Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Pilgrim Story

If you read here, you know that I have been pretty scarce, especially in September and October. It was good for me to take the break from writing and commenting. Further, it allowed me the time to pursue some other interests and areas that had been neglected. 


One of those areas was my interest in genealogy. Last year, I shared the story about finding my mother's mother's mother's family. I learned that that line came to this country in 1635 where they settled in the Worcester area of Massachusetts. I also learned that I was related to my  blogging buddy Jill!  It is true that, if you hang out in Blogdom long enough, you might find your relatives. Ha! That post was called *Land of Light.*




Today, a week before Thanksgiving, I want to tell you my Pilgrim story/ies. Did I hear a collective groan out there? ☺


This time, I turned my attention to my father's side of the family, specifically his mother's mother's family. You may have seen my great-grandmother — she's that little lady in the vintage photo in my header just below her six times great-grandparents John and Priscilla Alden. Can you believe it?!


Long-time readers have been introduced to my great-grandmother before in a post called *Old Photos* and another called *Treasures.* I was an adult when my great-grandmother passed away at the age of 92. How blessed I was to have known her! To my knowledge, she never knew who her famous ancestors were. (In fact, her memory of ancestry was pretty vague. She once told me what her mother's name was and I dutifully wrote it down in my notebook, but that person turned out to be her grandmother. No wonder I was having such trouble pushing back!  She can be forgiven for this because she was only eight years old when she lost her mother.)


~my paternal grandmother's parents~


I have been so excited about this discovery that I can hardly see straight. We are descended from the Aldens' daughter Sarah who married Andrew Standish. He was the son of Myles/Miles Standish. You may remember, if you are of a certain age (about 150 or so), the epic poem "The Courtship of Miles Standish" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It tells the family legend that Little Henry often heard when he was growing up of the two suitors of Priscilla Mullins. 
My father used to often quote the phrase, "Speak for yourself, John Alden" when I was growing up. I did slog through it recently and I liked the description that either Priscilla or John gives Myles..."he's a little chimney of a man" or something like that. Yes, Myles was a soldier and he had a hot temper. 


And while that is all exciting, there's more! When my thirteen times great-grandmother was a young woman 
living in Leiden, Holland 
(where The Separatists first relocated), she also had two suitors. One was Thomas Southworth who became her first husband; the second was William Bradford. Her name was Alice Carpenter and you can read more about her by googling. It is a fascinating story and I am only going to hit the highlights.
William Bradford (the writer of The Mayflower Compact and the second governor of Massachusetts) would go on to marry Dorothea and they would travel on The Mayflower to the New World.
 
One day, while William was scouting for a good place to settle, Dorothea either 
leapt or fell overboard and drowned. She had been distraught over leaving their son behind with family so there has always been some question. It was a tragedy to lose her that way after making the harrowing trip across the Atlantic.
 
Meanwhile, back in England (where The Separatists were living after the time in Holland), Alice's first husband (my ancestor) died leaving her a widow with two young sons Thomas and Constant. When William Bradford learned the news of her loss, he wrote Alice a letter asking her to become his wife. Within two years, she had joined him in Plymouth and they were married. Her sons came later and grew up with William Bradford as their step-father. They were both named in his will. Alice's son Constant was my ancestor. Constant becomes a popular name in the family with a number after him also being given the name. I think 
it's a great name.

Many interesting connections can be found between those early Pilgrims. Let's face it, for a while there, they didn't have too many others around. One is that William Bradford officiated at the wedding of John and Priscilla Alden.

 
From there, we had a slight name change from Southworth to South*** ; in fact, my little Grammie was the last to have this name in our family (her maiden name). Following the name change, there was a settling of successive generations in Maine. I  found more Revolutionary War soldiers (a father and son) and another Civil War soldier. And, oddly enough, I discovered that some of these Pilgrim descendants were born and lived in the town where my sister now lives. 


