The Alden Homestead

Alden House with Landmark
The Alden Homestead

My regular trip from Plymouth up to Duxbury this week was a pleasant, sunny autumnal drive. I wasn’t exactly tracing my ancestors’ footsteps, since I went up Route 3. (If they had gone overland, their trail would be closer to what is now Route 3A, and more likely than not, they would have gone by boat.) The trip is always a “homecoming” for me, even though my own ancestors have not lived on the homestead since John and Priscilla Alden’s daughter, Ruth, married John Bass and moved to Braintree in 1657.

This week there was something new to see. The plaque designating the “John and Priscilla Alden Homestead” as a National Historic Landmark has been set in a granite stone beside the house (see photos). Two separate locations are included in the National Landmark – the site of the cellar hole of the original home (probably built about 1630), and the present house, the first section of which was built by the end of the seventeenth century. But the National Landmark is not for a house. It is for the story of John and Priscilla Alden and their family that began on this homestead, owned by Alden descendants since 1627 and presently owned by the Alden Kindred of America (AKA). The AKA has been holding annual reunions on the homestead for 115 years.

The text of the Landmark designation explains, “Today, the John and Priscilla Alden Family Sites in Duxbury are the single best place in America to understand how the impulse to celebrate the founding of one’s family in America (the context that gave rise to and provided the story for The Courtship of Miles Standish in the first place) intersected with Longfellow’s literary skill and national need to produce a national origins story that rapidly became part of American folklore to be retold over and over again in an astonishing variety of cultural forms … no family has been more successful in celebrating their immigrant forebears than the Aldens… To understand the power of this impulse and the remarkably rich and varied nature of its impact on Americans, these sites are without peer.”

Alden National LandmarkI get chills when I read that because I know what it means. For more than thirty years, I have been involved in the work of the Alden Kindred of America. I’ve given tours to hundreds of descendants who have made their pilgrimage to the old homestead, and to hundreds more who are not descendants, but who feel the story belongs to them, too. For more about the AKA, go to Alden House Historic Site on Facebook.

About Alicia Crane Williams

Alicia Crane Williams, FASG, Lead Genealogist of Early Families of New England Study Project, has compiled and edited numerous important genealogical publications including The Mayflower Descendant and the Alden Family “Silver Book” Five Generations project of the Mayflower Society. Most recently, she is the author of the 2017 edition of The Babson Genealogy, 1606-2017, Descendants of Thomas and Isabel Babson who first arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637. Alicia has served as Historian of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, Assistant Historian General at the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and as Genealogist of the Alden Kindred of America. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in History from Northeastern University.

28 thoughts on “The Alden Homestead

  1. Thankyou for article. Living in Florida and unaware of site. Direct line to me from Alden-Nottage-Griffin.

  2. Many thanks, Alicia, for all you do, and have done, to nurture and maintain this impressive historic site and national treasure, the “Alden Homestead.”

  3. Great article …I have been to the site but have not yet seen the new plaque. I am a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants a 10th great granddaughter of John and Priscilla and part of the Elizabeth Tilley Colony in southwestern Florida. Thank you for all the work you do on the Alden Family and Homestead !

  4. Hi,

    I just found that related thru marriage, Sarah Alden is my Great Grand Aunt married to Joseph Crossman.
    Sarah’s father was Joseph Alden and his father was John Alden married to Priscilla.
    This is great, !!

    1. Hi Alicia,
      , where can I find out more information regarding this, I live in Canada and sometimes I get lost and overwhelmed with all the information available. I had my DNA done and I actually have a match with a Jean Crane not sure if this is anyone you might be related too.
      Anything would be very much appreciated!

      Kerri

      1. Hi Alicia
        Sorry to bug you!
        So down the line thru Aldens are we related.
        I just talked to my Dad who is so encouraging and lives through my amateur ancestry work.
        My Crossman sides moved from England to Taunton mass.USA, when the war erupted, some stayed in Mass and others moved to New Brunswick Canada.
        Thank you for you comments

        1. Kerri, we are related through John and Priscilla, but then you descend through their son Joseph, while I descend through their daughter Ruth. We’re probably 9th or 10th cousins.

