Friday the thirteenth has been a lucky day for Mark and me ever since we eloped in June of 2008. Today was fairly lucky for me too. I found some information on my Westcott ancestors.
Taking a leisurely morning of rest, we drove to the State Archives in Providence to see if they had any record of my ancestors.
The man at the desk of the State Archives said he was substituting for the person who knew the most about how to find records, but he did provide me with a box of books where original documents had been typed out so they were easier to read. However, the first book I opened was in such poor condition that I could scarcely turn a page without it crumbling.
We were there until they announced that they were closing. I still have quite a bit that I want to know, but the man who was substituting gave me the e-mail address of the regular researcher and told me I could only ask him to look up two things at a time, so this could take a while!
Here is what I learned: Roger Williams bought Rhode Island from the Native Americans who were here and he deeded portions of the land to his “loving friends and neighbors”, amongst whom was Stukely Westcott. Stukely lived in Warwick and was, at various times, a commissioner, a road builder, and he ran a “house of entertainment”. I wasn’t entirely certain what was meant by the term “house of entertainment”, so I looked it up online. Another term for it was an “ordinary house”. Towns were required to have one or two of them. In my reading, it appears that an ordinary was like an inn. They rented rooms out to travelers and lodging for their horses, and provided meals and drinks. These establishments not only served travelers, but they also provided meeting space for the local townspeople.
Stukely died at his grandson’s farm in Portsmouth, RI. When we left Providence we drove to Portsmouth to the only graveyard I knew of. It was after dark and Mark and I each took a small flashlight around to look at the various gravestones. Some of them were so old that any writing that used to be on them was barely visible with our flashlights, yet most of the gravestones were too recent to have been from the 1600’s. Now that I am at home, I looked for information on findagrave.com through Ancestry.com and discovered he was taken back to be buried in Warwick, RI. No wonder we couldn’t find him!
Maybe someday we can come back to Rhode Island and do more research. Unless, of course, I manage to do it all online.