Thursday, November 22, 2007
Thanksgiving letter in our family about the early Thanksgiving celebration (1932)
(Reproduced in Language of “Ye olden times”)
This letter was found in a 1900 Herman Record among some papers belonging to Mrs. Sara Swan, by her son, Harry Swan of California, who with his family was visiting his mother, Mrs. Sara Swan and his wife’s father, Mr. James Van Horn. The old papers had belonged to Mr. Swan’s father, the late Harry Swan, who was editor of the Herman Record from 1918 until
The editor at the time this letter was published was Mr. Garrison and ‘as given to Mr. Garrison by Mr. H.C. Cooper, father of Mrs. Louie Fitch end Mrs. D.Y. Rutledge. Mrs. Fitch says that Mrs. Lydia Bates Fletcher is a distant relative of her family.
“To Miss Ruth Fletcher,
“Most dearly beloved sister, Governor Winthrop has informed us that ye Lyon will soon set sail for England so I will give this letter to Richard Gardner, who will bring it to you when he come to Scrooby, that you may know how we are faring in the new land. While we have endured many hard ships one repents not, he has come hither or desires to go back for we count happiness enough that we are free to enjoy God and Jesus Christ. We will shortly have a church in a settlement near here, which is called Boston and there will soon be many others for all do exult in ye escapt from oppression and are happy to continue here. You cannot think how full of courage these Pilgrims be. With ye help of ye neighbors, Robert has built a fine home with one room at which I do think you would smile, it is made of logs with mud mortar between to keep ye cold without. Ye glass was so dear that ye window is of oiled paper, which doeth very well for light and we will be very comfortable. Cannot think how beef or veal or mutton would taste, but we find ye deer meat very good and sometimes we have wild turkey and with fish eels we have plenty of meat.
“Robert uses ye skins of ye deer for jackets and breeches and they do very well. At first I could not eat ye bread made from the maise but now I find it very good. Ye only mill for grinding it is at Watertown where Robert has to carry it. Ye maise is quite white and floury when parched in ye coals. It makes a very wholesome porridge. Ye savage Squanto, whom ye saw in England was ye first to show our men how to tend and dress it and it makes a very good food.
“Then we have berries of different kinds and beans and have planted some pumpkins. There is a sugar tree here that yields a juice when ye tree is wounded and this juice boiled down makes a very good sweet. Since our candles give out we have burned ye knots of a pine tree. By reason of ye pitches and turpentine they give a light as clear as a torch. A most strange thing did happen to me in ye Spring which did give me a great fright . Ye must know that our house is at ye edge of ye forest. Well, one day I heard a noise on ye roof and looking up ye chimney I saw two big eyes and a fur nose. Filled with fear I seized Joshua from ye cradle and sprang into ye big chest and none too soon for there came down ye chimney, for ye fire was almost out, a big beast like unto a lion. He walked about sniffing here and there and finally after a very long time it seemed to me, he climbed back up ye chimney. I declare to you he was a most unwelcome visitor.
“Next Thursday Mr. Winthrop has appointed for a day of Thanksgiving on account of ye goon news that ye privy council of ye King has passed favorable measures toward ye colonies. We intend to go to service at ye Boston settlement. There was a Thanksgiving day ye first year we came in February, when after Mr. Winthrop had given his last handfull of meal to a poor man, and no one had anything worth the speaking of and it seemed
[page 2] as if we must all die of ye cold and no food. A ship came into ye harbor at Charleston, laden with provisions, and was not that good cause for Thanksgiving? I believe that will grow into a custom of keeping days of thankfulness’ to God for away cut here we feel how much we have to depend on His good providence and we praise Him that He has brought us safely through so many hard ways. Do you know how Grovernor Bradford, ye first year after coming to Plymouth appointed a day of Thanksgiving in November and had a fine dinner of game and deer meat and fruit and many other delicacies and had for guests ye Indian Chief Massasoit and his warriors? Ch but I think that was a time of real rejoicing for those pilgrims that had been guided by God across ye Great Ocean and been sum lied with so many good things and had been befriended by ye savages. I hear also that they set aprart another day sometime afterwards to give thanks when after a long drougth which had made all nature to languish they were in sore straits a plentous rain brought forth a faithful harvest to their no small comfort and rejoicing. Robert made ye journey to Plymouth which is more than 12 leagues, from here, hoping to find where ye body of our dear brother, Moses is laid, but as you know the place was made into field so that ye savages might not know how many had died and he could not find ye spot but it is with God. He sleeps by ye side of James Chilton and his wife and many others you used to know. Mary Chilton is grown into a fine woman and is happily wedded and has three children. Elder Brewster is in good health but his hair is white like snow. Love and W restling Brewster are both married and are fine men.
“Some say that many in this plantation do discover too much pride but I think a woman should always look fair to her Lord, so I pray that you will, if the chance cometh, send me my taffeta skirt and Robert’s ruffles and cape that we could not bring. You see I have written a long letter for there is much to tell about this New Strange Land. I pray God we may be preserved and ye enjoyment of this sweet liberty we will not forget Him. Robert bids me present his love and William, who is now _ tall lad kisses your hand. Fraying for your health and happiness in this world and everlasting peace in ye world to come.”
Yours with my best love,
Lydia Bates Fletcher
Concord in ye Plantation of
Massachusetts, June 1 1632
Blair paper, Blair, Nebr., Sept. 29, 1949
Article given Mrs. Howard Hovendick by
Mrs Hans Christensen
Rural Route 2
Jan. 2, 1964
/born June 29, 1914 /born July 28, 1874
Howard Hovendick is the son of Elorah Fletcher, daughter of
Freeman Edward Fletcher, born at Searmont, Maine, Jan. 24, 1849