James
and Rebecca (Bullough) Grimshaw

Immigrants to North Providence, Rhode Island from Wigan, Lancashire

Home Page

James Grimshaw and Rebecca Bullough were apparently born in the Wigan area in the 1850s and were married there in about 1881. They had seven children — Rebecca, James, Jane, Esther, Alice, Thomas, and Peter Grimshaw — all of whom were born in or around Wigan. Because of Rebecca’s family connections in the woolen industry, the couple apparently emigrated to Rhode Island in 1912. Their move appears to have been under a contractual arrangement, and the family settled in Greystone in North Providence. James worked as a supervisor in a woolen mill. Rebecca died in 1916, and James lived until 1932. Both are apparently buried in Rhode Island.

There were a number of Grimshaw families in North Providence that preceded the relatively late arrival of James and Rebecca.  One of the earlier families was that of John and Flora (Fraser) Grimshaw family, who are described on a companion webpage. Other Grimshaw immigrants were apparently Jane (born about 1818), William (about 1819), Peter (1826), and Edith (1844). The relationship of James and Rebecca Grimshaw to these earlier families has not yet been determined.

Contents


Webpage Credits

Thomas Dobson Email Notes, November 2004

Lorna Dobson Postings on Genealogy Websites

Descendant Chart for James and Rebecca Grimshaw

James and Rebecca Grimshaw Arrived in America in 1912

Other Grimshaw Families in the U.S. Census Records for 1860, 1870, and 1880

Where is Greystone Located in Rhode Island?

Where Is Wigan Located in Lancashire?

WWI Memorial in Greystone, Rhode Island with Peter Grimshaw Named

Life in Greystone As Recalled by Rebecca (Grimshaw) Bullough’s Son

Photos of Greystone Mill, North Providence, RI

Greystone Mill Is on the National Register of Historic Places

References

Webpage Credits

Thanks go to Thomas Dobson for providing much of the information on this webpage. Thomas is the grandson of John and Rebecca Grimshaw (son of their daughter Rebecca).

Thomas Dobson Email Notes, November 2004

One of the main sources of information on James and Rebecca Grimshaw and their family is Thomas Dobson, who sent  a series of e-mails in November 2004. They are shown below.

Note 1

William and Rebecca [Bullough] Grimshaw, parents of Rebecca Grimshaw who married John Alexander Dobson at St. Albans Church [Anglican] in or around 1920. In 1914 Rebecca Bullough returned to England with her youngest daughter, Rebecca, to re-establish the family in England; however, WWI was around the corner and they were told to return a.s.a.p. to the USA where the remainder of the family was located. Peter and William, their sons, served in the Canadian Army in WWI. Other children were James, Jane, and Esther..

Note 2

Yep, and is this Tommy Grimshaw [my cousin] from N. Kingston, RI who has finally gotten updated and is using a PC? This is Thomas Dobson, son of Rebecca, and probably not to long in the future, R.I.P.

Oh, one family member I forgot to mention: Thomas Grimshaw, the fourth brother in a family of seven children. Also, ‘Bullough’ the mother of all and my grandmother was a part of the Bullough family who owned ‘Howard and Bullough’ Mills off Mineral Spring Avenue on the N. Prov. and Pawt. lines. Later it became a store of some kind and believe now it is merely a large brick mill full of sweat shops.

Note 3

Tom,

 

 

