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Title: Our Pilgrim Forefathers - Thanksgiving Studies
Author: Nelson, Loveday A.
Language: English
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Thanksgiving Studies



A. Flanagan Company

Copyright 1904 by A. Flanagan Company.

Printed in the United States of America



You often hear people talking of the President of our country.
Doubtless most of you know him by name. Some of you may have seen him.

You also know that once in every four years we have an election day,
when papa votes for the man whom he thinks best for President. Then the
one who gets the most votes becomes our President for four years.

If this man makes a good President, he is sometimes chosen again for
another four years, or term, as we call it. But if he has not pleased
the people, they choose some one else, anybody else, next election day.
We never know who will be our next President until he is elected. One
term he is a man from one part of the country; the next term he may be
one from a far distant part. In our country we think that this way is

It is not so in every country. In some countries, instead of a
president there is a king, who expects to be king as long as he lives.
At his death his son becomes the king. If the king happens to be a good
one, it is well for the country and for the people; but if he chances
to be a wicked, cruel one, the poor people have a sorry time as long as
he lives.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Sunday comes, John goes with his mamma and papa to the Methodist
Church. Perhaps Mary goes with her parents to the Baptist. Gretchen
may prefer to go to the Lutheran Church, and Margaret to the Roman
Catholic. In our country we think this quite right. We like to see
people going to the church that helps them most.

As it costs much money to build churches and pay the preachers, people
must give money or there can be no churches. John may want to give his
pennies to the Methodist Church or Sunday-school. Mary would rather
give hers to the Baptist. Gretchen’s money is given to the Lutheran,
and Margaret’s to the Roman Catholic. In our country we think this,
too, quite right. No one forces us to give money to any church. When we
have any to give, we may do with it as we choose.

Neither is this true in all countries. In some lands where there are
kings instead of presidents, the kings have sometimes said that all the
people must go to a certain church, and that they must pay that church
money. Some of the kings have forbidden the people to have any other

Sometimes there have been people who loved another church which they
were unwilling to give up. Sometimes there have been kings who have put
these people in prison and done other harsh things in trying to force
them to worship God according to the king’s will.

       *       *       *       *       *

We shall learn of some unhappy people who lived in a country ruled at
times by just such hard-hearted kings. When we know of some of the
troubles and great hardships through which they passed in trying to
pray to God and serve him as they thought right, we shall surely love
them and always remember their noble deeds.

These people lived far across the Atlantic Ocean, in a country called
England, where the king and all the people speak the English language.
We learned our English from them.


Look at the picture (Children of Charles I.) of these three children
with their pet dog. You can tell that the dog is their playfellow and
that he loves them, by the way he has taken his place at their side,
and by the loving, trustful manner in which he looks up into the face
of the boy whose hand rests on his head. The baby (Baby Stuart), whose
picture alone you often see, and whom you hear called “Baby Stuart,”
clasps a big red apple in his chubby hands.

These things would make us think that these are ordinary children, just
like you, with a love for fun and frolic, and an eye for bright things
and a taste for goodies.

Let us look at their clothes. This picture is a copy of a fine painting
in rich colors. If we could go to the big gallery where the painting
hangs, we should see that Mary, the sister, is dressed in beautiful
white satin; Charles, the elder brother, has on an elegant scarlet
gown; while the dear little baby, James, wears a dainty blue gown.
The quaint, rich dresses of stiff, costly goods, covered with fine
needle-work, would convince us that these are not ordinary children.
Indeed, they are the children of a great king.

Charles and Mary and James lived three hundred years ago. Their
grandfather had been King of England, and then their father was king.
Next Charles ruled his country, and finally James.

Their grandfather was one of the kings who tried to force all of the
people to go to one church and to give their money to no other. He
forbade them to have a church of their own, and treated pretty roughly
those who would not obey him.

In one part of England there were a number of people who did not like
the church of the king’s choice, and were set on having one that suited
their way of thinking. They had heard of another country, just a little
way across a small sea, where people might go to any church that they
liked. So they left their good farms and fled from England to this
other country, called Holland, the home of the Dutch[1].

Here everything seemed very strange to them. There were no high hills
in Holland. The land was low, as the land sometimes is beside the creek
or down by the pond. In some places it was so low that the sea came
right up into some of the streets, and when the people wished to leave
their houses they had to go down the street in row-boats. Of course,
the little children in those houses could not go out to play, for there
were no yards and the streets were full of water.

