Tag Archives: Rhode Island

The Great September Gale

The Great September Gale of 1815 by John Russell Bartlett

Without modern forecasting methods and early warning systems, residents of Saybrook, Connecticut, were surprised when the first hurricane to strike New England in 180 years came ashore there. Newspaper accounts from the time describe it as a violent storm that toppled church steeples and ripped up fruit trees as far as 85 miles inland. All along the coast from Long Island to New England, wooden shipping warehouses and vessels were flattened or swept out to sea.

In Providence, Rhode Island, an 11-foot storm surge combined with the incoming tide to destroy 500 houses and 35 ships, damaging at least a quarter of the taxable property in the town. A plaque on the town’s Market House points out the high-water mark. Moses Brown, a Rhode Island merchant, claimed $1 million in losses.

Thankfully, the loss of life was minor for most towns. Newspapers listed ships lost but included few names of people injured or killed. Nature’s fury is visible in Rhode Island painter John Russell Bartlett’s The Great September Gale of 1815. And you can attribute the charming — and sturdy — stone buildings in Providence and other waterfront towns to this great gale.

“He killed a fascist. I see nothing wrong with it.”


Smearing political opponents as fascist is a dehumanizing tactic, just what the Nazis did with their political and perceived opposition, including the Jews, during World War II.

“He killed a fascist. I see nothing wrong with it.” That is a quote from Erik Loomis, a professor at the University of Rhode Island. He supports stalking and murdering people he considers fascists, such as Aaron Danielson, who was shot dead by leftist radical Michael Reinoehl in downtown Portland, Oregon.

Earlier I wrote about artwork at the University of Rhode Island that is slated for removal because it has been deemed offensive and controversial, which is blatantly ridiculous.

Up is down at the University of Rhode Island. Reasoning and decency are dead.


This ongoing idiocy


Murals at the University of Rhode Island depicting servicemen returning home from World War II are being removed because some complained about a lack of diversity in the art.

The anonymous whiners were offended. To be offended by such innocuous art is truly moronic. Busybody prudes with too much free time.

“It really depicts a snapshot in time of the university’s history, important history, showing a person returning back to campus from World War II and other historical moments.”

“Well, it depicted that era,” says the artist, Art Sherman, who is 95. His daughter says that the family does not agree with the decision.

I see it as a draconian from of censorship. It is disgusting. Universities should be places of freedom — freedom of artistic expression, freedom of speech, freedom of thought.


From the Ashes


Years back, while working to find the parents of my ancestor Morgan Reynolds, I came across the name John Walker. He was listed simply as a relative, nothing more. I found this reference at FamilySearch.org.

Then I discovered his parents were Daniel Reynolds and Olive Walker. Eventually this led me to a long-established family in Rhode Island, the Walkers. In fact, one of the oldest buildings in that state is a house built by Olive’s ancestor Philip Walker, son of a woman only known as the Widow Walker.

The Walkers were from Weymouth, Dorset, in southwest England. Philip, about age 15, and his mother arrived in Plymouth Colony, perhaps in 1636 or 1640. They were part of a church group from Weymouth led by Rev. Samuel Newman.

The house, commonly known as the Philip Walker House, was burned to the ground during King Philip’s War in 1676, before rebuilding began shortly thereafter, recycling what could be salvaged, which included using the same foundation. The war was named after Metacomet, a chief of the Wampanoag people dubbed ‘King Philip’ by the Brits.

The original house was built in the early settlement of Rehoboth, the original name of East Providence, in 1643. Some of the charred timbers are still in the walls of the present kitchen. It is located at 432 Massasoit Avenue in East Providence.

Philip was a deacon in the Congregational Church and an amateur poet. He was one of the wealthiest men in Rehoboth. Walker’s house was unfinished at the time of his death in 1679, but completed by his heirs.

Descendants of the Walker family gave the house to the group Preserve Rhode Island. Most of the antiques were auctioned, but the East Providence Historical Society did acquire some, which are currently on display in the Philip Walker Room of the Hunt House Museum.

Students with the Historic Preservation Program at Roger Williams University, in cooperation with Preserve Rhode Island, have been working on aspects of the house, including restoration of the horsehair plaster. In 1991, students in a group project as a part of one of Philip Marshall’s classes compiled a documentation report of the house for the Heritage Trust of Rhode Island, predecessor of Preserve Rhode Island, and, in 2004, an expert in historic plaster led a Horsehair Plaster Conservation Workshop at the house.

An 1861 book on the Walker family, Memorial of the Walkers of the Old Plymouth Colony, is available at many sites online, including Ancestry and Google Books. It has been reprinted multiple times by various companies, and is available on microfiche. A short biography, with extensive research notes, on ‘Deacon’ Philip Walker is posted as part of the Plymouth Colony Archive Project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Olive Walker is the namesake of her granddaughter Olive Jane Reynolds, who married George Martin Hill.