1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Narragansett

NARRAGANSETT, a township of Washington county, Rhode Island, U.S.A. on the W. shore of Narragansett Bay, about 25 m. S. of Providence and about 8 m. W.S.W. of Newport. Pop. (1890) 1408; (1900) 1523; (1905) 1469; (1910) 1250. Area about 15 sq. m. It is connected at Kingston Station (about 9 m. N.W.) by the Narragansett Pier railway with the shore line of the New York, New Haven & Hartford railway; an electric line connects with Providence. The southern part of the township is a peninsula, lying between the mouth of Narragansett Bay and an inlet separating this part of the township from South Kingstown. Narragansett Pier, within the township, has a fine bathing beach, which extends along the indented coast between the village and the mouth of the Pattaquamscutt river; the force of the surf is somewhat broken by Point Judith, about 5 m. S. (also in the township), on which there, is a lighthouse. On a ridge overlooking the ocean and commanding a fine view is the Point Judith Country Club, with golf courses, tennis courts and a polo-held, on which is held a horse show at the close of each season. Many of the summer visitors at Narragansett Pier are from New England, New York and Philadelphia, but there is a sufficient number from Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Louisville and other Southern Cities to give to its society a noticeably Southern tone. Narragansett Pier was so-named from the piers that were built here late in the 18th century and early in the 19th to provide a port for the Narragansett Country, or southern Rhode Island, and it still has a coal wharf, and a yacht landing at the Casino. The development of the place as a summer resort was begun about the middle of the 19th century by the erection of a bathing-house and the conversion of some farm houses into boarding houses. The erection of large hotels and private residences soon followed, and the completion of the railway to the pier in 1876 increased its popularity. The District of Narragansett (in the town of South Kingstown) was organized in 1888 and in 1901 was incorporated as a separate township.

The town is named from the Narraganset Indians, a once-powerful Algonquian tribe, which occupied much of the shore of Narragansett Bay. Under their chief Canonicus (d. 1647) they were friendly to the early Rhode Island settlers, and under Miantonomo (q.v.) entered into a tripartite treaty with the Connecticut colonists and the Mohegans; but after the execution of Miantonomo the Narragansets under Miantonomo's son, Canonchet or Nanuntenoo, were less friendly. Their loyalty to the whites was suspected at the time of King Philip's War, and on the 19th of December 1675, at the Great or Cedar Swamp (Narragansett Fort) in the present town of South Kingstown (immediately west of the town of Narragansett), they were decisively defeated by the whites, under Governor Josiah Winslow of the Plymouth Colony. The site of the engagement is marked by a granite monument erected in 1906 by the Rhode Island Society of Colonial Wars. Canonchet escaped, but on the 2nd of August 1676 was captured near Stonington, Connecticut, and on the following day was executed. Most of the survivors of the tribe were later settled among the Niantic, to whom the name Narraganset has been transferred. There are now few survivors of pure Indian blood.