Main Births etc
Little Compton, Rhode Island
—  Town  —
Location of Little Compton in Newport County, Rhode Island
Coordinates: 41°30′N 71°10′W / 41.5, -71.167
Country United States
State Rhode Island
County Newport
Established 1682
Incorporated 1746
 • Type Town Council
 • Town Council President Robert L. Mushen
 • City Council
 • Total 28.9 sq mi (74.9 km2)
 • Land 20.9 sq mi (54.1 km2)
 • Water 8.0 sq mi (20.8 km2)
Elevation 104 ft (25 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 3,492
 • Density 167.1/sq mi (64.5/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 02837
Area code(s) 401
FIPS code 44-42400[1]
GNIS feature ID 1220062[2]

Little Compton is a town in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States. Its population was 3,492 at the time of the 2010 census.[1] Little Compton is located in southeastern Rhode Island, between the Sakonnet River and the Massachusetts state border. It is the birthplace of the Rhode Island Red hen.


According to 17th century land evidence, the area now known as Little Compton was originally inhabited by the Sakonnet (variations include Sogkonate, Seconit, Seaconnet, etc.) tribe, who were led by Awashonks. Awashonks' people lived in Wilbour Woods in the winter time and at Sakonnet Point in the summer time. Her step-son Mamannuah lead a separate Sakonnet tribe in the Adamsville area. The two leaders had frequent disputes over land and vied with each other to be recognized by the English as the sole Sakonnet leader.

Sakonnet has been interpreted in a variety of ways: "the black goose comes" or "where the water pours fourth."

The first European settlers in Little Compton were Englishmen from Duxbury, Massachusetts in the Plymouth Colony who sought to expand their land holdings. After first attempting negotiations with Awashonks, they petitioned the Plymouth Colony, which granted them their charter. In a series of lotteries beginning in 1674 and ending in the early 1680s, they divided the land in Little Compton into lots of standard sizes and began settling there. Among these 32 original proprietors was Colonel Benjamin Church. Church was well known for his role in the late 17th-century conflicts with surrounding Native American tribes, notably the Narragansetts and Wampanoags. In 1675, Church built his homestead in Little Compton, just prior to King Philip's War. Today, a plaque on the side of West Main Road gives the location of his original homestead. The plaque is located near house number 600 on the eastern side of West Main Road.

In 1682, Sakonnet was incorporated by the Plymouth Colony and renamed Little Compton. This is possibly a reference to Little Compton in Warwickshire, England. However, there is no direct evidence to substantiate this relationship. By 1747, Little Compton secured its own royal decree and was annexed to Newport County as a part of Rhode Island along with Tiverton and Bristol. Because Little Compton was once part of the Plymouth colony, all probate and land records prior to 1746 can be found in Taunton and New Bedford.

Wilbor House, built in 1692, is now a museum

Sites of historic interest in Little Compton include the Wilbor House, built in 1692 by Samuel Wilbore, now the home of the Little Compton Historical Society [1]. The entire town commons is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

There are about 57 historic cemeteries in the town. Colonel Benjamin Church and his family are buried in the Little Compton Commons cemetery, as is Elizabeth Pabodie, the eldest daughter of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins of Mayflower fame. The stones in the cemetery reflect a style of carving similar to that found both in Newport and in Boston during the same time period.

Little Compton is the location for one of three town commons in Rhode Island. The others are in Warren and Bristol. This is most likely a result of the town having been originally laid out by settlers from the Plymouth and Massachusetts Colonies. Land for the common was designated in August 1677 and has been used ever since as both a religious and civic center for social activities in the town.

While there are only a few 17th-century structures still standing (these include the Wilbor house and Peabody house), there are many which date from the 18th and 19th century. The Quaker meeting house on West Main Road, Number 8 Schoolhouse (now used as part of the Town Hall), Town Hall, Wilbur's Store, and the United Congregational Church all pre-date 1900 and are centered around the town commons. Additional historic homes are scattered throughout the town and include the Asa Gray house, the Slicer house, Oldacre, the Brownell house on West Main Road, the Brownell house on Meetinghouse Lane, William Whalley Homestead farmstead on Burchard Ave. (on the National Register of Historic Places), and the Brownell Library on the commons.

Another distinctive feature of the town is the "Spite Tower" found in the village of Adamsville. Local lore claims that the tower was constructed to obscure the line of sight of a town local. While most stories involve members of the local Manchester family, there is no consensus as to the true history of the structure. According to the present day owner of the building, the "Spite Tower" was built above an artesian well. There was a pump that brought the water to a holding tank on the third floor that sent water, via gravity feed, to main house's water tank to provide running water. The building was constructed circa 1905. The chauffeur's residence was on the second floor of the tower.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 3,593 people, 1,475 households, and 1,041 families residing in the town. The population density was 172.1 people per square mile (66.5/km²). There were 2,103 housing units at an average density of 100.7 per square mile (38.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.75% White, 0.06% African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.22% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.06% from other races, and 0.64% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race was 0.86% of the population.

