Joseph Cundall: Lost in a Snowstorm

Posted November 13, 2017 by portsmouthhistorynotes
Categories: Uncategorized


Many vintage guides to Aquidneck Island call the Glen “Cundall’s Mills.”  The old history books tell the sad sorry of Joseph Cundall who was “engaged in the woolen manufacture, in the pursuit and improvement, of which he was uncommonly skillful, ingenious and enterprising” (Newport Mercury, December 1811).  This is the story of the Cundall family in Portsmouth and of the tragic ending to a life well spent.

Cundall Family Mills

The Glen had been associated with mills since colonial times.  The Cundall family had strong roots in the area.  The stream through the Glen was originally settled by Thomas Cook and his family.  As the Cooks moved on to Tiverton, this land was bought by James Sisson who sold his grist mill and 46 acres around the brook to a Joseph Cundall.  In 1706 Joseph Cundall had left his native Yorkshire, England to become an indentured servant in America. Becoming…

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Sold at Auction: Glen Farm Herd

Posted October 21, 2017 by portsmouthhistorynotes
Categories: Uncategorized


Photo from auction catalog.

A  Newport Mercury  account in 1949 provides the story of the end of the renown Glen Farm herds. The entire herd of 89 cows were dispersed in one auction for over $36,000. The herd, one of the oldest in Rhode Island, had been established in 1889 by H.A.C. Taylor and had been continued by his son Moses. Moses Taylor’s wife, Edith Taylor Nicholson had continued the herd, but she made the decision to sell in 1949.

Glen Farm Guernseys were known for high quality breeding and an outstanding record for being disease free. The original stock came from the Island of Guernsey, but the Taylors continued to selectively breed and improve their herds.

Among the buyers at the auction were Francis Taylor, the grandson of Glen Farm’s founder.  Francis, who is listed as being from Seekonk, bought a cow (Frolic of the Glen) and a calf…

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Houses in the Glen: Mill Gatehouse

Posted October 11, 2017 by portsmouthhistorynotes
Categories: Glen Farm, The Glen

Mill Gatehouse in the Glen

The Glen/Glen Road area of Portsmouth has a long history. Glen Road was the way to one of the Fogland Ferry landings and mills existed in the Glen from the earliest days of settlement. One of the oldest homes in this area is the Mill Gatehouse (96 Glen Farm Road).  The house is on land that was purchased by Joseph Cundall in 1745.    There was no mention of the house on the property transfer so it was probably built after 1745.  The Glen became known as Cundall’s Mills at that time. Joseph Cundall established carding and fulling mills in an area that had been a grist mill.  A later Joseph Cundall died in a snowstorm in the Glen on Christmas Eve of 1811.   When his property was divided in 1825, this house was listed as the “Gatehouse” to the mill area.

Stone bridge to former sheep grazing area.

The mill area was transformed into a factory in the days when Judge Samuel Clarke owned the property.  This house was on the first farm bought by Henry A.C. Taylor in 1882.  It was known to be used as a home for the herdsmen on the property because it is not far from the sheep barn that still exists on Glen Park.  Mr. Taylor made use of the houses on his property to  provide homes for the families of his workers.  There is a stone bridge on the property that crosses Mint Brook Stream.  This was on the road that formerly lead to the sheep grazing area of the farm.

The house has had additions and alterations over the years.  but many of the original details have been preserved. The cobblestone gate posts next to the property probably date from the Glen Farm era.



Seasholes, Nancy S.
1992 Architectural Survey of Two Historic Districts and Four Properties for the Route 138

Reconstruction Project in Portsmouth and Middletown, Rhode Island. OPA Report No. 104.

This source is available at the Portsmouth Free Public Library Local History collection is has an excellent guide to the homes and buildings in the Glen.


Portsmouth Landmarks: Glen Barns

Posted October 4, 2017 by portsmouthhistorynotes
Categories: Glen Farm, Portsmouth Landmarks

Aerial diagram of Glen Farm Barns

NewGlenTrail – This is a brochure you can use as you tour the Glen Barns.

1. Pump House: This was home to the equipment that pumped water from the stream to supply the farm with water.

2. Stone Horse Barn: Built in 1911. During World War II the stalls were removed and it was outfitted as a field hospital.

3. Silo: This stone silo is attached to the stone barn with a stone passageway. It was probably built before 1926. There was a wooden silo, too, but it has been removed.

4. Stone Cow Barn: Built in 1907, this barn was for dairy cows. This is where the Glen dairy was located.

5. Stone Bull Barn with Bull Pen: This barn is dated 1910. There was a fire in this barn in 1926, but no animals were injured.

