Quonochontaug Historical Society

From the Archive...


MARCH, 2019

The Story of "MONEY ROCK" at Quonochontaug.

Thanks to historian Hope Greene Andrews, the Quonochontaug Historical Society has been given written accounts of our now infamous "Money Rock" that rests in front of the Midway cottages.  The information in this Spotlight is from an article, saved by Hope that was published in the Westerly Sun by columnist  C.J. Norris for the paper in the 1930's.

"Scattered over the hills and dales of South County are numerous silent witnesses of the ice period of the earth's existence: insofar as the great ice cap may have left its mark by deposits of soil gathered around them since their release from the icy embrace of the glacial period of the earth's history. The ice cap, in melting, deposited the accumulated silt and rocks studding the land with boulders. Many of them in unusual positions, some brought many miles from the section where they were formed".


(from C.J Norris) "It was during this period of ice and floods that a good sized boulder was lodged at Quonochontaug Point. It was a curiosity. It was marked for break up and was distributed in various shaped fragments throughout the villages of Hopkinton, Westerly and Charlestown.

Erskin and Edward Crumb, sons of Alexander Crumb summered at Quonochontaug when in in their teens. They decided to break up the " Money Rock" and here's how. Supplied with drills from their father's quarry, they broke it into flakes and various forms. They were threatened with violence by shooting, a summer resident demurred to the destruction. They did not heed his threats!

Let us follow a fragment of this stone. "Little Bill" Kenneth, musician as a boy, played for dances at the Nichols' Hotel (C.L Nichols/St. George Hotel on the Old Breach way) at the beach and for the Crumb boys' dances. They gave him a well shaped specimen of the "Money Rock". He placed it near the hotel. The Crumb boys considered it would be a good joke for someone to steal the rock. Lyman H. Pass performed the trick and buried the fragment in the sand. later he carried it to his home in Ashaway and it followed him to Westerly. At his passing, it was placed in the yard of his dwelling. It was given to C. J. Norris (the author) and rested in his cellar for more than 12 years. During the past few days, it has passed into the hands of a cottager at Quonochontaug Beach, the place from which it came. He prizes it for his association. Mr. Kenneth got more of the rock and gave a sample which rests in Washington (Smithsonian)". Also noted was a gift to the Westerly Library, although we cannot locate this gift. However, chunks of the rock were distributed to a few of Quonochontaugs's residents.

"As Igneous rock, it is thought that the pool of lava while cooling received a shower of drops of the same material ejected into the air and formed into spheres, much cooler than the pool into which they fell, When the mass formed, dots were formed". See dots in closeup picture. (below)


This piece of Money Rock (below) was donated to the QHS by Sharon and Rick Beebe of West Beach. Come visit us at the Archive Center to see and feel this beautiful piece of our natural world!!

MONEY ROCK at the Archive Center

January 2019

The Puritan Baby Vendor

Donated by Donna Wilson, a member of the Eldridge family.

Palmer Pendleton of Quonochontaug (1870 – 1964) was on the beach shortly after the ship sank and rescued this chair from the surf. Unfortunately, the ship had been far enough out in the ocean that it could not be seen by the crew in the Quonochontaug Life Saving Station making it impossible to save more lives.

From the Archive:


Shipwrecked Steamer the Larchmont 

The Quonochontaug Historical Society was a fortunate recipient last year of an artifact from the steamer “Larchmont” that sunk off our coast in Block Island Sound on February 11, 1907. The steamer had been struck during a cold dark night by a schooner, the “Harry Knowlton”. Over 150 people lost their lives in the frigid waters that evening along with the contents of the ship.

Palmer Pendleton 

(1870 – 1964)

The Puritan Baby Vendor was made in the late 1920s and early 1930s by the Lion Manufacturing Company of Chicago, Illinois. This Machine was actually used both for gambling and as a gumball machine in the late 1920s at the "Quonnie Casino" on West Beach Road near the Breachway. The Casino was owned by the Eldridge family who also owned a hotel on the breachway called "The Eldridge House".  Summer vacationers would go to the casino for bowling or to buy snacks, sodas and Ice Cream.  Some of them would try their luck with the Puritan Baby Vendor.  

When used as a gumball machine, the customer would place a penny in the slot, press the side lever, and the gumball would pop out in the small cup on the lower left corner on the front of the machine.

When used for gambling, the customer would put any size coin in the slot.  The coin would show up in a little window on the right side so that the Casino owner could verify the amount.  The lever was pressed and the reels would turn.  If the final three images matched a fortune conbination, the customer would win.  Each fortune contained a number (two, four, eight, twelve, sixteen or twenty).  The amount of the coin multiplied by the number in the fortune would be the total winnings for the gambler.  


The chair was passed down in the Pendleton family over the next several years and was actually refinished and reupholstered by Palmer’s brother, Alfred Pendleton.

Claire Pendleton Card, the granddaughter of Palmer Pendleton, was the most recent family member who used the chair in her Warwick home.

Claire recently decided to donate the chair to QHS for safe-keeping and to bring a lost piece of history to our community.