Follow

The uneducated person on making this approach will not realize what else has been unseen and hidden. Having arrived at the Portico, not yet realizing that the Mayflower II lies ahead at the wharf in Pilgrim Memorial State Park, the initial Pilgrim settlement location, on nearby Leyden Street leading up to Burial Hill, has been passed without an iota of an idea of the significance of that area, long since mostly built over. While focus has been directed on the Portico the statue of William Bradford has not been observed and has been passed by and although, if one knew and had a keen eye, a knowing person might have seen the shape of the statue of Massasoit on top of the hill when Cole’s hill first came into view. The sarcophagus containing the found remains of Pilgrims that died the first winter after arrival, which were buried on Cole’s hill in such a manner to conceal their gravesite, is also close to Massasoit’s statue.

Massasoit’s visage is solemn, firm and robust, consistent with the muscular and healthy physique, but he has a sad cast. His view is outward over the whole harbor and sea beyond and, perhaps, also takes in William Bradford at the foot of the hill on the far side of the street below. What would he say, if cast metal could speak, and the man represented there were true to the man long dead, if he could fully see what became of his people and tribes that shared his tribe’s culture? The man of the statue is as represented by the sculptor, Cyrus Dallin. The breechcloth is too small, without the expected beaded decoration, and the deerskin leggings are missing. The man wears no beaded bracelets but is shown with a peace pipe resting on one arm. He has a large sheathed knife supported by a leather strap strung across his chest; he has long braided hair, rather than a Mohawk (as he is depicted in an earlier time period drawing engraving) or shaved head with single pony tail, and has a single large feather rising from the top and back of his head, but without a headband within which it would be secured. He lacks tattoos and body paint decoration but does have a few thin necklaces about his neck. The representation is undoubtedly lacking full authenticity, but is arresting, carrying a thoughtful expression, created by a man of European descent known for his works of Native American subjects, born 240 years after the arrival of the Mayflower with the statue created 300 years afterward. The European Age of Exploration was at its historical end at the time the Mayflower arrived.

The Columbian Exchange was still making its mark since its historical beginning in 1492. A consequence was that when the Pilgrims stepped ashore at Plimoth, a mostly abandoned Patuxet village was found; this tribal village of the Wampanoag people had been decimated by plague (probably smallpox) of its previous inhabitants. The plaque at the base of the statue reads: “Massasoit; Great Sachem of the Wampanoags; Protector and Preserver of the Pilgrims, 1621; Erected by the Improved Order of Red Men as a Grateful Tribute, 1921” [The Improved Order of Red Men organization is not a Native American organization].

Facing Cole’s Hill with the statue of Massasoit at the top is the statue of William Bradford that gives his birth and death date and has these words: “William Bradford; Governor and Historian of the Plymouth Colony”.

The cultural history and heritage of these two people was very different but intersected and was shared. Bradford’s progeny as well as those of my Pilgrim ancestor, John Howland, went on to become part of the developing history of the creation of a nation that spans a continent from ocean to ocean and beyond. In the process the Pilgrim colony expanded over the lands of the Wampanoag and Nauset territories. Massasoit tried to imbue his people with a love of peace and stayed true to the negotiated peace with the Pilgrims until his death. Only his daughter Amie survived King Philip’s War, however. Metacomet, Massasoit’s second eldest son, who in a short time after both his father’s and brother’s deaths became the sachem, who also had taken the name of “Philip” by request to the Pilgrims for an English name in honor of previous friendly relations with the Pilgrims, entered into a war of devastation for various reasons, including loss of territory partly fueled by the Great Migration, primarily Puritans, “King Philip’s War”, generally considered to be the deadliest war in the history of European settlement in North America in proportion to the population, even more so than the Civil War. It almost completely destroyed the Wampanoag and Narragansett peoples; it began the development of greater European-American identity, as it was conducted without significant English government support. The Wampanoags today, as a tribal people remain, are enrolled in two federally recognized tribes and four state recognized tribes living within part of their ancestral lands and on a reservation on Martha Vineyard Island.

