History of Albion Articles, Parts 1-11

HISTORY OF ALBION, RHODE ISLAND
by Normand Chamberland, for the Woonsocket Call

Cliffs

From The Woonsocket Call, September 1948


Part 1
September 13, 1948

Though the exact day and month when the first white settlers came to this small village by the Blackstone River is not known, books on the history of the town reveal that it was in the year 1748 – exactly 200 years ago.

Additional proof that this fact is so can be found at the top of School street and Old River road where the Clark homestead, built by one of the first settlers, Thomas Lapham, still exists. The construction methods and some of the furnishings, plus the date 1748 inscribed several places around the historic house, serve to substantiate all claims.

Albion’s 100 or so homes, counting the new Berkshire mill housing project, are mostly situated on a high bluff overlooking the Blackstone River, and are pleasantly and picturesquely placed.

Population of 400

The village, in the Town of Lincoln, has a population of 400, and is midway between Pawtucket and Woonsocket. It is bounded on the south by the village of Ashton, on the north by the village of Manville, and on the west by the Blackstone River.

It is interesting to note at this time that just above the village is a small stream which empties into the Blackstone River. It is often called Mossey Brook, but it was known as the Muzzy River, after a family by that name, in earlier days.

On the banks of this brook was the blacksmith shop of Oziel Wilkinson, where, amid the greatest secrecy, were made the parts for Samuel Slater’s spinning machine. Even Oziel, whose beautiful daughter, Hannah, later married Slater, was unaware of the fact that equipment which was to make history was hammered and shaped at his own forge, so guarded was the experiment.

The work was done by Oziel’s son, David, in the absence of his father. Later, Oziel, who was born and lived not far from the village, and his son furnished iron work used by Slater for his early spinning frames, the first to be made in America.

But the initial units, according to the story handed down from generation to generation among the old settlers, were produced by David Wilkinson, unknown to anybody, for the young boarder at the Wilkinson house, Samuel Slater.

Beautiful Landscape

Coming back to the present for a moment, anyone standing on the platform of the railroad station, looking north, and no doubt many early settlers stood on the same spot, sees as pretty a landscape as is to be found on the river. At the right looking across the dam, is a bit of scenery which is unique and perfect.

The river is placid; the water splashes over the dam with joyous beauty; the rugged rocks rise rough and abruptly on the opposite shore; the graceful birches which form an arch over the river are reflected in the dark water below, and the light and cheerful green of the foliage contrasts charmingly with the dark gray of the granite slopes which form a background.

While taking a wider sweep, the river winds gracefully between the hills on either side, which, by their curvature, seem to mingle not far off in one mass of bright and living verdure.

In the early spring-time and when the autumn rains begin, Muzzy Brook, which once turned the wheel of Oziel Wilkinson’s forge, leaps in a succession of cascades from the meadow above to the river below. Though no poets have written pretty verses about the local falls, they are infinitely more lovely than many celebrated falls which one has read about.

Part 2
September 14, 1948

Lapham, Ballou Families First Pioneers to Reach Albion Area

The land, comprising the village and as much again west to Old River road, was originally purchased from the Nipmuck Indians by Augustus Lapham, one of the first white men to penetrate the wilderness in this vicinity,

The Lapham and Ballou families were the first pioneers in this section and did much to develop Smithfield, from which was later divided the Town of Lincoln.

Many of the picturesque paths which are still being used by the village folks were Indian trails made and used by the Nipmucks and other friendly tribes of the Narragansett group. One of the better known trails, which is not used to any reat extent at present, was the main Indian trail or road used by the first settlers and by village folks several years after the Chace family became owners of the first Albion mill in 1856.

Originally ‘Monticello”

The village was first known as “Monticello” for two years and then called Albion, because of the seemingly white cliffs visible on the side of the Blackstone River facing the village. This reminded the founders of the White Cliffs of Albion, the name sometimes given to the combined Wales, Scotland and England area.

