Digging Duxbury, Massachusetts: Duxbury’s quest for physical evidence of its Pilgrim past began in 1832 when Reverend Benjamin Kent conducted the first dig at the homesite of Captain Myles Standish,the Pilgrim’s military leader and one of the founders of Duxbury. Kent’s “dig” at Standish’s homesite in South Duxbury is one of the earliest in American history, but it was followed closely after by a more professional undertaking by James Hall in 1856.
The publication of Henry Longfellow Wadsworth’s poem, “The Courtship of Miles Standish,” in 1858, further elevated Standish’s popularity. This led to an interest in his lost gravesite. In 1889 and 1891 two digs were performed in the Duxbury’s Old Burying Ground, now known as the Myles Standish Burial Ground, to find his remains. These digs confirmed his final resting place. He was exhumed a final time in 1931 in order to be placed in a copper lined box.
In the 21st century, our quest to examine Duxbury’s Pilgrim heritage has continued. In 2012, an archaeological survey was conducted on the site of the property owned by Mayflower passenger, Elder William Brewster, currently owned by the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society. The Brewster Homestead site provides valuable information on early Plymouth Colony homes, later 18th and 19th century families on the property, as well as pre-Colonial Native American life in Duxbury. In 2013, an exhibition was installed at DRHS entitled “Digging Duxbury” showcasing some of the findings of the dig, from all eras of occupation on the property.
Continue on to see artifacts from these archaeological digs, as well as a small number of objects that were preserved through other means, showcasing how Pilgrim-related items were valuable to early Duxbury families.
This exhibition is divided into four themes: Digging Duxbury, Massachusetts; Coming to a Pilgrim Town; Collecting in a Pilgrim Town; and, Lasting Legacy.
Click the buttons to explore different parts of the town’s Pilgrim past and to view objects from the collections of the Duxbury Rural & Historical Society.
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