Love Triangles and Beer… Gotta Love that Mayflower Story!

Plymouth Rock

Dear Reader:

I have listened to many teachers tell the ” Thanksgiving Story” with the Native-American leader, Samoset, (who befriended the Puritans) greeting and welcoming the pilgrims but never heard his first few and true words…which were:

The first words of the Indian Samoset when he astonished the Pilgrims by walking into their colony and greeting them in English in March of 1621. He had learned the language from his contact with English fishing vessels.

One of the young men who stepped off the Mayflower was there strictly for the beer-in a manner of speaking. John Alden was hired for the journey as a cooper, primarily to make beer barrels. British law required that any ship leaving England had to have a professional cooper to make replacement barrels, since barrels in England were always in short supply.

In fact … a storm threw the Mayflower off course so rather than heading south ( Virginia) the Pilgrims put ashore at Plymouth Rock. In one journal was written: ” We could not take time for further search or consideration, our victuals being most spent, especially our beere.”

Yep… the Pilgrims made port because they ran out of beer. In those days beer was considered an essential and healthy part of everyone’s daily diet ( whereas water was considered suspect… easily became contaminated. ) In fact one of the earliest buildings in Plymouth was John Alden’s brew house.

Even though beer would always be ” near and dear” to a cooper’s life… soon John Alden’s attraction would fall on a certain teenager named Priscilla Mullins.

” And the rest of the story ” … as Paul Harvey would say.., continues with Priscilla, her father, stepmother, and brother coming over on the Mayflower. Because she was only seventeen at the time of departure her name was not listed on the manifest with the other 18 women’s names.

During that first difficult winter Priscilla lost her entire family … leaving her orphaned. At eighteen she caught the eye of Miles Standish, military officer and advisor to the struggling settlement. . Fearless in battle… but shy in love… he asked the cooper, John Alden, to intercede and speak of his fondness for her in his behalf.

The more John Alden spoke to Priscilla … the more he personally was smitten. It was the pilgrims’ first love triangle. One day as Alden pleaded Standish’s case… Priscilla spoke those memorable words: ” Why don’t YOU speak for yourself, John?”

Later this famous phrase was immortalized in 1858 in Longfellow’s best-selling poem – The Courtship of Miles Standish. It was so popular it sold over 10,000 copies in one day in London. Longfellow, himself was a direct descendant of John and Priscilla Alden.

The Courtship of Miles Standish-a long narrative poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It wasn’t until they later heard that Miles Standish had been killed in battle… that they agreed to marry. They never wanted to hurt his feelings. As fate would have it… the rumor was untrue and Miles Standish returned on their wedding day …only to give them his blessings!

They had a long happy marriage that produced ten children. Many people claiming to have a descendant on the Mayflower are descendants of this original union.

John Alden outlived his beloved Priscilla and at 89 was one of the last surviving descendants of the Mayflower crossing.

John and Priscilla are buried at the ” Myles” Standish burial ground outside Plymouth

So until tomorrow… Longfellow ends his poem describing John and Priscilla’s wedding procession through the forest…

Today is my favorite day -Winnie the Pooh

Yesterday was that day for me… no television/just Christmas music and reading… dwelling in peace within my soul…

As I looked for my morning glories last evening… they were all on the ground looking up… letting me know the weather is changing-rain and later wind from the tropical system skirting the coasts the next couple of days. A pretty wave goodnight and maybe good-bye for awhile.

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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1 Response to Love Triangles and Beer… Gotta Love that Mayflower Story!

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    What a fun and interesting story…love your gift of storytelling…

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