Sledding down College Hill

Even though the snow has melted in Providence for now, my winter sports dreams are still alive.
In 1791 a group of merchants and land owners in Providence around Main Street (now South Main Street) and Benefit Street signed a petition to the Providence Town Council to encourage them into action to stop children from sledding down the ‘cross streets and lanes’. The winter in the late 18th Century in Rhode Island involved a lot of snow, ice and mud. Everything a child could wish for.
So this winter should I see some children trying to sled down a hill near me, instead of writing to City Hall, I may just offer to help.

MSS 214 SG1 S1 No.6075 Providence Town Papers. Petition, 28 January 1791.
To the Worshipfull Town Council of the Town of Providence
The Petition of the Subscribers Inhabitants of the said Town most Respectfully sheweth.
That from the verry Dangerou[s] and Inconvenient practice that the Children of the Town are now in; of Slideing on Sleds down the Cross Streets and lanes that lead into the Main Street, much Danger arises to the Lives of the Inhabitants, as well as to Strangers that resort to this Town to Transact Business. That the practice is so Dangerous that the Lives and Limbs of the verry Children that practice this Business are often Indanger’d thereby.
Your Petitioners therefore Request that the Town Council would take this Representation into their most serious Consideration, and make such Orders and Regulations as they shall think necessary for preventing the abuse and Injury complained of and the will ever Pray.
Providence January 28th 1791
MSS 214 SG1 S1 No. 6079 (Verso). Providence Town Papers. Petition, 28 January 1791.
Signed on Verso:
Daniel Tillinghast
Thomas Lloyd Halsey
George Tillinghast
Welcome Arnold
Nicholas Brown
Nicholas Brown, Junior
Joseph Nightingale
Stephen Hopkins
Martin Seamans
Nathanael Gladding, Junior
Obadiah Seameans
Oliver Bowen Jr.
Jabez Bowen
Cyprian Sterry
Joseph Peck
Ephraim Bowen
William Peck
Samuel Westcott
Thomas Sabin
Fa[obscured] Martin
James Green
Thomas Jones
Elisha Brown
Robert Newell
Richard Jackson
John Updike
James Arnold
William Bowen
Joseph Russell
William Larned
William Page
Philip Allen
Nathan Waterman
John Carter
Ephraim Bowen, Junior
John I. Clark
John Brown

2 thoughts on “Sledding down College Hill

  1. My dad grew up in Portsmouth and moved to Buffalo in his 20s. We grew up used to abundant snow nearly every year here in Western New York. Dad told us that a snowfall good enough for sledding was rare in Portsmouth, and typically there would be sufficient snow for one good day. He and his friends would try to extend sledding one more day by gathering up the remaining snow and packing it on the hill. I don’t know where he did his sledding. Reading this article brought back that memory-thank you for that!

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