I had my own beloved step-grandfather and my grands do love John who is their step-grandfather so it is a thrill to know that William Bradford is another in a long line of step-grandfathers. This is what he had to say about the Pilgrims' departure from England

With mutual embraces and many tears, they took their leaves of one another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them...but they knew they were pilgrims and looked not much on those things, but lifted their eyes to heaven, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits.

Now I hope that I have not bored you entirely. My own children are completely unimpressed with my revelations. Thankfully, a few other relatives show more interest.


I shared the news with my grandsons last Saturday. They are 8 and 7. 
"Do you know anything about the Pilgrims?" I asked. They knew a few things mostly about The Mayflower and Squanto. "You're related to the Pilgrims." They sat quietly taking that in. Then they wanted to know their relatives' names. They wondered why their surname did not match. The youngest grand's eyes lit up, "I have a friend Tommy (name changed) Alden. He must really be related to them." I'd not be surprised. He and ten million others. 


They were learning, like me, that just because your surname doesn't match any on the passenger list, doesn't mean that one is not related. In fact, I am very close to proving that the other side of my great-grandmother's family was also related to yet another Pilgrim. Both her parents were from Pilgrim stock!
When my daughter found out that I had told her nephews the big news, she groaned audibly, "Mom, they're going to tell everyone at school! They'll think they are crazy!" Now I can't imagine why that would be because the boys would only be telling the truth. It's just a good thing I didn't know when I was a child because I would have been insufferable!
 
If you're still here, thank you for reading all this. Say, are you also one of the ten million? You may be and not even know it!
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Edited to Add October 13, 2016: I have continued working on My Pilgrim Story in the months following my initial discoveries and have gone on to find more connections back to the Aldens specifically. Apparently, I had a few multiple great-grandparents who married cousins who were also descended from the Aldens. No surprise there as there weren't that many people to choose from back in the day.

My father was a bit confused about his connection to The Pilgrims. He was trying to connect his surname to them and could not. "How is the H family related to The Pilgrims?"

"They are not except that your father had the good sense to marry your mother whose family is related to them,"
 I replied. 

My grandson Sam had had similar difficulty. "The Mayflower must have sailed by Italy on the way over, " he said. I know I shouldn't have, but I laughed out loud. We are going to have to have a little math lesson on family trees. Not to mention another history lesson. He will like that!

57 comments:

  1. How fascinating to read your Pilgrim story(ies)! What is not to love about tracing your roots back to such illustrious folk? Don't the Pilgrims seem more "real" after making such connections?

    Tracing genealogy takes tenacity and diligence. Hats off to you for your hard work!

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  2. How interesting! I love a mystery and would probably enjoy doing genealogy. Every discovery is a clue...how exciting! Enjoy your day! You're one in a million in my book....or is that 10 million?! Hugs!

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  3. Fascinating reading--I read with great interest. I hope your grandsons do brag a bit about it at school. I can imagine your detective work was a cliff hanger. How could you go to bed at night if you were on to something? When I think of my ancestors, I always wonder what in me was in them--character traits, etc.
    No wonder you have been busy outside blog world. I'm so glad you told us the story.

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  4. I love this! I am a fan of genealogy. I really like finding the connections and stories! It's all about the relational stuff for me!

    Deanna

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  5. I love hearing about family histories. I have learned that I am related to Daniel Boone and President William McKinley.....

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    1. How fun! Have you done the proofs or are you blessed with a family member who does the research?

      The connections are incredible. My aunt and uncle are distant cousins, his family being descended from the Aldens' daughter Ruth. He is related to President John Quincy Adams on that line. My uncle laughs that he moved away from his hometown so he wouldn't marry a cousin. And I learned that my parents are distant cousins as well. It is so fascinating to me!

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  6. You are ever so fortunate to have learned such family history! How very interesting this is! Thank you for sharing the history that belongs to you beautiful family! What a treasure to share with your grandchildren! Love this Vee!

