Plymouth History Tour – the John Alden House

One day I devoted to seeing the John Alden house in Duxbury. John and Priscilla (Mullins) Alden moved from the main settlement to a tract of land near the acreage Alden had been granted in 1627. All the acreage had a creek, river or the ocean adjacent to five of the acres so that the owners could sail back to Plymouth on Sunday for their Sunday services. There were no roads in those day – travel was by water.

Here is a map. on which you can see Plymouth and the location of the Alden land.

John Alden married Priscilla Mullins on May 12, 1622. She was the only survivor of the Mayflower Mullins family. They had ten children! Priscilla died in Duxbury between 1651 and her husband’s death in 1687. Both were buried in the Myles Standish Burial Ground in Duxbury.

The house I first saw was built by their son, John Jr. and lived in by subsequent  generations.           

There is a path to the site of the original house, through the woods and across a soccer field behind a high school.

This house was ten feet wide and approximately forty feet long and was built in 1632. It had, according to the excavations done there, a cellar at one end and, although poorly visible, traces of a hearth one half the distance from one end to the other. Such an arrangement would suggest possibly a two-room plan, each room ten by twenty feet, although even smaller internal divisions of either or both halves could have existed. The located site is marked by a brick outline.  This would have been the house John and Priscilla Alden lived in for most, if not all, of their lives.

The Alden house I first saw –the second house – is located on a knoll overlooking the Bluefish River. It has been variously dated as built in 1653 or 1700, and was probably built by John Alden’s grandson, John III. This property has been under the continuous ownership of the Alden family since that time, and it is now managed by a family foundation as a historic museum.

This is a model of the original house, to which an addition was made, probably for a kitchen.

Its interior is much more modern than the original Pilgrim’s houses, with finished walls and elaborate fireplace surrounds..

Interesting for me was the ‘women’s work room,’ which contained a small spinning wheel for spinning flax and a loom for making linen, along with a much larger ‘walking wheel’ for spinning wool.

The Alden family figures large in the history of this area. John Jr was a soldier (he held a military command during King William’s war,a politician, a merchant in Boston and a sea captain.  He is most remembered for surviving the Salem witch trials, when he was accused and held for 15 months before breaking out and hiding in Duxbury. He was the only condemned person not put to death, and he was later cleared of the charges by acclamation. He had fourteen children.

Ichabod Alden, John Alden Sr.’s great grandson lived in this house and was an American Revolutionary War officer and commanding officer during the Cherry Valley Massacre.



8 thoughts on “Plymouth History Tour – the John Alden House”

  1. I love history. I also love the Massachusetts area. This was fascinating (especially that John Jr. survived the witch trials). Fabulous photos and information. Thanks for sharing, Noelle!

  2. I was unaware anyone got out of the Salem witch trials alive, let along given 15 months to escape. My goodness there were some large families back then… I was one of five kids and that seemed like a lot.

    1. They were definitely prolific. There are millions of Mayflower descendants in the country. Good thing they didn’t celebrate Christmas – think of the number of gifts for all the grandchildren. Elizabeth Warren had 90!

    1. Thanks, Robbie. I m learning a LOT of history with this writing project. Much of it won’t make its way into the book, but I need it in order to feel part of the life in the 1600s.

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