29 Oct

Soule Kindred Archives Have A Permanent Home

Soule Kindred Archives Have A Permanent Home

Until 2010 Soule Kindred records were kept with the organization’s historians. There have been four since 1967. Charles "Jack" Sowles, our latest historian, retired at the end of June 2010 after twelve years of service. Rather than continue moving the archives around the country, a permanent home was sought. The Duxbury Rural and Historical Society (DRHS) in Duxbury, MA, graciously offered to maintain our records and continue to make them accessible to us.  They are now housed in the Drew Archival Library.

We are looking for more records.  Many Kindred records and documents were held for safe keeping by members because there was no central place for them.  If you or anyone you know has old boxes of files, books, bibles, maps, or Soule genealogy records, please contact us at info@soulekindred.org and let us know.

The DRHS is located in a new climate-controlled building with professional archivists on staff.  Please visit the DRHS website at duxburyhistory.org to learn more about this unique organization.  To learn more about Duxbury, MA, please continue reading below.

Carolyn Ravenscroft, Archivist at the Drew Archival Library, Duxbury, MA, receives the Soule Kindred Archives in August 2SouleArchives1Newsletter010...


..and begins unpacking the books, genealogical records, and other documents in the collection begun by Colonel John E. Soule, Co-Founder and first Historian of Soule Kindred in America.

Introduction to Duxbury...

The area now known as Duxbury was inhabited by Native Americans as early as 12,000 to 9,000 B.C.  By the time European settlers arrived, the region was inhabited by the Wampanoags who called the area Mattakeesett, meaning “place of many fish.”

In 1620, the first English Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower and founded a colony in Plymouth.  Some came to establish a new religious community, others for the opportunity to own land and improve their lives.  Per the terms of their contract with financial backers in London, the Pilgrims were required to live together in a tight community for seven years.

At the end of that term, in 1627, land along the coast was allotted to settlers for farming.  Each man was given twenty acres for himself and an additional twenty for each person in his family.  Thus, the coastline from Plymouth to Marshfield was parceled out and many settlers moved away from Plymouth.

At first, those who settled in Duxbury, including George Soule, came to work their new farms just in the warmer months and returned to Plymouth during the winter.  It was not long, however, before they began to build homes on their land, and soon requested permission from the colony to be set off as a separate community with their own church.  Duxbury, which originally included land that is now Pembroke and Bridgewater, was incorporated in 1637.

Some of the most influential men in the colony received grants in Duxbury and became its first leaders.  Captain Myles Standish, the military leader of the colony, lived in “the Nook,” an area now known as Standish Shore. Soule lived at Powder Point.  Elder William Brewster was for many years the religious leader of the colony.  John Alden was another important settler, Assistant Governor of the colony for fifty years.  His house, now a museum on Alden Street, was the site of many important meetings of the colony’s leaders.  The graves of Soule and many of Duxbury’s first settlers can be found in the Old Burying Ground on Chestnut Street, next to the site of original Meeting House.

Duxbury was primarily a farming community throughout the 17th and 18th centuries.  In the years leading up to the Revolutionary War, the community was solidly rebellious and had little tolerance for Loyalists.  Research has shown that a majority of men in Duxbury served the Revolutionary cause at some point during the war--during the siege of Boston in 1776, in militia companies to meet threats of invasion in Rhode Island, and on board privateers.  One Duxbury vessel was even captured by the British off of Duxbury Beach.

The most remarkable period in Duxbury’s history, the shipbuilding era, began immediately after the Revolution.  Following the Treaty of Paris, the newborn nation was granted fishing rights on the Grand Banks.  Several families took advantage of the new opportunity and began to build large fishing schooners.  As foreign nations eased trade restrictions, Duxbury mariners found that they could trade all over the world.  The builders of fishing vessels soon became owners of merchant fleets, and Duxbury prospered. The accomplishments of the Duxbury shipbuilding families rank among the more significant in Massachusetts maritime history.

By the 1850s sailing vessels were made obsolete by other modes of transportation such as steamships and railroads and the shipbuilding era in Duxbury ended.  While other Massachusetts towns grew, Duxbury went into a long economic decline.


Ezra “King Caesar” Weston* house Duxbury, MA

There are few physical traces of this remarkable industry remaining today.  The town is fortunate, however, in that an unusual number of federal period houses have survived.  Along Washington Street, St. George Street, and Powder Point Avenue, one can view the homes of Duxbury shipwrights, sailors, master mariners and merchants.  Many of the homes are in a remarkable state of preservation.

There was, however, a silver lining.  By the 1870s, Duxbury’s rural character and unspoiled bay began to attract summer visitors.  Duxbury soon gained a reputation as an idyllic summer resort. With the completion of the Duxbury and Cohasset railroad line, large numbers of city-folk from Boston could pay their $1.50 for a round trip ticket and enjoy Duxbury’s refreshing environment.  Boarding houses sprang up everywhere.  The Miles Standish Hotel on the Nook soon became enormously popular, and a small settlement of summer cottages appeared nearby along what is now Marshall Street.  The Myles Standish monument, completed in 1898, was a result of this tourist influx.

This pattern continued in Duxbury well into the 20th century.  It was not until the construction of Route 3 that transportation to Boston became expedient and the town’s population exploded with the arrival of thousands of year-round residents.

Excerpted with permission from the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society, new home of the Soule Kindred Library and Archive.
*Direct Descendant of George Soule

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