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Stomping grounds

5 Jan 2015

Here’s Ancient Landmarks of Plymouth by William Thomas Davis, published in 1883. Back then, armed with this book, you could take a walk around Plymouth and, for each house you came to, read about its history. 132 years later it’s not so easy; things have changed, and his “the next property is… the next is… the next is…” makes it hard to pin down where any particular one was.

Page 204:

The next lot of land, as far back as the records reach was the property of Nathaniel Holmes, who married Mercy, daughter of John Faunce, and sister of Thomas, the elder of Plymouth church. Mr. Holmes built the house now standing on the lot, and occupied it until his death… In 1798 Mr Croswell sold the southerly half of the land and house to Solomon Davie, father of Johnson Davie, now living in Plymouth, who occupied the house until his death. It was the property of his daughter, Miss Sarah J Davie, at the time of her recent death … Like other ancient houses now standing in Plymouth, alterations and additions made by its different occupants have so changed its character and shape that little is left to reveal its age besides the timbers of which its frame was constructed.

Correlate that with an 1857 map of Plymouth. The inset map of the village shows “Miss Davie” by the third house on Court Street northwest of the square, directly opposite Howland Street. On Google Maps, it looks to me as though the first two buildings have been incorporated into or replaced by a single large one, and the smaller one next to them is opposite Howland. That is 42 Court Street, presumably Nathaniel’s (altered and additioned) house.

How about John HOLMES’s property? A little harder. Davis doesn’t mention him. But from Records of the Town of Plymouth, p. 91:

A privilidge of grasse or sedge is graunted unto John holmes att the Reed pond in case hee can make meddow of the whole pond or any pte therof it is to be his owne ;

with footnote:

1 Reed pond was flowed ground on Cold Spring Brook between the country road and the railroad.

Then back in Davis, p. 217:

After a somewhat careful investigation, the writer has become satisfied that Reed Pond, the location of which has heretofore defied the researches of antiquarians, was what is now the low meadow above the railroad in the northeast corner of the land of Charles G. Davis. Strawberry Hill, mentioned in connection with Reed Pond, could have been no other than the hill on the land of Mr. Davis near his house a little east of the street.

I don’t know where Charles G. Davis’s land was. But Ken Holmes asked local historian James Baker, who says Reed Pond was near present day 179 Court Street, a shopping plaza near Nelson Street, and Strawberry Hill is now Grant Street. On the west side of Court Street across from the plaza is the Best Western Plus Cold Spring — formerly owned by Ken’s father.


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  1. I’ve just noticed there’s some confusion here: The “privilidge of grasse” to John Holmes was granted in 1667 and apparently was to John’s son, also named John. However, the elder John “purchased a house and six acres of land adjoining Reed Pond from William Palmer for £35 sterling to be paid within one year” [Stratton], so he did apparently live at the place discussed above.

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