William West of Scituate Rhode IslandWilliam West of Scituate, R.I.: Farmer, Soldier, Statesman
George M. West
(St. Andrews, FL: Panama City Publishing, 1919).
The silent influence of the primeval forests, and the everlasting granite hills that rise, terrace above terrace, from the wonderful bay that bisects Rhode Island, had much to do with the formation of the character of the early settlers of that State, knitting into their inmost fibre that stability and ruggedness for which they were noted.
While the yearning for a greater personal and religious liberty may have been the prevailing motive for the migration of many of these pioneers from the Massachusetts colonies, inseparable from it was that longing for the ownership of land which was their heritage from a long line of forbears in Old England, where the condition of the farmer and laborer forbade their acquiring the lands they worked, which were under the control of the Lords of Manor, and the Monasteries.
Undboutedly such were the impelling impulses that caused many of the descendants of Francis West, of Duxbury, Mass., to remove to the western shores of Narragansetts Bay, in Rhode Island, and westward along the Providence and Hartford Pike, into Windham and Tolland counties, in Connecticut. But the emigrant remained at Duxbury throughout his life.
Peter West, the third son of Francis, resided at Duxbury, and cared for his father in his old age, and his father's estate, which amounted to but sixteen pounds and fifteen shillings, was given him by the Probate court.
Peter West had nine children, all born in Duxbury. His first son, the fifth child, was named William. He was born May 4th, 1683. This son William was married in 1709 to Abiah Sprague, of Hingham, Mass. Either before his marriage, or soon after, he removed to North Kingston, R.I. , where he probably resided the remainder of his life. The North Kingston records show that he and his wife, Abiah, signed a deed to land on November 28th, 1711, and again in April 173. Other deeds made by William West about 1721 have no wife's name attached, and it is possible that Abiah had died previous to that date.
The descendants of Almy (West) Battey, a daughter of William West, Jr., state that Almy had told them that her grandmother's name was Sarah. There is a record in the North Kingston marriages of --West and Sarah Baker being married in 1731. This might have been William West, Sr., but the Christian name is not legible, nor is there any proof that this was the Sarah he married, if he married a Sarah, as he might have married earlier than this date, and this statement handed down by the daughter Almy is the only evidence at hand of William West of Kingston marrying other than Abiah Sprague.
Family records of various descendants of the family show that William West, Jr. of North Kingston, was the son of William West, son of Peter, was born in North Kingston, and lived 83 years. As Beaman, on authority of those who attended his funeral, states that he died about 1816, that would place his birth in North Kingston at about 1733, which is probably not far from the correct date.
He had evidently acquired land in North Kingston at an early date, as he afterwards sold land owned by him in that town, as is shown by deeds on record there. In fact William West was a large land owner, and owned lands in various parts of Connecticut as well as Rhode Island.
When he became financially embarrassed in 1785, he applied to the legislature, and was granted leave to carry on a lottery to dispose of some of his property, which was scheduled as being a farm of 200 acres at Point Judith, in South Kingston, with 20 acres of salt marsh near; one farm in Killingly, Conn., in Thompson parish, containing 400 acres; also 200 acres of timber land in Killingly, Connecticut; 380 acres in the town of Weston, Connecticut; and 450 acres in the town of Foster, Rhode Island. there were also 60 cows, 8 oxen, 5 hores, and 100 sheep listed. Lands in this lottery did not include his home farm of 500 acres, but show seven other tracts containing 1,950 acres. (Cyrus Walker, in Notes on Scituate)
This energetic, popular, and prosperous young man undoubtedly, as was the custom in that day, married young, perhaps between his nineteenth and twenty-first year. He married Elener Brown, possibly a daughter of Charles Brown, though there were many families bearing the name Brown residing in North Kingston at that time, the census of 1774 enumerating nine, nearly all of which included children over 16 years of age at that date.