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  7. I think it's very interesting! Our son does all the genealogy digging around here and is very fascinated by it.

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  8. Vee, this was a most interesting post. My mother has done some of her family's genealogy, but thus far my sister nor I have picked up where she left off. I read your post to the end and enjoyed it. My favorite part was this quote you included, " but they knew they were pilgrims and looked not much on those things, but lifted their eyes to heaven, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits."

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  9. Well I made it happily to the very end and I'm amazed at your heritage. I know for sure I'm not part of the ten million. I have asked for that $99 genetic testing you can order on line and send in your spit and they tell you where you came from. Won't that be fun...or not. My parents have no written records of anyone in their families.

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  10. Wonderful post, Vee. I love reading family stories. I know my family landed in Virginia from Cornwall and eventually fought with George Washington ... a great great great something or other (!!!!) was a Captain in Washington's army. I really need to get all the notes out and figure out who is who. Since I am the last living member of my family, kind of hard to get excited about it, but I love reading stories. It's an adventure!

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    1. That sounds very intriguing. I wonder if your local historical society would be interested in having a copy of your family history.

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  11. Well. You are certainly descended from faithful and sturdy Pilgrim stock. What interesting research and findings. I know most definitely that I am not one of the 10 million. My ancestry can be traced to the Dutch/Prussian/German Mennonites who emigrated from Europe to Russia under Catherine the Great and then to Canada in the late 1800s and after the Russian Revolution. Both of my grandfathers were born in Russia.
    I love family histories. Thank you for sharing yours. I find it interesting that you've remained living in the same general area as your ancestors.

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  12. Well, I find this all very interesting. I wouldn't know where to start with my family. Moms parents immigrated from Austria and Germany way back and Dads grandparents came from Ireland and England. That's all I know.
    I think those little boys are very lucky that you found all of that history of your family. They can carry that on to the next generations.

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  13. Wow...how fascinating! My oldest grandson is a history buff and he would have been so excited to learn he was related to the pilgrims! I think it is really wonderful that you have learned these family ties and have no doubt you will continue to dig. I enjoyed reading this!

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  14. This was really interesting, Vee! My Mom was the genealogist in the family and I'm trying to pick up where she left off but failing miserably, I might just pick your brain someday! :) I know there are definitely no relation to pilgrims on my family tree.

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  15. I always enjoy reading and learning more about ones geneology. Nice to see you Vee!!! Blessings

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  16. Wow, how fascinating! I haven't done my genealogy, although I know my ancestors are English on my mother's side and Norwegian on my father's, that is about all the information I have. It all seems so difficult to trace and takes more dedication than I am willing to put into it. Your information should make great conversation around the table this Thanksgiving though!

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  17. Oh Vee, this is just fascinating news! You are from wonderful stock! My own relatives came to this country aboard the Sea Venture. The Sea Venture wrecked in Bermuda and then later were came to settle in Jamestowne. I love this and it's an important part of who we are. Our grandson is named after this brave soul of long ago, Samuel Jordan. We are history nuts in our family. ♥

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    1. Oh to have some history nuts in the family! I think that I may be the last one... I read your story and it is fascinating. I see that there were multiple suitors in your family story, too.

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  18. Fascinating! I love reading genealogy and am thankful that other family members have delved into my ancestors histories over the years. I believe there is some connection to a Howland who was on the Mayflower to my grandmother's side (father's mother) but it's very vague. This was an interesting read Vee. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  19. Wow, I am really amazed at all you found out about your heritage. Really interesting!!!

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  20. Fantastic!

    Both your heritage.

    And your work, to find it.

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  21. Very interesting ! I have been researching ancestors off and on for years. I reach a dead-end and stop for awhile. It takes a lot of time and is a lot of fun !

