- 400 Years in the Makingby w.j.debi
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discovering history
400 Years in the Making by w.j.debi

In 1620 the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth and started a colony. It's one of those facts they review in grade school history each year around Thanksgiving. I've viewed this as interesting historical information my whole life, but I never considered I had any direct connections to this history until lately.

A few days before Thanksgiving 2020, I discovered my 10th great-grandfather was on the Mayflower. Excited to share, I texted the entire family to let them know the news. My niece was thrilled because they were just learning about the Pilgrims in school. (Guess who's in grade school.) It was great timing for the information.

My 10th great-grandfather on my father's side--Thomas Rogers was a Mayflower passenger and 18th signer of the Mayflower Compact. In his forties, he was considered one of the old men on the ship and was left on board when the first group of men went ashore to explore. Unfortunately, he was one of the colonists that died during the epidemic experienced by the settlers during the first winter. His name is carved on a monument in Plymouth. His son Joseph was on the voyage with him while Thomas's wife and other three children were left in the Netherlands. Joseph survived and became a prominent member of the colony. Thomas's younger son John, who is my ancestor, came to America several years later with his two daughters.

This information got me enthused to begin working on family history again, something I did back in my teens and twenties but only dabbled in after that because work, school, and other things distracted me. One benefit of the pandemic is that it leaves more time for research.

To my surprise, this week I discovered I had another ancestor present on those eastern shores in 1620. Again, I texted the family with the news, and again my niece was thrilled to learn the information.

My 10th great-grandfather on my mother's side was Native American leader, Chief Massasoit Sachem who formed an alliance with the colonists at Plymouth against unfriendly tribes, and assisted the settlers so that they avoided starvation during the early years. I've always admired this man for welcoming these strangers to his shores, but now it means a lot more to me.

I wonder how well acquainted these two men were? What would they think of having a 10th great-granddaughter in common?

As I ponder that four hundred years ago my 10th great-grandfathers met, I have to smile at the way they have met again. Funny how history repeats itself.



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