Duxbury Second Meeting House 2008

Project Background
Myles Standish Burial Ground
Recommended Reading
Recomended to Bring on a Dig
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Directions to Project Area
Project Background
Research Design
Project Area Geology
Duxbury Background History
Duxbury First and Second Meeting House History
Field Work Theory and Method

The Duxbury Rural and Historical Society (DRHS), a private non-profit organization in Duxbury, Massachusetts, owns and maintains several pieces of property within the Town of Duxbury (Figures 1 and 2). One of these parcels is the presumed location of the Second Meeting House built in the town (1708-1785). The site is located adjacent to the east of the Myles Standish Burying Grounds (America's oldest maintained cemetery), which is also the site where it is believed that the first meeting house (1638-1708) stood. The DRHS is a non-profit organization seeking to foster a better understanding of the heritage and rural environment of Duxbury, Massachusetts. The Society’s goals are to provide access to its buildings and lands, to provide educational programs for the community, to collect, preserve and exhibit artifacts relating to Duxbury’s history, to provide a library and archives for the encouragement of scholarly research and to publish documents of historical interest. To these ends, the DRHS wants to conduct Site Examination testing at the presumed location of the Second Meeting House.

The purpose of the Site Examination is to obtain a preliminary assessment of the site’s integrity, research potential, and significance, to make an opinion of the potential eligibility for inclusion in the National Register (950 CMR 70.04:17). The DRHS would like to know what they are maintaining and whether it is eligible for inclusion on the National Register. Dorothy Wentworth, noted Duxbury historian, stated in her seminal 1973 work Settlement and Growth of Duxbury 1628-1870, that “There has always been a great deal of speculation and disagreement as to the exact spots where the first two Meeting Houses were, but the sites now marked are near enough for all general purposes.” (Wentworth 1973: 21). many of the 17th and 18th century records of land transferences etc. use the meeting house or the path to the meeting house as one of their reference points. In order to better ascertain the locations of the potentially significant 17th and 18th century historic sites in Duxbury, a confirmed reference point is critical. By being able to determine if the site contains evidence of at least one of the meeting houses, the Town of Duxbury will be able to predict where other significant sites are in the town and then, in the fact of increasing developmental pressures, be better prepared to moderate development, potentially being able to better preserve and conserve those potential sites.

The Second Meeting House Site is also located directly across Chestnut street from the Howland Orchard prehistoric site, and is within the bounds of another potentially significant Early Archaic to Woodland period site (19-PL-399). Both of these sites were identified, collected at and, at least in the case of the Howland Orchard Site, excavated by avocational archaeologists and the artifacts are in private individuals hands. In the case of the Howland Orchard site, a Middle Archaic to Late Woodland site containing significant subsoil features and a shell midden, the artifacts were kept by individual excavators and the only field report on the site was an abbreviated article in the Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society. Site Examination testing could also provide a better understanding of the prehistoric occupations of this area and possibly could provide a fuller contextual understanding for the materials excavated from the two previously identified sites.

Archaeological testing will seek to determine the presence or absence of potentially significant prehistoric or historic archaeological resources, including those possibly associated with either the first or second meeting house

-to determine site boundaries based on archaeological testing, topographic features and historic records

-to provide a better understanding of the context of the prehistoric occupation and utilization of this portion of Duxbury

-to provide a preliminary assessment of the site’s integrity, research potential, and significance

-to make an opinion of the potential eligibility for inclusion in the National Register

Background research will be conducted to place the project area within a context of the history of the Town of Duxbury as well as within the context of the history of the property.

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Copyright 2008 PARP