Today is the anniversary of the Pilgrim’s docking the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock. It happened 395 years ago. 1620 was the year. It wasn’t a very good year. Fifty of the original 102 were dead by spring.
Yet, from those early settlers, generations of influential American citizens became household names.
Julia Child, who taught us how to cook proper French food, was descended from the Brewster Family. William Brewster was the colony’s religious leader for many years. I doubt that Julia would have liked their food choices.
Our 20th President, James Garfield, descended from some ornery Pilgrims…the John Billington family. Their sons were always in trouble and the father, John, shot and killed his neighbor in a dispute. He was hanged for the offense. A few years later his wife, Eleanor, was convicted of slander against another person and she was fined, ordered to sit in the stocks and was beaten. I guess the trouble followed their family down through the years. Two hundred and fifty years later, their relative, our President Garfield, was assassinated and died just six months after taking office.
George Eastman (founder of Eastman-Kodak) brought photography to the masses. He was a descendant of William Bradford, the longtime governor of the Plymouth Colony.
John Adams was born just one century after his relatives came over on the Mayflower. He was a descendant of John Alden who built and maintained the barrels used for storing supplies. He also served as assistant to the Governor for many years. He and his wife Priscilla became the subjects of Henry Wadsworth Longfellows’ poem “The Courtship of Miles Standish.”
Norman Rockwell was one of our greatest illustrators and painters of American life. He traced his ancestry to the Mayflower. His relative was Stephan Hopkins, a very interesting Pilgrim. His first trip to America left him shipwrecked in Bermuda. He led a mutiny and was sentenced to death. Somehow he knew the right people to get him out of that mess and he made it to the Mayflower group and was also an assistant to the Governor of the Colony. Later he got in a lot of trouble for allowing folks to drink alcohol at his home on a Sunday. I’m bad like that, too.
Humphrey Bogart’s relatives were on the Mayflower. Mr. John Howland was in indentured servant to John Carver, the first Governor of the Colony. Howland fell overboard during the crossing and somehow grabbed a roped and was barely pulled a board. After John Carver died Howland was declared a free man. He married one of the passengers he met on the crossing and they had ten kids and he became a positive force in the colony.
One other President, our 12th, Zachary Taylor, was a descendant of the Mayflower group. He was a relative of Isaac Allerton who came to America with his wife and three children. One of his children, Mary Allerton Cushman, lived until 1699, making her the longest surviving member of the Mayflower passengers.
There were many more shirt tail cousins like Dick Van Dyke, Marlyn Monroe. George Bush Family, Orson Welles, Alec Baldwin, FDR, and on and on.