Roger Williams Sites

Roger Williams Sites in Rhode Island

I'm a 10th great-grandson of Roger, so I thought I'd put together a few interesting Williams sites in my homestate. Williams was the founder of Providence and co-founder of Rhode Island. He lived in the state from 1636 when he was banished from Massachusetts to 1684 when he died in Providence.

Providence, Rhode Island
  • Roger Williams National Memorial: Roger Williams lived across the street from the present day Roger Williams National Landmark, and drank from the spring in the park upon arriving in Rhode Island in 1636. Williams was originally buried across the street under an apple tree in his backyard.
  • Roger Williams Park and Zoo: In the entrance to the park is a monument to Williams where he was originally going to be reinterred. Several of the graves of his children are located in a small cemetery just to the right of the entrace, including Joseph Williams.
  • Prospect Terrace Park and Monument: Williams' remains are in the base of the large statue overlooking the city.
  • Roger Williams Root: basement of the John Brown House (Rhode Island Historical society…by appointment only). When Williams body was exhumed, the diggers found an apple tree root roughly in the shape of a skeleton growing in his grave. It supposedly grew along the path of decomposing nutrients of his skeleton. The root is mounted on a board in the basement, and pictures may be obtained through the Historical Society.
  • Rhode Island Charter: The Royal Charter from 1663 is located on the second floor of the Rhode Island State House. Williams name is listed on the charter.
  • First Baptist Church in America: This is the site of William's first Baptist church in America which he founded in 1638, although the current building on the site was built in the 1700s.

Wickford, Rhode Island

  • Smith’s Castle (1676) This is one of the oldest houses in Rhode Island and was built on the site of Williams's first trading post, where he traded with the Narragansetts. Williams visited Smith’s Castle (the current structure) as an elderly man in the 1670s.

Prudence, Patience, Hope and Despair Islands...(Narragansett Bay)

  • In addition to Providence, Williams also named these four islands in Narragansett Bay. The names of the islands reflected his mood upon being banished to Rhode Island in the winter of 1636. Rhode Island school children used to chant the following rhyme: "Prudence, Patience, Hope and Despair and there's the Little Hog over there!" Hog island is another island in the bay.


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