2020 Speaker Series

PAST LECTURE Rev. Dr. Charles Hartman 

Rev. of the 1st Baptist Church and Local Historian

A Lapse of Memory: Exploring the Narrative of the Swansea Baptists

Watch Rev. Dr. Hartman’s Lecture Here!

The presentation will share the story of John Myles, a central figure in early Baptist development as he organized and led dissenting congregations from Wales and to Plymouth Colony. With slides and dialogue, the story will follow the development of Baptist institutions that include not only the First Baptist Church in Swansea (1663) but also familiar institutions like Brown University (1764).

Rev. Hartman retired from pastoral ministry in 2011 after serving five American Baptist congregations, the last being the FBC of Swansea, MA. He holds degrees from Franklin College of Indiana (BA), Colgate Rochester Crozer Seminary (M. Div), and Andover Newton Theological School (D. Min). Since his retirement he has taught as an adjunct professor at Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI. In this capacity he helped develop a freshman seminar focusing on Roger Williams, who was a contemporary of John Myles. In 2013, working with Dr. William Brackney of Acadia Univ. in Nova Scotia, the texts of the congregation’s original records, dating from 1649, were published as Baptists in Early North America, Vol. 1, Swansea, MA. This series now includes 12 volumes of previously unpublished records from the earliest Baptist congregations.

David Weed – Tuesday, September 15th 7:00pm

Project Coordinator for the Sowams Heritage Area Project

The Untold Story of the Sowams Heritage Area

David Weed will outline the Sowams Heritage Area’s goal of developing a National Heritage Area that would connect towns from Providence to Bristol, RI.  The Sowams Heritage Area is in East Bay Rhode Island and Nearby Massachusetts

Osamequin, the Massasoit of the Pokanoket Tribe, met with Pilgrim Governor Carver on March 22, 1621 and struck a treaty of mutual protection. A period of more than fifty years of peaceful relations between them followed and only ended with the King Philip’s War in 1675. Join us for a ninety-minute presentation that will describe over fifty historic sites from the 17th century, including houses and churches from the 1600s and burial sites and open spaces from the time of the early colonists. A number of those sites are in present-day Rehoboth, Seekonk and East Providence. This presentation is part of the Sowams Heritage Area Project which is made possible in part through funding support from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities

This lecture will be held in person, at the Museum’s exhibit barn. The event will be semi-open air so please dress accordingly. Masks are required. Seats are extremely limited to make physical distancing possible.

Cherry Fletcher Bamberg –

Sunday September 20th 2:00pm

Author and Historian with Rhode Island Genealogical Society

“Palmer River” Edward Bannister, 1885

Turbulent Times in Early Rehoboth:  Obadiah Holmes and His Baptist Friends

Rehoboth was born in the early 1640s when Plymouth, Salem, and Boston-area towns were long established. The beautiful land itself had been largely open before. Rehoboth was carefully planned: a civil compact was written, lots were laid out in attractive patterns and sold in successive offerings. An Oxford-educated Congregational minister Samuel Newman was hired to preach in a newly built meetinghouse. Settlers worked busily to build houses or lose their lots. They established careful rules for society, down to pay for labor, how many pennies a day for a man’s work, how many shillings for a man and a team of oxen. It was all very orderly.

While some of those settlers came from nearby towns in Plymouth Colony, especially Seekonk, a number had followed Rev. Samuel Newman from Weymouth. Others came from the unlikely place of Essex County, moving away from rigid religious control of Massachusetts Bay to more tolerant Plymouth Colony. This diversity, plus Rehoboth’s proximity to that scandalous blot on the religious landscape, Rhode Island, led within a decade to furious disagreements, lawsuits, and excommunication. Baptists came from Newport to baptize adults, a perfectly scandalous practice in the view of Congregationalists. Horrors!

In this talk we’ll meet Obadiah Holmes, the stubborn glassblower from Salem, the elderly and eccentric John Hazell, young John Torrey, the Smiths, and the Manns. What did they do? What happened to them? Come and find out!

Topics in this lecture are further discussed in John Clarke’s World, cowritten by presenter Cherry Fletcher Bamberg and Judith Crandall Harbold.
To order the book from Rhode Island Genealogical Society, go here.

Lecture will be held virtually over Zoom. The number of spots is available is limited, please reserve in advance. Zoom links will be sent 48 hours before event.

Sonia Pacheco –Tuesday, October 20th 7:00pm

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Portuguese-American Archives & Special Collections Librarian

Portuguese Rehoboth: What History and Archives Can Teach Us About Our Past

This talk will provide context to Portuguese-American immigration and who were the Portuguese who settled in Rehoboth in the early part of the 20th century. In addition, archivist Sonia Pacheco will discuss some of the issues that genealogists most frequently encounter when trying to uncover their Portuguese ancestors, including where to find vital records and naming conventions (or lack thereof!)

Sonia Pacheco is the librarian archivist for the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese American Archives, as well as the Portuguese, History and Foreign Languages library liaison at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Her fifteen years of experience as an information and heritage professional draws on her current position at an academic library and archive, as well as previous jobs as an archivist and museum coordinator for a historical society, community development librarian and librarian archivist at public libraries. She received a master’s degree in Information Studies (Archives focus) from the University of Toronto and a master’s in History from the University of Massachusetts Boston. The research for her MA thesis focused on Portuguese illegal emigration to the United States during the 1895-1911 period. Her professional interests include the relationship between archives and immigrant communities, capturing and preserving community memory, and teaching primary source literacy.

Erin Flynn –Sunday, November 15th 2:00pm

Project Archaeologist at the Public Archaeology Laboratory in Pawtucket, RI

Archaeology Along the Palmer River: History for Thousands of Years In and Around Rehoboth, Massachusetts

Erin Flynn is a Project Archaeologist at the Public Archaeology Laboratory in Pawtucket, RI. She’s been working in the American Northeast and specifically, southeastern New England at archaeological sites for the past nineteen years. Her interests include Native American life 8,000 to 3,000 years ago in New England, but has worked on a variety of other Native American and historic sites.

The Massachusetts Archaeological Society has been recording Native American sites along the Palmer River for at least 70 years. Archaeologists are able to better understand Native American life from these artifact collections and local narratives. While assisting with a Boy Scout merit badge in archaeology, I was fortunate to excavate at Camp Buxton and utilize maps by E. Otis Dyer, Jr.  Projects like this one, along with larger archaeological surveys within Rehoboth help piece together the past and help us better understand preservation for the future.