Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 65

The rain made the wonderful for sightseeing in Plymouth - only about 25 people there so lots of opportunities for long discussions with the workers. At Plymouth Plantation, the Native American village is populated by individuals from local tribes. They can answer any question from how the homes are built to weaving to food preparation. Up the hill live the Pilgrims. These employees actually play the part and cannot answer questions outside the frame of reference for their existence in 1627. For example, "William Bradford" asked where I came from. I said far to the west in the mountains - Colorado - and he, staying in character, said he had no knowledge of that place.

It was interesting to find out how much contact the Pilgrims had with:
a) the Native Americans - many of whom spoke English because there had been ongoing contact with vessels since 1500. In fact, the Pilgrims built their village on top of a former Wampanoague village that had been decimated by European diseases.
b) Fisherman from England. I pictured the Pilgrims stuck in Massachusetts alone for years on end. No - the fishing areas near Great Britain had been fished out so vessels regularly came to America to fish. This regular contact gave the Pilgrims a regular method for communicating with their investors in England.
c) Representatives from Jamestown regularly came up to visit the Pilgrims, exchanging knowledge and political strategies. Who knew???

I also found out the 17th/18th century definition of yeoman. In several of our ancestors' wills, they refer to themselves as yeoman. For me, this has always indicated a working person so it didn't make sense that someone would indicate this distinction in a will. As it turns out, a yeoman is a land owner. This was a huge status symbol and accomplishment for the new emigrants who, in a class society like England, would never have the opportunity to be more than a tenant. - Lots of other little details, but I won't bore you.

Below are two photos of the Plymouth Plantation Meeting House. This facility served as the seat for governance with church pews and pulpit on first floor and housed the canons for defence on the second floor. In one building - it is a interesting juxtaposition of government-religion-military all under one roof. I will keep any references to George Bush to myself.

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