Matilda Alice Canady Sammons - 9th Generation Mayflower Descendant

THE PILGRIMS
AND
 THE FIRST THANKSGIVING

by Gretchen Ann Erwin

	   	   During the 1600's there were a group of people who became disenchanted
		with the English Religion, the Church of England.  They were known as
		Separatists because they separated from the Church of England.  They
		referred to themselves as Pilgrims because they had set out in search of
		religious freedom.

	   	   In the early 1600's the Separatists set up their own congregations in London
		and a few other places in England. The local authorities did not like these
		groups of Separatists.  The Separatists were persecuted.  Some were even
		sent to prison.  In 1607 and 1608 a small group of Puritan Separatists fled to
		Holland.  The first formed congregation was in Amsterdam.  The group later
		went to Leyden, where they remained for eleven years.

	   	   In August, 1620, part of the congregation left Leyden and went to
		Southampton, England where after a short stay they set sail for America on
		the Mayflower.

	   	   On September 16, 1620, one hundred and two Puritan Separatist Pilgrims
		boarded the ship called the Mayflower and set sail for the New World.  The
		Mayflower took the second group of English to the New World.  Among the
		second group were men, women, children and servants.  The first group
		landed and settled Jamestown, Virginia in 1607.

	   	   During the trip a young man named John Howland was washed overboard
		during a storm, but he held onto a line and was pulled from the sea.

	   	   The Pilgrims sighted Cape Cod on November 19, 1620.  The Captain sailed
		for two days in an effort to find an area near the mouth of Hudson River
		where the Pilgrims had planned to start the colony of Plymouth. However,
		because he was unable to locate the Hudson River he anchored on November
		21 in Provincetown Harbor, at the tip of Cape Cod.  Some of the male
		Pilgrims and crew members sailed small boats along the shore in an effort to
		find a suitable harbor and a good place to settle.  On December 21 they
		picked out a site that is on the coast of what is now Massachusetts and is
		known as Plymouth.  Five days later the Mayflower sailed across the bay to
		the spot agreed upon.

	   	   Before the Pilgrims went ashore they gathered and wrote and signed an
		agreement called the "Mayflower Compact" which was the first plan for
		self-determining government ever put in force in America.  Those who signed
		the document agreed to set up a government that would make "just and equal
		laws," whenever the leaders decided upon them.  

	   	   Soon after landing, the settlers began to build houses for protection against
		the winter weather.

	   	   The winter proved to be a mild one for the area, but the Pilgrims had other
		troubles.  A strange disease spread throughout the colony and caused the
		death of many.

	   	   Among the passengers were two young people in their early teens.  One was
		a young man who was a servant.  His name was John Howland.  He was born
		in Huntingdonshire, England in about 1606.  He was about fourteen or fifteen
		when he landed in America.  He was known as an "indentured manservant" to
		a wealthy Londoner, John Carver who became the first governor of the New
		Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts.

	   	   Elizabeth Tillie, also known as Elizabeth Tilley, the daughter of John Tilley
		and his wife ( name not known) were also passengers on the Mayflower.
		Elizabeth came to America with her parents and her father's brother and his
		wife, Edward and Ann Tilley.  

	   	   The first winter in America half of the Mayflower people died of starvation
		and scurvy,  All of the elder Tilley's died the first winter in Plymouth. 
		Elizabeth was taken in by the childless Carver family as she had no other
		relatives.  Both Governor Carver and his wife died leaving Elizabeth Tilley
		and John Howland as teenagers alone.  John Howland became the head of the
		Carver household and is thought to have inherited the Carver estate.

	   	   All of that winter the Pilgrims lived in deadly fear of the Indians.  They did
		not know that most of the Indians had died of some unknown disease two
		years earlier.

	   	   After a dreadful winter in Massachusetts new hope grew up in the summer of
		1621.  The corn harvest brought rejoicing.  Governor William Bradford
		decreed a celebration sometime between September 21 and November 9th in
		which the settlers would gather with the Indians who had helped them to get
		through their first year even though many had parrished.

	   	   The women spent days preparing for the feast.  Children were kept busy
		turning roasts on spits.  More than eighty friendly Indians brought wild
		turkeys and venison, or deer meat, as their share.  The tables were set outside
		and all the people sat around the table as one family.  Prayers, sermons and
		songs of praise were important in the celebration.  Three days were spent in
		feasting and prayer.  They had a novelty called "popped corn".  Also included
		were oysters, eel, corn bread, goose, watercress, leeks, plums, berries.  The
		Indians returned to the forest and the Pilgrims to their tasks in peace.

	   	   Elizabeth and John Howland were married on March 25, 1622/3 when they
		were about sixteen years of age.

	   	   John Howland and Elizabeth remained in Plymouth until the late 1620's when
		he helped to establish a trading post near what is now called Augusta, Maine. 
		In 1639 they moved inland to Rocky Nook, Massachusetts where John held
		various town offices and was a member of the Puritan Church.  John was
		known as a selectman, deputy to the General Court in Boston and an
		assessor.

	  	    Matilda Canaday-Sammons is ninth generation American from John Howland
		and Elizabeth Tilley, Mayflower immigrants of 1620.

	   	   The following is a list of John and Elizabeth Howland's direct descendants
		through Donald Erwin.

			1.  	John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley
			2.  	Desire Howland and John Gorham
			3.	Shubael Gorham and Puella Hussey
			4.	Deborah Gorham and Beriah Fitch
			5.	Eunice Fitch and Benjamin Barnard
			6.	Matilda Barnard and Henry Canaday
			7.	John Canaday and Sarah
			8.	Calvin M. Canaday and Almira Conover
			9.	Matilda Alice Canaday and Clarence Almon Sammons
			10.	Elsie Mae Sammons and Lawrence Edward Erwin
			11.	Donald Eugene Erwin and Gretchen Ann Geraty

	   	   The Donald Erwin family actually had six relatives(four ancestors) on the
		Mayflower of 1620.  They were: John Howland, John Tilley, his wife and
		their daughter Elizabeth,  John Tilley's brother, Edward and his wife, Ann.

	   	   The World Book Encyclopedia, The  Chronicle of America and the genealogy
		of the John Howland Family were some of the sources of information.   I
		hope all of my family might learn and enjoy some American history, their
		connection with the beginning of America and the first American
		Thanksgiving.


	Rev.11/98, 2/2000    


Info submitted by Gretchen Ann Geraty Erwin - 26 Feb 2000
(Ann wrote this for her grandchildren for the Thanksgiving time around the table full of food, so they would know more about their heritage.)
Graphics from: http://www.mayflowerfamilies.com/freebkins/
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Charlotte Curlee Ramsey
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