On the Web, a hummock rises in stature
Although the small section of Quincy known as Moswetuset Hummock is where Massachusetts derived its name, relatively few know the significance of the small marsh located on Quincy Bay.
Students from Eastern Nazarene College are hoping to change that.
The small, wooded area that separates Quincy Bay from the Neponset River received recent exposure with the help of six ENC students and history Professor Randall Stephens, who created a website dedicated to exploring the significance of the shore and detailing its place in history.
Part class history project, part exploratory jaunt through time, the website includes information ranging from the Indians who lived there to their relations with settlers to the diseases that would decimate the natives by the time Myles Standish met the tribe leader in 1621.
“The kids did a great job collecting valuable materials on Moswetuset Hummock,’’ said Stephens, who is currently teaching in Norway on a Fulbright Fellowship. “They also excelled with the history lessons and descriptions of the pages. This new website will really help fill out what little people know of this treasured historic place.’’
The site (www.enc.edu/history/mh) went live mid-December, creating a significant buzz. The reaction has been “very positive. I even got e-mails from people out of the blue. Even from someone from Florida that was from there,’’ Stephens said.
The website includes video interviews with ENC History Professor Emeritus James Cameron (who did research on the area in the ’70s), a virtual video tour of the space, maps, and both historic and current pictures of what the land looks like.
Yet it’s not just the significance of this one place that’s important, but how it relates to Massachusetts history.
According to the website, Moswetuset was named such because the hill was “shaped like an arrowhead’’ and was “the site of the great house.’’ Captain John Smith would encounter this in 1616. Myles Standish would as well in 1621, after traveling to the area with Squanto as his guide.
Although the history is a part of a much larger narrative, ENC students were surprised by how difficult the information was to dig up.
“When we went on Google, we kept finding the same information, and it wasn’t a lot. . . . It was recycled in a couple different websites,’’ said ENC senior Alexandra Foran.
It wasn’t until the students went to the Quincy Historical Society that they found more in-depth information.
“The Quincy Historical Society proved to be quite a valuable source for information and assistance, providing documents that helped to further expand the amount of research we had,’’ Foran said
It’s a shame people don’t know much about the locale, Foran said.
“The hummock is one of the few historical locations in our nation that remains untouched and appears close to what the colonists would have seen in the early 1600s. It’s like you are able to step back in time there,’’ she said.
This is the second website that Stephens has compiled with a class, where each student is given a task within the project, eventually coming together in a complete document online.
Last year, students developed a site dedicated to the Josiah Quincy Homestead, a historic site that in recent years has been eclipsed by the nearby Adams National Historical Park.
Historic New England, owner of the Homestead, said the website sparked renewed interest, “prompting the organization to schedule additional tours to meet the demand,’’ a release said.
Hopefully, the new website focused on Massachusetts’ early history will do the same, Foran said.
“I definitely hope that our website about Moswetuset Hummock helps boost visitor interest,’’ she said. It’s for “pretty much anyone who would stumble upon it. Especially if you’re in the area, I didn’t know much about it, but you’re able to go to this site, see what its all about. . . . It’s incredible.’’
Jessica Bartlett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org