Monday, January 27, 2014

Military Monday (January 27, 2014) -- World War I "Welcome Home Celebration" in Lonsdale, Rhode Island

My maternal grandfather, Everett S. Carpenter, served in World War I in the Army Ordnance Department. He enlisted on January 1, 1918 and was stationed first at Watervliet Arsenal near Albany, New York until May 10, 1918 when he was transferred to Camp Merritt, New Jersey to await transport to Europe. He sailed for France on May 26, 1918.

After landing at Bordeaux on Sunday, June 9, 1918, Everett served in France until July 1919 when he was ordered to Paris to receive reports he was to courier to Washington, DC.  He sailed with the reports from Brest, France on July 7, 1919 and arrived in New York on the 13th. He then took the night rain to Washington and delivered the reports with which he had been entrusted. He was honorably discharged from the Army at Camp Meigs in Washington, DC on July 17, 1919 with the rank of Ordnance Sergeant. Everett arrived home in Lonsdale (Cumberland), Rhode Island in the morning of July 18, 1919.

As the ticket above shows, a "Welcome Home Celebration" for WWI veterans was held in Lonsdale on September 13, 1919 -- two months after my grandfather returned home from his service in the war. [The formal end of WWI came with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles with Germany on June 28, 1919; however, the U.S. public objected to the Treaty of Versailles because of its creation of the League of Nations and so the United States did not formally end its World War I involvement until the signing of the 1921 Knox-Porter Resolution.]

The location of the Welcome Home Celebration banquet and dance was at Lonsdale Hall. Lonsdale is a village (and since 1984 a historic district) in Lincoln and Cumberland, Rhode Island. Originally the village of Lonsdale was part of the town of Smithfield, Rhode Island until the town of Lincoln was created in 1871 and named in honor of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln's villages include Manville, Albion, Lime Rock, Fairlawn, Quinnville, and Saylesville as well as Lonsdale.

According to the February 20, 1984 National Register of Historic Places Inventory -- Nomination Form for Lonsdale Historic District, Lonsdale Hall was built in 1869 by the Lonsdale Company as a community meeting place and commercial center. It was the "social and commercial center of the village." The Lonsdale industrial village, which is now a historic district, was built between 1831 and the 1920s by the Lonsdale Company.

The Lonsdale Company was chartered in 1834 and grew out of the Lonsdale Water Power Company founded by the firm of Brown & Ives in about 1825. The Water Power Company began buying up water rights and properties along the Blackstone River in the towns of Cumberland and Smithfield and in 1831 started construction of its first mill (Lonsdale Mill No. 1). Subsequently, the company organized a village around its mill and named the village "Lonsdale." The mill village included a school, church, store, houses, tenements, and -- in 1869 -- the construction of a community social meeting place known as "Lonsdale Hall."

I have been unable to find a photograph of Lonsdale Hall, but the National Register Nomination Form referred to above describes the building (at page 12 of the form) as follows:

                    A long, 3 1/2 story, brick building; its cornice is bracketed and its windows set
                    under segmental arches between brick piers. [As of the date of the 1984 report]
                    the first floor has been modified with large plate glass windows and a stucco
                    covering. The Hall was built by the Lonsdale Company as a community meeting
                    place and commercial center. It housed the local library, club rooms, and a
                    meeting hall on the upper floors; small shops occupied the first floor -- in 1888
                    there were a drug store, barber shop, dry goods store, and bakery here.  

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Original September 13, 1919 "Welcome Home Celebration" ticket in the personal collection of the author.

For more information about the Lonsdale Company and its records, see the "Guide to the Lonsdale Company Records 1831 - 1946" (2009) by the Rhode Island Historical Society 

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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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1 comment:

  1. I live in North Attleboro MA and have been to the Lonsdale Mill many the Ann and Hope store. I didn't know the history of the mill and all of those brick houses in the area until now though, Thanks!