As for Metacomet his name survives in many places and ways throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, even Texas. Yet he, a man who bought his clothes in Boston, met an ignominious end. An historic marker in Northfield, MA with dates 1630-1930 on it reads: “King Philip’s Hill; Philip, Second son and successor of Massasoit, Sachem of the Wampanoag, camped on this hill during the winter of 1675-6, the stump of a large look-out tree together with defense trenches are to be seen on top; Massachusetts, Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission.” In Mount Hope, R.I. there is a small block engraved stone on the ground: “In the ‘Miery Swamp’ 166 feet W.S.W. from this spring, according to tradition King Philip fell, August 12, 1686 O.S.; this stone placed by The R.I. Historical Society, December, 1877”.

As I look at these statues, stones and markers, being a 13 th generation descendant of John Howland, thus with only .024 percent of John Howland Pilgrim blood, who can walk in Plymouth today and see John Howland’s son’s, Jabez’s house, the only Pilgrim house, still standing, see John Howland’s grave stone that reads, “He was a godly man and an ancient professor in the ways of Christ; he was one of the first comers into this land and was the last man that was left of those that came over in the Shipp called the Mayflower that lived in Plymouth”, that can walk a couple of miles north from the Pilgrim Memorial State Park to Rocky Nook Point, where Howland had later lived, walking on streets here and in the downtown of Plymouth, named “Howland”, how do I put myself in the feet of those living back then and understand the heritage? It is not by the amount of Pilgrim blood in my arteries and veins. Monuments and markers carry stories behind them. They further the culture of the people who put them there, but less so, given biases in writing history and the funding of monuments, of the people who were displaced or eviscerated in the process of colonization, those like the Wampanoag, whose heritage in “America” goes back 12,000 years.

My mental and physical journey takes me westward. Nineteen miles to the west of Plymouth there is a place called Sachem Rock Farm. It is the spot where the first sale of inland Native American land was sold. A headstone erected in 1957 by the Old Bridgewater Historical Society identifies the sale: “Here on March 23, 1649 O.S. Massasoit traded with Myles Standish and others this land called Satucket for…”. It is also the place, in what is now East Bridgewater, where in King Philip’s War one of nine homes was burned. The home burned was that of Robert Latham, whose wife was a Winslow and whose wife’s father was the brother of the Mayflower passenger Edward Winslow and whose uncle was Josiah Winslow the Governor of the Plymouth Colony at the time, the man that Metacomet (Philip) felt was connected to the unsolved death of his brother Wamsutta (Alexander). Robert Latham was a man charged with the murder of his servant John Walker. John Howland provided crucial testimony at Latham’s trial in recounting what Latham said about the whipping Walker received on the morning of his death, Walker already in bad straights given his condition from wounds, whippings, and cold exposure. At Sachem Rock (Wonnocoote) Chief Massasoit unknowingly traded miles of fertile land enriched by the waters of The Matfield, Hockomock, and Town Rivers as well as West Meadow Brook for mere provisions for his tribe. The tablet identifies what the Natives received: seven coats, nine hatchets, eight hoes, twenty knives, four moose skins and 10 yards of cotton. Implications of a “land sale” were unfathomable to the Native American psyche at this time. The concept that land could be “ownable” was one not known to the Wampanoags.

Back in Plimoth and a couple of miles north John Howland’s farm at Rocky Nook was burned to the ground in the 1675 King Philip War. By that time, John had died and his wife Tilley moved in with her son Jabez. Earlier in his life (in 1626 or after) John Howland and Edward Winslow had travelled two hundred miles north to explore the Kennebec River (in what is now Maine) looking for sources of fur and natural resources to exploit. The “Undertakers” of the Plimoth Colony had acquired a six year fur trade monopoly in order to pay off the debt to the Colony’s investors. John Howland became the leader of the trading post, lead the team that built it, and lived there for a number of years, establishing a brisk trade with the Natives, and some of his children may have been born there. In 1633 John Howland was made a freeman of Plimoth. In that same year on March 2 Thomas 1 Duston (my New World Dustin ancestor) set out for America with the Trelawney expedition for Richmond Island (Maine) to help in the operation of the fisheries there. In 1620 King James I granted a charter to the “Northern Company”, consisting of certain noblemen and gentlemen, and under this patent on December 1, 1631, rights to “to fowle and fishe” on a grant of land were granted to Robert Trelawney and Moses Goodyear who in turn executed powers of attorney to John Winter and Thomas Pomeroy to operate fisheries and trading post from Cape Elizabeth to the Spurwink River, which area is roughly 65 miles south of where John Howland (at Augusta, Maine) may at the time of Thomas 1 Duston’s arrival been running the Plimoth trading post.