Samuel Clark, born in 1744 in Glocester, and who died in 1818, bought from Augustus Lapham the “Albion Privilege” together with a large tract of land on the Smithfield side of the Blackstone River; and this property descended by will to his two sons, Samuel and Mowry Clark.

Samuel sold his interest in the same, very soon, to Mowry Clark, who in 1822 deeded it to Samuel Hill, Jr., of Smithfield, and Abraham Wilkinson of North Providence. They were the first to improve the water power, having purchased land on the Cumberland side of the Blackstone River from Jotham Carpenter.

In 1822, after no more than commencing operations by building a dam, Wilkinson sold to Hill his interest in the 53 acres of land then comprising the estate, and the water power bounding on the then Pawtucket River, but now the Blackstone, for the sum of $1,500.

On March 22, 1822, Hill sold to Joseph Harris, Preserved Arnold, Daniel G. and William Harris, Abraham and Isaac Wilkinson, nine undivided tenth parts of this estate. On March 1823, Hill sold to the last-named parties his remaining tenth, leaving the entire fee to them.

Part 3
September 15, 1948

Old Stone Mill in 1823 Meant Birth of Industry for Albion

Albion’s industrial heart really began beating in 1823 when Abraham and Isaac Wilkinson erected the Old Stone Mill.

It was a four-story building about 50 by 100 feet, and contained 108 looms for weaving. In 1930 [sic, should be 1830], the interest of the Wilkinsons and Samuel B. Harris, who had in the meantime become part owner, was sold at a sheriff’s sale by Mark Aldrich, deputy sheriff. This was at the time of the suit of the Limerock Bank. George Wilkinson, son of Abraham, was the purchaser. The ‘Privilege” then became known as Albion.

In 1833, George Wilkinson, the Harrises and Preserved Arnold, having disposed of their interests for the sum of $90,000, sold to Horace Waldo, Francis Waldo, and George Trott, Jr., of New York, two undivided thirds of the Albion estate.

Mill Houses Erected

The Waldos and Trott sold in turn in 1834 to William and Christopher Rhodes, Orray Taft, Thomas Truesdell and Robert Rhodes, who then owned the entire estate. It was during the tenure of the Waldos and Trott of New York City that the village commenced its growth and several wooden houses were built for the purpose of housing mill workers.

Afterwards, Orray Taft sold his interest to William A. Howard of Providence, and Thomas Truesdell his, to Robert Rhodes. In the year 1864, William A Howard deeded his interest to Harvey and Samuel B. Chace.

During the few years previous to 1854, Gen. Libbeus Tourtellot, who resided in Woonsocket, was superintendent of the Albion mill and he made very material improvements in the place, adding not only to the value but also to the beauty of the village.

In 1854, Harvey and Samuel B. Chace purchased three-eighths of this estate, and in the year 1856, the Albion Company was incorporated by act of the General Assembly. Afterwards, Robert Rhodes disposed of his interests to Harvey and Samuel B. Chace. Samuel later disposed of his share to Harvey who transferred it to the Albion Company which was then first organized under a charter.

In 1832, a wooden mill was erected near where the station of the then Providence and Worcester Railroad, but now the New York, New Haven and Hartford, stands. It was 35 feet by 60 feet, but burned in 1837.

The Green Mill

Another wooden mill had also been built in 1830 by George Wilkinson. It was called the Green Mill and was about 40 by 120 feet in size. In the year 1885 the Green Mill was cut in two and both parts were moved up the hill to be used as tenement blocks.

One part, the smaller, was placed on Main Street, on the west side, and in 1909 was burned down. The other part is still standing on School street andis known as “The Castle.” There are five families now residing in “The Castle,” namely: Descoteaux, Forest, Landry, Theberge, and Forcier.

The Village of Albion was owned and controlled by the various members of the Chace family from 1854 to 1935 when the Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates sold the houses in Albion to the tenants.

