Law firm, Providence, R.I.
Case file, 1975-1978 (copies of documents, 1524-1978)
Size: 1.5 linear feet
Catalog number: MSS 877
Processed by: Rick Stattler, February 1997
©Rhode Island Historical Society
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Scope and content:
This collection consists of evidence presented in a 1975 suit by the Narragansett Indians against the owners of their former tribal land in Charlestown, R.I. The land had been sold by the state of Rhode Island in 1890. The collection includes copies of evidence presented by both the plaintiff and the defendants in this suit, and collected by the Providence legal firm of Edwards and Angell, which represented the Narragansetts in the case.
Both legal teams made an effort to uncover every scrap of evidence relating to Narragansett land claims, dating back to the first European visit to Rhode Island by Verrazanno in 1524. The most important known documents relating to the Narragansetts are copied in this file, including early deeds, the tribal minute book from 1850 to 1860, the 1881 report listing accepted tribal members, and numerous petitions made to the Rhode Island General Assembly.
These files should prove to be a valuable time-saver for any researcher interested in the Narragansetts, as the need for tracking down these rare or unique documents in repositories across the state is eliminated. The records should be of interest to both the historian and the genealogist.
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These files were a gift from Edwards and Angell in 1990.
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Processing note:The designation volume in this collection refers to photocopies clipped together. The volumes are stored in acid free folders in 2 archival boxes.
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This inventory does not list every piece of evidence in the files. It does indicate all manuscript items, and newspaper clippings. Complete copies of particularly important published works are also indicated, and the general chronological range of each volume is indicated as well. For full citations, see the actual files.
This collection housed in 2 boxes and is organized into the following 4 series:
Series 1: "Defendant's Request for Admission"
Series 2: "Defendants' Second Set of Requests for Admission"
Series 3: "Plaintiff's Third Set of Requests for Admission to Defendants"
Series 4: "Miscellaneous"
#: Exhibit number
CLE: Charlestown Town Land Evidence Books
JCB: John Carter Brown Library at Brown Unviversity
JH: John Hay Library at Brown University
KML: Arnold Collection at Knight Memorial Library, Providence, RI.
NHS: Newport Historical Society. From "Indian File" unless noted.
RISA: Rhode Island State Archives
SK: South Kingstown Probate and Council Records
WLE: Westerly Town Land Evidences
Series 1: "Defendant's Request for Admission"
Box 1, Series 1, Volume 1 (List of exhibits and summary of evidence)
Box 1, Series 1, Volume 2 (Exhibits #1-43, pages 1-250)
Published transcriptions of documents dated 1524-1642, mostly by Roger Williams and John Winthrop. No manuscripts.
Box 1, Series 1, Volume 3 (Exhibits #44-134, pages 251-502)
Published transcriptions of documents dated 1643-1665. No manuscripts.
Box 1, Series 1, Volume 4 (Exhibits #135-196, pages 503-750)
Published transcriptions of records dated 1667-1708.
#177 Act of R.I. General Assembly, May 4, 1681, at JCB
#186,189,194 Deeds by Ninigret, 1698, 1703, 1708, in WLE
Box 1, Series 1, Volume 5 (Exhibits #197-285, pages 752-1000)
Copies of records dating 1709-1795
#200 Deed from Ninigret, 1709, in RISA Land Evidences.
#201 Deed from Ninigret, 1711, in WLE
#214-215 Deeds from Charles Ninigret, 1733, in WLE
#222,223,226 Deeds from George Ninigret, 1743-1746, in CLE
#233,234,236 Petitions before General Assemby, 1763, in RISA Narragansett file
#240,252-254 Deeds from Thomas Ninigret, 1765, in CLE
#245-247,250 Petitions before General Assemby, 1769, in RISA Narragansett file
#255 Proclamation by Gov. Wanton, 1769, at JCB
#256 Report to General Assembly, 1770, in RISA Narragansett file
#260 Deed from Thomas Ninigret estate, 1771, in CLE
#262 Resolution re sale of Thomas Ninigret's land, 1772, RISA Narragansett file
#264 Petition to General Assembly, 1773, in RISA Narragansett file
#265 Manuscript 1774 census of Charlestown, in RISA
#272 Petition to General Assembly, 1787, in RISA Narragansett file
#284 Regulations for Narragansetts, 1792, in RISA Narragansett file
Box 1, Series 1, Volume 6 (Exhibits #286-352, pages 1001-1212)
Copies of records dating 1800-1875
#288-289 Deeds on behalf of Narragansetts, 1804, in CLE
#293-309General Assembly petitions and resolutions, 1811-1819, in RISA Narragansett file
#300 Deed from Daniel Babcock, 1813
#315,320-335 General Assembly petitions, 1824-1839, in RISA Narragansett File
#321 Deed on behalf of Narragansetts, 1826, in CLE
#347 Deed on behalf of Narragansetts, 1859, in CLE
#349 Deed on behalf of Narragansetts, 1864, in CLE
Box 1, Series 1, Volume 7 (Exhibits #353-364, pages 1213-1437)
Mostly copies of records dating 1880-1899. The bulk are printed reports to the General Assembly. Exhibit #355 is the important Report of Commission on the Affairs of the Narragansett Indians made to the General Assembly dated January 1881, which gives a list of all tribal members as well as extensive tesimony.