Okay, will contribute all I know. Rebecca (Bullough) Grimshaw was my Grandmother. Came from Wigan, England. [by the way, Lorna Dobson is my neice who I haven’t heard from in years). My mother, Rebecca Grimshaw, was a daughter of William and Rebecca (Bullough) Grimshaw and was born in Wigan or Wigam, Lancashire, England. My cousin is Thomas William Grimshaw, age around 69-70, who resides in North Kingston  Rhode Island. The Bullough’s were Mill Owners [woolen] and were wealthy. Englandand USA. My grandmother apparently married beneath herself [in their opinion] but when they arrived in this country they were given a large home in Greystone, North Providence, Rhode Island which was a ‘Mill Village’ with all living in row houses, very clean and orderly, but all from Yorkshire, England brought over by the Joseph Benn Company, another Woolen Mfg. concern. William Grimshaw did well enough to get his own home, land, and did run a Canoe House on the Woonasquatucket Riverwhich supplied power by use of dams to a long line of Mills from Pascoag, RIto Providence, RI. Apparently it was Rebecca Bullough who had the influence to obtain him a supervisor’s job. My mother, Rebecca, became a ‘Weaver’ in Greystone Mill (Joseph Benn Co.) and that was a trade in those days, in fact, it was the creme de creme of jobs in Woolen Mills. She obtained an apartment of her own and began raising Thomas and Peter Grimshaw, both her younger brothers. Peter joined the Canadian Army in 1915 and went to Franceas an Army Engineer and Thomas went into Esmond Mills [Bunny Blankets] the best in the world in those days. Peter became a mill worker after the War [WWI] but a bad marriage and the War left him an alcoholic. He managed to work all his life in the ‘Mills’ as did everyone in those days. Ended up in the Greenville Mills still run by dams and lakes formed by the Woonasquatucket, River. [A very narrow river]. The mills were all run by water power until WWII when they switched to Steam and then Electricity. All closed now as the woolen industry moved South and then overseas. My father, John Alexander Dobson, husband of Rebecca came from South Kingston, RIand the family came over in the middle 1600’s from Perth, Scotland. He was killed in an accident while one son was still in submarines in the Pacific. That is Lorna Dobson’s father, my brother. My mother, Rebecca [Grimshaw] Dobson died at home aged 97 years.

 

Will continue later. Gotta go for tonight. Wife is ill and calling. You can ask any questions and I will try to answer. Anyway, there is a Thomas William Grimshaw I believe still living and still located in  Rhode Island. Nice person, my cousin. I am now domiciled in Floridaa fter a lifetime in Rhode Island. Am a retired Special Agent, US Govt. Thomas William Grimshaw is retired as an Inspector from the Government and last worked in the Sub Yards in RI.

 

 

Rebecca, my mother, is buried in Highland Memorial Cemetary, Johnston, RIand her gravestone reads, Rebecca Grimshaw Dobson, born  England, died USA. Gotta go for sure. Bye for now.

 

 

Thomas James Dobson  

 

Note 4