Most of you boys have sometimes made little dams, to dam up water along
the ditch or slough. That is what these Dutch people did. They built
dams (or dikes, as they called them) to keep the water off the land, so
that they might have farms and cities.

Now the English who had come to Holland, having left their farms and
made new homes in a Dutch city, found themselves without a way to make
a living. The Dutch neighbors all around them were great workers. They
worked steadily, and they worked hard. The men all had some business
or trade to keep them busy. The women were fine housekeepers and kept
their houses clean and neat as a pin. They were all careful and saving,
and had ways of using many things which some people throw away as

When the English people had looked around, and saw how things were,
they made up their minds that they must learn to work like the Dutch.
Therefore, they learned to spin wool into thread and yarn, to weave
cloth, to twist twine, to make rope, hats and pipes, to build houses of
either brick or lumber, and to make tables, chairs and other pieces of
furniture. These are only a few of the things that the English learned
of the Dutch.

The English children saw much to interest them in their queer new home.
No doubt it seemed to them a funny, funny place, with its low houses
with little window panes, its giant wind-mills scattered all around
the country, its odd dog carts, and its comical little girls and boys.
(1068. Girl with Cat.) This picture shows us that the little girls wore
long dresses, and caps with curious ornaments on the sides of their
heads. Like most of the people in that country, this little maid wore
wooden shoes. These she hung up in an orderly manner every night, and
she always scrubbed them well on Saturday.

The Dutch children were very kind to the little English boys and girls,
and, you may be sure, played with them whenever they had a chance. What
do you think the stranger children learned from their new playmates?
They soon learned to talk in Dutch, and to act like their Dutch

The English fathers and mothers did not like that. They still loved
England, and English ways, and the English language. Their love
for their old home country made them grieve to see their children
forgetting it. Therefore, they began to think of moving again. They
said to themselves: “We can not stay here any longer. Before long our
children and grandchildren will be like the Dutch. Our young men and
young women will be marrying the Dutch. We must go somewhere else,
where we can stay always and still be Englishmen.”

Long before this, people had sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to this
country which we now call America. Those who stayed here wrote letters
home, and those who went back told their friends of this vast country,
with miles and miles of good rich lands. They told of the great woods,
of the high mountains and wide rivers, of the plentiful supply of wild
berries and nuts, and of the fish, wild ducks, rabbits, and deer that
could be used for food.

Only Indians had been living here up to that time. These red men
wandered about from place to place, stopping when they pleased, now
here, now there, wherever they could find plenty to eat for a time.
When they came to a place where they wished to camp, they would cut
some poles, stand them up, and cover them with skins to form tents.
This picture of a Comanche Indian Camp (1343) shows how an Indian
village looks. The Arapahoe Indian Camp (1342) gives a nearer view of
one of the tents, and we can see how the skins are pieced together and
stretched to make a covering.


In both pictures are shown some of the Indians themselves wrapped in
their blankets. In the second picture at the opening of the tent we see
a little Indian child with no blanket on. A short distance away there
is a fresh skin hung over a pole to dry.


The English people in Holland had heard that in this great country
there was plenty of room, with no cruel kings. They thought that if
they could only get here they could build themselves houses, and have a
church to suit them, and pray and live as they thought right. Every day
they thought more and more how much better it would be if they could
come to this new country and have a home of their own.


Although they did not have much money, they managed finally to get two
ships in which to sail across the ocean to America. And here you see a
picture of the Pilgrims, as these people have ever since been called,
starting for their new home. (1331. C. Departure of the Pilgrims from
Delft Haven, 1620. Cope.) The quaint houses, row-boats, and great
wind-mills give you an idea of what Holland is like. Lying in the
harbor is one of the waiting ships. Because the water is not deep
enough, she can not come close to the shore; so a row-boat must take
the people out to her. A boat full is now ready to be pushed off.

All can not go this time. Some must stay in Holland. The people on the
shore have brought their dear Bible with them and at this moment are
kneeling in prayer, doubtless asking God to care for their friends and
relatives and lead them safely across the deep waters.

