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Little Compton, Rhode Island

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Little Compton is a town in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States Its population was 3,492 at the time of the 2010 census1 Little Compton is located in southeastern Rhode Island, between the Sakonnet River and the Massachusetts state border It is the birthplace of the Rhode Island Red hen


  • 1 History
  • 2 Demographics
  • 3 Geography
  • 4 Education
  • 5 Rhode Island Red
  • 6 Notable people
  • 7 Attractions and sites on National Register of Historic Places
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links


According to 17th century land evidence, the area now known as Little Compton was originally inhabited by the Sakonnet variations include Sogkonate, Seconit, Seaconnet, etc tribe, who were led by Awashonks Awashonks' people lived in Wilbour Woods in the wintertime and at Sakonnet Point in the summertime Her step-son Mamannuah led a separate Sakonnet tribe in the Adamsville area The two leaders had frequent disputes over land and vied with each other to be recognized by the English as the sole Sakonnet leader

Sakonnet has been interpreted in a variety of ways: "the black goose comes" or "where the water pours fourth"

The first European settlers in Little Compton were Englishmen from Duxbury, Massachusetts in the Plymouth Colony who sought to expand their land holdings After first attempting negotiations with Awashonks, they petitioned the Plymouth Colony, which granted them their charter In a series of lotteries beginning in 1674 and ending in the early 1680s, they divided the land in Little Compton into lots of standard sizes and began settling there Among these 32 original proprietors was Colonel Benjamin Church Church was well known for his role in the late 17th-century conflicts with surrounding Native American tribes, notably the Narragansetts and Wampanoags In 1675, Church built his homestead in Little Compton, just prior to King Philip's War Today, a plaque on the side of West Main Road gives the location of his original homestead The plaque is located near house number 600 on the eastern side of West Main Road

In 1682, Sakonnet was incorporated by the Plymouth Colony and renamed Little Compton This is possibly a reference to Little Compton in Warwickshire, England However, there is no direct evidence to substantiate this relationship By 1747, Little Compton secured its own royal decree and was annexed to Newport County as a part of Rhode Island along with Tiverton and Bristol Because Little Compton was once part of the Plymouth colony, all probate and land records prior to 1746 can be found in Taunton and New Bedford

Wilbor House, built in 1692, is now a museum

Sites of historic interest in Little Compton include the Wilbor House, built in 1692 by Samuel Wilbore, now the home of the Little Compton Historical Society3 The entire town commons is also on the National Register of Historic Places

There are about 57 historic cemeteries in the town Colonel Benjamin Church and his family are buried in the Little Compton Commons cemetery, as is Elizabeth Pabodie, the eldest daughter of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins of Mayflower fame The stones in the cemetery reflect a style of carving similar to that found both in Newport and in Boston during the same time period

Little Compton is the location for one of three town commons in Rhode Island The others are in Warren and Bristol This is most likely a result of the town having been originally laid out by settlers from the Plymouth and Massachusetts Colonies Land for the common was designated in August 1677 and has been used ever since as both a religious and civic center for social activities in the town

While there are only a few 17th-century structures still standing these include the Wilbor house and Peabody house, there are many which date from the 18th and 19th century The Quaker meeting house on West Main Road, Number 8 Schoolhouse now used as part of the Town Hall, Town Hall, Wilbur's Store, and the United Congregational Church all pre-date 1900 and are centered around the town commons Additional historic homes are scattered throughout the town and include the Asa Gray house, the Slicer house, Oldacre, the Brownell house on West Main Road, the Brownell house on Meetinghouse Lane, William Whalley Homestead farmstead on Burchard Ave on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Brownell Library on the commons

Another distinctive feature of the town is the "Spite Tower" found in the village of Adamsville Local lore claims that the tower was constructed to obscure the line of sight of a town local While most stories involve members of the local Manchester family, there is no consensus as to the true history of the structure According to the present day owner of the building, the "Spite Tower" was built above an artesian well There was a pump that brought the water to a holding tank on the third floor that sent water, via gravity feed, to main house's water tank to provide running water The building was constructed circa 1905 The chauffeur's residence was on the second floor of the tower