The first authentic record we have of William West, is that he was licensed as an inn keeper in Scituate in 1758 (Beaman's Historical Address, 1876, pg. 36), and that must have been about the time he came to that town from North Kingston, at which date he would have been about 25 years of age. This inn is said to have been on Chopmist hill, on the Brooklyn pike. There appears to have been a large movement of settlers into Scituate between the years 1755 and 1774, as the census shows but 1,813 inhabitants in the former year, and 3,601 in the latter, an increase of over 98 per cent in the 19 years. Possibly this was the date of the opening of Hope furnace, which would have brought in quite a few settlers.
On April 6th 1759 (Cyrus Walker, in Notes on Scituate), he bought a tract of land from Reuben Hopkins and Jonathan Aldrich, on the west side of Round Hill river (the Dolly Cole brook) near where it empties into the Ponaganset. Round Hill is the hill west of and adjoining Chopmist, and this tract must have been westerly on the pike, or near it, on which he was then living. This location is now in the Town of Foster.
In August of the same year he purchased a fifty acre ight in common land from Richard Brown. This was followed by the purchase on February 19th, 1760, of thirty acres from William Wilkinson. This tract is described as follows: bounded on the north by land belonging to the heirs of Joseph Wilkinson, on the east by land of John Hulet, on the south by land of Bernard Haile, and on the west by land belonging to the heirs of John Hopkins. This made three pieces of land that William West had bought in Scituate in less than a year.
On March 27th, 1761, (Beaman pg. 24 Notes on Scituate), he purchased the tract that became his homestead, and which is known even today as the "Big House Farm." This tract consisted of 500 acres, and was purchased of John Hulet who describes the property as "the same farm on which William West now liveth," and "is all that farm that I, the said grantor purchased of Capt. John Hopkins, and part of that lot of land that I, the said grantor, purchased of Richard Steere and Peter Cook."
The eastern part of this tract, some 200 acres, being the part that Hulet bought of Stephen Hopkins, was the 150 acres selected by Major William Hopkins, in May, 1705, and fifty acres that he selected soon after, probably at the second division of the Providence Proprietors, being the purchase right of Thomas Suckling.
As the deed from Hulet states that htis is the "same farm on which William West now liveth," he must have removed from his Chopmist hill location to some point on this tract, previous to the date of the deed, whcih was March 27th, 1761.
He paid for this 500 acres forty thousand pounds in current bills of colony, of the "Old Tenor," a price that Beaman says is "not to accounted for, except we admit the great depreciation of the currency." At the same time John Hulet bought 230 acres in the same locality for which he paid but 1,800 Spanish milled dollars, or about $8 per acre. Walker says of the transaction: "At first glance this strikes on as a fabulous price, but on further examination appears quite reasonable. Beeman's conjecture as to the depreciation of the paper currency was correct, as a little examination would have revealed to him. As fixed by statute the value of a Spanish milled dollar was, in 1761, equivalent to six pounds and ten shillings in the "Old Tenor" currency. With this light to guide us we find that the actual cost was $6,153.85, ot $12.31 per acre."
With a house full of growing boys and girls and three slaves, William West during the next few years was busily engaged in opening up his farm, which included stock raising and the operation of a dairy, and marketing its products. He is said to have kept one hundred milch cows, besides numerous oxen, horses and sheep. Scituate was noted for a very fine breed of horses, equalling those for which, at later date, Vermont gained fame.
It was not unusual for him to take 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of cheese to Providence at one time. (Beaman, pg. 26). This was done over the rocky, hilly roads, by ox-teams. The care of the milk from a hundred cows; the washing, carding, spinning, and weaving of the wool from his large flock of sheep, kept his many boys and girls busy, and there could have been but little idling amidst such surroundings. From the occupations that they followed when grown, it would appear that the boys remained farmers, and that the girls married farmers, all remaining true to their early training.
