The Ring of the Green: Sowams’ Second English Settlement

Though Roger Williams was the first Englishman to settle in 17th century Sowams, he was quickly followed by Rev. Samuel Newman and his followers from Weymouth who purchased land from the Massasoit Ousamequin in 1643. After constructing a meeting house in what is now Rumford, RI, the settlers laid out over fifty farms, each fronting on a large common pasture called “The Ring of the Green.” Though originally named “Seekonk”, the Pokanoket name for the black geese who frequented the area, Newman changed the name of the settlement to “Rehoboth” in 1645, a biblical reference to “open spaces.” The town grew in numbers until the outbreak of the Kind Philip War in 1675, leaving every structure burned to the ground. The town was gradually rebuilt, and today one can find several of the original houses from that time along with other traces of 17th century life. Click here to view an 18-minute presentation by Sowams Heritage Area Project Coordinator Dr. David Weed.

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