Have Heart, Will Travel

Not the Same Old Story: Plymouth, Massachusetts,1620

Nancy Powell1 Comment

13 years after the first permanent English colony in Jamestown, the passengers of the Mayflower landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

I had always been taught that the English came to Massachusetts because they wanted religious freedom. Last month in Plymouth I learned that that isn't entirely the reason that everyone came.  

By the early 1600s, many English people had found religious freedom in the Netherlands.  However, as immigrants, the English got only the hardest and lowest paying jobs.  Instead of going to school, the English children had to join in the work just for survival.  Several of the families who were on the Mayflower left the Netherlands to return to England and subsequently set sail for the New World because they were losing their English customs and wanted a better life for their children in a land where they could continue to ensure religious freedom..

They must have really had it bad, too, because crossing the ocean 400 years ago was no luxury cruise. In fact, you had to be hardy and determined to make it to the other side in fair health.

We got to learn this up close and personally, thanks to the Mayflower II, a full scale reproduction of the original Mayflower, which is authentic to the point that it has sailed across the Atlantic Ocean.

Ready to board!  This picture shows the dramatic shift in tides. We had a steep climb up that walk. A worker on the ship said when he came on earlier that day he walked straight across an almost flat walkway!

Ready to board!  This picture shows the dramatic shift in tides. We had a steep climb up that walk. A worker on the ship said when he came on earlier that day he walked straight across an almost flat walkway!

The lucky ones would have gotten such bedding for their months-long ocean crossing. No windows, not much room to move about with over 100 passengers down there spending every moment in that space.

The lucky ones would have gotten such bedding for their months-long ocean crossing. No windows, not much room to move about with over 100 passengers down there spending every moment in that space.

It really helped that we could ask questions of a couple of the "passengers" about what life on the ship would have been like.

It really helped that we could ask questions of a couple of the "passengers" about what life on the ship would have been like.

For example, Petunia found this curious object and asked what it was. We learned that they tied these on the heads of any toddlers or small children to keep them from injury when the ship may have led their unsteady legs to a fall or a bump into a sharp corner.

For example, Petunia found this curious object and asked what it was. We learned that they tied these on the heads of any toddlers or small children to keep them from injury when the ship may have led their unsteady legs to a fall or a bump into a sharp corner.

Only the crew, not the passengers, would have spent time up here.  How fascinating to see such a faithful reproduction!

Only the crew, not the passengers, would have spent time up here.  How fascinating to see such a faithful reproduction!

Of course we read all the signs and did #allthelearning that you do when you're a roadschooling family out on a field trip.

Of course we read all the signs and did #allthelearning that you do when you're a roadschooling family out on a field trip.

After getting to take an interesting and educational tour of the Mayflower II, we walked down the street a bit and got to see the famous Plymouth Rock.

The rock has a structure built around it that screams "I am an important rock!"

The rock has a structure built around it that screams "I am an important rock!"

It looked a little different than I thought it might...

Yes, that is Plymouth Rock.  

Yes, that is Plymouth Rock.  

We paid our respects like any decent 21st century family would...we took a selfie with it.

We paid our respects like any decent 21st century family would...we took a selfie with it.

 

We enjoyed our short adventure to Plymouth, not only learning a lot, but getting to feel what it's like being in such an historic locale. Now, we were well on our way to learning about early 17th century life in the colonies. What would happen next?