Part 4
September 16, 1948

Firefighting Setup in Albion Evolved From Bucket Brigade

The fire department in the village of Albion was not adequate during the ownership of the Chace family. The method used for extinguishing fires was the “bucket brigade” method, which did not prove too satisfactory.

The next firefighting equipment which was procured by the Valley Falls Company was a hand-drawn, two-wheel cart, which carries a line of hose on a cylinder. The summons for help to put out a fire would bring this cart drawn by several volunteer village folks.

The value of this firefighting equipment was found chiefly in extinguishing chimney fires, which were numerous in the village. Thus Albion was dependent on the village of Manville for fire protection when a blaze was too big for the Albion department to handle.

It was not until the Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates sold the Albion homes in 1935 to the renters that the people of Albion became conscious of the need for an adequate piece of fire equipment and a well-operated volunteer department.

Taxpayers Organize

It was only after the sale of the Albion village that a meeting of the Albion taxpayers was called on Feb. 6, 1936, and that the Albion Taxpayers Association was organized. This group elected Leo F. Bois as chairman and James Bishop as secretary-treasurer.

The principal matter brought up at this meeting was the reduction in fire insurance rates. So the Albion Fire Department was organized under the jurisdiction of the Albion Taxpayers Association.

The first officers of the fire department included Fire Chief Charles A. Warner, Deputy Chief Henry Jacques, Capt. Gaudias Metivier, Lt. Philip Gagnon, and John Blunt, chief of the mill fire department, who was elected honorary chief of the new department.

The Valley Falls Division of the Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates then turned over to the newly-formed fire department their old Dodge pumper and their fire station, a 14 by 22 cement block building which stands on the west side of School street.

The first funds were raised by the fire department by assessing each owner $1. The amount collected was $57, including donations. Later a second collection was made, followed by several social events and donations which made it possible for the association to purchase a second-hand Reo pumper from Manville Fire Department for $325.

The first building to catch fire and also the first call for the newly-organized fire department was for a four-door toilet directly across the street from the station. No one could start the fire truck and consequently it was pushed over to the burning building by a gang of boys and volunteer firemen.

It was of no use when it got there, as it carried no water and the hose had to be dragged down to the Dionne square corner hydrant. Owing to the delay in getting water, the building was considerably damaged.

Part 5

September 17, 1948

Fire District Formation Brings New Truck, Insurance Rate Cut

The water situation in the village for some time proved a problem for the Berkshire mill owners. All available springs had been piped into the houses, but that was not sufficient to meet the needs of both mill and houses. The water, however, was noted for its purity and good taste and became famous for miles around.

On June 14, 1936, a meeting was called to discuss the situation and to try to find some means of getting an adequate water supply. A committee was appointed and soon reported that the Town of Cumberland was willing to furnish water from Sneach Pond at an estimated cost of $20 a year per tenement.

Officials of the Albion mill, under the direction of Fred Williams, had surveys made and work was soon started laying a pipe line from the end of the Cumberland main pipe near the Woodstock Inn on Mendon road, through the woods west under the Balckstone River and under the New Haven Railroad tracks, near the Albion depot and into the village.

WPA Project

Five new hydrants were installed in the village and the new system was piped into all houses in the village. It was a Works Project Administration project, the Valley Falls Division of the Berkshire Fine Spinning Association furnishing the material for which it was to be reimbursed by the Town of Cumberland.

In view of the new water system, the Albion mill canceled all water bills for 1936 and made no charge for water furnished from the mill system for 1937 up to July, 1938, when the Cumberland water was turned on.

No Fire Alarm

It was agreed that the new water system would give the village of Albion plenty of water and in case of the fire department, good pressure. However, if a fire occurred there was no way to call the firemen and usually when the firemen did get around, the old Reo fire truck would refuse to start.

It was not until a short while later, when the Ashton Fire Department called for help to fight a brush fire, that the village people realized that they should get a new fire truck. The reason was that in answering the Ashton call, the old Reo had to be pushed down the Albion hill before it would start and then the headlights would not work.

