Wednesday, November 25, 2020

SearchResearch Challenge (11/25/20): Who made it to the first Thanksgiving?

 Even during COVID-19, 

Image by Sabrina Ripke from Pixabay

... Americans are celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday (a festival that we've discussed before in SRS, to wit, we asked Original Cranberry Recipe? and What and Why are Thanksgiving Traditions?)  

And, as I was thinking about the strange and socially-distanced Thanksgiving holiday for 2020, I was struck that this year, 2020, is the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing to North America, and the 399th anniversary of the First Thanksgiving associated with the Mayflower Pilgrims.   (There is much debate about whether this was truly the FIRST Thanksgiving, or if the festival was celebrated earlier, in 1619, at  Berkeley Hundred, Virginia, by settlers who arrived a board the ship Margaret).  

The thing that struck me as I read was how different the actual story is from the one I learned growing up.  As a lad I learned a happy story, one of a search for freedom and congenial relationships with the local Native Americans.  But the reality is much more complicated than that.  

First, there were originally 2 ships that set sail from England, the Mayflower and the Speedwell.  Alas, the Speedwell was unlucky and sprang two different leaks, causing the ships to return to port twice.  Then they moved 20 passengers from the Speedwell onto the Mayflower and finally left England with 130 souls on board, leaving the coast on September 16, 1620--which is a little late to be sailing to North American.  The Atlantic at that time of year is cold, with high seas, and deadly dangerous.  The winds blow the wrong way in late fall so it took them 66 days to reach the coast at Cape Cod, most of that time was wet, cold, and miserable in the high seas and wind. You can imagine the seasickness and overall sense of awfulness.  To make things worse, they were  aiming for Virginia, not Massachusetts.  Whatever.    

Of course, landing in Massachusetts in mid-November is a terrible idea, and no time to start a colony, and they barely survived the cold, deadly winter.  

But having made it through the terrible first winter, and then the summer, it was time for a celebration, which led to the Thanksgiving feast of 1621. 

Given how hard it was to survive the ocean trip, I wondered who was left to celebrate.  And that leads to our Challenge today.  

1. The Mayflower left England with 109 souls, of which only 2 perished on the way.  By the time of the Thanksgiving feast in November of 1621, how many of the original settlers were still alive?   How do you know? 

2.  If you know THAT number, what were their  names?!?  

3.  Purely for fun extra credit, I found that THIS famous image is somehow connected with the Mayflower.  Can you discover how? 

As always, while I'm interested in your answers, I MORE interested in how you found the answers.  Be sure to let us know what you did to find the answers to the Challenges, and what sources you used.

Search on! 



  1. #3 - image search…
    "Harold Edgerton, born in Norwich, Connecticut and a descendant of Governor William Bradford (1590–1657) of the Plymouth Colony and a passenger on the Mayflower."
    the pierced apple - Papa Flash -
    stroboscope /electronic flash
    "Then they moved 20 passengers from the Speedwell onto the Mayflower and finally left England with 130 souls on board, leaving the coast on September 16, 1620"
    then - 1. The Mayflower left England with 109 souls, of which only 2 perished on the way.


    1. The number of people on the Mayflower is, um... uncertain. I'll try looking for more deets on this. Interesting...

  2. [Myflower original settlers]

    ORG: The Mayflower Story

    They left Plymouth on 16th September 1620, with up to 30 crew and 102 passengers on board....The following passengers were on board the Mayflower: You can read them on site. They mention source is: New England Historic Genealogical Society

    Clicking the mentioned source links to:

    Mayflower (1620) from the handwritten manuscript of Gov. William Bradford

    On that site, visited "Primary Sources" Ctrl F, says Thanksgiving. However the link doesn't mention it. That is why I searched ["thanksgiving"]

    And says: Few people realize that the Pilgrims did not celebrate Thanksgiving the next year, or any year thereafter, though some of their descendants later made a "Forefather's Day" that usually occurred on December 21 or 22.

    There are only two contemporary accounts of the 1621 Thanksgiving: First is Edward Winslow's account, which he wrote in a letter dated December 12, 1621...The second description was written about twenty years after the fact by William Bradford in his History Of Plymouth Plantation.

    Wikipedia article mentions About half of the passengers died in the first winter. Also mentions: Two dogs are known to have participated in settling Plymouth.

    Re-read with more detail My first link on this post and says:

    The first Thanksgiving: Three-day festival of prayer.

    The 53 surviving settlers invited their Native Americans friends to join them for a huge feast in what was to become known as the first Thanksgiving.

    With that data, searched (not good because it is confirmation bias, however here it is) [First thanksgiving 53 survivors]

    THE 53 PILGRIMS AT THE FIRST THANKSGIVING that gives us the 2 answer.