But it must not be taken for granted that it was"all work and no play" in their lives, or that there were no pleasures in such homes. Far from it. Almost every daughter had her favorite horse, and there was the best of hunting for the boys, gatherings at their own home and at those of other young people, with an occasional trip to Providence, twelve miles aways. Nuts, apples, cider, pop-corn, and maple-sugar maing in its season, aided in entertaining their own household of children, as well as those of the neighbors. William West was not, so far as known, a member of any church, but was a man whom his neighbors honored, and who, through his liberality, both in politics and religiou, acquired many friends.
Schools were unknown in the community at that date, and children acquired their education from their parents, or an occasional private tutor. It is probable that some one of the rooms in the big house was used as a school room, with a private teacher in charge during some months of the year, probably in the winter.
As an evidence of William West's popularity and the esteem in which he was held by neighbors, he had been a resident of Scituate but two years when he was elected as Deputy from that township, (each country township being entitled to two Deputies in the Colonial Legislature) a position to which he was elected twelve times, as follows (Beaman's list, appx. 2; RI Colonial Records, Vols. 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10) : 1760, 1761, 1766, 1768, 1770, 1771, 1773, 1776, 1779, 1780, 1784 and 1785. He was also selected as the Moderator of the town of Scituate twice in 1765, elections being held semi-annually, and he held the office of justice of the peace in 1774, 1775, and 1776.
From 1760 until 1790 William West was intimately connected with the political and social life of Scituate and Rhode Island. To the many public offices he held no salary was attached, and from his activity throughout the Revolutionary period, it is evident that he served his county from patriotic motives alon, and when and wherever he could be of most service.
In 1775 (Beaman, pg. 25) he built the "big house" on his home farm, a building that is still standing in a good state of preservation, showing the choice quality of the material used and high grade of workmanship. The wrought nails with which the clapboards were nailed to oak studding are holding as tightly today as when they were first placed, illustrating well the difference between the wrought nails of that day and the machine-made product of the present.
The half-tones of the big house, presented herewith, give several views of this remarkable building. It was built after the then most improved style of country houses, with gambrel roof, wife and ornamented fron door, and framed with everlasting oak. Evidently William West had this house planned after the best styles in colonial architecture, and no expense was spared inits erection.
It faces the south and, standing on a steep side hill or rocky projection, it has three full stories and a large attic on the east side, while showing but two stories in height on the fron or south side. The attic is as large as a public hall, and when visited by the writer in 1911, it contained many old spinning wheels, looms, etc. reminders of bygone days.
One peculiar feature of the basement story on the east is that it is hewn out of the granite rocks on the west side, and one has but to step into a room on that side to draw water from the well, which is sunk in the rocks, and in which the water rises to near the level of the floor. On the north side of this basement is a circular hole dug in the rock, around which are steps leading down a short distance to the water, but just above the water are rows of shelves cut into the grantite, on which, it is claimed, choice wines were stored.
The fire place in this basement is very wide and deep, and the crane is of such heavy iron that it would support a kettle three feet in diameter. Just what this large lwoer room, with its immense fire place was used for, is now mere conjecture. But fronting as it does upon the lower slope on the east side of the house, it would be very convenient for many household purposes.
The fron door presents a study in colonial architecture that would be interesting if followed up, as it is but an example of many that may yet be found in the better class of old homes throughout the New England States. The sunburst effect over the door is one not often met with; the pillars, however, are quite common. The side supports in imitation of stone, with arching and keystone, also, are rarely seen.
Like all old farm houses, there were various additions on the rear, probably used as wash rooms, for milk and cheese rooms, apple storage, wagon shed, and nearby the hen house and barns. Everything was close to the house, and all conveniently arranged to do the work with as few steps as possible.
This was the house in which this leading character of Scituate, and all Rhode Island, met his many political friends, planned with them for the activities of the Rhode Island forces, to secure means and material to carry on the war, and, it is rumored, joined hands with others in the fitting out of privateers. If the old building could speak, it could undoubtedly tell an interesting story of these meetings, and ofmany others where pleasure took the place of business, for William West was a sportsman as well as a statesman, and in those days Scituate was well stocked with bear, deer, squirrels, and other varieties of game, and it is stated that many prominent citizens used to visit that section to hunt, among which Beeman names Governor Fenner, James Aldrich, William West, Joseph Wilkinson, John Hulet, Ricard Brown, and others. In view of the frequent visits of the governor and other prominent politicians to the neighborhood on these hunting trips, it may be concluded that when the hunt was over, the mistress of the bug house,, and her daughters, were promptly on hand to dispense its hospitality, and that many political schemes were then and there concocted.
