Tag Archives: Massachusetts

52 Ancestors: #48 William Bassett Missed Thanksgiving

William Bassett 1600-1667

What an anti-climax!

I started this series on my Pilgrim Bassett ancestors to lead up to Thanksgiving.

But the “first comer”, William Bassett, my 9th Great Grandfather, totally missed the event we call the first Thanksgiving.

Plimouth Plantation

Modern reproduction village: Plimouth Plantation. Photo by Nancy, licensed under GNU Free license, Wikimedia

We have piles of information about William Bassett, and the offices he held in the communities of Plymouth, Duxbury and Bridgewater, because the Pilgrims, being partly a religious colony and partly a business arrangement, kept meticulous records. Today I will concentrate on his arrival in America.

We know with certainty that William arrived on the Fortune on November 9, 1621, and with probability that he was twenty years old, having been born in Middlesex, England in Stepney Green. The Fortune was an even smaller ship than the Mayflower.

Merchant Ship

17th century merchantman by User Musphot on Wikimedia Commons

It is not William’s fault that he missed what we think of as the first Thanksgiving, which was held well before we hold Thanksgiving toward the end of November. Rather, their three-day Thanksgiving feast was in early October. Not only that, but it was called a Harvest Festival–not a Thanksgiving. The first Thanksgiving was in 1623.

Whatever the party was called, it was not his fault that he was late, because he had originally set sail on the companion ship to the Mayflower, the Speedwell , which turned back to England because of structural problems.  It took a year for the financiers of the expedition to decide to send more settlers.

When they did outfit the Fortune, thirty-five people were aboard, picked for their likelihood of survival and their fitness for hard labor.  William was a blacksmith, a skill that probably was much needed in the new colony. He must also have had a strong sense of adventure to hang around for a year waiting for this ship and then to set sail under difficult circumstances.

He may already have been married  to his first wife Elizabeth (whose maiden name we do not know) when he arrived. If so, their honeymoon was a bummer. The information is murky.  Did Elizabeth and William marry in Holland? Did they perhaps marry in England after his first ship was turned back there in 1620? Did Elizabeth travel on the ship as a single woman? If so, did they marry in the colony?

We know  they were married by 1623 when they each received land. And in 1627 when the Pilgrims divided cattle based on family members, Elizabeth and William had two children, their namesakes Elizabeth and William.

Book Cover

Book Cover: Of Plymouth Plantation

In Of Plymouth Plantation, William Bradford writes about the arrival of the Fortune.  The original settlers from the Mayflower had been reduced almost in half by illness and injury to 53 from 102 , so they were eager to have reinforcements–both people and supplies. Other ships had brought messages and some goods from time to time, but this was the first to arrive with more people to join their tiny band. Unfortunately, the supplies did not show up–just more mouths to feed.

In November, about that time twelvemonth that themselves came (Note: Bradford means the original Pilgrims, himself included) there came a small ship to them unexpected or looked for in which came Mr. Cushman and with him, 35 persons to remain and live in the plantation; which did not a little rejoice them. And they, when they came ashore and found all well and saw plenty of victuals in every house, wer no less glad, for most of them were lusty young men, and many of them wild enough, who little considered whither or about what they went till they came into harbor at Cape Cod and there saw nothing but a naked and barren place…

Perhaps, given his history in the Plymouth colony, William was not quite as “lusty” and “wild” as Bradford is labeling these newcomers.  But they must have been a sad sight–dressed in rags, and unlike the Mayflower Pilgrims, not carrying supplies of food, seeds, blankets, clothing and utensils.

Pilgrim kettle

Standish kettle, artifact from the Pilgrim Hall Museum.

So they all landed; but there was not so much as a biscuitcake or any other victuals for them, neither had they any bedding but some sorry things they had in their cabins; nor pot, or pan to dress any meat in; nor overmany clothes. But there was sent over some Birching Lane suits*

*Birching Lane was a street in London where cheap, ready-made clothes were sold.

You can almost hear William Bradford sigh, as he looks at this irresponsible, ragged bunch. Note to my relatives–Bradford says the new guys were lower class, which is what I have always suspected of William Bassett.

The plantation was glad for this addition of strength but they could have wished that many of them had been of better class, and all of them better furnished with provisions. But that could not now be helped.

Perhaps Edward Winslow was thinking of the passengers on the Fortune, when he later wrote back to his fellow Leiden Pilgrims with a packing list for the trip.

As it turns out, as ragged and unprepared as he was (although I suspect he may have brought his blacksmith tools–the ones he willed to his younger son Joseph ( my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather), and as wild as some of his children were, William Bassett did very well in his life, building wealth in the new Colony to the point where he paid the 4th highest taxes by 1663.

