It has become tradition for students at Mooreland to hear an excerpt from a letter written by Edward Winslow to a friend in England from the Plymouth plantation dated the 11th of December 1621. (A copy of the excerpt is below.) Former teacher and mentor, Joanne Pigott used to recite this letter to students at morning meeting on the last day before Thanksgiving Break. In it, Winslow recounts the trials and tribulations of the small group of settlers as they struggled to survive in the harsh environment of New England. Despite the hardships, there are glimmers of hope. Winslow concludes one segment with a recounting of the very first Thanksgiving with a very memorable and heartfelt wish of good tidings.
“…You shall understand that in this little time a few of us have been here, we have built seven dwelling-houses and four for the use of the plantation, and have made preparation for divers others. We set last spring some twenty acres of Indian corn, and sowed some six acres of barley and peas; and according to the manner of the Indians, we manured our ground with herrings, or rather shads, which we have in great abundance, and take with great ease at our doors. Our corn did prove well; and, God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown. They came up very well, and blossomed; but the sun parched them in the blossom.
Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming among us, and among the rest their greatest king, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation, and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty….
Your loving friend,
Plymouth, in New England, this 11th of December, 1621”
The tradition of reading the letter above on the eve of our Thanksgiving break continues to this year. We wish you all a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.