In the picture called “Embarkation of the Pilgrims” (1331. Weir) we
see that the Pilgrims now aboard, starting off, also have the Bible
with them, and that there are prayers upon their lips as they leave the
people who have been so kind to them and the little country that has
given them a quiet home so long.

After they had started out the Pilgrims found that one of their ships,
called the Speedwell, was not strong enough for so long and dangerous a
voyage. They sailed into an English harbor, and tried to have the ship
put in order. But they found she could not be made sound. So all that
could crowded into the other ship, the Mayflower, and the rest of the
band had to be left in England.


It was not until September that the Pilgrims were really on their
way. Although it was later in the season than they had wished to
start, and they knew that many storms were likely to come upon them,
nevertheless, they sailed off in the Mayflower with brave and cheerful

For about two months—long, long months—they sailed, sailed, sailed,
with nothing in sight but water, water, water, water. The weather was
growing colder; there were sometimes storms, and the people were very
uncomfortable. Some of them fell ill. One man died.

They were so crowded in the cabins that they suffered for want of air.
They did not have water enough to keep their clothes and themselves
clean. There was not room for the children to run about in their play,
as they liked to do, and the long, tiresome voyage was hard for them to

One day, when the ship was in mid ocean, a new baby, whom the Pilgrims
called Oceanus, came. Now they had something to interest them.
Doubtless they loved him instantly, liked to peep into his little red
face at every chance, were glad to hold him when they might, and talked
with one another about him.

Finally, late in November, the Mayflower came in sight of land. There
had been more and more sickness among the Pilgrims, and the weather was
stormy and cold. They were miserable on the ship, and yet on land they
would be more miserable still. There were no houses, no place for them
to go. What were the poor wanderers to do?


The Mayflower sailed as near to the shore as she could get, as we see
her in this picture (1331. B. The Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor), while
a party of men went ashore to hunt a good landing place. They wanted to
find a neighborhood where there was a spring of fresh water, plenty of
trees that might be chopped down for the building of houses, and open
fields where grain might be raised. It took them several weeks to find
such a place.

One day, while wandering around, they came to a spot where something
had been buried. Digging down, they found some maize, or Indian corn,
which had been hidden there. Although they had caught fish along the
shore, and had shot game in the woods, the food that they brought to
America with them was fast being eaten up. So they looked upon this
maize as a treasure. The finders promptly decided to carry it to the
ship and pay the owner when they should find him.

It was almost Christmas before the Pilgrims decided on the spot to
begin their new home, which was to be called Plymouth. The men all went
to work, chopping down trees and shaping logs for a building in which
all could live together until they could build more houses. When this
was ready, just a few days before Christmas, they brought the women and
children ashore.

In this picture (1332. Landing of the Pilgrims) one painter has shown
us what kind of a day he thought it was. The skies are dark, the wind
is blowing hard, and the waves are rough. The men pull the boat close
to a rock, and hold her steady while the wanderers step upon it.

[Illustration: PLYMOUTH ROCK]

This rock has ever since been called Plymouth Rock, and it has been
kept and carefully guarded through all the many, many years that have
passed since the Pilgrims first stepped upon it. Here is a picture of
the actual rock, which we all love so well. (1333. Plymouth Rock.)
So many thoughtless people broke off bits for keepsakes that it was
necessary to build an iron railing around it so that it could not be
reached. That has been taken away now. If you some day have a chance
to visit Plymouth, you will see that a fine marble arch has been built
over it.


Now came many troubles and hardships. The weather was bitterly cold,
and the Pilgrims were without comfortable homes in which to keep warm.
They had not enough of the right kind of food. So many of them were
sick that the second house which was put up was needed for a hospital.
Then there were the Indians, of whom they stood in constant fear.

The men chose for their captain the brave Miles Standish, who had
proved himself a good soldier and captain while in Holland. He drilled
them so that they might be ready to fight the red men if necessary.

A friendly young Indian named Hobomok came to live with the Pilgrims.
As he knew all about the Indians and the country, he was of great help
to them. (1340. Miles Standish and His Soldiers.) Here you see Captain
Standish and some of his soldiers following the faithful Hobomok, who
is showing them the way.

