The History of Exploration of Sowams and New England

Starting with Leif Erickson’s exploration of the Newfoundland coast in 1,000 A.D., Europeans have been traveling to the coast of New England and Canada in search of fish, furs, and other resources as well as a route to China. The English Separatists who landed at Patuxet (Plymouth) in December, 1620 established the first permanent settlement in New England, though several earlier attempts where made that lasted about a year. Click here for a 20-minute video that details each of the explorations in sequence.


(Above) At least twenty explorers found their way to North America from England and recorded their journeys (click on list above), starting with Leif Erickson in the year 1,000 who established a settlement on the northern tip of Newfoundland. According to Munro in his 1880 Story of Mount Hope Lands, p.21, Northman Thorfinn Karlsefni may have traveled up the Sakonet River in 1008 to Mount Hope Bay in Sowams and erected a “dwelling hiuse” on Mount Hope in today’s Bristol, RI (Sidney Rider, The Lands of Rhode Island, 1903, p. 164, and The Norse Discovery of America, 1906, p. 91, p. 223).


(Above) In 1497, John Cabot was the first after the Vikings to reach North America from England, though he may not have landed. Miguel Corte-Real and his father likely reached New England around 1511 as inscriptions on the Dighton Rock in the Taunton River seem to suggest.


(Above) Giovanni Verrazano explored the North American coast, including a 15-day stay near Newport, RI in 1524. Captain John Smith mapped the Massachusetts coastline on one of his return trips from the Virginia Colony.


(Above) Starting in 1617, following the wreck of a French fishing ship on the Maine coast, tribes along the coast began to suffer from a series of infectious diseases that killed as many as ninety percent of their population. In early 1620, Thomas Dermer met with the Pokanoket Chiefs Osamequin and Quadraquina and paved the way for positive relationships with the Pilgrims when they landed at the end of the year.


Click here for  ” Before the Mayflower: The first pilgrim settlers to America tried, and failed, to settle in Newfoundland”