Note: The following email from the Lewin family of Tacoma, Wa., was sent to Warren Town Council president Chris Stanley late last month:
Dear Mr. Stanley,
We are writing on behalf of some of the current Lewin family members descended from William Lewin and Rachel Thurber who married about 1713 and who had two sons, John, born in 1714, and William II, born in 1716, who lived and died in Swansea, MA, which, back then until 1747, included part of Rhode Island, particularly Warren. Rachel (Thurber) Lewin’s parents are buried in the Kickemuit Cemetery.
With that little bit of history, we would like to request that Narragansett Way’s name be returned to Lewin Street, because that is part of the early and accurate history of the town. For further proof and greater incentive we are adding some additional information about the early Lewin family involvement in Warren.
The following is part of a transcription of a deed made by Rachel Luen (Lewin) who was a widow at the time and who sold land upon which parishioners built the first Baptist Church and which, under the guidance of Rev. James Manning, led to the formation of Brown University.
“To All People to whom these presents shall come Rachel Luen of Warren in the County of Bristol in the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in New England widow sends Greeting Know ye that I the Said Rachel Luen for the Love good will and affection which I have and do Bear towards the Church and Congregation of Baptists professing believers Baptism by Emersion only under the Pastoral Care of the Reverend Mr. James Manning Minister of the Gospell (sic) in Warren aforsaid (sic). And For and in Consideration of the full and Just Sum of One Thousand and Twenty Pounds in Good Bills of Publick Credit of Said Colony old tenor to me in hand before the ensealing (?) here of well and truly paid by Silvester Child, Ebenezer Cole and John Wheaton all of warren (sic)..one Certain Lot or piece of Land Scituate (sic) Lying and being in Warren aforsaid (sic) containing one Quarter of an acre and eleven Square rods being butted and bounded and measureing (sic) as followeth: viz: Northerly Six rod by the highway that leads Down to the river or Saltwater, Easterly by the Road or highway that leads to Kellys ferry eight rod seven feet and a half Southerly Six rods by land of James Bushe Westerly eight rods seven feet and a half by land of me the said Rachel Luen or however otherwise the same may be butted and bounded…To Have and To Hold all the above granted and bargained Premises and Appurtenances unto them the Said Silvester Child Ebenezer Cole and John Wheaton their Heirs and assigns forever in trust to and for the only use Benefit and behoof of the aforsaid (sic) Church and Congregation of Baptists and their associates and Successors forever, for the erecting and building thereon a meeting house for the Publick worship of God and also (if they think it fit) a Parsonage house & such other buildings as they shall have ocation (?) of to be used and improved by the said Church and Congregation of Baptists….In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the twenty ninth Day of January in the fifth year of his majesties (sic) Reign George the Third King of great (sic) Britain ye Anno que Domini One Thousand Seven hundred and Sixty five Signed Sealed and Delivered In the Presence of us: Rachel Luen X; her mark; Daniel Bliss (signed); Joseph Cobb; (signed)”
From a book celebrating the 250th anniversary of the founding of Warren, RI comes the following about the Baptist Church:
“In Warren, the first church to be founded was the Baptist Church. Begun as a small gathering of people in a private home when the town’s population was just 979, the congregation soon grew enough to support a minister, the Rev.James Manning, and to build a church in 1764.
Mr. Manning was also granted a charter for a college to be established in Warren. The college was first called Rhode Island College, later Brown University, and held its first commencement in Warren in 1769 before removing to Providence.
After Hessians burned the church and the parsonage in 1778, a second building was erected in 1784 and the third, the present stone building at the corner of Main and Miller streets, was put up in 1844. The bell for this building was cast by Paul Revere in 1800 and recast in 1906.”
The following from: A discourse delivered at the dedication of the new church edifice of the Baptist church and society in Warren, R.I. May 8, 1845.
Josiah Philips Tustin; page 88.
The houses in the village of Warren, in 1756, were located and occupied as follows ; On Main-street, by John Kelly, Amos Bowen, Allen Cole, Amos Thomas, John Wheaton, John Easterbrook, Amos Haile, James Bushee, Mr. Jolls, at the gate, & a blacksmith’s shop ; On Market-street, by John Child, & a school-house ; On Miller-street, by Mrs. Lewin, Nathan Miller ; On Church-street, Squire Maxwell, Caleb Turner; On Washington-street, by Caleb Carr (kept as a tavern) Samuel Miller, Benj. Easterbrook; On the shore, by Samuel Hicks, John Luther, Thomas Cole, and one or two stores.
Burials in Warren at the North Burial Ground are Rachel Lewin, who was the daughter of William Lewin II, and her husband Caleb Cranston. There are 4 Lewin ancestors buried in the Warren South Burial Ground.
From the Warren Fire Dept. history we know that Lewin Street existed in 1878. “On March 3, 1878, flames destroyed one of the old land-marks of the town. This was the building located on the north side of Baker Street, between Lewin and Main Streets, and owned by the heirs of Judge Samuel Randall.”
Early members of the Lewin family lived in or near Warren and Swansea until the late 19th century spreading out to Providence and Fall River. There is a Lewin Cemetery in Swansea located at the site of the original Lewin farm. We still had a presence in Fall River in the 20th century.
We truly hope that the Warren City Leaders can understand our point of view and the historical significance connected to our request.
Byron C. Lewin
Joan (Lewin) Beckham