Famous Descendants of the Mayflower
Happy Thanksgiving! A holiday known just as much for bringing families together as the food everyone partakes in, Thanksgiving holds a special place in the hearts of America.
The First Thanksgiving
The very first Thanksgiving can be traced to 1621. In 1620, the 102 Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower arrived to the New World. After enduring a harsh winter where only half of the Mayflower‘s original passengers and crew survived, the settlers were aided the next spring by neighboring Native American tribes. They were taught to cultivate corn, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. To celebrate their first successful harvest in the New World, Governor William Bradford organized the large feast and invited the colony’s Native American allies to join in the festivities. In what is remembered as the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims and Native Americans joined together to share an abundant meal that included lobster, seal and swans on the menu. The tradition would continue to be celebrated on and off for years before the holiday was formally recognized by the U.S. Congress in 1941.
Are you a Mayflower descendant? Were your ancestors present for the first Thanksgiving? Check out how a few famous faces are related to some prominent Mayflower passengers.
The governor of the Plymouth colony for over 30 years, Bradford played an intricate role in the success of the colony. His detailed manuscripts on the founding of the Plymouth colony are invaluable to understanding the lives of these early American settlers. They also provide one of two known written accounts of the first Thanksgiving celebration.
Superman star Christopher Reeve is a direct descendant of the Plymouth governor. Bradford is Christopher Reeve’s 8th great grandfather!
William Bradford is also Clint Eastwood’s 10th great grandfather.
One of the original settlers of the Plymouth colony, John Alden started his journey as a crew member aboard the Mayflower and elected not to return to England with the ship, deciding instead to remain in the newly found colony of Plymouth. For many years, Alden acted as assistant to the governor of the colony.
Second President of the United States John Adams is also a direct descendant of Alden. John Alden was President Adams’s second great grandfather.
Alden is also actor Dick Van Dyke’s 9th great grandfather!
Find more Mayflower passenger profiles in the Great Migration: Passengers of the Mayflower, 1620 genealogy project on Geni!