Waterman Tavern – 1906

View of the Waterman Tavern, Greenville, R. I. – 1906

Click on image to enlarge.

View of the Waterman Tavern

Greenville, Rhode Island


50 Years Ago – July, 1969

50 Years Ago – July, 1969 

     Newspaper accounts from July of 1969 indicated that there wasn’t much happening locally, but nationally all eyes were on the much anticipated launch of Apollo 11, and outer-space happenings in general.

    Airman Gary H. Seward of Esmond completed Air Force basic training.

   Airman 1/C Mark D. Sullivan of Greenville was serving in Vietnam.

     S/Sgt. Peter E. Anthony of Greenville was serving with the Air Force’s 2187th Communication Squadron.

     CW4 Louis Theroux was serving with the R. I. National Guard.

     Russell Keach of Georgiaville was described in one newspaper as being a “one-man task force.” when it came to cleaning up the Greenville Cemetery on Smith Avenue.

     A year earlier Keach’s uncle was buried there, and while at the service Keach noticed the dilapidated condition of the cemetery and decided to do something about it. He began fixing up the cemetery on his own time and at his own expense by mowing the grass and cutting back overgrown shrubbery, filling in sunken graves, and righting toppled headstones.

     There were no cemetery maintenance regulations for Smithfield’s cemeteries in 1969, nor was there a cemetery commission, for all town cemeteries had begun as private lots, and it had been up to the families to maintain them.    

     On July 3, knowing that NASA’s Apollo 11 was scheduled for takeoff later in the month, the Soviet Union attempted to launch an unmanned N1 rocket to orbit the moon for a photographic mission. However, the rocket blew up during lift off in what became the largest non-nuclear explosion in history. Debris from the rocket was found up to six miles away.

     On July 5, the crew of Apollo 11 announced at a press conference that they’d named the command module “Columbia”, and the lunar landing module, “Eagle”.  

     On July 11, singer and songwriter David Bowie released “Space Oddity”, a song about an astronaut named “Major Tom”.  

     It was also on July 11th that the Sprague Electric Company gave a 1.5 inch diameter silicon disc to NASA to be left on the moon. The disc contained messages of good will from leaders around the world.

     On July 13 the Soviet Union launched another unmanned rocket aimed at the moon. The purpose was to land a robotic craft capable of retrieving small samples of moon rocks, and then returning to Earth before Apollo 11. Thus they would be the first nation to bring back pieces of the moon. But misfortune continued to plague their space program as the robot crashed on the lunar surface and was destroyed.

     On July 16 the Apollo 11 spacecraft left for the moon.

     In light of the recent Soviet failures, on July 18, President Richard Nixon was given a memo containing comments to deliver in the event the crew of the Apollo 11 mission met with tragedy. This memo, by the way, was never revealed to the public until thirty years afterwards.

     On July 20, the Apollo 11 lunar module, nicknamed “Eagle” successfully landed on the moon. Mission commander, astronaut Neil Armstrong, uttered the words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed.” Since that date, “The Eagle has landed” has become a popular phrase in American culture to denote a successful mission.

       History has shown that the crew of Apollo 11 made it safely back to earth. NASA conducted five more manned moon missions, the last being Apollo 17, in 1972.

     On July 31, the Mariner 6 space probe, launched by NASA in February of 1969, passed within 2,130 miles of the planet Mars while sending back the highest resolution photographs of the planet’s surface ever viewed by man.  




50 Years Ago – May, 1969

50 Years Ago – May, 1969

     David P. Petit, Stephen Paine, and Alan P. Seward, all completed basic training for the U.S. Air Force.

     Bernard J. Ferro III, of Esmond, was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U. S. Air Force.

     Peter R. Fisher of Greenville was scheduled to receive his commission to 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Reserves upon completion of ROTC.

     Former Commander of the Balfour-Cole American Legion Post, Ralph Rathier, was elected Commander of the First District of Rhode Island. The First District includes Pawtucket, Central Falls, Lincoln, Cumberland, North Providence, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Burrillville, and Woonsocket.  

     In honor of Memorial Day, a non-denominational candle light vigil honoring deceased Smithfield veterans was held at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Greenville.