On March 7, 1937, a meeting of the fire district was called to try to do something for the fire department. Five fire commissioners were appointed: Nelson Pelletier, James Bishop, Harry Quinn, John Sherry, and Napoleon Boudreau.

This commission had the old Reo pumper overhauled and several new pumps installed but when the insurance underwriters were asked to inspect it, they found that it could not pump more than 300 gallons of water per minute and the minimum required amount was 500 gallons per minute.

Through various media, this group of men and several other helpful citizens canvassed the village and found out that of they could incorporate through a charter from the State of Rhode Island, they could borrow enough money for a down payment on a comparatively new fire truck.

Fire District Formed

After becoming incorporated under the name of Albion Fire Department, the group went ahead and ordered the new truck. The new piece of equipment had a 1941 Ford chassis, a new pump and new firefighting tools. The truck was delivered on March 21, 1941, and it was immediately put into service.

The insurance underwriters tested the new truck and found it satisfactory, As a result, insurance rates were lowered 40 per cent for all home owners within 500 feet of a hydrant and about 30 per cent up and beyond two miles from the fire station.

The first officers of the Albion Fire District included Moderator Donat Guilbault, Clerk Joseph Daneault, Treasurer James W. Bishop, Tax Collector Dominique Doiron, Tax Assessors Romeo Lacombe, William Lamaire, Joseph Simard, Wardens John Lambert, Harry Quinn and Charles Warner, Auditors Harry Quinn, William Lamaire and Chief Charles Warner.

During the war years, the fire district did not function so well for lack of men. By 1946, however, most of the firemen had returned to their homes and a new slate of officers was elected for 1946.

New Officers

The new group included: Moderator Howard Dickie, Clerk Joseph Daneault, Treasurer James W. Bishop, Tax Collector Dominique Doiron, Wardens John Lambert, Nelson Peltier and Adelard Nault, Tax Assesor Arthur Rainville, Auditor Edwin Colerick and Chief Arthur Forand.

Chief Forand appointed the following: Assistant Chief Rosario Martin, Capt. Alfred Desjardins, Lts. Joseph Theroux, Victor Landry and Joseph Sylvia. James W. Bishop, who has worked zealously for the new and rejuvenated Albion Fire Department was appointed commissioner and serves as a go-between for the fire district and the fire department, being active in both. Mrs. Henrietta Boudreau has since replaced Doiron as tax collector.

The fire department at present is a well organized and well trained group. The men have through their own initiative and hard work enlarged the fire station and through various social events raised funds to buy uniforms for the men in the department.

Part 6
September 18, 1948

103-Year Railroad Line Helped Make Village Prosper

The village of Albion had its first railroad built through its quiet pasture lands about 1845, but it was not until 1847 that the Providence and Worcester Railroad was put into operation.

The Providence and Worcester steamed through all the small villages in the Blackstone Valley, Albion included, and at Blackstone, one could switch to the Norfolk County Railroad for Boston. Frequent trains stopped here and handled much freight from the Albion mill.

The railroad property included three buildings which were used as a passenger station, freight house and warehouse. In 1877 a new and larger station house was built of bricks and is still used. The brick station house was closed for a time, to cut down expenses, but 14 years later to the day, it was reopened.

Prior to the building of the brick station house, the three buildings – passenger station, freight house and warehouse – were moved up the hill and placed on Main street and made into houses.

The old passenger station is owned at present by Mr. and Mrs. Delphis Breault, who have made it into a beautiful home. The old freight house is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Lacroix, who also have made a snug little home out of it. The old warehouse is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Pierre Lauzon, who followed similar plans and coverted it into an attractive home.

The first station agent was a man named Rice Brown. Little is known about him. The next agent was “But” Carr. He resided with his wife in a tenement in the first house on the west side of School street. He became sickly and was replaced by Harvey Payne, called familiarly “Fat” Payne.
Payne was the telegraph operator who had the superintendent cut in telegraph wires. He began using the call letters BN for Albion. Charles Brooks followed Payne as agent and then C.N. Chaufty took the job for about three months. He was followed by James W. Bishop in 1909 and he is still agent today.

