Tag Archives: First Baptist Church in America

My Colonial States Trip~Part 20

1 Apr

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Bill Rocket Plane


I started my last day of this trip with another attempt at visiting the First Baptist Church in America. I drove the 15 miles into Providence, RI and this time had no trouble driving right up to the church. I parked and walked across the street to take a picture of the church and read the plaque out front. Of course the church was closed at that time of the morning, so I just moved on to the next place I wanted to visit before leaving Providence.

It wasn’t far to the Roger Williams Museum and National Memorial where I learned what a dedicated individual Roger Williams really was. He originally came to this country in early 1631 with a group of Puritans, who landed in Boston, MA hoping to find religious freedom in the newly formed Massachusetts Bay Colony.


 He left Boston later that year to accept a ministry position offer in Salem, MA whose inhabitants believed more along the lines he did. When Salem withdrew their offer, Williams accepted an offer in Plymouth, MA for the same reason. By 1633 Williams was still at odds with local clergy over his “radical” beliefs (the separation of church and state) and the Massachusetts Bay Colony wanted him gone.


In 1636 his persecution as a “separatist” came to a head when the Massachusetts Bay Colony convicted him for his “new and dangerous opinions” with plans to deport him back to England. He fled south from Plymouth, some 50 miles or so, to spend time with the Wampanoag Indians, and later traveled to the headwaters of Narragansett Bay where he founded the colony of Providence (later to be called Rhode Island), on land deeded to him by the Narragansett Indians.


Williams established a trading post just south of Providence in 1637 and was instrumental in founding the First Baptist Church in America (which I referred to in Part 19 and above) in 1638. He returned to England in 1643 to secure a charter for the colony of Rhode Island, and again in 1651 to defend that charter against another grant that would have split the colony. In his later years Williams would succumb to ill-health, brought on by a lifetime dedicated to the colony he had founded and his struggling to keep it together, along with his constant battle with the “establishment” for religious freedom for all people everywhere. Below is a photo of the monument in Providence, dedicated to Williams with the figure of Clio (the muse of history) who is shown inscribing Williams’ name and the date (1636) when he founded the colony of Providence, which would later become the state of Rhode Island.






—–To Be Continued—–

My Colonial States Trip Part 18

18 Mar

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

Bill Small Red Plane


I wanted to save plenty of time for visiting the Submarine Force Library & Museum in Groton, CT before they closed. This museum is the only submarine museum operated by the U.S. Navy and is the home of the USS Nautilus (SSN-571), the first nuclear powered submarine in the world.  



The museum also was a replica of the first submarine ever used in combat, David Bushnell’s Turtle, built in 1775; a WWII HA-8 Japanese Midget submarine and the Navy’s USS X-1 research submarine that was initially designed to operate using a special closed-loop hydrogen peroxide system to generate the oxygen the submarine’s diesel engine needed to operate while the ship was submerged.



I was impressed with the 50 foot model of the USS Gato (SS-212), first of that class of submarine built by the U.S. Navy (thus carrying the class name) and was one of the typical classes of over 250 submarines built and used by the Navy during WWII. This beautifully detailed cut-away model shows all the different parts of the submarine, from bow to stern, were the crew lived and worked.



Next I drove up the coast a few miles to visit the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, CT advertised as the largest maritime museum in the world. The museum is located on 17 acres just south of I-95 on the Mystic River and was the first living maritime museum in the United States (1929). The museum re-creates a 19th century seafaring village, with its historic sailing ships, boats and over 60 period structures that have been carefully restored. I was impressed with one of their main attractions, the last surviving whaling ship, the Charles W. Morgan.



Since I was close to the town of Mystic, and I had looked them up on the internet as part of my trip research, I decided to try another lobster roll at the Ancient Mariner Restaurant in downtown Mystic. To my surprise, the town was in the middle of celebrating “Pirate Invasion Day” with people all over town (and in the restaurants) dressed up in Pirate costumes, running around looking for their next item in their Scavenger Hunt (or Geo Cache), and having a wonderful time, as the rain had finally let up. Then it was on up the road to the motel in Warwick, RI for a well-deserved rest after a 375 mile drive in the rain.



The next day was Sunday and I had planned to have a late breakfast and then attend the 11:00 service at the First Baptist Church in America in Providence, RI which was founded by Roger Williams in 1638. Williams had founded Providence in 1636 and had conducted church services in his home until 1638. For the next 60 years the congregation met outside, when the weather was nice, or in homes. The first service held in the current church building was in 1775 when the building was completed. Well, when I got to Providence some organization was having a 5-K Run right thru the area, and all the streets around the church were blocked off and the traffic was re-routed for blocks.



I finally gave up trying to get to the church, and headed for the Quonset Air Museum in North Kingston, RI where I found a small one-hanger museum with some unusual aircraft, not far from the Martha’s Vineyard Ferry landing. All of their aircraft were on static display, and not in what I would call beautifully restored condition. The guy behind the counter was very friendly and he told me all about the museum’s operations, after which we discussed our military service experiences at some length.





—–To Be Continued—–


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