Hamilton

Hamilton, originally Bissells Mills, is one of the oldest industrial sites in New England, Richard Wharton having opened a gristmill here on the cove in 1686. During the 18th century, a succession of owners including Samuel and Thomas Hazard and Samuel Bissell added a wheat mill, a fulling mill, a blacksmith shop and a substantial wharf to the site, making it, by 1795, a village second only to Wickford in importance in the area. In the 19th century an iron forge and a cotton mill were added to the long list of early industrial activities that occurred here. In 1847, Bissells Mills was sold to Joseph and Albert Sanford who focused the activities here solely in the area of textile manufacturing. The Sanford's sold to Syria Vaughan in 1849. It was Vaughan who not only changed the name of the village to Hamilton (in honor of his wife's family) but also dramatically expanded the mill, focusing it on the weaving of narrow fabrics only. The mill at Hamilton, greatly expanded in 1883 by the next owners, the Greene family, continued weaving narrow fabrics for nearly 130 years until its closure in 1978. The village of Hamilton included its own schoolhouse, a community-meeting hall, and a number of stores and shops. It also was home to the powerhouse and car repair shop of the Sea View Trolley line as well as a trolley stop on the line.

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