Did someone in your family receive a “World War” medal like this?

This is one of 300 medals presented to South Kingstown and Narragansett soldiers in appreciation of their service in World War I.
Designed by Caroline Hazard, the medals came on a blue ribbon and featured a star, 5 scallop shells, and an anchor on one side, and a wreath of laurel leaves and oak leaves on the reverse. The inscription reads “South Kingstown to her Crusaders, 1917-1918” (or may say “Town of Narragansett”). A bar has “World War” on the front, and each veteran’s name engraved on the back.
Paid for by a Town allocation of $1000, the medals were cast in bronze by Gorham and presented at a “Welcome Home” event on July 10, 1919.
Festivities that day included a parade from Wakefield to Narragansett. Dignitaries walked the route with the soldiers and two Civil War veterans. A ceremony followed with speeches, music by the Wakefield Military Band, and a poem by Caroline Hazard. A dinner and dance were held that evening at the Narragansett Casino.
Care was taken to contact and invite every service member who could be reached. About 25 still on their way home or in service overseas sent regrets.
Most local soldiers returned, but at least 12 did not. Those names appear on the South Kingstown and Narragansett World War I Memorials.
We hope this will be helpful if you find one of these medals among your family’s keepsakes. We would love to know if you have one!

Narragansett Library Association, forerunner of the Peace Dale Library, was established in 1855

The Narragansett Library Association (NLA) served as the governing and administrative body for the Peace Dale Library from 1855-1975. Its origins date to 1853, when the local Sons of Temperance voted to raise funds for a library.  A wider community effort soon led to the founding of the NLA in 1855.

Its first reading room opened with 900 books in a bank building on Main Street. Not long afterwards, the NLA moved to the Peace Dale Office Building, where it remained for over 30 years as its collection grew.

In 1891, the newly opened Hazard Memorial (now known as Peace Dale Library) became the NLA’s permanent home. Built in memory of Rowland Gibson Hazard (1801-1888), an NLA founder and its first president, it provided a reading room, an auditorium, classrooms, and space for an envisioned 20,000 volumes (about four times what the NLA then owned).

Peace Dale Library still circulates many original NLA books, which are now shelved as a separate collection.

Leadership of the NLA rested with the Hazard family until 1962, and the will of Rowland Hazard (1829-1898) left a permanent fund for the benefit of the Association. The NLA still exists as a registered Rhode Island corporation.

In 1975, governance of the Peace Dale Library passed from the NLA to the newly created South Kingstown Public Library. That year, the South Kingstown Town Council voted to establish a town-wide free public library system consisting of Peace Dale Library and two branches, Kingston Free and Robert Beverly Hale, and governed by a 7-member Board of Trustees appointed by the Council.

The Narragansett Library Association bears no relation to the public library in the Town of Narragansett.

Silver Lake in South Kingstown

In response to a question about the history of Silver Lake, we have to date learned the following.

Silver Lake is natural and not man-made. Once known as Kitts Pond, it is defined by the US Geological Survey as a “lake”. The USGS designated “Silver Lake” as their official name for it in 1930, noting “Kitts Pond” as another name.

A 1994 report prepared for the Saugatucket River Heritage Corridor Coalition says that although Silver Lake lies within the Saugatucket River Watershed, it does not flow into the river.

Some of the land on the shore of Silver Lake is part of a housing development and former estate called Shadow Farm. Shadow Farm’s National Register of Historic Places application, submitted in the 1980’s, says the land for it was purchased by the Strang family of New York in 1869, from Elisha Robinson. In 1901, the property was sold to John L. Welsh of Philadelphia. The application uses the term “Silver Lake” and not “Kitts Pond”.

A South Kingstown map dated 1857 by Carder Whaley shows the name “Kitts Pond” for the lake.

The Beers Atlas 1870 map of South Kingstown shows the lake, but does not name it.

An 1894 Geographic Dictionary of Rhode Island calls it “Silver Lake”.

A State of Rhode Island Atlas map of 1895 calls it “Silver Lake”.

So, it would appear that sometime between 1857 and 1894, the English name changed from “Kitts Pond” to “Silver Lake”. Further research will, we hope, reveal an Indian name for the lake.

We invite readers to share any additional information about Silver Lake.

