Presentation on General James Varnum

M trimmerPlease join us as Mark Trimmer, Captain and Quartermaster of the Varnum Continentals Historic Military Command, gives a presentation on “General James Mitchell Varnum: Rhode Island’s Other Famous General”. Mark will discuss the General and his place in Revolutionary War history. He will also provide background on the Varnum House Museum, Varnum Memorial Armory, and the Varnum Continentals Historic Military Command.

Date: Sunday, March 3, 2019

Time: 2:00 PM

Location: The Chapel at Wood River, 85 Nooseneck Hill Rd, Wyoming, RI 02898


Alton Chapel Anniversary

The beautiful little church in Alton, now St. Thomas Episcopal Church, has a history dating back to the 1870’s.  A Chapel Society was formed in 1878, and in 1936 a special 58th anniversary service was held at the chapel.  Why the service was held in the 58th year rather than the typical 50th year is unknown.  Shown is a mimeographed copy of the original program of the service.

st thos




More than a Safe cracker!

For many years we wondered exactly what was inside the safe located at the Clerk’s Office in Carolina.  The safe dates back to 1882 and the treasure it contains is its interior structure.  The mystery was solved thanks to a local locksmith, Thomas King (

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Additionally,  King a history buff,  along with Kathleen Gallagher, cleaned out the  Clerk’s Office.  We are in the process of getting it ready to hold displays and be opened to the public.

We look forward to Mr. King  sharing the historical artifacts he has collected, along with perhaps some anecdotes involving his business.


Our museums

We presently own two buildings:  the Bell School and the Clerk’s Office.  Both have, and are, undergoing some changes this year.

We received a donation of display cases:

These have been painted and are ready to house displays next spring.

We also refurbished a teacher’s desk, which took it’s place in front of the classroom:

The Clerk’s Office, located on Route 112 in the Village of Carolina, is in the process of being completely redone.  We plan to house exhibits there and open it in 2019.

Recent Events

Lauri Arruda, author of the new Richmond Historic Cemetery Book  was  at the Bell School, for a book signing, on Saturday, June 16, 2018.  Additionally, on July 14, 2018, 9 am – noon, Laurie was at the Richmond Town Hall, along with a number of other local authors, for a book signing.

Lauri Arruda book signing June 16, 2018

*Note: On September 16, 2018, 2-4 pm, Lauri is due to speak about the book, at the Chapel at Wood River.


Additionally, the  Annual Meeting  of the Richmond  Historical  Society was held Thursday Evening, June 21, 2018.  

The purpose of the meeting was for the election of new officers and  board members for the coming year.  Reports of activity for this past year, along with  planning for upcoming events, were discussed.  We welcome new members and all ideas.

If you are interested in joining us, please print out and complete the membership application.



Also, the Memorial Day theme was used in the display case at the Bell School during the month of May.


This has now been replaced with cemetery documents to reflect the theme of the book signing:

Cemetery Display June, 2018 (9)

We hope to increase the docents in order to open the school on a more regular basis.

Who is Aunt Kate?

The question was posed recently on our Facebook page: “A mystery…Who is “Aunt Kate”, the artist who painted the lovely picture of Bell School at the top of our Facebook page?”


We knew the painting had been donated to the RHS many years ago, and it currently is displayed in the Bell School, but its origins were lost.  The mystery was soon cleared up, as responses were received from both the daughter and granddaughter of the artist, Catherine “Kate” Baton.

Catherine’s granddaughter, Lee-Ann Baton Kozora, informs us: “My grandmother is soon to be 96 years old. She is in a nursing home now. She was born in Montville, CT and lived in Rockville most of her married life. When I was a kid, she drove a school bus for Richmond School. I believe she painted this for the celebration of the restoration of the schoolhouse but I’m not 100% sure. She was married to George “Bob” Baton. He was a business man and Chief of Hopkinton police dept in the 50s and 60s. She painted, made jellies and jams, dolls and lavender sachets. She sang and played guitar. She was a lot of fun when my brother and I were children.”

Aunt Kate

Catherine “Aunt Kate” Baton with granddaughter Lee-Ann Kozora and her husband

Catherine’s daughter, Catherine Avizinis (Lee-Ann’s aunt), adds: “I am pretty sure she donated it when she painted it – perhaps back in the 80’s… She also drove a special needs mini bus for Richmond School for years, and did every craft and art there is! From quilting and stitching to painting glass lamp shades, from baking and preserving to gardening and herb crafts, she was quite well known on the craft/art fair circuit and MANY folks and family members still have original Aunt Kate pieces!”

Thank you, ladies, for clearing up the mystery and sharing about the talented “Aunt Kate”.  We hope she is pleased that she and her painting are in the spotlight so many years after she so kindly donated it!  Her painting can now be properly attributed on the wall of Bell School.

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Recent Acquisions

We recently  received two donation from members.  The first, from a long time member, Roberta Whelan, a Webster’s Dictionary, published in 1937.   This  belonged to her mother, Mary (Taber) McCutcheon, who taught school for many years in Quebec, Canada.

Dictionary Donation 2018.4.

Roberta requested the dictionary be displayed at the Bell School, where it is now located:


The second acquisition is from a new member, Mark Trimmer, who is also a member of the Varnum Continentals (  According to Mark, they are a “private group and own/ maintain an historical mansion (that was once General Varnum’s…home) and an Armory with a comprehensive museum”.  Five display cases from the museum were donated to us:

After a coat of paint, they will soon be ready to hold some of the treasures from our Archives.

Clark Library

We are fortunate for the generosity of Clark Library in allowing us to use some of their space for our archives.  It has proven to be an asset for us both.

In 1979 funds were raised for the “new” building, which presently houses both the library and our archives.  The past twenty nine years has taken its toll on the building.   Things begin to wear out.  As a result there have been a number of challenges to the staff in its maintenance.

New Clark Library

Eleanor Smith, one of the  founders of the Richmond Historical Society (and mother of our archivist), left us a mountain of newspaper clippings.  It is an ongoing project to sort through these.  She is pictured here in 1987 commemorating a special anniversary at the library.

Clark Library 100th Anniversary

In 1990 we have a captioned news photo of volunteers getting ready for a book sale.   These continue to be part of Clark’s fund raising.

Clark Library Book Sale

During one of those quieter days when there was time for “the clippings”.  To my amazement, one  was  a youthful picture of one of our archivists doing a project at the library in 1992.

Kate Desrochiers

A Society member and librarian, Johanna Wolke sums it all up:

Johanna Wolke


Now is a good time to both recognize and thank our benefactor, Clark Library, and to share part of our genealogy.


The holidays are all about cooking!

Or so it was in 1995, when the Richmond Historical Society published its’ one and only cookbook titled “Down Country Cookin”.


The news article is accurate in the fact that this book contains a lot of additional historical information.  I believe there are still a few faded copies available for sale at the Bell School House and Archives located at Clark Library.

Teacher’s Bell Acquisition

We recently acquired a teacher’s bell we were told, by the donor, was used at the Bell School.  According to the donor, her grandmother, who was an avid antique collector, always represented this as being used at the School.  She further stated her grandmother kept meticulous records and she feels the authenticity is true.

The bell now resides, along with other similar objects, in Bell School.

Teacher Bell Oct. 2017 (2)