     The Smithfield Conservation Commission held its first annual awards dinner at the Club 44 restaurant.

     A conservation achievement award was given to the Apple Blossom Garden Club.  

     Mrs. Wendy Weston was given an appreciation award for her work as secretary to the Conservation Commission.

     Mrs. Dorothy Burgess was recognized for her conservation efforts to the town.

     Philip Azzolina, a Greenville jeweler, was given a civic beautification award for landscaping around his business.

     Mother’s Day fell on Apple Blossom Sunday, while the apple blossoms of local orchards were at their peak.

     On that day, the annual Apple Blossom Queen Pageant was held at the Smithfield High School with teenaged girls from grange halls around the state competing. Some local teens who took part in the competition were Susan Ashworth, of Spragueville, Pauline LeBlanc, from Esmond, Norma and Linda Hill, Sandra Colburn, Patricia Bolwell, and Joyce Steere, all from Glocester.

     Sandra Colburn was crowned Queen.

     The Smithfield Lions Club held a father-daughter dance at Louie’s Tavern. The guest speaker was Karen Jessop, who recently returned from serving aboard the hospital ship S. S. Hope.  

     The Smithfield High School Junior Prom was held in the high school cafeteria and courtyard.

     Smithfield High School Senior Virginia Vale was the winner of the Miss Rhode Island Lion Pageant. She would go on to compete in the Miss Rhode Island Universe Contest.

     The Smithfield Police Department held its annual ball at the St. Michael’s Church Hall.

     A local car dealer was advertising a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda for $1,950, a 1964 Pontiac Grand Prix for $1,250, and a 1966 Buick Electra for $1,795.  

     Speaking of cars, after two years of proposals and counter proposals, finalized plans were submitted for the redesign of the intersection of Austin Avenue and Rt. 44. Architectural drawings included three traffic islands with curbside parking and traffic passing directly in front of businesses.   The intersection has been redesigned at least twice since 1969.      

   The former Redwood restaurant which stood on the corner of Smith Ave. and Rt. 44 was burned by local firemen for training. In recent years the building had fallen into disrepair and according to one local newspaper some were happy to see it go. Today a Newport Creamery occupies the location.

     On May 22, NASA’s Apollo 10 “lunar lander” designated as “Snoopy” orbited the Moon at a mere ten miles above the surface. No humans had ever been this close to the Moon before.

     The Smithfield Jaycees elected new officers. Larry Catlow was elected President; Robert Smith, Internal Vice President; Ronald Agnes, External Vice President; Gene Viana, Treasurer; Donald Carlton, Secretary.

     The Board of Directors included Donald Brush, John Hines, William Ford, Ray Reilly, and Paul Zuchowski.

     The Cranford Club of Greenville held a meeting at St. Thomas Episcopal Church and installed new officers. Mrs. John Schlly, President; Mrs. Leo Glasheen, Jr., 1st Vice President; Mrs. Bernard Schiffman; 2nd Vice President; Mrs. Carl C. Emma, Secretary,; Mrs. Audrey Fenwick, Treasurer.

     The world’s newest ocean liner, the Queen Elizabeth II, made its maiden voyage from England to New York navigating with a Global Positioning System that was integrated with four navy satellites. This was the first private use of GPS ever utilized by a ship.  

Forgotten Folktales Of Easter

Originally Published in The Smithfield Times, April, 2019 

By Jim Ignasher


How many know that the Easter Bunny was originally a hare?

     OK, by a show of hands, how many know why colored eggs, rabbits, and baby chicks, are symbolic of Easter? Or why the lily flower bows its head? And why do we give Easter baskets filled with candy? After all, isn’t Easter a religious holiday?  

     Perhaps you’ve never given much thought to these questions, and if you have, then you already know that a quick check of the Internet will provide you with the “facts”. Folktales however, can be far more fun, and the following have been culled from 19th century newspapers. These tales have been largely forgotten in modern times, but are worth re-telling. A case in point is one about the Easter Bunny.