On my “journey” north, 35 miles from the Pilgrim Memorial State Park, to pursue my Dustin ancestry, I pass through that Great Migration point for the Puritans, which is Boston. Between the Paul Revere House and the New England Aquarium at a prime waterfront location is the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. A modest statue of Columbus is placed here, covered with names of donors with a heading, “Erected by the Friends of the Christopher Columbus Committee”. The Columbian Exchange, of course, is named after this man. If one were to travel to the Back Bay area, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the most famous Native American statue of Cyrus Dallin’s is found, “Appeal to the Great Spirit”. While leaving Boston I pass Charlestown, where the USS Constitution is berthed, and where for a short period of time records indicate that Thomas 1 Duston was a proprietor in 1648, while it is none the less true he returned to the Piscataqua before 1650 and settled in Kittery, ME. Thomas 1 was a true independent and pioneer, probably having left his original service as soon as the contract expired and had joined the community of Northam (now Dover) in 1640, signing the “Dover Combination”, then the “Protest” letter in 1641, and on November 16, 1652 the “Submission” of the citizens of Kittery placing these citizens under the protection of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

With Thomas 1 Duston in mind, I continue on from the Columbus Park to cover another 40 miles north to the Grand Army of the Republic Park in the center of Haverhill, MA. At a primary street corner entrance to the park, I stop to see another statue, which is that of Hannah Duston, which stands on the site of the Second Church, of which she became a member in 1724. Hannah Duston was married to Thomas 2 Duston, the only son and one of three children of the first Thomas 1 Duston in the “New World”. As I am an eleventh generation Dustin, thus with only .097 percent of Thomas 1 Duston’s blood circulating within me, I find that it is more possible here to strongly feel how these monuments and landmarks set forth the inherent conflicts of my heritage. Hannah has a determined and resolute expression on her face. She wears a single piece gown, cinched tightly with a waist belt, extending to her feet, one foot with footwear, the other bare. Her left arm is stretched out with finger pointed downward toward a point at which her gaze is fixed. Her right arm is held away from her hip with muscles taut, in her hand, strongly griped, is a hatchet. The base of the statue has four patinaed plaques depicting her story, below which, carved in the granite, is a brief description of each plaque relief: “Was captured by the Indians in Haverhill the place of her nativity Mar. 15, 1697; Her husband’s defense of her children against the pursuing savages; Her slaying of her captors at Contoocook Island Mar. 30, 1697 and Escape; Her Return”.

Such is the fame of Hannah Duston that even across the street at the town library one can find a bobble-head- doll of the statue for sale with the words “Mother’s Revenge” written on its base. Hannah is known as the first American woman to be honored with a statue, and is known as the Granite State Heroine of 1697. The statue to which this honor applies is, however, a much larger one near Boscawen, NH, on an island in the Contoocook River.

