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The First Thanksgiving
November 22, 2010

Here we are in last full week of November, 2010.

Do you get the idea that these turkeys know they are safe around here?

They come to visit at least twice a week.

And have since they were young poults (babies) a few weeks old.

We have 2 hens and 11 young in this small rafter.

A group of turkeys is called a "rafter" of turkeys, though a 'gang' is also acceptable.

Thursday is Thanksgiving for the United States of America.

While our Canadian friends and family celebrate Thanksgiving the second Monday of October, Americans celebrate the fourth Thursday of November.

No matter, come join our Thanksgiving too.

Not just Americans and Canadians, but I know of at least one 'Thia' reader and at least one reader from 'Nepal' as well.

New friends.

Gardening For Wildlife going global?

I wouldn't go that far, but it is fun to learn and chat with others on the other side of the globe and learn from them as well.

I have had readers from New Zealand and Great Britain in the past too.

The new kitchen is ready for me to paint (still waiting on a new counter).

I'm so excited :-(

Oh well.

Bird activity has slowed significantly this past week.

I suppose it is no big deal right now, I've been to busy to enjoy them and I save a buck or two on bird feed.

They will return, however.

This week isn't so much about gardens and wildlife, but on Thanksgiving or giving thanks.

We all have something to be thankful for and most if not all of us, know at least one person we are better off than.

It could be financially or health wise, you really have a lot to be thankful for.

I'm thankful so so many things,

A roof over my head.

Heat and air conditioning.

No shortage of food.

Sometimes health may be an issue, but when I look at our Yolanda (a brain injured, quadriplegic), I have plenty to be thankful about.

And to top it off, she has been a total blessing to us.

I am thankful that I have the privilege to write a newsletter and make many friends doing so.

2010 has been a very good year for me.

I had several firsts.

I saw my very first 'Yellow-throated warbler' this past summer.

We enjoyed feeding and petting a Black bear cub at 'Oswald's Bear Ranch', located in the eastern third of Michigan's upper peninsula.

We also learned several other things on Black bear.

I found my first ever four leaf clover.

Not to mention the 'albino House sparrow' that hung out for a couple of weeks.

It was a special sight indeed.

We were blessed with productive gardens and a lengthy growing season.

The first killing frost was November 1, but I am still eating fresh home grown tomatoes.

We had a wonderful fall color tour to the Northwest corner of Michigan's lower peninsula.

Several trips to Lake Michigan (I love the big lakes).

Yes, I have many things to be thankful for, big and small.

I can even be thankful that I am free to worship my God and all who live in this great country are free to do so as well.

Freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

I'm thankful for birds and flowers.

You get the idea............................

Don't you?

This week's topic is about the 'First Thanksgiving' at Plymouth Rock which later became part of Massachusetts

I've done this before and I will do it again, it is nice to have some history on why we Celebrate and Give Thanks.

Maybe this will jar the memory banks a bit, or possibly give you an "I Didn't Know That" moment.

What this letter is about today, is giving thanks.

Making the time or taking time to give thanks to our 'Creator'

To all my friends, thank you and it will be business as usual next week.

Enjoy the history lesson and be sure to take a moment and really "GIVE THANKS"

God Bless.

The Pilgrims did not call this harvest festival a "Thanksgiving," although they did give thanks to God.

To them, a Day of Thanksgiving was purely religious.

The first recorded religious Day of Thanksgiving was held in 1623 in response to a providential rainfall.

The 1621 celebration is remembered as the "First Thanksgiving in Plymouth."

Pilgrim Hall Museum


There are 2 (and only 2) primary sources for the events of autumn 1621 in Plymouth : Edward Winslow writing in Mourt's Relation and William Bradford writing in Of Plymouth Plantation

Edward Winslow, Mourt's Relation :

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation :

"They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports."

NOTES : The Mayflower arrived in Plymouth in December of 1620. No further ships arrived in Plymouth until immediately after that "First Thanksgiving" - the Fortune arrived in November of 1621. One of the passengers on the Fortune, William Hilton, wrote a letter home that November. Although he was not present at that "First Thanksgiving," he does mention turkeys.

In Of Plymouth Plantation, William Bradford lists the Mayflower passengers and also tells us who died during the first winter of 1620/1621 and spring of 1621. No other ships arrived in Plymouth until after the "First Thanksgiving" celebration. The Pilgrims at the "First Thanksgiving" are all the Mayflower survivors.


