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John Steere
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John Steere, son of John Steere and Jane Peters of Vann, Surry, England, was born 6 Apr 1635. He came to Providence, Rhode Island in Aug 1658 during the persecution of the Puritans in England. He petitioned, and was granted on 9 May 1660, to take up a five acre lot that was located in the Moshassuck River valley, west of the river and northeasterly down the slope from where the Rhode Island State House now stands. His name is mentioned on the Providence Town Council record as follows: "John Steere having desired of the Town that they would grant him a parcel of land for A houselott, on the west side of Moshosett river neere unto Thomas Olney, Jr.", his five acres . . . it is granted that John Steere shall have his bill answered, on this condition, that it be no damage unto high wayes, and also that it be no presedent for the future, for any to take up land on that side of the river within the boundes prohibited."

He met Hannah Wickenden, daughter of the Rev. William Wickenden, and they married on 27 Oct 1660 and resided in Providence, Rhode Island, where they had and raised nine children. In June of 1662, he was appointed to a committee to get out timber and frame a bridge that was to be built over the Moshassuck River.

In 1663, he served as town sergeant. He held but few offices, and there is no evidence that he sought official distinction; but there is reason to believe that he preferred the quiet and freedom of a happy home to the turmoil of public life. He seems to have been held in esteem by his fellow-townsmen, as his various "bills" or petitions to the Town Council were, so far as the record has come down, always answered in the affirmative.

The first acquisition by John Steere of property in the new territory opening northward and westward seems to have been in or before the year 1665. The only account of this transaction is in a memorandum, as follows: "Ordered, that Roger Williams shall have his first choice, after William Hawkins and John Steere, of the fifty acres of land on the east side of the north line, which beginneth seven miles from Fox's Hill, west." (The six and a half acres taken up by him in 1686, between the seven and four mile lines (somewhere in the territory afterwards known as Smithfield), may have been a portion of this fifty acres.) In 1667, the sale of the (above 5 acre) lot was recorded.

In Apr 1667, a lot of land was laid out to John Steere at Weepassachuck "where his house standeth, on the east side northerly and southerly 160 poles and the breadth easterly and westerly is 77 poles." On 29 May 1667, he sold his home lot on the west side of the river to Pardon Tillinghast for "full and value satisfaction"


On 23 Feb 1670, at the death of the Reverend William Wickenden, his father-in-law, some of Mr. Wickenden's landed property came into the hands of John Steere. On 6 Sep 1670, John, with the consent of Hannah his wife, sold an estate, consisting of twenty acres of land and five acres of meadow adjoining, on the cast side of the West River, bequeathed to him by Wickenden, to the Reverend Pardon Tillinghast, who afterwards, disposed of the same to William Hawkins. Tillinghast was the worthy and much honored pastor of the First Baptist Church in Providence. A memorial of the original owner still remains in Wickenden Street.


On 1 May 1672 May, at a session of the General Assembly held in Newport, John was made freeman of the colony along with Samuel Winsor, Abraham Man, Thomas Hopkins, Jr., Nathaniel Mowry, John Mowry, John Inman, Jeremiah Rhodes and John Ballou, all of Providence.

The home which he built was destroyed by the Indians in 1676, along with almost every other residence of the town. He had shared during these sixteen years in several "divisions" or "rights" to buy land in the outer regions of the area that Providence then embraced. After his home was destroyed, however, he took up a lease from Mrs. Sheldon on Cowpen Point.

On 6 Apr 1678, Steere and John Inman were chosen to serve on the jury of trials at the General Court.


In 1686 he moved to Wionkhiege Hill in what is presently the town of Smithfield. There he built his "mansion house," and there he established one of the early orchards. This vocation has been followed by dozens of his descendants, especially in Rhode Island, down to the present generations.

In 1687, he was taxed 00-05-00. On 25 May 1695, he deeded his daughter Sarah and son-in-law Peter Place 6.5 acres.

On 16 Dec 1704, he wrote, "Know all men by these presents that I, John Steere, of the Town of Providence in her Majesty's Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in New England, have given and granted and do by these presents give and grant unto an Indian known by the name of Sam. Noforce, who hath for some years lived by me and hath well behaved himself towards me and mine, a certain parcel of land laid out to me for six acres, be it more or less, for him the said Sam Noforce and his heirs for the full term of thirty years from the date of these presents, which term will period in the year 1734. During the said thirty years the said Noforce shall have the sole management and profits of the said lands to plant to corn or fruit trees, and to have the whole profit of them till the thirty years are completed; and after said term is expired, then I give the said six acres of land with all the profits thereon or thereunto belonging to my grandson Timothy Blancher, to him and his heirs or assigns forever, and for the future benefit of the said Blancher the said Noforce is to leave the land smooth and not in hills, and the said Noforce is not to fence the spring, but leave it open for cattle to drink: And in confirmation of this my real act and deed I have hereunto set my hand and seal this sixteenth day of December in this year 1704.” This was signed, scaled, and delivered in the presence of Abigail Hopkins and William Hopkins, and Richard Waterman, Clerk.

On 31 Nov 1705, John 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. On 1 Apr 1707, Samuel Steere bought of his brother, Thomas forty acres at Vyunkeake (Wionkeake) bordering on "land of John Steere, Sr, his homestead." Thus Samuel exchanged property on the west side of the Seven Mile Line for additional land adjoining his fathers estate (which was afterwards included in Smithfield). (The Steere Farm was located on Wionkhiege Hill in Smithfield (Providence) Rhode Island.)

In Jan 1711 during a deposition, he called himself aged about seventy years. In 1712, there was a memorandum upon the records of the treasurer of the colony for the payment of 1-00-00 to John Steere "for a wolf's head".

On 13 Mar 1712, John held a lot on the Town Street in Providence, described as "a fourty foot lot of land in sd Providence by the salt water upon my own right, the which lot I have not pitched upon." This lot he deeded to his son Thomas, together with several other parcels, including one full right in thatch bed to be laid out in "Hawkin's Cove“.

On 3 Feb 1718 John's lot in the second division of forty feet lots, a division of land opposite James Oiney's land — bordered on the highway which was first known as Dexter's Lane. It was lot No. 3 on the left hand side descending the hill toward the west, and is marked as his on a map made in 1708, while Mr. Steere was still living on his farm upon Winnekhcague Hill. This lot seems to have been located a little west of the right hand corner of Prospect and Oiney streets, about half way down the hill towards Pratt Street. The lots of William Wickenden, Joseph Williams, John Field, John Greene, Sr., Chad. Brown, John Whipple, Sr., Lawrence Wilkinson, Roger Mowry, Edward Smith, and other old settlers are also noted on this map of the neighborhood of Stampers and Constitution Hills.


John remained on his Smithfield farm up to, or near to, the time of his death in 1724. His children and grandchildren all took up land and residence throughout the country northwest of Providence, principally in the present towns of Smithfield, North Smithfield, Glocester, Burrillville, and Chepachet, the focal point of annual Steere Family reunions. John Steere is buried in the cemetery on the homestead farm in Smithfield. On 14 Dec 1724, the inventory of the Estate of John Steere was made by John Mory, Richard Euens and Elisha Knowlton and amounted to 43-22-00.