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Duxbury in Plymouth County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
 

Welcome to the Old Burying Ground, c. 1632-1787

 
 
Welcome to the Old Burying Ground, c. 1632-1787 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brian Connors, October 19, 2020
1. Welcome to the Old Burying Ground, c. 1632-1787 Marker
Inscription.  

The Old Burying Ground (also known as the Myles Standish Burying Ground) is the oldest maintained cemetery in the United States. The first burials occurred here as early as 1632, shortly after the area began to be permanently settled by Europeans. The burying ground remained in use for over 150 years, and is the resting place of Pilgrim forefathers and mothers, as well as descendants of the Pilgrim settlers and other new arrivals who settled in Duxbury.

Additional information about the Old Burying Ground may be found in the three other tablets located on the grounds, and in particular, general information about the burying ground may be found in the tablet at the Chestnut Street entrance, directly south and at the top of the slope.

Cemetery Headstones
When this burying ground was established in the 1630s, there were no stone carvers in Plymouth Colony to fashion grave headstones. The graves were marked with a simple wooden or fieldstone marker, if anything at all. By the time of the death of Capt. Jonathan Alden in 1697, carved headstones, imported from Boston or produced locally, had become the norm.

Alden's
Welcome to the Old Burying Ground, c. 1632-1787 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brian Connors, October 19, 2020
2. Welcome to the Old Burying Ground, c. 1632-1787 Marker
The marker can be seen in the distance near the cemetery entrance on Pilgrim By-Way. This view is from the Standish cannon monument roughly in the middle of the cemetery.
stone, the earliest surviving headstone in this burying ground, has a winged death's-head, or skull, at the top. This motif was popular in New England during the late 17th and much of the 18th century. By the 1720's, the death's head was beginning to be replaced with more animated faces that would eventually evolve into winged cherubs or angels.

Because of its relative isolation from Boston, a number of local headstone carvers, living in the towns surrounding Duxbury, developed their own unique styles. Examples of their work can be seen here in the Old Burying Ground.

Captions
Carver: Nathaniel Fuller (1687-1750) of Plympton, MA. Fuller's stones are identified by their heart shaped death's head with wings. Examples here include Abigail Alden (1725) and Deacon William Brewster (1723)

Carver: Bildad Washburn (1762-1832) of Kingston, MA. He was responsible for over 700 headstones in the surrounding area, including two early examples here: Capt. Thomas Frazier (1782) and Uriah Wadsworth (1784).

Carver: Ebenezer Soule (1710-1792) and sons of Plympton, MA. Their stones can be identified by their unique curled medusa-like hair. The stones of David Peterson (1760) and Molly Uffel (1756) are examples of the Soules' work

Carver: John Noyes (1675-1749) of Boston. The headstone of Rev. Ichabod Wiswall (1700) is one of the most unusual in this
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burying ground. The carving includes what appear to be squids or fanciful water creatures, but are more likely representations of common fruits and flowers.

Carver: Lemuel Savery (1757-1797) of Plymouth, MA. The stones attributed to him here are of winged cherubs: Mary Peterson (1777) and Priscilla Weston (1778).
 
Erected by Duxbury Community Preservation Act Fund.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial SitesColonial EraSettlements & Settlers.
 
Location. 42° 1.542′ N, 70° 41.245′ W. Marker is in Duxbury, Massachusetts, in Plymouth County. Marker is on Pilgrim By-Way north of Chestnut Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Duxbury MA 02332, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Site of Second Meeting House (a few steps from this marker); Captain Myles Standish (within shouting distance of this marker); Memorial Stones of John and Priscilla Alden (within shouting distance of this marker); America's Oldest Maintained Cemetery (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Site of First Church (about 300 feet away); Welcome to the Old Burial Ground, c. 1632-1787 (about 300
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feet away); Site of Nook Gate (approx. half a mile away); The Beginning of the Bradford House (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Duxbury.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 20, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 20, 2020, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 68 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 20, 2020, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.
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Mar. 3, 2021