For me, the Thanksgiving holiday conjures visions of family gatherings, an outpouring of love, laughter, a ton of delicious food crowding the table, and a silent inventory of things I'm thankful for. That list is endless, but always begins with my wondrous, amazing family. When I contemplate that family, I have to include my adventurous ancestors. They who gathered their courage, hopes and dreams, boarded a ship, and sailed to America.
|"Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor," by William Halsall, 1882|
John Howland and Elizabeth Tillie, my ninth great-grandparents through my father's maternal side, were the first of my ancestors to do just that. They boarded the Mayflower in England, as single, young adults, September 16, 1620. The ship dropped anchor at Plymouth Rock on the 16th of December, that same year. Three years later, John and Elizabeth were married after surviving the hardships of the first deadly winter that claimed the lives of half the passengers.