          1. Hi Alicia,

            I have filled out my forms for the AldenKindred Society, will put in the mail tonight.
            Now am looking about Mayflower Decendants, How does this work, Sarah was my 8th Great Grand Aunt does that count as a Mayflower joinee and they were Mayflower decendants and I know this does not count , my 9th Great Grandfather was married for a 2nd time to Martha Billington and am looking further as would like to find out as would like to join with Mayflower decendants.

            Kerri

      1. Kerri, Martha Billington’s second husband was Robert Crossman, who was the father (by his first wife) of Joseph Crossman, who married Sarah Alden. Are you a descendant from Martha through her marriage to Samuel Eaton? If so, then you don’t have an Alden line, but you would have the Billington and Eaton lines. You’ll have to clarify for me. You can e-mail me directly at alicia.williams@nehgs.org and we can hash out the details.

    2. My ancestor Joseph Crossman born 25 Apr 1659 Taunton, Bristol, MA died June 1693 Taunton, Bristol, MA married 24 Nov 1685 by Maj. Thomas Leonard to Sarah Alden born 1663 died 29 June 1713 Taunton, Bristol, MA dau of Joseph Alden and Mary Simmons

    1. The house is still pretty much the same, I imagine, from when you were a child, although some of the tour has changed, such as the story about part of the new house being the relocated old house.

  5. Alicia, thanks for the great article. It is my dream to be able to travel to see the Alden site in person someday. Also, thank you for all the help you gave me back in the 90’s to become a member of the Alden Kindred of America. I too am descended thru John and Priscilla’s daughter Ruth who married John Bass. So thanks cousin for the help!!

    1. Cecilia, You’re welcome, cousin. If you get the chance to come during the off season (Oct-May), call the house and make an appointment for it to be opened for you.

  6. Can you give us information on other families that also helped to settle Duxbury? I have a line to Alden and Standish (alexander) through the Tinkham family that I am trying to prove and wonder if there is anyone that has history of descendants that may go further than the silver book?

    1. Hi Donald, To the best of my knowledge, no. The Alden Kindred’s database, now on ancestry.com, follows some of the Tinkham descendants, so you might check that.

  7. Alicia,

    Excellent article! I emailed it to my mom and she asked me if we could be a (distant) relative of you. I said absolutely yes, but I’m not sure where along the descendent line we would intersect. We are descended from John and Priscilla’s daughter Ruth and the last known (documented) descendant is Zipporah Bass (who married John Gould) in Braintree, Vermont.

    Here is our line of descendancy: Kimberly David, Kareen Fitch, Robert Fitch, Clarence Fitch, Flora Gould, Zipporah Bass, Hiram Bass, Samuel Bass, Samuel Bass, Samuel Bass, John Bass, Ruth Alden, John Alden. If my calculations are correct, John Alden is my 11-times great-grandfather.

    Hope you are having a wonderful evening.

    Kim (David) Chase

    1. Hi Kim,

      We split after Ruth’s son John Bass. I descend through his son Joseph, while you go through his son Samuel. My line is: John Alden, Ruth Alden, John Bass, Joseph Bass, Elizabeth Bass, David Henshaw, Charles Henshaw, Laura Matilda Henshaw, Henry Axtell Crane, Alice Mason Crane, Lois Evelyn Hawes, and me. I think that comes out to 9th cousins, once removed.

  8. Alicia,
    I enjoyed your article on the Alden homestead. Do you have any idea of the number of descendants of John and Priscilla Alden? Has anyone estimated this? I am curious because Ruth Alden is my 9X great grandmother and Elizabeth Alden is my husband’s 9x great grandmother.
    Jo Merrill

    1. Jo, We like to use the number One Million, but it is no more accurate than any other number since one would have to calculate such things as the birth rate, Alden on Alden marriages, etc. As far as an “accurate” count goes, we can say they had 10 children, 69 grandchildren, and just about 500 great-grandchildren.

  9. Interesting article. I enjoy the responses, too. After proving my father’s direct connection to Pilgrim Francis Cooke, my brother is using some of the same information to prove his relation to John Alden. We are of this line: John Alden, Joseph Alden, Joseph Alden, Mehitable Alden, Hannah Eaton, Elizabeth Clements, William Baker, Robert Sims Baker, Ida Baker, Sadie Thurston, Herbert Trask, and then my siblings and me. The last several generations are/were in Nova Scotia.
    I plan another visit to Plymouth, and hope to see the Alden Homestead.

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