Phillips Parker Black House, 94 Farnum Pike, Georgiaville RI

The Phillips Parker Black House, 94 Farnum Pike, Georgiaville, RI

Information submitted by Dyanne Black Smith


The House at 94 Farnum Pike

Phillips Parker Black House
Farnum Pike, Georgiaville, RI

     Benoni Hopkins was the son of Freelove Williams (great-great-great granddaughter of Roger Williams) and Aholiab Hopkins. Benoni married Azubah Hammond. They purchased a farm of allegedly 200+ acres in Smithfield. Family lore holds that the main house was what is now known as the J Brown House at 243 Old County Road. Further research needs to be done to verify this, but all indications are that this is true. On an 1862 map of the area, 94 Farnum Pike is shown as the Willis Hopkins house and the Old County Road house is already listed as the J Brown house. According to the family Bible, Benoni died in 1836, so it is probable the main house had been sold between 1847 and 1860. The location of Benoni’s body is unknown, but it was said to be on the property closer to the Old County Rd. house. New technology using satellite negatives may be able to locate the body. Azubah died in 1886 and is buried in the family cemetery on a hill in back of the Farnum Pike house.

     In an 1873 tax record for the town of Smithfield, Willis Hopkins property value is set at $2300, a great deal of money in that time. His brother Jeremiah has a value of $200. No descriptions are given of the properties so we do not know how many structures that included.

    Benoni and Azubah had several children. Their son Willis Hopkins was born in 1820 and their daughter, Lucinda Merrill Hopkins, was born in 1825. Willis Hopkins built the house at 94 Farnum Pike in either 1841 or 1847 according to written documents. The last digit is not clear, but family lore says the year was 1841, whereas supporting census and tax documents suggest 1847. Willis married Eunice Lyons, the daughter of an (allegedly) adjacent property owner, Asa Lyons. We believe the Lyons house may be the one located across the street from 94 FP. Willis and Eunice had at least four children, all of whom died at young ages and are buried in the family cemetery (now known as SM34) on the hill in back of the Farnum Pike house. Willis is now believed to have built and lived in what was known as the Irving S Cook house until his death in 1893.    

94 Farnum Pike
July, 2016

     Lucy (Lucinda) married Joseph A Phillips. They has two daughters, Mary, born approx 1848 and Eunice (named for Willis Hopkins’ wife), born in 1852. An 1860 census shows Joseph and Lucy living on adjoining lot to Willis and Eunice, which we now believe was probably what became known as the Irving S Cook house. Census documents indicate Willis was then living with Azubah, making it probable that Lucy had already taken possession of the (94) Farnum Pike house that Willis built. In 1861 Joseph Phillips left his wife and two young daughters (who were by all family accounts living at 94FP) to enlist in the Civil War, fighting with the Union troops. Joseph was killed in May of 1864 at the battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse.

     The other structure that we now know was included in this property was the house that originally sat at what is now 80 Farnum Pike. St Michael’s Church now occupies that lot, but a large Victorian structure was there for many years. I have a pictorial calendar of that house from 1912. New evidence uncovered by Ed Robinson shows the house at 80 FP being sold to Irving S Cook by Eunice Lyons Hopkins’ estate following her death. Further research is needed to determine when that structure was built.

     Lucy’s daughter Mary married Samuel Clark in 1864 around the age of 16. Her daughter Eunice married Eugene Parker in 1870 at the age of 18. Eunice and Eugene had five children, Jennie (b. 1872), Frederick, Elizabeth, Willis and Lucy. Jennie was born in Georgiaville and when she was three months old her parents moved with her to Pawtucket, and a few months later to Rumford (East Providence) where she grew up. The children apparently spent a good deal of time at the farm in Smithfield. Eunice Phillips Parker died in 1890 of consumption (tuberculosis). Her body was removed to Georgiaville and buried on the hill with the other family members, but the grave is unmarked. (Husband Eugene passed away in 1902 and is also buried there in an unmarked grave.) Young Jennie was 18 and she took over the care of her younger siblings. She married Fred Black in June of 1898. At that time they lived not far from her father’s house in Rumford and Jennie continued to provide child care for her younger siblings.

     Willis Hopkins died in 1893. His sister Lucy Phillips died in April of 1900 and his wife Eunice Lyon died in May of 1900. This left the Georgiaville estate empty.

     Because Jennie Parker Black was still helping her father with her younger siblings, she and Fred remained in Rumford until the death of her grandmother and her great-aunt in 1900. Fred Black then became the trustee of the inheritance of Jennie’s siblings, Fred, Elizabeth and Lucy Parker (Willis Parker presumably being of age). As a woman of that era, Jennie was not allowed to hold trust for her siblings. It is unclear how she raised the money to pay off her aunt, Mary Clark, for her share of the inheritance. It is also not clear when Jennie paid her four siblings their shares of $125 each, but there are receipts showing Jennie slowly paying off her sister Elizabeth’s share as late as 1925.

