50 years Ago – June, 1968

50 Years Ago – June, 1968

By Jim Ignasher

     On June 9th members of the Greenville and Georgiaville Fire Companies held a firemen’s memorial parade. The procession began at Old County Road and proceeded down Farnum Pike to the Georgiaville Fire Station.  

     Smithfield has lost four firefighters in the line of duty. Raymond W. Segee was stricken while responding to an alarm in October of 1956. Robert D. Brown suffered fatal injuries on April 2, 1960, when he fell from a moving fire truck responding to a brush fire. Eugene E. Dorgan fell from a moving fire truck while responding to an arson fire on September 6, 1964. And Leo Kennedy, Sr., perished during a training exercise on October 29, 1979.

     Air Force Staff Sergeant Peter E. Anthony of Greenville was assigned to the 366th Combat Support Wing in Vietnam as an Electrical Power Production Specialist.

     U.S. Army Special Forces Major Roger L. Schenck graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor degree in Military Studies. He was now en-route to serve a second tour in Vietnam.

     U.S. Air Force Sergeant Donald Shaw of Esmond was serving in Turkey. His brother, Sergeant Edwin Shaw, Jr., was serving in Nebraska.

     Robert J. Buonaccorsi of Greenville returned home after serving in Vietnam with the U.S. Army. It was announced that he would begin teaching in the Smithfield School System in September.

     Cub Scout Pack 44 held a meeting at the Portuguese American Club where tenderfoot graduation certificates into Boy Scouting, and Arrow of the Light awards were presented to Jay Shirley, Clifford Barrett, Richard Giguere, and Joseph Paquette.

     A freshman semi-formal dance was held in the cafeteria of the Smithfield High School. Freshman class advisor Mr. O’Neal, and Mr. and Mrs. MacNamara served as hosts. Music was provided by “The Concepts”.

     158 students became the first senior class to graduate from Smithfield High School. The ceremony was held in the courtyard, but was interrupted by a sudden rain squall which drove the approximately 800 people in attendance indoors.      

     Suggested Father’s Day gifts at a local retail store included a pipe and tobacco, a box of cigars, or a cigarette lighter. (Not the disposable lighters we think of today.)

   For the dad that didn’t smoke, there was Hai Karate, English Leather, or British Sterling, after shave lotions. How many remember those?

     Construction on the new Route 6 expressway from Olneyville to Johnston was underway. The six million dollar project was expected to be finished June 30, 1969.

     Miss Linda Aitken of Smithfield was the 1st runner up in the Miss Rhode Island Pageant. She also wore the crown of Miss University of Rhode Island.

     How many remember that Greenville had a miniature golf course located on Route 44 at the A&W? It was billed as, “A pleasant garden spot for a couple or especially an entire family to enjoy a competitive recreational golf game.”

     A group of children held a carnival at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Picard on Tucker Road in Greenville to raise money for the Summertime Charity for Underprivileged Children. Those running the carnival were; Cathi Mancini, Barbara Mancini, Margy Mancini, Marion Picard, Lori Cook, Beverly Cook, Cheryl Dionne, and Gary Conroy.

     If one went to the movies in June of ’68, perhaps they saw the following: “Bandolero!”, a western, starring Jimmy Stewart, Dean Martin, and Raquel Welch, and George Kennedy. Or perhaps they viewed “The Green Berets” starring John Wayne, David Janssen, and Jim Hutton, or the comedy film, “Never A Dull Moment”, with Dick Van Dyke and Edward G. Robinson. Then there was “The Thomas Crown Affair”, a thriller featuring Steve McQueen, and Faye Dunaway.

     If anyone under 30 is reading this they’re probably saying, “I’ve never heard of any of these people.”

Tales Of Georgiaville Pond

A Disaster Averted, And Other Tales Of Georgiaville Pond

By Jim Ignasher

Originally published in the Smithfield Times magazine – May, 2018

      Some may recall that about four years ago the water level in Georgiaville Pond was significantly reduced to allow for work on the flood gate of the Georgiaville Dam. During that time the remains of a mysterious wooden wall were revealed. It began a short distance off the beach and ran in a straight line to one of the tiny islands located about two-hundred feet to the north. Questions arose, but nobody knew its origin or purpose, and after the gate was repaired, the water level returned to normal, and the wall was soon forgotten.

     However, recent evidence has come to light that suggests the curious wooden wall dates to the 1890s, and once played a role in saving Georgiaville, Esmond, and other municipalities further down the Woonasquatucket River from possible catastrophe.

     For those unaware, Georgiaville Pond is a man-made reservoir on the Woonsasquatucket River that was created in the early 1850s to supply waterpower to the Bernon Mill during the summer months to keep it operating at peak capacity. The upper portion of the pond begins behind the historic Smith-Appleby House on Stillwater Road, and as a point of fact, prior to the reservoir being built, Stillwater Road once ran behind the Smith-Appleby House, but was relocated to its present location to accommodate the anticipated rise in water level.

