Rhode Island Stampless Covers & Letters
1807 Stampless Folded Letter Concerning Land Sale with a Chepachet Script Cancel
(5 documents: Transfer, Notarized Signatures, Affirmation of Deed, Billing, Maps of area)

This stampless folded letter (SFL) was sent from Chepachet, (Gloucester Township, Providence County) Rhode Island on July 29, 1807. The Chepachet Script Cancellation is the earliest known usage by this Post Office. The cover also contains a Great Barrington, (Berkshire County) Massachusetts receiving cancel located at the bottom left.  The letter was charged at the 121/2 cent rate set by the Postal Act of March 2, 1799 for single sheet letters traveling between 90 and 150 miles

The SFL was sent by Cyrus Cooke, (Justice of the Peace) acting as agent  for Solomon, Thomas and Daniel Owen and contains 4 different documents, which include a witnessed Property Transfer and Quit Claim document (with the boundaries laid out), two Notarized Signature documents, Expenses & Billing from (Cyrus Cooke, JP) and Recorded Deed by (Moses Hopkins, JP)

The reason for the two different notarized signature documents is that evidently Solomon Owen was unable to attend the original property transfer and document signing on July 23. His signature document was signed on July 29th, after which the document was mailed by Cyrus Cooke to Cornelius Williams, who after receiving the document had Moses Hopkins record the deed and append his affirmation to the documents. 

The letter transferring title of the property in Alford, MA from the Owens's to Cornelius Williams is the most interesting of the 4 documents. My favorite section is the description of the boundaries of the property. The measurements used were laid out in Rods and marked by objects such as a tree, a mill pound and a road. All five documents were transcribed on one folded sheet, (all four sides); including the address and postal markings, after which the document was folded, sealed and mailed.

NOTE: 1 Rod = 16 1/2 feet; 160 Square Rods = 1 Acre

One other item of note is that the property was sold for the sum of $10.00. Even in those long gone days that was a very low price. Cyrus Cooke, the Chepachet JP, charged almost as much ($6.121/2) for his services.
(I wonder if additional money might have changed hands and the recorded price was simply to avoid taxes? Another possibility is that Cornelius had married into the Owens family and the price of $10 was simply to cover the cost of the transaction.)

I have reproduced the entire text of all 4 documents and included full size scans (on separate pages) of the documents and maps of the area where the property was located.
Scroll down to the bottom of this page for the links to the
Text, Documents and Maps.


The first Owen in New England was Samuel Owen who emigrated from Wales in 1685.

The Owens were a numerous and influential family in Gloucester Township. They also owned extensive land holdings in Massachusetts and Vermont. I was unable to establish which Thomas is referred to in the letter, however, I did locate information on both Daniel and Solomon Owen.

Daniel Owen was born in 1732 in the village of Chepachet, (Gloucester Township, Providence County) Rhode Island to Thomas and Ruth Angell Owen. He married his cousin Hannah Angell on August 15, 1756 and died on October 21, 1812.  He served as a deputy to the Rhode Island General Assemblies of 1775 and 1776 and served as Deputy Governor of Rhode Island from 1786 to 1790. He was a member of the conventions held in March and May of 1790 at South Kingston and Newport that  approved the Constitution. His home was located on Douglas Hook Road in Chepachet, RI. He served as a Justice of the Superior Court of Rhode Island from 1790 to 1794 and after 1792 as the Chief Justice.

The Owens family operated a Cotton Seed Oil Press on the Chepachet River and Solomon Owen operated a tannery at Tanyard Lane on the left bank of the Chepachet River, which was constructed sometime during the late 1790s. He also owned a grist-mill, which was converted into a textile factory in 1813. Solomon was born in Chepachet in 1731. There is a Thomas Owen listed on the 1820 Gloucester Census, who is most likely the Thomas in question, however that census does not list birth date or any other useful information. 

Cyrus Cooke, the agent and Justice of the Peace who handled the transaction for the Owens family was born on May 8, 1768 in Uxbridge, Worcester Massachusetts to Stephen and Mary Aldrich Cooke. He died in Providence, RI on August 10, 1858.  On July 29, 1792 Cyrus married Mary Green (born 1771 in Gloucester, RI). They had 6 children; three boys and three girls all born in Gloucester.  He is listed on the 1850 Gloucester Census at 81 years of age with his occupation listed as merchant. The headquarters of Thomas Dorr (Dorr Rebellion) was a tavern known as Jedediah Sprague's Tavern. Circa 1800 this structure was known as the Cyrus Cooke Tavern. It is probable that our Cyrus was the owner, but I have no further documentary evidence proving it. Today the Tavern is known as the Stagecoach Tavern Restaurant and serves lunch and dinner with an authentic colonial atmosphere.

Moses Hopkins the Justice of the Peace who handled the Alford side of the transaction is listed in the 1820 Census for Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

Full Text of all Four Documents 
Transfer of Title  - Document 
Notarized Signature Documents 
Affirmation of Recorded Deed by Moses Hopkins (JP) 
Expenses & billing by Cyrus Cooke (JP) 
Maps of Property Area 

RI Historical Society
Stampless I
Stampless II

Stampless III
Stampless IV
Stampless V
Stampless VI
Brown & Ives Letters
The Hazard Family Letters
Joseph Tillinghast
Free Franked Letters
DeWolf Family Letters

Full Text of all 4 Documents 
Transfer of Title Document 
Notarized Signature Documents 
Affirmation of Recorded Deed
Expenses & billing
Maps of Property Area