     Once upon a time there was a kind rabbit who was making his way through the woods when he came upon a nest filled with eggs. A wicked fox had taken the mother, and the rabbit knew the eggs would never hatch without his help. So he decided to sit on the eggs overnight to keep them warm, while he figured out what to do about them. The following morning was Easter Sunday, and the rabbit awoke to find that the eggs had hatched and nest was full of yellow chicks. The babies thought the rabbit was their mother, and the rabbit, knowing they would be helpless without his care, adopted them. And this was how a rabbit came to be affiliated with eggs at Easter.  

     However, another tale states that the rabbit was originally created as a bird, but Ostara, (also spelled Eostre, and Eastre), the pagan goddess of morning and spring, decided to turn the bird into a rabbit. This is why the Easter Bunny is able to lay colored eggs.

     Both legends are Germanic in origin, and German immigrants are credited with introducing what we now call the Easter Bunny to America. However, not many know that the “bunny” was originally a hare. (Yes, there is a difference.) Hares are larger than rabbits, with longer hind legs and ears. And unlike rabbits which live in underground burrows, hares tend to live in a nest above ground.

Over time the hare morphed into a rabbit, maybe because rabbits are cuter, hence, the Easter Bunny.    

     One folktale told in the form of a poem relates to colored Easter eggs, and tells of a bird living in a tree located just outside the tomb of Jesus. As the bird sat in her nest guarding her ivory-white eggs, she saw Jesus’ body being placed in the tomb and began to sing a mournful song.

     The poem, which appeared in an Ohio newspaper in 1863 read in part:

     “All night long till the moon was up,

     She sat in her moss-wreathed cup.

     A song of sorrow as wild and shrill,

     As the homeless wind when it roams the hill.

     So full of tears, so loud and long,

     That the grief of the world seemed turned to song.”

     (Author unknown.)

     The bird’s grief continued until she saw an angel come and open the tomb, and when Jesus emerged, risen from the dead, the bird broke into joyous song. Jesus took note and blessed the bird, her eggs, and the nest they rested in.

     And thus the poem ends:

     “The eggs of that sweet bird change their hue,

     And burn with red, and gold, and blue –

     Reminding mankind in their simple way

     Of the holy marvel of Easter Day.”    

Easter Card – 1910

     Another Easter egg tale tells of a well-to-do woman who lived in the Middle Ages that was forced to leave her castle and live among poor peasants in Germany’s Black Forest region. She brought with her some prized hens, and one Easter had the novel idea to color the eggs and hide them in the nearby woods for the children to find. The youths were astonished to find colored eggs where no chickens had been seen, and concluded they were hare’s eggs left by the “Osterhase”, a.k.a. Easter Bunny.  

     As one might guess, the Easter basket is symbolic of a nest, and eggs are symbolic of birth, and a new beginning. There was a time when families would put their Easter meal in a basket and bring it to their local church to have it blessed. By the late 19th century chocolate eggs began to replace the real kind, and today we think of an Easter basket as something one gives a child.  

     Flowers also play a part in Easter symbolism, particularly the white lily. The white lily has been called the “Madonna Flower” and the “Lily of the Virgin”, for legend has it that one day Mary was on her way to the temple to pray and she stopped to pick a lily. As she continued on her way, clutching the lily to her chest, the flower turned pure white.    

     St. Joseph, the husband of Mary, and father to Jesus, is often represented in art to be holding a white lily.

     It’s been said that the Easter lily bows its head, especially if it has a pinkish hue, and there’s a folktale that goes along with this. In the town of Jerusalem is the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed the night before his crucifixion. In the garden were flowers of all kinds, including the white lily, which considered itself to be the most beautiful of all. As Jesus walked past, all flowers but the proud lily bowed in reverence. As he stopped to gaze at the lily, the flower blushed pink, and slowly bowed its head in shame.

     There’s also the legend of the Easter miracle of Feldkirch, Austria. The story goes that on Easter morning in 1799, eighteen-thousand French troops appeared on the surrounding highlands in preparation of invading the town. Town leaders quickly assembled and voted to send a delegation to plea for mercy. Then a priest spoke up and urged the townspeople to trust in God, and suggested that every church bell in the town be rung. This was done, and the French interpreted the bells to mean that Austrian troops had arrived to defend the town, so they withdrew, and the town was saved.  

