Steele was born in Franklin, Tennessee, the son of Core and Sue, and spent a large amount of his youth exploring the woods around his home. This led to an interest in the history of the area and of its pioneers.
Steele would eventually become an author of thirty-nine books. He wrote his historical adventure stories in his home on Signal Mountain, Tennessee which was the location of many of his books. His book, The Perilous Road, which was published in 1958, won the Newbery Honor in 1959.
A few of his other books include The Spooky Thing,The Buffalo Knife, Flaming Arrows, and Winter Danger.