The inns of that date were the centres at which the local, state, and colonial news was gathered and disseminated. And that of William West undboutedly was no exception. In fact from his rapid rise in authority in Scituate, he must have been, from the first, a leader in the community.
It has been stated that the War of the Revolution really began in 1763, and Rhode Island was one of the first colonies to actively object to the various oppressive acts of the Home Government in London. The citizens of Rhode Island have always claimed that the first offensive act of the patriotic colonists was the seizure and destruction of the British revenue cutter Gaspee in Narragansett bay, on June 10th, 1772. This daring deed was but an illustration of the sentiment and feeling in Rhode Island from 1768 until the outbreak of the war in 1774. A historian has characterized it as "the first bold, overt, organized stroke of the Revolution."
That William West was even then taking a prominent part in matters pertaining to the safety and protection of the colonies, is shown by his appointment in September, 1774 (RI Colonial Records, Vol 7, pg. 283), to seve on a "Committee of Correspondence" for the town of Scituate, to meet with the committees of the neighboring towns, and it September, 1774, he was chosen with others as a committee relative to the Boston blockade. For seven years, during the period from 1760 to 1773, inclusive, he had been the Deputy for Scituate, and was the Justice of the Peace for the town in 1774, therefore it would be quite in line with his public work that he should have been thus chosen.
From that time on until 1790, William West was one of the most distinguished men in public life in the state, especially representing his home town of Scituate. The numerous titles which he acquired during these years will, in themselves, give some idea of the work he was engaged in, and his standing in Scituate and throughout the state.
He was a Deputy for 12 years in the Colonial Legislature; a Moderator for the town; a Justice of the Peace; Colonel of the 3rd R.I. Regiment; Brigadier General of the Rhode Island Militia; Brigadier General of the Providence County Brigade; Member of the Council of War for the State; Deputy Governor of Rhode Island; and one of the Justices of the Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize, and General Gaol Delivery. Besides these official positions, he was often chosen to head committees connected with the prosecution of the war, or appointed individually to carry out war measures (Colonial Records of RI Vols. 7,8,9,10; Heitman's Historical Register of Officers of the Continental army, Beamn's Histroical Address, Walkers Notes on Scituate, Smith's Civil and Military List of RI, and contemporary RI newspapers, etc.)
The following extract from Beeman is an illustration of the work he was thus called upon to do, and exhibits the patriotic spirit of the town and the confience of the citizens in Colonel West. It reads as follows: "At a Town Meeting held April 28th, 1777, it was Voted that Col. William West be appointed to use the utmost of his endeavors and ability, by giving direction to his under-officers, as well as by using his influence otherways, to raise soldiers by enlisting the number of men assigned to be raised in this town, by Act of Assemby aforesaid." On May 5th following, he was chosen chairman of a committee "to prepare and divide into classes the amel inhabitants of the town, liable to bear arms," (Beaman, pg. 27), seemingly somewhat of a selective conscription such as our Government adopted in raising the great National Army in 1917.
Numerous and important must have been the meetings held in the "big house," and the gatherings there in the wolds of Scituate undoubtedly included many of the statesmen and army and navy officers of the State. It was a prominent and well known building, the residence of one of the state's leaders, but twelve miles from Providence, in a community whose patriotism was above question, yet so secluded in the wilderness that it would be a most fitting meeting place for the "rebels," as the patriots were then called.