The barns are arranged to provide courtyards of shelter from bad weather.

6. Frame Cow Barn: The is one of the oldest of the barns and is the model for the barn architecture.

7. Frame Horse Barn: Built in 1902, this barn may have had a fire at the south end in the 1940’s.

8. Tool House: Wooden barn built before 1907.
9. Wagon Shed: Wooden structure built before 1907.

10. Garage: Stone structure built after 1907. Held Taylor cars until a garage was constructed at Stanton Farm.

11. Slocum-Cundall Cemetary: Slocum graves from 1713 on are on the northeast corner. Cundall stones beginning with Joseph in 1811 are on the west side. Slocums and Cundalls had mills in the Glen.

12. Mill: This mill is in the same spot as the original grist mill. It was probably built on the old mill’s foundation and was used as the carpentry shop for Glen Farm.

Portsmouth Landmarks: Glen Manor House.

Posted September 29, 2017 by portsmouthhistorynotes
Categories: Uncategorized


Glen Manor House in the 1920s

The Glen Manor House is a Portsmouth jewel. We will share some of what we know about the history of the building and what it was like when the Taylors lived here. Even though the Taylor family began Glen Farm in 1882, construction did not begin on their home until around 1920. The Taylors had a Newport summer home, but they preferred the countryside of Portsmouth to the high society of Newport. They hired famed architect John Russell Pope to design their new home. Moses Taylor and his wife Edith had lost a son in World War I in France. There are stories that the French chateau style and the broad grass steps of the house were designed to remember the place where their son died. The house was completed in 1923.

Architect Pope encouraged the Taylors to hire the famed Olmstead firm to do…

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Portsmouth People: Geraldine Camara Leis – Glen Farm Tales

Posted September 18, 2017 by portsmouthhistorynotes
Categories: Glen Farm

Growing up on Glen Farm was idyllic for an adventurous girl named Geraldine Camara.  Gerry and her sister Mary Lou shared stories of their childhood with Elmhurst students many years ago.   The students interviewed the Camara sisters on the porch of the Leonard Brown House many years ago.  They lived at that house (and others on the farm) because their father, Manuel Camara,  was a long term worker on the farm.  His story is another one that deserves to be told in a separate blog.

Stories about Gerry – in the words of the student interviewers.

Gerry was born at the Brown House on a very cold January day. She was so tiny they had to keep her warm, so the nurse put her on the oven door.

The fields around the house were filled with cows – Angus, Guernseys and later Charolais.  The girls had to walk up Linden Lane to get to the school bus and the cows followed them all the way.

Gerry was always getting into trouble.  She used to climb into the hayloft of the barns and she even tried to ride the cows.

There were seven wooden bridges over the paths around the stream that ran from the mill pond to the river.  One day Gerry used the wood from one of the bridges to make a raft.  Then there were only six bridges.

The Glen families were careful let the Taylor family have their privacy.  They were the owners after all.  When Gerry picked daffodils from Mrs. Taylor’s garden, her mother was very upset with her.

Glen Farm has beautiful stone walls.  Mrs. Taylor’s second husband didn’t like to see the children sitting on the walls.  he paid them a quarter not to sit on the walls.  He had a fancy car and when the girls saw the car coming, they sat right on the walls so he would give them more quarters.

Gerry made the sheep barn into her own clubhouse.

It could get cold at the Brown House, so the workers would “bank the house.”  That meant they would put a wood frame around the outside of the basement and fill the frame with leaves to help keep the heat in.  Geri would walk on the frames even though she wasn’t suppose to do that!

The Camara sisters, Gerry Leis and Mary Lou Lemieux, have both passed away, but we cherish the stories they told us and continue to share them with other generations of Portsmouth school children.




A September Walk Around the Glen

Posted September 9, 2017 by portsmouthhistorynotes
Categories: Uncategorized


September is a beautiful time to take a walk around the Glen.
The air is cool and dry.
The clouds peak in and out.
At Glen Farm I notice the clean.
Barns are swept and neat.
Improvements bring hope that the old barns may yet be renewed.
The horses seem right at home.

Walking into the Glen itself, my fears emerge.
The mill run is in ruins.
Ancient stone walls lie broken into rubble.
The path is washed away in spots.
I think about the glorious carriage roads that once were here.
I remember the images of the picnic goers enjoying the mill pond.
But I appreciate what is left
I cherish the experience of just being there.
And I’ll return and make another Glen walk.