Governor Joseph Jenks III (1656 to June 15 1740) -
Born in Rhode Island, Joseph Jenks III was a deputy governor and governor of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. He was the son of Joseph and Esther (Ballard) Jenckes who lived in Lynn, Massachusetts before coming to Rhode Island. His father, the son of an earlier Joseph Jenckes, operated a sawmill in Warwick, but shortly thereafter settled in Providence. The subject Joseph Jenckes became a freeman in Providence in 1681, and ten years later began an extensive career of civil service to the colony. For 12 years from 1691 to 1708 he was a Deputy from Providence, and for four of those years he was the Speaker of the House of Deputies. From 1707 to 1712 he was assigned as Major for the towns of Providence and Warwick, and was also the Assistant from Providence during those years. In 1715 he was elected as the Deputy Governor of the colony, and held this position every year but one until 1727 when he was elected as Governor, which position he held for five consecutive one-year terms.
One of the major issues concerning Rhode Island during Jenckes' terms of leadership was the boundary-line controversy with the neighboring Colony of Connecticut, and between his two terms as Deputy Governor Jenckes was in England with Richard Partridge to obtain royal intervention in this dispute. Connecticut refused to observe the boundary between the two colonies that had been established by commissioners from both colonies who met at Stonington, Connecticut in 1703. The Rhode Island colony was also having boundary line issues with Massachusetts, and Jenckes and his partner were able to get satisfaction from the crown, so that the Rhode Island colony "may not hereafter be molested, as they have hitherto been to their very great prejudice." Several years later, in 1726, Jenckes was one of four commissioners from Rhode Island who met with Connecticut commissioners to settle the line of partition between the two colonies. The following year he wrote a letter on behalf of the General Assembly to King George II thanking him for his protection of Rhode Island's "charter priviledges."
Jenckes died in 1740, "deemed to die intestate by reason of his insanity of mind," and his son Nathaniel was appointed as administrator. Austin wrote that he is buried in the North Burial Ground in Providence, but this is doubtful. The family cemetery in Pawtucket where he was buried is now defunct, with no trace of its existence remaining.
THE SAGA OF THE OLD JENKS FAMILY BURYING GROUND
Compiled by Elizabeth J. Johnson and James Lucas Wheaton IV
The Jenks Family laid their dead to rest on Broken Back Hill, in the "fields at Pawtucket" perhaps as early as the year 1717 if not before. The spot they chose for their family burying ground was in a beautiful and peaceful setting overlooking the river. It measured ten rods long (165 ft.) from north to south and ten rods wide from east to west; more than an ample amount of land to devote for this family's needs for many years to come.
Over the centuries, this hallowed area digressed from times of reverence and respect, through periods of vandalism and desecration to an age when the growth process of a city swallowed it into oblivion. By 1925 very few knew, and still fewer cared, that there ever had been a cemetery between Read Street on the north, the huge Masonic Temple on High Street and the old Capt. Ellis House at 84-86 North Main Street (formerly Mill Street and still more formerly New Street).
In June of that year, while excavating for a foundation for a garage south of the old Allen House at 10 Read Street and behind the Capt. Ellis House on North Main Street (now Roosevelt Ave.), five gravestones plus bones were unearthed, much to the astonishment of the citizenry. The first stone to be examined proved to be that of the Colonial Governor of Rhode Island from 1727 - 1732; Joseph Jenks, son of the founder of Pawtucket. The Governor's stone showed he died "ye 15th Day of June A. D. 1740, in ye 84th Year of His Age". It was one of two unearthed slabs discovered to be used to cover a well behind the old Allen House.
There were four other stones discovered that day. The oldest stone found was dated 1723 and was partially damaged. What inscription could be discerned indicated that this stone was that of the first wife of Governor Jenks; Martha (Brown) Jenks. On another stone could be made out: Lydia Jenks--Dc: Janu--Aged--. A third stone was that of "William Jenckes, Esq. Who Departed this Life July the 19th A. D. 1765; in the 63rd Year of His Age." The fourth stone was the foot stone of Governor Joseph Jenks and the final stone was unidentified. Ill
There is no hard evidence to say that the bodies of Joseph Jenks, the Founder, and his wife Esther (Ballard) Jenks were interred here, but this was believed to have been the case by one of the older citizens of the Village; Mr. William Phinney. In 1894, Mr. Phinney wrote an article for the PAWTUCKET GAZETTE & CHRONICLE containing his recollections from 50 to 60 years earlier concerning the Jenks Burying Ground. He was a child at that time living adjacent to it to the west. To his recollection, there were no gravestones north of Read Street, and the sixty or so dark-gray slate stones that were south of Read Street were all uniform with angells heads engraved on the faces. They lay in rows north to south and facing to the west. They were badly leaning, broken and defaced. Mr. Phinney drew a plat of the burying ground showing the surrounding buildings and the major grave locations. A fence was lying north to south through the middle of the lot. He showed the graves of the founder Joseph Jenks and his wife as being at just about the center of the lot at the point of this north south boundary fence. They both died in 1717. Their burial here was probable, but was only legend heard by Mr. Phinney as a boy. He showed the grave of Governor Joseph Jenks to the south and just east of the center line fence in line with the property of Deacon Tabor. The Tabor lot fronted on North Main Street and extended to the west to encroach on the Jenks Burial Ground.
The foregoing establishes that the Jenks Burial Ground was opened c. 1717 and was in very active use until near the time of the establishment of the West Burial Ground (now Mineral Spring Cemetery) in 1774. After that, the number of burials here diminished radically. One of the final burials was that of Jonathan Jenks in 1781.
Martha Brown (1666 - 1723) Jenckes' first wife was Martha, the daughter of John and Mary (Holmes) Brown, with whom he had nine children and at least 68 grandchildren.
Alice (Smith) Dexter (1665 to February 19, 1735/36) Following Martha's death, Jenckes married on February 3, 1727 to Alice (Smith) Dexter, the widow of John Dexter who was the son of Gregory Dexter, an early President of Providence and Warwick. Alice was the daughter of John and Sarah (Whipple) Smith.