Have my mother’s family Bible and will check out her notes. If you can contact Lorna Dobson she would probably be willing to check out the information as I am in Florida while she is still in Rhode Island. My mother, Rebecca, did at one point move to what is now Cambridge, Canadaand she took her two brothers [Peter and Thomas] with her. It was after WWI and her mother, Rebecca [Bullough] Dobson had died quite suddenly. Her father William Grimshaw was living ‘near the River’ at a place called Canoe House [his, he rented Canoes and bred pedigree Wire Haired Retreivers along with becoming a boot-legger and getting a local ‘Minister’ drunk] and my mother, Rebecca, being quite young and quite proper moved to Galt, [now Cambridge], Ontario, Canada to her Aunts House. Aunt was Esther [last name unknown] who had married a man named HammondApparently Esther was a foundation of stability but her two boys had gone off to War for ‘Empire’ …one lost a leg, the younger and second lost his mind. WWI. Names were John and William…a.k.a. ‘pore Willie.’ Willie was the kind that would disappear into the Northern Woodlands for months at a time while hunting and fishing and living off the land. Also, he did marry and I can remember 50-60 years ago, he mortgaged his house and went stateside to the ‘Kentucky Derby.’ He was the type of person a book should be written on. I met him, John, and their families in 1949, while on service leave, when I took my mother, Rebecca, to Canada to see what remained of her family in Galt. It is possible that Esther moved to Canada in order to be near her boys who both came home from France broken in body and mind. Anyway, Thomas, I shall pull out the Family Bible and go through for any info I can find. Also, in moving from RI to Florida I did leave much information behind. Old photos in brown frames and unknown people are soon placed aside and forgotten. Somewhere I have a wedding photo of my mother, Rebecca and my father, John Alexander which I will try and search out and send to you. She was, per my wife and others, a very beautiful young woman and my father, after 4 years of Naval Service, was a tall, straight, redheaded man of excellent proportions and demeanor. He just was not an Episcopalian.. preferred simple bible Churches like Free Will Baptists or Primitive Methodists. Anyhow, in the wedding photo as best man and bridesmaid are Thomas William Grimshaw, my uncle, and Miriam Grimshaw, his wife. Okay, will get on to looking in the bible for written material and will go through years of paperwork trying to find the information you need. Meanwhile, Thomas William Grimshaw still resides in North Kingston, RI and he is another source for history. We were close years ago and started to get together more often in the last decade but then, my wife and I, upped and moved to Florida so we have kind of lost touch. Strange, you are another Thomas William Grimshaw and one thing is sure…you all came or started from Lancashire, England and obviously are part of the same lineage. Will get back as soon as possible. Oh, one thing, my uncle, Thomas, had a glass eye from an accident which occured while his mother was carrying him. It was always something like, “my Mother fell in a Canal in error while carrying Thomas in her arms and ‘poor Thomas’ lost his eye which broke ‘Mothers’ heart.” This happened in England so it must have been around the turn of the Century. Never realized the Grimshaw name was so Ancient and Honorable. de Grimshaw, hummmmm, from the Norman Conquest???? If so, the Normans were Vikings hence, you have Viking Blood and I too, through both my Father and Mother. Just a sideline. Will get back.

