Ring of the Green
In 1641 The Plymouth Bay Colony gave John Brown and Edward Winslow permission to purchase 64 square miles of land from the Indian chief Massassoit. The piece of property extended eight miles from the Seekonk River East to the Taunton border and eight miles from what is now the Attleboros south to what is now Silver Spring Golf Course. There is a granite marker set into the wall there marking the southern boundary of the purchase. The Reverend Samuel Newman of Weymouth was told to round up potential settlers for this new area and two surveyors, William Sabin and Richard Wright, were sent into the area to lay out the settlement of the new Seekonk Plantation.
The new settlement was a circular layout with five gates for entrance. The center area was to enclose the animals which the settlers would bring with them. There would be a continuous fence around this area and the house and farm lots would encircle the outside extending outward in six, eight and twelve acre lots. The Newman Meeting House for church services and settlement business and the cemetery would also be in the center of the circle. There would be five garrison buildings scattered throughout for security reasons to protect settlers from possible attack by the Indians. King Philip and his Indians did attack and burned the Ring settlement to the ground in 1676. The entire settlement had to be rebuilt. Only one man died during the raid although others died in later skirmishes with the Indians.
In 1643 fifty-eight men including Newman formed the Seekonk Proprietors or Planters and drew lots for the order in which to select their property. A low number had a better choice than the latter and the size of their lot depended on their wealth or lack thereof. Wright and Sabin had already built a gristmill and a sawmill to process lumber for the new houses at a natural dam on the Ten Mile River as it enters Seekonk Cove (now Omega Pond). “Seekonk” is Indian for “black geese” of which there were many in the area. In 1643 Stephen Payne I built another sawmill, grist mill and tannery up the Ten Mile River in front of where the John Hunt House is today. The foundation of the grist mill is still visible. Wright’s dam is no longer visible under water.
The Reverend Newman shortly after arrival named the area Rehoboth which in the Bible means a good place to pass through. It became known throughout the Bay Colony as the Ring of the Green of Rehoboth. As John Brown bought more land the settlers drew for their purchase too and gradually more settlers arrived moving out into the surrounding lands. The whole area became known as the Town of Rehoboth in the Plymouth Bay Colony. In 1812 the Town had become too large to govern and split in two. The western area including the Ring of the Green became known as the Town of Seekonk in the Bay Colony and in the State of Massachusetts after the American Revolution.
In 1862 a western portion of Seekonk was annexed to the State of Rhode Island and the residents voted to name their new town East Providence. Several houses built before the Revolution are still standing in East Providence, built when we were Rehoboth. The Ring of the Green of Rehoboth is now the site of the village of Rumford in the city of East Providence.
This is only a thumbnail sketch of the settlement story. Visit the Flint Library in the Hunt House Museum to read up further on the history of the area.
Click on the icons on the map below to learn about the history and see a photo of some of the remaining historic buildings around the Ring of the Green.