The Back Rhodes of Our Genealogy

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This information came to RhodesFamily.org by Susan Rhodes,

According to Charles W. Farnham, William Rhodes was probably born in Johnston, RI. He is possibly the son of John Rhodes, d: June 19, 1744 at Scituate, RI, and Martha Tucker. Support for this relationship is provided by the Court of Common Pleas index, which lists a debt action of Joseph Hewes vs. William Rhodes for the December 1768 term. The listing designates William "of John" although this was not repeated in the papers for the case (Farnham, 1959). John Rhodes was the son of John Rhodes, d: bef. 1760, and Elizabeth Daily, d: 1773. This John Rhodes was the son of Jeremiah Rhodes, b. June 29, 1647, Providence, Providence Co., RI, and Madeline Hawkins. Jeremiah Rhodes was the son of Zachariah Rhodes, b: abt. 1603 at, perhaps, Lancashire, England, d: bet. October 11, 1665 and April 10, 1666, and Joanne Arnold, b: February 27, 1617, in England.  According to Horace A. Keach in "Burrillville as It Was," written in 1856: "Another of the old school was William Rhodes. When a boy he was poor. He learned the trade of a cooper and went to the West Indies to work. In his frequent voyages he learned the art of navigation, and engaging in the more lucrative occupation of privateer, intercepted many English vessels on their way from the West Indies, laden with sugar and molasses. He covered the wharves of Providence with his cargoes, and at one time felt so rich that he 'didn't care for John Brown, Clark and Nightengale, nor the d---l'." 
  Records of the Rhode Island Historical Society show at least 16 vessels owned by William Rhodes during the time period 1770 to 1807. Since there were several other sea captains in Rhode Island named William Rhodes during the same time period, it is difficult to know for sure which were his. The most likely are the following: William Rhodes, merchant, and others of Providence registered the Faney, a sloop, in 1778. In 1791, William Rhodes, merchant of Providence, registered the Henry, built at North Carolina. This vessel was stranded and lost Feb. 3, 1792 near Ispanola. A schooner, Paulina, previously registered in 1802 at Washington, NC was registered by William Rhodes, Merchant, of Providence and two other owners. The Eliza, a brigantine, built in North Carolina, was registered by William Rhodes, Merchant, of Providence in 1793. The William, a brigantine was registered by William Rhodes (merchant) and James Rhodes (who served as master) of Providence in 1794. The vessel was sold Jan 30, 1797 at Washington, N.C. The Victory, a 53-foot sloop, previously registered at Washington, was registered by William Rhodes of Gloucester, RI in 1806 and sold in 1807. The Lydia, a schooner, built at New Bedford, Mass. was owned by William Rhodes during the period 1800 to 1806. Son, Henry Rhodes, served as master during the period 1802 to 1805. The ship, Enterprize, previously registerd at Washington, NC, was registered in Providence August 18, 1807 by William Rhodes, (merchant) of Burillville. He served as master of this ship until 1809, when he sold it.  He invested his wealth in real estate at the urging of his wife, Elizabeth Fenner Rhodes. Buying land in Harrisville, R.I. (then called Rhodesville after him), he built a large house and owned much other land. Among his holdings were a saw mill and a grist mill. He made frequent trips to North Carolina, where he owned a store, probably in Washington, NC. Two of his sons, William and Fenner Rhodes, looked after his business interests in North Carolina.
At the time of his death his fortune was apparently exhausted. Prior to his death, he had transferred numerous holdings to his sons. What remained of his estate partly went to his widow and partly was sold to cover charges against his estate.

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