Stone excavated during the James Hall dig of the Captain Myles and Barbara Myles Standish homesite in 1856. This was most likely part of the Standish home foundation. A faded paper note glued to rock reads: ” From the Cellar of the Myles Standish house in Duxbury. His writing. From Mr. H. W. Longfellow, 1865.”
The excavation of the Standish homesite by James Hall in the fall of 1856 is considered one of the nation’s first professional archaeological digs. Hall, an engraver from Boston, was a descendant of Myles Standish. He is credited with making a detailed plan of the site, although his theory about the layout of the Standish house has since been questioned. He dug further than Reverend Benjamin Kent, to a depth to over four feet, and was assisted in the excavation by a number of local men who lived in the vicinity (some of whom may have dug on their own previously). These men included Lyman Drew, George B. Bates and George Sears.
Myles Standish, born circa 1584, was an English military officer hired to accompany the Pilgrims in 1620 as their military adviser. He played a leading role in the administration and defense of Plymouth Colony. He was one of the first settlers and founders of the town of Duxbury. He is buried at the Myles Standish Burying Ground.
Related Object: Letter by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to Lyman Drew of Duxbury, 1879, Ink on paper, Collection of the Duxbury Rural & Historical Society, Drew Archival Library, DAL.SMS.030.01.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet who was descended from John and Prisiclla Alden. In 1858 he published The Courtship of Miles Standish and Other Poems, creating a renewed interest in the Pilgrims. The letter, written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, thanks Lyman Drew for the gift of an item that may have once belonged to Myles Standish. Lyman Drew (1826-1887) assisted James Hall during his 1856 archaeological dig, but also may have excavated items on his own. Learn more about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow at https://www.hwlongfellow.org/.
The transcription of the letter reads:
Cambridge, Aug 28, 1879
My friend and classmate, Bridge, has been here, and brought me your valuable present.
It is a curious relic of the Past; and I like to think that the hand of the brave, old Puritan Captain has often held it and plied it in the cornfield.
Be assured that I value it very highly and fully appreciate your kindness in presenting it to me, who have only a poetic claim to such a gift.
With many thanks, Yours very kindly,
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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