« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
so unprepared for effective warfare with the savages. The angry muttering of
April 6, 1678, John Steere and John Inman were chosen to serve on the jury
The residence of Mr. Steere soon after the close of the war is readily'determined. Some complaints having been made to the town respecting the fences put upon some of the commons, the following petition to the Town Council (the original of which is in the possession of the R. I. Historical Society, and which may have been written by the town clerk) was sent in by Mr. Steere.
<ivnn!i *ic>.n4--m.l y/ rttftfy^Jy my ^In^ir^O-'J ^
.may-th^fflC ffa.-nd fiu.7-l.hiy my Aim y t'-fa yt) &'id eT
fei (yxh 01 amy ^! ny I^"^~rr%a.y -no
The paper photo-engraved for this work is here given in more modern characters, while the vote of the Town Council in response is subjoined. By the latter it appeared that he held the lease of the property till the year 1686, and that he had hired it of Ann Sheldon, and that his dwelling was there.
To ye Towne Mett March ye: 30th: 1680 Co Neighbors Wheras by yc late warr, And Excessive height of ye tide Demollishing much of oe fence wee were Constrained to run a fence a Crose ye Comon at or neere Cowpen poynt for our then and now nessesaty; And therefore Desire of this Town that yes wood grant me y' libberty that my fence may — may there stand Dureing my term in ye sayd land J now Dwell upon and J shall Keepe a paire of handy Bars for an Jnlett, or out lett for and to ye Townes use for Carts or anything that may not damnifie me nor ye Towne, and in soe doeing you will oblige yor servant
JoN Steere *
At a Towne Meetting yc 31th of March, 1680:
Capt Arther ffenner Moderatr
Voted by ye Towne that whereas John Steere Exhibitted a bill (this day) to ye towne desiring Leave to Runn a ffence Crosse ye towne's Comon, or highway, at, or neare yc Cow-pen-poynt (on Way-boy Sett Side) for ye Convinency of ye Readier Encloseing in of yc Land, wh he have Leased to him (further from this, time forward) By An: Shelden — six yeares from ye date heareof — the wch is granted the sd Steer Engageing by promise, dureing all wh sd Term of time aforssd that he will theire maintaine an in-lett & out-lett (by a Length of handy barrs) Crosse yc sayd highway for yc Townes use if occation be — And y' at ye expiration of ye sd Term of time: for ye fence then Run Crosse ye Townes Comon or highway, to be throwne downe And soe then to Revert againe to ye same state as it was Conditioned before this Liberty was by ye towne granted unto sd Steer: provided ye Towne (according to his bill) be not damnified thereby.t
The "Way-boy Sett" side of the river was the western side of the town, including all the district up the stream for some distance. Cowpen Point is found upon some of the older maps at a point near the foot of the present Crary Street. At this place, on "Waybosset Neck," near the waters of the Narragansett, with but few neighbors near them, John Steere and his family might have been found till the expiration of the lease in 1686.
On the tax lists of that period, called "The Rates," his name appears with the early settlers. July 16, 1680, he was rated one shilling and two pence, and in 1687 he was taxed five shillings. The taxation of that period seems to us as
* From Miscellancotts Foster Papers, p. 5. \ Book of Town Meetings, vol. 3, p. 35.
very light compared with later or modern times; but money being scarce and of high value, it was often felt to be exceedingly burdensome. The era of emigration and of settlement in a new country is always a restless one, and it is almost impossible at such a period, even for staid citizens, not to participate in the general movement to secure, if possible, better homes and larger territorial acquisitions. The gaze of John Steere was early directed to the roomier hills and richer valleys beyond the sea-coast. He felt as did the poet, that
"God made the country and man made the town."
The possibilities of commerce, and the enhancement of the value of property by its introduction, were not specially contemplated at that period. The selfish regulations of the neighboring colonies had kept trade away from the Rhode Island coast, and to many there were more attractions in opening up the new country beyond, and in all the forms of pioneer life, than in remaining in the little village of scattered log-huts which then constituted Providence. The very dangers attending the removal to distant points added spice and romance to the movement. John Steere began to make preparation for selecting new homes for himself and his children. He sent in his petition to the Town Council, dated April 27, 1686,* requesting liberty to take up his six and one half acres between the Seven Mile Line and the Four Mile Line "where it will not damnifie any person." This lot may have been part of the land apportioned to him in 1665. Mr. Steere held property on both the east and west of the Seven Mile Line. Part of this was drawn on his original right, and part was what he had purchased some years before from the Rev. Pardon Tillinghast. During the confusion and havoc of the Indian wars the deed of this property had been lost, and it was renewed as follows: t
Pardon Tillinghast several years since for a valuable sum of money sold to John Steere all the right of lands which belonged to the right of Henry Redock formerly inhabitant of Providence, lying between the seven mile line and the four mile line within the township of Providence, and having given him a deed, but by reason of the late Indian Wars, wherein many things were destroyed, the said instrument came to miscarry and is not in being, as the said John Steere affirmeth, I, the said Pardon Tillinghast, etc. . . . confirm unto him. his title etc. . . . Nov. 23, 1686.
[Signed] Pardon Tillinghast,
This second deed was not recorded in the town book until June 18, 1742.
* The original is preserved by the R. I. Historical \ Land Evidence, vol. 11, p. 73. Society.
Glocester and Smithfield, but also in that which became a part of Scituate, as appears from the deed of his son William to E. Knowlton in 1737, and of Thomas Steere, Jr., to E. Comstock in 1743.