     Dam failures were a common concern in the 19th century, and by the 1870s those living below the Georgiaville Dam began to worry about a possible failure, even though there was no indication that one was likely. Yet some might argue that the worry was valid, for at that time the water level in the reservoir was much higher than it is today, with literally billions of tons of water pressing against the dam. Should a failure occur, the massive onslaught of rushing water would overwhelm other dams located downstream causing a succession of further failures all the way to Providence. If that occurred, the loss of life and property would be enormous.  

     The obvious solution was to reduce the water level of the reservoir, which some weren’t prepared to do, so Providence officials saw to it that whenever heavy rains fell, horse-mounted riders would be stationed at the dam ready to spread the alarm if a failure seemed imminent. However this was a reactive, not pro-active solution.

     By 1882, the state was petitioned to order the water level to be permanently lowered by nine feet, but it’s unclear what action was taken. Then, in May of 1889, the infamous Johnstown, Pennsylvania, flood occurred, killing over 2,000 people and causing millions in property damage. Barely three months later, a small dam failed in the Fiskeville section of Cranston killing three people. Some newspapers compared it to the Johnstown Flood, one calling it “Johnstown on a small scale”.

     In light of these events, Smithfield was ordered by the state Supreme Court to reduce the height of the Georgiaville Dam by several feet, which would force a permanent reduction in water volume contained in the reservoir.

     In 1894 de-construction on the dam was begun, and photographs of this massive project, on glass negatives, have recently been donated to the Historical Society of Smithfield by Roger Beaudry.

     Thus the remains of the wooden wall are what are left of a temporary dam built to divert water while the reduction of the Georgiaville Dam took place.

     Georgiaville Beach is located on the southern shore of the reservoir, and the parking lot happens to be where the first Georgiaville Baptist Church was constructed in 1857. It’s been said that baptisms were conducted in the water just off the beach. With the completion of the present church on Farnum Pike in 1906, the old church fell into disuse and was eventually raised.

     During the winter months blocks of ice from the pond would be cut and stored in two massive ice houses that once stood along the western shore next to the former Providence & Springfield Railroad tracks. On April 20, 1919, fire tore through the buildings, and when it was over, the buildings were gone, but the stacks of ice blocks remained.    

     Ice harvesting was dangerous, and one of the earliest recorded drownings at the reservoir happened in December of 1858, when a 32-year-old man fell through thin ice.

     And there have been numerous other drownings ever since. One case in particular involved a sad twist of irony. On August 30, 1872, 16-year-old Frederick Kendricks was one of the few to survive the sinking of the steamship S.S. Metis off Watch Hill, R.I. One year later, Frederick drowned within a few feet from shore while swimming in Georgiaville Pond.

   The exact number of drownings to have occurred in Georgiaville Pond is unknown, but many have been connected to a large island which seems to beckon beachgoers to try to swim to it. As far as I know, the island has no name, but perhaps it should.

     A strange incident occurred at Georgiaville Beach one afternoon in 1981 when a man drove up to the gate, and gesturing behind him, told the parking attendant that he was going to put his boat in the water. Yet strangely, he wasn’t towing a boat. He then proceeded into the parking lot, and after lining up with the boat ramp, gunned the engine and drove full-speed into the water! Momentum carried the car about twenty feet from shore before it sank. Stunned onlookers stood by as he climbed out the driver’s side window, swam to shore, and calmly walked away.

     Smithfield police were called and arranged for the car to be removed from the water. Meanwhile it was learned that the incident stemmed from a domestic squabble, and the car belonged to the man’s wife. Once it was pulled ashore via a tow truck cable, officers checked to make sure it was empty. It was.




Lyman Arnold Farm – Smithfield, R.I.

    Lyman Arnold Farm

      Photos of the former Lyman Arnold farm which was located on Whipple Road, east of Douglas Pike.  The land has since been developed.  Photos courtesy of Denise Firby of Smithfield.  

Click on images to enlarge.


Lyman Arnold Farm House

View of the barn on the Layman Arnold farm, Smithfield, R.I.

73 Austin Avenue, Greenville, R.I.

73 Austin Avenue, Greenville Rhode Island

Photo taken May, 2018  

     According to the book, “Historical And Architectural Resources Of Smithfield, Rhode Island”, published in 1992 by the Rhode Island Preservation Commission, this house was built circa 1885, and in 1895 was owned by P. McAuley.

Click on image to enlarge.


50 Years Ago – May, 1968

50 Years Ago – May, 1968

By Jim Ignasher

    On May 30, the Panzarella-Silvia Memorial was dedicated at the intersection of Whipple Road and Douglas Pike.