     Fred and Jennie both took mortgages against the farm with Fred Black’s father, Allan Alexander Black, Jennie for $280 and Fred for $800. Jennie would later tell the family that 100 acres remained at that time. (We assume that the other 100 acres was sold to J Brown, but further research is needed to confirm this.) Fred Black worked only the farm until 1908 when he went to work at General Fire Extinguisher. Until 1912 the couple had paid only the interest on those mortgages. During that year Fred’s father took up either a serious effort to foreclose on Jennie and Fred, or an assessment for refinance. There are documents from the lawyer requesting specimen’s of all the types of apples from their orchards, etc. It was a true farm and they possessed horses, cows, and chickens. An agreement was eventually reached between the couple and Allan Black and he refinanced the property, combining the two mortgages and recalculating the sum at $2000.

     (At some point between moving to Georgiaville and the refinancing of the estate, we believe the land on which Georgiaville Baptist Church now sits was donated or sold by Fred and Jennie. Tax records and deed transfers should reveal the truth on this matter. The addition of an ell onto the main house, which is now the kitchen, was made in or about 1904.)

     Apparently mortgage payments were then made regularly until Fred Black’s death in February of 1915 at the age of 42. Upon becoming widowed, Jennie began making interest only payments yet again. There are handwritten notes from her father-in-law to her, encouraging her that they would get through this difficult period. He assisted her with tuition money for Alton’s schooling, often allowing Jennie to deduct Alton’s Technical High School tuition from the interest only payments on the mortgage. Jennie worked in various mills, including the Bernon Mill, and took in laundry. Receipts also indicated Jennie sold gravel to a construction company from a pit on her land, assumed to be the lot behind Georgiaville Baptist Church, although the location not a certainty. Family lore suggests Jennie sold off individual plots/acres of the remaining 100 acres they purchased in order to raise enough cash to keep the house at 94FP.

     In 1920 Allan’s second wife, Adelaide, died and he fell ill himself. He then did begin foreclosure proceedings on Jennie’s farm. In reading the lawyer’s letters, it appears Allan Black may have known he was dying and did not want the farm tied up in his probate, as he had one remaining son, Allan AB Black, besides his grandson Alton who would inherit. That would have caused much trouble for Jennie. The legal letters encourage Jennie to get a mortgage through a commercial bank, which she was somehow able to do. This was good for her as Allan Black died in 1922.

     Somewhere around that time Jennie’s brother Fred Parker, moved out to the farm and into her house with his family. He helped her hold onto the farm for several more years. He and his family left there sometime between 1926 and 1927.

     In 1923, 18 year old Alton was enrolled in the GE school in Lynn, Mass. His inheritance from his grandfather was still in probate. In November of 1923 Jennie received $250 from Allan’s estate for Alton. Her writings indicate she was not pleased with the amount. Her son advised her to be a good Christian and never mind what he should have received from his grandfather’s estate.

     Alton married Mabel Gardner in 1928. In 1933 they were living on Osborn St. in Providence with their three young boys, Robert, Alton, Jr and Richard. Around 1934, Jennie told Alton she could no longer keep the old place by herself. She was almost 62 years old. Alton moved his young family out to Georgiaville and took over the mortgage. Jennie added Alton’s name to the deed, but not May’s.

     In the early 1950’s Alton insisted his mother add Mabel’s name to the deed. He had been paying the mortgage for around 20 years and apparently had paid it off. His three boys were married and living away from home. Jennie did not want to do that, but eventually she relented. This was fortuitous for Mabel, because Alton died in 1956. Now she and Jennie were living there together, perhaps more out of necessity than choice. Mabel’s widowed mother, Jennie Bell Boyd Gardner, moved in with them around 1957-58. Jennie Parker Black entered a nursing home between 1961-62. She died in the summer of 1963 at the age of 91. Now the house belonged solely to Mabel.

     Mabel gave both Alton Jr and Richard each an acre of land and they each sold those acres in the 1960’s. Those pieces were landlocked at that time and no development was done. The purchaser of the lots was a family friend (Russell Lapham) and perhaps he hoped to gain either the remaining property or a ROW in the future.

     Mabel’s mother lived with her until she too entered a nursing home in the late 1960’s. Jennie Gardner died in December of 1970. Mabel lived alone in the house until 1986 when she too entered a nursing home. One of Richard’s daughters, Mabel’s granddaughter Dia Montville, purchased the house with her husband Marcel. The proceeds of that sale were used for Mabel’s care. Marcel and Dia were able to buy back the two pieces of land sold by Richard and Alton. In the late 1990’s the Montvilles divorced and Marcel Montville bought out his wife’s share in the property, with a promise that whenever he should sell it, Dia’s family would have first refusal. As of this writing in 2011 (*2018), he is still in possession of the property and cares for the cemetery.

Dyanne Black Smith

June 2011

*Edited Dyanne Black Smith 2016

*Edited Dyanne Black Smith June 2017

*Edited by Dyanne Black Smith October 2018




Smithfield Town Officers 1913-14

From the archives of the Historical Society of Smithfield.

Click on images to enlarge.



Esek Colwell Documents – Early 1800s


From the archives of the Historical Society of Smithfield, R.I.

Esek Colwell married Patience Aldrich.

Click on images to enlarge.

1818 Deed


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