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Seekonk, Massachusetts

From Academic Kids

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Seekonk seal

The Town of Seekonk is a suburban community in Bristol County on the Rhode Island border. It was incorporated in 1812 from the western half of Rehoboth and contains rolling hills with extensive swamps in the central portions of the town. During King Philip's War, settlers fled the Seekonk area and took refuge in several garrison houses located south and north of the town. It is conjectured that the buildings in the town suffered severe damage during the war and it was probably after 1676 that settlers started moving back. Two industrial villages developed to supplement the agricultural economy, with such businesses as the Rumford Chemical Works, but what had been the industrial area of the town in the late 18th and early 19th century was lost when East Providence was incorporated in 1862 taking half of the town's territory, two-thirds of its valuation and more than two-thirds of its population. The town remained basically agricultural into the 20th century, although the Kent Manufacturing Company did make tennis racquets and croquet sets on the upper reaches of the Tenmile River. With the opening of the Providence and Taunton street railway in 1891, Seekonk became increasingly a residential suburb of Providence.

Contents

History

Early Years

The first inhabitants of Seekonk were Native Americans from the Wampanoag Tribe. The name Wampanoag means People of the Morning Light. This name refers to the geographical area of the tribe. Living in the East they would be the first people to greet the sun each morning. The area now known as Seekonk and Rehoboth provided agricultural and water resources with abundant food supplies. During the warm summer months the Natives spent time near the rivers and oceans in what is now Southeastern Massachusetts. In the winter months the Natives lived inland, including several locations in Seekonk. At one time there were three Native American villages in the area we now call Seekonk.

There have been many spellings of the name Seekonk. Some of the various spellings include Seconch, Sink Hunk, Secquncke, Seaconke, and Squannakonk. Most historical scholars agree that the name is derived from two Native American words, sucki (meaning black) and honc (meaning goose). The symbol of the goose in flight is used on the Town Seal.

The Wampanoag Indians had a very strong family oriented culture with expectations of each member of the tribe to contribute to the good of the whole. Gender roles were typical of agrarian societies. The women were entrusted with caring not only for the daily physical needs of the tribe but also with recounting the tales that kept their heritage alive.

The males had the responsibilities of hunting, fishing, and protecting the tribe. Young males spent the first years of their lives close to their mothers. When the child was about 10 years of age he would spend more time with the males. During the winter of his 13th year the boy would be expected to live in the forest by himself. In the Spring following this winter he would be welcomed back into the tribe as a warrior.

The Wampanoags were governed by a chief. This chief was advised by a council and he generally listened to and respected their advice. It was possible for a woman to be a member of the council. The position of chief usually passed from father to son.

Chief Massasoit

The chief of the Wampanoags at the time the colonists settled in Southeastern Massachusetts was known as Massasoit or Ossamequin. In English this name means yellow feather. Ossamequin's people had been seriously affected by a plague just prior to the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. A large number of Wampanoag Indians had been killed by this illness. Most historians believe this plague to have been yellow fever.

Massasoit decided to make a peace treaty with the new immigrants for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most important factor was that the Wampanoags were fearful of being overtaken by the Narragansett Indians who lived nearby. Ossamequin believed an alliance with the English would help to secure the safety of his people.

In 1653 Ossamequin and his son Wamsetto, also known as Alexander to the English, signed a deed granting the land that is now Seekonk and the surrounding communities to Thomas Willitt, Myles Standish and Josiah Winslow. The Native Americans did not believe that an individual could own a piece of land. Most likely they believed they were selling fishing and hunting rights to the settlers. The Wampanoags were paid 35 pounds sterling by the English for this transaction.

Three of the earliest English men to settle in the area now known as Seekonk and Providence were William Blackstone, Roger Williams and Samuel Newman. These men and their followers proved it was possible to provide a living away from the coastal areas. This allowed groups of individuals to separate themselves from Puritan control. In turn this led to a greater diversity of culture and religious and philosophical freedom. It was only by forming alliances with the Native Americans in both the Wampanoag and Narragansett tribes that these early settlements were able to flourish.

