We all remember the elementary school Thanksgiving plays, where kids dress up as Pilgrims and Indians and share the harvest of the land. For one Springfield resident, those plays meant a great deal more than they did to her peers: she’s a direct descendant of one of the Mayflower ship’s most prominent passengers. As part of KSMU’s ongoing series, “Sense of Place,” Jennifer Moore interviewed her and has this story.
Almost 400 years after her ancestors boarded a ship in southern England and set sail for a new land, Springfield resident Margaret Maulin prepares for yet another Thanksgiving.
Her ancestor, Captain Miles Standish, not only came over on the Mayflower ship; he was the military captain for the voyage, and the new colony, and is one of the most famous Pilgrims.
Eleven generations later, his direct descendant sifts through documents, old letters and genealogy charts, soaking up everything she can about him.
One of those charts is a 6-foot long chart of Maulin’s family tree. It takes the two of us to unroll it on her dining room table.
Maulin says every Thanksgiving, she reflects on the 66-day journey the Pilgrims made in 1620.
Maulin knows that war, starvation, and disease would soon follow. But for the first few years, the American Indians and the Pilgrims really were friends; the natives showed the newcomers how to till the land and plant crops. The first feast of Thanksgiving took place in October of 1621.
Diaries indicate it really was a meal of fellowship and peace, with venison, duck, turkey, corn and pumpkin. There were also games and contests; Captain Miles Standish is recorded as showing off his fourteen soldiers with some military drills for the crowd.
The Mayflower Society estimates there are tens of million of individuals who are direct descendants of those original 102 passengers on the Mayflower ship, and that most of them are unaware of their esteemed ancestry.
One thing that impresses Margaret Maulin is how diverse the group of descendants has become. She refers to an article published by USA Weekend in 2002, which she has a copy of.
Maulin says this makes her proud, not just because of America’s past, but also because of what it has become.
For KSMU’s Sense of Place, I’m Jennifer Moore.