In the meantime his wife and children carried on the extensive farm work, did their part in preparing the wool and weaving the cloth from wich they made blankets and garments for the Scituate troops and to clothe themselves, and silently co-operated in the great work that was to bring into the world a new nation. One or more of the boys volunteered early in the war, John, as shown by his pension record, having lived in Scituate when first called into service, the date not given (US Pension Files, applied for 1832). He futher states that he enlisted in November, 1776, in Cpatain Stephen Kimball's company of RI Militia for one year. He was in the battle of Rhode Island in July, 1778, having enlisted in the spring of that year, for seven months, in Captain Jonathan Hopkins' company, Colonel Livingston's regiment from New York. There might have been other sons in the army, but of this there is no record.
Another reason for the patriot leaders' meeting at the home of General West might have been that it was within seven or eight miles of Hope Furnace, where cannon and balls were being made for the army and navy. This furnace, like many others scattered about the country at an early day, secured its ore from nearby workings, and made various articles of rough ironware for the early settlers. But Hope Furnace was more than a mere melting pot; it made anchos, and bored out the cannot that were cast, so that they left there in a completed condition. Rufus Hopkins bought an interest in this furnace in 1766, and took charge of it. It must have furnished a goodly number of cannon, which were used not only in the army, but on the numerous privateers that were fitted out by Rhode Island citizens. [p17]
In the year 1775 the Governor appointed Eseck Hopkins as General in command of troops to be raised for the defense of the shores of Narragansett Bay, and Colonel West was appointed second in command. (Beaman, pg. 25). In October of that year he was appointed by the General Assemby on the Committee to procure muskets for the use of the Continental army, and to enquire concering cannon for the use of the Colony (RI Col. Rec'ds Vol. 7)
The military history, and account of the posititons held at this time by Colonel West are somewhat confused in the records handed down to us. Coincident with his appointment as second in command to General Hopkins is the statement, in the Colonial Records, that he was, in 1775, appointed Brigadier General of the Rhode Island Militia, and served until 1777. He resigned this position on January 20th, 1776, but this resignation does not appear to have been accepted until January, 1777, when, owing to there being two Brigadier Generals of the Rhode Island Militia to take command, he was dismissed from the service, and given a vote of thanks by the General Assembly. Information relative to this appointment is also found in Heitman's Historical Register of the Officers of the Continental Army.
In May, 1776, he was appointed Colonel of the 3rd Regiment of Providence County Militia (RI Colonial Records & Smith's Civil and Military List of RI Vol.1), which position he appears to have held during the years 1776, 1777, and 1778. It is quite probable that the rank of Bridadier General of the Rhode Island Militia was more honorary than otherwise, and that his position as Colonel of the Providence County Regiment did not conflict with his higher rank as Brigadier General, and [p.18] which was abolished because there were two officers of the same grade, with work for but one. As the apoointment by the Governor, in 1775, of Colonel West as second in command to Hopkins, does not appear to have carried with it any title, it is possible that this was a Brigadier General's position, as Hopkins is listed as a General, with West second in command.
However, these were not the only positions Colonel West was called upon to fill during the strenuous days of 1776. In February of that year he was appointed by the General Assembly on a committee for the town of Scituate to procure arms and accoutrements for the use of the Colony (RI Col. Records, Vol. 7), and in December of the same year, with General Varnum, he was appointed by the General assemby to assist Brigadier Francois Lellorquis DeMalmedy in plans of the latter for fortifying the state. (RI Col. Records, Vol. 8). Beeman states that on January 12th, 1776, Governor (probably General) West sends an order from headquarters to Captain Knight for nine privates and a commissioned officer, for fatigue duty.
Page 467 of the Colonial Records, Vol. 7, for that year states that General West had arrested spies, etc., and states the action taken by the General Assembly relative thereto. In December, 1776, the General Assemby voted that Generals Varnum and West be requested to forward such works....and get men and supplies.
