Zack Garceau’s “Great Stories from Westerly’s Past”, New Westerly Story Book, Launches Tuesday | West

WESTWARD – About this bridge between Watch Hill and Montauk.

It may sound absurd, and the notion of such a structure is generally closed if it ever comes up for serious discussion, but that was not the case in the 1960s, according to local historian Zachary J. Garceau.

Garceau, 31, said he was surprised to learn of the possibility.

“I think how different things would be today if the bridge had been built,” Garceau said. “It would have been fourteen miles long.”

Garceau, a specialist in Rhode Island State Administrative Records, said he discovered many fascinating pieces of local history while researching for his book “Great Stories from Westerly’s Past”, which is due to be officially launched. Tuesday during a book. launch party at the Carriage House at the Babcock-Smith House Museum.

“It’s great to have a copy in hand,” said Garceau, who congratulated his wife, Anna Garceau, bookseller at Westerly’s Savoy Bookstore and Café, for her support during the research and writing process.

Westerly Historical Society official archivist Garceau said it occurred to him, after writing a series of historical articles for a now defunct website, that he had written enough stories for a book.

Graduated from Westerly High School in 2008 and graduated in history from the University of Rhode Island – a bachelor’s degree in 2012 – and the University of Maryland – a master’s degree in 2014 – Garceau said he updated the original stories he had written for the website, then added some new ones for the book.

The son of Debra and Alfred Garceau of Westerly, Garceau said he spent many hours in the Westerly library and online, sifting through files and reading old newspaper articles for his research.

“It seems like there is more and more information released every day,” Garceau said, noting that census reports, as well as birth and death records, “give a lot more information than you do. don’t think so “.

Garceau said his book included sports stories, several “unpublished photographs” and one of his favorites: the story of Anna Thornton Williams, a black woman who was the first woman to vote in Westerly.

“She was a very successful businesswoman who was born a slave in Kentucky,” said Garceau, who came across Williams’ grave – which reads “Anna Thornton Williams, born slave in KY, 1856 , she did what she could “- at the cemetery at River Bend.

Garceau said from his research he believes Williams arrived in Westerly via Cincinnati in the 1800s.

“Since some of Watch Hill’s first residents in the summer came from Cincinnati,” he said, it stands to reason.

“She married a barber and spent most of her life here in Westerly,” Garceau said. “And of course 1920 was the first time women could vote.”

Passed by Congress on June 4, 1919 and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteed all American women the right to vote, and Williams made sure she was first in line.

“It’s definitely one of my favorites,” said Garceau, who also discovered a story about his own family.

“My great-great-grandfather owned a saloon called the Tin Tub,” he said. “For some reason, someone wasn’t happy with him, and they tried to detonate [the business] with dynamite. “

“I thought I knew everything about my family,” he said with a slight laugh. “But I guess not.”

Garceau also praised the editor of the historical society’s newsletter, Ann L. Smith, who served as editor of “Great Stories from Westerly’s Past”.

“He’s a promising bright,” said Smith, who is also the company’s treasurer. “He’s also young, fresh, energetic and prolific.”

“We are delighted to have him on the board,” Smith added, noting that Garceau was one of the previous recipients of two prestigious company honors – a Julia Award and the Annual History Award.

“It kind of picks up where Tom O’Connell left off,” she added. O’Connell, the author of several books about western history, has been an active member of society for many years. “In addition, he has archiving expertise and he is a good researcher.

Garceau’s book, she said, “is a wonderful mix of old and new,” and at $ 20, it’s a perfect holiday gift.

“We can sell it duty free which makes it even better,” she added with a chuckle.

For more information on the book launch event, visit

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