4 MARRIED WOMEN : Eleanor Billington, Mary Brewster, Elizabeth Hopkins, Susanna White Winslow.

5 ADOLESCENT GIRLS : Mary Chilton (14), Constance Hopkins (13 or 14), Priscilla Mullins (19), Elizabeth Tilley (14 or15) and Dorothy, the Carver's unnamed maidservant, perhaps 18 or 19.

9 ADOLESCENT BOYS : Francis & John Billington, John Cooke, John Crackston, Samuel Fuller (2d), Giles Hopkins, William Latham, Joseph Rogers, Henry Samson.

13 YOUNG CHILDREN : Bartholomew, Mary & Remember Allerton, Love & Wrestling Brewster, Humility Cooper, Samuel Eaton, Damaris & Oceanus Hopkins, Desire Minter, Richard More, Resolved & Peregrine White.

22 MEN : John Alden, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, William Bradford, William Brewster, Peter Brown, Francis Cooke, Edward Doty, Francis Eaton, [first name unknown] Ely, Samuel Fuller, Richard Gardiner, John Goodman, Stephen Hopkins, John Howland, Edward Lester, George Soule, Myles Standish, William Trevor, Richard Warren, Edward Winslow, Gilbert Winslow.

In early autumn of 1621, the 53 surviving Pilgrims celebrated their successful harvest, as was the English custom. During this time, "many of the Indians coming... amongst the rest their great king Massasoit, with some ninety men."

Points of Interest:

by Governor Edward Winslow, 1621

You shall understand that in this little time a few of us have been here, we have built seven dwelling-houses and four for the use of the plantation, and have made preparation for divers others. We set last spring some twenty acres of Indian corn, and sowed some six acres of barley and peas; and according to the manner of the Indians, we manured our ground with herrings, or rather shads, which we have in great abundance, and take with great ease at our doors. Our corn did prove well; and, God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown. They came up very well, and blossomed; but the sun parched them in the blossom.

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming among us, and among the rest their chiefs Massassoit, Squanto and Samoset joined in the celebration with ninety of their men in the three-day event. with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation, and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

We have found the Indians very faithful in their covenant of peace with us, very loving, and ready to pleasure us. We often go to them, and they come to us. Some of us have been fifty miles by land in the country with them, the occasions and relations whereof you shall understand by our general and more full declaration of such things as are worth the noting.

Thanksgiving Proclamation:

The First Thanksgiving Observance

A Proclamation Signed in Script Type by George Washington Appearing in The Massachusetts Sentinel of October 14, 1789.

This historic proclamation was issued by George Washington during his first year as President. It sets aside Thursday, November 26 as "A Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer."

Signed by Washington on October 3, 1789 and entitled "General Thanksgiving," the decree appointed the day "to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God."

While there were Thanksgiving observances in America both before and after Washington's proclamation, this represents the first to be so designated by the new national government.

While there were Thanksgiving observances in America both before and after Washington's proclamation, this represents the first to be so designated by the new national government.

During the 1700s, it was common practice for individual colonies to observe days of thanksgiving throughout each year. A Thanksgiving Day two hundred years ago was a day set aside for prayer and fasting, not a day marked by plentiful food and drink as is today's custom. Later in the 18th century each of the states periodically would designate a day of thanksgiving in honor of a military victory, an adoption of a state constitution or an exceptionally bountiful crop.

Such a Thanksgiving Day celebration celebration was held in December of 1777 by the colonies nationwide, commemorating the surrender of British General Burgoyne at Saratoga.

Later, on October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for the observance of the fourth Tuesday of November as a national holiday.

In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday of November (to extend the Christmas shopping season and boost the economy). After a storm of protest, Roosevelt changed the holiday again in 1941 to the fourth Thursday in November, where it stands today.

There you have it, A bit of Thanksgiving History, American style.

Thank you so much for your time, I know you don't have to read my ramblings.

Thank you for your friendship and teaching me.

Be sure to give thanks for EVERYTHING you have.

God likes a good thank you and sacrifice of praise Himself.

When we don't feel like it, it is all the more important to do so.

It is time to fly my friend.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

Until next time.

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many--not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) English Novelist

All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God: Deuteronomy 28 : 2 (New American Standard Bible)

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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