During World War II Fort Church, named for Colonel Benjamin Church, was built with four batteries near Sakonnet Point The largest was Battery Gray with two 16-inch guns, an area that would later become the Sakonnet Golf Club4


Town Hall Census
Historical population
1790 1,542
1800 1,577 23%
1810 1,553 −15%
1820 1,580 17%
1830 1,378 −128%
1840 1,327 −37%
1850 1,462 102%
1860 1,304 −108%
1870 1,166 −106%
1880 1,202 31%
1890 1,128 −62%
1900 1,132 04%
1910 1,273 125%
1920 1,389 91%
1930 1,382 −05%
1940 1,492 80%
1950 1,556 43%
1960 1,702 94%
1970 2,385 401%
1980 3,085 294%
1990 3,339 82%
2000 3,593 76%
2010 3,492 −28%
Est 2015 3,505 04%
US Decennial Census67

As of the census1 of 2000, there were 3,593 people, 1,475 households, and 1,041 families residing in the town The population density was 1721 people per square mile 665/km2 There were 2,103 housing units at an average density of 1007 per square mile 389/km2 The racial makeup of the town was 9875% White, 006% African American, 019% Native American, 022% Asian, 008% Pacific Islander, 006% from other races, and 064% from two or more races Hispanic or Latino of any race was 086% of the population

There were 1,475 households out of which 277% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 607% were married couples living together, 68% had a female householder with no husband present, and 294% were non-families 245% of all households were made up of individuals and 117% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older The average household size was 244 and the average family size was 292

In the town, the population was spread out with 217% under the age of 18, 51% from 18 to 24, 257% from 25 to 44, 298% from 45 to 64, and 177% who were 65 years of age or older The median age was 44 years For every 100 females, there were 973 males For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 931 males

The median income for a household in the town was $75,368, and the median income for a family was $102,750 Males had a median income of $63,199 versus a median income of $38,676 for females The per capita income for the town was $52,513 About 37% of families and 34% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10% of those under the age of 18 and 24% of those 65 and older


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 289 square miles 75 km2, of which, 209 square miles 54 km2 is land and 80 square miles 21 km2 2779% is water One of the largest bodies of water in Little Compton is Quicksand Pond


There is only one school in Little Compton, the Wilbur and McMahon school It was originally known as the Josephine Wilbur or central school It had 12 classrooms and housed the town's K-12 facilities It was renamed after additions were built in the mid 1900s Approximately 350 students attend classes in Kindergarten through 8th grade Located in the center of town, the residents simply refer to it as "Wilbur School" High school students usually attend Portsmouth High School in Portsmouth, RI8

Rhode Island Rededit

The Rhode Island Red is a breed of chicken originally bred in Adamsville, a small village that is part of Little Compton Little Compton is the only place in the United States with a monument dedicated to a chickendubious – discuss In 1925, the Rhode Island Red Club of America donated funds for an elegant monument to the Rhode Island Red in Adamsville, near the baseball field and across the street from the Barn restaurant The monument is now on the National Register of Historic Places A competing monument to the Rhode Island Red was erected by the state in 1954, 1-mile 16 km south of Adamsville Some claim that it was not created for the poultry fanciers, but for the farmers who raised them commercially in great numbers in Little Compton

