Lincoln, Rhode Island, USA (Albion) (Manville) (Fairlawn) (Lonsdale) - 1878 - Lincoln
This town is of but a recent separate formation, having formerly belonged to the town of Smithfield, which was then one of the largest towns in the State, comprising a population of some fourteen thousand. The early history of the town would seem, therefore, to more properly belong to that of its parent town, Smithfield. And yet, the territory embraced within the limits of the present town of Lincoln has been the scene of many historic achievements. It was here that King Philip's war was commenced and finished, and many hard-fought battles attest the courage and self-sacrificing devotion of its early pioneers. Although the town, as has been remarked, is of but recent birth, still it is fast progressing in the development of all its manufacturing and business interests, and the future of Lincoln is a destiny of undoubted progress and success.
A large section of the old town of Smithfield was devoted almost exclusively to agriculture. That portion now embraced within the limits of Lincoln, had most its business along the lines of the Blackstone and Moshassuck rivers. For many years the advisability of dividing the old town of Smithfield, owing to the diversity of occupations and business interests, had attracted the attention of people, and many discussions ensued.
The matter assumed no definite form until 1871. On the 21st of January, 1871, a special town meeting was called for that purpose, and a vote was taken and resulted favorable to the friends of a separate town formation. A committee was immediately appointed, consisting of the following-named gentlemen: Hon. Charles Moies, George Kilburn, Esq., Mr. Thomas A. Paine, and Mr. Job Shaw. This committee was duly authorized to introduce this subject to the State legislature for its favorable consideration, which they did at the January session of 1871. Through their judicious management it was favorably entertained by this body, and on the eighth day of March, 1871, the legislature of the State of Rhode Island passed an act authorizing the division of the town of Smithfield, incorporated the new towns thereby formed, and fixing the boundaries of the several towns therein interested.
Thus the young town started into life under very auspicious circumstances, inheriting from its mother town the sum of $2,500 in cash, the records and archives of the old town, -- which are now in the town clerk's office, -- and the duty of paying a share of the old town's debt, which was $26,000; the total indebtedness being $53,000. The first members of the General Assembly elected from the town of Lincoln were: Senator, Hon. Edward L. Freeman; Representatives, Edward A. Brown and Samuel Clark. There has been no change in the general form of the government since its first formation.
The only distinguishing feature in the government of this town, from that of the other towns of the State, is that while this town, like all the others, is governed by a town council, yet the southeasterly portion of it is incorporated specially by the State legislature, under the name of the 'Central Falls Fire-District'. They have the power to elect a moderator, clerk, treasurer, three assessors, and a collector of taxes; to elect fire-wards, and presidents of fire-wards; to order, assess, and collect taxes on persons and property within such district for fire-extinguishing apparatus, and keeping the same in order and using it; to regulate the duties of fire-wards, and of the citizens of said districts in case of conflagration; to provide for suppressing disorders and tumults, for the lighting of streets, and maintaining such police force as would be necessary for the safety and peace of the several districts. The reason for this special legislation arose from the fact, that it was not deemed right or just, that the sparsely settled portions of the town should be taxed for these benefits, that would be enjoyed only by these fire-districts, but of no particular interest, nor considered at all desirable in other parts of the town, while to these districts they were matters of great importance and of absolute necessity. The government of the town, with this exception, is administered by a town council composed of seven members, who, together with seven justices of the peace and a town treasurer, are elected annually by the people, with a town clerk, originally elected annually, but, under the changed law of the State, in 1871, the clerk was elected for three years. A moderator, to preside at town meetings, is also elected annually, by the tax-payers' town meeting. The town council elect, annually, all the town officers and school committee, and also act as the court of probate, the president of the council acting as the judge of the probate court, while the other members fulfill the duties of associate justices of the same court. The Hon. Charles Moies, John A. Adams, Joseph W. Tillinghast, Benjamin Comstock, Stephen Wright, Hazard Sherman, and William D. Aldrich were, upon the first Tuesday in June, 1871, duly elected as the first town councilmen of the town of Lincoln. They were all men deeply interested in the welfare and prosperity of the newly created township, and were conspicuous, not only for their integrity and honesty, but their administrative abilities. The Hon. Charles Moies was chosen president, and still retains the position by virtue of the votes of his fellow-citizens and co-councilors, thus demonstrating not only his administrative abilities, but the respect and esteem in which he is held by his constituency. Thomas Moies was chosen the first town treasurer, and still remains entrusted with this important office, and was also chosen moderator of the town meetings. The Hon. Samuel Clark fulfilled the duties of town clerk, as he had done for some years previous in the town of Smithfield. Joseph M. Ross, Esq., held the position of trial justice, but resigned the office on the 4th of September, 1871, and was succeeded by George F. Crowningshield, Esq.