 

Hope the weather in Texas is warm, the roads clear from Ice, and the people friendly. I have a Dobson relative who is a Ranch Owner in Arizona and left an old painting of an early Dobson with him for copying. Never got a copy nor the original painting back. The grand whatever was painted in full Military Dress [Scottish] and was part of the Clan Robertson. It was given to my father by his father and my mother kept it throughout their marriage. Will end now and get on with the day. Best,
Tom Dobson

 

Note 5

Need to correct something….my paternal grandfather was William and now I see, my maternal grandfather was James. Must have had a brother named William. James Grimshaw passed March 25th, 1932, Good Friday, in Smithfield, Rhode Island. Esther Bullought Hamer passed  Good Friday the 19th day of April , 1931, Rebecca (Bullough) Grimshaw passed on Good Friday, April 28th, 1916 and another child, a daughter of James and Rebecca Grimshaw,Alice, passed on May 10th, 1920. Thomas William Grimshaw, my cousin, the number you sent, bornMarch 27, 1935 [still with us I hope] so no obit. Thomas must have some information to add relative to the Grimshaws. His father and my mother remained close throughout their lives. Thomas Grimshaw, after losing his wife Miriam, moved from the USA to Abroath, Scotlandwhere he remained active in Senior Citizen’s affairs until death. I have just noted that I signed the Family Temperance Pledge to abstain from the use of all intoxicating drinks as a beverage. Must have been young because I cannot remember ever seeing the plege prior to now. ‘Boozers are Losers‘ I’m sure was my mother’s, Rebecca Grimshaw, motto. I note in the Bible that William, son of James and Rebecca (Bullough) Grimshaw passed Mary 25th, 1959 at age 73 years. I notice that the Bullough name is prominent in all my mothers writings and that her mother was a Bullough. Funny, I never paid much attention to that fact. The Bulloughs and the Grimshaws were close in Britain and marriages were sometimes used to tie down family estates and fortunes. I know that James Grimshaw was fromWigan, Lancashire,England and that is apparently the place where they were married. Now, the Joseph Benn Mills, [a.k.a. a Greystone Mill] still have a large attached sign on the Main Mill Bldg. that says 1850 so obviously, James and Rebecca ‘Bullough’ Grimshaw were brought to this country on some type of promise and contract. That said, their arrival with family would have been sometime in the middle to later 1800’s. Of course, there were Grimshaws [all related] throughout the American Colonies and inAustralia and New Zealand. I learned something from your site seeing the Manor House and the Lands and Businesses inLancashire, England. I was born in late 1931 so I can only relate those things I have heard. Also, I lost my father in October 1945 when I was only a couple of weeks into High School so the following years became kind of a blurr. At 17 in 1949, after High School, I went into the Service for four years then after, married Beverly June (Angell) Gould of Smithfield, RI and went on to college. My wife, Beverly, is direct in line to Thomas Angell who came with Roger Williams to establish Rhode Islandand Providence Plantations. Roger Williams gave Thomas Angell allodial title to a large section of land which went from the Blackstone River to the Woonasquatucket River approximately along the what is now, the Town of Smithfield and the Town of North Providence  and would have encompassed the Greystone Mills. In fact, James and Rebecca Grimshaw purchased land that a Gould, directly from the Angell’s, that was titled to the Angell’s….Angell would be a Welch name with the double LL as would Williams. Not connected but an item of interest. Another item of interest was the fact that my mother, Rebecca (Grimshaw) Dobson died in her 96th year from a house fall and during her older years refused Nursing Homes, Nurses in General, and was able to maintain herself with the help of a woman who came three times weekly. She wanted to live to be 100 yrs. so the Queen would send a document acknowleging that fact. She was born inEnglandin 1894, somewhere near Wigan, Lancashire. She always talked about Wigan as a small town and that the family lived nearby with pastures and that the flowers were innumerable. As a young man I truly was not that interested in England or Lancashire nor in Scotland, Perthshire, nor in much else but only with getting on in life. Later, the past became important but time had taken it’s toll and the family of the past was no more. In any event, will try to dig up everything I can find…after my mother’s death I had my wife and children take care of matters and sold her house for very little as I did not want to go back. That said, much of the paperwork of a lifetime went with the house. My fault, my error, but that was the way I felt at the time as I had very good memories of Rebecca (Grimshaw) Dobson, my mother, and did not want to be reminded of the fact she had departed. It was a sad time. I said goodlbye to her at the Hospital where she died and that was it. She died, I left. The English, Welch, and Scots are all kinda like that when you really analyze their History. They are spread around the world and each generation has moved on and most have never really looked back. Oh well Thomas, will leave for the present and start seeing what I can dig out. [as Robert Service wrote, “It’s the steady, quiet, plodding one’s, that win in the Lifelong Game.”] Will leave for now and as I come across things will keep you posted.

 

Thomas James Dobson, named for his Great Uncle Thomas James Dobson, who was named for his Great Uncle, Thomas James Dobson etc. etc. etc…….

 

Lorna Dobson Postings on Genealogy Websites

Lorna Dobson posted two messages on genealogy websites, which are described on a companion webpage and are reproduced below.

Lorna M. Dobson posted the following message on the Grimshaw Family Genealogy Forum in March 2001:

William Grimshaw and Rebecca Bullough

Those are my great-grandparents, both of Lancashire. One of their daughters moved to Johnston, Rhode Island, USA, and married John Dobson.

I am trying to find out if William Grimshaw moved to the United State because I find it difficult to believe my grandmother came over by herself. She used to have a sister named Jane who came from the UK to visit and I know Rebecca Dobson had nobody here that she was related to.

Lorna posted the following message in November 1998:

My grandmother, Rebecca Grimshaw, married a man named John Dobson and settled in Johnston RI. She had sisters that stayed in the UK and used to visit her, one whom I believe was named Jane Grimshaw.

Any connection to these Grimshaws?

Descendant Chart for James and Rebecca Grimshaw

The following preliminary descendant chart has been prepared from the above emails from Thomas Dobson and from the Dobson/Brown and D’Arstall Family Trees on Ancestry.com.

