1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 David Lake Family Papers

 Carpenter, of Tiverton, R.I.

 Family papers, 1797-1926. Bulk, 1797-1844.

 Size: .25 ft.

 Catalog number: MSS 1119

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, April 2003

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            David Lake (1761-1850) was the son of Job and Mercy (Heffernan) Lake, and resided in Tiverton, R.I. for his entire life. He served in the Tiverton militia during the Revolution, and was frequently posted along the shore to guard against a British invasion from Aquidneck Island. After the war, he worked as a carpenter and freelance laborer, and married Susannah Dennis in 1785. They had eight children, including Ruth Lake, who married Joseph Bennett.

            Ruth (Lake) Bennett (1785-1852) had at least three children: Isaac (b.1814), Peace (b.c1816, married Alexander Brown), and Ruth (1820-1886).



Lake, Robert P. "Another Revolutionary War Soldier and His Family," Rhode Island Roots December 1984, 89-92.

Wiggins, Rosalind Cobb. Captain Paul Cuffe's Logs and Letters. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1996.

A Patchwork History of Tiverton, Tiverton Historical Society, 1976.

Social Security Death Index (Kenneth Barker)

1850 U.S. Census, Rhode Island, Tiverton pages 79 (Isaac Bennet), 94 (Lakes), 99 (Dyers)

1870 U.S. Census, Rhode Island, Tiverton page 600 (Dyers)

1920 U.S. Census, Rhode Island, Tiverton, E.D. 67, page 6 (Barkers)

Return to top

Scope and content:

            This collection consists of David Lake's ledger and related receipts dating from 1797 to 1844; an 1827 mathematics book belonging to David Bennett (probably a grandson of David Lake), and two documents from Lake's granddaughter Ruth Bennett. It also includes a folder of business papers from Tiverton tax collector Charles Dyer dating from 1873 to 1889, and one 1926 document from Dyer's great-grandson Kenneth L. Barker. The collection also includes an 1833 mathematics text from Nancy Wood, whose relation to the above is unknown.

            The David Lake ledger consists of 113 pages of accounts dating from 1797 to 1844, and the inside back cover includes addresses of Durfee Springer, Judah Morehouse and George Springer (apparently family members) in New York. The first 92 pages of the book are indexed. The ledger apparently records the labor Lake did for a wide variety of other men in Tiverton. In the early part of the ledger he often billed at one dollar per day, and generally worked five or six days per week. By 1804, he was also bringing his son James (1789-1855) out on jobs with him (p.3). Son Job (1796-1872) had joined them by 1812 (p.33), and son Anthony (b.1793) in 1813 (p.38). The Lakes were apparently skilled carpenters, and frequently helped build or repair ships. From 1799 to 1803, Lake worked intermittently for John Cook & Son on Cook's schooner John, brig Sally and brig Polly (p.7-8). The Lakes also helped build everything from houses (p.26) to oxen yokes (p.64) to looms (p.59). They also did day labor as diverse as killing hogs (p.26), cutting timber (p.28), building walls (p.38), and weaving broadcloth (p.46). Lake was still doing some carpentry work as late as 1838 (receipt in folder 2), when he was 77 years old, and sold off some scrap iron in 1844 at the age of 83 (p.112).

            One of Lake's accounts is of particular interest. From 1805 to 1807, David and James Lake worked frequently for the partnership of Lemuel Milk and Paul Cuffe, billing for "work done on their ship" (p.15-18, 23). Paul Cuffe was probably the most successful African-American merchant of the early republic. Although Cuffe generally hired other African-Americans for his ship's crew, census records suggest that Lake was white. Cuffe paid Lake in cash, sugar and lottery tickets.

Return to top


            This collection apparently passed down to David Lake's grand-daughter Ruth Bennett. Charles Dyer seems to have been involved in her estate (possibly as a relative), and probably acquired the papers at that point. From there, they were apparently passed on to his daughter Lillian (b.1853, married Edgar L. Barker), her son Herbert L. Barker (b.1882), and his son Kenneth L. Barker (1909-1978). Supporting this common provenance is the child's signature "Baker A Kennth" on the Lake ledger, suggesting that Kenneth Barker may have played with it as a child. Barker's family apparently passed the collection on to Allen Smith of Tiverton in the early twenty-first century with the hope that he could find a permanent home for them, and he donated them to the Rhode Island Historical Society in 2003.

Return to top


David Lake (1761-1850)

Folder 1. Ledger, 1797-1844.

Folder 2. Loose accounts, 1817-1838

David Bennett, grandson of David Lake?

Folder 3. Ciphering book, 1827. With inserted slip reading "Isaac Bennet's book, 1830."

Ruth Bennett (1820-1886), granddaughter of David Lake

Folder 4. Poem, 1870; estate account, 1886.

Charles Dyer (1831-after 1900). From Tiverton Four Corners. Involved in Ruth Bennett estate.

Folder 5. Papers, 1873-1889, including:

            Five notices of tax sales against the Dwelly family and John Collins, 1873-1879

            Receipt signed by Charles H. Wilbour, 1881

            Letter from Miss P.F.K. Bennett of New Bedford re death of Ruth Bennett, 1886

            Letter from Durfee & Chace, brokers of Fall River, 1887

            Letter from Emma B. Mosher of Melrose, Mass. re Brook Pasture land, 1887

            Letter from F.H. Wilcox of Clarksburg, Cal., 1888

            Letter from Alfred Richards of New Bedford, 1888, with undated receipt

            Letter from Ruth Estes Lake of Fall River, 1888

            Letter from Joshua C. Durfee of Eagleville, R.I., 1889

            Letter from Mrs. A.M. Lake of Fall River, undated

            Miscellaneous receipts, 1886-1888 and undated

Preserved Dyer (c1799-1850), father of Charles Dyer.

Folder 6. Account with Job Cory, 1847-1850; estate receipt, 1850

Kenneth L. Barker (1909-1978). Great-grandson of Charles Dyer.

Folder 7. "Military Training Certificate" from the Citizens' Military Training Camp at Fort Adams, R.I., 1926

Nancy Wood. Relationship to the above is unknown.

Folder 8. Ciphering book, 1833.

Return to top


Barker, Kenneth L., 1909-1978.

Bennett, David.

Bennett, Ruth, 1820-1886.

Carpenters - Rhode Island - Tiverton.

Ciphering books.

Citizen's Military Training Camps.

Cuffe, Paul, 1759-1817.

Dyer, Charles, 1831-.

Dyer, Preserved, c.1799-1850.

Shipwrights - Rhode Island - Tiverton.

Textile industry - Rhode Island - Tiverton.

Tiverton (R.I.) - Commerce.

End of finding aid - return to top