Biography of Jesse A. Carpenter

Engaged prominently in the agricultural and civic life of the town of Cumberland, Rhode Island, in which he owned a farm on the Abbott Run road from 1886 until his death, January 23, 1923, Jesse A. Carpenter was widely and favorably known among his fellowmen. He was born on December 25, 1850, in what is now known as Adamsdale, or North Attleboro, Massachusetts, son of Louis S. and Cynthia A. (Cargill) Carpenter. His father was a native of Massachusetts, and his mother of Rhode Island. Jesse A. Carpenter received his education in his native community, and subsequently was engaged in farming during the rest of his active career. On September 29, 1886, he bought a farm on the Abbott Run road which he cultivated, and where he continued to reside, this farm now belonging to the Carpenter estate, in which his widow has a life interest.

In addition to his agricultural work, Mr. Carpenter was active in civic and social affairs. In politics a staunch Republican, he regularly supported the policies and candidates of his party. He was a school commissioner of the town and also served as representative in the Lower House of the Rhode Island State Legislature. In these public offices he did much for community advancement, and was always a worthy fighter in his constituents’ causes. A leader in fraternal activities, he was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons, belonging to the Blue Lodge, the Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, the Council of Royal and Select Masters, the Knights Templar Commandery, also the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. He was also an active member in the affairs of the Improved Order of Red Men. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, as are also the members of his family.

Jesse A. Carpenter was twice married; first he married Dora Jencks, who is now deceased, and they had three children: Lester, John, and William, all of whom are deceased; second, he married Ida M. Lees, born in Centredale, daughter of William and Winifred (Harrop) Lees. Both her parents were natives of England who came to the United States when very young and here were married. William Lees was a mill man by occupation, and he and his wife resided continuously in Centredale after their arrival here. To Jesse A. and Ida M. (Lees) Carpenter were born the following children: 1. Ethel W., wife of Malcolm Gillis; they reside at Arnold Mills. Mrs. Gillis is a graduate of the College of Education, and teaches at the present writing (1930) in the Cumberland schools. 2. Jesse L., operates the home farm. 3. Thelma, a student at Kingstown, where she is taking a course in home economics.

The death of the father of this family, Jesse A. Carpenter, occurred on January 23, 1923. It was a cause of profound grief among his many friends and acquaintances throughout the Rhode Island district. He had contributed richly to community life, not only through his work in the different town offices that he held, but also through his daily farm activities and through the influence of a life well lived. His memory will long live to inspire and influence others for the better, in years to come, and he will be remembered as one of Rhode Island’s finest citizens and men.

Source: Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.

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