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The First American Thanksgiving

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  • Capt. Myles Standish, "Mayflower" Passenger (c.1584 - 1656)
    Captain Myles Standish (c.1584 – 1656) was a Mayflower passenger who accompanied the Pilgrims as the commander of their militia, but was not a Pilgrim in the religious sense of the group. Born in Lanca...
  • Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland, "Mayflower" Passenger (bef.1607 - 1687)
    Elizabeth Tilley BAPTISM: 30 August 1607 at Henlow, co. Bedford, England, daughter of John and Joan (Hurst) (Rogers) Tilley. MARRIAGE: John Howland, about 1625, at Plymouth. CHILDREN: Desire, J...
  • William Bradford, Governor of Plymouth Colony (bef.1589 - 1657)
    Son of William Bradford and Alice Morton (or Alice Hanson?) Bradford * Birth: on or before 19 March 1589/90 - Austerfield, Yorkshire, England* Christened: 19 March 1589/90 - St. Helen's Chapel, Austerf...
  • John Alden, "Mayflower" Passenger (c.1598 - 1687)
    John Alden (c.1599 - 12 September 1687 South Duxbury, Plymouth Colony) John Alden is said to be the first person from the Mayflower to set foot on Plymouth Rock in December of 1620. Birth date The ...
  • Priscilla (Mullins) Alden, “Mayflower” passenger (1602 - 1687)
    Priscilla Mullins (c.1603 – c.1688), Mayflower passenger and noted member of Plymouth's "Pilgrim" colony in Massachusetts, and wife of fellow colonist John Alden (c.1599-1687), was most likely born in ...

Harvest festival observed by the Pilgrims at Plymouth

Americans commonly trace the Thanksgiving holiday to a 1621 celebration at the Plymouth Plantation, where the Plymouth settlers held a harvest feast after a successful growing season. Autumn or early winter feasts continued sporadically in later years, first as an impromptu religious observance, and later as a civil tradition.

Squanto, a Patuxet Native American who resided with the Wampanoag tribe, taught the Pilgrims how to catch eel and grow corn and served as an interpreter for them. Squanto had learned English during his enslavement in England. The Wampanoag leader Massasoit had given food to the colonists during the first winter when supplies brought from England were insufficient.

The Pilgrims celebrated at Plymouth for three days after their first harvest in 1621. The exact time is unknown, but James Baker, then Plimoth Plantation vice president of research, stated in 1996, "The event occurred between Sept. 21 and Nov. 11, 1621, with the most likely time being around Michaelmas (Sept. 29), the traditional time." Seventeenth-century accounts do not identify this as a thanksgiving observance, rather it followed the harvest. It included 50 persons who were on the Mayflower (all who remained of the 100 who had landed) and 90 Native Americans. The feast was cooked by the four adult Pilgrim women who survived their first winter in the New World (Eleanor Billington, Elizabeth Hopkins, Mary Brewster, and Susanna (White) Winslow), along with young daughters and male and female servants. "Pilgrims" are often confused with "Puritans". This sculpture The Pilgrim by Augustus St. Gaudens is based on his earlier work The Puritan

Two colonists gave personal accounts of the 1621 feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Pilgrims, most of whom were Separatists (English Dissenters), are not to be confused with Puritans who established their own Massachusetts Bay Colony nearby (current day Boston) in 1628. Both groups were strict Calvinists, but differed in their views regarding The Church of England. Puritans wished to remain in the Anglican Church and reform it, and Pilgrims wanted complete separation from the church.

List of likely attendees

Allerton; Isaac, Bartholomew, Remember and Mary William Bradford Brewster; Mary, True/Love, Wrestling Chilton; Susana and Mary Cooke; Francis and John Humility Cooper Samuel Fuller Joseph Rogers Henry Samson Elizabeth Tilley Thomas Williams Winslow; Edward and Elizabeth Dorothy ? (maid of John Carver) John Howland (fell from the Mayflower during a storm and was rescued) William Latham Desire Minter Richard More George Soule Billington; John, Eleanor,John and Francis Peter Browne Eaton;Francis and Samuel Richard Gardiner Hopkins; Stephen, Elizabeth, Giles,John Guild, Constance, Oceanus (born on the Mayflower) Priscilla Mullins Standish; Myles and Rose Richard Warren Gilbert Winslow White; William, Susanna, Resolved, Peregrine (born at bay of Plymouth) Edward Doty Edward Leister

By process of elimination these would have been the survivors of the Mayflower who landed in 1620 and survived the first winter and celebrated the first Thanksgiving.

There are some errors in this list:

Humility Cooper was a child when her parents died the first winter.  She was sent back to England, John Alden seems to be missing from the list.;_ylt=A0LEViiEK1dWLmMA1QYnn...