Cocumscussoc, North Kingstown, RI

Yesterday I visited the Narragansett Indian land in Rhode Island known as Cocumscussoc which became the original colonial/Indian tradepost in 17th century RI. Established by Roger Williams, the post was run by Richard Smith, who built a home here.

“Captain Richard Smith built what has long been designated as the “Old Castle,” within one-half mile of the village of Wickford. This, in 1639, was erected for the farm house of Captain Smith, and here the good Roger Williams, who also fled from persecution, often visited. The brave and just old Canonicus and also Miantinomo frequently visited Smith. This castle was built by Smith as a trading post or house, and as a protection against the troublesome Indians. It was fifty feet square, two stories high, and its walls were of rough stone, two feet in thickness. It was used as a garrison and fortification during the Indian war, and it was there that Captain Benjamin Church assembled his forces before marching to the great swamp fight, and after his victory, with the dead and wounded, burying some forty-two of the slain in one grave” – From USGenWeb article on the history of North Kingstown.

There exists today a large marker which stands as a memorial to the soldiers who died during the infamous Great Swamp Fight and are buried in this mass grave.

Known today as “Smith’s Castle”, the original house was burned to the ground during King Philip’s War, and soon rebuilt and remains today, having undergone several structural changes. It serves now as a wonderful house museum which preserves and collects documents and artifacts from the colonial through the Victorian period, each of the rooms reflecting a different period in the life of the house.

Also on and near the property are several small cemeteries – the Smith plot, the Updike plot (who inherited the house later), and also a large burial area of the slaves to the Smith and Updike families.

“HISTORICAL CEMETERY #: NK346 SERVANTS/SLAVES NORTH KINGSTOWN RI
81 burials with 1 inscriptions

NOTE: Located near the Updike-Ayrault and Congdon lots near Cocumscussoc. Harris describes it “on plain north of the above yards in open lot quite an extensive burial yard of the colored servants of the above families.” Harris counted 72 large and 8 small graves all with rude stones. He speculates that there may have been more whose marks have been removed. ” – From the Historical Cemeteries of North Kingstown, RI.

I definitely would like revisit Cocumscussoc for further exploration – but right now February in New England is chiiiiiiilly!

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2 thoughts on “Cocumscussoc, North Kingstown, RI

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