September 30th, 2017| Topic: RaMbLeS | 2


Last week some Bostonians made an interesting find: Paul Revere’s outhouse. That revered gentleman (1734–1818), I’m sure you knew, was one of the patriots of the American revolution and famous for his late night ride in April 1775 to warn the colonial forces that the British were coming.

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beat of that steed,
And the midnight-message of Paul Revere.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1861

Well, they found his outhouse. And archaeologists are excited. Apparently finding such privies are like finding a gold mine, because people in the Colonial Era dumped a lot of stuff (besides “you-know-what”) into these outhouses—stuff that could provide plenty of insight into their lives.

Said Boston City Archaeologist Joe Bagley:

You’d fill it up with you-know-what, and then also your household waste, because everyone threw their trash out into that. We’re hoping to find the individuals’ waste themselves, which, we can get seeds from what they were eating, we can find parasites, find out what their health was, but then everything else that they threw out from their house.”

The only way to confirm the find is to explore the contents!

Bagley, again:

We love finding privies. We think we have one. The only way to find out is to dig down into it and see if it has that nightsoil—that kind of smelly, dark soils which are now composted and not that bad, but they might have a stench still, a little bit.”

The digging team has already unearthed the handle of German beer stein from 1700s. And coal.

If we start finding thousands of artifacts, then we really know we’re in a really important feature.”

An outhouse.

Some people’s waste is better than others’?

We might think so, but we’d be wrong.

For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Isaiah 64:6

That is the natural state of all mankind, lost in sin, depraved, and … dead.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world,
according to the prince of the power of the air,
of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh,
indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind,
and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
Ephesians 2:1–3

That’s the waste we produce!

But for those who believe in the atoning work of Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, that waste is wiped away and forgiven.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
even when we were dead in our transgressions,
made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Ephesians 2:4

Praise God, no more waste in our outhouses to separate us from God!


  1. Nancy Drew October 1, 2017 at 7:29 am

    My mother taught school for 33 years & she used to recite the Paul Revere poem to us. Thank you for tying that memory to an outhouse! But then you tied the outhouse to God’s amazing forgiveness of our sin, so it will be a great memory once again.


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