Marshfield is a collection of villages. It’s a beach town – but only in a couple of those villages. It inherited – but not officially – a piece of Scituate. One village called Marshfield Hills is an old, charming place centered around a small store cum post office. The Marshfield fair is the equivalent of a county fair for the South Shore, and everyone goes there, at least on fireworks night.
Scituate and Marshfield are separated by the North River. The picture above is the scene near the mouth of the river. One part of Scituate, called Humarock beach, is only reachable via Marshfield. In 1898 a gale moved the mouth of the river over night from the south side of Humarock to the north. Although it makes perfect sense to incorporate Humarock into Marshfield, so far it hasn’t happened.
Wikipedia says, “Native Americans lived in Marshfield for thousands of years before the white settlers came. These people included members of the Wampanoag Tribe of the Algonquin nation and members of the Massachusetts Tribe. Evidence of Native American habitation extending back to 9,000 to 10,000 B.C. has been found extensively in the area.” This is true of all the South Shore towns. Like the other towns, Marshfield’s first white settlers were transplants from Plymouth. It was first established as a separate settlement in 1632. It became a town in 1640. There’s an extensive Wikipedia article about the history of Marshfield here.
Daniel Webster lived in Marshfield in his later years and died there. Steve Tyler and two other members of the rock band Aerosmith have live in Marshfield. (Steve Tyler came into my store once, and I had no idea who he was, but my son was very excited about it!) Steve Carell and his wife Nancy live there (according to the web).
Duxbury is the southernmost town of the South Shore and is adjacent to Plymouth. A number of the best known members of the original Pilgrim party that settled Plymouth later lived in what is now Duxbury, among them John Alden (whose house survives) and Myles Standish, who is said to have named the town. There is a very large, very old cemetery adjacent to the first church in Duxbury named the Mayflower Cemetery. Members of the Alden family and other original pilgrim settlers of Plymouth are buried there.
The old Boston Post road, now known as Route 3A, runs through the center of Duxbury. It’s the site of three impressive white buildings: the first church, the old town hall (now a meeting hall) and the newer town hall.
Duxbury is a wealthy Boston suburb today. It’s always been a well-to-do community and many large, colonial era homes are found there today. They were built by merchant whose ships sailed the world, creating great wealth for their owners, some of whom became ship builders – by 1840 there were twenty shipyards in Duxbury.
A miles long beach extends as a peninsula along Duxbury’s shore. It’s reached by a long wooden bridge. It’s one of the most popular beaches in Massachusetts.
This concludes our virtual tour of the South Shore. I hope someone will be inspired by these posts to drive the slow road through these beautiful towns while making the trip from Boston to Plymouth and Cape Cod. If you do (or if you have) I’d love to read your thoughts about it in the comments section below.