     Army Lieutenant James F. Panzarella was the commanding officer of Company A, 196th Light Infantry Brigade. Army Staff Sergeant Clifford William Silvia was attached to the 25th Medical Battalion of the 25th Infantry Regiment. Both men were from Smithfield, and both were killed within a few weeks of each other while serving in Vietnam.

     The dedication ceremony began with a parade which left the Town Hall at 8:45 a.m. The procession included family members of the servicemen, civic leaders, members of the Town Council, buglers and drummers, police and fire vehicles, as well as numerous townspeople showing their support.    

     David A. Brann of Greenville was serving aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Boxer.

     Lieutenant Steven F. Wyman of Esmond was cited for his outstanding performance during his flight training at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma.

   U.S. Army SP4 Paul Trask was serving with the 124th Transportation Battalion.

   U.S. Air Force Sergeant Angus E. Bryant of Spragueville returned home from duty in Germany where he’d been stationed for three years.

     Ralph Iannitelli of Greenville was presented with the American Legion Reserve Officers training Corps Gold Medal for Military Excellence at the 16th Annual Air Force ROTC Presidents Review held at Denison University.

     The Apple Blossom Club of Smithfield received the Carolyn B. Heffenreffer Silver Bowl Award, and the National Council Blue Rosette for Achievement Award in Home and Garden, for their work relating to civic beautification within the town of Smithfield. Among their recognized projects was the planting of nine pink-flowering Hawthorne trees in Greenville center.  

     Those present to receive the awards were Mrs. Harry Judson, Mrs. Joseph Casale, Jr., Mrs. Elwood Kelley, Mrs. Richard Illingsowrth, Mrs. Prescott Williams, Mrs. Adrien Leboissonniere, Mrs. Raymond Shirley. Mrs. Roland Smith, and Mrs. Lionel Jarvis.

   On May 10 the Smithfield High School band gave a spring concert in the school auditorium.

     Leon Carney of Greenville was elected President of the Smithfield Jaycees.

     Boy Scout Troop 3 of Greenville held a Mother’s Day breakfast on May 12. Eagle Scout William LeBlanc was the main speaker. Michael Kiely and Richard Gill were voted to attend the Order of the Red Arrow, an honor for which they were selected by the rest of the troop.

     Old Stone Bank was offering a Capitol Savings Account that would yield 5% interest per year.

     Miss Linda E. Aitken of Greenville won the Miss University of Rhode Island beauty contest and the right to compete in the Miss Rhode Island pageant on June 22.   

     The 8th Annual Apple Blossom festival was held May 19th at the Smithfield High School. Entertainment included music, dancing, and a contest in which young women competed for the title of Miss Apple Blossom Queen of Rhode Island for 1968.

    Perhaps there are some who remember a building that once stood on Route 44 in Harmony known as the “Cutler Stand”, a.k.a, “The Philip’s Place”, and “The Old Tavern”. The building, which dated to circa 1800, was slated for demolition in May of 1968, but certain architectural features such as doors, windows, and fire places were to be salvaged.   

     On May 22 the United States nuclear submarine, U.S.S. Scorpion, was lost with all hands about 400 miles west of Azores. Theories as to what happened range from a catastrophic internal malfunction to a torpedo strike. Today the remains of the vessel lie in 9,800 feet of water.


East Smithfield Water District Documents

East Smithfield Water District Documents

Click on images to enlarge

Greene Academy Lottery Ticket – 1812

Greene Academy Lottery Ticket – 1812

Image courtesy of Katie Law – Smithfield Preservation Commission

Click on image to enlarge.


Last Will And Testament Of Sueina W. Paine of Smithfield, R.I.

Last Will & Testament of Sueina W. Paine of Smithfield, Rhode Island 

     This undated document is from the archives of the Historical Society of Smithfield. 

     As of this posting, nothing is known of Sueina Paine.

     Relatives listed in the will are as follows:    

     Mother – Mary Paine

     Nephews – Arnold Paine Angell, John Albert Paine, John P. White, Benjamin Angell, Addison Paine, John Jay Paine, and Ferdinand Whipple.

     Nieces – Mary Paine, Elizabeth Capron Paine, Sarah Hall Paine, Aplha Paine, Judith Paine, Lydia Emma Paine, Annette Paine, Armatta Paine, and Sueina W. Paine.

Click on images to enlarge.



Globe Bank Of Smithfield, R.I. – 1848

Globe Bank Of Smithfield, Rhode Island – 1848 

The Globe Bank was located in Globe Village, which is now part of Woonsocket, R.I., but before 1871 was part of Smithfield.  

Click on image to enlarge.

Smithfield Union Bank Stock Transfer – 1846

Smithfield Union Bank Stock Transfer – 1846

     The Smithfield Union Bank was in Slatersville, R.I.

Click on Images to enlarge.


Obverse side of stock transfer document.

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