I am pleased to announce that I have completed the Forensic Genealogy Institute in Dallas, Texas. It was a jam-packed three days of classroom lecture, discussion, networking, and practice provided by the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy.
Forensic genealogy is genealogical research, analysis, and reporting in cases with legal implications.
Topics covered at the Institute included:
Real Estate Rights of Way
Citizenship and Immigration
Unidentified and Unclaimed Persons
Fees and Contracts
Ethics and Liability
Work Products and Client Documents: Reports, Charts, Affidavits
Finding the Dead to Find the Living
Forensic Techniques for Genetic Genealogy
Missing & Unknown Heirs
This was an advanced level course taught by top-notch experts in the field including:
Michael S. Ramage, JD, CG
Dee Dee King, CG
Debbie Parker Wayne, CG
Catherine W. Desmarais, CG
Pamela Boyer Sayer, CG, CGL
Leslie Brinkley Lawson
Kelvin L. Meyers
Isn’t it intriguing that Michael, the gorilla companion of Koko, was able to relate in sign language his memory of the murder of his mother when he was young? What struck me is that he remembered the sound of the gun. If you have ever been in an accident you probably remember it in great, often slow-motion detail. You might still smell the burning tires, hear the crunching of metal, and see the puff of powder from the air bag.
Historians and genealogists can and should take full advantage of our ability to recall minute details of such important long-ago events. I encourage everyone to record, in writing or on tape or video, these memories, with attention to the myriad details that bring the scene to full-color life. Sometimes these events are private such as the loss of a loved one or the joyful birth of another. But often they are public events. For many older people the attack on Pearl Harbor is a moment etched in their memories. For my generation, it might be the Kennedy Assassination. For my children it might be the Challenger Disaster or Nine Eleven.
I will soon be making my first trip to Dallas, Texas where I will attend the Forensic Genealogy Institute. I have arranged time in my schedule for a visit to the site of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. There is nothing quite like being on the site of an event to truly understand it. I will visit the Texas School Book Depository…and have the same view of the motorcade route as Lee Harvey Oswald. I can mull over the various conspiracy theories. I can see for myself what it might have been like that awful day, a time that comes to my mind so clearly after nearly 49 years.
If you are bored by such accounts, stop here. The rest is my own very personal recollection of that time when I was a day-dreaming teenager and watched helplessly as my world changed forever.
I was in Mr. Swartz’s third period German class. I wasn’t really enjoying that class and not paying much attention. Instead, I was lost in romantic thoughts about the upcoming visit of my first boyfriend. I’ll call him Ed. He was a nice young man, older by two years, very tall with dark hair, and he was extremely intelligent. He lived in another town so mostly we just wrote letters to each other. Snail mail.
I can still remember glancing over to see the student office assistant open our classroom door to collect the roll sheet attached to a clipboard. Usually she grabbed the sheet and left. But that day she quickly whispered something to the student seated near the door and then went on her way to the next classroom. The “news” she whispered spread quickly around our classroom. The President had been shot! No one knew if it was really true or how seriously he might have been injured.We had no way of knowing. There were no phones or cell phones, no radio, no TV, no computers or internet in the classroom.
Within minutes a bell rang, alerting us to an impending announcement on the school’s public address system. At the sound of the bell, our hearts sank. We knew it was true and that the news must be bad. Our Principal, Mrs. Ruth de Polo, told us about the assassination. All we could do from that moment on was talk about the shock and sadness we all felt and all the questions in our minds. It was a scary time.
Later, I wondered if Ed would still visit or if his trip might get cancelled. It wasn’t. The next afternoon my mother and I picked up Ed at the bus station. His first words were to ask if we had heard about the assassination. Sadness was already seeping into our weekend visit. There was no way to stop it.
Mom took us out to dinner, a special treat since her income was limited. We went to a restaurant and bar where Mom knew the bartender. Ed and I sat next to each other on one side of the table with Mom on the other side. Ed is left-handed and I am right-handed so we held hands beneath the table and ate with our other hand. I remember thinking it was sort of secret but I know now it wasn’t.
My mother and I lived in a one-bedroom duplex, so we shared the bedroom. Ed slept on a fold down sofa bed in the living room. I don’t see how he could have possibly been comfortable…his feet probably hung over the end and there was the crease down the middle. But he did not complain.