     How this legend came to be is unknown, but it was widely published in 1910. It’s an historical fact that the Battle of Feldkirch took place on March 23, 1799, and lasted throughout the day. The Austrians won, the French retreated, and the town was saved.

     To all, a Happy Easter.      

The Days Of Milk Wagons and Glass Bottles

Originally published in The Smithfield Times, May, 2019 

The Days of Milk Wagons and Glass Bottles

By Jim Ignasher


Maria Appleby ran a dairy operation at her farm (Now the Smith-Appleby House Museum.) in Stillwater.

     How many know that Smithfield has a place once known as Crow Hill? It’s located in the vicinity of Austin Avenue and Mapleville Road, and the Crow Hill Dairy was once located there.      

     It’s no secret that our nation’s iconic dairy farms are slowly disappearing from the American landscape and have been for decades. A century ago Rhode Island had about 400 dairy farms, but by the 1980s that number had dwindled to just over 100. The size and sophistication of each varied, but even small operations could turn a profit. Today there are less than twenty.

     Smithfield once had its share of dairy farms that are no longer in existence. Besides the Crow Hill Dairy, there was the Vaughn Dairy on Putnam Pike across from St. Philip School. McQuade’s Dairy on Whipple Road, Niles Dairy on Limerock Road, Steere’s Dairy on Douglas Pike, and Windsor Dairy in Greenville, just to name a few. There were even smaller dairy operations such as the one run by Maria Appleby out of the historic Smith-Appleby House in Stillwater. In the days before convenience stores many went to local farms for their dairy needs, and most farms offered delivery services.  

     Dairy farming has been around for thousands of years, even pre-dating ancient Egypt. Yet the “industry” as such remained virtually unchanged until the later half of the 19th century when technology began to change the way milk went from the cow to the table.

     For example, raw milk straight from the cow carries certain bacterial risks that can prove harmful to people who consume it, especially babies. Yet for centuries these risks were a part of everyday life, not only with milk, but in other food sources as well, for science hadn’t yet discovered or adequately understood the existence of germs and microbes.  

     All of that began to change in the 1860s when French scientist, biologist, and chemist, Louis Pasteur, (1822-1895), invented his “pasteurization process”, initially to eliminate harmful bacteria in wine, but which was then applied to raw milk. Basically the process involves heating milk to a temperature below its boiling point and then letting it cool. It was found that pasteurization also made milk taste sweeter, yet despite health benefits it took years before the process was universally adopted.

     Early “milkmen” carried fresh milk in large metal containers in the back of horse drawn wagons. When making a delivery, the housewife would come out to the wagon with a container of her own, and the milk would be doled out from one of the large containers by the milkman. In some cases the milkman used a long handled dipper, but as time went on, more sophisticated containers had spigots.

     These wagons weren’t equipped with refrigeration units, and traveling in the summer months, constantly opening and closing the milk containers, offered ample conditions for bacterial growth as well as contamination from flies and other “debris”. Then someone came up with the idea of bottling milk for home delivery, but there’s some historical debate as to who introduced the concept.

     In August of 1873 it was widely published that an Elmira, New York, milkman had introduced “a novelty” in the way of bringing milk to his customers. His wagon was equipped with racks to carry quart bottles, each tightly corked, to ensure purity.  

     In 1879, F. Ratchford Starr, the owner of Echo Dairy in Litchfield, Connecticut, was reportedly shipping 500 quart bottles of milk a day to New York City. Each bottle was labeled with the date it was sealed, and the name of the cow that it came from.  

     However, the man generally credited as being the father of the modern milk bottle is Dr. Hervey Thatcher of Potsdam, New York. Legend has it that on one hot summer day in 1884 he witnessed a child standing next to a milk wagon drop her soiled rag doll in an open container of milk. After removing it, the vendor closed the lid and continued on his rounds, apparently unperturbed about any contamination. Thatcher subsequently developed his own milk bottle for sanitary reasons.  

