Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

12-28-2019: Shoe Laces from the Past December 28, 2019

Over Thanksgiving, my mom asked me if I wanted anything out of a bag of assorted shoelaces she was getting rid of.  When I pulled them out, I found these very vintage laces. I suppose this proves how my mother has stuck to her delightfully thrifty New England roots and not tossed them out,  cause, you never know, you might need them someday. Guess she’s been in Florida too long as she’s tossing them now. She figures the tan box might even have originally belonged to her mother.  Both pairs are products of the Rhode Island Textile Company of Pawtucket, RI. The one in the blue packaging is dated 1985. I can only think my mom purchased them on Long Island where I grew up. Probably either the Caldor out in Rocky Point or over in Riverhead somewhere.

Textile companies hold an interest to me since the industry is so closely tied to the Wells family.  We owned, operated and worked in the mills of the Hopkinton area for many generations.  Shoelaces also remind me of line and or twine which reminds me of Ashaway Line and Twine where many members of my family worked and is also owned and operated by the Crandall’s, cousins of the Wells family.

I googled the Rhode Island Textile Company and was happy to see they are still in business, though from the view of their facility on Google Earth (see below) it looks a little quite.

The company is not in Pawtucket anymore. When I googled them, I discovered they’d moved to Cumberland, RI in 2016.  I found an article on The Valley Breeze website telling about the company and its move. Nice article, Ethan.

PAWTUCKET – Rhode Island Textile Company, which claims to be the largest and most diverse manufacturer of braided, knitted and woven elastic, cords and webbing in the U.S., is leaving Pawtucket and consolidating operations in Cumberland. The company’s 97,000-square-foot property at 211 Columbus Ave. in Pawtucket is listed on a real estate site for $1.9 million. Two buildings are located on 3.5 acres of land, according to the listing.

The company, first founded in 1913, is closing its side-by-side manufacturing facilities on Columbus Avenue in Pawtucket to do business at 35 Martin St. in Cumberland, where it already has a distribution facility. A visit to the facility Tuesday found signs of construction for new executive offices and landscapers cleaning up the front of the property.

Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien said he and City Council members met with R.I. Textile Company officials several times after learning they had bought another company and were looking to consolidate to one location. He said officials “did everything we could” to find a way to keep the manufacturer in the city. They offered tax incentives and stabilization agreements, among other things, but were unable to sway the owners.

From what he was told, company officials were looking to move to a more modern facility with room to grow, said Grebien. R.I. Textile Company officials could not be reached for comment this week.

Cumberland Mayor William Murray said he’s “very pleased” that the owners chose Cumberland as a place to settle in. “We are thrilled to have Rhode Island Textile in Cumberland,” he said. “We met with them two or three times to give them information they requested as they made their decision.”

The firm, he said, is adding a business to the town’s portfolio “that will help build up the Martin Street industrial area.”

R.I. Textile Company manufactures narrow fabrics like elastics cords, webbing, gear like parachutes, laces, and certain pet products like collars and leashes. The company makes shoelaces for New Balance and is the largest manufacturer of military specification laces used in military boots and women’s and men’s dress shoes.

The company is the parent of Westminster Pet, according to its website.

Knowing that the Pawtucket facility is for sale, Grebien said officials are looking to see if the owners will consider selling the property in pieces. The city sold a parking lot to the company 10 or 15 years ago and has had an agreement in place to share parking for soccer games at the McKinnon-Alves Soccer Complex, he said. If the parcel isn’t offered separately, the hope is to partner with the next buyer of the facility to keep using the lot for parking.

For more on Rhode Island Textile Company, visit www.ritextile.com .

(I tried the website, but it didn’t seem to be up and running anymore. Not a great sign.)

Anyway, I found my discovery of these vintage laces amusing.