On Saturday morning when I saw the picture of Lee Harvey Oswald on the front page of The Sacramento Union, I announced that someone was going to kill him. It wasn’t something I thought might happen. I knew it would happen. I don’t typically make such a definitive statement. A couple of hours later Jack Ruby shot and killed Oswald.
We spent the day in Sacramento, but it was difficult to find anything to do. The town was nearly deserted. Most events were cancelled. We ended up watching midget racing but even that was not a happy or fun place to be. There was a moment of silence. People had a hard time concentrating on anything else but the assassination. It was what people wanted to talk about.
On Sunday Ed and I wandered around downtown Sacramento. I bought a lipstick. Ed wanted to go to Capitol Park but we ran out of time and ended up rushing to the bus station just in time for Ed to catch his bus home. He gave me quick kiss and then he was gone. It wasn’t the romantic sort of kiss about which I had been day-dreaming.
After the weekend, the entire nation was glued to their televisions. There was no school. For the first time, the three networks broadcast continually, showing some things over and over again. Today we are accustomed to that, but not then. The country was mesmerized, steeped in mourning. We all cried when three-year-old John-John saluted his father’s passing coffin. Finally, the television coverage of the assassination, mourning, and funeral was over, but it had changed broadcasting and the American people forever.
My own personal life changed too. Within months my mother remarried, we moved, and I changed schools.
To this day I cannot think about Ed or the Kennedy Assassination separately. They are bound together in my memory, shrouded in the haunting gray grief of Sacramento and the beginning of a new reality for me as well as our entire country.
The rich details…sights, sounds, smells, and feelings are often what is lost in historical accounts. I hope that each of you will take some time and record such memories for your descendants.
The thrill of genealogical research is the thrill of the hunt. We use our brains along with knowledge and experience to find that elusive prey (usually already dead relatives). As many animals have discovered, man included, the hunt is far easier (and more exciting) when it is a collaborative effort. The same is true of genealogy, especially in this modern era of social networking.
As you may have noticed, I like to use historical events along with modern movies and activities as an educational tool for my grandchildren. My mechanically minded five-year-old grandson was especially captivated by the submersibles used to find Titanic. When we all got tired of hearing him talk about Titanic (mostly how to build a better ship and how to avoid icebergs), I went looking for something different that involved submersibles.
I discovered TIGHAR ‘s July 2012 expedition to search for Amelia Earhart’s plane. It was perfect. We watched the movie Amelia, we monitored the TIGHAR expedition progress in real time, we used Google Earth to explore the South Pacific (even underwater), and then we watched the Discovery Channel’s program about the expedition. We made a visit to San Jose’s Tech Museum where he practiced with a small robotic submersible (with camera) and we joked about tossing a tiny replica of Earhart’s plane into the tank!
Meanwhile, I have been captivated by the search for Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. It is possibly the most popular yet-to-be-solved mystery of the past century. While I have jumped on TIGHAR‘s bandwagon by conducting genealogical research, note that there are numerous groups and websites devoted to the same search via different Earhart theories (crash and sink, captured by Japanese, etc.). What I love about TIGHAR is the collaborative approach by experts in every field made possible by sharing information through easy communication and social networking. Anyone can join in, exam all the reports and data, debate any facet of the various theories, and contribute in their own way. Each and every one of us can have our own “Indiana Jones” experience!
My grandson has picked his focus from Amelia’s story: desalinization! He seems to think it is a very easy thing to find or create potable water on a very remote, deserted island without power. With potable water, he thinks lots of people would want to live on Nikumaroro Island. We recently watched Tom Hank’s movie Cast Away and now he has a much better idea of what life might be like on a remote and deserted island!
Do you have a special project where your donated research skills (or even just your interest) are needed and appreciated? Today’s social media provides a great way to participate and collaborate…
I recently prevailed upon a relative to do some DNA testing for our family. The surname is very common and it seemed impossible to trace the male line any further back from our ancestor who showed up in Oregon in about 1860 without family or any history that we know about. I had hoped that the Y-DNA results would help us find his specific place in the huge surname field of possibilities. My relative generously shared his test results.
SURPRISE! There were absolutely NO Y-DNA matches for our surname, not even among the 12 marker results! We seem to have been grafted onto someone else’s family tree!
Technically, the results mean that somewhere along the male line there is a “disconnect” where the bio father is not the father of record. Some explanations are: adoption, a name change, a mother giving her child her own surname, or a bio father who is not the mother’s husband. In modern times, a sperm donor is also a possibility.
