We Talk With an AI Historian About the Old Colony

Old Colony History Museum
6 min readJun 1, 2023

Eric B. Schultz

This post may be the strangest we’ve ever written. It may also be the shape of things to come.

While the mission of the Old Colony History Museum is to collect, preserve and exhibit history, that doesn’t mean we’re not also about looking ahead. With that in mind, one of our adventurous members subscribed to Ai-Pro and chatted about the Old Colony with an AI Bot (for fans: “open Ai-gpt4”). We thought you would enjoy what our “AI Historian” had to say.

OCHM: What is “the Old Colony” in Massachusetts?

ChatGPT: The Old Colony refers to the region of southeastern Massachusetts that was once an English settlement in the 17th century, largely settled by the Pilgrims. It was also the term used to describe the Plymouth Colony, which was later absorbed into the larger Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691. The Old Colony region contains several towns with historical significance, such as Plymouth, where the Mayflower arrived in 1620 and the Pilgrims established the first permanent European settlement in New England. Other towns in the region include Kingston, Middleborough, Carver, and Duxbury. Today, the Old Colony area retains much of its early history, with many sites preserved for their cultural and historical importance.

OCHM: What is the importance of Taunton, MA, in Old Colony history?

ChatGPT: Taunton, MA holds a significant place in Old Colony history due to its early establishment, political and economic development, and rich historical sites.

Founded in 1637 by Elizabeth Poole, Taunton was one of the earliest settlements in the Old Colony region, making it an important center of population during that period. Situated along the Taunton River, the town quickly prospered as a trading and transportation hub, with industries such as iron manufacturing and shipbuilding thriving in the area.

Notably, Taunton played a role in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War as it housed the Taunton flag, an early, unofficial version of the American flag, which was flown as a form of protest against British rule. Additionally, the town was a hotbed for anti-slavery sentiment in the 19th century.

Taunton’s well-preserved historical sites, including the Old Colony Historical Society, display its rich past and provide an authentic glimpse into the early years of English settlement in the region.

OCHM: What happens on Liberty and Union Day in Taunton?

ChatGPT: Liberty and Union Day is an annual celebration held in Taunton, Massachusetts, generally in October. The event commemorates Taunton’s role in the American Revolution and is held specifically in remembrance of the action around the Liberty and Union flag, which was raised in Taunton as a symbol of defiance against British rule on October 21, 1774.

The celebration includes various activities such as parades, historical reenactments, live music, speeches, and other family-friendly entertainment aimed at fostering community pride and commemorating the revolutionary spirit of Taunton. The festivities provide a great opportunity for local residents and visitors to learn about Taunton’s rich history, the significance of the Liberty and Union flag, and the town’s contribution to the pursuit of American independence.

OCHM: If I wanted to explore the history of the Old Colony in Massachusetts within, say, 30 miles of Taunton, what sites and museums would I visit?

ChatGPT: It’s great that you’re interested in exploring the history of the Old Colony region in Massachusetts. Within a 30-mile radius of Taunton, there are several historic sites and museums that you can visit to delve into this area’s rich past:

  1. Taunton Green Historic District (Taunton) — Located in the heart of Taunton, this historic district features several significant late 19th- and 20th-century buildings that embody the city’s growth and development.
  2. Old Colony Historical Society (Taunton) — A local history museum showcasing regional artifacts, documents, and stories from the colonial era onward.
  3. Plimoth Patuxet (Plymouth) — A living history museum that tells the story of the Wampanoag people and the original Pilgrim settlers. A must-visit site, it features a 17th-century English village, Wampanoag homesite, and the Mayflower II replica ship.
  4. National Monument to the Forefathers (Plymouth) — One of the largest solid granite statues in the U.S., this structure commemorates the Pilgrims and their values.
  5. Middleborough Historical Museum (Middleborough) — This museum exhibits a wide array of artifacts related to the history of Middleborough and the surrounding areas, from indigenous inhabitants to the colonial period.
  6. Adams Homestead (Lakeville) — A preserved 18th-century farmhouse showcasing the life of a typical New England farming family in the period.
  7. Dighton Rock State Park (Berkley) — Home to the famous Dighton Rock, an intriguing inscribed boulder that has generated questions and theories regarding its origin.
  8. Freetown-Fall River State Forest (Assonet) — A state forest filled with history, including the Native American Assonet Ledge and Profile Rock, a granite outcrop believed to resemble the face of Massasoit, a Wampanoag tribal leader.

These sites provide opportunities to dive into Massachusetts’ Old Colony history while witnessing firsthand the landmarks and artifacts central to its development.

OCHM: Finally, if I visit the Old Colony History Museum, what exhibits would I want to see?

ChatGPT: The Old Colony History Museum frequently updates and rotates its exhibits, so it’s always a good idea to check their website or contact them for the most current information. However, some of the popular and noteworthy exhibits often on display include:

1. Taunton’s Early Years: This exhibit explores the early history of Taunton, Massachusetts, including its founding in 1637, and displays artifacts, maps, and documents related to the settlers and Native American tribes in the area.

2. Old Colony Silver Collection: A unique display showcasing the rich history of silversmithing in the Taunton region, with an extensive collection of silverware, coins, and decorative items.

3. Military History: A tribute to the contributions and sacrifices made by local soldiers over the centuries, featuring military relics from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World Wars I and II, and beyond.

4. Textile Industry and Iron Works: Learn about the impact of the textile and iron industries on the growth and economy of the region and explore the tools, machinery, and textile artifacts on display.

5. Hometown Heroes: Dedicated to notable figures from Taunton and the surrounding area, this exhibit highlights the lives and accomplishments of important individuals in history, sports, arts, and culture.

6. Local Fine Arts and Craftsmanship: A display of paintings, sculptures, and artisan objects produced by talented local artists and craftsmen.

Please note that the specific exhibits might change, so it is essential to verify the current lineup before your visit.

OCHM: Thank you!

ChatGPT: You’re welcome! I’m glad I could help. If you have any more questions or need information on anything else, please feel free to ask. Enjoy your visit to the Old Colony History Museum!

So there you have it. While we do love the enthusiasm for the Liberty & Union Festival, we should take a moment to remind you that Elizabeth Pole’s story is a lot more complicated than this AI Historian seems to think, and, as we shared in our previous blog post: Loves Me Like a Rock: Eight Old Colony Hunks You Should Know, Profile Rock has actually fallen down.

While you can’t trust everything you hear from an AI Historian, you never know, we may be back again in the future to see what else our new Bot friend has learned about the Old Colony.



Old Colony History Museum

We are a local history museum in Taunton, MA and this is our blog! Visit us online at www.oldcolonyhistorymuseum.org to learn even more. Enjoy!