Saturday, August 06, 2011

Across the Atlantic

I've occasionally shared here stories from my family tree. Here's a pretty good one.

With so many of my ancestors living in Massachusetts, I've often wondered if any of them had a connection to the Mayflower. Seems like the odds would be in favor of it. My cousins' mother did have such an ancestor, but I couldn't find one.

Until Friday.

Then I found a link back to the parents of Elizabeth Howland through Grandma Bailey. lit up when I added those names to the family tree, as they both came over on the Mayflower.

It seems that John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley crossed the ocean blue in 1620. I was starting to feel a little snooty about the whole thing when I read that Howland actually worked as a man-servant for the Carver family while making the trip, although he probably was closer to an administrative assistant in some ways. In other words, though, he probably helped unload the Mayflower.

"Hey, Howland, get these trunks off the boat! Put them by that big rock on the shore for now!"

Howland almost died on the way, according to accounts, but made it to Plymouth. Tilley, who was around 14 upon arrival, came with her parents. Sadly, the winter of 1620-21 was a tough one, and both of Elizabeth's parents died in the spring of 1621. That left Elizabeth as an orphan. John Carver also died in the spring of 1621 he had been the first Governor of the group.

Within a few years, Howland and Tilley got married and had a daughter, also named Elizabeth, some years later. You've got to believe that John didn't have a whole lot of romantic competition for Elizabeth; not many other single men were in town. And the family tree goes from there.

Too bad my grandmother missed out on hearing this story. She would have enjoyed knowing that her great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents had made the trip to Plymouth.

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