In the long run, his contributions to Plymouth Colony and his hard work meant much more than missing one little celebration in his youth. Thanks, William. We’re glad you’re an ancestor.

How I Am Related

  •  My maternal grandmother, Vera Stout Anderson, was the daughter of
  • Hattie Stout Morgan, the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett Platt Morgan, the daughter of
  • William Bassett the son of
  • Samuel Bassett, the son of
  • William Bassett, Jr., the son of
  • William L. Bassett, the son of
  • William Bassett, the son of
  • Joseph Bassett, the son of, and Mary Lapham Bassett, the step-daughter of
  • William Bassett, the Pilgrim.

Notes on Research

You also should know that I am an Amazon affililiate. If you purchase anything by using my links to Amazon (like the link to the book cover above) I earn a few cents. Thanks for doing your shopping Amazon through my links.


52 Ancestors: #47–Peregrine White, American Royalty

Sarah Bassett 1630-1711

 Peregrine White 1620-1704

Many people seem to think that the purpose of genealogy is to find out how your family is related to royalty. I have not extended my family history to Europe in search of titled ancestors, but among that bevy of misbehaving children sired by our pilgrim ancestor, William Bassett, Sarah, born in 1630, made the choice of mate that ties us firmly to American “royalty.” (Although my early American ancestors–not a Tory in the bunch–would have been horrified by the term.)

Our family has always been proud of being descendants of the Pilgrim William Bassett, even though his ship the Fortune didn’t get here with the Mayflower as scheduled. But my mother, who loved family history, never learned that one of the Bassett girls married so well. She would have loved this story.

Whose names do we hear in 6th grade when we are studying the Pilgrims?  Well there is William Bradford, Governor of the colony, the other main leader Edward Winslow, and surely Miles Standish, the military leader. William Brewster was the religious leader, and you have probably heard of him. And there is the 3-way romance of Priscilla Alden, John and Miles Standish, made famous (or embroidered) by Longfellow.

Peregrine White cradle

The actual Peregrine White cradle, kept at the Pilgrim Museum by the Pilgrim Society.

But the name that struck an emotional chord with me as a child was Peregrine White.  Besides the fact that I wondered why his parents would give him such a silly name, I was fascinated that he was born ON the Mayflower–the first child born in the Pilgrim colony.

As to the name, what do I know? I have since read that Peregrine comes from a Latin word that means pilgrim (or traveler).

Peregrine had an older brother, Resolve, who had traveled with their parents on the Mayflower. (Read more about his mother Susannah, sturdy pioneer, in the following short bio.)   Baby Peregrine waited until the ship had safely docked in Cape Cod harbor to make his appearance, becoming the first child born in the Plymouth Colony.

Unfortunately, Peregrine’s father William White, a signer of the Mayflower compact, was one of the casualties of the first dreadful winter in New England. He died in February 1621, and Susannah quickly married Edward Winslow, who was one of the close-knit community who came from Holland.

Peregrine would have been a toddler when the colony celebrated the first Thanksgiving.  Speculation is that it took place some time in October. Edward Winslow, Peregrine’s step-father, by the way, is not only important as a leader, but also because he left one of only two surviving documents that mention that first Thanksgiving.

Some time in his early twenties, young Peregrine caught the eye of Sarah Bassett, who was ten years younger than he was.  His obituary says, “He was vigorous and of a comly (sic) Aspect to the last.”  He must have been an attractive youth. According to church records, although they married–perhaps when she was as young as sixteen–they had been fooling around beforehand. The church charged them with “fornication before marriage.” It seems you just could not get away with anything in Plymouth Colony.

Peregrine White Homestead

Peregrine White homestead marker

But Sarah and Peregrine were destined to have a long marriage. They lived in Marshfield, Massachusetts on land that William Bassett gave to them when they married.  Peregrine, besides his soldiering, was a farmer and he did well, expanding his land. He and Sarah had seven children (one dying in infancy) and lived their entire lives on the land in Marshfield.

Imagine my surprise to discover that the land of the homestead is for sale.  If anyone would like to build a true Thanksgiving home,near the Atlantic with a view of a river, and a claim to history, check out this listing on Peregrine Drive in Marshfield, Massachusetts.

Peregrine White property

Peregrine White property in Marshfield MA

But wait, there’s more.  Sarah and Peregrine’s home, built in 1648, still stands. No doubt it has been altered considerably, since it is not protected by historic status. But it was for sale a few years ago, so there are pictures of it all over the Internet. (It is not for sale now despite misleading information on the Web.)