There were 1,475 households out of which 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.7% were married couples living together, 6.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.4% were non-families. 24.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the town the population was spread out with 21.7% under the age of 18, 5.1% from 18 to 24, 25.7% from 25 to 44, 29.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.1 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $55,368, and the median income for a family was $62,750. Males had a median income of $43,199 versus a median income of $28,676 for females. The per capita income for the town was $32,513. About 3.7% of families and 3.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.0% of those under the age of 18 and 2.4% of those 65 and older.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 28.9 square miles (75 km2), of which, 20.9 square miles (54 km2) is land and 8.0 square miles (21 km2) (27.79%) is water. One of the largest bodies of water in Little Compton is Quicksand Pond.


There is only one school in Little Compton, the Wilbur and McMahon school. It was originally known as the Josephine Wilbur (or central) school. It had 12 classrooms and housed the town's K-12 facilities. It was renamed after additions were built in the mid 1900s. Approximately 350 students attend classes in Kindergarten through 8th grade. Located in the center of town, the residents simply refer to it as "Wilbur School." High school students usually attend Portsmouth High School in Portsmouth, RI.[3]

Rhode Island Red

The Rhode Island Red is a breed of chicken originally bred in Adamsville, a small village that is part of Little Compton. Little Compton is the only place in the United States with a monument dedicated to a chicken. In 1925, the Rhode Island Red Club of America donated funds for an elegant monument to the Rhode Island Red in Adamsville, near the baseball field and across the street from the Barn restaurant. The monument is now on the National Register of Historic Places. A competing monument to the Rhode Island Red was erected by the state in 1954, 1-mile (1.6 km) south of Adamsville. Some claim that it was not created for the poultry fanciers, but for the farmers who raised them commercially in great numbers in Little Compton.

Notable people

  • Awashonks (ca. 1620 - ca. 1684), female sachem (chief) of the Sakonnet tribe; lived in what is now Little Compton[4]
  • Jack Brennan (b August 16, 1937), president Richard Nixon's post-resignation chief of staff; has a summer home in Little Compton
  • Sydney Richmond Burleigh (1853–1931), painter and illustrator; building and furniture designer; born in Little Compton
  • J. C. Chandor (b. 1974), writer, director, and Academy Award nominee for the screenplay of Margin Call; summer resident of Little Compton[5]
  • Colonel Benjamin Church (ca. 1639 - 1718), founder of Little Compton. Known as the father of the United States Army Rangers and commander of Colonial forces during King Philip's War (1675–76); died and is buried in Little Compton
  • Christopher R. Hill (b. 1952), former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and former United States Ambassador to Iraq; lived in Little Compton
  • Henry Demarest Lloyd (1847–1903), political activist and muckraking journalist; lived in Little Compton[6]
  • J. William Middendorf (b. 1924), United States Ambassador to the Netherlands, Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States, Secretary of the Navy, composer, and artist; lives in Little Compton[7]
  • Arden Myrin (b. 1973), comedienne and actress (MADtv, Chelsea Lately); born in Little Compton
  • Elizabeth Pabodie (1623–1717), daughter of Plymouth Colony settlers John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, recognized as the first white girl born in New England; buried in Little Compton
  • Abel Head "Shanghai" Pierce (1834–1900), a Texas rancher and cattleman; known as an authority on cattle; born in Little Compton
  • John Simmons (1796–1870), clothing manufacturer; founder of Simmons College; born in Little Compton
  • Henry Tillinghast Sisson (1831–1910), American Civil War era colonel in the Union Army; Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island; inventor of the three-ring binder; lived and died in Little Compton
  • Paul Suttell (b. 1949), current Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court; lives in Little Compton
  • Charles Edwin Wilbour (1833–1896), journalist and Egyptologist who produced the first English translation of Les Misérables; born in Little Compton
  • Isaac Wilbour (1763–1837), 6th Governor of Rhode Island; US congressman; 34th Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court; born and died in Little Compton
  • Rupert von Trapp (b. 1911), eldest son of the Trapp Family Singers, whose family story inspired the "The Sound of Music"; lived in Little Compton[8]

Attractions and sites on National Register of Historic Places

Friends Meeting House and Cemetery built in 1815

  • Wilbor House Museum (1692)
  • Friends Meeting House and Cemetery (1815)
  • Little Compton Common Historic District
  • Rhode Island Red Monument (1925)
  • Sakonnet Light Station (1884)
  • Stone House Inn (1854)
  • William Whalley Homestead
  • Little Compton Community Center
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:


  1. ^ a b c "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ Our School
  4. ^ Wilbour, Benjamin Franklin (1967). Little Compton Families. Little Compton, RI: Little Compton Historical Society. p. xvii. ISBN 0-8063-4704-X. 
  5. ^ Schanen, Eric (October 2013). "Inside ‘All is Lost’ From a Trio of Cal 39s to Teaching Redford to Sail". Sailing Magazine. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  6. ^ Goodrich, David L. (2001). The Real Nick and Nora: Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, Writers of Stage and Screen Classics. Carbondale, IL: SIU Press. p. 8. ISBN 9780809389698. 
  7. ^ McGaw, Jim (July 16, 2012). "Little Compton Man’s an Ambassador for the Arts". EastBayRI. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  8. ^ Burdett, Bruce (April 16, 2013). "Henriette von Trapp, 85, Adamsville". EastBayRI. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 

External links

Coordinates: 41°30′N 71°10′W / 41.5, -71.167

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Little Compton, Rhode Island. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.