 

William Grimshaw (ca 1798, Lancashire – ?) & Ann GrimshawX (ca 1811 – ?)

|—John Grimshaw (ca 1833, Wigan, Lancashire – ?) & Jane Leyland (ca 1838, Wigan, Lancashire – ?). Married 1857, Wigan, Lancashire.

|—|—James Grimshaw (ca 1857 or 1858, Wigan, Lancashire – 25 Mar 1932) & Rebecca Bullough (1851, Hindley, Lancashire – 28 Apr 1916, RI). Mar about 1881.

|—|—|—Alice Grimshaw (Dec 1881, Wigan, Lancashire – 10 May 1920)

|—|—|—James Grimshaw (ca 1883 or 1884, Wigan or Leigh, Lancashire – 1910, Wigan, Lancashire) & Nancy Littler (ca 1886, Abram, Lancashire – ?)

|—|—|—|—Annie Maud Grimshaw (ca 1907, Wigan, Lancashire – ?)

|—|—|—|—Dora Grimshaw (ca 1909, Wigan, Lancashire – ?)

|—|—|—William Grimshaw (Dec 1885, England -25 May 1959)

|—|—|—Jane Grimshaw (ca 1888, Wigan, Lancashire – ?)

|—|—|—Esther Bullough Grimshaw (Sep 1890, Wigan, Lancashire – 19 Apr 1931) & Hammond or Hamer

|—|—|—|—John Hammond

|—|—|—|—William Hammond

|—|—|—Rebecca Grimshaw (31 May 1894, Wigan, Lancashire – 7 Nov 1986, Providence Co, RI) & John Alexander Dobson (19 Jul 1894, South Kingstown, RI – 8 Nov 1945). Married ca 1920.

|—|—|—|—Donald Dobson (20 Mar 1922, RI – 17 Jul 2005, Ocala, FL)

|—|—|—|—John Dobson (20 Apr 1924, RI – 4 Nov 1985, Johnston, RI)

|—|—|—|—Raymond Dobson (18 Oct 1925, RI – 25 Nov 1978, Central Falls, RI)

|—|—|—|—Thomas Dobson (1931 – ) & Beverly June (Angell) Gould

|—|—|—|—Unknown Dobson

|—|—|—|—|—Rebecca Dobson

|—|—|—Peter Grimshaw (ca 1898 or 1899, Wigan, Lancashire – Jul 1900, Lancashire)

|—|—|—Thomas Grimshaw (ca 1900, Wigan, Lancashire – ?) & Bertha Arstall (Dec 1900, Wigan, Lancashire). Married 3 Apr 1920.

|—|—|—|—Mary E. Grimshaw  (1921, Wigan, Lancashire – ?)

|—|—|—|—Thomas Grimshaw  (1922, Wigan, Lancashire – ?) & Miriam 

|—|—|—|—|—Thomas William Grimshaw (27 Mar 1935 – )

|—|—|—|—Jane Grimshaw  (1924, Wigan, Lancashire – ?)

|—|—|—|—Margaret Grimshaw  (1927, Wigan, Lancashire – ?)

|—|—|—|—John Grimshaw  (1928, Wigan, Lancashire – ?)

|—|—|—|–Wilfred Grimshaw (28 Feb 1931, Wigan, Lancashire – Oct 1997, Bolton, Lancashire)

 

James and Rebecca Grimshaw Arrived in America in 1912

According to the Dobson/Brown family tree on Ancestry.com, James and Rebecca arrived in Boston from Liverpool on August 8, 1912. A summary of the record is shown below. An image of the record is being obtained and will be added when it becomes available.

Boston Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1943 about James Grimshaw
Name: James Grimshaw
Arrival Date: 8 Aug 1912
Age: 55
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1857
Gender: Male
Ethnic Background: English
Port of Departure: Liverpool, England
Ship Name: Cymric
Port of Arrival: Boston, Massachusetts
Friend’s Name: R Grimshaw
Last Residence: United States of America
Birthplace: Wigan, England
Source Citation: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, 1917-1943; Microfilm Serial: T938; Microfilm Roll: 1
81.

Other Grimshaw Families in the U.S. Census Records for 1860, 1870, and 1880

Grimshaw familiies are identified in the 1860, 1870, and 1880 U.S. Censuses for Providence, RI. Since James and Rebecca (Bullough) Grimshaw didn’t arrive until about 1912, these Grimshaws probably represent earlier immigrants to the area. The relationships, if any, of these earlier Grimshaws to James and Rebecca have not yet been determined.