Peregrine and Sarah's home

Peregrine and Sarah Bassett White’s home 178 Peregrine White Dr, Marshfield, MA

 How I am Related

  • My maternal grandmother, Vera Stout Anderson, was the daughter of
  • Hattie Stout Morgan, the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett Platt Morgan, the daughter of
  • William Bassett the son of
  • Samuel Bassett, the son of
  • William Bassett, Jr., the son of
  • William L. Bassett, the son of
  • William Bassett, the son of
  • Joseph Bassett, the son of, and Mary Lapham Bassett, the step-daughter of
  • William Bassett, the Pilgrim, also father of
  • Sarah Bassett,8th Great Grand Aunt married to
  • Peregrine White


Research Notes

The Boston Newsletter, Monday, July 31, 1704

The Sun Journal (Lewiston Maine), November 23, 1994, found in Google News

(Other sources are linked above).

There is no end of information about Peregrine White on the Internet, and most of those sources mention Sarah Bassett as well.  I started, as usual, with birth,death and marriage records at Ancestry.com

The Haunted Room. Did I Meet Jerusha’s Ghost?

The haunted room

Jerusha’s Room #9 (Modern lock), Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, Sudbury Massachusetts

When I described Jerusha Howe’s historic room at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, I told you a bit about what it is like to stay in a haunted room. I also hinted that there might be more to tell. Did Jerusha visit me?

Since this is a ghost story–a story about a haunted room– it is appropriate to tell you on Halloween. (Be sure and follow that link above to see ghostly pictures of her room,  and the historic background. Go on. We’ll still be here when you get back.)

I mentioned in that prior article that people leave notes to Jerusha stuck into the beams in the ceiling:

Notes tucked in ceiling over bed of Jerusha's Room (#9)

Notes tucked in ceiling over bed of Jerusha’s Room (#9)

or stuffed into secret drawers in Rooms 9 and 10:

Haunted Room

People Leave their marks inside the secret drawer in Jerusha Howe’s Room (#9) at Wayside Inn

Letters in the secret drawer in Room #9.

Letters in the secret drawer in Room #9.

I don’t know when this all started, but according to a program for an event by Para-Boston, a paranormal society, by last year, they were able to read more than 3000 letters that had been left in the rooms. A man who used to work at the Wayside Inn told me that people leave notes in every drawer and closet available, and the staff gathers those notes up and puts them in the secet drawers where they belong. The earliest one that Para-Boston reproduced in their booklet was written in 1973. It reports seeing dark shadows move around the room.

I spent some time reading through letters, and was alternately amused and bemused by people’s disappointment at not seeing any ghostly signs, or being frightened out of their wits.

My favorite, however, said, “Yes, the ghost was here for us–either that or they have some heavy duty plumbing issues.”  The plumbing issues might explain why we got a call from the desk downstairs while I was taking a shower to complain that there was water coming through the ceiling into the Old Kitchen dining room below us. That happens, the caller said, when we don’t get the shower door shut tight and water leaks outside the shower.  I checked, and the floor outside the shower was completely dry.

I found it interesting, that although seemingly EVERYONE who sleeps in Jerusha’s room is devoutly hoping to see a ghost, Para-Boston reports that of those 3000 letters, only 180 mention a paranormal experience. Yet we go on hoping. I didn’t believe anything untoward would happen, and yet….

As for our stay, we did not smell Jerusha’s orange blossom perfume, nor did she whisper to us.  We did not feel a sudden chill, nor see the curtains move inexplicably.  So I wrote a rather sarcastic (and perhaps premature) little note for the Secret Drawer Society.

The Haunted Room

My letter in the Secret Drawer in Jerusha’s room at the Wayside Inn

In case you cannot read my writing, it says

Dear Seekers Who Found the Secret Drawer –

I am a descendent of John, Samuel and David Howe, the first innkeepers of the Howe family.  Here for a reunion with seven relatives to visit the haunts of our ancestors.

Perhaps because Jerusha is a distant cousin, she did not feel it necessary for her to visit us last night. Yes, the floor creaked and hinges squeaked, but only from human activity.  I did see the ghostly 77 [it had been mentioned by other letter writers] formed by light on the ceiling–suspiciously near the light that shines in the crack over the door top where it meets the frame.

I will be giving Jerusha two more chances to communicate, as we’re staying two more nights. Read about my results at ancestorsinaprons.com

I dropped the letter into the Secret Drawer and closed it. That was that. Not quite.

Almost immediately, I heard two sharp knocks on the inside of the door of a closet to my left.

Was Jerusha reprimanding me? Skeptical still, I ran through the possibilities. It was my husband. But no–he was elsewhere. It came from another room. No, there is no other room on the other side of that wall. Someone was in the closet?

If they were–they’re still there, because I was thoroughly spooked, and not about to explore any further.

Have you ever stayed in a haunted room? What did you experience?