In April, 1777, he was appointed by the General Assemby for the town of Scituate, to advance 2,024 pounds for bounties. (RI Col. Records, Vol. 8, pg. 201). The same month he was appointed by the General Assembly to procure blankets from the town of Scituate for the use of the Continental troops. (RI Col. Records, Vol. 8). In May of that year he was appointed Governor's Assistant, (RI Col. Records, Vol. 8) and during the same month, chairman of a committee for the town of Scituate to ascertain the number of effective soldiers wanting to complete the Continental battalion then being raised by the state. (Beaman, pg. 25). He was also made the choice of the General Assembly for 7th Assistant in the House. (RI Col. Records, Vol. 8, pg. 224)
It will be noted that he was a Deputy in 1776, and in the appointments he received in that year he is referred to as Col. West, possibly from his having recieved the appointment of Colonel of the Third Rhode Island Regiment in May of that year. However, he was not a Deputy in 1777 or 1778, probably feeling that he had enough public duties to attend to without being a member of the legislature, with its two regular sessions a year, and frequently two additional ones. But he returned to the legislature again in 1779.
In 1778 the General Assembly granted 3,021.05 pounds to Col. West as bounties to his regiment in the late expedition against Rhode Island. (RI Col. Records, Vol. 8, pg. 493), it being a matter of record that General West's troops acted as reserves in that battle, and aided in covering the retreat. This is the only battle in which, as shown by the records, General West took part. His son, John, who was also in this battle, speaks of his father, General West, in his affidavit asking for a pension, as one of the generals engaged therein.
Rhode Island seemed determined that he should be brigadier general, for in May, 1779, in the officers chosen by the General Assembly, he was made Brigadier General of the Providence County Brigade. (RI Col. Records, Vol. 8 & Smith's List, Vol. 1). This was but a little time before the British evacuated Rhode Island, and probably when the state was organizing addition forces to meet the invaders.
In May 1780, he was made a member of the Council of War of the state of Rhode Island, (RI Col. Records, Vol. 9) and in the same month was elected Deputy Governor of Rhode Island (RI Col. Records, Vol. 9, pg. 52), serving from May, 1780, until May, 1781. With the close of this term of office came prospects of peace, and General West's connection with military affairs in Rhode Island apparently ended, but he was chosen a Deputy for Scituate for the years 1784 and 1785. Later on we find him leading the country people, as against the cities, when matters came up which divided these classes, and it appears that the country people were victorious and carried their point.
But, like many another soldier and statesmen who had given his time and money to his country's cause, he now found himsel financially embarrassed, his farm neglected owing to his frequent enforced absences during the preceding six years, a currency that was worthless, having fallen from par, in 1776, to a point in 1782, where it would not be accepted at all, and, as has been said by a prominent writer, "There are scarcely any evils or dangers, of a political nature, and springing from political and social causes, to which a free people can be exposed, which the people of the United States did not experience during that period."
Rhode Island suffered possibly more than other colonies because of her very poor financial system, and the emission of a large sum of paper money, which was never redeemed. As the financial stress became greater, the colony sought relief by issuing more paper money, thus adding fuel to the fire.
Such were the conditions that confronted William West upon his return to the quiet retreat of his Scituate farm at the close of the war. However, he did not give up, but with the indomitable courage that had made him a leading figure through the dark days of the Colonies, he set about retrieving his badly broken fortune.
In 1785 he sought relief from pressing financial embarrassment through securing from the legislature the privlege of conducting a lottery for the disposal of lands and personal property. (RI Col. Records, Vol. 10, and Walker's notes on Scituate) Messrs. Caleb Harris, Thomas Holder, James Aldrich and Daniel Owen, all prominent citizens, were appointed managers of this lottery. Such lotteries were quite common in that day, and were frequently authorized by the legislature. As has been stated in another portion of this memoir, some 1,950 acres of land, with cows, horses, oxen and sheep, were disposed of in this lottery.
There are traditions in Rhode Island that William West was also interested in privateering, which was one of the most lucrative businesses of that maritime colony, relative to which it is stated that in less than five months in 1776, there were commissioned from Rhode Island sixty-five privateers. Fortunes were often made on one trip of these vessels, but again fortunes were lost with the loss of the vessels and cargo, and it is stated in the tradition connecting William West with this business, that he lost two vessels with cargoes, which still further damaged him financially.
