From Plymouth came word of an archeological dig that might include evidence about the lives of enslaved people of African descent:
An excavation this summer in a small shed and nearby grounds on North Street has yielded more than 30,000 artifacts dating back 1,000 years. But the prized finds have been the bits and pieces that “might point to an African origin and [dwellers’] desire to maintain a physical, spiritual, and [m]ental connection with their origins,” said archeologist Craig Chartier. . . .From the western suburbs came a story about people living in historic houses as caretakers, to maintain them and their furnishings.
The project began in April, with a $15,000 Community Preservation Fund grant spurred by historian Rose T. Briggs’s typewritten reference to Colonel George Watson’s slave house in a 1967 Massachusetts Historical Inventory Form that she submitted on behalf of the Pilgrim Society. . . .
In addition to slaves named Cuffee and Esack, the household had Quassia, said to be “full of fun and drollery.” His owner, Judge Peter Oliver of Middleborough, had been driven out of town by residents for his Tory sympathies, according to a passage in Thomas Weston’s “History of the Town of Middleborough,” written in 1906.
It is an arrangement played out in historic houses across the state, one that can benefit both caretakers, who pay little or no rent, and the groups that own the properties but have little money to pay for upkeep.The Suffolk Resolves House, owned by Daniel Vose in 1774, is shown above.
In Milton’s Suffolk Resolves House, Steve Kluskens walks past a letter from Thomas Hutchinson, a Colonial-era governor of Massachusetts, on his way to the kitchen every morning. When he types on his Macintosh laptop, it sits on a 200-year-old table, near an 1823 Springfield musket propped up against a wall.
As caretakers, Kluskens and his wife, Sheila Frazier, eat at a table beside a display of delicate dishes that were ordered from China in 1775. The house also holds a 1641 Bible written in classical Greek, a Jacobean oak chest more than 300 years old, and assorted dour portraits of prominent, but deceased, Milton residents.
Kluskens and Frazier, like other caretakers in historic houses, cannot change the house to fit their lives. They don’t remodel or paint or add media rooms. They must adapt themselves to fit in the house.
“It gives you a unique perspective on how short a life span is,” said Kluskens, who is also curator. “We’re just passing through this house.”