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  22. I enjoyed reading this Vee and you are so lucky to be able to trace your ancestors. Being related to pilgrims should make the boys feel proud and that's info worth sharing.
    You must have used one of the genealogy programs available, I've thought about this but...try and trace my father's side of Jones back to Wales! It would be fun to go way back like you have.

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  23. No groans from this corner!! That is some wonderful detective work Vee. Very cool. I love researching family history. My step-mother was probably one of your cousins. Her ancestors came over on the Mayflower too. I recently learned that my husband is directly related to William The Conqueror, King of England, through Anne Askew (1521-26 July 1546), the martyr, Duchess of Somerset who married a Thomas Kyme had two children, then they divorced. She was burned at the stake by the Catholic church for her Protestant beliefs. (yawning yet? ha ha) I highly recommend everyone research their family. It helps make our society more cohesive. We learn that our American way of life is worth fighting for!
    Keep up the good work. Luv ~:)

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  24. I am excited about your future research, too. This is really wonderful that you did all of this work and I'm delighted that you shared it with us. I hope the boys invite you to their school to share the story. What a wonderful Thanksgiving story that will now be carried down through your grandsons sharing this information with their children. I'm excited for you and for your family. Love the photos, too. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

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  25. Vee, your post is delightful. The way you described everything, I could picture it happening in my head. Genealogy is fascinating. There is so much you can find out online. Great detective work!

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  26. My goodness, I am always amazed that ancestors can be found like this. How exciting to have your genealogy traced back to the Pilgrims.

    It's nice to hear from you again. I hope you have a most wonderful time preparing for Thanksgiving.

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  27. WOW, this is such an awesome story, Vee. You have worked hard and done lots of digging to find all this info. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  28. What a wonderful family story! I love genealogy. All my family came from the Netherlands, mostly in the early 1900's. My hubby's family came over in 1640. I have neglected working on our family history for quite awhile, I hope to get back to it soon.

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  29. What an amazing post!!! I loved every word! Wish I had known you and you had known all this back when I was homeschooling Amber and Ben! I have no eathly idea who my biological father was and am no use whatsoever when or if my children or grandchildren want to research their geneology other than that on my maternal side. My mother's maiden name was Whitfield so I am pretty sure that is English.
    I have often thought about doing that DNA testing just to see if I have any 'roots'.....
    LOVED reading each and every word!!!! Vee, you are amazing!!!! Good job doing all that research!!

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  30. Oh, Vee...I love how you tell it! I can see the eye-rolling of your son and daughter...and the wide eyes of your much-more-impressed grandsons. :) I'm with the grandsons...quite impressed! You did well in connecting all the dots. A fun read!

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  31. So is William Bradford a step grandfather or a grandfather? This is all very fascinating Vee. My heritage through my father, goes back to the Mayflower and I am a descendant of William Bradford. Could it be that we are . . . . (are you sitting down?) COUSINS??? I need to check the details of this with my mother and get back to you. She has it all documented. Bill and I enjoyed reading this. Love that you gave your grands some excitement to tell at school.

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    1. Could our mutual ancestor be Alice Carpenter Southworth Bradford? How cool!

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  32. I enjoyed reading about your genealogy, Vee, and impressed with all your findings and your hard work! I loved hearing what your daughter had to say on the matter when you told your grandsons the good news!!!

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  33. You know what I like - I found out my ancestry - but there was nothing personal in it like that - Miles Standish - how cool.

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  34. My husband and I are both history buffs so hearing you have traced your family's arrival in America to 1635 is incredible!
    We live in such a young country, our first settlers arrived in the early 1800's.
    My mother's family arrived here from England in the first four ships.
    Vee, I'm sure your children will become interested once they are older and will then be grateful for the spade work you've done!

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  35. What an awesome story . Love your writing

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  36. I have a cousin that does all the work on our family...he's very good at it. I leave it all up to him...and if I hae a question, i email him and he sends the answer right back....pretty cool.
    All the way back to the 1600's, hu? That's awesome....

