Massachusetts December 02, 2016
The Oldest Cemetery In America Is Right Here In Massachusetts And It’s Eerily Enchanting
The oldest cemetery in America is tucked away in Duxbury, and it has a crazy history.
Myles Standish Burial Ground is a small cemetery hidden off of a quiet residential road, but its place in history is anything but tiny. This graveyard is full of the mortal remains of the passengers who traveled to the New World on the Mayflower: the Pilgrims. This 378-year-old cemetery is definitely one unusual destination you won’t want to miss.
Myles Standish was the famed leader of the original Plymouth colony established by the Pilgrims. However, Standish was no meek settler. At the age of 36, he was a hired by the travelers to act as their military commander, and lived out the rest of his life in Duxbury until his death in 1656.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is partly responsible for Standish’s fame. In the 19th-century, he published the poem The Courtship of Miles Standish, which detailed a steamy love triangle between the commander and Mayflower passengers Priscilla Mullins and John Alden.
In the poem, Priscilla eventually spurns Myles in favor of John Alden. Both she and her husband are also to be found buried in the cemetery.
The popularity of the poem helped to spur public interest in rediscovering New England’s colonial roots, and in the late 19th-century the town of Duxbury began the hunt for the lovelorn captain. However, by that time the town’s burial ground had become overgrown and trampled by cows.
Officials literally began digging around until they identified a body they believed to be Standish, which involved two separate attempts at identification. In 1931, however, Duxbury exhumed the body of Standish once more in order to bury him in a more secure, sealed copper coffin. Standish was buried a total of four times.
The final resting place of Captain Myles Standish is hard to miss: he lies in a fortified family plot, surrounded by four authentic 19th-century cannons. A tall wooden sign announces his presence.
Today, the cemetery is a peaceful place. Old headstones bear the weathered, skeletal faces of the winged skulls that will be familiar to anyone who frequents old New England graveyards. The area is full of natural beauty, and more than a bit of enchantment.
You can find the Myles Standish Burial Ground on
Chestnut Street in Duxbury. If you’re in the mood for another creepy and cool Massachusetts attraction, head to what may be the most unusual preserved home in the state.