King Philip's War

Massasoit lived until he was 80 years old. While he lived, his people and the settlers lived in relative peace. He was followed in power by his son Wamsetto. This chief died shortly after his father and was replaced by his brother Metacomet, also known as King Philip.

Metacomet watched as his culture and way of life was being eradicated by the white settlers. In 1675 the King Philip's War began and both sides saw this as an opportunity to claim the land for their people and their way of life. Metacomet and his people lost their struggle to save their home and the chief was killed by two colonists. He was beheaded and his head stayed on public display on a pole in Plymouth for 25 years. From this point on the land in Massachusetts Bay Colony belonged to the English settlers.

Today

For the next 200 years the area we now call Seekonk was primarily a farming community. Accounts of Town Meetings during these years communicate just how contentious deciding what was best for this area could be. Boundary disputes were common and the land that is now Rehoboth, East Providence, Pawtucket and Seekonk was claimed by both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. In 1812 the border disputes were settled by the courts and the present town of Seekonk was incorporated.

Very few farms still exist in Seekonk. Developers have turned the farms into housing divisions and Seekonk is used largely as a suburban home community for people who work in the Rhode Island and Boston areas. Although there has been a great deal of building in Seekonk since the Wampanoags first lived here you can still see many of the "black" Canadian geese which give the town its name.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 47.7 km² (18.4 mi²). 47.4 km² (18.3 mi²) of it is land and 0.3 km² (0.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.54% water.

Transportation

The Taunton-Attleboro region, where Seekonk is located, has excellent highway facilities. Interstate 495, especially well designed south of Boston, provides access to Interstate 90 to the northwest and to U.S. Route 6, the Mid-Cape Highway, to the southeast. Interstate 95 and the Fall River Expressway (State Route 24) provide access to the airport, port, and intermodal facilities of Boston and Providence.

Major Highways

Principal highways are State Route 152; Interstate 195 and U.S. Route 6, which link the southern coastal cities and towns; and U.S. Route 44, which runs roughly E-W between Plymouth and Providence, Rhode Island. Interstate Route 95 is accessible in the neighboring town of Attleboro.

Airport

TF Green Airport (PVD) & Logan Airport (BOS) are the closets airports. Travel time to PVD: 15-20 min; Travel time to BOS: 1 hr 15 mins.

Rail

Commuter rail service to Back Bay Station and South Station, Boston, is available from South Attleboro Station in the adjacent town of Attleboro. Travel time to BBS: 45-56 min.; 562 MBTA parking spaces. Bus Seekonk is not affiliated with a regional transit authority.

Demographics

As of the census2 of 2000, there are 13,425 people, 4,843 households, and 3,874 families residing in the town. The population density is 282.9/km² (733.0/mi²). There are 4,947 housing units at an average density of 104.3/km² (270.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the town is 96.57% White, 0.52% African American, 0.28% Native American, 0.95% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 0.51% from other races, and 1.18% from two or more races. 0.74% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 4,843 households out of which 35.7% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.6% are married couples living together, 9.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 20.0% are non-families. 16.8% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.8% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.77 and the average family size is 3.12.

In the town the population is spread out with 25.3% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 26.4% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 40 years. For every 100 females there are 94.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 92.6 males.

The median income for a household in the town is $56,364, and the median income for a family is $62,361. Males have a median income of $42,404 versus $29,782 for females. The per capita income for the town is $24,058. 2.4% of the population and 1.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 3.0% of those under the age of 18 and 2.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

In the year 2000 the population was 13,425. Males: 6,517 (48.5%), Females: 6,908 (51.5%).

Elevation: 50 ft (15 m)

Ancestries: Portuguese (22.0%), Irish (21.4%), English (16.7%), French (14.4%), Italian (11.9%), French Canadian (6.4%).

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