.
The New Haven Evening Register
New Haven, Connecticut
September 29, 1883
1894 - Mill Fire
Woonsocket, R. I., Sept. 18. - There was what threatened to be a serious fire this afternoon in the carbonizing department of the River Spinning Company's mill, which had stock of wool on hand valued at $30,000. The fire was confined to this department, with a loss to the machinery and damage by water to the wool amounting to only about $3,000.
The New York Times
New York, New York
September 19, 1894
1899 - Explosion
WOONSOCKET, R. I., May 7. - Not only were all the buildings connected with the Woonsocket Driving Park burned this afternoon, but fifty pounds of dynamite stored in one of the stables exploded and added considerably to the devastation, besides shaking up the country for miles around. At the time of the explosion A. C. Stacy, the supervisor of the park, was in an adjoining building twenty feet away, and only received a few bruises, although a similar structure the same distance away on the other ...
1900 - By 1900, sixty percent of Woonsocket's population was French-Canadian and Woonsocket was the most French city in the United States.
Woon'sock'et, a city of Providence co., R.I., is situated at the northern boundary of the state, on both sided of the Blackstone River, 16 miles N. by W. of Providence, on the New York, New Haven and Hartford R. It contains the Harris Institute Library, Sacred Heart College, etc., and is the seat of extensive manufactures of cottons, worsteds, silks, knitted and rubber goods, wringer*, bobbins and shuttles, foundry products, etc. Pop. in 1880, 16,050 ; in 1890, 20,830 ; in 1900, 28,204.
Lippincott's New Gazetteer: A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer Or Geographical Dictionary of the World, Containing the Most Recent and Authentic Information Respecting the Countries, Cities, Towns ... in Every Portion of the Globe
Publisher J.B. Lippincott Company, 1906
1955 - RHODE ISLAND DAM BURSTS.
Woonsocket, R. I., (AP) - This industrial city of 50,000, third largest in Rhode Island, was under a state of emergency today with some 500 families evacuated after rain-swollen Horseshoe Dam burst, flooding a four mile square congested tenement and small store area. Gov. Dennis J. Roberts and Woonsocket Mayor Kevin A. Coleman both declared a state of emergency last night. Roberts ordered three National Guard companies, numbering about 160 men, to duty to prevent looting and assist regular and c...
Ancestors Who Were Born Here
(abt. 1882, Woonsocket, Providence, Rhode Island, USA - , )
Frank H Carpenter
(27 August 1871, Woonsocket, Providence, Rhode Island, USA - 21 January 1930, Saint Petersburg, Pinellas, Florida, USA)
Gerald James Charland
(August 15,1920, Woonsocket, Providence, Rhode Island, USA - November 26, 2008, Palm Desert, Riverside, California, USA)
Normand L. Corbeille
(Jan.19, 1928, Woonsocket, Providence, Rhode Island, USA - Aug.20, 1991, Woonsocket, Providence, Rhode Island, USA)
Joseph Norbert Peloquin
(8/15/1866, Woonsocket, Providence, Rhode Island, USA - 9/6/1918, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada (Greater Sudbury))
Joseph Herville Trahan
(14 May 1877, Woonsocket, Providence, Rhode Island, USA - 26 October 1918, Calvin, Nipissing, Ontario, Canada)
Ancestors Who Died Here
Caroline Matlida Albee
(12 October 1825, Mendon, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA - 22 March 1844, Woonsocket, Providence, Rhode Island, USA)
(30 October 1798, Uxbridge, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA - 23 December 1845, Woonsocket, Providence, Rhode Island, USA)
(28 November 1822, Blackstone, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA - 3 December 1910, Woonsocket, Providence, Rhode Island, USA)
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