To Be a Mayflower Descendant on Thanksgiving

Many of you have followed my blog for years and might not know that I am a Mayflower descendant – this is just one tiny fact in the many things and life experiences that have made me who I am. I am the 14th granddaughter of Thomas Rogers, who came over on the Mayflower and was one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact. Anyone who knows anything about genealogy will understand that as you go up each branch of the family tree, the sets of grandparents multiply and fan out. However, it’s fascinating as you trace each line up the generations and learn the stories and histories of all who came before us. Four hundred years after the sailing of the Mayflower, there could potentially be millions of descendants alive today. However, proving that you are a direct descendant and getting approved by the historians up in Plymouth, MA can prove tricky and requires 400 years of birth, christening, marriage and burial records.

Thomas Rogers was a part of a religious group called the Separatists. You may recall some of this from your grade school history classes! The Separatists had fled from England to Holland to be able to more freely practice their religion. Thomas was a citizen of Leyden, Holland in 1618 but the group wanted to keep their English customs and their own religion and decided to go to the New World in search of religious freedom. He sailed aboard the Mayflower in 1620 along with his son, Joseph. After 66 miserable days aboard the ship with 102 packed passengers, they finally arrived on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Upon arriving, 41 of the men signed the Mayflower Compact – a historic document which is an example of our country’s earliest democratic government. Son Joseph survived the first terrible Massachusetts winter when half of the passengers who had just arrived perished from an unidentified epidemic, but Thomas died. Thomas’s second son John arrived over to the Plymouth colony around 1630 and my family line continued down.

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It’s been fascinating to have organized four hundred years of documents from this one small part of my large family tree and I’ll note that there are many other fascinating people in the extensive tree (more on that in other posts!).

Thanksgiving in America is celebrated to remember the date in 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast together – here is a great write up on about the history of the holiday.

Thanksgiving has always been a special day in my family – time to take a break and enjoy great food and stories with loved ones. Here are some photos of my family tables from recent years. I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving today and hope you enjoy celebrating your family traditions!

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