     Yet the idea of bottled milk was slow to be accepted. There was the initial cost of having the bottles manufactured, as well as cleaning them for re-use. And glass could break, so more care had to be taken while negotiating unpaved bumpy roads. Furthermore, bottles took up more wagon space than the large containers, but as time went on, bottled milk became the norm.

     By 1900 most dairies were utilizing their own milk bottles with the dairy name embossed in the glass. Milk bottles would later come to have etched labels, and later painted labels. These bottles are actively sought by collectors today and some from the former Smithfield dairies are known to be in private collections.  

     Milk bottles carried the name of the dairy to ensure they would be returned. Once back at the dairy they would be sanitized and reused. Thus one might credit the dairy industry as being one of the first to recycle.

     Since most delivers took place in the pre-dawn hours, bottles left for home delivery were often placed in a “milk box”, which was a galvanized-metal insulated box left on the porch by the homeowner receiving the delivery.    

     The advent of milk bottles led to some interesting inventions. For example, in 1911 a Massachusetts man invented the “milk bottle filler” which allowed the farmer to fill several milk bottles at once.

     In 1913 someone came up with “sanitary milk covers” to go over the mouth of the bottle.

     In 1915, a “milk siphon” was introduced to remove the cream that would routinely separate from the milk and form at the top of a milk bottle.

     And then there was the “Milk Bottle Drain” of 1916, which was a wire contraption that allowed a washed milk bottle to dry upside down.

     The financial success of these inventions is unknown.

     Milk bottles eventually morphed into plastic coated paper cartons, and the plain plastic bottles commonly seen in stores today.  

     Home milk delivery can still be had in some locations, but today it’s more the exception than the norm.

     Today we’re fortunate that milk prices are generally low, but we should consider what we might be paying someday if our dairy farms continue to disappear.                




50 Years Ago – June, 1969

50 Years Ago – June, 1969 

     June 6, 1969, marked the 25th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy. June 6, 2019, is the 75th anniversary.

     Airman Gary H. Seward of Esmond completed Air Force basic training.

     Marine Corps Pvt. Gary F. Finlay of Esmond also completed basic training, and was awarded a medal for marksmanship.

     EM-2 Mark McNeilly of Greenville was serving at Woods Hole in Falmouth, Mass.

     When Clifford Bedard of Greenville, a management analyst working at Quonset Point saw a newspaper photo of an American flag being burned, he was inspired to approach Quonset officials with the idea of issuing American flag decals to all military and civilian personnel at Quonset to be placed, voluntarily, on their cars. The idea was well received, and when executives of the Gulf Oil Company heard of it, they elected to supply 6,000 flag decals at no cost to the government. Proof that one person can make a difference.  

     Esmond Girl Scout Troop 894 held a pot-luck supper at the Esmond Recreation Hall. Three of the young ladies were awarded trophies for high bowling averages. They were: Nancy Porter, Toni Ann Gomes, and Linda Boyle.  

     The Smithfield Women’s Club installed new officers at a dinner held at the former Club 44 restaurant.

     The newly elected officers were: Mrs. Donald T. Taylor, president; Mrs. Bradford C. Bernardo, vice-president; Mrs. Jerome Butterfield, secretary; and Mrs. Donald A. Brush, treasurer.

     The guest speaker was Mrs. Donald McLean, Assistant Director of the Rhode Island State Federation of Women’s Clubs, who spoke about “Individual Involvement”.

     Reverend Rene Guertin, the director of St. Aloysius Home in Greenville since 1946, was presented with the Louis Massover Memorial Award for outstanding Service by the Smithfield Jaycees organization.  

     Janet Rathier of Gerogiaville was chosen to attend the National Junior Achievement Conference to be held in August at Indiana State University. Miss Rathier was one of seven delegates from Rhode Island to attend.

   A piano recital was held at the Greenville Library on June 14. All participants were students of Mrs. Helene Taubman of Greenville. Participants included: Susan Waradzin, Mary Ann Cooper, Anthony, Andrew, and Mathew Pucci, Liza Corselli, John Oswald, Becky Lide, David Dolan, John Pascone, Gail AAsen, John Correro, and Betty Ann De Sautell. The event was open to the public.