Much has been written and continues to be written about Hannah Duston, including in 2015, “Massacre on the Merrimack, Hannah Duston’s Captivity and Revenge in Colonial America” by Jay Atkinson and a biographical 1954 novel, the “Gallant Warrior” by Helen R. Mann, a descendant, both persons from Methuen, MA. The gist of Hannah’s story as written on Atkinson’s website reads: “Early on March 15, 1697, a band of Abenaki warriors in service to the French raided the English frontier village of Haverhill, Massachusetts. Striking swiftly, the Abenaki killed twenty-seven men, women, and children, and took thirteen captives, including thirty-nine- year-old Hannah Duston and her week- old daughter, Martha. A short distance from the village, one of the warriors murdered the squalling infant by dashing her head against a tree. After a forced march of nearly one hundred miles, Duston and two companions were transferred to a smaller band of Abenaki, who camped on a tiny island located at the junction of the Merrimack and Contoocook Rivers, several miles north of present day Concord, New Hampshire.” Atkinson with a experienced friend, mountaineering expert and outdoorsman, made the effort over two years to retrace in March the escape route Hannah, Mary Neff, her midwife, and Samuel Leonardson (a boy in captivity with the Indian tribe for two years before) took down the Merrimack river in an Indian canoe to return to Haverhill, breaking ice to launch the canoe, running mishaps, camping out, facing hypothermia, and marveling at what it took to be a survivor, as Hannah was.

Fifteen captives, not thirteen, is mentioned in a pamphlet, titled “Hannah Duston, Heroine of 1697 Massacre of Indian Captors on River Islet at Boscawen, NH) by Leon W. Anderson, Legislative Historian, for the third in a series of historic bottles produced by Jim Beam Distillers for the NH state government, which is noted as being the first comprehensive history complied in 1973 “of the courage and fortitude of Hannah Duston”. The 27 settlers were not only killed but scalped and the fifteen carried off were to be for bounty sale to the French. The only first-hand account of events was written by Reverend Cotton Mather of Boston, 34 years old at the time, who interviewed the three escapees. The three were held by an Indian family consisting of “twelve persons, two stout men, three women and seven children.” At one point he describes how the women were told when the group were to arrive at a rendezvous point, “they must be stripped and scourg’d and run the gantlet throught the whole army of Indians.”

Hannah resolved to escape. Mather writes: “She heartened the nurse and the youth to assist her in this enterprise; and all furnishing themselves with hatchets for the purpose, they struck home some blows upon the heads of their sleeping oppressors, that ere they could any of them struggle unto any effectual resistance ‘at the feet of these poor prisoners they bow’d, the fell, they lay down; where they bow’d there they fell down dead.’ Only one squaw escaped, sorely wounded, from them in the dark; and one boy…But cutting off the scalps of the ten wretches, they came off, and received fifty pounds from the General Assembly of the Province…” It was Samuel, having been secretly communicated with by Hannah about the intent to escape, who casually asked his master, Bampico, the next day, how he killed the English. “Strike ‘em dere,” said Bampico, touching his temple, and then proceeded to show Samuel how to take a scalp. The details of the plan were then quickly agreed on by the three captives.

Before heading off to the island at the confluence of the Contoocook and Merrimack, I stop at The Buttonwoods, the Haverhill Historical Society. In a glass case I read: “King William’s War 1689-1697; King Williams’ War was the name used in the English colonies in America to refer to the North American theater of the War of the Grand Alliance (1688-97). It was the first of four wars fought between England and France for control of the North American continent. The opponents were the French and First Nation allies versus the English and their Native American allies. This war began with a series of Indian attacks planned and instigated by Frontenac, the governor of Canada. The first of these attacks was in retaliation against the villainous Major Waldron of Dover, NH who had staged a “sham battle” against 400 Natives. Two hundred of these native managed to escape while the remainder were captured and sold into slavery in Barbados. The war dragged on for nine years with frontier towns such as Haverhill on constant alert. It was in one of these attacks in 1697 that approximately thirty nine Haverhill residents were either killed or kidnapped. Among these were Hannah Dustin, Mary Neff (her nurse) and Hannah’s three day old daughter. Just south [actually north] of Concord, NH Dustin, Neff and a captured English boy killed their ten captors and fled down the Merrimack River to their homes. In order to collect the bounty, Mrs. Dustin insisted on turning back to take the scalps of the Natives they had killed.”