South Kingstown Local History Resources

Curious about slavery in South Kingstown? (Yes, it did exist here.) The Narragansett Pier Railroad? Historic Matunuck? Photos of Peace Dale c. 1910? South Kingstown Public Library has compiled a list of primary source documents, books, articles, maps, and other material that illuminate the history of the town. Check it out at our website! A great place to start your search for answers about local history.

http://www.skpl.org/751/Local-History

“Point Judith Neck”

Rhode Islanders know well that places are often designated by what “used to be there”. Some names do stick for literally centuries; but others fall into disuse.

One example of this is that a large area of present-day Narragansett between Narrow River (at the north end of Narragansett Beach), and the Point Judith Lighthouse was once commonly referred to as “Point Judith Neck”.

This explains why Joseph P. Hazard in his Diary referred (on page 64) to the land he owned (near Narragansett Pier) as being located in “Point Judith”.

The 1894 Geographic Dictionary of Rhode Island defined “Point Judith Neck” (see page 24) as the “southern part of South Kingstown, lying between the open sea and Point Judith Pond”. (Present-day Narragansett, including Point Judith Neck, was part of South Kingstown until 1902).

Slavery in South Kingstown–a resource list

South Kingstown constituted one of the largest locations in 17th- and 18th-century Rhode Island where enslaved persons made up the labor force. The era is well-documented in writings by the Rev. James MacSparran, Thomas R. Hazard, and others. The work of modern scholars including Joanne Pope Melish, Christy Clark-Pujara, Seth Rockman, and Jared Hardesty illuminates the legacy of slavery in South Kingstown and surrounding areas. A new bibliography and resource list on the South Kingstown Public Library’s website features their work and more, including numerous writings available in full text online at Google Books.

Diary of Joseph P. Hazard (1807-1892) now viewable in full online

The entire diary of Joseph P. Hazard has now been completely uploaded and is viewable on the South Kingstown Public Library Digital Collections page.

Entries begin in the 1840’s and run through about 1890. In it he meticulously recorded decades of personal expenses; his voyages around the world; his landscaping at Sea Side Farm and his “Castle”; family history; spiritual experiences; and reminiscences.

Open it to any page for a window into his widely varied experience!

Joseph P. Hazard’s 1825 “Peace Ville” Map

The Peace Dale Library owns an original hand-drawn map of “Peace Ville” dated 1825, created in pencil by Joseph P. Hazard (1807-1892). By magnifying the digital image, it is possible to read his notes that describe various landmarks. An annotated transcription is included below. The map’s reverse side shows the title and date, and an expense list that appears to be unrelated to the map.

UPPER LEFT QUADRANT

“Rocky Brook”, “Wood”

5: “Old Factory—that was originally a flaxseed oil mill, by the [illegible]”

6: “Cotton Factory built in 1821”

7: “Store, built 1822” [I believe this is where the Peace Dale Office Building is now]

LOWER LEFT QUADRANT

“Drift Way from Wakefield [illegible] to E. Watson’s Corner & Kingston” [I believe this is approximately where Columbia Street (or perhaps Spring Street) is now, going to North Road, to Saugatucket Rd., to Rose Hill Rd., where the big house on the corner was a Watson family house]

“Driftway to Dalecarlia the family mansion [?]” [I believe this is the current Kingstown Rd.]

10: “Baling [?] House”

11: “Tenement”

12: “Tenement”

LOWER RIGHT QUADRANT

“Wood”

3: “House built by Jos. Congdon about 1810”

4: “House made for [illegible] about 1822”

UPPER RIGHT QUADRANT

“Wood”, “Wood”, “Wood”, “Mill Pond”, “Driftway”

1: “Old Benny Rodman house [?], Died at 94 yrs [?]”

2: “Old carding house”

8: “Dye house” [I believe this is just behind the present Peace Dale Library]

9: “Old Red [?] house”

13: “Tenement”

Transcription and notes by Jessica Wilson, Local History Librarian

South Kingstown Public Library/Peace Dale

1057 Kingstown Rd., Peace Dale RI 02879

July, 2020

Local History Book lists added to Library website

Click here to see 5 new book lists featuring titles of local interest on the South Kingstown Public Library website. An image of each book’s cover and a link to its catalog record are included. The lists contain mostly newer titles, published within the last 25 years. Take a look here: