History of Woonsocket
by E. Richardson
Woonsocket: S. S. Foss, Printer, Patriot Building, Main Street, 1876.
HISTORY. CHAPTER III.
Although I shall step out of the present limits of Woonsocket in so doing, still I deem it necessary to give the subdivisions of the estate of Richard Arnold II. But I will make my narrative brief as possible.
This man married Mary Woodward, who presented him with six boys, namely - Richard, Woodward, Joseph, Thomas, Edmund and Josias. Before his death he gave to each of these boys a farm. He died intestate, June, 1745.
The farm which he gave to his son Richard still remains in the possession of the family. It was given May 11, 1731, and comprised sixty acres, bounded on one side by the homestead farm, and on another by the 'thousand acre' purchase of Edward Inman, et als. The young landholder is spoken of as a very ingenious man; and, June 6, 1733, during the minority of his children, he left his wife and family and went to Philadelphia, in pursuit of occupation more congenial to his taste. He was never afterwards heard from. The farm eventually became the property of his son, Stephen Arnold, a highly respectable citizens of these parts in the last century. It is now owned and occupied by Abraham Arnold, the grandson of Stephen and brother to our townsman, Hon. Cyrus Arnold.
September 17, 1731, Richard gave to his son, Woodward Arnold, a farm lying within the 'thousand acre purchase', on the north-west part of Woonsocket Hill. Six years afterward Woodward sold his inheritance to Nathan Staples, of Mendon, and removed to Massachusetts. The farm has been known as the 'Nathan Staples's Place' for upward of a century.
Thomas Arnold inherited the homestead farm. It passed to his son, Peleg Arnold. During the latter part of the last century, the house was one of the taverns for which Woonsocket has been so famous.
Edmund Arnold was presented, December 29, 1735, with the farm which is now the property of Arnold Wakefield, Esq.
Josiah Arnold was given, February 22, 1736, and again October 15, 1737, an estate near Woonsocket Hill. The area of the two estates was one hundred and forty-four acres. Josiah was the father of Dr. Jonathan Arnold, of Revolutionary fame, and the grandfather of Lemuel Hastings Arnold, one of the Governors of our State.
Joseph Arnold was given an estate, October 20, 1731, but he resided upon it but a short season, if he did at all.* His residence was where Mrs. Eliza Osborne now lives. This he purchased of William, the son of Hezediah Comstock, in the year 1744, and became an innkeeper. Of Joseph Arnold I shall have more to say in another chapter.
*The farm which Joseph received from his father was afterwards occupied by his sons, Jacob and Dr. William Arnold. I derive this from Joseph's will. A portion of the estate is now owned by Arnold Wakefield.
I have said that Richard Arnold was the first settler of Woonsocket, and in this I am supported by documentary evidence, which I have given to the reader. But the voice of tradition is against me, and, as paradoxical as the statement may be, the records are also against me. I will endeavor to explain myself. That he was the first proprietor of the lands and the improvements thereon, is beyond dispute. That he ever permanently resided here, may be doubted. Dr. Seth Arnold is firm in the conviction that he did live here, and locates his residence near where now stands the slaughter-house of William H. Andrews, on the Globe side of the river. His evidence is that of Rachel Arnold, the widow of Stephen Arnold, who at the beginning of the present century - she then being a very aged lady - pointed out the spot to him. Mr. Thomas A. Paine is as decided in an opposite opinion, and says that it has been, for upwards of a century, a tradition in his family that JOHN ARNOLD, the son of Richard, was the first settler of Woonsocket. I think that these two apparently opposite opinions may be satisfactorily reconciled.
p. 44 - 46.
In his younger days Richard Arnold probably lived in the valley of the Moshassuck. While living there, he erected his saw-mill amid the solitudes of these parts. It was not an unusual thing in those days for men to cultivate farms even which were many miles away from their places of residence. I recall at this moment a tradition of Lime Rock, which speaks of a Pray family, who owned and cultivated lands in that vicinity and lived at Providence. Indeed, in those times of Indian troubles, it would have been almost criminal for one to bring his wife and children away from a place of comparative safety. But although not living there, it was imperatively necessary that a temporary shelter should be built. And probably the temporary shelter of Richard Arnold was constructed at the place pointed out by Dr. Arnold. That Richard Arnold lived at the Providence settlement when his will was written, is quite evident to the most careless reader. I shall, therefore, yield to the opinion of Mr. Paine, and give to his great, great, grandfather, JOHN ARNOLD, the honor of having been the first settler of Woonsocket.