Jabez Howland house - Plymouth, Massachusetts
I am descended officially from 4 Mayflower Pilgrims (well, 3 are proven and one is in Plymouth awaiting verification), and I have yet to prove another 4. This is fun in that it means when I go to a place like Plymouth, Massachusetts, I can do something kind of unique, and quite amazing actually. I can stand where my known ancestors once stood!
One of the proven to the Mayflower Society (as in from me to them with all birth, death and marriage certificates in hand) families I come from is that of Pilgrims John Howland and his wife Elizabeth Tilley. I just proved these two, and so it was a thrill to go to Plymouth and visit their son’s house in town – the only known structure still standing where anyone who actually was onboard the Mayflower lived. I stood in the doorway, and the nice interpreters let us in even though they were almost closing, and let me see the chair my 10 great grandparents would have sat in.
After a quick tour of the home we drove out to Rocky Nook, which is in the modern town of Duxbury, MA – the site of where John and Elizabeth and their children (3 of whom are my ancestors as well) lived from the late 1630’s on. The Howland Society has preserved the site and is doing archaeological investigations – but to stand on the threshold that so many who went before me actually stood on is to feel a real connection to place. The site is well marked and there is a nice stone marker set there almost 100 years ago by the Society. There is also a huge American Ash, a tree that has seen much history in its day, presiding over the site as it were and humbling those of us who view it.
Plymouth, Massachusetts is a wonderful and friendly place, but it is the area’s history as America’s first town that makes it so special. Going there is, well, a pilgrimage, for some of us at least!
John Howland's Chair
Howland Homestead from 1630's