Place:Bristol, Bristol, Rhode Island, United States

Coordinates41.7°N 71.267°W
Located inBristol, Rhode Island, United States     (1669 - )
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Bristol is a town in Bristol County, Rhode Island, US as well as the historic county seat. The town is built on the traditional territories of the Pokanoket Wampanoag. It is a deep water seaport named after Bristol, England.

The population of Bristol was 22,493 at the 2020 census. Major industries include boat building and related marine industries, manufacturing, and tourism. The town's school system is united with that of the neighboring town of Warren. Prominent communities include Portuguese-Americans, mostly Azoreans, and Italian-Americans.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Early colonization

Before the Pilgrims arrived in 1620, the Pokanokets occupied much of Southern New England, including Plymouth. They had previously suffered from a series of plagues which killed off large segments of their population, and their leader, the Massasoit Osamequin, befriended the early settlers. King Philip's War was a conflict between the Plymouth settlers and the Pokanokets and allied tribes, and it began in the neighboring area of Swansea, Massachusetts. Metacomet made nearby Mount Hope (a corruption of the Pokanoket word Montaup) his base of operations; he died following an ambush by Captain Benjamin Church on August 12, 1676.[1] "Massasoit's Seat" is a rocky ledge on the mountain which was a lookout site for enemy ships on Mount Hope Bay.

After the war concluded, four Boston merchants—Stephen Burton, Nathaniel Byfield, Nathaniel Oliver, and John Walley—purchased a tract of land known as "Mount Hope Neck and Poppasquash Neck" as part of the Plymouth Colony. Other settlers included John Gorham and Richard Smith. A variant of the Indian name Metacomet is now the name of a main road in Bristol: Metacom Avenue (RI Route 136).[1] Bristol was a town of Massachusetts until the Crown transferred it to the Rhode Island Colony in 1747.[1]

Slave trade and the DeWolf family

The DeWolf family was among the earliest settlers of Bristol. Bristol and Rhode Island became a center of slave trading. James DeWolf, a leading slave trader, later became a United States Senator from Rhode Island. Beginning in 1769 and continuing until 1820 (over a decade after the slave trade was outlawed in the Atlantic), the DeWolf family trafficked people out of West Africa, enslaving them and bringing them to work on DeWolf-owned plantations, or selling them to be auctioned at ports in places such as Havana, Cuba and Charleston, South Carolina. In Cuba, sugar and molasses, harvested/created by enslaved Africans, was brought back to Rhode Island to DeWolf-owned distilleries. By the end of 1820, the DeWolf family had trafficked and enslaved over 10,000 African people. James DeWolf died as the second wealthiest person in the United States.

As it did in many northern towns and port cities, slavery built the wealth of Bristol, which processed various materials, such as cotton, created or harvested through the use of slave labor.[2] Quakers from Rhode Island were involved early in the abolition movement, although abolition was a divisive issue among Quakers, resulting in the creation of new Quaker groups.

The history of the DeWolf family, as well as Bristol's and the northern United States' participation in slavery, are covered in the 2008 documentary , in the 2008 companion memoir Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts Its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History by Thomas Norman DeWolf, and the 2014 historical study James DeWolf and the Rhode Island Slave Trade by Cynthia Mestad Johnson.

American Revolution

During the American Revolutionary War, the British Royal Navy bombarded Bristol twice. On October 7, 1775, a group of ships led by Captain Wallace and sailed into town and demanded provisions. When refused, Wallace shelled the town, causing much damage. The attack was stopped when Lieutenant Governor William Bradford rowed out to Rose to negotiate a cease-fire, but then a second attack took place on May 25, 1778. This time, 500 British and Hessian troops marched through the main street (now called Hope Street (RI Route 114)) and burnt 30 barracks and houses, taking some prisoners to Newport.

Other history and current day

Until 1854, Bristol was one of the five state capitals of Rhode Island.

Bristol is home to Roger Williams University, named for Rhode Island founder Roger Williams.

The southerly terminus of the East Bay Bike Path is located at Independence Park on Bristol Harbor. The bike path continues north to India Point Park in Providence, R.I., mostly constructed following an abandoned railroad right of way. Some of the best views of Narragansett Bay can be seen along this corridor. This path is a valued commodity to Bristol; it allows bikers, roller skaters, and walkers to enjoy the area. The construction of the East Bay Bike Path was highly contested by Bristol residents before construction because of the potential of crime, but it has become a welcome asset to the community and the anticipated crime was non-existent.

The Bristol-based boat company Herreshoff built five consecutive America's Cup Defenders between 1893 and 1920. The Colt Estate, now known as Colt State Park, was home to Samuel P. Colt, nephew of the man famous for the arms company, and founder of the United States Rubber Company, later called Uniroyal and the largest rubber company in the nation. Colt State Park lies on manicured gardens abutting the West Passage of Narragansett Bay, and is popular for its views of the waterfront and sunsets.

Bristol is the site of the National Historic Landmark Joseph Reynolds House built in 1700. The Marquis de Lafayette and his staff used the building as headquarters in 1778 during the Battle of Rhode Island.

Fourth of July parade

Bristol has the oldest continuously celebrated Independence Day festivities in the United States. The first mention of a celebration comes from July 1777, when a British officer noted sounds coming from across Narragansett Bay:

The annual official and historic celebrations (Patriotic Exercises) were established in 1785 by Rev. Henry Wight of the First Congregational Church and veteran of the Revolutionary War, and later by Rev. Wight as the Parade, and continue today, organized by the Bristol Fourth of July Committee. The festivities officially start on June 14, Flag Day, beginning a period of outdoor concerts, soapbox car races and a firefighters' muster at Independence Park. The celebration climaxes on July 4 with the oldest annual parade in the United States, "The Military, Civic and Firemen's Parade", an event that draws over 200,000 people from Rhode Island and around the world. These elaborate celebrations give Bristol its nickname, "America's most patriotic town".

Bristol is represented in the parade with hometown groups like the Bristol Train of Artillery and the Bristol County Fifes and Drums.

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