Rough Going for those on the Mayflower





First, the voyage along across the Atlantic Ocean took 66 days, from their departure on September 6, first from Holland and then England until Cape Cod in North America was sighted on November 9, 1620.”

During the first half of the voyage, things went fairly smooth. The crowded conditions with 102 people packed aboard a smelly cargo ship just 90 feet long would be difficult. By October the North Atlantic Ocean had high winds and heavy seas. Many people got sick as the ship was tossed in the high seas. Only one passenger, a young servant named William Butten, died during the voyage.

The original landing spot for the Mayflower was at the mouth of New York’s Hudson River or more south in Virginia area. After unsuccessful attempts to reach that destination, they landed instead at Massachusetts Bay. It is there that they found an abandoned Patuxet Indian village. Its previous inhabitants had been all but wiped out by a deadly plague, which was most likely smallpox, spread by contact with European sailors. They finally selected Plymouth which possessed cleared land for growing crops, a nice deep-water harbour, and high ground where they could place a cannon for self-defence.

That first winter proved very hard on the new arrivals. Starvation, sickness and a plague wiped out about half their original 100, along with 18 of the 30 women of childbearing age.

It was Squanto (a.k.a. Tisquanatum) met his Pilgrim friends in March of 1621 and served as a translator, ambassador and treaty negotiator for the new settlers. More importantly, he taught the Pilgrims how to live off the land.

Photos: Passengers on the Mayflower during the voyage; the rough winter experienced by the people of Plymouth; and Squanto helping those settlers of Plymouth.

Related FamilyTree.com blogs:

How to Search for Pilgrim Ancestors

Beer and the Pilgrims

A Descendant of the Original Pilgrims?

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