During the years from March 19, 1921, to March 19, 1935, when the Albion station was closed, Bishop moved his office to the “shanty” or gate house a few yards away. In 1926, the telegraph instrument was removed and a telephone installed. Bishop today takes care of the freight business for the New Haven Railroad in Albion, Ashton, Berkeley and other small surrounding communities.

Part 7
September 19, 1948

First Village Postmaster Paid $19.50 For Three Months Work

The earliest records which can be uncovered about the first general store and post office date back from June to September, 1870.

The postmaster then was Mason Freeman who also owned the general store which housed the post office. The general store is still situated today on the west side of Dionne Square. The records show that the first postmaster received a salary of $19.50 for three months and that a total of $36.83 of mailing business was done.

This building was built in the early 1800’s and the basement and foundation is made up of large flat stones which may have proven durable ove [sic] 100 years and which show the permanency of buildings built by early settlers.

Freeman ran a fifth class post office because of the small amount of mailing business.
His successor as general store owner and postmaster was Fred Liddle, a short and rather plump man with long whiskers, who was responsible for the extensive variety of wares put out for sale in his store. A person could go into Liddle’s General Store and buy anything he wanted from all types of hardwares to choice cuts of meat. Liddle finally moved to Providence and started a business there.

He was succeeded by the partnership of Grenon and Dulude, and they were replaced in a short while by John Blain. He was assisted in the post office by his sister, Mamie, who is now Mrs. Ulric Grenon of Woonsocket.

John Blain then sold the store to John Dalton who became in turn postmaster. All during this time and during the exchange of ownership, the general store continued to do prosperous business with its full line of goods.

Dalton was replaced as postmaster by Henry J. Demuth, Jr., and he turned the post over to Delphis Breault after a few years. Postmaster Breault had the post office site moved to the east side of Dionne Square in a little variety store in the basement of the Albion Boarding House. This change took place about 1924. It was the first time it was moved in 80 years.

Becomes 3d Class Office

The post office business had now grown enough to entitle it to a fourth class rating. It was not until Joseph E. Daneault became postmaster and the breaking out of World War II that the mailing business increased enough to change the classification to third class and to rate a substitute clerk. The first substitute was Miss Graziella Daneault, daughter of the postmaster. At present Miss Dorothy Descoteaux occupies the post.

The post office is now housed in Daneault’s Block on Main street. It is the first time in the hisory of the mailing center that it has been housed in an individual part of a building by itself.

The general store was owned, after the transfer of the post office, by Napoleon Merette. He was followed by Donat Guilbeault who owned a great deal of property in this village and did not devote his full time to operating the store. The store was managed by Ernest Lemieux. The present owner is Normand Mineau and he calls it the Albion Market.

Part 8
September 19, 1948

Lone Church In Village Built in 1893; Fr. Lebel First Pastor

The village of Albion traces its first religious services to 1872. At that time Father Fitzsimmons of St. Joseph’s parish, Ashton, engaged a French-speaking assistant curate especially for the purpose of offering the Holy Sacrifice in this village.

The first missionary to come to Albion was the Rev. Joseph Lebel. He, under the direction of Father Fitzsimmons, started the construction of St. Ambrose Church, which was blessed Aug. 23, 1893.

There has never been a Protestant church built in this village simply because people of Protestant beliefs are too few in number.

The first Catholic services were held at Firemen;s Hall, School street, in the morning and in the afternoon. Protestant services were held in the same hall. The pews consisted of long planks held up by barrels. Father Lebel was later replaced by the Rev. N.A. Messier and later still, the Rev. Antoine Bernard became the first resident pastor.

First Protestant Rites

The first Protestant services were held in a room over the general store and the first Protestant minister was the Rev. Matthew Cobrin. He would travel from Ashton to Manville and hold services there in the morning. In the afternoon on his way back he would stop in Albion and gather his congregation.

