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History of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA
Journey back in time to Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USAVisit Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures, postcards and ancestry.
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Woonsocket, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
Woonsocket is also Indian named, the word signifying "at the place of mist."
How New England Towns Received Their Names
New London, Connecticut
October 21, 1914
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.
During the Great Depression the local textile industry closed, causing high unemployment. At this point 75 percent of the population was of French-Canadian descent. French-language newspapers were published and sold here, and radio programs and movies shown were also in French. Most conversations in public were also in French. The city's fortunes were revived in World War II, when it became a center of fabric manufacturing for the war effort. In the postwar years, the Woonsocket economy adjusted to a mix of manufacturing, retail, technology and financial services operations... kids.kiddle.com
There is MUCH more to discover about Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA. Read on!
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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.
1854 - Woonsocket / Beron / Hamlet / Jencksville / Globe / Union
Woonsocket, a flourishing post-village of Smithfield and Cumberland townships. Providence co., Rhode Island, on both sides of the Blackstone river, and on the Providence and Worcester railroad, at the North-eastern terminus of the proposed Woonsocket Union railroad, 16 miles N. by W. from Providence. At present it comprises one principal and several smaller villages, viz. Woonsocket, Beron, Hamlet, Jencksville, Globe, and Union villages, all included under the general name of Woonsocket. There are now in operation at this point, 19 cotton mills, in which are 73,304 spindles, and 1641 looms, annually consuming 6185 bales of cotton, and 11,300 gallons of oil, producing 276,538 yards of cloth per week ; also 5 woollen mills, with 9770 spindles, 227 looms, and 22 sets of cards, turning out 33,000 yards of cloth per week, and consuming annually 600,000 bales of wool, and 10,000 gallons of oil — preparations are being made the present season to increase the above to the extent of 288 looms, ... Read MORE...
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 probably cover the loss. There was no insurance in the building.
The New York Times
New York, New York
June 2, 1868
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
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 as a carpenter's shop, a saw mill, a valuable grist mill with its stock of corn, boiler house, engine office, and stock of paints, oils, nails, &c., all occupied by Elliot; W. E. Hubbard, a large room for carpentry; Joseph Page, the same; O. S. Fuller & Co., the basement, as a bobbin shop; Woonsocket Tape and Binding Company, one floor.
The entire loss thus far must be near $100,000. Roughly estimated as follows:
N. Elliott & Co., $55,000; W. E. Hubbard, $10,000; O. S. Fuller & Co.,... Read MORE...
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 of Providence, and Mayor Doyle sent up two steamers. which reached the scene twenty-seven minutes after starting, but the walls had then fallen in. The streamers, however, remained all night, to render assistance. The adjoining property was all saved. The loss will probably range from $700,000 to $800,000. The insurance amounts to $630,000 on the mill, machinery, machine and wood shops, in a number of companies. E. F. Taylor, top roller coverer, occupied looms in the mill, and lost several... Read MORE...
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 $30,000; insured for $7,000 only equally divided between the Providence Mutual and Pawtucket Mutual Insurance offices. The townspeople are greatly excited over these incendiary fires following the one yesterday. The Woonsocket Town Council offer a reward of $500 for the detection of the incendiaries. Provision had been already made for the temporary accommodation of the high school.
The New York Times
New York, New York
October 17, 1875
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 offices, nearly destroying it, with the contents. The loss on the depot building is $60,500; insured for $18,000. The loss on Edwards's Block is $12,000; insured for $5,000. Whitmarsh & Crow, dry goods, lose $28,000; insured. Henry A. Whitney, druggist, loses $5,000; insurance, $4,000. J. S. Wartz, cigars, loses $800; insured for $500. C. B. Knowles, photographer, loses $3,500; insurance, $1,200. Ann Perry, milliner, loses $2,500; insurance, $2,000. Dr. A. W. Buckland, dentist, loses $2,000;... Read MORE...
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
1886 - Killed After A Dance - WOONSOCKET, R.I., HAS A SUNDAY MORNING MURDER.
Mitchell Deluge Shot Down by a Man with Whom He Had Been Intimate since Boyhood - The Victim's Ante-Mortem Statement.
WOONSOCKET, Jan. 18. - The bells had scarcely ceased tolling the hour of midnight Saturday when three pistol shots rang in sharp succession on Clinton street. One man fell and a group of nearly 20 others scattered in every direction. The cry of murder and the noise of the shots awoke the people and brought one of the members of the police to the scene. Mitchel Deluge was found, shot in the left side by a man named Lacoste. The murderer had fled and the police were quickly upon his track, but have not yet found him.
Saturday evening a dance was held at the residence of Louis Degre. Beer and liquor were brought in, and before 11 o'clock several of the party were much under their influence; among whom were Deluge and Lacoste. Finally a quarrel arose and about 20 persons left the house. As they crossed the street Deluge put out his foot and tripped Lacoste, when a... Read MORE...
1892 - Woonsocket
Although extending back nearly two and a-half centuries, there is little interest connected with the history of Woonsocket up to within a comparatively recent period. It was, in fact, an insignificant place fifty years ago. From an unimportant village it has grown during the lifetime of a generation to be one of the great industrial centers of the country. The value of the cotton and woolen goods manufactured here annually is something enormous. Of the latter, Woonsocket produces more than any other town or city in the United States, while in the former industry it is excelled by few. There are now in operation in this place seventeen cotton-mills and seven woolen-mills with an aggregate capital of about $5,000,000.
