September 25, 2018

Former Seekonk Resident Pens Book on Town’s History


Kevin Paul Saleeba vividly remembers the day back in the 1990s that his mother returned home from a parent teacher conference at Seekonk High School. A self-described very shy introvert, he was admittedly “not the greatest student.” So, when his mother sat him down to discuss what his teachers had to say about him, he feared the worst.
Instead, she relayed the words that his history teacher Frank Mooney said - that he was capable of so much more. Oftentimes teachers use these words when describing students who aren’t living up to their potential. Usually they fall on deaf ears, but Kevin was one of the students who took it to heart.

With these words to motivate him, Saleeba went on to become the author of two books, and he isn’t finished yet. His first book, The Squonk and the Horned Beast, won the Bronze Award from the 2014 Bella Online eBook Awards.
Saleeba spoke to a large crowd gathered at the Seekonk Public Library in October about his second book, Black Goose: The History of Seekonk, Volume 1. The book is based on original research done back in the early 1980s by long time history teacher Frank Mooney and his students at Seekonk High School. At the time, Mooney received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to fund the research, writing and publication of the booklet. Completed in 1983, the booklet was the basis for an elective course on the history of Seekonk at the high school that Mooney taught for several decades until his retirement. Saleeba was one of his students. In fact, he enjoyed the course so much that he kept the booklet.

A few years ago, Saleeba decided to look up his former teacher. Mooney agreed to meet with him and what was supposed to be an hour-long meeting, turned into four hours and another book. Mooney granted Saleeba permission to use the original booklet as the foundation for his Black Goose book.

According to Saleeba, his book is intended to be easier to read. He weaves story telling with the facts, making for a not so dry narrative of the early days of Seekonk.

This volume focuses on the early “shared history of several Southern New England towns, including Seekonk, Rehoboth, East Providence and Pawtucket to name a few.” Readers will discover that the Indian territory of Seekonk was much greater than the present area, in fact the borders spread as far as Cumberland, RI. Readers will also learn that Seekonk once had a town center, known as the Ring of the Green, on land that Newman Congregational Church now sits on in the Rumford section of East Providence. Saleeba used the archives of the church for much of his secondary research.

In his book, Saleeba details the impact of the King Philip War on the region, the influence of Roger Williams and William Blackstone, and the ongoing disputes over the borders. In fact, he says that the next volume in the series will focus on the border wars and how what was once a very large area became a small town.


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