As they never knew what moment the Indians would come upon them, even
when they went to church the Pilgrims carried their guns. (1339.
Pilgrims Going to Church.) A fine picture showing a group on the way
to church, has been painted for us. You see a copy of it here. The man
in the long gown and carrying a Bible, is the elder who will lead the
services. Several others have their Bibles in their hands, but the men
all carry guns. When they reach the meeting-house the guns will be kept
close at hand. The same artist has painted another picture showing us
that even when a young man takes his sweetheart to meeting, he must
have his gun upon his shoulder (1337. John Alden and Priscilla), while
she carries her Bible.


Have you noticed that in all of the pictures in which it has been
possible to put a Bible, the different painters have given the Book a
prominent place? Do you understand why? Because the noble Pilgrims had
great love for God. They lived a life of loyal trust in him. Not only
on Sundays, but every day they loved to read the Bible and pray. And
so that they might pray to God and serve him as they wished they gave
up kind friends and comfortable homes and risked their very lives. We
should not think a picture of our Pilgrim forefathers good unless it
made us think as soon as we saw it of this part of their lives.

One hundred and two Pilgrims had come to America on the Mayflower.
By spring half of the little band had died. The first to go was the
beautiful young wife of Captain Standish. Another and another followed.
Little Oceanus and his mother both died. There were so many sick that
at one time there were only seven who were able to wait upon the
others. For fear that the Indians would find out how small their number
was becoming, when the Pilgrims buried those who died, they would not
make mounds above the graves, but smoothed them over.

In April the Mayflower set sail for England. Now was a chance for the
people to go back to their old home. How many do you think wished to
go? In spite of all the trials and sorrows which they had seen, in
spite of the hard times that would surely come to them in this new
country, not one sailed in the Mayflower except the sailors who manned
the ship!

Still, the sailing of the ship made the Pilgrims think of the many
loved ones across the water, and without doubt they watched with
sorrowful faces and weeping eyes, as long as the Mayflower could be
seen. (1334. Departure of the Mayflower. Bayes.)

[Illustration: PILGRIM EXILES]

The Pilgrims had learned how to manage farm lands, and how to support
their families in a large city. Now they had to lead a new and quite
different life in a wild, strange land. It was well for them, indeed,
that among their Indian neighbors there were some who were willing to
be their friends. These friendly red men understood life in the wilds,
and showed the white people how to make snow-shoes, moccasins, canoes,
and other useful articles. From the Indians the white men also learned
how to catch eels and how to trap animals. When planting time came, it
was a friendly Indian named Squanto who showed them how to plant their
maize and tend it so as to get good crops.

Their peas and some of their other crops did not do so very well the
first season; but in the autumn it was found that there was a fine
harvest of maize. This filled their hearts with joy.

While living in Holland the Pilgrims had seen the Dutch keep a
Thanksgiving day every autumn. The people of Plymouth thought that
after their crops had been gathered and their hard work was finished
for the season, it would be a good thing for them to have a time of joy
and thanksgiving. So Governor Bradford sent out a company of men to
shoot wild turkeys and other game, and the women set to work to cook
all sorts of good things, so that they might feast and frolic for a
week. He sent an invitation to the Indian neighbors to enjoy the fun
with them.

Wishing to show their good will, and to help with the Thanksgiving
feast, the Indian guests went into the woods and killed for the table
five deer and much other game. As the Pilgrims had not yet become
skilled enough hunters to get much large game, they were very grateful
for this present from their friends.

About ninety Indians came with their chief. They stayed for three
days. The time was passed in wrestling, shooting at marks, and in
other sports. By the time the party was over there was a better
feeling between the reds and the whites, and it seemed that they might
afterward live in peace.

By the end of a year the people had built seven houses for homes,
and four other buildings for the use of all. But their worries and
sufferings were by no means ended. Other ships came from England with
many people but no food. The Pilgrims could not raise enough grain to
make bread for all.

There were plenty of fish, clams, oysters, and lobsters in the sea;
and wild grapes, plums, and berries in the woods. Yet during the next
two years the people of Plymouth sometimes could scarcely keep from
starving. For four months, at one time, they lived almost entirely upon
sea food. Only once in a while could they find some nuts or shoot some
game in the woods.

During those trying days all that the Pilgrims had learned in Holland
helped them a great deal. When they reached this country, before they
could do anything else, they needed to make tool handles and get their
tools ready for work.