But Rhode Island was not yet through with the public services of William West. He was elected as on of the Justices of the Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize, and General Gaol Delivery, and served during that years 1787, 1788 and 1789 (RI Col. Records, Vol. 10). This closed his public career, and from thence on William West's life was one filled with disappointments and failures.
He could not recover the ground lost through depreciation of the currency and his absence from his farm and business, and by 1792 his affairs had become so involved that he was forced to sell his home farm, which was done on July 19th, 1792, to his four sons-in-law, Jeremy Phillips of Gloucester, Job Randall and Gideon Smith of Scituate, and Joseph Baltey of Warwick, taking from them a bond of defeasance. At the time this sale was made, certain claims were bbeing pressed against General West which he contended were unjust, and which he stated that he would never pay.
This bond was never redeemed. it was transferred by General West on the 10th of March, 1801, to Job Randall, who was given in that transfer an unlimited power of attorney to transact business connected with the property as though it were his own. From a reading of this bond it will be seen that there was then an execution in force against William West for the sum of $1,360, in favor of Benjamin Talbot, and that there were also various notes due and payable to William West, which the parties to the bond agreed to collect, being secured for any expenses they might incur in so doing by this bond of defeasance.
This bond and its subsequent assignment, though executed in 1792 and 1801 respectively, were not recorded until June 21st, 1809. It is stated by some of William West's descendants that he never realized anything further from this property, which naturally engendered hard feelings. His sons and daughters had by this time married, and lived in homes of their own, and William West, now over seventy years of age, broken in forutne and deserted by friends, passed the remainder of his days in poverty.
At one time he was incarcerated in the Providence jail for some time for debt, imprisonment for debt being a common thing in those days. He said that the claims against him were unjust and that he would die in jail before he would pay them. Mary West, daughter of Samuel, son of General West, who married Peleg angell, stated that she rode to Providence regularly each week to visit her grandfather while he was in jail, carrying things to him.
Just when he was released, or how, is not ascertainable. However, he passed his last days at the residence of his son Samuel, and the daughter Mary, above spoken of, states that she cared for him during his last illness. This son Samuel lived on a north and south road which is, in a direct line, about two miles from the big house. this north and south road crosses the Brooklyn pike on Chopmist hill and by this road it is about three miles and a half from the General West homestead to that of his son Samuel. The old house of the latter was torn down some years ago.
Just when William West died is not known. Beeman stated, in his address in 1876, (Beaman, pg. 26, Walker's Notes on Scituate) that "it occured about 60 years ago, " and that Elder Westcott attended the funeral. This would make the date about 1816. According to the statements of relatives who attended the funeral, his grand daughter Mary West being among them, he was buried at a point near his old home, where there are three unidentified graves, said to be those of William West, his wife, and a son. This spot is diagonally opposite from the big house in a southwesterly direction, on a little eminence that appears to have been used as a family burial place, and which includes the grave of at least one other person. There is naught but rough pieces of granite, standing at the head and foot of these three graves, to mark them. And there are none but similar field stones to mark the last resting place of William Hopkins and his wife, Ruth, the father and mother of Stephen Hopkins.
Of the personal appearance of William West, Beeman says: "He was a man rather above the middle height, a bony sinew man, long favored, with a prominent nose." The promient nose, the so-called West nose, has been a characteristic feature of many of his descendants.
William West was a man of great activity and energy, of a generous and friendly disposition, and a leader among men. Though a sportsman as well as a statesman, he was neither dissolute or dissipated, but such a man as his neighbors and the citizens of the state often honored by placing in positions of consequence. His associates in public life were of the governing classes, and he ranked high among them as is shown by the many positions of trust and importance that he was so often called upon to fill. He was an indefatigable worker, strong for the right as he saw it, willing to sacrifice self for the public good, a man of many sides, and one of those "thousands Caesars, whose labors for their country scarce outlive them half a year."