The 1860 Rhode Island census found the following Grimshaws in and around North Providence.

Jane Grimshaw with children Edward, Alfred, James, Mary, William, and Thomas. Fall River, Newport, RI

Peter & Hannah Grimshaw, with children Martha, George E and Edward W Grimshaw. North Providence, Providence, RI

William & Jane Grimshaw, with children Jane J and John H Grimshaw. Smithfield, Providence, RI

The following Grimshaws were found in the 1870 Rhode Island census.

Jane, age 58, with son John H, who later marries a neighbor Heald (see 1880 census) below.

John Grimshaw, age 40, married Flora and had children Lizzie, Emma, Valetta. John and Flora Grimshaw are described in a companion webpage.

Edith Gw, a possible twin to Emma Grimshaw above, was living just a few houses down the street (dwelling 272 compared to 268 at John & Flora) with the Heywoods

1880 Rhode Island Census found the John H. Grimshaw noted above living with his Heald in-laws in Providence, NH.

John H Grimshaw, is a son-in-law, and mother Jane is a mother-in-law living with the Heald family in 1880. The record doesn’t indicate which Heald girl John married from next door in the 1870 census.


 

Census Place:

Providence, Providence, Rhode Island

    

RI-1

Source:

FHL Film 1255212 National Archives Film T9-1212 Page 107A

     
 

Relation

Sex

Marr

Race

Age

Birthplace

Ralph HEALD

Self

M

M

W

54

ENG

Occ:

Finisher In Cambrica

Fa: ENG

Mo: ENG

   

Dianna HEALD

Wife

F

M

W

44

ENG

Occ:

House Keeping

Fa: ENG

Mo: ENG

   

Sarah E. HEALD

Dau

F

S

W

24

RI

Occ:

Works In Woolen Mill

Fa: ENG

Mo: ENG

   

Jane A. HEALD

Dau

F

S

W

19

RI

Occ:

Works In Woolen Mill

Fa: ENG

Mo: ENG

   

Martha A. HEALD

Dau

F

S

W

17

RI

Occ:

At Home

Fa: ENG

Mo: ENG

   

Ada M. HEALD

Dau

F

S

W

9

RI

Fa: ENG

Mo: ENG

     

Ida H. HEALD

Dau

F

S

W

9

RI

Fa: ENG

Mo: ENG

     

Jane GRIMSHAW

MotherL

F

W

W

69

ENGLAND

Occ:

House Keeping

Fa: ENG

Mo: ENG

   

John H. GRIMSHAW

SonL

M

S

W

25

RI

Occ:

Stone Cutter

Fa: ENG

Mo: ENG

   

William KING

Other

M

S

W

28

ENG

The above census records can be summarized as shown below for three Grimshaw families.

 

|—Jane Grimshaw (ca 1818 -?)

|—|—Edward Grimshaw (ca 1838 – ?)

|—|—Alfred Grimshaw (ca 1849 – ?)

|—|—James Grimshaw (ca 1854 – ?)

|—|—Mary Grimshaw (ca 1855 – ?)

|—|—William Grimshaw (ca 1857 – ?)

|—|—Thomas Grimshaw (ca 1859 – ?)

|—William Grimshaw (ca 1819 – ?) & Jane ? (ca 1812 – ?)

|—|—Jane J Grimshaw (ca 1850 – ?)

|—|—John H Grimshaw (ca 1855 – ?) & ? Heald

|—Peter Grimshaw (ca 1826 – ?) & Hannah (ca 1827 – ?)

|—|—Martha Grimshaw (ca 1851 – ?)

|—|—George E Grimshaw (ca 1855 – ?)

|—|—Edward W Grimshaw (ca 1859 – ?)

Where is Greystone Located in Rhode Island?

Greystone is in the northwest part of Providence, near North Providence, RI (see maps below).

Location of Greystone near North Providence, RI (red stars in center of maps).

