Chepachet Baptist Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eye-Witness Account of Clovis Bowen
Proprietor of the Chepachet Meeting House

Clovis Bowen was one of the original Proprietors of the Chepachet Meeting House. He originally owned the third pew on the right of the aisle as one enters the sanctuary from the rear by the left-hand door. Bowen sold this pew and later purchased the seventh pew on the right (on the east wall) as one enters the sanctuary by the right-hand door.

Beginning on the following page is a deposition of Clovis Bowen taken two years after the Dorr Rebellion, and appearing in a Report # 546 of the U.S. House of Representatives, dated June 7, 1844, entitled: Rhode Island—Interference of the Executive in the Affairs Of, at page 348.

Jesse Tourtellot, who took the deposition, was also a Proprietor of the Meeting House, having first owned the pew directly in front of Bowen's original pew, and later the pew directly across the aisle from Bowen's original pew on the west wall (three pews from the back), which he sold one month before the Dorr Rebellion to a Smith Peckham.

Lawton Owen, mentioned in the deposition as the person to whose house the wounded George Bardine was taken, owned the ninth pew down on the right, as one enters the sanctuary from the rear through the right-hand door. This pew, now removed, was two pews in front of Clovis Bowen's second pew.

Jedediah Sprague, who owned Sprague's hotel mentioned in the deposition, was also a Proprietor, owning a half-interest, together with his wife, at one time, in the pew directly in front of Tourtellot's, being the fourth pew down on the west wall where the post is located.

Clovis Bowen, Jesse Tourtellot, Lawton Owen, and Jedediah Sprague all are recorded as having voted in the election on the People's Constitution, and can therefore be considered supporters of Dorr's constitutional reforms.

Bowen was for a number of years Town Clerk of Glocester.

Chepachet Free Will Baptist Church


DEPOSITION OF CLOVIS H. BOWEN

I, Clovis H. Bowen, of Glocester, in the county of Providence, State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, aged forty-three years, do depose and say: That I now am a citizen of the village of Chepachet, in said town of Glocester, which is my native place. On the 28th day of June, A.D. 1842, early in the morning, I went on to Acote's Hill, near said village, out of mere curiosity; the suffrage people, who had for a number of days previous had possession of said hill, having retired on Monday afternoon and evening, the 27th.

I found on said hill, on said morning of Tuesday, the 18th, (say) ten or twelve men, and probably from fifteen to twenty boys, not any of whom were armed, all apparently occupied in viewing the charter forces, who were approaching from towards Providence. I had been on said hill, I should think, about half an hour, when ten or twelve men, apparently under the command of George Rivers, esq., came on; they were somewhat in advance of the main body.

Said Rivers called upon every one to stand, as they should fire upon or shoot down any one who attempted to leave; very soon after this order, the boys began to scatter and run off the hill, and the troops commenced firing in the direction which they ran—but whether with an intention of killing, or not, I cannot say.

Town Meeting Warrant bearing the signature of Clovis Bowen, issued about a year and four months before the Dorr War.

 

Click on photo to enlarge.

While this was transpiring, I moved off in another direction, (without being observed, I presume,) and came into the village by a circuitous route. As I was approaching the main street of the village, I met George H. N. Bardine, bleeding from a wound in the thigh, which I was informed at the time he had received at Sprague's hotel. Said Bardine was taken to the house of Lawton Owen in said Village, where he remained until he had recovered sufficiently to be removed to his own house, about two miles from said village.

The suffrage people having left the village on the previous evening, Mr. Bardine had come down out of curiosity, as he told me; he further stated, that he had not participated in any of the movements, further than giving his vote; and I believe it has never been pretended that he had.

Subsequent to the wounding of Bardine, and other matters afore stated, on said morning of the 28th of June, as I was standing in my office, I saw a number of armed men running across the lots west of said main street, apparently having an object in view to shoot at, and crying out in a loud tone, "Stop, or we'll shoot you;" and others in the street vociferating "Shoot the d----d scoundrel."

These shouts were thickly interspersed with discharges of muskets, one of which took effect in the object pursued, viz: in the leg of a young man, whose name was Simmons, as I was informed. The other principal incidents of the day, (to wit, the 28th,) were the making arrests under martial law; breaking into and searching the dwellings, stores, and other buildings of suffrage men. What amount of plunder was carried off from said village, I am unable to state,
but have no doubt it was large.

I could see from my office, and did see, the soldiers of the charter army coming out of buildings with various kinds of property, which I have no reason to doubt was carried off. In addition to this, I should infer, from conversation which I heard, that there was an anxiety amongst some of the companies to outdo others in acquiring spoils.

Late 19th century photograph of Chepachet Main Street, looking north. The fifth building from the left (the large house with two chimneys) is the home of Clovis Bowen. Courtesy of the Glocester Heritage Society.

 

Click on photo to enlarge.

At one time during said day, there were some eight or twelve of said soldiers of the charter army in my office, all of whom were strangers to me; one of them said to another, "The Bristol company has made a good haul." On another one's inquiring what, he replied, "they have got hold of a valuable lot of property; one gun," said he, "amongst it is worth forty dollars; a beautiful double-barreled fowling piece, silver mounted;" and added, "they (the Bristol company,) will beat the Newport company all out in getting property, and were going to make a d----d good speculation of the matter." I further say, that when the charter forces took possession of Acote's Hill, there was no one of the suffrage party there, making or offering resistance; the small arms had all been cleared from the place, and the cannon had been discharged before they came up; there were not so many persons in the village that morning as the usual number of inhabitants, and all was as quiet as at ordinary times.

CLOVIS H. BOWEN.
STATE OF RHODE ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS
Providence, ss:
GLOCESTER, May 17, 1844.

Then personally appeared before me the above-named Clovis H. Bowen, and declared the aforegoing declaration, which was by me in his presence reduced to writing, and by him subscribed in my presence, to be true in all its parts; and also declared his willingness and readiness to make oath to the same. But there being some doubts of the authority of a magistrate in this State to administer an oath in like cases, I have taken his declaration, as afore appears; and I certify that said Clovis H. Bowen, who is well known to me, is a credible person, and that his statements are entitled to full credit and belief.

JESSE S. TOURTELLOT,
Justice of the Peace.

The Website of the Chepachet Baptist Church
(Historically the Chepachet Free Will Baptist Church)
-and-
The Proprietors of the Chepachet Meeting House

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1213 Putnam Pike - PO Box 148 Chepachet, RI 02814 (401) 568-3771
The church logo was produced by Zachary Andrews.
All photographs, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of Marilyn J. Brownell. All rights reserved.

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