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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Tryptophan Day

Happy Thanksgiving to all fellow celebrants. And hey, there's an article about me in the local paper today! Although, for the record, I didn't say it was the family's "badge of honor"—I said I thought it was a badge of honor in the 18th and 19th centuries. Kind of a different thing.

Off to feast. I'll be back tomorrow.



Blogger Peter Hovmand said...

Interesting reading MJ! Very impressed that you are more or less related to both Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart and Hugh Hefner, among others! All that from just 100 Mayflower passengers?

1:08 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Not really Peter...Marilyn was a descendant of John Alden, Bogart of John Howland. Hugh Hefner is indeed descended from William Bradford, and so is a (very distant!!) cousin of mine. Other descendants of William Bradford include the Civil War General George McClellan, Noah Webster, actors Christopher Reeve and Clint Eastwood, and George Eastman of Eastman Kodak! (CUZ!!!)

A reader wrote a comment to say that he was a fellow descendant of Bradford's, but unfortunately he didn't leave his email address so I couldn't respond.

As far as how many descendants there are, no one really knows. Mathematically there could be millions; actually the number is more probably in the tens of thousands or low six figures. Why so many? Well, just because it's been a long time.


11:39 PM  
Blogger Big Mac said...

Well, you too can say that the eyes of the world are upon you!

10:50 AM  
Blogger Mike C. said...

Now your secret's out, here's a link I came across you need to see:

WB's legacy lives on.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Mike C.,
The "debunk the holiday myths" type of article is as common as the "descendant of Pilgrims" type of article. But we do know from contemporaneous sources that when William Bradford married Alice Southworth in 1623, after she arrived aboard the Anne, Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag attended with approximately 120 braves, and his gift to the couple was "four deer and a turkey." Wild turkey are canny and notoriously difficult to hunt, even with modern weapons. The wedding-feast gift of Massasoit to the Bradfords indicates that turkeys weren't easy to bag even for the indians--which, in my mind, would seem to support the notion that they would be considered a delicacy and be particularly sought after for special occasions.

As on the first Thanksgiving, the main dish at the Bradford's wedding was venison stew. But still, it seems very likely that there was also turkey eaten, though in small amounts, and perhaps not for everyone.

As for the "thanks" part, the Pilgrims (who would have called themselves "Separatists," although William Bradford himself was the first to apply the name "Pilgrims" to the band, in his book) had been known to keep harvest feasts back in the Netherlands when they were in exile there. Given that they had no harvest to celebrate in their first year and many of them starved to death over that first winter, it doesn't take a history detective to recognize that they'd be thankful indeed for their first real harvest and the prospect of a survivable winter to come.


1:40 PM  

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