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John and Priscilla

by judithmcconnell

          Writers read. Oh, you know that. Sometimes we discover a book that is truly a treasure like the one I hold here; a first edition ©1948, Saints and Strangers by George F. Willison.  Actually, I’ve nearly a shelf of coveted first editions from Out of Africa ©1938, The American Presidency, an Interpretation ©1940, Only Yesterday ©1941, the hysterically humorous Our Hearts Were Young and Gay ©1942, Nineteen Eighty-Four ©1949, Crime and Punishment ©1953, Advise and Consent ©1959 and more.

This book though is personal. Here’s why: Most of us know about the Pilgrims’ and their landing at Plymouth Rock, the struggles and our First Thanksgiving. But we really don’t know much. Author Willison takes readers back to England and the Netherlands, writes of the lives there of Mayflower passengers; well researched and so informative. Best known from this voyage are Captain Miles Standish, John Alden, and William Bradford who will become Governor of Massachusetts.

Just hours after I give birth to my son, his paternal great grandfather calls me at the hospital to learn his name and proper spelling. Stephen James. Why? Because this new baby boy must be written at once into the family tree and I learn that his 10th great grandparents are John and Priscilla Alden. They are rather historic.

So, sometimes I ask Steve if it isn’t kind of fun for him? Interesting? Not especially. But, I say, “When you are watching A Charlie Brown
Thanksgiving, or studying the Pilgrims at school don’t you ever think about being a 10th great grandson, albeit one of many, of
John and Priscilla.” He shrugs, “But what did he ever do?” Really. How
about helping to safely ensure the arrival at the new world of this most dangerous voyage? That he signs the Mayflower Compact, an especially consequential document? He works to build their village. He is assistant to Governor
Bradford? “Okay. I guess.” Everyone’s ancestors make history, but most are not as well known, especially in America.

Maybe Stephen James needs to read the book.


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