No. 2 if by sea: Out­house tied to Paul Re­vere is ex­ca­vated

Medicine Hat News - - TRAVEL-YOUTH - WILLIAM J. KOLE

BOS­TON No. 1 if by land, No. 2 if by sea?

Ar­chae­ol­o­gists are ex­ca­vat­ing what they be­lieve was the site of an out­house next door to Paul Re­vere’s home — and the “privy,” as the colonists po­litely called their pot­ties, could be flush with ar­ti­facts.

His­to­ri­ans say peo­ple typ­i­cally dumped trash and house­hold goods in their out­houses. On Thurs­day, the sec­ond full day of the dig, vol­un­teers with the City of Bos­ton Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Pro­gram al­ready were pulling frag­ments of pot­tery, bot­tles and a to­bacco pipe from the bricked yard of the Pierce-Hich­born House in the heart of Bos­ton’s North End.

So far, there’s been no sign of mum­mi­fied hu­man ex­cre­ment. That would be the tell­tale ev­i­dence of an out­house at the home once owned by a cousin of Re­vere, Bos­ton city ar­chae­ol­o­gist Joe Ba­gley told The As­so­ci­ated Press.

“Paul Re­vere might well have come over here for din­ner and used the bath­room,” Ba­gley said. “He had 12 kids in his own lit­tle house next door. It’s easy to imag­ine they didn't stay cramped up in there all the time.”

The house — one of the ear­li­est re­main­ing brick struc­tures in Bos­ton — was built around 1711 next to the Paul Re­vere House, one of the city’s most prom­i­nent his­toric sites and a huge tourist draw. Arche­ol­o­gists timed their dig to co­in­cide with drainage im­prove­ments be­ing made to the prop­erty.

Colo­nial-era out­houses tend to yield sur­prises, said Nina Zan­nieri, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Paul Re­vere Me­mo­rial As­so­ci­a­tion that owns and op­er­ates the homes.

“They’ve ex­ca­vated other priv­ies and they were full of stuff,” she said. “It’s al­ways a trea­sure trove. For us, it’s an op­por­tu­nity to get at a source of in­for­ma­tion that’s lit­er­ally buried un­der­ground.”

Any fos­silized un­men­tion­ables will be an­a­lyzed for seeds or the re­mains of par­a­sites — clues that could tell schol­ars more about the colonists’ diet.

And bones left over from a 1700s sup­per could speak to the oc­cu­pants’ fi­nan­cial health, Ba­gley said. “We’ll learn what they were eat­ing, how much money they had, whether they bought good or cheap cuts of meat,” he said.

Moses Pierce, a glass worker, was the orig­i­nal owner of the house. It was later bought by Nathaniel Hich­born, a boat­builder and a cousin of Paul Re­vere, famed for his mid­night ride on April 18, 1775, warn­ing that the Bri­tish were com­ing.

Re­vere’s backup plan — prepa­ra­tions to light ei­ther one or two lanterns as sig­nals from the steeple of Bos­ton’s Old North Church — is im­mor­tal­ized in a line in “Paul Re­vere’s Ride,” a Henry Wadsworth Longfel­low poem: “One if by land, and two if by sea ...”

Did one of Amer­ica’s most cel­e­brated pa­tri­ots use the out­house? The ex­perts con­cede they may never know for cer­tain.

“If it hap­pened,” Zan­nieri said, “we hope he left a marker for us.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.