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  37. What a lot of hard work tracing back your ancestors so far - are there any skeletons in the closet?
    Re: your question to me regarding knowing anything about Lancashire. Sorry, only know that my brother worked there for a while after university, and I've only visited that area once briefly - on a trip home to England many years ago.
    Nice to see you back posting Vee. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving - with all those pilgrims in your family you should have it down pat by now, haha!
    Hugs - Mary

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  38. I know your excitement- I love family history and genealogy. It's been my hobby for over 36 years and I don't often let a week go by that I am not researching one line or another. You have some awesome ancestors!

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  39. Love this stuff! My husband is a descendant of Sam Adams!

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    1. Have found a Samuel Adams connection, too. Howdy, cousin!

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  40. My family (White) history also leads back to the Mayflower. I myself was unable to trace it back that far. My husband is "supposedly" a descendant of Blackbeard. The legend is that he married a girl from Bath, NC (where my husbands family is from) and then left her behind. She changed her name to Keech instead of Teach to keep her family safe. We have been able to trace the family to one generation prior to this so there is no hard proof. My son does enjoy telling people he is a descendant of Blackbeard though!

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    1. Sandy~

      I am watching Genealogy Roadshow where there is a story about Blackbeard. Fascinating fellow. Hope that you are watching, but perhaps you can find it by looking at PBS.org.

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  41. Vee- this is truly amazing. You are so lucky to know so much of your bloodline history. I never even knew my grandparents! God bless!

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  42. WOW! What an amazing lineage you have, Vee! I am always amazed when one can trace back their family so many generations. My daughter-in-law is a DAR and a relative of President John Adams. I will probably never be able to trace my line as my ancestors were poor immigrants and worked the coal mines of Pennsylvania. I always say "God Bless America" for all the opportunities it gave to their descendants Both my children have Masters degrees yet one paternal grandmother and one maternal great grandmother could neither read or write, as education for girls was not a priority in the countries of their birth

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    1. Try it, Pat. You'll be surprised by how much you can find. My uncle is also related to the Adams family. They are also related to the Aldens, specifically, their daughter Ruth.

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  43. This is so fascinating! I love hearing stuff like this. My family came not much after yours. I am a direct descendant of Edmund Cranmer who was the brother of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury under Henry VIII of England. I love genealogy and wish I knew more about how to look things up.

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  44. Oh I enjoyed your story, Vee! Things were interesting and so different back then. My mom's brother has done my maternal grandmother's family geneology (my mom says all the way back to the Mayflower). I just sort of assumed maybe that was an exaggeration, but then, maybe not. My uncle has told us that my mom, my sister, and myself are all eligible to be in the DAR and the UDC. My mom and sister aren't interested in participating and I'm still trying to decide. I really should follow up on it because I'm the big history buff in the family. :)

    Now that you know all this about your ancestors, I bet that makes Thanksgiving extra special for you? Thanks for sharing with us, Vee, and Happy Thanksgiving to you.

    Warm hugs,

    Denise at Forest Manor

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  45. Hi Vee! I think it is fabulous that you are learning so much about your family history. I would love to do some digging on my family and maybe someday I will. I have an aunt who has been looking into my grandma's side of the family and my dad has looked a little into his Canadian heritage. I find family history to be so fascinating.

    Hugs to you, Vee!

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  46. You are my favorite story teller...in fact, I can't wait for Downton Abbey to return so I can read your recaps, XOXO

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  47. Very interesting story. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Blessings, Martha

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  48. Really interesting Vee. My maternal grandfather's last name was Winslow, and we've often wondered if he was related to the Winslow that came over on the Mayflower. None of us have researched it though. An uncle researched a lot of family history on my father's side, only to find out the spelling of our last name had been changed sometime around WWI! So he had us traced back to the 16th century, but under the wrong name!

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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  49. Well you certainly got busy when you took your break.

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