Down through time Hannah has been a figure of controversy. The Eagle Tribune of North Andover, MA in April of 2006 with an article headed “Hannah Duston: Heroine or Villainess? Festival posters rekindle age-old debate”. Hannah Duston in the upcoming “Haverhill Rocks” downtown music festival was the official ambassador, posters of Hannah Duston holding an electric guitar—known in rock ‘n’ roll vernacular as an axe—were plastered all over the city. “The use of Hannah Duston as the festival icon and as a symbol of the city has sparked debate over whether she is an appropriate ambassador in this age of political correctness.” I recall an article in the late 20 th century in The New York Times of a Native American protest and sit-in aiming to have the statue that is on the encampment island removed.

Before heading to the Contoocook Island and returning to Plymouth, I head to the Duston Garrison House 2.6 miles from the G.A.R. Park. It was under construction by farmer and brick-maker Thomas 2 Duston at the time of the 1697 attack on Haverhill.  Hannah Duston at the time was in bed at their existing home a half mile away when captured by the Abenaki. The house is one of a very small number of brick houses to survive from that time. At one time it had a tunnel leading downhill and then to daylight not far from a stream to the east, this path used as an escape route for fugitive slaves.

Next, a 75 mile drive, more or less, choosing to closely parallel the path of the Merrimack, takes one from the G.A.R. Park to the Contoocook Island. The monument looms 25 feet high, entirely of Concord granite. It was dedicated and presented to the state of New Hampshire as a public trust on a Bunker Hill anniversary, June 17, 1874. As it is written in Anderson’s pamphlet, “Mrs. Duston is depicted with a hatchet in her right hand and a bundle of scalps gripped in her left fist; her granite image stands seven feet, six inches tall; one foot is bare, for she was said to have lost a shoe when rushed from her burning home into captivity”.

It is a gigantic statue in a seemingly incongruent place, squeezed between a steep bluff dropping down to the Merrimack and railroad tracks, no longer in service, that slice the foreground portion of the island facing the Merrimack from the remaining 3/4 now densely wooded balance of the island that drop off quickly in elevation from the tracks and that are flanked by the waters of the Contoocook. It was a more open islet in 1874 and crowded with 3,000 to 5,000 people as reported at the time for a weighty morning and afternoon program listing 16 historical speakers, interspersed with music, songs, and a bountiful lunch, moments of cannon fire when the statue was unveiled in the morning program with the main speaking program in the afternoon cut short at about 2 o’clock by rain. The easterly side of the monument reads: “March 15 1697 30; The War-Whoop- Tomahawk-Fagot and Infanticides were at Haverhill; The Ashes of the Camp-Fires at Night and Ten of the Tribe are Here”. The primary sponsor of the monument, Robert Caverly of Lowell, prepared and read a poem of 27 verses stressing “motherhood” and the deed for transference to the State he wrote also as poetry and is on the north side of the statue; it includes a line, “The Pilgrims here may heed the Mothers”. One of the scars that the monument bears was the nose that was shot off, repaired with incorrect granite dust, which the Family Association is attempting to get the State of NH to properly re-repair.

Stone is the stuff of monuments. Before returning to Plymouth, MA, I return to Haverhill to see one more stone marker: the immense boulder that marks the site of Jonathan Duston’s home, where Hannah lived her final years with a son. Town library records say it took 30 horses with 14 drivers to haul it to its present location, the stone weighing 30-60 tons. There is also a small stone block that includes Thomas’ and Martha’s names; however, the last name as written here is “Dustan”, a variant not seen in historical documents.

