Jamestown Historical Society

First Issue of Jamestown Press

Jamestown Newspapers: 1910-2014

During most of its history, Jamestown hasn't had its own newspaper.

The first periodical, The Electric Spark, was published in 1910.  Next, came the Town Crier, followed by the Jamestown Gazette, then The Islander, and, currently, The Jamestown Press - known as the "paper of record" for the island.

This week we celebrate the 25th birthday of the Jamestown Press.  Read Rosemary Enright's article in The Press about The Press and all the newspapers that have served the Jamestown community.

For more details, visit our latest Library Exhibit, prepared by Rosemary Enright, Carol Lake, and Sue Maden.



Ye Olde Map of James Towne or Quononquit Island

Visit the Jamestown Philomenian Library and enjoy the many versions of this map of our town.

“Ye Olde Map” was created in 1928 in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the incorporation of the town. It was designed by Sylvester Clyde King, Jr., a commercial artist who lived in North Kingstown.

The map has been used for many purposes. Students at the Thomas H. Clarke School learned manual skills by craving the map into their carpentry projects. Walter Leon Watson, whose printing firm held the copyright, printed the map on the dust jacket of his 1949 history of Jamestown. And several organization have incorporated it in promotional and advertising materials.

When Narragansett Bay Freezes

It's been VERY cold lately.  Do you think the Bay will freeze over?  When was the last time it froze all the way to Newport?

Read Rosemary Enright and Sue Maden's article in the Jamestown and find out answers to these questions and others.

This Week in Island History

Do you know that every week, Sue Maden, has a new column about Jamestown History. The news is complied from the Jamestown Press and the Newport Historical Society.  Here is the latest column.

Jamestown Historical Society News

For the latest news, read Rosemary Enright's monthly Jamestown Historical Society News in the Jamestown Press.

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Jamestown Town Hall, Lower level
Tuesday and Thursday
9 a.m. til noon

As part of the JHS mission to "Collect, Preserve, and Share with others the heritage of Jamestown, Rhode Island", our newest Jamestown Library Exhibit shows a family history through archives. 

The story of the Weedens of Jamestown is traced through documents in the JHS archives.

The organizers of the exhibit were Holly Collins and Arlene Petit.  Holly and Arlene researched and selected the documents to be displayed.  Sue Maden and Rosemary Enright coordinated and installed the exhibit.  Holly, Arlene, Sue and Rosemary were assisted by many other JHS volunteers.


On Monday, January 6th, at 7:00pm, the Monday Night Mystery Book Group, will discuss Dutch Island: a novel, written by Curt Weeden.  The plot revolves around several murders, the Dutch Island deed, and a man suffering from Parkinson's disease.  Everyone who has read the book, which is available through the libary, is invited to attend and to participate in the discussion. 

The Dutch Island deed, owned by the Weeden family, will be displayed at the library.

On Thursday, January 9th, at 7:30 pm, Curt Weeden, the author of Dutch Island: a novel will talk about his book, the Weeden family which helped settle Jamestown in the 17th and 18th centuries at the Jamestown Philomenian Library. 

For a introduction to the Weeden Family, see this week's Jamestown Press.

Plaque Mounted on Original Beavertail Lighthouse Foundation

Thanks to the generosity of Brookie Harding and the dedication of the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association, the slate plaque is now embedded in the recently stabilized lighthouse foundation.  The plaque was commissioned by the JHS in 1951 to mark the site of the original 1749 Beavertail Light.

Read all about it in the Jamestown Press.



Annual Exhibit of Donations Received This Year

Each year the Collections Committee, chaired by Dianne Rugh, approves the donation and acquistion of many items.  From December 2012 thru October 2013, we received items from over 100 of your friends and neighbors. 

Among them are a one-piece wool bathing suit, a radio tube found at the Connanicut Battery, and button from Bruce Keiser's retirement party.  These donations and 15 others are now displayed in our display case at the Jamestown Library.


Jamestown men announced their support of the United Colonies in this June 1774 document conserved in the JHS collection.

Conserving 18th and 19th Century Documents

In April 2012, the Society received a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation Ott Fund to clean, mend, and place in archival polyester envelopes about 70 18th and early 19th century documents in the collection. A follow-on grant has since been received from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities to conserve another 210 documents.  Read about the documents in the Jamestown Press.

A third grant, awarded by the Rhode Island Foundation Newport County Fund in May 2013, is supporting exhibits of the documents in the Town Hall and the Lawn Avenue school, as well as other exhibits in the library. Examine the exhibit at the Lawn Avenue School.

Photo by Mick Cochran

Improving Signage

at Windmill

How the Jamestown windmill works will soon be easier to understand. The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH) has awarded the Society $11,650 to improve the signage inside the 1787 structure. 

Under the grant, new and more attractive labels will replace the existing ones, and diagrams explaining the working of the mill will be added to relate the labeled mechanism to the actual milling operation. The second level, which was originally used for storage and is now empty, will be turned into a small museum of windmill history. Lighting will be added at all levels and used to call attention to distinctive features of the building and to the operations performed there. 

The schedule calls for the project to be completed by Windmill Day 2014, which is planned for mid-July 2014.

Antoinette F. Downing Volunteer Award

President Linnea Petersen and secretary Rosemary Enright accepting the Antoinette F. Downing Volunteer Award.

Each year, the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission and Preserve Rhode Island honor a “volunteer preservationist who has made a contribution through a lifetime of effort or through a single significant project.” The 2012 award was given to the Jamestown Historical Society and to its generations of volunteers for 100 years of dedication to preserving the history of Jamestown.


View "Me, Myself, and Jordy: the Special Appeal of Jamestown Architecture"
an address by Dr. Ronald Onorato
at the JHS Annual Meeting, August 8, 2013

View "Jamestown's Steam Ferries: 1873-1969"
 an address by Archie Clarke, III
at the JHS ANNUAL MEETING, August 9, 2012

Videos courtesy of thejamestownrecord.com

Sue Maden shows us the movable shelves in the JTN Vault ...
Help preserve Jamestown. Become a member today.

Visit the JHS exhibits in the Town Hall at 93 Narragansett Avenue.

View the JHS display case in the lobby of the Jamestown Philomenian Library at 26 North Main Road.

2012-2013 Annual Report


For our 100th anniversary, the JHS is collecting the histories of how and when people and/or their families first came to Jamestown. And what has happened since.
• Who in your family first came to Jamestown? When? Where from? Why? What did they do once they got here?
• What is the extent of the family (parents, siblings, cousins, etc.) presence in Jamestown?
• How many generations? How long did they stay? 
• Are they still here? If they left, why did they? Where did they go?
E-mail your family’s story to sdmaden@aol.com or 
mail it to Jamestown Historical Society, PO Box 156, Jamestown, RI 02835 or 
call Sue Maden at 401-423-2167. 
Please include contact information, such as email, street address, phone number. 

Photos of families with individuals identified by name and/or family relationship would be appreciated. All information will be added to the JHS collection.

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