It is a bit embarrassing to have to tell someone that Dad might not be their bio father, or that Grandpa might not be their real grandfather. No one in our family would believe that to be the explanation for our relative. Additional testing could provide proof. There are other, stronger possibilities; one of our ancestor’s parents divorced. But the culprit is more likely to be that ancestor who showed up alone in Oregon in about 1860.
The research is now much more complicated. There are some tantalizing clues: two surnames show up in large numbers in the not-so-close DNA matches. Our solution will come only in the form of DNA. We must sit and wait until someone’s test results reveal a close DNA match.
DNA testing is advancing quickly and the prices keep coming down. You can control who has access to your results. Consider testing older family members now while it can still be easily done. If you need help knowing who to test, which tests to get, and which testing company to use, please feel free to contact me.
Nearly every genealogist eventually has a serendipity story…that moment when you feel like someone, perhaps an ancestor, has led you to find something special. Here is our once-in-a-lifetime serendipity story…
Several years ago my daughter invited me to travel with them on a road trip through the Basque Country of France and Spain. She was not a genealogist but she knew that I might be interested in researching her late father’s family. Aimee asked two questions of me: how many days would I need and which locations would I want to visit? Gosh, I could have skipped all the rest of the trip (Tour de France, running bulls in Pamplona) and spent the entire time researching! But I was reasonable. I told her two days and provided the names of four towns in Southwestern France: Hasparren, Meharin, Ayherre, and Armendarits.
Bob’s grandparents had come to America immediately following their 1912 wedding and had never returned to the Basque Country, not even to visit. I went looking for the wedding photo. Many years before I had managed to get Bob’s Uncle Jean to let me make copies of two of his parents wedding photos. This was not an easy thing to accomplish; Jean was a typical Basque and he was concerned about letting them out of the house to be copied. One picture was of the bride and groom alone and the other was of the entire family. I couldn’t find the group photo. I searched throughout my house and finally ended up at my storage unit looking for the group photo. I was running out of time. I pulled box after box out of the piles and rummaged through them. Finally, as my available time was nearly exhausted, I found it!
I made copies and I also included a list of family names, towns, an email address and my daughter’s cell phone in France. That being done, I was ready to go. I should have been a little more prepared but I also knew that much of what we might research might be available online and that it might also be in Salt Lake City on microfilm. True, but I would soon learn it’s just not the same experience.
Our first stop was the Mairie in Hasparren, where Grandpa Lorda was born.Thankfully, my son-in-law knew French. We worked quickly…three people on a mission with little time to spare. Dave took photos of each record so that he could translate it later. As we gathered records we realized just how important the Basque home was…it was referenced in every single record. So we asked about one home in particular, Gambourria, where Bob’s grandfather was born. Yes, it still existed! The woman at the Mairie provided us with a map and directions. When they closed for lunch, we went first to the local cemetery and then continued our adventure.
We drove towards Ayherre, found the road outlined on the map, and drove down the road to see Gambourria. Even though it was several hundred years old, it was still very much a home and working farm. To me, it looked vaguely familiar…a lot like Uncle Jean’s property. We knocked at the door and tried to explain who we were. The family who answered the door did not own the property; they were renters. We were granted permission to take photos of the exterior of the home. It was an exciting experience and before we left I scooped up some dirt to bring back with me. I wanted to sprinkle it on the grave of Bob’s grandfather so that he could be buried with a little bit of his native soil.
The next day we headed to the Mairie at Meharin, where Grandma Lorda was born. They gave us a room with tables and chairs where we could work and brought in the indexes and the books of records, some dating back to the 1700′s. Then they left us alone to work! Oh, the joy of actually handling such old, original records! Again, we worked quickly, locating records and taking photos.
When they closed for lunch we went across the street to the church and cemetery. I continued to look through the cemetery while Aimee and Dave spoke with a woman who had poked her head over the fence and wondered what we were doing. Aimee gave her a copy of the wedding photo and she said she thought she knew someone who might help. As we began to leave a woman drove up and stopped to talk with us. She turned out to be the widow of a man whose godmother was Bob’s Great Aunt Augustine. We chatted and took her picture and then she drove away. It was an amazing experience.
We were hungry but there was no restaurant in Meharin. The next town was Armendarits, where I had hoped to get in the last of our research. However, we decided to continue on (and skip the research) if there was no place to eat in Armendarits.