Later the Rev. William Pressey would come to Albion and hold services in Firemen’s hall. He would do as his predecessor: walk to Manville and on his way back stop at Albion. The story goes that he would take his wife with him and their baby, whom he would push in a baby carriage.

Father Bernard came to St. Ambrose parish as the first resident pastor in 1904 and used as a rectory a home opposite the church. In 1912, upon the retirement of Father Bernard, the Rev. Hercule Lariviere was appointed pastor at St. Ambrose, where he remained until Nov. 18, 1925, when he died.

Parochial School Started

During his stay in the parish, Father Lariviere, in August, 1916, purchased for the parish the old Albion Primary School which stands next to the church. The parochial school was a two-room structure where the Catholic boys and girls of Albion were taught by lay teachers. He was also instrumental in the building of a rectory for the parish. This was accomplished at a cost of $7,000.

Another purchase made during his pastorate was an organ, which ironically enough, was played for the first time at Father Lariviere’s funeral in 1925. The parish paid $900 for the organ.

Father Lariviere was replaced by the Rev. Arthur H. Messier in 1925. But his pastorate was a short one. He died Sept. 17, 1929, after a brief illness. He was buried in St. Ambrose Cemetery.

Father Messier was succeeded by the Rev. Arthur A. Lafayette, but fivemonths later in February, 1930, he was appointed pastor at St. Lawrence’s Church, Centredale, and the Rev. J. Adrian Forest succeeded him.

Nuns Arrive

During his administration, Father Forest obtained the services of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary from St. Hyacinthe, PQ, to take charge of the teaching of the children of the parish. The first sisters to come to the parish numbered four. At present there are six. Extensive repairs to the school building were made during his pastorate.

A house was given to the parish at a fee of $1 a year by the Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates, Inc., to serve as a convent for the newly arrived nuns. This house was situated on the west side of School street, approximately 150 yards away from the church and school.

Cemetery Enlarged

Father Forest was succeeded in October, 1931, by the Rev. David B. Brunelle. Father Brunelle bought a tract of land from the Berkshire mill to enlarge St. Ambrose Cemetery. He also had the church, rectory and school painted.

During his pastorate, St. Ambrose parish had assistant priests who served as curates. They were the Rev. Evangeliste Brunelle, his brother, and the Revs. Emile St. Pierre, Ronaldo Gadoury and Laurent Allard.

In the fall of 1938, Father Brunelle resigned and wen to live with his brother, Evangeliste, who was pastor at Phenix. His successor in 1939 was the Rev. Napoleon J. Plasse.

Father Plasse purchased a home in the vicinity of the church to be turned into a convent for the nuns who now numbered six, and were too crowded in their first home halfway up School street. This purchase was made from the Desgrand family for $6,000, and the building is still being used today.

He also installed a new and modern heating system in the church and convent. He organized the first baseball team to be entered in a Catholic Youth Organization league, and was instrumental in the organization of Troop 1, Boy and Girl Scouts.

On June 25, 1944, Father Plasse was replaced by the Rev. J. Arsene Corbeil who is pastor today.

Recent Improvements

During the years 1945 and 1946, Father Corbeil purchased a new sanctuary and three new altars, as well as altar railings and tile flooring. In 1947 the exteriors of the church, rectory and school were re-shingled and the interior of the church was painted. Repairs and alterations amounted to nearly $10,000.

Although the parish has approximately 150 families of French Canadian extraction and probably will not increase to more than 200 families, the same spirit of generosity has abided through the years and it has served to support the maintenance and upkeep of the parish buildings in such a manner that each parishioner may be proud and honored to be a member of St. Ambrose parish.

Incidentally, St. Ambrose parish is known for its yearly Rhode Island clambake which is held each summer, and usually attracts between 2,000 and 2,500 people.

