December 11, 2017


Thirteen (13) prominent Rhode Islanders from the early 20th century were inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame on Sunday, December 3, 2017, at the 21st Annual Historical Induction Convention held at the Historic Bristol Statehouse and Courthouse on Sunday, Dec, 3, 2017.

Dr. Patrick Conley, who is president of the Hall of Fame and chairman of its Historians’ Committee, served as Master of Ceremonies for the event. Members of the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors and previous inductees assisted Conley in presenting biographical profiles of the new inductees that document the reasons for their selection.

Recipients on behalf of the historical inductees consisted of descendants, scholars conversant with an inductee’s career, and representatives of institutions or organizations with which the inductees were associated, including the Rhode Island Supreme Court, the Rhode Island Foundation, the Rose Ferron Foundation, the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, the Portsmouth Historical Society, and the Diocese of Providence.

Guests were served with a collation prepared by Bristol’s DeWolf Tavern and recipients received, with the compliments of the Rhode Island Publications Society, a copy of Conley’s color-illustrated book, The State Houses of Rhode Island, a work that contains a profile of the Bristol State House in which the event took place.

The new inductees are as follows:

Secretary of State, Lt. Governor, and Judge Louis Cappelli, a leader of Rhode Island’s Italian-American community and the first Italian American elected to general office in Rhode Island.

Sarah J. Eddy, Portsmouth philanthropist and humanitarian, artist, author, photographer, suffragette, and pioneering animal rights activist.

Marie Rose Ferron of Woonsocket, known as “Little Rose.” She was a Catholic spiritual figure who exhibited the stigmata (the wounds of the crucified Christ) and has devotees worldwide.

William J. And Thomas F. Gilbane, Brothers of Irish Immigrant stock who founded Rhode Island’s major construction company, builders of many local landmarks, and major benefactors of the Catholic Church and Brown University.

Christopher La Farge, accomplished architect and prolific author who wrote several novels in verse, some of which chronicled life in Rhode Island.

Archbishop Francis Patrick Keough, leader of the Catholic Church in Rhode Island from 1934 to 1947, Archbishop of the primal see of Baltimore 1947-1961, and Chairman of the National Catholic Welfare Conference.

James Henry Kiernan, fifty-one year member of the Rhode Island General Assembly, (1915-1965) longtime House Majority leader, and an architect of the “Bloodless Revolution.” He was widely referred to as “Mr. Democrat.”

Henry F. Leland, eighteen-year technician and precision machinist at Brown and Sharpe in Providence who used skills honed to move to Detroit where he founded the Cadillac Automotive Corporation and then the Lincoln Motor Company.

U.S. Senator Jesse Metcalf and Louisa Sharpe Metcalf, husband and wife, were generous Rhode Island philanthropists. They were the first major donors to what has become the Rhode Island Foundation. Jesse was U.S. Senator from 1924-1937, prominent textile manufacturer, and co-owner fo the Providence Journal.

Congressman and Justice Jeremiah Edward O’Connell, Democratic leader who was thrice elected to the U.S. Congress, served as presiding justice of the Superior Court (1936-48), and associate justice of the Supreme Court. (1848-1956).

Dr. Marcus Wheatland of Newport was a pioneering Afro-American physician, a nationally-recognized expert on the use of x-rays to diagnose and treat patients, and president of the national Medical Association, the leading professional organization for African-American physicians.

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