But we did find one restaurant. It was open and filled with Basque men eating lunch. They all stared at us as we were escorted to our table. No one gave us a menu, they simply began bringing the food. It was simple and delicious. We had no idea how to pace ourselves because we did not know how much they would ultimately serve. By the time we finished, everyone else had already left the restaurant. No one brought a bill so we all got up and Dave requested the bill at the front desk.
There were two women at the desk. One began to answer Dave’s request for the bill and the other asked Aimee why we were there. Aimee knew enough French to understand and answer something like, “family genealogy”. I took out the wedding photo and handed it to the women. They looked at it closely. They knew the people in our photo! It was as if that photo was our passport into their family. From this point on, things were a blur.
All our questions, explanations, and translations had to go through Dave. We quickly realized that they were the family of the sister of Bob’s grandmother. Each of the women left and returned with a group wedding photo of their own…with many of the same faces as in our photo. After awhile an elderly gentleman walked in the door. His name was Arnaud. He went straight to the counter to see our wedding photo, looked at the bride and groom, and announced “Anna Sorhobigarat and Jean Lorda”. Anna was his aunt, although he had never met her because he was born after they left for America.
There were so many questions and so much to catching up to do! Arnaud remembered his cousin Angele visiting when he was a teenager. They had gone fishing together and she had stayed upstairs in this very same place. For so many years we had known how much that trip to France meant to Angele and now we were hearing how much it meant to them too. We shared as many family photos as we could find. It was truly a magical day that none of would ever forget. Grandma Lorda must have helped guide our way to her family!
The following month Aimee returned to visit them for about a week…a challenging French immersion experience without Dave to translate! However, Bob’s sister joined Aimee on that trip and I am sure her sign language skills helped a lot.
A few years later I joined Aimee for another visit with her Basque family. We continued with some genealogical research with the help of an expert local researcher. Aimee experienced yet another serendipity moment when she went to a different village to get a family death record and discovered that a stranger who helped her find her way to the office was the grandson of the person whose record she was researching! We explored the local area and relaxed in their slower pace of life. We learned little things about Basque life that don’t come across on genealogical charts or even in letters or photos.
While we were visiting, we got word of the death of Uncle Jean back in California. It was also a sad time for Arnaud, who grieved for the loss the American cousin he never met. When it was time to say our good-byes we knew that it would be our last good-bye to that wonderful old gentleman.
Finding that Serendipity moment for yourself is not so difficult. First, actually go visit the sites where your family lived and worked. Google earth makes it possible to check it all online in advance. Second, bring along copies of old photos filled with people and places. Bring along copies of names, dates, and locations so that you can share. Be willing to explore, to get a bit out of your comfort zone. When you do to a place, search out the old folks and ask questions. That total stranger just might be a relative!
I recently watched the movie Pearl Harbor. It gave rise to thoughts about what sort of legacy is left by a generation. My parents and grandparents left great gifts for us. They learned to make the best life possible in spite of the Great Depression. Most important, they helped bring peace out of two World Wars. We all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
There were personal accomplishments as well. Dad passed along his love of history. Mom taught me how much good just one woman can do for her community. My aunt taught me about being a nurturing mother by her example. My grandfather taught me to love the beauty of our earth and respect for all its creatures.
I now have the opportunity to pass along to my grandchildren knowledge about the accomplishments of my own generation. I thought about those accomplishments…desegregation, the Viet Nam war (pro and con), women’s rights, fighting for the environment, computer technology, mapping the human genome. It seems impossible to choose one thing over another.
Last month I spent time with my grandchildren at the two National Air and Space Museums in Washington, D. C. and realized that our accomplishments in space are what I want to emphasize to them right now. I suppose my choice comes from my own fascination with flight.
In the movie, Apollo 13, I was reminded of how the entire world watched and prayed for the safe return of our astronauts and that is the kind of moment I wish they could experience for themselves. I want them to understand the importance of creating and following a dream, about solving technological challenges by thinking outside the box, about pride in what we can do when we put our efforts together. It is the process of achievement (hopefully for the better good of all) that I hope my grandchildren will learn.
Think about what legacy you want your own descendants to know about, understand, and appreciate. I am talking about your own personal accomplishments. Whatever it is, share with them. Talk, write, gather photos, news clippings, and memorabilia. Inspire them!
P.S. In the picture above, the pilot of the plane on the left is Jack Nickel, a fellow graduate of my Luther Burbank Senior High School class. Besides being a NASA test pilot, Jack helped train the astronauts to fly the space shuttle.
