Two groups visited Whortleberry Island (also called Huckleberry Island) to put on Clam Bakes. Several members of the class of 1844, the first class to graduate from the “new” Providence High School, located on Benefit street between Waterman and Angel Streets, known as the Benefit Street Boys, set sail in a borrowed Cat Boat on a Saturday in the summer of 1843, with some cooking utensils and landed on the Island to enjoy some sea food. It was enjoyed so much that the venture was repeated frequently. Among the group were James H. Armington, Benjamin W, Pearson and Benjamin C. Gladding, all chanter members when the club was incorporated.
The second group, known as the Rowseville Boys, were mostly merchants on South Water Street and cotton buyers. Captain Shubael Cady, master of the Brig Rowse, usually arranged outings on the island, which was referred to as Roweseville. The two groups joined forces around 1868.
In 1870, the owner of Huckleberry Island objected to further use of the island for clambakes and a rocky promentory just north of the island was chosen to hold future outlining. Captain Cady announced that same year that he had bought Squantum Point from Charles Jackson for $2,200. The Squantum Club was organized and on December 12, 1870, the 2.74-acre tract of land was conveyed to Shubael Cady, Trustee.
A Constitution was drawn in 1871, membership set at $50 and member shares limited to 88. There were 44 charter members and the rest of the 88 were immediately taken. A Charter “for the purpose of Culture” was granted to the Squantum Association on March 13, 1872. Captain Shubael H. Cady was elected the first President and held that office until 1883
Where did Squantum Association get its name and what does it mean? One legend calls “Squantum” an Indian word meaning “the annual visit of a tribe to the seashore to eat shellfish and other seafoods”. That Indians made such visits regularly and for many years demonstrated by the occasional discovery on the Atlantic coast of enormous “kitchen-middens”, that is piles of shells and other evidences of seafood feasts.
Others have defined Squantum as an Indian word meaning “pile of rocks.” Some try to connect the word with “Squanto”, the friendly Indian chief. Reference to books on the language of the American Indian does not verify these definitions.
It is established that the word “Squantum” was used about 1800 to denote a clambake. Also, it is safe to assume that the clambake was probably a refinement of the Indian seafood feast.
The name “Squantum Point” appears in the Atlas of the State of Rhode Island, published by D.G. Beers & Co of Philadelphia in 1870. George T. Hart, member of the Rhode Island Historical Society, in an article written in 1904 stated, “It is clear that the club gave its name to the mass of rocks and did not adapt that of the location.”
There you have it! What is your theory? To me Squantum means a great location for great food!