The ship was small and crowded, and so it was not possible to bring
all the furniture and the hundreds of articles, both little and large,
which they would really need. They had to make not only their houses,
but all these other things as quickly as possible. There were no mills,
no stores, no shops; they could not run down town to get every little
thing needed.

Finally their clothes began to wear out. What could they do? In Holland
they had learned from the Dutch women to raise flax and spin it into
beautiful even threads, and later to weave these threads into good
linen cloth. (The Spinner. Maes.) So now the Pilgrims raised flax and
sheep, and in the winter time, when there was not much other work to
do, the women busied themselves spinning flax and wool into thread and
yarn, which they dyed themselves. This thread and yarn they wove into
cloth and knit up into warm stockings and mittens.


(3298. Priscilla Spinning. Barse.) In this picture we see a Puritan
maiden sitting near the cozy fireplace, spinning with a spinning wheel
which she runs with her foot. She has her Bible in her lap, probably so
that she may once in a while read a verse or two to be thinking about
as she works.

Thus we might talk on and on, without being able to tell all about the
Pilgrim forefathers and foremothers and what we owe them. Stories and
poems have been written about them, and artists of many countries have
painted us beautiful pictures of them. We can not look over the books
in any good library without finding much about the brave and upright,
God-loving Pilgrims. We can not go into any of the large galleries
where hang rows and rows of fine paintings, and not see pictures of
Pilgrim scenes. As you grow older you will hear more and more of them.

Some day you may be able to go to Plymouth, the very town which these
brave people began to build almost three hundred years ago. There you
will have pointed out to you the very Plymouth Rock on which they
landed; perhaps you will visit Burial Hill, where sleep their noble
dead; you will see the first street laid out, the spot where the first
house was built, and the monument erected to the Pilgrims’ memory. The
townspeople will take pride in telling you how long it took to build
the marble giant, and how much money it cost.

They will direct you to Pilgrim Hall, which is filled with things which
were once used by the Pilgrims, or have something to do with them.
Here you may see among other things a chest and a chair which once
belonged to Elder Brewster, whose black-gowned figure we see in so many
pictures, Governor Carver’s chair, a dinner pot, and the sword of Miles
Standish. Here, too, hang a number of the Pilgrim pictures, which our
country wishes to keep forever, if possible.


 Take plenty of time. The first of November is none too soon to begin.

 Tell a little each day, showing but one picture at one lesson (excepting
 pictures which are in some way closely related; as, for instance, the
 Comanche and the Arapahoe Indian Camps, which are but different views of
 everyday Indian life).

 When a point which can be illustrated has been made, show the picture.
 In getting out of the picture what she can for the children, each
 teacher must use her own good judgment considering the grade and general
 intelligence of her class.

 After it has been handled to the best possible advantage, hang the
 picture low on the wall, where it will be convenient for the pupils to
 look at it at odd times. When another has been introduced, hang it near.
 By the time the story is ended, the entire series will be on display.

 Encourage pupils to look at them before sessions, at intermissions, and
 at other chance times. They will do it; and without the class restraint,
 will examine them together, and will give the teacher opportunities to
 talk with them in small groups. In this way, the children may be led
 to form the beginning of worthy acquaintances. When later and in other
 places they come across these same pictures, their faces will light up
 as at sight of old friends.

 After the story has been well told in parts, tell or read it as a whole
 at least once,—twice or thrice is better.

 As, in both content and vocabulary, there is much in the story that is
 new for ordinary public school little ones, it is more profitable for
 teachers, especially of the lowest primary grades, to use the time in
 repeating the story over and over, until the tale and the expressions
 have been caught, before demanding much oral reproduction in class. If
 the child is attracted, it will without conscious effort absorb, and
 more will come from the work than is in evidence in the schoolroom.

 As to the pictures,—so that they are good copies, it matters not
 whence they come. Among those which I am using are some sent out with
 Sunday city papers, educational and other publications, a few magazine
 illustrations, and the Perry pictures. Numbers in this work refer to the
 Perry catalogue.

 Gray is a serviceable color, does no violence to the eyes, and brings
 out the tones well. For these reasons, gray cardboard makes a good


[1] The people of Holland are called Dutch, but you must not confuse
them with the Germans, whom some persons call Dutch by mistake. The
people of Germany speak German, which is quite different from Dutch,
the language of Holland.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s note:

Obvious errors were corrected.

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