An old map of nearby Graniteville and Centerdale (undated) shows the location of Greystone Mill on the north side of the road near the bridge across the Woonasquatucket River (shown below).

Location of Greystone Mill on the east bank of the Woonasquatucket River and on the north side of the road across the river.

The above map can be found at the following website addresses:

http://www.rootsweb.com/~rigenweb/maps/johnstonmap.html:

http://www.rootsweb.com/~rigenweb/maps/johnstonmap02.jpg:

A detailed topographic map of the Greystone area is shown below. It shows the former location of Greystone Mill.

Topographic Map of the area around Greystone, showing Greystone Mill Pond, where the Greystone Mill was formerly located (on the north side of the road crossing the river just below the dam). Map is from the U.S. Geological Survey, Providence, RI quadrangle1.

Where Is Wigan Located in Lancashire?

Wigan is located in Lancashire about midway between Liverpool and Manchester and not far from the Grimshaw location southeast of Blackburn (shown below).

Location of Wigan about midway between Liverpool and Manchester. From British Ordnance Survey Get-a-Map service.

WWI Memorial in Greystone, Rhode Island with Peter Grimshaw Named

A webpage depicting a World War I memorial at Greystone appears at the following address:

http://www.rootsweb.com/~rigenweb/GreystoneWWI.jpg 

The major contents of the webpage are shown below.

World War I Memorial at Greystone, RI. Note Peter Grimshaw, shown sixth from top in the center of the plaque.

Greystone Honor Roll, World War  1917 – 1919 Village of Greystone, in North Providence, along the Woonasquatucket River. The monument is located on Rt. 104, Farnum Pike

WWI monument, on Rt. 104

Life in Greystone As Recalled by Thomas Dobson

Mr. Dobson has provided the following delightful information on life in the mill town of Greystone when the English immigrants were making it their home.

Greystone in the Town of North Providence, Rhode Island is mostly wooden row houses with a couple of streets of single and double houses. When I was young it was all English, mostly people from Yorkshire, England. It also had the Greystone Social Club with billiard tables, bar, and the usual dart board. Where the cricket field and the pond met, swim meets used to take place across the narrow Woonasqatucket River where there was a concrete starting spot. Swimmers at one time came from various parts of Canada and the USA to participate. Photos show flags everywhere. All the Grimshaws were leading swimmers and received numerous Silver Winning Pots (or whatever they called them) and they were quite elaborate. My mother, Rebecca Grimshaw had about twenty of them; however, whatever happened to them I have no idea. She was the family collector. She may have returned them to her brothers who won them in the first place.

Some of the names in Greystone I remember as, Sharp, Smart, Horne, Milner, Rutherford, Fligg, Darby, Blackburn, Rigby, Naughton, Bottomley, Chew, Liptrott, Bentley, Beanland, Lowe (the only RC) Lund (a superb Mile Runner for the Commonwealth Games who lost his leg in WWI) Northrup, and so many I have forgotten. I never lived in the village but knew many of them. Greystone School had two grades in each room and generally 8-10 students per grade. The village was surrounded by woodlands owned by the Mill. Oh, also, there was a large boarding house near the club on Greystone Pond [formed by the Mill damming the river]. Guess the 1850 sign on the side of the Mill was the original Incorporation of Joseph Benn Mills in England.

Some excellent athletes came from Greystone and the Village was always kept immaculate and as I recall, the front steps of some of the row houses were whitewashed every Saturday during the good weather. The streets were always swept and people would cut their small lawns sometimes using scissors. Hedges were used to separate each dwelling. Now, it is a hodgepodge of people who no longer had any connection to the Mill or to the history so it has become overparked and in places, kinda run down. The small ball field, Rev. Lambert Fell Field [minister of the Primitive Methodist Church] is now full of trash. The old timers kept their cars parked in specified areas so no streets were lined with junk…mostly parked neatly behind their dwellings in a well mowed grassy area. Guess the Common Law was in full force and effect and worked nicely.

