Finding some of Jett’s early immigrant ancestors

Myles Standish grave

Myles Standish grave

Priscilla Alden gravesite

Priscilla Alden gravesite

John Alden gravesite

John Alden gravesite

We came to Plymouth for 24 days with the intention of visiting some graveyards and cemeteries where some of Jett’s early immigrant ancestors. The incessant rain got in the way and we didn’t visit as many sites as I hoped we would, but we did find some really significant sites.

First and foremost, we visited both the second (and final) home of John and Priscilla Alden, two of her Mayflower ancestors. They are buried in the Myles Standish Burial Ground where the most celebrated resident is, unsurprisingly, Myles Standish. His burial site is not only marked by a large rock with his name engraved on it, but is surrounded by cannon, as befits the military leader of the Mayflower contingent. Standish is not one of Jett’s ancestors, but he does figure prominently in her history as, if Longfellow is to be believed, he had designs on the young Priscilla. That all three are interred together seems somehow weirdly appropriate.

I also visited the site of the Aldens’ home in Duxbury. It lies on the property of Duxbury High School and abuts the soccer field. It is also surrounded by a disc golf course (which I did not play). I doubt if John and Priscilla ever imagined that their homestead would someday be surrounded by athletic teens and leisure activities. I doubt that they even understood the concept of “leisure time.”

The most striking thing about the foundation is its size: 30 feet by 10 feet – 300 square feet. Smaller than my RV. I am well aware that it is possible to live in a small space, but I didn’t realize just how tiny these colonial homes were. The living space was even smaller than the foundation suggests as nearly a quarter was reserved for a root cellar.

Myles Standish homestead

Myles Standish homestead

Myles Standish Monument

Myles Standish Monument

Since it was nearby, I also took a quick peek at the Myles Standish Monument which sits atop a hill overlooking Plymouth Harbor in Duxbury. Standish was clearly a towering figure in the Plymouth Colony and was instrumental in training the Pilgrims in the use of firearms. Interactions with the Indians were friendly in the early days, but turned violent some 50 years later. The fact that the colony survived is largely due to his efforts.

He had a home in Duxbury, too, not far from the Alden house. While the Aldens chose to build near a lake, Standish built on a bluff overlooking the harbor. He could see Plymouth Village, but couldn’t get there quickly – it was a long way by land. I suspect that he had a boat and sailed there if he needed to “go to town.” He got his fresh water from a spring near the edge of the bluff.

My other success, on my final day in Plymouth, was finding the headstones of the 4 Jett ancestors who are buried in the Hillcrest Cemetery in Plympton MA. I knew that these headstones existed as photos of all four are published in findagrave.com, but I wanted to find them and get my own photos. The ancestors were:

  • William and Joanna Coomer (6th great-grandparents)
  • Luke and Martha Perkins (7th great-grandparents)

These were 18th-century graves, so the headstones, for the most part, were in pretty good shape. A bit hard to read (especially Martha’s, which was tilting forward), but it was nice to actually find some headstones, given my recent failures.

Joanna Coomer

Joanna Coomer

Luke Perkins

Luke Perkins

Martha Perkins

Martha Perkins

William Coomer

William Coomer

My greatest disappointment was not getting to Eastham to look for the 17 ancestors that are reportedly buried there. But Eastham is on Cape Cod and going to Cape Cod on a holiday weekend is akin to a suicide mission. We heard on the radio, as we were heading out of Plymouth, that the traffic backup of cars trying to leave the Cape was 11 miles long. Thanks, but no thanks.

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