#357 Distribution of funds, 1882, in CLE
#363 Deed from Charles Ninigret, 1731, in WLE
"Defendants' Second Set of Requests for Admission"
Submitted circa 1977?
The exhibit list and legal documentation for this set are missing.
Volume 1 (Exhibits #365-424, pages 1438-1615)
Copies relating to 1620-1760 period.
#379 Testimony of George Wightman, May 1, 1704, in NHS
#380 Stiles, "A Map of Narragansett Country", 1759, with testimony, source unknown.
#381 R.I. General Assembly appointment of Narragansett Commissioners, from RIHS Shepley Collection, 9-35.
#406-415 Probate of Abigail Wescome estate, 1743, and other South Kingstown probate records 1743-1759, in SK
#417,419,423 Petitions to the R.I. General Assembly, 1732-1765, in RISA
#420-424 Runaway notices from Newport Mercury, 1759-1769
Volume 2 (Exhibits #425-494, pages 1616-1867)
Copies from the entire 1659-1976 period.
#427 Letter from Charles Augustus Ninigret to King George, 1727 (typescript), RIHS
#428, 430, 481, 482 Petitions to General Assemby, 1725-1746, RISA
#431 Deed, C.A. Ninigret to Church of England, 1746, in RIHS Champlin Papers
#436-473 Articles on annual meetings in Providence Journal, the Providence Evining Bulletin, and the Westerly Sun, 1905-1976.
#446 Poster advertising meeting, 8/13/1939
#476 Illegible birth return from Westerly, May 27, 1873
#477 Various Charlestown town marriages, 1865-1878
#478 Deed from Coginiquant, 1659, in RIHS.
#480 Deposition of Nathaniel Waterman, 1706, in NHS
#483-485 Records re Thomas Ninigret estate, 1746-1754, in RIHS Champlin Papers
#486 Message of Gov. Cooke to the Oneida Indians, 1775, in RIHS Cooke Papers
#487 Population totals of Indians, 1730-1791, in RIHS Foster Papers
#491 Elisha Potter Jr. letter to father, 1833, in RIHS Potter Papers
#494 Charlestown Tax Books for 1856 to 1880, reproduced in full.
Volume 3 (Exhibits #495-585, pages 1868-2102)
Mostly news clippings from 1862-1970, and manuscripts from 1712-1765.
#495 Letter from B.B. Thurston to E.R. Potter, 1833, in RIHS Shepley Collection
#497-507 From the Westerly Narragansett Weekly and Providence Journal, 1862-1883.
#509-525 From the Westerly Sun, Narragansett Times, Providence Journal, 1899-1970
#529 Governor's meeting notes on message to Indian kings, 1663, in NHS
#533-580 Petitions to General Assembly, 1732-1765, in RISA
Mixed w/ Charles Ninigret estate file, 1712-1756 from RIHS Champlin Papers
#585 Petition to General Assembly, 1785, from RIHS collection
Volume 4 (Exhibits #586-713, pages 2103-2323)
Copies of documents from 1789-1899.
