2011-05-05 / Island History

Jamestown Historical Society News

By Rosemary Enright

Battery Day is here! On Saturday, May 14, reenactors from around the state will join Jamestown Cub Scout Group 1, American Legion Arnold Zweir Post 22, Memorial Post 9447 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Jamestown Community Band to celebrate the 1776 earthworks in Conanicut Battery Historic Park. The band will start playing at 1 p.m.

Major Bloget — the traditional host for Battery Day, played by Paul Brunelle — will be in command of the activities.

The Cub Scouts and Captain Tew’s 1st Company of the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment of Foot will bivouac in the park overnight on May 13. They will be joined in the morning by the Artillery Company of Newport, whose cannon salute across the West Passage will mark the beginning of the ceremonies. Reenactors from His Majesty’s 54th Foot, a British regiment that fought the Colonials during the American Revolution, and Captain Tew’s Company will conduct a skirmish around the earthworks to demonstrate how battles were fought at the time.


On Saturday, May 14, volunteers from around the state will celebrate Battery Day at Conanicut Battery Historic Park and reenact how battles were fought in the late 18th century. The Conanicut Battery was active and manned at different times by British, French and American soldiers between 1776 and 1783. Photo courtesy of Rosemary Enright On Saturday, May 14, volunteers from around the state will celebrate Battery Day at Conanicut Battery Historic Park and reenact how battles were fought in the late 18th century. The Conanicut Battery was active and manned at different times by British, French and American soldiers between 1776 and 1783. Photo courtesy of Rosemary Enright British, French, and American flags — honoring the three nations that manned the fort at different times between 1776 and 1783 — will be raised, while the community band plays each country’s national anthem.

During the flag raising, Rhode Island’s 14th Heavy Artillery, the Black regiment that was formed during the Civil War, will fire the salutes. While the 14th wasn’t around when the Conanicut Battery was active, these soldiers built the batteries on nearby Dutch Island, and on this 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War it is appropriate to include them in our Battery Day.

The ceremonies will conclude with the singing of “America the Beautiful.” Come and enjoy the military pageantry and learn about the history of your island. Parking at the Battery is limited, so everyone is encouraged to park at Mackerel Cove and take advantage of the shuttle provided by Bill and May Munger of the Conanicut Marina.

The Silver Screen

The JHS opens its summer exhibit “Jamestown on Screen and Stage” on June 19. Last month the society received a $1,000 legislative grant, sponsored by state Rep. Deb Ruggiero, to help pay for mounting the exhibit and particularly for the support we need to integrate video technology into the summer-long event. The museum will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. every Wednesday through Sunday until Labor Day and on weekends through Columbus Day.

Among the videos that may be seen at the Jamestown Museum this summer are some that are being filmed this spring by 15 teens as part of a Jamestown Teen Center project. The teens will showcase their work first at the Jamestown Arts Center on Thursday, May 19 at 6 p.m.

Then on Thursday, May 26, at 7 p.m., the Jamestown Arts Center will show the film “Dan in Real Life.” The movie was filmed primarily on Jamestown, and it’s fun to identify well-known landmarks. Some Rhode Island actors also appear in small parts.

All “Jamestown and the Silver Screen” programs are listed on the JHS Web site.

Library Exhibit

The exhibit now on display in the inner lobby of the Jamestown Philomenian Library contains nine record books from the society’s collection. The records come from different time periods and have vastly different content.

For example, there is a 1916 school record book, a transcript of a 1726 diary with a weather log for each month and an account book from Bailey’s general store in 1887 and 1888. In a notebook on top of the case are copies of pages both from items on display and from other record books in the collection.

Visit the library soon if you want to see the record books. Carol Lake and Sue Maden are in the process of designing a new exhibit. This one will contain different kinds of certificates, ranging from an early 18th century Quaker wedding certificate with signatures of all the attendees witnessing the service, to certifi- cates issued to soldiers returning from war.

“From the Vault”

The JHS is now on television. On April 15, the first 15-minute installment in an occasional series called “From the Vault” with Sue Maden and Rosemary Enright aired on Newport County’s local Public, Educational and Governmental Access television channel, NCTV-18 (Cox 18). Repeat broadcasts are scheduled for tomorrow — Friday, March 6 — at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m. Other repeats may be listed on the channel’s Web site at nctv18. blogspot.com.

The show, filmed by JHS volunteer Patti Cassidy, concentrated on the founding of the society 99 years ago. A future show will feature the clothing and other textiles in the collection, explained by the society’s textile expert Dorrie Linn. Tours of this summer’s museum exhibit and of the windmill are also planned. Visit the JHS Web site or “friend” the Jamestown Historical Society on Facebook to be notified about the shows.

Online Catalog and Exhibit

The JHS Web site now offers a streamlined way to search for material in the JHS collection. Clicking on “Online Catalog” — the far right tab in the menu bar at the top of the page — leads to the collection catalog. You can use several search mechanisms to look through the catalog for a specific terms. Or you can just browse the pictures of the objects and photographs in the collection by selecting “Random Images” in the left hand menu bar.

Many users find “Random Images” the most fun. However, only a small percentage of the archival papers have been photographed. “Keyword Search” allows you to find any record containing the word or words entered. You can search on a keyword, but decide to look only at records that have images attached. For example, “Conanicut Park” is found in 215 records, only 55 of which have images. Most of the images are digital copies of photographs in the collection.

Rosemary Enright is secretary of the Jamestown Historical Society. For more information, visit the society’s Web site at james townhistoricalsociety.org.

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