This granite marker sits in the sidewalk next to the Silver Spring Golf Course on the west side of Pawtucket Avenue at the end of Wheeler Avenue in East Providence, RI. It marks the original boundary between the Wannamoisett section of the Pokanoket settlement of “Sowams” in 1620 purchased by John Browne from the Massasoit Ousamequin in 1643, and the town of Rehoboth. A merchant from Plymouth named Thomas Willett (1611–1674) came here to trade with the Dutch colony of New Netherland, which eventually became New York. Willett had married the daughter of John Brown, who was Massasoit’s close confidant among the colonists. The Browne family were among the early slave holding families in the area. John Browne’s daughter, Mary, was married to Thomas Willett who listed eight Negro slaves in his will. John Browne’s son, James, “owned” at least one Negro slave, “Matte”, that he willed to his son, Jabez. Willett eventually became the first mayor of Manhattan because of his frequent trade with the Dutch and his fluency in the language. As he began to spend more time in and eventually move to New York from Plymouth, Wamsutta lost his confidant and saw Willett’s replacement, Josiah Winslow (c. 1629–1680), as no replacement for his friendship with Willett. Willet had slaves, one named Jethro who was captured by a band of Pokanokets in June 1676 at the start of the King Philip War. He was rescued by Governor Bradford, and Jethro warned him of an imminent attack on Taunton. The Governor quickly rallied troops and and routed the attack. As a reward, he was given his freedom at the end of two years.
When heading north, the marker is on the left side of Pawtucket Avenue at Wheeler Avenue. When heading south a marker for the 1642 Rehoboth town line on the right side.
The marker is just north of the entrance to the Silver Spring Golf Club which is open to the public.
Professor Burton Van Edwards describes the Wannamoisett Purchase from the Massasoit and the beginnings of Barrington. Click here for a 12-minute video of a portion of his presentation. Click on the map for a larger view.
Click here for a page on the InTheDayRI Facebook page describing the history of the marker.
Click on the map below for a Google satellite map.
Parking is available at the Silver Spring Golf Course. The marker is about 100 yards to the north.