I have listened to many teachers tell the ” Thanksgiving Story” with the Native-American leader, Samoset, (who befriended the Puritans) greeting and welcoming the pilgrims but never heard his first few and true words…which were:
One of the young men who stepped off the Mayflower was there strictly for the beer-in a manner of speaking. John Alden was hired for the journey as a cooper, primarily to make beer barrels. British law required that any ship leaving England had to have a professional cooper to make replacement barrels, since barrels in England were always in short supply.
In fact … a storm threw the Mayflower off course so rather than heading south ( Virginia) the Pilgrims put ashore at Plymouth Rock. In one journal was written: ” We could not take time for further search or consideration, our victuals being most spent, especially our beere.”
Yep… the Pilgrims made port because they ran out of beer. In those days beer was considered an essential and healthy part of everyone’s daily diet ( whereas water was considered suspect… easily became contaminated. ) In fact one of the earliest buildings in Plymouth was John Alden’s brew house.
” And the rest of the story ” … as Paul Harvey would say.., continues with Priscilla, her father, stepmother, and brother coming over on the Mayflower. Because she was only seventeen at the time of departure her name was not listed on the manifest with the other 18 women’s names.
During that first difficult winter Priscilla lost her entire family … leaving her orphaned. At eighteen she caught the eye of Miles Standish, military officer and advisor to the struggling settlement. . Fearless in battle… but shy in love… he asked the cooper, John Alden, to intercede and speak of his fondness for her in his behalf.
The more John Alden spoke to Priscilla … the more he personally was smitten. It was the pilgrims’ first love triangle. One day as Alden pleaded Standish’s case… Priscilla spoke those memorable words: ” Why don’t YOU speak for yourself, John?”
Later this famous phrase was immortalized in 1858 in Longfellow’s best-selling poem – The Courtship of Miles Standish. It was so popular it sold over 10,000 copies in one day in London. Longfellow, himself was a direct descendant of John and Priscilla Alden.
It wasn’t until they later heard that Miles Standish had been killed in battle… that they agreed to marry. They never wanted to hurt his feelings. As fate would have it… the rumor was untrue and Miles Standish returned on their wedding day …only to give them his blessings!
They had a long happy marriage that produced ten children. Many people claiming to have a descendant on the Mayflower are descendants of this original union.
John Alden outlived his beloved Priscilla and at 89 was one of the last surviving descendants of the Mayflower crossing.
So until tomorrow… Longfellow ends his poem describing John and Priscilla’s wedding procession through the forest…
Today is my favorite day -Winnie the Pooh
As I looked for my morning glories last evening… they were all on the ground looking up… letting me know the weather is changing-rain and later wind from the tropical system skirting the coasts the next couple of days. A pretty wave goodnight and maybe good-bye for awhile.
What a fun and interesting story…love your gift of storytelling…