Part 9
September 21, 1948

3R’s Taught By Sea Captain To Early Inhabitants Of Albion

The first classroom in Albion was in a room in the Samuel Clark homestead and the teacher was Joseph Clark, a sea captain and an adventurer who in later years traveled to the Orient and other far-off places.

It is told that he received $30 for one semester and that he had a class of between 20 and 30 children.

The first school house is believed to have been built in 1842. It was a two-room building on the east side of School street and was called the Albion Primary School.

The first teacher for the new school was Phoebe Mann, who was followed by Rebecca Clark during the Civil War period. Mrs. Susan Abercrombie, Sarah Freeman, Minnie L. Clark, Mabel Mann, Annie L. Clark and Kate A. Clark were some of the other teachers who served. It remained a public school until August, 1916, when it was sold to St. Ambrose parish to be used as a parochial school.

Prior to the sale of the public school, a new four-room brick school was erected in 1907. This building stands today on the east side of School street about halfway up the hill. This new building was necessitated by the increased enrollment at that time. During the early 1900’s, each of the four classrooms had two teachers. The first to the ninth grades were then taught.

The first teachers in the new school were Emma A. Mowry, Katherine Moffitt, Sarah Hallowell and Mary Fitzsimmons. Others who followed in their footsteps included the Misses Josephine Stearns, Alice McVey, Margaret Erskine, Margaret Cantwell, Kathleen M. Galvin, Mrs. Leata Hawkins Jackson and Mrs. Viola Baker.

Miss Galvin and Mrs. Baker are at present teachers at the school. The former is principal. Both teachers have held their posts for more than 30 years.

Recently, the Lincoln School Committee, headed by Norman E. Wright, attempted to close the school for reasons of economy. “There’s always an average registration of 30 pupils per year,” said Wright to the parents concerned at a recent meeting, “and that isn’t a sufficient number to warrant our spending thousands of dollars to keep this four-room structure open.”

Wright insisted that the children could be transported to Community School, Limerock, or to Manville Junior High School. However, Albion residents objected vigorously as they had done once before several years ago when a similar closing movement had started.

Finally, after much bickering, the question was laid with the State Department of Education headed by Dr. Michael F. Walsh. He sided with the parents on the question and Albion retained its public school.

Part 10
September 22, 1948

Varied Social Clubs In Village Act As Bond Among Residents

One of the first social organizations to be chartered in the village was Cercle Jacques Cartier, No. 6. The organization was chartered through the State of Rhode Island, June 23, 1912.

This group was organized for the purpose of bringing the villagers more closely together and to benefit the people materially through insurance and sick benefits. The Cercle has been quite prominent in the village. It was responsible for the erection of a World War I monument in honor of those who fought in the first great war.

The charter members of this first group were the Rev. Hercule J. Lariviere, A. Bouffard, J.P. Lavallee, A. Lacombe, F. Forest, J.B. Lusignan, Sr., A. Bernier, J. Guevel, A. Lemieux, Dr. J.A. Mathiew, F. Desgrand, H. Demuth and W. Leblanc.

St. Ambrose parish has its various church organizations also, which include the Children of Mary Society, the Sodality of the Ladies of St. Anne, and the League of the Sacred Heart. These groups all elect officers and hold monthly meetings and participate in social activities.

Club Performed At School

The students of Albion Grammer School, under the leadership of Miss Anna L. Griffith, principal, and later Miss Kathleen M. Galvin, realized during World War I that the food shortage would cause a crisis, so a 4-H Club was organized. First it was strictly a gardening club under the direction of the State Department of Agriculture. Ernest K. Thomas was the first State 4-H Club leader with headquarters at RI State College, Kingston.

The very first year that Albion young people participated in 4-H Club work, they won an honor banner for their productive gardens. This banner still hangs in the school. From the first gardening club grew many other organizations, namely: Albion Senior 4-H Club, Albion Junior 4-H Club, Albion Dress Well Club, Etiquette Club, Health Club, Junior Boys Handicraft Club and Forestry Club, all under the direction of the State Department of Agriculture.