At the first town meeting, the ordinances of the old town of Smithfield were adopted, and on June 24, 1871, Joseph M. Ross, John P. Gregory, and Frederick N. Goff were appointed a committee to draft a code of ordinances for the town of Lincoln, which duty they performed in a very satisfactory manner. It may be mentioned in this connection, that after a considerable discussion as regards the name to given to this new town, it was finally agreed upon, that the name of the town should be called Lincoln, in commemoration of the martyred President of the United States.
Thus is briefly sketched the early organization of the town of Lincoln, and, although it is of recent formation, and its historical record but limited, in comparison with the older towns of the State, nevertheless it is not without interest, and the continued activity and energy of its citizens are only required, to give the town of Lincoln a degree of enterprise and thrift unsurpassed by any of her sister towns, and to assure it unbounded success in the future.
In 1871, when the town of Lincoln was first set off from that of Smithfield, it was estimated that there were about fifty miles of roadways in the town. There are now between fifty and sixty miles, together with a large number of streets, laid out and travelled on, although not as yet accepted by the town. These roadways are usually kept in good repair, and the bridges are generally found to be in good condition. During the past few years, the sum of $73,519.80 has been spent by the town in improving these highways, and to-day they are much better than before the division of the old town of Smithfield.
The town originally had no town asylum, or place to take care of the unfortunate poor. Early recognizing the Christian duty of charity in the caring for these unfortunate ones, who, by adverse circumstances, have become unable to take care of themselves, the town council at once took steps toward providing for this class of people, and appointed Mr. Henry Gooding as overseer of the poor. He made satisfactory arrangements with the town of Smithfield, for the temporary care of all such as could not care for themselves at their own houses, and who needed the accommodations of an asylum, until such time as they should be able to afford a town asylum in the newly organized town. The town officers immediately devoted themselves to securing a proper location for the erection of a suitable town asylum, and finally succeeded in purchasing the Christopher Kelly place, and an adjoining lot, from the Lonsdale Company, and on the thirty-first day of December, 1871, the deeds of the estates were accepted and the money ordered to be paid.
During the past five years, with all the hardships and sufferings of the poorer classes, it has been found necessary to expend, for the support of the town's poor, $15,239.16; while $5,359.35, or a large per cent. of that amount, has been expended for the relief and care of State paupers. Under the successful management of Mr. Gooding, the institution has remained in a flourishing condition, and a system has been adopted, to give, as far as practicable, temporary aid at their homes to those needing it, thereby saving them from the fancied degradation of being sent to the poor-house, and fostering, so far as possible, in the unfortunate poor, a spirit of self-dependence.
Military, Police, and Fire Department.