We hear all the time about taking care of old photos, documents, audio, and video tapes, etc. Now, the word is to take care of those old letters because you may, at some point in time, want to test for the DNA they hold.
Old letters, the kind where the envelope and/or stamp have been licked can hold DNA for very long times. But with excessive handling or improper storage, the DNA can be contaminated or even lost.
The best advice? Protect the envelope and avoid handling it. Especially avoid moisture, high heat, and sunlight.
In 2011, the cost to type such DNA was about $1,000. In time, as more people need such testing services, the price could come down.
For more information: http://stamps.org/userfiles/file/AP/feature/Feature_03_12.pdf
This past week found me experiencing a common problem from three different perspectives. The problem? What happens to the family photos, documents, and memorabilia?
In most families, one person ends up being the caretaker, be it through designation or not. Regardless of how it comes about, the situation is often the battleground after the old folks are gone. In the past it was time-consuming and expensive to make copies of the photos so it may have been done for selected photos, if it was done at all.
As a researcher, I need to find the family’s treasure trove. I don’t care how they got there. If they were acquired in an underhanded fashion, people do not usually admit to having them. Understanding human nature is a key factor in the hunt for the “caretaker”. It becomes a ticklish subject that requires a non-judgmental attitude.
This past week, I spent two full days with two of my mother’s cousins scanning the old family photos held by another cousin of my mother who was moving to assisted living. It was a lot of work but it was also great fun because we worked as a team. There were times, however, when we wondered, “How did she get these?” Certain family dynamics became clear and the implications did not make anyone feel happy. It would do no good to ask questions or cast blame. We put our private thoughts aside and soothed ourselves with the knowledge that at least everyone would have access to the scanned copies.
Also this past week I had to face the truth about my own actions (on the other side of my family). Years ago I had been trusted with my grandfather’s album and an album of my aunt’s artwork. I had promised to scan them, provide copies to family members, and return the originals. It is still not done and they are angry with me. They have good reason to be angry.
Yes, I do have an excuse. My scanner broke just after I obtained the albums. Before I had the money for new parts, my computer died. I had to spend my funds on a replacement computer. Fixing the scanner would have to wait. However, the advance of time took another toll; the old scanner would not work with the new computer. At this point, I just set the albums aside until I could buy a new scanner. Once I did, I discovered that the albums were too big for the scanner and scans would need to be stitched together. Sigh.
At this point, I had too many other priorities taking up my time. I put the scanning task aside yet again. I do the things that need to be done, usually according to immediate importance. Those albums simply never got to the top of my to-do list. But that is the wrong attitude. I was thinking of myself and not others. I deprived them of the joy of those photos, not just for a little while…for many years. I feel awful about it. My sincerest apologies go to my family.
And so, after seeing this problem from all sides, my best advice is this: be patient and understanding with the “caretaker”. Don’t judge. Don’t yell at them. Don’t ask “How did you get these?” Just figure out a way to accomplish whatever needs to be done in order to get the job of sharing done.
If you happen to be that “caretaker”, keep in mind that you do share your ancestors with others. If you cannot share the originals, then share scanned copies. Avoid scanner problems…there are many affordable services available to help you. (I just saw where one service will digitize 1,000 photos for $50.)
Lost track of your cousins? Researchers can help you find them. In addition, you can put information online so that your unknown distant relatives have a good chance of finding you and that treasure trove you hold. Believe me, sharing it will bring joy to all!
In 1987, I decided that I wanted to be a Professional Genealogist and began a certification project. The primary project would be to research a couple and their descendants for four generations. I was intrigued by Maria Ygnacia Lopez de Carrillo. After the death of her husband, she moved with nine of her children from San Diego to Sonoma. She obtained a land grant in her own name and managed her rancho herself. I felt a sort of bond with her because I had been left a widow with children just a year after moving to rural Sonoma County. It was Maria’s passion for her land that I understood. I too wanted to put down roots, both literally and culturally, in this stunningly beautiful area.
As I investigated the previous research and other aspects of my proposed project, I went looking for Maria’s adobe home. I checked a map and pinpointed where I thought it might be (this was before the Internet and Google Earth). I will never forget my first glimpse. Sitting alone in a walnut orchard, it was surrounded by a chain link fence, with blackberries crawling all around and through it. The roof had caved in, funneling water onto the walls. I was stunned. I was angry. I wanted to save it.
