I've just been reading about the Mayflowers journey and decided after the first couple of sentences I'd not have gone to America thank you all the same...it sounded positively hellish. What with suffering from scurvy so' their teeth fell out and their gums bled and they had stinking breath', to being cooped up in tiny spaces where anyone over five foot tall had to stoop and the sailors mocked the passengers endlessly, just to add to the air of general misery of a truly horrible journey...and they took four children with them who were unrelated to the passengers...and this sounds very nasty 'cos the children were illigitimate and had practically been picked up off the streets whether they wanted to go or not...the theory is that were going to used as cheap labour once they arrived, but three of the four children died during the first winter.
They took pets with them...cats and cage birds and one man took his Mastiff bitch...it's thought they probably also took goats and pigs and chickens but no-one is certain about that. The pets were included on the ships manifesto but other animals weren't...so its not known for sure.
And they were armed...not so much as a precaution against the native people but more as protection against the Spaniards...
Once they'd finally set foot on dry land it wasn't quite what they'd been expecting...far from being an untended wilderness which belonged to no-one, there were carefully tended fields of corn growing...proper pathways and bridle-ways and best of all dozens of native burial grounds which they raided for the grave goods of beans and dried foods placed there...apparently they'd intended to replace those burial offerings...at some point...but simply never got around to it...
The cold weather of the first winter combined with an outbreak of consumption killed half of the original Mayflower passengers and a number of the sailors who had yet to return to England...
I suppose the rest is history...the Indians were friendly and helpful to begin with...until they realised these Bible pounding White people didn't have their best interests at heart...settlements were built...and churches of course...land was acquired and people became relatively wealthy and built big houses and signed agreements and covenants and married over and over again...one of my relatives married five times. And had dozens of children who then began the American custom of giving their children placenames as first names...
But some went back to England. Another of my relatives stayed long enough to marry and have a family and he was the Deputy of something or other which now escapes me...but he left and returned to England where he married again and lived a peaceful life until he died in London and was buried there...
He was not the only one of the first and second generations of the New Americans to decide to return back home...many did...risking that long sea voyage to go back from where they'd hailed from.
Maybe they were simply homesick...perhaps they disliked the native peoples being pushed away from their tribal lands...they could have simply had business interests in England which they thought couldn't be left unattended...the reasons why they chose to return will have to remain a puzzle because the records don't divulge...
Of those who stayed, there are records aplenty...marriages, deaths, births, land bought and land sold is all there...written down and carefully kept. There are the first burial grounds opened to accomodate the first White people with plaques and gravestones all on record...the houses they built and the churches they funded..if the original no longer exists, then you can be certain of finding a replica.
The more I read about those first settlers the more irritated I become by their attitude of the White mans supremacy over the heathen Indian...missionaries saw a peoples ripe for conversion and persuaded the women to wear 'Western' style clothing...bribed with pretty trinkets and later with guns...
I quite like having Vikings as ancestors...tough old boys with long hair and big moustaches...I don't mind in the slightest having a general mix of Icelandic and Scottish people even if they were bloodthirsty and were armed with razor sharp axes...but I'm not overly keen on having second cousins ten times removed who thought little of raiding a grave to eat the grave goods...and I know they were hungry...but it didn't stop at grave robbing...that attitude continued on over the following generations with Black slaves and Indians confined to reservations.
It wasn't ignorance...it was more a given right that the White man reigns supreme.
So these are the people in my tree I don't rejoice to find...interested, certainly, but I'd rather have had a dozen sheep stealers or pickpockets.