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John Alden, Jr.

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John Alden, Jr. grave marker at Old South Church in Boston

Esther Mott uncovered part two of an article by Mrs. Charles L. Alden entitled "Alden Genealogy" [NEHGS, Vol. 52, page 163, 1898], in which the author mentions the finding of John Alden's grave marker. Note that his marker denotes him as "John Alden, Senior" even though as the son of Pilgrim John Alden we refer to him as "Junior". The article quotes the Boston Transcript from 30 Apr 1870:

"Mr. Samuel Jennison, the owner of property on and about Carlton Place, has recently, on account of widening of Eliot Street, begun operations for the purpose of building there a new block. As the excavations have been going on some relics of the past have been dug up, including a lot of bones, and quite a number of gravestones, some of them nearly whole. These are small slate stone tablets, such as may be seen in the King's Chapel, Granary, and other ancient burying grounds in the vicinity, and most of them have the old-fashioned death's head cut over their inscriptions. Some of the inscriptions are * * * 'Here lyeth the body of John Alden, Senior, aged 75 years, Deceased March 14-1701-2.' "

Carlton Place no longer existed by 1898. The gravestones were found on the south side of Eliot Street between Washington and Tremont. A Mr. Horace had told Mr. Jennison that he knew of them being in a "confused heap" and later covered by a cellar-less addition at the rear of the building. It was thought that they were brought there when a cemetery was altered, perhaps from Central Burying Ground when converting Frog Lane to Boylston Street. The problem with this theory is that Central Burying Ground was established in 1754 while John Alden died in 1702. The gravestones must have originated in another cemetery.

John Alden's gravestone was later given to Old South Church, where it was embedded in the wall of the portico in the third and present church building which the congregation moved to in 1875. His wife's marker was discovered at the same time, but I don't know what happened to it. John had been among the founders of the first Old South Meetinghouse in 1669. The second meetinghouse (1730) was scene to many protest meetings, including the one leading to the Boston Tea Party in 1773. British soldiers used it as a riding school during the revolution and burned the pews and pulpit as firewood. George Washington noted the vandalism when he came to Boston in 1776. Today, it is a stop on Boston's Freedom Trail, and they still don't charge tax on tea!

the portico at (New) Old South Church

grave stones for 3 of the church founders


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