Union Village, R. I.

     The following article appeared in the Woonsocket Patriot on March 3, 1870.   At the time, Union Village was still part of the Town of Smithfield.

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     UNION VILLAGE, SMITHFIELD

“Ancient Land Marks”

     When, in ancient times, Northern Rhode Island was inhabited by Indians, they made three divisions of Smithfield; by name Woonsocket, Louisquisset, and Wionkheige.  Woonsocket was the northern portion of the town, the center of which was Union Village.  It appears that the first house built in the village was the James Arnold house (now so called), which was erected in 1690 – a part of which is now standing, in connection with an addition, which was added by Judge Peleg Arnold, in 1780.  This house was kept as a hotel for many years by said Judge Arnold, and at the time of Burgoyne’s surrender, during our Revolutionary War, many of the British prisoners, on their way to Providence, were quartered at this hotel during one night.  A person now living in Union Village has an old English musket which was taken from one of the prisoners at that time. 

     The second house which was built in this village was erected in 1702, by Hezediah Comstock, on the site where stands the house of the late Walter Allen, and now known as the Osborne House.  A part of the original house is now a part of another house, but a short distance from the original location.  Hezediah Comstock lived in the original house about thirty years, when he built and moved into what is since known as the Henry Comstock house near Waterford. 

     The third house, known formerly as the old Uriah Arnold house, was built by Capt. Daniel Arnold, in 1714.  The house remained on the original site until two or three years since, when, it having been purchased by Jacob Morse, it was moved to Constitution Hill, Globe Village.   

     Another very important land mark, is what is called the “Coblin Rock.”  It is located about half a mile north of the village, is of uniform diameter, standing on a large flat rock, and weighs probably about 200 tons.  It was formerly the “observed of all observers,” on account of its being near the “Great Path” which led from union Village to Blackstone.  But little has been said about it of late years, and probably hundreds of people in this region are not aware of being near such a curiosity.

     Within about half a mile from the “Coblin Rock” were formerly the quarries from which the “Smithfield Scythe Stones” were manufactured.  many large excavations are now to be seen, where the rock was obtained from which the scythe stones were made.  A large amount of business was done in this line for many years by Marcus Arnold, George Aldrich, Thomas A. Paine and Hanson Arnold, and it was owing principally to the scarcity of the rock that, of late, the business has entirely ceased.  Probably not less than 500,000 dozen of these stones were madefrom these quarries in the space of twenty years.  The best scythe stones that were ever made were manufactured from rock which was found in what is now the barn-yard belonging to Arnold Wakefield, and which was formerly owned by Arnold Steere.  Such was the celebrity of these stones that long after this kind of rock was exhausted, orders frequently came through the mail from distant States, to the manufacturers, for some more of those celebrated “Cow-Yard Stones.” 

     It is frequently asked how many people, in different places, “Who is the oldest inhabitant?”  It may be well to mention that the oldest person ever known as living in Union Village was Uriah Arnold, who departed this life many years since, aged 97 years and 6 months. 

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     Note, “Coblin Rock”, also known as “Cobble Rock”, was reportedly knocked from its perch during a severe thunderstorm which occurred on September 26, 1977.  Source: The Woonsocket Call, “Cobble Rock Tumble Poses Another Puzzle”, September, 28, 1977.    

 

 

Smithfield Union Bank Robbery – 1838

     The Smithfield Union Bank was established in February of 1805, in the village of Slatersville, which prior to 1871 was part of the town of Smithfield. 

     It was the first bank to be established in Smithfield, and, as these articles from the Woonsocket Weekly Patriot indicate, may have been the first bank in Smithfield to be robbed.     

Woonsocket Weekly Patriot
November 2, 1838, pg. 2

Woonsocket Weekly Patriot
November 2, 1838, pg. 2

Woonsocket Weekly Patriot
November 16, 1838, Pg. 3

 

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