North Smithfield, by North Smithfield Heritage Association
Located to the north and west of Providence along the Massachusetts state line, the area now comprising North Smithfield was settled in the mid-seventeenth century as the men of Roger Williams's Providence Plantation sought land to provide for their growing families. The agrarian economy was forever changed when John Slater brought the Industrial Revolution to North Smithfield in 1806 with the establishment of a cotton mill along the Branch River. North Smithfield tells the story of the town's small mill and farm villages dotting the landscape. The people of these villages were important to their time, upholding Quaker pacifism in the eighteenth century, fighting for suffrage rights in Rhode Island's constitutional crisis known as the Dorr Rebellion, and supplying the Union army with sabers. Residents later learned to adapt as farmland was developed and mills failed, were sold, and were reorganized again and again. North Smithfield captures the life of a town that has changed significantly since its founding.