Wessagussett Wetland and Woodland - Historic Conservation Site, 228 Sea St, Weymouth, MA 02191, USA
Owned By: Town of Weymouth
Small historic site in a neighborhood setting in North Weymouth, with a grassy area and short woodland trails. Interpretive signage shares Native American and Colonial history.
The colony of Wessagusset, the second-oldest European settlement in the United States, was formed on the Fore River in 1622 by Thomas Weston. The Neponset band of the Massachusett tribe already inhabited the region, and gave the area its name, meaning “place where the rocks meet the water.” The Neponset established villages inland and migrated seasonally to the coast to fish, hunt and grow crops. However due to a widespread plague of smallpox c. 1616-1619, the Native American population was greatly reduced when Weston arrived.
A marker at Great Hill Park nearby, describes the tense relationship between European settlers and native tribes in the 1600’s. The marker was placed in 1923, and re-dedicated in 1998. It focuses on the victory of Myles Standish and other European settlers over aboriginal leaders such as Wituwamat and Pecksuot.
While Standish has historically been regarded as a hero of Plymouth Colony, it’s important also to acknowledge that he was a destructive force with regard to the native tribes that inhabited the region prior to, and during the time of, European colonization. In particular, consider the 1623 Massacre at Wessagusset, at which Standish lured members of the Neponset band of the Massachusett tribe into a small building and then attacked them, fatally wounding several. Standish was concerned that tribe members, especially Wituwamat, were conspiring against the colonists. Scholars have found no evidence of this plot. A memorial service was held in 2023 to mark the 400th anniversary of the massacre, with the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag participating.
More detailed information about the Native American history of the Weymouth area can be found at King Oak Hill Park. The remains of Wituwamat and Pecksuot are now interred at Weymouth’s Old North Cemetery.
In 1635, Joseph Hull and a group of 106 settlers were granted permission to establish a new village at Wessagusset. They called it Weymouth. The two settlements did well, and the town continued to grow through the 17th and 18th centuries.
This property was acquired by the Town of Weymouth in 1999. The land is within the region of the Massachuseuk (or Massachusett) Native American tribe.
Please bear in mind that Native American cultures often favor oral histories to written ones. Much of what’s recorded about the history of the South Shore is from the perspective of European settlers. It’s not the whole story. To learn more about our local tribes, we encourage you to interact with their members. You can learn more about the Massachusett tribe on their website.
This property features a network of short trails through the woods, totaling about 0.15 miles, and mostly connecting to private properties.
Habitats and Wildlife
The trees here are mostly maple, with varying undergrowth. There is also a large grassy area with some ornamental plantings.
Wessagusset Wetland and Woodland is part of the Fore River watershed. The Fore River serves as the boundary line between the towns of Weymouth and Braintree. It flows for about 3 miles, into Quincy, where it meets Town River, and then flows for another 2 miles into Hingham Bay. In its final few miles, the Fore River is nearly a mile wide in some places. Follow the Fore River Watershed Association more information.
Historic Site: Yes
Boat Launch: No
Size: 4 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: No parking on site. Very limited roadside parking in the vicinity.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Interpretive signage, bench, memorials.
Dogs: Dogs must remain on leash Scoop the poop!
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: Fore River