4-H Prominence

Many of the club members won scholarships and trips to various National 4-H Club conventions, as representatives of the state. There is hardly a home in Albion which has not been influenced in some measure by the 4-H’s.

The Albion Social Club was organized in 1930 for the purpose of organizing athletic activities. This group of young men organized a working party and undertook the project of excavating the cellar of Firemen’s Hall in order that they might have a clubroom.

Today the basement has been modernized and is the headquarters of the club. It has a shower room, reading room, a salesroom for soft drinks and candy and a room large enough to hold socials or dances for about 100 people.

Veterans Organize

In 1946, the World War II veterans organized an American Legion Post in the village and called it Dionne-Pelletier Post 90. The name is in honor of the two Dionne brothers who died in World War I and Gerald Pelletier, who was a casualty in World War II.

The first officers were Cmdr. Raymond E. Breault; Rosario Martin, senior vice-commander; Urbain Robert, junior vice-commander; Rene Martel, adjutant; Sabre Maksut, sergeant-at-arms; Joseph Theroux, Jr., financial officer, and Arthur Forand, service officer.

The post at present meets in the Social Club headquarters but plans are under way to build a post home.

Part 11
September 23, 1948

Village Expected To Remain Quiet, Prosperous And Tiny

What the future holds for Albion no one can say for sure. But according to Howard H. Quinham, Lincoln zoning expert who recently conducted a survey of every village in the town, no great change is slated in its industrial, business or residential pattern.

Quinham sees only a slight increase in population, due principally to the $250,000 Berkshire Fine Spinning, Inc., housing project. He doesn’t believe any industry will locate in the village because of the poor transportation setup available for this area. The same applies to civilian transportation. “People aren’t apt to locate in an out of the way village such as Albion unless they own a car because nothing is within easy walking distance and buses are few and far between,” he declares.

Hardly any new homes will be built either, according to the chairman of the zoning committee, because of the large tract of land necessary to build on for sanitary conditions due to lack of sewers. Besides, no two-year taxless incentive proposition to new home builders is offered in Lincoln as it is in Cumberland.

No New Business

And as far as new business is concerned, except for possibly a new gasoline station, Albion now has all the small enterprises it can possibly support with its small population.

Nevertheless, even if things keep going in as routine a manner as they have in the past for this small community, it will continue to prosper in its small unassuming way and will be called “home” by today’s population as well as their children and their children’s children. It is – next to Manville – the “Little Canada of New England,” with almost 100 per cent of its families coming from the land of the French-Canadians.

2 thoughts on “History of Albion Articles, Parts 1-11

  1. I was a student at St Ambrose School from 1946 to 1953 when I graduated. I was also an altar boy under Father Arsene Corbeil’s term. My Brother, now deceased, was Raymond Lemaire and he graduated from St Ambrose in 1951. We were both greatful for the fine grammar school education we received from the nuns.

    We lived on Washington Highway which was in the town of Lincoln, 2 miles away from Albion, and my father was Willey O. Lemaire who is most likely the one referred to in the text named William Lamaire. He also called himself Bill and was an auto mechanic. The 41 Ford firetruck was a regular customer for maintenance at his garage, the Washington Highway Garage since he was an exprienced Ford mechanic who learned the trade in Montreal and married our mother Marie Rose Gervais from Manville and located our family in 1940 to Washington Highway in Lincoln.

    The story goes on and on, but I don’t want to bore you with details, but I just learned about your website from Judy Amedee who was a school mate of mine that we had not seen each other in 62 years. She came and visited with me in Florida, my current residence.

    Those Albion years were pleasant years, which looking back, I greatly enjoyed and thank you so much for making this site available.

    Norm Lemaire

    • Thank you, Norm, for visiting the website and for providing us with updated information about your father and his association with the fire department. I remember your father’s garage on Washington Highway. I started at St. Ambrose School in 1952, so you and I would have been there for two years together, though I probably didn’t particularly pay much attention to 7th and 8th graders in my early years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *