What most of us know about the Pilgrims and their Mayflower voyage, is what we were taught in elementary school. It was just enough information to validate the Thanksgiving ‘play’ that many were forced to participate in and indoctrinate us into the Americanized version of history… ie: what they wanted us to know. It ranks right up there with the teaching of George Washington admitting he chopped down the cherry tree because he could not tell a lie. Its ironic that George’s story is a lie, manufactured after his death to make him look more favorable to the public. Yet, it is still told to children even now.
It wasn’t until I started doing Genealogy and delving into the family stories that I also started to learn the truths about history. In order to tell the stories correctly, I found I had to learn everything I could about that particular time period. We only learn the highlights in school and that from the perspective of the Americans. There are always at least two sides to a story and to understand history fully, one must observe all sides.
I didn’t start out to trace my Ancestors to the Mayflower. It was a casual observation of similar names that got me curious. I looked up my line on Ancestry (dot) com and found that indeed, my Ancestor was on the Mayflower. I could have been happy with just that knowledge, but I have a need to know the stories about these people who I share DNA with. I decided to look deeper into their lives.
What I found was a lot of fabricated history, myths, and embellishments of truth for the benefit of selling a product. The Mayflower, over time, has become a commodity that sells. Unlike other parts of our American history, the Mayflower story projects a positive message. 102 ‘heroes’ sailed to America to start a new life and many of those 102 succeeded against all odds. Currently, there is an estimate of more than 25 million living descendants of at least one Mayflower passenger. They succeeded quite well.
People ask me why I would want to prove my lineage to be able to join the General Society of Mayflower Decendants. Isn’t knowing just enough? For some people, knowing is enough. Some people just don’t care one way or the other. Many think its an ego trip to want to ‘belong’.
I’m not doing it for the prestige. I’m not doing it for the benefits the Society might bring me. I do it because its my Legacy. Their Mayflower journey is a gift the Ancestors have left for me. Just as a gravestone, a material possession, or a document with the Ancestor’s signature, the certificate I am given upon acceptance to the Mayflower Society is a tangible connection to my past.
That is why I am doing it.
**For the record, online Genealogy websites like Ancestry (dot) com, Family Search (dot) org, etc., perpetuate the fabricated history, myths, and embellishments. Use the information found in lineages on Genealogy websites with caution and ALWAYS back up your line with documentation.