Company C, Fifth Battalion Infantry, R. I. M., was mustered into the service of the State of Rhode Island on the nineteenth day of August, 1865. It was composed principally of Irish-American veterans of the war of the Union. Its first officers were: Captain, E. E. Lapham; First Lieutenant, Patrick Barry; Second Lieutenant, Matthew Curran. Its present officers are: Captain, P. A. Cosgrove; First Lieutenant, John P. Curran; Second Lieutenant, Bernard Kirke. Captain Cosgrove has commanded the company since July 25, 1873. The arms consist of thirty-five breech-loading Springfield rifles, with bayonets, good and serviceable weapons; to store which, the company has a handsome gun-rack in its armory, with folding glass-doors. Armory in Union Hall. It is remarkable that death has never visited the company but once since it was organized. On that occasion, May 8, 1871, Lieutenant Peter Boyce died, sincerely mourned and regretted by all of his comrades. The company meets for drill on Friday evening of each week, and to judge by the attendance and obedience of the men, it is evident that they are determined to hold the place which they have so deservedly attained, the front rank in the militia of Rhode Island.
Lincoln Union Guard was formed during the year 1863, and elected the following as the first officers: Lysander Flagg, Captain; Stafford W. Razee, First Lieutenant; James N. Woodward, Second Lieutenant; but a new militia law having been passed, the company was reorganized under that law, May 24, 1864, and Lysander Flagg was re-elected Captain; James N. Woodward, First Lieutenant; and David L. Fales, Second Lieutenant. They were again reorganized, March 19, 1866, 'a charter having been obtained from the General Assembly and accepted', under the name of the Lincoln Union Guard, and attached to the Second Brigade D. R. I. M., and the following officers were chosen: Colonel, Lysander Flagg; Lieutenant-Colonel, James N. Woodward; Major, George F. Crowningshield; Captain, Edward L. Freeman; First Lieutenant, David L. Fales; Surgeon, A. A. Mann.
Colonel Flagg resigned in 1869, and Lieutenant-Colonel E. L. Freeman was elected Colonel, to which position he was annually re-elected until the company disbanded. In the year 1870, through the exertions of Colonel Freeman, a handsome uniform was purchased, which added much to the appearance of the company, which was composed of a good class of men. In 1874, a new militia law was passed, which they, with many other military organizations in the State, did not wish to come under, and to the regrets of a great many of the citizens, they voted to disband, July 30, 1875.
The Police Department is under the control of the fire-ward, as are also the fire department, water supply, and street lights; and all these are to a certain extent connected. The town appoints a certain number of police constables, and they are distributed through the several localities where their protection is the most needed. They are paid by the Fire-Ward Corporation. Central Falls has three, who are on duty during the night. One of these takes care of the street lamps, keeps them in proper order, and attends to lighting and extinguishing them. They are usually put out at twelve o'clock, and he retires at two, leaving the others on duty until morning. There are nine of them on duty during the day, except on Sundays.
The Lonsdale Company furnish one watchman, who does police duty for the village, in Lincoln; and another one, across the river, is paid by the town of Cumberland. One is also employed at Manville, and receives his pay from the Lonsdale Company.
Fire Department. The nearness of the village to Pawtucket, with its well equipped and organized fire department, was without doubt the cause of the long delay in securing a more complete system of protection against the fire-demon. An engine was finally procured in the spring of 1848, and a fire department duly organized. The engine was a side-stroke, Button pattern, manufactured at Waterford, N. Y. The company, numbering about fifty members, went to Worcester, and brought it on for trial. It proved, in all respects, quite satisfactory, and was accepted by the committee having the matter in charge. In 1853, the fire company was recognized, under the name of the Pacific Steam Fire-Engine Company, No. 1, with the following officers: Foreman, William Newell; Assistant, John R. Fales; Hose Director, Henry Whipple; Engineer, J. O. Patt; Second Engineer, Russell Peck; Clerk, Robert Robertson; Treasurer, Alfred Knight; Steward, James Babbitt. The new engine-house, near the railroad, on Cross Street, is a substantial brick building, and fitted up with all conveniences for the purpose for which it was designed. The present company numbers two hundred and fourteen members. One alarm-bell, on the engine-house, run by weights, is considered sufficient for all practical purposes. The whole fire department is under control of the fire districts, whose officers are elected by the vote of the people.
History of the State of Rhode Island with Illustrations Albert J. Wright, Printer No. 79 Mille Street, corner of Federal, Boston. Hong, Wade & Co., Philadelphia 1878.
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