The first Thanks­giv­ing: Shared bounty

The Standard Journal - - FARM - GARDEN - By RICKY ENSLEY,

The his­tory of Thanks­giv­ing in the New World starts with a win­ter for­est in the Cape Cod area of Mas­sachusetts.

The Mayflower dropped an­chor on Novem­ber 21, 1620, hav­ing left Eng­land more than two months be­fore. On De­cem­ber 26, 1620, after ex­plor­ing the area, the boat was moved to the site that would be New Ply­mouth.

There are only two writ­ten ac­counts of the 1621 Thanks­giv­ing: First is Ed­ward Winslow’s ac­count, which he wrote in a let­ter dated De­cem­ber 21, 1621. The com­plete let­ter was first pub­lished in 1622, and is chap­ter 6 of Mourt’s Relation: A Jour­nal of the Pil­grims at Ply­mouth.

Winslow writes “Our corn did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good in­crease of In­dian corn, but our peas not worth gath­er­ing, for we feared they were too late sown. They came up very well, and blos­somed, but the sun parched them in the blos­som.

“Our har­vest be­ing got­ten in, our gov­er­nor sent four men on fowl­ing, that so we might after a spe­cial man­ner re­joice to­gether after we had gath­ered the fruits of our labors.

“They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a lit­tle help be­side, served the company almost a week. Many of the In­di­ans com­ing amongst us, and among the rest their great­est King Mas­sas­oit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we en­ter­tained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer which they brought to the plan­ta­tion and be­stowed on our gov­er­nor and upon the cap­tain and oth­ers.”

The sec­ond de­scrip­tion was writ­ten by Wil­liam Brad­ford in his His­tory of Ply­mouth Plan­ta­tion.

Brad­ford writes, “For as some were thus em­ployed in af­fairs abroad, oth­ers were ex­er­cis­ing in fish­ing, about cod and bass and other fish of which they took good store, of which ev­ery fam­ily had their por­tion.

“And be­sides wa­ter­fowl there was great store of wild tur­keys, of which they took many, be­sides veni­son, etc. Be­sides they had about a peck of meal a week to a per­son, or now since the har­vest, In­dian corn to that pro­por­tion.”

As you can see from th­ese two quo­ta­tions, the only foods specif­i­cally men­tioned by the Pil­grims are: corn (this could have been wheat), In­dian corn, bar­ley, peas (if any were spared), wa­ter fowl, five deer, fish (bass and cod), and wild turkey.

The hol­i­day of Thanks­giv­ing is about the help of neigh­bors and a boun­ti­ful har­vest of lo­cal foods.

Happy Thanks­giv­ing from Ricky, Cathy, Nolan, and Cal­lie Ensley to you and your fam­ily!

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