When Thanksgiving arrives, I think about the Mayflower and its brave passengers who left Plymouth, England, Sept. 16, 1620.
Arriving at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Nov. 20, 1620, they began a whole new life. Dec. 26, 1620, they anchored their ship at the location where they decided to establish the Plymouth Colony.
Immediately, winds howled and a snow fell. They shivered as they built shelters out of tree bark. Half of them died that first terrible winter. It seemed like spring would never come in 1621. They were startled when Samoset (1590?-1655) walked into their settlement.
He spoke a few English words that he had learned from sailors along the coast of Maine. A couple of days later, he brought Squanto of the Pawtuxet tribe to converse with them. Samoset was a chief of the Pemaquid Indians.
Squanto was an answer to the Pilgrims' prayers. He spoke fluent English. As a teenager, he was kidnapped by British sailors. They sold him as a slave in Spain. He managed to escape to London, England. In 1619, he returned to Cape Cod.
His village was located at the site where the Plymouth Colony stood. When he returned from England, it was empty. All his people had died from diseases spread to them by English sailing crews.
When the Pilgrims were struggling to survive, he showed them how to plant corn and fish the Indian way. He acted as an interpreter when John Carver was negotiating a peace treaty with Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag tribe in southern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. (Carver, the governor of the Plymouth colony, had learned that Squanto knew a variety of Indian dialects.)
Some of the Wampanoag Indians attended New England's first Thanksgiving feast, which was held some time in October or November of 1621. My ancestor, John Adams from Wales, may have also been there. He arrived at Plymouth Nov. 9, 1621, on a ship called "the Fortune."
Helen Ruth Arnold,