Notable peopleedit

  • Awashonks c 1620 – c 1684, female sachem chief of the Sakonnet tribe; lived in what is now Little Compton9
  • Jack Brennan b August 16, 1937, president Richard Nixon's post-resignation chief of staff; has a summer home in Little Compton
  • Sydney Richmond Burleigh 1853–1931, painter and illustrator; building and furniture designer; born in Little Compton
  • J C Chandor born 1974, writer, director, and Academy Award nominee for the screenplay of Margin Call; summer resident of Little Compton10
  • Colonel Benjamin Church c 1639 – 1718, founder of Little Compton Known as the father of the United States Army Rangers and commander of Colonial forces during King Philip's War 1675–76; died and is buried in Little Compton
  • Christopher R Hill born 1952, former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and former United States Ambassador to Iraq; lived in Little Compton
  • Henry Demarest Lloyd 1847–1903, political activist and muckraking journalist; lived in Little Compton11
  • J William Middendorf born 1924, United States Ambassador to the Netherlands, Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States, Secretary of the Navy, composer, and artist; lives in Little Compton12
  • Arden Myrin born 1973, comedian and actress MADtv, Chelsea Lately; born in Little Compton
  • Elizabeth Pabodie 1623–1717, daughter of Plymouth Colony settlers John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, recognized as the first white girl born in New England; buried in Little Compton
  • Abel Head "Shanghai" Pierce 1834–1900, a Texas rancher and cattleman; known as an authority on cattle; born in Little Compton
  • John Simmons 1796–1870, clothing manufacturer; founder of Simmons College; born in Little Compton
  • Henry Tillinghast Sisson 1831–1910, American Civil War era colonel in the Union Army; Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island; inventor of the three-ring binder; lived and died in Little Compton
  • Paul Suttell born 1949, current Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court; lives in Little Compton
  • Charles Edwin Wilbour 1833–1896, journalist and Egyptologist who produced the first English translation of Les Misérables; born in Little Compton
  • Isaac Wilbour 1763–1837, 6th Governor of Rhode Island; US congressman; 34th Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court; born and died in Little Compton
  • Rupert von Trapp born 1911, eldest son of the Trapp Family Singers, whose family story inspired "The Sound of Music"; lived in Little Compton13

Attractions and sites on National Register of Historic Placesedit

Friends Meeting House and Cemetery built in 1815
  • Wilbor House Museum 1692
  • Friends Meeting House and Cemetery 1815
  • Little Compton Common Historic District
  • Rhode Island Red Monument 1925
  • Sakonnet Light Station 1884
  • Stone House Inn 1854
  • William Whalley Homestead
  • Little Compton Community Center


  1. ^ a b c "American FactFinder" United States Census Bureau Retrieved 31 January 2008 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names" United States Geological Survey 2007-10-25 Retrieved 31 January 2008 
  3. ^ http://wwwlittlecomptonorg
  4. ^ "Fort Church - FortWiki Historic US and Canadian Forts" fortwikicom Retrieved 22 October 2015 
  5. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015" Archived from the original on June 2, 2016 Retrieved July 2, 2016 
  6. ^ "Census of Population and Housing" Censusgov Retrieved June 4, 2016 
  7. ^ Snow, Edwin M 1867 Report upon the Census of Rhode Island 1865 Providence, RI: Providence Press Company 
  8. ^ "Our School" webarchiveorg Archived from the original on 21 August 2006 Retrieved 18 October 2015 
  9. ^ Wilbour, Benjamin Franklin 1967 Little Compton Families Little Compton, RI: Little Compton Historical Society p xvii ISBN 0-8063-4704-X 
  10. ^ Schanen, Eric October 2013 "Inside ‘All is Lost’ From a Trio of Cal 39s to Teaching Redford to Sail" Sailing Magazine Retrieved 6 November 2013 
  11. ^ Goodrich, David L 2001 The Real Nick and Nora: Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, Writers of Stage and Screen Classics Carbondale, IL: SIU Press p 8 ISBN 9780809389698 
  12. ^ McGaw, Jim July 16, 2012 "Little Compton Man’s an Ambassador for the Arts" EastBayRI Retrieved 6 November 2013 
  13. ^ Burdett, Bruce April 16, 2013 "Henriette von Trapp, 85, Adamsville" EastBayRI Retrieved 6 November 2013 

External linksedit

  • Rhode Island portal
  • Little Compton travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • Little Compton official webpage

Coordinates: 41°30′N 71°10′W / 41500°N 71167°W / 41500; -71167

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