     The Smithfield Apple Blossom Club staged an elaborate flower and garden show at St, Michael’s Church in Georgiaville which included numerous artistic and horticultural displays. The theme of the show was “Today’s Trends – Tomorrow’s Traditions”.

       Prizes were awarded to the following ladies: Mrs. Harry Kemp, Mrs. Howard Lebeck, Mrs. John Kaminski, Mrs. Anthony Lancia, Mrs. John Graham, Jr., Mrs. Prescott Williams, Mrs. Richard Illingsworth, Mrs. George Cook, Mrs. John Cunningham, Mrs. Peter Bak, Mrs. Alexander Booth, Mrs. Harold Hall, Mrs. Theodore Shaw, Mrs. Irving Vincent, Mrs. Earl Greany, and Mrs. Raymond Shirley.

     Also, Miss Tammy Daily, Miss Katie Guidone, Miss Janet Rathier, and Miss Susan Dorgan each won a blue ribbon in the Junior Exhibit category.     

     The “Smithfield Breathe-In”, a conference about the dangers and solutions relating to air pollution was held June 26 at the Smithfield High School. Speakers included Alfred L. Hawkes, executive director of the Rhode Island Audubon Society; Michael A. Abatuno, president of the Rhode Island Air Pollution Control League; W. Ellerbe Ackerman, Jr., of the Rhode Island Tuberculosis and Respiratory Disease Association; and Doctor Francis Vose, and Woonsocket physician.   

     A Greenville dry cleaning business was partaking in a “His & Hers Sweepstakes” in which the grand prize was a pair of 1969 Volkswagen Karmann Ghias automobiles. No purchase was necessary.   

     The Blue Gill Derby Association, consisting of residents living around Slack’s Pond in Greenville, spearheaded an effort to eradicate an over abundance of weed growth which had taken hold of the pond. In cooperation with state authorities, an herbicide was introduced to the water which caused certain weeds to “grow themselves to death”. The herbicide was not harmful to marine life, but residents were warned not to water their lawns and plants with water from the pond for a few weeks.   

     As part of an anti-litter campaign the Smithfield Conservation Commission places 55-gallon steel trash receptacles in areas around town plagued by litter problems. The barrels were donated by the Greenville Finishing Company, and each was stenciled, “Keep Smithfield Clean and Green”. The stenciling was done by William Robinson of Smithfield.  

1850’s A. Jacobs & Sons Advertisement

     Image courtesy of Elizabeth Lees.

     This rare item is an advertisement for Angel Jacobs & Sons of New York City, and made to look like a 100 dollar bill.    Although not specific to Smithfield, Rhode Island, the image has been provided by a local woman, and due to its rarity, it is posted here for the benefit of historic researchers.     

Click on image to enlarge.

Smithfield, R.I. Exchange Bank $5 Note – July 4, 1859

Donated to the Smith-Appleby House Museum/Historical Society of Smithfield, by Elizabeth Lees, in memory of Edwin and Doris Osler, of Burrillville, R. I.    

     This extremely rare banknote is signed by William Winsor and Elisha Smith of Smithfield, and dated July 4, 1859. 

     The man on the left of the banknote is Zachary Taylor, later President Taylor, our nations 12th President, and the woman is Kate Sevier, wife of Revolutionary War hero John Sevier, who later became Governor of Tennessee.  Why their images were chosen to be on the note is unknown.

Click on images to enlarge.

“Whale Rock” – Smithfield, R. I.

“Whale Rock”

Located on Mapleville Rd., near Kristen Dr., in Smithfield, R. I.

     This rock has been unofficially known as “Whale Rock” since at least the 1970s, (Possibly longer), and is periodically repainted.   

Photos taken June 15, 2019.
Click on images to enlarge.

Whale Rock, Smithfield, R.I.
June 15, 2019

Whale Rock – Smithfield, R. I.
June 15, 2019



Memorial Day – 2018

Memorial Day, 2018

Deerfield Park, Greenville, R. I.

Photos courtesy of Bill Pilkington, Smithfield, R. I.  

Click on images to enlarge.





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