12-26-2019: Continuing the tradition with Newport Style Johnnycakes December 26, 2019

As has become a Thanksgiving & Christmas holiday tradition with my mom and me, I cooked another Johnnycake recipe for our Christmas Breakfast.  I clipped this one from the Jan/Feb 2019 issue of Yankee Magazine.  I call these “Newport Style” Johnnycakes as they are the thin kind prevalent in that area of Rhode Island.

The recipe is pretty easy to follow. You mix together:

  • 2 cups white cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Cook over a medium heat. It’s a very runny batter. They say to pour 1/2 a cup into the pan at a time.  I found 1/2 a cup to be too much. I used a 1/2 cup solid measuring cup (not a liquid measuring cup) and filled it up to about 1/2 an inch from the top. I suppose the amount of batter you used depends on the size pan you use. I should have used a cast iron pan, but you can’t use them on my mom’s cooktop.  I used the solid measuring cup because it was easy to scoop out of the bowl. A liquid measuring cup would require me to pour from the bowl into the cup. As the cornmeal settles at the bottom, you have to stir up the batter each time you extract some for cooking. I found it best to stir, then scoop.

You only can make one johnnycake at a time so you have to keep the open warm and pop the ones you make into the oven so they keep warm while you keep cooking the others.  I thought this sounded odd at first, but you really do have to. Once you get the hang of it, it takes about 4 minutes to make one.

Even though I used a non-stick frying pan, I still put a little butter in the pan before cooking. When I tried without, it didn’t seem to cook right. I had to experiment on the first two to get it right. You really have to not pour the batter all in the center of the pan.  I found it worked best to start pouring in the center and then work out in a circular pattern.

Flipping is hard for me. I messed up a couple because they are so large and thin, you have to work hard at flipping them fully.

Cook time was very important. I used a kitchen timer to time them perfectly. Two minutes on the first side, one minute on the flip side and done.  Seemed to work perfectly every time.

Poured a tad too much syrup here. What can I say, I like syrup. I ended up cooking another one just to use up the syrup on my plate.  Mom liked them!

We really enjoyed these Johnnycakes! I’m thinking this recipe is going to be our go-to Johnnycake recipe from now on.

I’d love to hear comments on your Johnnycake cooking experiences and preferences!



9 Dec 2019: Apple Johnny-Cake and more Rhode Island Recipes December 9, 2019

In my continuing quest to familiarize myself with the food of my Rhode Island ancestors, I bought this cookbook on Ebay. It’s titled A Book of Favorite Recipes – The Johnnycake Center of Peacedale and is from 1994. I think it might be from Peace Dale, RI, but that Johnnycake center is spelled “Peace Dale,” not “Peacedale.”  Hard to believe it’s a typo.

Ahy-who, lots of good recipes for Johnny Cakes!  Another oddity is that they can’t seem to be consistent with their spelling of Johnny Cake!  You’d think they would, I mean, after all, is that not their whole raison d’etre?

Here are some of the recipes. I’ve scanned them out for you as well.

  • Old Rhode Island Johnny Cakes
  • Elsie’s Johnny Cakes
  • Oven JohnnyCake with Molasses
  • Custard Johnny Cakes
  • Rhode Island Johnny Cake
  • Lippitt Hill Johnny Cakes
  • Apple Johnny-Cake
  • Johnnycakes (Thin)
  • South County Johnnycakes
  • Indian Meal Pudding
  • Indian Pudding
  • Rice and Indian Bread
  • Brown Bread

I Baked!  On Thanksgiving, I made the Blueberry Molasses Cake I made last year. Super good. Used local blueberries I picked over the summer at a Blueberry farm a couple miles from my place here in Ocoee, FL. They were better than the frozen store-bought ones I’d used last year. They were too big and sank to the bottom of the cake.

The day after Thanksgiving, I made my mom Apple Johnny-Cake with the recipe I found in this cookbook. I was pretty good. I put maple syrup on mine. The apples were OK, but I think next time I’ll cook them first. Maybe season them in the cooking with some cinnamon and nutmeg.