The Superintendents home was on the main Road just north of the entrance to the Village. Of course, everyone had a clothes line and Mondays were the day for washing and hanging their clothes to dry. There was a Whitehall Bldg. which sat on the Farnum Pike with a few stores at street level and then two levels with large apartments overlooking the Woolen Mill and later, the Flax Mill was added. The lower back apartments were obviously for lower income people; however the upper apartments had to be for upper management etc. Each deck had a steel fence and at one end a vehicle could be driven up to the Hall used one time for plays etc. The rear had a steel walk for those on the upper floors to use when coming or going. It was extremely well built and was the centre for most activities of the Church, Boy Scouts, and would be actors and actresses. Now, the Whitehall, is low income housing, the stores are gone and there is a [at last time seen around five years ago] police sub-station, a barbershop, and the remainder of stores have become some kind of apartments. The more things change [in this case] the worse they become. Some other names I remember, Hebblewaite, Rennard, Copley and one man, Person, who used to have his front lawn lined with German Machine Guns every Armistice Day.

I know that the Grimshaws seemed to be different in that they came from Lancaster while most came from York[shire] in England. Must have been 200 or more families in that small area; however, they never seemed crowded. Not having lived in Greystone I am somewhat lost as to all that went on. I do know the Greystone Social Club still has many photos hanging of men that served in WWI. Everyone was somehow or other connected to the Mill, and they had a company store. The Greystone Bakery produced, mostly by hand work, the best pastry and bread I have ever tasted. Shackelton was the owner I believe and he learned his baking skills in the Canadian Army during WWI is what I heard. The pork pies, hot on Saturday Morning, were in my opinion, of world class.

Hope this helps in your quest. At least it gives you an idea of Britain’s contribution to Rhode Island [in a small way]. Excuse the typing and grammatical errors…bad hand from Korean Era plus lack of patience does not allow me to go back over anything I write. Hope this gives you a picture, in a small way, of what a little piece of England looked like not so many years ago. Most of the families have died, moved on and up and their children obviously have no interest in what they left behind. Ah well, the sounds and drums of Time.

Best, Thomas Dobson (Son of Rebecca Grimshaw)

Photos of Greystone Mill, North Providence, RI

The photos shown below were taken by the website author in July 2006.

Southward view of mill with Woonasquatucket River (flowing downstream from this point).

Southward view of north end of Greystone Mill.

Southeastward view of mill taken across nearby soccer field.

Fishermen at Greystone Mill Pond, located north of the mill.

Eastward view of another portion of the mill, with the Woonasquatucket River in the foreground.

East Side of Mill with Current “Greystone Fabrics” shop apparently still in operation. 

Greystone Mill Is on the National Register of Historic Places

Greystone Mill, where Rebecca and James Grimshaw worked after their immigration, is now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places at the following address:

http://www.preserveri.org/index.cfm/ID/63/Page/National_Register 

The contents of the information on this webpage are shown below

Greystone Mill Historic District: Greystone Avenue, North Providence, RI

 

 

The Greystone Mill complex is located in the village of Greystone, an industrial village and residential neighborhood in the extreme northwest corner of North Providence.  The district straddles the Woonasquatucket River, a narrow waterway that once supplied power to numerous industrial enterprises along its 19-mile route from its headwaters in North Smithfield to its confluence with the Moshassuck River in Providence.  Construction of the buildings at Greystone Mill began in 1904 and were completed by the end of an extensive expansion campaign finished in 1911. The complex is made up of several buildings that include the Main Mill, a Weave Shed, a Dye House, and a Finishing Buildings to name a few. The site and the surrounding neighborhood are visually dominated by the Main Mill, a five-story brick building almost 700 ft long that parallels the river on the east side of the property. 

References

1U.S. Geological Survey, 1996, 7-1/2 Minute Topographic Map,  Providence
,
RI Sheet, scale 1:24,000

Home Page

Webpage initiated November 2004. Completed December 2004. Updated February 2005 with addition of “Life in Greystone”. Updated January 2013 with addition of photos of Greystone Mill and change of banner. Updated March 2013 with editorial changes.