On my “journey” to see some cultural history related to my ancestors marked by stone, I must return to Plymouth to take in two “Must-Sees” that are on either side of Cape Cod Bay, each of which commemorates the Pilgrims in vastly different monumental ways. These monuments are a testament to mid to late 19 th century and early 20 th century sensibilities. The Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, the tallest all granite structure in the U.S., commemorates the first landfall of the Pilgrims in 1620 and the signing of Mayflower Compact in Provincetown Harbor. This over 252 foot high campanile based upon the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy, clearly is trying to mark a spot and standout as a point in space allowing a broad view over Cape Cod Bay even to Plymouth but its imagery is terribly incongruent, although the Portuguese descendants and others in the area love it, treating it has the object on High Pole Hill from which to string lights as on a maypole for the Annual Lighting of the monument by locals for their traditional free Thanksgiving celebration. Cyrus Dallin gets his hand in here again with a base relief of the signing of the Mayflower Compact as part of a terrace area at the base of the hill below the campanile.  It is interesting that at the laying of the cornerstone ceremony President Theodore Roosevelt arrived in the presidential yacht named the Mayflower and that at on the day of the dedication, with 3,000 seats placed around the base of the tower, President Taft arrived in the government Mayflower yacht and set anchor near the spot where the Mayflower is believed to have anchored in 1620, the U.S. navy Atlantic fleet had arrived a day before also setting anchor in the harbor. Over the doorway to the tower a plaque reads:

“On November 21st, 1620 The Mayflower, carrying 102 passengers, men, women and children, cast anchor in this harbor 67 days from Plymouth, England.

The same day the 41 adult males in the company solemnly covenanted and combined themselves together “into a civil body politick.”

The body politic established and maintained on the bleak and barren edge of a vast wilderness a state without a king or a noble, and church without bishop or a priest, a domestic commonwealth the members of which were “straightly tied to all care of each other’s good and of the whole by everyone.”

For the first time in history they illustrated with long suffering dedication and sober resolution the principles of civil and religious liberty in the practice of a genuine democracy.

Therefore the remembrance of them shall be perpetual in the great republic that has inherited their ideals.”

On the other side of the bay, north and west of the Plymouth Cultural District on an open hill site accessed from Allerton Street, centered in a circular drive, surrounded by a residential neighborhood and adjacent trees, which cut-off most any view to Plymouth Harbor, is the National Monument to the Forefathers, formerly known as the Pilgrim Monument, considered to be the world’s largest solid granite monument, allegorical in nature, commemorating the Mayflower Pilgrims, honoring ideals later embraced by the United States, with the heroic figure “Faith” standing on the central pedestal with the star of wisdom on her forehead, her finger pointing to heaven, and an open Geneva bible in her other hand, surrounded by four seated figures on buttresses—other small figures on either side of each chair with relief panels below the feet of the main figures—that of “Morality” flanked by “Prophet” and “Evangelist” and “Embarcation” in relief; “Law” flanked by “Justice” and “Mercy” and “Treaty” in relief; “Education” flanked by “Youth” and “Wisdom” and “Compact” in relief; and “Liberty” flanked by “Tyranny Overthrown” and “Peace” and “Landing” in relief. On either side of the main pedestal are four panels the front reading, "National Monument to the Forefathers. Erected by a grateful people in remembrance of their labors, sacrifices and sufferings for the cause of civil and religious liberty" and the rear panel a quotation from Bradford, "Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing and gives being to all things that are; and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all praise." This monument is not technically a “National Monument” but is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The movie, “Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure” by Kirk Cameron finds its contextual validity for American values in the symbolism found in the National Monument to the Forefathers. Criticism came from Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s Joseph L. Conn who wrote "The Pilgrims and Puritans did come here seeking religious liberty, but they set up a regime that gave freedom only to themselves, denying it to others. In keeping with its religious viewpoint, Plymouth Colony prescribed the death penalty for adulterers, homosexuals and witches, whipping for denying the scriptures and a fine for harboring a Quaker." It should be said, however, that in the Colony no one was above the law, as can be seen by the 1636 conviction of John Hopkins for battery and the hanging of John Billington for murder. Justice in the Colony was not dependent on finding a ready-made writ. Evidence seems to indicate that Colony leaders were to use English law where convenient to them and to change English precepts where inconvenient. Although a law was written for conversing with the devil, no one was ever executed or punished for witchcraft. As for adultery, it was originally a capital crime, later changed not to be one; whipping was often the punishment applying to sexual crimes; in the case of Thomas Bray and Francis Linceford, in addition, each was required to wear “AD” for “Adulterers” on a conspicuous part of their upper garments, failing to do so on each occasion to result in another whipping. Political maneuvering by Bradford defeated the proposal by William Vassall for full religious toleration by all well-behaving men. Nevertheless, Bradford also at the start saw the need for full participation of all persons (freemen) in the government and economy. To draw black and white lines results in blurred edges; history must be seen in the context of the times. If one wants to see more of symbolism of the Forefathers’ monument one only needs to access YouTube, “Pathway to Liberty: the Forefathers Monument”: Liberty requires Faith, Morality, the Rule of Law, Mercy, and Education and can only be obtained and sustained through the Gospel; resulting in self-government under the headship of Jesus Christ.

