the historical record

a seasonal newsletter providing important
news, announcement and other society notes

Fall 2019

The Historical Record

Fall 2019 Edition Newsletter for The Middletown Historical Society of Middletown Rhode Island

President's Message

A letter from Mary Dennis, the next president of the Society.

Hello Everyone

My name is Mary Dennis and I will be your president of the Middletown Historical Society for the next term.

We have had a busy summer. Boyd’s Windmill and the Museum in Paradise School have been open every Sunday, and will continue to be open through Columbus Day weekend. Witherbee School has had great crowds on the one Sunday a month we have it open. This year we ran Boyd’s Windmill on August 24 as a family day to come relax and enjoy. Mother Nature cooperated handing us a very successful event. At the Middletown Public Library we have had a wonderful exhibit on display of grave rubbings by Middletown Historical Society founding member Harriet Ryan. Of course our Golden Rule Program brought our 4th graders back in time to experience school and life in the 1800’s. The history of our places of worship was researched and compiled by Nancy Damas. This was a welcome addition to our archives.

Our mission, Preservation, Restoration, Education, for the next two years will be focusing on education. This will include getting out the word about the Society. One way we can accomplish this is through membership. We thank all who continue to support us and askyou to bring in a neighbor or friend. Memberships help to provide the support necessary to continue archival exploration and storage, our service to the public and expansion of events and technical support. We have a lot of ambitious projects and would love to have the funds and hands to pursue them. We are always looking for pictures of Middletown from different time periods. Please share if you have some in your photo albums. Yeah, dust them off and bring them in. Our website and email have been updated. In order to move forward with these updates both addresses have changed. Please note the new information inside the newsletter and on the back page. The website content and functionality will change over the next few months as we make it more customer-friendly and add information. If you have any questions please feel free to email us.

Our doors are always open Wednesday mornings from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. If you have a question stop by or just come in to look around.

I hope to see many of you during the year. - Mary Dennis

Proclemation of Middletown's Stonewall Appreciation Day

The Monday of Thanksgiving Week is "Stonewall Appreciation Day"
A Copy of the Official Proclemation naming Stonewall Appreciation Day
“Hikers come across stone walls in the woods and they are surprised, puzzled until they dig back in their minds for the key that opens the lock of these mysterious works of back breaking effort, as out of place and evocative as a shipwreck on the ocean floor. This was where the country began, in these woods, and in agriculture, not industry. There is not a sign of the house and barns that would make sense of this sprawl of rocks on rock, yet that wall is still there to say that these woods were not always so, that they once were fields, and that the walls enclosed not young birches and shaggy-bark hickories but cows and crops. As visually pleasing as stone walls are, they are much more than just aestheticelements in the landscape. To see them only as this is to miss out on a rich tapestry of meanings that these structures have acquired over the past three centuries and on the stories that these walls have to tell. Amid the many, enduring questions about the stone walls and stone structures for New England one thing is known for certain: numerous factors combined to make the years between 1775 and 1825 the most active period of wall building that this area has ever experienced.”                           - Author Unknown

Learn more about the stonewalls and the commitment on keeping these natural historical records alive, visit

New Aquisition

Historic Research Volumes

We recently received a donation of 15 research volumes from the Middletown Public Library. They include histories ofthe founding families of the State, biographies of important people in theState, and the history of the State prepared by Samuel Greene Arnold, as well as several other publications. They are a valuable resource for our library. Please feel free to stop by any Wednesday between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. to search for your family’s history.

The Volume of Historical Records now on Display

Founders Day

Celebrate Middletown's 276th birthday on August 24th 2019

On August 24th we celebrated Middletown’s 276th birthday. The weather was perfect for this event, with just the right amount of wind for running Boyd’s Wind Grist Mill. Inside Paradise School children especially enjoyed watching the film “Half Pint” ( educational 30 minute film is about a boy who travels back in time and experiences World War II first hand. Upon returning to the present day he is inspired to talk to his grandfather about his experiences in the war. The battle scenes in the movie were filmed in Paradise Park and inside the Boyd’s windmill. We would like to thank Taylor Rental for their contribution, and we would also like to thank the following volunteers who helped make the day asuccess - Nancy Damas, Janice Hart, Mary lou Murphy, Douglas Nelson, Al Perry, Katherine Powers

Bill Nedderman setting up the sails on Boyd's Mill for Founder's Day 2019
Remembering Ken Walsh

For years, anyone who ventured to the end of Vernon Avenue in Middletown and stumbled across the remnants of an earthen fortification, believed they were standing in a British fort. Today, thanks to the efforts of Kenneth Walsh, Ph.D., those who visit the site can read of the true origins of Green End Fort –that it was built by the French under Rochambeau in 1780 and named for the Saintonge Regiment. It was never built or occupied by British forces, as was previously believed. Proving the origins of the Redoute de Saintonge was a passion for Dr. Walsh, who passed away November 17 at the age of 80. He was a curious person, an engineer by trade, with a love of American History. In the 1970s, he first encountered inconsistencies between a British made map and the physical location of the fort. This initial find sent him on 40 year quest to uncover the truth and prove his theory.In the process, he helped found the Middletown Historical Society, served as the first President of ourBoard of Directors, and spearheaded a project which resulted in a 364 page report to the National Park Service on the Siege of Newport. Many of you have likely encountered Dr. Walsh at our Founders Day event, or at the MHS table at Harvest Fair. Ever enthusiastic on local history, he was always ready to volunteer, set up his historic maps and talk to the public about his latest work. His passion and drive for uncovering our history was an invaluable asset to the society. He will be greatly missed.

Other News

Harvest Fair October 5 & 6

Please stop by our table at the Norman Bird Sanctuary 45th Anniversary Harvest Fair on October 5 and 6. We will have our windmill replicas for the children and our volunteers will be manning the table to answer questions about Middletown’s history.

Not a member? Join now!

Visit our website at You can print the membership form on our Contact & Membership Info page and mail that in with your payment.  You can also stop by one of our properties on any Sunday between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. during the summer months, or Paradise School on any Wednesday year round between 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

The Society

The Middletown Historical Society was founded on June 1, 1976.  In order to ensure a record of the town’s past, its heritage—-where we came from, what we have done, what has been important to us—-the Middletown Historical Society was formed to protect and preserve that priceless legacy which we have inherited.  PRESERVATION-RESTORATION-EDUCATION

become a member

Join the Society and help preserve the past, create new future discoveries, support educational events and more. Middletown Historical Society is a non-profit organization with a volunteer only staff. Memberships help create new opportunities and safeguard/provide upkeep of current entities.