Whenever I visit a place where my ancestors once lived I try to learn as much as I can about the area. On a trip not long ago to Plymouth, Massachusetts, I learned about one of the most fascinating living history museums I have ever been to (and I have visited a lot of them). I have New England ancestors and have traveled and researched there many, many times.
Although I am not a Mayflower descendent, I always wanted to visit the area. My ancestors are scattered throughout eastern Massachusetts arriving as early as the 1630s in Boston. Roger Williams is my 9th great grandfather. He arrived in February 1631 in Boston aboard the ship Lyon.
He was a preacher and a friend of John Winthrop. He preached first in Salem then in Plymouth before returning back to Salem. Even though he was in Plymouth ten or so years after the Pilgrims arrived in 1620, understanding Plymouth would help me gain a better understanding of him and his life in colonial Massachusetts.
Not far from Plymouth, Massachusetts is Plimoth Plantation, www.plimoth.org. It is a recreation of the original Plymouth village site. A group of settlers (re-enactors) follow a daily scrip taken from events on a particular day in 1627, just seven years after the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony. They are very good and stay in character no matter how hard a visitor might try to rattle them.
The recreated village is very true to form and all the materials and construction methods used to build the houses, barns, and church are all used with methods common in 1620 Plymouth. Some of the villagers are busily working in a seventeenth century sawmill, making planks for house and barn siding and shingles. The villagers can be seen tending their gardens and livestock. The villagers engage visitors as if they too just recently arrived in the colony.
Plimoth Plantation, more than any other site or museum will bring you closer to your ancestors whether they are original Mayflower settlers or arrived soon after.
Write about your experience and how your family felt about visiting this wonderful place. If you will in the area during the Thanksgiving period, enquire about having a traditional Thanksgiving meal at Plimoth Plantation. I promise you it will be a unique experience.
The following excerpt is taken from the Plymouth Plantation website, www.plimoth.org “Take a savory journey into the past. An evening of entertainment and hospitality awaits you as you sit down to a “groaning board” filled with the finest food that this season of plenty has to offer. Your Pilgrim hosts – residents of 1627 Plimoth – will spice up your dinner conversation with tales of England – old and new. Discover the table manners and recipes that traveled across the Atlantic with the Pilgrims, and find out about what happened at the famous harvest celebration of 1621. During dinner, you will be entertained with centuries-old psalms and songs and perhaps you will be convinced to join in singing a round or two.”