Inductees in Explorers & Adventurers

  1. James Allen

    James Allen (1824-1897)

    Inducted in 2006

    James Allen (1824-1897) a native of Barrington, became the pioneer American balloonist when he made the first of over 150 ascensions in 1856.  The “Zephyrus,” the first of his fifteen balloons, rose three-and-a-quarter miles over Providence from a vacant lot at the present site of City Hall.

    When the Civil War began, Allen and his brother Ezra enlisted with the Union army as observers, becoming the first American military balloonists.  They provided intelligence to ground forces at such encounters as Yorktown, Chancellorsville, Malvern Hill (for which James named his youngest son) and Fair Oaks. Read more >

  2. Dr. Robert D. Ballard (1942-)

    Inducted in 2010

    Best known for his 1985 discovery of the Titanic, Dr. Robert Ballard has succeeded in tracking down numerous other significant shipwrecks, including the Lusitania, the German battleship Bismarck, the lost fleet of Guadalcanal, the U.S. aircraft carrier Yorktown (sunk in the World War II Battle of Midway), and John F. Read more >

  3. Dr. Robert D Billington

    Inducted in 2017

    Growing up, he just wanted to become a drummer. However, a new journey to reclaim a post-industrial valley, reveal its history, clean up its river, and build an understanding of events that changed the course of America was about to unfold. Bob built an organization and organized communities to bring back the Blackstone Valley from years of disinvestment. His mission; to create an epic vision for the Valley, took more than three decades to achieve. Read more >
  4. Billie Ann Burrill

    Billie Ann Burrill (1921-2010)

    Inducted in 2013

    World-class master’s athlete, coach, sports administrator, and indefatigable worker for the performing arts in Rhode Island, Billie Ann Burrill’s talents have known no bounds. While she was director of the Health and Physical Education Department at Rhode Island College, her drive and enthusiasm enabled the school’s Performing Arts Series to become the finest in the state.

    Burrill was born in Joliet, Illinois on March 11, 1921. She served in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) during World War II. Read more >

  5. Giovanni DaVerrazzano

    Giovanni DaVerrazzano (1485-1528)

    Inducted in 1997

    Giovanni da Verrazzano, 1485-1528, was an Italian explorer and navigator who sailed in service of France. In 1524 he crossed the Atlantic and explored Narragansett Bay. He gave our state its name. Read more >

  6. John DeWolf, II (1779-1872)

    Inducted in 1967

    John DeWolf II, 1779-1872, of the noted Bristol family, also known as "Norwest John", was a mariner who left Bristol aboard the Juno on August 13, 1804, before rounding Cape Horn and sailing northward to acquire furs along the Pacific Coast. After accumulating a full cargo of pelts, DeWolf sailed to Sitka in Russian Alaska where he exchanged the Juno for a Russian ship, sent his crew and that vessel to China and crossed Siberia to St. Petersburg, reaching that city sixteen months after leaving Alaska. DeWolf was the first American to transverse Siberia overland. Read more >

  7. Captain Robert Gray

    Captain Robert Gray (1755-1806)

    Inducted in 1967

    Captain Robert Gray, 1755-1806 was a sea captain and explorer. This Tiverton native commanded the Columbia from 1789-1793, a vessel on which he became the first American to circumnavigate the globe in 1789. Shortly after this feat he set sail again from his home port of Boston to the Oregon Country, and this voyage he explored the mouth of the great river of that region and named it for his ship. This 1792 visitation established American claim to the Pacific Northwest. Read more >

  8. Sam Patch

    Sam Patch (1799-1829)

    Inducted in 2012


    Patch, Sam, 1807-1829

    Sam Patch was born in North Reading, Massachusetts, one of six children produced by the stormy union of Samuel Greenleaf Patch and Abigail McIntire Patch.

    Following several family moves to northeastern Massachusetts towns, the Patches arrived in the mill village of Pawtucket at the falls of the Blackstone in 1807. Shortly after their arrival Sam began work in Slater's “White Mill,” where he rose to the coveted position of mule spinner--one of the first American-born workers to achieve this status. Sam's fame, however, would be made not in the mill but at the falls outside it: he eventually leapt feet-first from the six-story “Stone Mill” into a deep hole called “the pot,”a descent of 100 feet. Read more >

  9. Annie Smith Peck

    Annie Smith Peck (1850-1935)

    Inducted in 2009


    Peck, Annie S. (Annie Smith), 1850-1935

    Annie Smith Peck was born on October 19, 1850 in a two story house at 865 North Main Street in Providence. She lived with her parents and three brothers in a home that her grandfather had built. Her mother traced the family's roots to Roger Williams the founder of Providence. Read more >

  10. Edward Payson Weston

    Edward Payson Weston (1839-1929)

    Inducted in 2010

    Edward Payson, 1839–1929, one of Rhode Island's most colorful native sons, was born in Providence on March 15, 1839. His father, Silas Weston, was at one time a school teacher and at another a publisher and the editor of a semi-monthly paper entitled The Pupil's Mentor. Edward's mother, Maria Gaines, was a talented writer who published several poems and novels.

    Edward was the eldest of four children. Read more >

  11. Abraham Whipple

    Abraham Whipple (1733-1819)

    Inducted in 1999

    Abraham Whipple,1733-1819, from Providence, was a renowned privateersman and naval officer. An ally of the Brown family, he directed the raid of the Gaspee and commanded the U.S. Navy's first ship, Providence, in several successful encounters with the British. Read more >



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