#588 Petition to the General Assembly, 1789
#589 "Act to Regulate the...Narragansetts", 1792, RIHS Shepley Collection
#592-597 "Committee to Transact Indians' Affairs", 1792-97, RIHS Shepley Collection
#598 Letter, Arthur Fenner re Narragansett agents, 1795, RIHS Fenner Papers
#599 Plat map, Nathan Kinyon land, 1795, RIHS Updike Papers
#600 Testimony of Samson Hoxsey, 1796, in RIHS Shepley Collection
#601 Plat map of James Kenyon land, 1778, in RIHS Shepley Collection
#603 Letter from the Indian affairs committee, 1800, in RIHS Shepley Collection
#604 Petition to the General Assembly, undated, from RISA
#605 Deed, Indian Council to Gideon Hoxsie, 1800, in CLE
#606 Receipt, 1802, from RIHS Shepley Collection
#609 Receipt, 1810, from RIHS Shepley Collection
#611 Petition of John Harry, 1812, from RIHS Shepley Collection
#614 Deed, Narragansett Council, 1812, in CLE
#615 Deed, Narragansett Council to Benjamin Wilson, 1813, in CLE
#620 Conditions of sale for Narragansett Council, 1819, in RIHS
#622 Letter, Tobias Ross to Elisha R. Potter, 1836, in RIHS Potter Papers
#623 Letter, E.R. Potter to Wilkins Updike, 1839, in RIHS Potter Papers
#624-643 Petitions and other records of the Narragansett Council before the RI General Assembly, 1842-1850, in RIHS Shepley Coll.
#635 Letter, E.R. Potter to Gov. Fenner, 1843, in RISA Letters to Governor.
#652 Report on General Assembly meeting, 2/25/1859, in Providence Daily Post
#663-676, 680 General Assembly notes from Westerly Narragansett Weekly, 1879-1883
#678-679 Letters from J.M. Addeman to Sidney Rider, 1883, from JH?
#681-710 Articles from various newspapers, 1893-1899
#706 Letter, F.M. Morrison to Sidney Rider, 1898, from JH?
Volume 5 (Exhibits #714-748, pages 2324-2458)
Mostly copies of documents from 1900-1947
#714 Hearing Before a Subcommittee of the Council on Indian Affairs of the United States Senate in Relation to Certain Claims of the Montauk, Shinnecock, Narragansett and Mohegan Indians, 1900. 128 pages (complete).
#716- Articles from various newspapers, 1900-
#719-727 Correspondence of James N. Arnold, 1901, from KML?
#728 Article, Westerly Sun, 1901
#729-740 Correspondence with U.S. Dept. of Interior, 1924-1937, from National Archives?
#741 Article on tribe church bill in Providence Journal, 1935
"Plaintiff's Third Set of Requests for Admission to Defendants"
Submitted by the Narragansetts, 1976 (in box 2)
Volume 1 (Exhibits #1-58, pages 1-230)
List of exhibits and historical events. Also published transcripts of documents from 1524-1661. No manuscripts.
Volume 2 (Exhibits #58-156, pages 231-513)
Copies of documents dated 1661-1858
#86-88 Deeds from Ninigret, 1698, 1703, 1706, in WLE
#91 Deed from Ninigret, 1709, in RISA Land Evidence
#93 Westerly Town Meeting minutes, 1710
#100 Deed from Charles Ninigret, 1731, in WLE
#105-107 Deeds and plats of George Ninigret, 1745, in CLE
#108-111 Reports and petitions to General Assembly, 1747-1757, in RISA Narragansett file
#112 Deed from Thomas Ninigret, 1758, in CLE
#120 Deed from Thomas Ninigret, 1769, in CLE
#121 Deed from Sam Niles et al, 1769, in CLE
#122-125 Reports and petitions to General Assembly, 1769-1773, in RISA Narragansett file
#130 Deed from David Sekater, et al, 1791, in CLE
#135 Act of General Assembly, 1811, in RISA Narragansett file
#136 Petition of Moses Stanton, 1813, in RISA Narragansett file
#138 Act of General assembly, 1816, in RISA Narragansett file
#141-146 Petitions to General Assembly, 1830-1834, in RISA Narragansett file
Volume 3 (Exhibits #157-172, page 514-801)
Copies of records from 1850-1882, including printed reports.
#157 Book of records for Narragansett Tribe, 1850-1860. Copy of original minute book at Charlestown Town Hall. 124 pages, very important.
#169 1774 census of Charlestown, at RISA
#170 1870 census of Indians at Charlestown, at RISA
#172 Deed re Narragansetts, 1875, in CLE
Folder 1. Newspaper clippings re lawsuit, 1975
Folder 2. Article titled "the Minutes and Ledgers of the Narragansett Tribe of Indians, 1850-1865: An Intimate Glimpse into the Economic and Social Life of an acculturated Indian Tribe on the Threshold of Detribalization", by Ethel Boissevain, in Man in the Northeast, Spring 1974
Folder 3. Act of Rhode Island General Assembly establishing the Narragansett Indian Land Management Corporation, 1978.
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Charlestown, R.I. - Land records
Indians of North America - Land tenure
Land title - Rhode Island - Charlestown
Narraganset Indians - Land tenure
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