It seemed appropriate this year to feature a theme that kept me close to home, so I give you my A to Z within the small acreage that is Rhode Island. I tried to be creative (you’ll see!) but I hope you learn something about Little Rhody, too. Whether you’ve lived here all your life, grew up within the boundaries, or have never set foot on one of our many beaches, come along for a virtual tour.
Potowomut (pot-oh-WOM-ut) is a neighborhood situated in Warwick, but bordered by the towns of East Greenwich and North Kingstown. It’s a peninsula surrounded by Greenwich Bay.
Potowomut’s name translates to “land of fires,” the Narragansett name for the neck of land. It can be called an enclave, since there is no land connection to the rest of the city of Warwick (remember “J is for Jerusalem” and its similar status as an enclave of Narragansett with no land connection).
Nathanael Greene, a general in the American Revolutionary War, was born in Potowomut, on Forge Farm in 1742. He was born into one of Rhode Island’s earliest families, who had helped to establish the colony in the 1630s. Greene was a Quaker until he attended a military parade and showed support for armed rebellion against England.
Not all Greenes were patriots, however. Richard Greene inherited the house and lands that his ancestor had founded and built (the house is now part of the Rocky Hill School in Potowomut, as pictured above). Richard Greene was often referred to as ‘King Richard’ because of his ostentatious lifestyle. He also welcomed British officers into his home and furnished them with both produce and information. Because of its location on the Potowomut River (also known then as Greene’s River – yes, they were the dominant family), his home was easily accessible by the British ships. To the embarrassment of other Greene family members, Richard gave the British soldiers supplies whenever possible. Richard Greene eventually left his Potowomut home and fled to British-occupied Newport, where he died in 1779, a broken man.