Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
New England States Rhode Island East Greenwich

East Greenwich, Rhode Island

East Greenwich was founded in 1677.     

The first waterworks was built by Cook's (or Cooke's) Fountain Society, which was organized on August 18, 1773 and chartered in October 1773 by  Hopkins Cooke, Thomas Aldrich, James Mitchel Varnum, Job Pearce, Richard Matteson, Silas Carey, Thomas Fry & Company, Nathaniel Greene, Gideon Mumford, Archibald Crary, William Arnold, Samuel Smith, Daniel Greene, Micah Whitmarsh, James Searle, August Mumford, Jabez Greene, Nathan Greene, Samuel Tripp, Samuel Upton, William Sweet Jr., Hope Campbell, John Reynolds, Thomas Spencer, and Joseph Whitmarsh.  The society was still operating in 1780 when it received permission to hold its annual meeting that had been neglected, but no other records have been found about this system.

In February 1797, the Fire Engine Company of East Greenwich was chartered, and according to an 1877 history this company built an underground piping network to distribute water.  No other records of this system have been found and it is possible that the author confused the two systems. 

The East Greenwich Water Supply Company was incorporated on May 28, 1886 by Benjamin C. Mudge, Arthur W. Forbes, James H. Eldredge, and Thomas. G. Allen, who were part of the National Water-Works Syndicate of Boston.   The system pumped water from the Hunt River to a standpipe using a Worthington engine.  Mudge and his associates started several water-works systems, but he went bankrupt in 1888 and was convicted of stock fraud in 1914.

The waterworks in the town of East Greenwich are owned by the Kent County Water Authority, which was formed in 1946 and bought the East Greenwich Water Supply Company and other systems.  Their web site has a good history page and also includes several corporate records and board minutes that are very useful given the paucity of legislative records in Rhode Island.

1773 An act incorporating Cook's Fountain Society, October 1773.

1780 Petition of Cooke's Fountain Society Granted, November 1780.

1797 Charter to the Fire Engine Company in East-Greenwich, February 1797.

1877 History of the Town of East Greenwich and Adjacent Territory: From 1677 to 1877  by Daniel Howland Greene
Page 254: In the year 1795 a number of the citizens of our village procured a charter from the Legislature for a fire corporation.  A large fountain was built on Division street, nearly opposite where the old windmill once stood, and bored logs for the transmission of water were laid through the principal streets. A fire engine was purchased and a house built for its use, but it never was brought into use at a fire but once, when a blacksmith's shop belonging to Jonathan Salisbury was burned,

1886 An act to incorporate the "East Greenwich Water Supply Company." May 28, 1886.

1888 "East Greenwich," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.

1890 "East Greenwich," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.

1891 "East Greenwich," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.

1897 "East Greenwich," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.

2017 Morris A. Pierce