« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
house, John Browne, Edward Smith, Thomas Harris Jr., John Steere, Epenetus Olney, Thomas Arnold, Thomas Olney, Jr., and George Palmer, are appointed to get the timber of the said bridge, and to frame it, and then to give notice unto the surveyors, and warn the inhabitants together, to mend the highways and then to rear the said bridge, and this bridge to be done before the next haytime."* As Thomas Olney, Jr., in all probability was living then at his homestead under Stampers Hill t on what is now Stephens Street, the site of the bridge is indicated as above the mill where the stream was narrow. This is believed to have been the first bridge erected over the Moshassuck in the town, being at Wapwaysett, where Roger Williams received the tolls from strangers, and "the sole work of its kind twenty years after Williams had been laid to rest." % In process of time, either this bridge became too dilapidated for the charging of toll, or more enlarged ideas of duty to provide for the wants of those living at a distance from the centre as well as travellers from abroad prevailed, as we read in the town records, March i, " Voted by the Town that Mr Roger Williams shall not any longer Keep at the Bridge, that is to take Toll of any people as of Strangers or any other, but is by the Act of this Town wholly forbid so to do from this forward."
October 27, 1662, the sale of two and a half acres from George Palmer of Providence was confirmed to Mr. Steere at a Quarter Court. This land is described as "on the Neck between the River of Pawtuckett and the Great Swamp in the ffield called New ffield bounded on the East End with a highway or meere banke, on the West End with a highway, on the North side with Land of John Soiles, on the south with the Land of Lawrence Wilkinson, the said land being formerly the land of ffrances man." Providence Neck was the title given in early deeds to all the lands between the Seekonk and the Moshassuck.
He was town sergeant, and acted in that capacity in the year 1663. He held but few offices, and there is no evidence that he sought official distinction; but there is reason to believe that in the exercise of an independent spirit he preferred the quiet and freedom of a happy home to the turmoil of public life. He seems to have been held in esteem by his fellow-townsmen, as his various "bills" or petitions to the Town Council were, so far as the record has come down, always answered in the affirmative.
Mr. Steere held a lot on the Town Street in Providence, described as "a fourty foot lot of land in sd Providence by the salt water upon my own Right, the which lot I have not pitched upon." This lot he deeded March 13, 17;^, to his son Thomas, together with several other parcels, including one full right in thatch
* Providence Town Records. vol. i, p. 187, Mashapauge Meadows are spoken of
t Staples's History of Providence, p. 130. as "about two miles southward from a Hill called
% Dorr's Planting and Growth of Providence, Waybossett, being at the Ferry in said Providence
p. 69. Also, in a deed of Valentine Whitman's of town," which indicates that there was no bridge
February 20, 1689, recorded in Providence Records, there at that date.
beds ordered to be laid out in "Hawking's Cove." The "Towne Street" was a highway of forty feet wide. It was also called "The Street," and " our anceint street," some portion of it having existed from the earliest settlement. It afterwards became known as North and South Main streets. It kept its course near the shore from Fox Hill northward till it reached the Moshassuck Falls, where it climbed the steep side of the hill known later as Constitution Hill. Benefit Street was partially laid out in 1747, and carried through at either end as late as 1758. Its junction with the Town or North Main Street was at a point at the top of Constitution Hill. Farther north a highway of three poles wide (or about fifty-four feet), first called Dexter's Lane, afterwards Olney's Lane, and finally Olney Street, is noted on the map of 1718. It was probably at first but a narrow lane running by Gregory Dexter's property which he afterwards transferred to Thomas Olney.
The various divisions of land in the early history of Providence comprised in the first place the first division of fifty-two home-lots, of about five acres each, upon " the Towne Street," now North and South Main streets. Secondly were apportioned six acre lots. From 1645 to 1661 the twenty-five acre or quarterright purchasers received lots of that size.
John Steere participated in these last two divisions. In the deed of William Steere to Elisha Knowlton the following divisions are recorded as belonging to the original right of John Steere, Sen., viz.: the eight acre division, the thirty acre division, the one hundred and forty-four acre division, and the additional division or the second division of forty feet lots.
Mr. Steere's lot in the second division of forty feet lots — a division of land opposite James Olney's land — bordered on the highway which was first known as Dexter's Lane. It was lot No. 2 on the left hand side descending the hill toward the west, and is marked as his on a map made in 1708 and accepted February 3, 1718, while Mr. Steere was still living on his farm upon Winnekheague Hill. This lot seems to have been located a little west of the right hand corner of Prospect and Olney streets, about half way down the hill towards Pratt Street. The lots of William Wickenden, Joseph Williams, John Field, John Greene, Sen., Chad. Brown, John Whipple, Sen., Lawrence Wilkinson, Roger Mowry, Edward Smith, and other old settlers are also noted on this map of the neighborhood of Stampers and Constitution Hills. Shortly after this map was accepted Mr. Steere sold (April 2, 1718) lot No. 2 for £1 ios., to his son Thomas Steere, who bequeathed to his two sons, Thomas and Richard Steere, his landed property, giving portions to each, and the residue to be equally divided between them. July 30, 1776, a division of the undivided property was agreed upon between Thomas and Richard Steere, who had been tenants of the same in common.''
* These parcels of land included two lots in mon, half a right in the thatch-bed, a piece of land Providence Town Street, a lot in the stated com- said to be near Noah Smith's land, and the Little