The Generations of Thomas Pine Petznick
Thomas Pine Petznick
Notes for Joseph Jenks
The Jenks Settlement
Joseph Jenks, Jr. is noted as the founder of Pawtucket. He was a young ironworker, born in England, who had come to America to join his father. Joseph Jenks, Sr. had organized and operated the first American iron works at Saugus, Massachusetts. In 1670, young Joseph left Saugus intending to settle in Warwick, Rhode Island on the "Pawtuxet" River. It is not certain just how he learned of the more powerful "Pawtucket" Falls on the Blackstone River, but with a readily available supply of timber and nearby bog iron ore, it was the ideal place to build his forge.
This area was still wilderness then. It was the northern boundary of Roger Williams' settlement of Providence, but had remained quiet woodland and fertile flood plains. On October 10, 1671, Joseph Jenks, Jr. purchased 60 acres of land on the west bank of the Blackstone River. This transaction marks the establishment of the first permanent settlement of Pawtucket.
The King Philip War
The small Jenks settlement was burned to the ground in 1675 during the King Philip War. The Indians of the New England region had been feeling the expanding power and presence of the English colonists. Massasoit, the Wampanoag chieftain, had managed to maintain friendly relations with the colonists. He dies in 1660, and in 1662 was succeeded by his son, Metacomet, also known as King Philip. The Wampanoags nursed an increasingly hostile attitude toward the white men. In 1675, after a series of aggravations, the Indians finally attacked. Many colonial towns were either wholly or partly destroyed during the war which finally ended in August 1676, when King Philip was killed. The results of the conflict were disastrous for everyone and almost fatal for the Indians, who would never regain their strength in southeastern New England.
The Jenks forge was rebuilt when the King Philip war ended, and soon there was a small village clustered near the Pawtucket Falls. It included several stone-ended dwellings, the forge, the foundry, a gristmill, and sawmill. Despite the small size of the village, it was an important center for iron products such as farm tools and housewares that were vital to the survival of early settlers.
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