Duxbury Second Meeting House 2008

Myles Standish Burial Ground

Myles Standish Burial Ground
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Duxbury First and Second Meeting House History
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The Myles Standish Burial Ground (a.k.a. the Ancient Burial Ground), is the oldest maintained burial ground in America, it is adjacent to a known historic road (Chestnut Street), and it is the suspected location of the first meeting house in the town. Geographically it is located at the center of a community core, Morton's Hole, dating from the town's initial settlement and occupies a prominent rise within the town, making it an elevated and visible location, predictably the type of location that meeting houses were often situated on.

 Eugene Joseph Vincent Huiginn wrote The Graves of Myles Standish and Other Pilgrims in 1892. Before this work, noone had seriously examined where the first and second meeting house may have been situated. Huiginn was attempting to identify the location of the graves of Myles Standish, John Alden and Elder William Brewster. He hypothesized that early settlers would be buried near the meeting house, as was common practice at the time. In order to locate the burial ground, which was never directly referred to in the town or county records, he determined he would need to identify the location of the meeting houses first. Huiginn examined various theories regarding the possible location of the meeting houses and then, through the use of cartographic and documentary evidence, deduced that the earliest burial ground and the earliest meeting house, must lie between Hall and Bayleys corners along Chestnut Street.
Click Here to view Huiginn's book in its entirity
Click Here to view an alternate view of Huiginn's exhumation
Here is the description of the excavation and examination of the supposed grave of Myles Standish as set forth by Laurence Bradford :

Historic Duxbury in Plymouth County, Massachusetts

By Laurence Bradford 1900


pp 56-57: "As the grave of Myles Standish is supposed to be within this enclosure, and as the writer had considerable to do with investigating the subject, he will here state what came under his observation: Previous to 1889 some of the members of the Duxbury Rural Society had heard that there was a tradition — that between two three-cornered shaped stones in the old burial ground had been buried Myles Standish, and it was proposed that some of them should investigate the matter.

This came to a head in April of the above year by the following persons opening the grave: F. 13. Knapp, the writer, Prof. A. B. Hart of Harvard College, and member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, with the assistance of some boys attending Mr. Knapp's school; and I copy from my diary these notes made at the time : " Monday, April 15, 1889. Opened what purported to be Myles Standish's grave at old burial ground, Duxbury, marked by two triangular shaped stones. The skeleton found there Avas ascertained to be that of a woman. A trench was dug five feet to the south of the skeleton, but no grave found, but one was found four feet to the north, the skeleton of which measured as follows : In length, from top of skull to end of tibia, 5 feet 5 1/2 inches; for foot (estimated), 2 inches; total length of skeleton, 5 feet 7 1/2inches ; length of femur, 1 foot 7 ” inches; smallest circumference, 3 1/2 inches; length around the skull, 1 foot 9 inches; length of tibia, 1 foot 3 5/8 inches; length of humerus, 1 foot 1 7/8 inches; length of ulna, l0 1/8 inches. These measurements were made under the supervision of a physician."

These are all the notes taken. Anyone wishing to follow the subject further will find articles by the Rev. Mr. Huiginn in the Boston Herald of April 27, 1891 ; in the Boston Transcript of May 26 and June 27, 1891 ; also in a pamphlet published by Mr. Huiginn in 1892, entitled "The Graves of Myles Standish and Other Pilgrims." Mr. Knapp, who was present at another exhumation in company with Mr. Huiginn, tells the writer that he was struck with the resemblance in the shape of the skulls, shown by the skeleton of the man found, as related above, and that of the young woman, marked by the triangular shaped stones, and these with the head of an old lady present, Miss Caroline B. Hall, who was a descendant of Myles Standish."


Click Here for the Google book of Bradford's work

Click Here for Bradford's 1900 list of the Grave stones in the Myles Standish

Burial ground


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