With the year 1702 the history of John Steere, as far as his residence was concerned, seems to have been specially bound up with the fortunes of his youngest son, Samuel, who removed towards the northwestern part of the township. In 1701 Samuel Steere had applied to the town for leave to take up forty acres of land which his father had already given him on the west side of the Seven Mile Line. The next year, 1702, John Steere deeded to this son, in consideration of his "settlement and well being," one half of his own right of land on the west side of the Seven Mile Line (afterwards included in the town of Glocester). This was transferred by Samuel to his brother Thomas in 1707.
November 21, 1705, John Steere, Sen., bestowed by deed of gift his mansion house with orchard and meadow adjoining, to be the property of his son Samuel "to prevent future controversies," securing it to him "after my dayes and the dayes of my wife Hanna Steere." This property was at Wionheige (or .Winnekeague*) as appears also by the following record: April 1, 1707, Samuel Steere bought of his brother Thomas forty acres at Vyunkeake (Wionkeake) bordering on "land of John Steere, Sent his homestead." Thus Samuel exchanged property on the west side of the Seven Mile Line for additional land adjoining his father's estate (which was afterwards included in Smithfield).
At what exact date John Steere removed from the seaboard to the neighborhood of Wionkeake Hill does not appear, but to that locality he followed the Indian trail, building his log-hut, clearing little by little acre after acre. There he lived for many years, and there we have every reason to believe he died. Before the 17th of April, 1703, Mr. Steere had removed to this new home, as on that date Thomas Olney, surveyor, laid out to Nicholas Power in the right of Francis Weston in a second division "sixty acres of land, lying on the east side of the Seven Mile Line, at about three quarters of a mile northward from the now dwelling house of John Steere." This same property is further described in the deed of Nicholas Power to Freegift Balcom of Providence as "near to place called Wayunkeake, and lying chief on the East side of a hill lengthwise, being North and by Eastward and South and by westward." Thomas Olney laid out. April 22, 1708, to Nicholas Power one hundred and twenty acres, " lying not far distant from the land whereon John Steere his now dwelling house is, and northeastwardly from it." t Inspired by the charming and diversified rural scenery
* This name is spelled upon the ancient records Wayunkege, Wayunckeege, Wenkheage, Wenk
with greater diversity than any other Indian name, at heege, Wiankeege, Wionheige, Wionnheige, Wion
least twenty-nine different methods having been used, keake, Wiunkheag, Wiunckheague, Wiupkeake,
viz: Wamkeag, Waiunckhege, Wayanqueque, Wyan- Winnekeague, Winnekheague, Winkheigues, Wior
keake, Wayonkeage, Wayunkeak, Wayunkeake, Way- ickheague, Wyumkheag, Wyunkeake, Vyunkeake.
unkheag, Wayunakege, Wayunckeak, Wayunckeke, f Old Book of Records, p. 377.
around him, and gratifying his tastes for that solitude which " sometimes is best society," in this sparsely settled district afar from the strife of commercial life, the days of the aged pilgrim passed peacefully along. His life,
"Exempt from public haunt,
Dense forests were about him, but from his hillside he could see rising here and there the curling smoke from the chimneys of other new settlers, which testified of an advancing civilization. Soon the trails of the aborigines began to widen into the thoroughfares of the white man, the fords were spanned by rude bridges, the saw-mill and the grist-mill were erected in the narrow gorges by the swift-flowing streams, the smooth, pleasant meadow succeeded the rough clearing, and nature began to wear a more cultivated aspect. He did not live to see the development of that manufacturing industry which utilized the waters of the beautiful streams flowing near him, but must have seen much of that progress in the settlement which was soon to call for the organization of a new town.'' Intellectual activity was slowly progressing in Rhode Island and in the neighboring colonies. Copies of the " Boston News-Letter," the first permanent serial, the publication of which was commenced in the year 1704, may have found their way to the remote farmhouses of this section, and must have been hailed with great satisfaction, meagre as was the news conveyed by them.
Winnekheague or Wionnheige Hill may be found upon the map of Smithfield, lying west of Stillwater Reservoir, and the farm upon which John Steere lived is still held by the descendants of Capt. Joseph Mowry and his son Oliver, the former of whom bought it of Samuel Steere, son of John, Sen., in 1725.t
Roger Williams suggested the purchase of this property about Wayunkeake by a special payment to the Indians, although the town authorities claimed it as already purchased from them. %
* Smithfield was incorporated by act of the General Assembly in February, 1730, only six years after John Steere's death.
f. It is on the map of Smithfield as the Job or Mowry farm. The widow of Ziba, son of Job, and her sons Albert and Gilbert live on this farm (1887).
J Loving Friends And Neighbors,
Divers of yourselves have so cried out, of the contentions of your late meetings, that (studying my quietness) I thought fit to present you with these few lines. Two words I pray you to consider. First, as to this plantation of Providence: then as to some new plantation, if it shall please the same God of mercies who provided this, to provide another in mercy for us: 1. As to this town, although I have been called out, of late, to declare my understanding as to the bounds of Providence and Pawtuxet; and,
although divers have lands and meadows in possession beyond these bounds, yet I hope that none of you think me so senseless as to put on any barbarian to molest an Englishman, or to demand a farthing of any of you.
2. If any do (as formerly some have done, and divers have given gratuities as Mr. Field, about Notaquoncanot and others,) I promise, that as I have been assistant to satisfy and pacify the natives round about us, so I hope I shall still while I live be helpful to any of you that may have occasion to use me.
Now as to some new plantation, I desire to propose that which may quench contention, may accommodate such who want, and may also return monies unto such as have of late disbursed.
To this purpose, I desire that we be patient, and torment not ourselves and the natives (sachems and