    Now I will visit the removing part of the previous url. The site has a section dedicated to Thanksgiving. One article mentions: The Story of an Indomitable New England Lady, Sarah Josepha Hale which site mention is the Godmother of Thanksgiving. (I haven't read it yet)

    1. Good Morning.

      Just to wish Dr. Russell and all celebrating today a beautiful Thanksgiving Day. It is also a great moment to say Thanks, Dr. Russell for one more year of SearchReSearch Challenges

      Enjoy the Holidays season that starts today.

    2. For Q3

      Searched image adding Mayflower. Then searched image adding "Harold Edgerton around 3 Mayflower which Google changed to "Harold Edgerton around 3 Mayflower." So AROUND(X) on images is like the recent post Dr. Russell made about images and format.

      Found the same information previously found by Remmij

      [Mayflower ship unknown facts] and [Harold Edgerton unknown facts]

      Mayflower at 400: What we all get wrong about the Pilgrim Fathers

      5 facts about the Mayflower
      Births and deaths: During the crossing, one passenger died and one woman, Elizabeth Hopkins, gave birth to a child. The boy was aptly named Oceanus.

      And links to:

      A brief history of Thanksgiving

      Searched [Oceanus Mayflower]

      Oceanus Hopkins & Peregrine White

      Peregrine White

  3. This one was easier than many. I entered in [1621 thanksgiving participants] - I wasn't sure if participants would be the right term but I gave it a shot for first try, expecting that I'd need to refine my search e.g. by adding the filetype:pdf operator. However it worked first time. The first link was is a good source - not always reliable but a reasonable site. That stated that just over 50 colonists survived - 22 men, 4 women and more than 25 children and teenagers. It included a link to which names them - giving 53 names consisting of 4 MARRIED WOMEN,
    22 MEN.

    I didn't know the site but sounds reliable. The AboutUs page also seemed genuine. (Never believe everything however - lots of fake "AboutUs" pages out there. The sponsors however convinced me that this is a serious site and likely to be accurate with several reputable sponsors.

    A search on Bing's image search (cut & paste option) gave the as the location of the image. The picture is labeled "How to Make Applesauce at M.I.T. .30-caliber Bullet by Dr. Harold Eugene Edgerton"
    It's also described here: (also from the Bing search).

    Googling the artist gave his Wikipedia page that states that Edgerton was the son of Mary Nettie Coe and Frank Eugene Edgerton, a descendant of Richard Edgerton, one of the founders of Norwich, Connecticut and a descendant of Governor William Bradford (1590–1657) of the Plymouth Colony and a passenger on the Mayflower. Bradford is one of the sources for who lived and died according to the PilgrimHall site "William Bradford lists the Mayflower passengers and also tells us who died during thefirst winter of 1620/1621 and spring of 1621."

    BUT I have a problem with this Wikipedia article. It says Harold Edgerton was descended from Bradford and gives a link to an ancestry site giving the Edgerton family tree back past Richard Edgerton. (There is no source for the link to Bradford on the Wiki page). and THIS SITE DOES NOT MENTION BRADFORD and it looks as though Wikipedia is wrong on this. Googling further gave this Wikipedia page stating Edgerton was a descendent with a link to as the source. I suspect that more recent research updated the rootsweb page to remove the idea he was Bradford's descendent. So the connection appears to be spurious. OR the link is not from Richard Edgerton or his wife but from some later descendent or family member - not named on Wikipedia or any of the other sites that mention the link to Bradford. (Edgerton may have had a family legend he was descended from Bradford. I can't discount that. But it was not from Richard Edgerton).

    1. Fascinating... I'll spend some time looking into this.

    2. Okay, without looking at the other replies first, "Search Google" for image, comes up with Harold Edgerton. Search Edgerton + Mayflower, and Wikipedia comes up about his lineage back to Bradford (one of the two documents we have about a "Thanksgiving" in 1621.) Have a great holiday, Dan. I owe you an email too! Sam (now, I am looking at the other comments--seems like we've got some controversy about lineage!!

  4. I can be like a dog with a bone - so wanted to see whether Harold Edgerton was descended from William Bradford. He was but from Bradford's great granddaughter Alice who married Samuel Edgerton, Richard Edgerton's son.
    She's listed in Bradford's descendants on page 24 or

    Governor William Bradford's eldest son from his 2nd wife was a Major William Bradford. His sixth daughter was Hannah who married Joshua Ripley. Their eldest child was Alice - who married Samuel Edgerton who is an ancestor of Harold Edgerton and the son of Richard Edgerton. (Hannah seems interesting in her own right - she acted as the settlement doctor). confirms this with links to original source material e.g.

    1. I've since edited the Wikipedia entry to include these references - so anybody searching now will get a different answer to the early birds.

    2. Thanks for making the world a better place!

  5. #3 Right click on apple; choose Search Google for image. When the result showed I added 'Mayflower' in the box. I then had many results re Harold Edgerton (the photographer) and his illustrious forebear the governor of the colony