As detailed in the first part of this post, 2020 marks the 400 year anniversary of the Mayflower crossing to New England. Many of the celebrations and commemorations that have been planned for years in the build-up to this year’s landmark anniversary have been delayed, altered, or scrapped entirely, due to the current COVID-19 crisis, which is, sadly, how 2020 will likely be most remembered. The crisis notwithstanding, Mayflower commemorations will continue into 2021 and still with great significance. Although “401st anniversary” doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily, it is still an impressive milestone, one year more so than the 400th! In fact, the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving celebration (setting aside the concerns about the historical accuracy of the event) didn’t take place until November in the year after they made landfall, which means that in 2021 we’ll celebrate the 400th Thanksgiving.
In my earlier post, I also recounted the way, during my 2012 research to prove our Mayflower connections, in which I had to summarily negate a long-held and cherished Mayflower descent in my family. We had long thought that we were descendants of Francis Cooke of the Mayflower through his daughter Jane. We knew that we were descendants of her husband, Experience Mitchell, and until the 1980s, all of Experience’s children were still being admitted to the Mayflower Society as descendants of Jane Cooke and her father Francis. However, research published in 1973 shows that only a few of Experience Mitchell’s children qualify. Jane Cooke died early in their marriage and Experience married again. Only two of his eight children could have been Jane’s, and we descend from a child of his second wife, thus eliminating our Mayflower connection through Jane.
After this dramatic correction to my family legends, there was still one more Mayflower connection outlined in Elizabeth Rowland’s family history, so the next step for me, back in 2012, was to prove or disprove that other descent. Given what I had just encountered, I was naturally concerned at what I might find! I really didn’t want to erase our only remaining Mayflower connection that same day. If I wanted to prove the connection, however, I had to take that chance.