Our First Thanksgiving in Plymouth

Pilgrims and Indians sat down to a feast peacefully around this time of the year in Plymouth, Massachusetts in the early 1600s as the “first” Thanksgiving. According to a letter from Plymouth colonist Edward Winslow dated December 11, 1621, the colonists wanted to celebrate their first good crop of corn and barley grown with generous assistance from the native Wampanoag Indians.  The first official Thanksgiving holiday was created in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War.  In reality, the new settlers were Puritans and only became known as Pilgrims in the 18th century when historians began to refer to them as such.

It was primarily English and Dutch Puritans who felt persecuted by King James I and The Church of England.  Their belief was that the Church was a product of political struggles, and man-made doctrines, and was beyond reform. Leaving the Church of England and the King to escape religious persecution, the Puritans sailed for America.  Early settlers fled England and Holland in family groups, motivated in large part by a wish to practice their Puritan religion freely. The term Great Migration usually refers to this movement.

In 1620, the Wampanoag Tribe welcomed and befriended a relatively small group of families, bringing them corn, pumpkins, and turkeys to help them cope with Plymouth’s harsh winter.  Unfortunately, many people arrived sick or became sick shortly after arriving.  It is estimated that about half of all women and children got sick and died.   The relationship between the Puritans and Indians soured.  Between the years 1620 when the first families arrived and 1640, more British colonists came to Massachusetts, displacing the Wampanoags from their traditional lands.  Metacomet, known to the English as King Philip, appealed to the British, but war ensued. Many Wampanoag survivors were sold into slavery, the rest were driven into hiding, and the Massachusett language and Wampanoag tribal names were banned. The Wampanoag people did not regain their tribal identity until 1928.   Approximately 2,500 Wampanoags still live in New England.

Edward Fuller, his wife Anne Hopkins, and their young son Samuel were among the members of our family on the Mayflower.  Edward was born in Redenhall, County Norfolk, England, in 1575.  His father was a butcher, and his brother Samuel was a doctor and a church deacon.  Anne Hopkins and Edward Hopkins were married in about 1605.  Before joining the Pilgrims at Leyden, Holland, they boarded the Speedwell at Southampton.  Following the unseaworthiness of that ship, the Puritans transferred to the Mayflower, a cargo ship used to ship wine between England and France.

A document known as The Mayflower Compact was drafted by all 41 men aboard the Mayflower while anchored near Cape Cod, Massachusetts in November 1620 to set up a fair and equal system of governing their new world in accordance with the will of the majority and for the general good of the settlement.  Edward Fuller was the twenty-first signer.  Their unmarked graves are situated on Coles Hill at Plymouth, where they died soon after their arrival (1620-21).   The physician of the Pilgrims, Dr. Samuel Fuller, raised Samuel after he was orphaned.  As one of the last surviving Mayflower passengers, Samuel was the only Mayflower passenger to settle permanently in Barnstable. Barnstable, Massachusetts was actually founded by Samuel Fuller, the son of Edward and Ann Fuller.   Samuel married Jane Lothrop, daughter of Reverend John Lothrop, on April 8, 1635.   At the James Cudworth house, they were married by the infamous Captain Miles Standish. They had nine children.  It was there that Samuel Fuller died on October 31, 1683.

Jane Lathrop/Lothrop is my 8th great-grand aunt-–ancestor of my maternal grandmother’s (Alice Lauretta Lathrop Ford) paternal “Lathrop” family.

Maternal “Lathrop” Family Notables, Who Knew?

Alice Lauretta (Loretta) Lathrop Ford’s family came from England and were among the first settlers at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620.  The following is a direct line of descendants from my 9th great grandparents–[Reverend John Lathrop (1584 – 1653), born on December 20, 1584, in Eton, Yorkshire, England; Hannah Howse (1594 – 1634), born in Eastwell, Kent, England, who were part of The Great Migration]–to several notable Americans.

The following brief history contrasts John and Hannah’s lives with our American notable families: Hannah married Rev. John LOTHROP at the age of 16, in Eastwell, Kent, England on 16 Oct 1610. In the struggle for religious freedom, John Lathrop and his wife Hannah were heroes. Hannah died in prison in 1634 after being arrested on 29 April 1632. Eventually, King Charles, I allowed Rev. John and his children to come to America. His leadership in the field of religious tolerance made him a distinguished American. The descendants of John and Hannah include three United States presidents, among others.

It is likely you have heard of, been in awe of, or at least know enough about many of our notable relatives to be envious or proud of them and their skills, talents, and accomplishments. There may also be at least one that you wish I hadn’t shared with you. 

Below are fourteen American notable descendants of Reverend John and Hannah Howse Lathrop (my ninth grandparents) in alphabetical order:

Benedict Arnold:  1741-1801
Patriot then Traitor

George H. W. Bush:  1924 –
41st  U.S. President:  1989-1993

George W. Bush:  1946 –
43rd President of the United States

Nick Carter:  1980 –
Singer – Backstreet Boys

John Foster Dulles: 1888 – 1959
Secretary of State (Eisenhower)

Ulysses S. Grant:  1822 – 1885
Civil War general and 18th President

Nathaniel Hawthorne: 1804 – 1864
American Novelist

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.:  1809 – 1894
Author, poet, physician, lecturer

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.:  1841 – 1935
Supreme Court Justice

Ebenezer Huntington:  1754 – 1834
Brigade Major Continental Army, Revolutionary War,
Brigadier General U.S. Army

Isaac Huntington:  1688 – 1764
Justice, Connecticut General Assembly
George Parsons Lathrop: 1851-1898
American Novelist

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: 1807-1882
American Novelist

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: 1882-1945
32nd President

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