Among the other important industries are the manufacture of rubber goods, machinery, tools, castings, wringing machines, thread, silk, jewelry, sash, blinds, doors, etc.
Altogether there must be upward of ten thousand hands employed in the... Read MORE...
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
1895 - Woonsocket
Woon'sock'et, a city of Rhode Island, and one of the capitals of Providence co., is situated at the northern boundary of the state, on both sides of the Blackstone River, 16 miles N. by W. of Providence, 37 miles S.W. of Boston, and 28 miles S.S.E. of Worcester. It is on the Worcester division of the New York, New Haven & Hart ford Railroad, and the central division of the New York & New England Railroad. Branch trains connect with the main line (eastern division) of the New York & New Eng land Railroad, which passes 1 1/ 2 miles N. of the centre of the city. Woonsocket contains 6 national banks, 4 savings: banks (with deposits of over $7,000,000), a building and loan association, public and free schools (including high, manual-training, and kindergarten schools), the Harris Institute (with a free library of 20,000 volumes), 3 daily (l in French) and 2 weekly newspapers, 12 churches, 16 religious societies, with parochial and convent schools, and parish house theatre, gymnasiums, etc. ... Read MORE...
1898 - A French-Canadian Exodus. Mill Operative Scared Away from New England Villages by War Talk.
There has been a large exodus of French-Canadian families from the mill villages of New England from the mill villages of New England since the war talk began. It may not be the fear of war alone which have impelled those who have gone to pack up and scurry across the Canadian border, but the war has undoubtedly had very much influence in the matter. The operatives have been somewhat dissatisfied since wages were cut in the cotton mills and the coming of the war added to their belief that this Yankeeland was not the abode of milk and honey they had formerly thought it, says the New York Sun.
From all over the state and villages in Connecticut and Massachusetts come reports of the French Canadian exodus. From Woonsocket alone 21 persons have left this week, and dozens of families had fled before. The Pawtucket valley villages tell the same story, and what is true of this section is also true of other New England villages.
It must not be supposed that all the French-Canadians in... Read MORE...
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 side of the dynamite was completely demolished. The buildings destroyed were valued at $25,000. The small buildings first took fire from a brush fire in the vicinity, and the strong breeze caused it to spread before help could be summoned.
The New York Times
New York, New York
May 8, 1899
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
1913 - POLICE ARREST MAN FOR ATTEMPT TO MURDER WIFE
Lukasz Luczkewiz Captured in Worcester Last Night for Woonsocket Office
Also Being Held on Bigamy Charge, the Police Declare Today
The dragnet cast out by the Woonsocket police for the apprehension of the husband of Mrs. Emma Luczkewiz, charged with attempted murder, by throwing her from the "Band Wagon" bridge into the Blackstone river at Woonsocket Saturday night, succeeded in bringing to toils the fugitive in Worcester last night. The Woonsocket authorities have another charge against the man, giving the name of Lukasz Luczkewiz, besides attempted murder, being that of bigamy. The Woonsocket police say that he admits the charge that he has two wives, and, also, that he pushed his first wife from the bridge, but denies that he attempted to murder her.
Luczkewiz' first wife was rescued from the Blackstone river, into which she had been thrown by her husband, assisted, it is claimed, by another woman, after she had given the couple all of her savings of $265. The police say... Read MORE...
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 civilian defense auxiliary police.
August 20, 1955
Discover Your Roots: Woonsocket Ancestry
Ancestors Who Were Born or Died in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USAWe currently have information about ancestors who were born or died in Woonsocket.
View Them Now (sorted by year of birth)
Byron Irons COOK (1761, - 28 December 1834, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA)
Dominick MINER (1778, - 9 December 1868, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA)
Independence WHIPPLE (1778, - 24 October 1873, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA)
Richard COLEMAN (1784, - 10 June 1872, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA)
Eber BARTLETT (1784, - 14 April 1874, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA)
Michael HERO (1785, - 14 June 1878, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA)
John MCCARTY (1785, - 2 September 1869, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA)
Michael DONNELLY (1787, - 31 August 1867, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA)
Francois ARPIN (1787, - 13 April 1874, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA)
Ancestors Who Were Married in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USAWe currently have information about ancestors who were married in Woonsocket.
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Joseph L'HERAULT (15 May 1852 - ) and Olive HEROUX? (July 1852 - 21 April 1931) married 7 November 1870
Joseph Leon ROBICHAUD (5 April 1845 - 10 November 1919) and Marie Clara DUSABLON (15 June 1856 - 3 April 1925) married 29 March 1880
John J MORAN (March 1856 - 27 August 1903) and Margaret T MCGILL (18 December 1860 - 1957) married 21 June 1880
Wilfred JARRET (13 April 1858 - 4 February 1919) and Anna-Marie-Domithilde POTHIER (24 February 1861 - ) married 13 March 1883
Edwin Augustus WASHBURN (30 September 1862 - ) and Mary CAMERON (25 August 1865 - ) married 25 April 1886
Pierre Evangeliste GUERTIN (22 February 1855 - 1933) and Adelina BEAUDOIN (November 1863 - 1931) married 17 November 1890
Jean Baptiste Bruno PARENTEAU (June 1852 - 14 February 1940) and Agnes PARENTEAU (15 November 1867 - June 1938) married February 1891
Napoleon PELOQUIN (1 September 1870 - 1935) and Exilda BISAILLON (19 September 1869 - 4 November 1922) married 3 January 1893
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Updated: 7/15/2023 10:32:43 AM
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