On leaving the Forefathers monument, which is connected to Burial Hill by Allerton Street, I head instead down Court/Main Street to Town Square to visit Burial Hill Cemetery via the foot entrance immediately next to First Parish Church in Plymouth. The Separatists held religious services first on the Mayflower and then at the fort of the Plymouth Colony, its site at Burial Hill now identified by a sign, which is the place also where the Colony legislative sessions and court appeals were held. In 1684 a church on the Town Square was built and later replaced in succession in following years by three other structures. The congregation that formed the parish church, which was to become part of the Massachusetts Congregationalist state church, defected to become a Unitarian Universalist congregation, while all state churches became disaffiliated with the government by 1834.

Passing through the pillars at the Parish entrance to Burial Hill is a huff and a puff up four flights of stairs to a brick paved walk that continues to slope and is broken with more than a dozen risers helping one to negotiate the climb, which ends at a rough macadam walkway that splits off in different directions. The sign for the fort location is off to the left. Behind one can see the bay and harbor. To the right is an enormous multi-trunked tree at the peak of the hill with the Bradford marker a little further beyond and somewhat downhill of it. The identification of his remains is headed by a phrase in Hebrew and ends in a phrase in Latin. He is identified as “zealous puritan” (not Pilgrim) and “sincere Christian” governor. Turning back and taking the path toward Allerton Street I find John Howland’s stone not far from that of Edward Gray, which is the oldest known burial (1681) from with an original stone that can still be read on Burial Hill.

Before leaving Plymouth, I return to where I started this journey, Cole’s Hill the first Plimoth Colony burial site. As I pass through Town Square, to which the entrance of the First Parish Church faces, there is a planted island where Market, Town Square and Church Street all meet. Behind a bench on the island is a stone with a plaque that recounts Metacomet’s ignominious end, written elsewhere as: shot in the heart by a praying Indian who was given his right hand as an award—the plaque says one was sent to Boston and the other to England—his body cut and quartered and hung in trees, his head mounted on a pike at Fort Plymouth where it remained for two decades, and his captured wife and nine-year- old son sold to slavery in Bermuda, as thus many other capture Native Americans were sent to the West Indies.

Arriving at Cole’s Hill fifteen feet away from Massasoit’s statue is small stone, smaller than a footstool, on which a plaque is mounted, that reads “National Day of Mourning: Since 1970, Native Americans have gathered at noon on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. To them, Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their culture. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience.

Erected by the Town of Plymouth on behalf of the United American Indians of New England.”

Thus my journey following the “Stones of Time” ended.

Given the stones and plaques I had seen left me with an urge to find words for today and to understand issues still with us. I turned to read the “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960, to consider the principle of self-determination and its basis in the Atlantic Charter, these things that are of substance, as if engraved in stone, still wanting of resolution and implementation, failing of which lie at the core of many of today’s conflicts and moral failings. Despite the foibles of peoples, words, like those in the Mayflower Compact, that have true value stand inviolably. The United Nations in its Declaration and policies do not define how the work is to be done, yet the goal is still that the commonwealth of the members be pursued that straightly tie “all care of each other’s good and of the whole by everyone.” What in the future will monuments mark? What will be the remembrances, commemorations, and celebrations, in the future “Stones of Time”?

 

Footnote: In preparing the above essay the author has attempted to be accurate as to facts but does not make any assurances as to the validity of information in source material and has made no attempt to fully document such sources. Readers are encouraged to do their own research to verify questions of accuracy.