The Thanksgiving season, and these next several months, are a special time of the year in the history of my family. My 9th great grandfather, William Bradford, came to America on the Mayflower in November of 1620.
The ship left England in September and, after a grueling 66-day journey marked by disease, which claimed two lives, the ship dropped anchor inside the hook tip of Cape Cod. That first winter, half of the colonists perished. And then, in early spring, the colony’s first leader, John Carver, died. William was elected to succeed him as governor, and was subsequently re-elected thirty times, serving until he died in 1657. He had a reputation as a firm and fair leader. William was the second signer and primary architect of the Mayflower Compact.
William’s first wife, Dorothy, died on December 7, 1620 after falling overboard into the icy waters of Provincetown Harbor while the Mayflower was anchored. The Pilgrims had not yet made it to Plymouth. On August 14, 1623, he married my 9th great grandmother, Alice Carpenter Southworth. She came to Plymouth aboard the Anne in July 1623, following the death of her first husband. The description of their marriage sounds similar to that of the first Thanksgiving.
Thus began my English ancestry in America. Soon after, my Puritan ancestors arrived with the family names of Benjamin, Newcomb, Cleaveland, Ormsby, Harris, and many others.
I’m proud that my family has been in America for 389 years!