I soon discovered that many others had already been working to save this important piece of Santa Rosa’s history. There were the Friends of the Carrillo Adobe and there was Gaye LeBaron, a popular and influential columnist, who kept the plight of the adobe in the news. I chose to focus on my research, leaving the preservation efforts to others.
The problem has always been that the Carrillo Adobe sits on valuable land and is privately owned. For many years the Catholic Church owned the land and at first they had an appreciation and respect for its historical value. But their ownership was not the same as that of an owner who lives on the land, works the soil, lives in the home and does maintenance. Church leaders changed. Church organization changed. Times changed.
The creekside property became an asset to be leveraged. If the adobe was allowed to crumble back into the earth, its historical value would no longer be an impediment to sale and development. One day many years ago, Santa Rosa woke up to find that the longer wing of the adobe had been bulldozed! The roof on the remaining wing was eventually replaced in the 1960′s, not by the Church but by the donation of one private citizen. There were years of efforts by Carrillo family members to encourage better preservation. It is not easy to tell someone else what they should do with their own property. Eventually, the Church allowed a protective roof to be built over the adobe by volunteers with donated materials. But it wasn’t enough. It has been heart-wrenching to watch the rapid deterioration in spite of all their efforts.
The Catholic Church, mired in controversy, lawsuits, and legal bills, needed to sell. They could have sold the property to the City of Santa Rosa. Instead, they sold it to a developer. After many years of negotiation and planning, the City of Santa Rosa approved a plan to build housing along with an agreement for an archaeological survey, stabilization of the adobe, and a small portion of the property with the adobe to become a public park.
The archaeological survey was done but the results were withheld for years. It was not complete, as the area around the adobe was not part of the magnetic resistivity testing. The reason given was that it could not be done because of the chain link fence. Hog wash! Volunteers could have moved and later replaced that fence on a moment’s notice. The survey revealed exactly what the developer did not want to know or be known…the historical importance of the entire property, not just the Carrillo Adobe.
Since then, the owner-developer has allowed the property to languish. I suppose he could claim it is due to the present state of the economy and perhaps that is part of the reason. Or could it be more a case of passive-aggressive revenge…”If I can’t have what I want, I’ll make sure you can’t have what you want”? Native Americans, who should be more concerned and involved, might also be holding back because the site is known only for an Hispanic family rather than the Native village nearby. I believe it is time to change that. It was Native Americans who did the hard work building the Carrillo Adobe and working the ranch.
Fast forward to 2012. There are now squatters living in and around the Carrillo Adobe. They have taken some of the historic timbers out of the building for firewood. Calls by neighbors to the Santa Rosa Police Department went ignored until the story came out in the newspaper.
I believe there is only one solution and that is public ownership of this historic treasure. Who will step up to the plate and make it happen? Native Americans? A wealthy donor? Historical societies? Politicians with the guts to do what is right and be leaders? All of the above?
Grandchildren will soon be arriving for our Thanksgiving Dinner. The genealogist in this grandmother cannot resist using our Mayflower ancestry as an educational tool. Actually, the goal is to “hook” these little ones into an appreciation not just of their history but of all history.
My task is made a little easier because Resolved White was just five years old when he made that notable journey. Kids relate to other kids. I can show them images of the tiny ship and it’s layout so they can see just how little space there was for those 100+ passengers. I can show them the wicker cradle for Resolved’s baby brother who was born on the Mayflower as it sat in the harbor. It is possible that it was Resolved’s cradle too. I’ve printed out a chart for them that shows each generation from William and Susanna White to Resolved and then down to each of them.
In gathering this together, I found two lists online. One is a list of all the passengers and the other is a list of those who died the first winter. Sadly, it was nearly half of them and tended to be the men in the group. I can just imagine it: the women and children staying on the Mayflower until the men have constructed some sort of homes for them, some sort of protection from the elements (it was winter). And I can imagine those same men out hunting for food…a turkey being preferred because it is a hefty bird, too big to fly and easier to shoot. I can imagine those men getting sick from all this outdoor activity in winter when there was very little food for them to eat. Perhaps they gave up some of their own shares of food to be sure their wives and children had enough. Resolved’s father was one of those who died that first winter.
Thanksgiving has been so commercialized that we tend to trivialize the Plymouth Colony Thanksgiving. But I am sure those that survived that first difficult year were exceptionally grateful for their lives, their families, friends, and especially the Native Americans who came to their rescue. I am grateful too.