Happy Thanksgiving! Let us not forget this holiday about being thankful, and remembering all those who came before us. The "first Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims in the fall of 1621. The feast lasted 3 days, as there were no stores open for Black Friday shopping. In fact many Pilgrims had to live on the Mayflower for a few years or camp on open ground as it took a while to build small houses for each family. Supposedly 90 native Americans and 53 pilgrims attended this feast. Thanksgiving was started as a "religious" holiday, thanking and praising God the Father for all our blessings. The New England colonists did this, and then President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it. (Source: wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving_(United_States)#History )
I don't descend from any native Americans, as I am quite Caucasian and European. I do however have several ancestors who boarded the Mayflower and survived not only the trip but the hard early winters. At last count, I have two Mayflower ancestors on my dad's side: William and Mary Brewster. I have 9 Mayflower ancestors on my mom's side: John Alden, John Howland, William & Alice Mullins and Priscilla, Myles Standish, and John & Joan Tilley & Elizabeth. My husband also has 2 Mayflower ancestors: Isaac and Mary Allerton.
This month I am going to focus on one of my "famous" Mayflower ancestors: Myles Standish. It's a funny story how I found out he was "famous". I didn't really remember much history when I started my family history. I was online researching my family and going back. I ended up going back many generations, and then grabbed my papers and went to a genealogy meeting. I was telling my genealogy friends about my discovery and my friend says "do you KNOW who Myles Standish is?" I said "yes, my ancestor". She laughed and told me. When I got home, I then looked and even found him in the dictionary.
Myles was born about 1585 in England, probably in Lancashire county. He was a part of Queen Elizabeth's army and was stationed for a time in Holland where he met John Robinson and the Pilgrims who were living in Leiden. Standish was hired by the Pilgrims to be their military captain, to establish and coordinate the colony's defense against foreign and domestic threats. He led or went along on many exploratory missions of the land, and was very involved in selecting the site where they settled. He was one of the few who did not get sick the first winter, and helped care for those who did. He was heavily involved in the colony's defense, exploration and keeping the law. He was a short man with a quick temper. He was well respected and held many positions of authority.
Myles' first wife Rose (maiden name unknown) came with him on the Mayflower, but she died the first winter. His second wife, Barbara came on the ship Anne in 1623 and they were married within a year. He did not have any children with his first wife. Myles and Barbara were the parents of 7 children, 6 boys and one girl. Their firstborn died very young, probably as an infant or toddler. Their daughter died as a young woman, about age 18-20. I descend from their son Alexander.
Myles lived his later years in Duxbury, Plymouth county, Massachusetts until his death in October 1656.
I am a member of the Mayflower Society, and made my application through Myles Standish. Most of this information I have through the Mayflower "expert" Caleb H. Johnson. He has a web site mayflowerhistory.com, and two books. I am very thankful for all my ancestors, but it is especially fun to find a "famous" one.