At last year's New England Family History Conference, I went to a fantastic lecture about the Mayflower pilgrims entitled "How 51 Pilgrims Changed the World." It was given by a historian named Leo Martin who dressed in pilgrim clothes and he was so inspiring in what he taught about the lasting influence of the pilgrims on America. He also dispelled some of the popular myths that are taught in schools and believed by many Americans, such as that the pilgrims stole land from the Indians (the Indians didn't want the land that the Pilgrims settled on!).
This lecture and this man left a deep impression on me, and when I found out that he and his wife run a museum in Plymouth, The Jenney Museum, and do historical walking tours of the town, I knew I had to do that, and we finally did do that last month with my parents. Leo led the tour, which I was glad about, and I enjoyed getting to talk to him and his wife because I admire them so much. The tour was just as good as I expected it would be. I love how this man tells the history so well and in such an interesting and relevant way, and how he does it in a way that gives credence to God and the power of the pilgrims' faith and ideas and their highly respectable conduct. The pilgrims came here as families, they loved God and their neighbor, and they started capitalism. These aren't romanticized notions, they're wonderful facts that inform the start of our country! (This is one of the reasons that I detest the appalling 1619 Project.) Going on this tour was the perfect thing to do to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing, especially because so many of the special events planned for that were cancelled due to COVID.
Mayflower history is particularly special to me because I have four great-grandfathers who came over on the ship (including William Bradford, the governor) and the boys have another great-grandfather from Peter's side, the infamous John Howland (the guy who fell overboard during a storm and almost drowned, but was miraculously saved, and from him come many illustrious descendants like Joseph Smith, Winston Churchill, the Roosevelts, the Bushes...and of course my sons! 😁).
A pretty scene at the historic mill behind the museum.
Here's Leo in front of a statue of William Bradford. He said that the popular concept of the pilgrims wearing hats and shoes with buckles (like on the statue) is not actually true. That style of dress came later, at the time when the artist who created the statue lived. Pilgrim men dressed more like Leo was dressed.
William Bradford is my 11th great-grandfather. He was elected governor 35 years in a row. 🙌
A big peaceful rally in front of Plymouth Rock between Biden/Black Lives Matter supporters and Trump supporters was just wrapping up when we got there. That was interesting to see, and directly relevant to why the Pilgrims came to America: freedom.
It's believed that this is literally the rock that the pilgrims stepped onto when they arrived at Plymouth and left the ship.
I so much admire the women of that time. They are inspiring to me. When I said that I have four great-grandfathers who came over, I have four great-grandmothers who did as well. The women were respected and educated. In his lecture at the Family History Conference, Leo had talked abut how the morals of a country are dictated by the morals of women, and how our country was built from the family up. I love what these women did and what they stood for.
The pillared structure is where Plymouth Rock is. It's neat to envision the Mayflower landing here.
Diverging from the narrative a bit here (because I try not to overlook things that don't fit my narrative :cough: mainstream media: cough!). My liberal friends and family will appreciate this. I get the point of the National Day of Mourning because of the unjust tragedies that happened later with the Indians, but it being here in Plymouth overlooks some important facts. As I mentioned before the the pilgrims didn't take the Indians' land away from them. They took land that nobody wanted. Also, everybody was equal under the law with the pilgrims--including the Indians, they worked together cooperatively and helped each other out, and the pilgrims defended themselves when they had to but they never went after anyone otherwise.
Massasoit was a wonderful person who I have so much respect for. I'm inspired by how he befriended and assisted the pilgrims while also looking out for his own people. This man was a hero.
Sam wanted me to take his picture with Massasoit. I think he was awed by it, and him. Sam has a lot of respect for the Indians, possibly more than for his own ancestors!
You know what's cool? I learned on the tour that one of Massasoit's closest friends was our 12th great uncle Edward Winslow, who helped nurse him back to health when Massasoit was very sick. Sadly, their sons fought each other one generation later in King Phillip's war (Phillip was Massasoit's son).
We found the John Howland house! Or the lot that it stood on anyway.
I'm pretty sure this isn't the original house. 😉
This is where the original Plimoth Plantation was, stretching up this hilly street from the sea. It looks quite a bit different today, obviously. I hope that someday, in some way I'll be able to see it like it was then.
Here we are up at the top of Burial Hill, where many of the pilgrims are buried. This is the actual site of the first Thanksgiving, which really was celebrated with the Indians as friends. That is not a myth!
The Museum is right down the hill, so it's also on the site of the original Plimoth Plantation.
If you ever go to Plymouth (which you should if you haven't!), I HIGHLY recommend the Jenney Museum
and their wonderful walking tour. It was one of the highlights of my year, and possibly my life, insofar as history, family history, and inspirational concepts of freedom, religion, family, and democracy are concerned.
I'm thankful to be an American and to live in this great country that has an imperfect but wonderfully inspiring foundation. Happy Thanksgiving!