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1819 - Bristol

Bristol is an ancient, wealthy commercial post township, port of entry, and seat of justice of the county, situated on the eastern shore of the Narragansett, adjoining the waters of Mount Hope bay, in north lat. 41 degrees 40 feet; bounded on the north by Warren, on the east, partly by Massachusetts, and in part by Mount Hope bay, and on the south and west by the Narragansett bay. The average length of the township, from north to south, is more than five miles, and its mean breadth more than two miles, comprising an area of about twelve square miles.

This township is a very interesting tract of country, having a charming situation, and washed, upon its southern and western borders, by the most beautiful sheets of water in the world. Its surface, with the exception of Mount Hope, a considerable eminence in the southeast section of the town, is uneven, exhibiting a pleasant diversity. Some sections however are somewhat rocky.

Mount Hope is a beautiful eminence, affording an interesting view of the bay to which it gives name, and of the waters and islands of the Narragansett, and all their variegated scenery. It is also renowned in the annals of the early wars with the natives, as the seat of the celebrated Indian sachem Philip.

The geological structure of the township is primitive, the rocks being principally granitic. The soil is a deep, gravelly loam, very fertile and productive.

The agricultural interests are flourishing, the lands being in a high state of cultivation. Among the objects of husbandry, the cultivation of onions receives great attention, large quantities being annually raised for exportation; and, it is believed, that the quantity of this article raised here, exceeds that of any other town in the United States, with the exception of Wethersfield, in Connecticut...

The population of Bristol, in 1810, was 2693. It has greatly improved since; and there are about 450 Dwelling houses, 300 Electors or Freemen, and 4 Companies of Militia.

There are, in the town, 35 Mercantile Stores of every description, 21 Ware-houses, many of which are very extensive, 3 Grain Mills and 2 Rope-walks. There are four Religious Societies.

The compact part of the town of Bristol is built upon a beautiful declivity, fronting the bay or harbor, and facing to the west. It contains more than 300 dwelling-houses, and 13 streets, three of which are the principal running north and south. These are intersected at right angles by the others, which run east and west. Many of the street are well built.

The houses in general are neat and handsome buildings; and there are some superb and splendid edifices, finished in superior style and elegance. In a central part of the town is a spacious public square.

There are four Churches; one for Congregationalists, one for Episcopalians, one for Baptists and one for Methodists, a Court-house, where the legislature occasionally holds its sessions, an Academy and Market-house. There are one public School, one charity School, and six private Schools. There are four incorporated Banks, and a charter has been granted for the fifth, and a Marine Insurance Company with a respectable capital. About one mile east of the town, on a prospective and beautiful eminence, is the county set of James De Wolf Esq. which, for elegance of style, neatness, the general splendor of its appearance, and the beauty and expensiveness of the various improvements, will rank among the first in our country. Bristol sends two representatives to the General Assembly.

Bristol, for a long time after its settlement, formed a part of the colony of Massachusetts, and was under its jurisdiction, until the settlement of the boundary line in 1746, when it was annexed to Rhode-Island. Bristol suffered severely during the revolutionary war, part of the town being burnt by the British. It also suffered considerably by the memorable September gale, in 1815.

A Gazetteer of the States of Connecticut and Rhode-Island: Written with Care and Impartiality, from Original and Authentic Materials : Consisting of Two Parts ... : with an Accurate and Improved Map of Each State
Authors John Chauncey Pease, John Milton Niles
Publisher W.S. Marsh, 1819


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