Monday, March 28, 2011

Plymouth: The Mayflower II, William Bradford and a Questionable Rock

On Sunday March 27, Susie and I took a road trip to pay a visit to Plymouth Rock. It had been years since Susie had been to Plymouth and I had never been there and wanted to roam Burial Hill Cemetery. We also wanted to catch a glimpse of the rock and so we did and much more.

It's fairly safe to say today that the pilgrims did not just happen upon the rock in what is now called Plymouth Bay. In fact they first landed at Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod and from there explored the surrounding area to find a place to settle. On one such excursion they came upon the shelter of Plymouth from Clark's Island, and apparently finding it suitable, decided here they would settle, here they would put down roots. and so they did.

The Mayflower II

William Bradford (1590-1657) may have dressed oddly -- although by today's high school fashions for males that's open to some debate -- and aside from being credited as the man who initiated the idea of Thanksgiving, he was  historian of those early days of the Plymouth Bay Colony and governor of the colony for nearly 30 years. He was also a member of the exploring party that first "discovered" Plymouth Bay and the land upon which the pilgrims would settle.

And speaking of landing at Plymouth, whether those first pilgrims first set foot on that very special rock still remains open to some doubt. The mystery aside, "Plymouth rock" has been restored to its original shape (it had split in half in 1774) and is today well-preserved beneath an impressive arcaded structure, just across the street from the John Alden gift shop.

The rock's new superstructure as seen from Cole's Hill

That's the rock, way down there
Be aware that signage in Plymouth is really quite poor -- and you'll want to head down Water street to find the Rock, the Mayflower, and the other memorials to early American history.

Next: First fort, pilgrim deaths and remembering John Alden and Priscilla Mullins.

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