In ye name of God Amen. We whose names are under written, the loyall subjects of our dread soveraigne Lord King James, by ye grace of God, of great Britaine, Franc, & Ireland king, defender of ye faith, &c. Haveing undertaken, for ye glorie of God, and advancemente of ye christian faith and honour of our king & countrie, a voyage to plant ye first colonie in ye Northerne parts of Virginia. Doe by these presents solemnly & mutually in ye presence of God, and one of another, covenant, & combine our selves togeather into a Civill body politick; for our better ordering, & preservation & furtherance of ye ends aforesaid; and by vertue hereof to enacte, constitute, and frame such just & equal lawes, ordinances, Acts, constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete & convenient for ye generall good of ye Colonie: unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witnes whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cap-Codd ye :11: of November, in ye year of ye raign of our soveraigne Lord king James of England, France, & Ireland ye eighteenth, and of Scotland ye fiftie fourth. Ano: Dom. 1620.
Ancestors who signed: William Bradford, Peter Brown, James Chilton, Francis Cooke, Degory Priest and Richard Warren.
June 9th, 1957
My dear Grand-daughter,
Looking at the Sunday Star to-day, my eye was caught by the picture on the front page with the caption ‘The Present Catches Up With the Past’. Side by side are the 180-ton Mayflower II and the newest British aircraft carrier, the 36,800-ton Ark Royal. Captain Villiers expects to sail into Cape Cod Bay sometime to-morrow as did that other “Mayf1ower” 337 years ago, having on board nine of your ancestors, Francis Cooke and daughter Jane, William Bradford, Richard Warren, James and Susanna Chilton, with daughter Mary, Degory Priest and Peter Browne. You will hear more about them and how they fit into your genealogy as these letters progress as I am planning a series that will give you some idea of the life and times of the mothers of Grandpa Mitchell’s paternal line. The first one was Jane Cooke. She grew up in Holland, in fact may have been born there as the Pilgrims had left England twelve years before coming to America. In Holland they found religious freedom as that country had been born when William of Orange resisted persecution, but they were unhappy because their children were losing the language and customs of England. Jane must have been quite small when she made the perilous trip across the vast ocean as eight years later she married Experience Mitchell, only nineteen years old. She was too young to realize all the dangers of making a home in an unknown wilderness, nevertheless that first winter must have been full of terrors. Fortunately the Indians that came to investigate the new-comers were won over by friendly overtures, but the cold, after a milder climate, with very little sunshine and little food — very poor at that — took a heavy toll. Death became real to Jane as half of the Pilgrims died including some of her playmates. They all had to live on the ship at first for the men wanted to build a fort and had to cut down trees to get logs so they could enclose a large space on top of a hill, and build a platform on which they could place the cannons that they had brought over from England. There was no trouble from the Indians during Jane’s life-time but in 1675 her three grand-children were saved by being put in there the day before her son Jacob and wife were fatally wounded before they could reach the fort.
My dear Grand-daughter,
In my last letter I told you about the perilous trip your first grand-mother in America (seven times a great) had crossing the ocean in the Mayflower. On board she played with another little girl and a boy named Mary Chilton and William Latham. Little did they think then that William would have a son Robert who would marry a daughter of Mary named Susanna Winslow whose father’s brother Edward also came on the Mayflower and was a governor of Plymouth Colony in l633, 1636 and 1644. Robert and Susanna had a great-grand-daughter Jane Latham who married your great-great-great-great grand-father, Edward Mitchell. You had another ancester who came over in the Mayflower also, William Bradford who became the most important man in the Plymouth Colony, being its governor from 1621 until his death in 1657 except for five years that he refused election. The little girl, Jane Cooke, that he watched romping on the deck was destined to have a son named Edward Mitchell who late in life was to have as his second wife, Alice Bradford, his great-grand-daughter and I will tell you about her in my next letter but this is about Jane Cooke. She with all the other passengers had a vary hard time that first winter for instead of landing in Virginia as intended the Captain of the Mayflower took them much farther north and being December it was much colder than England or Holland. They had to live on the ship until houses could be built and with the bad weather and poor food about half of them died that first winter, including the parents of Mary Chilton. In the spring the ship sailed back to England but all the Pilgrims staid in spite of the hardships. Homes were built by then but they were not like the house you live in. Have you ever seen a log cabin? That is what they were with mud filling the cracks between the logs and the roof made of thatch so they had to be careful of fire (the first building, a large one to house several families, burned down) for they had no fire engines as nowadays. More next letter.
Edward’s mother was Alice Bradford, the great-grand-daughter of William Bradford who (as you will learn in school) was elected governor of Plymouth Colonies from 1621 until his death in 1657 except for a few intermittent years when he begged off, but even then he served as deputy governor. (Do you know that at one time the colonists made a law that if a man refused to serve after being elected to an office he was fined. That was after Bradford has served 12 years straight.) John Carver had been elected head of the group when they were on the Mayflower coming over but died that first April. Alice’s great-grand-father on her mother’s side also came over in the Mayflower, but he was a merchant from London, not a Pilgrim.
I sat next to a lady at a Mayflower Compact dinner who was a descendant and gave me the name of a book written about him that is very good. When I read it I will tell you more. I used to think that all the Mayflower passengers came from Holland where they went from England to escape persecution but in fact the ship had been chartered by a stock company formed of men interested in trade who, knowing the desire of the Pilgrims to go to America offered a plan of co1onization which they accepted.
The wife and five daughters of Richard Warren came over later on the same
ship, the Anne, that brought also in that year, 1625, Mrs. Alice Carpenter
Southworth, who had come over to marry Governor Bralford (his first wife fell
overboard before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth), to become Alice’s
great-grandmother and also all the five other great-grandparents and even
great-great-grandparents George Morton who had married Juliana Carpenter in
Leyden 11 years before, and after her husoand died the next year, Gov. Bradlord
had his sister-in-law with her family join his household. Her son, Nathaniel,
had lived there since he came over, as his secretary. Her daughter, Patience,
married 11 years later John Faunce who also came on the Anne where they played
together with the other children and no doubt were a pest to the crew in the
long, tedious trip over, all of three months. Travel in those days was not what
it is now. There were no comforts or even privacy and every one kept fully
dressed until journey’s end. Baths were unknown and faces were washed only by
My Dear Grand-daughter,
I have been telling you about Jane Cooke who became the first American mother of your Mitchell ancestors. This letter will be about her mother, Hester Mahieu. A Mr. George Smith from New York discovered for genealogists three centuries later the record of the marriage of “Francis Cooke, woolcomber, unmarried, from England and Hester Mahieu, spinster, from Canterbury England, where she was a member of the Walloon church” in the records of Leyden in Holland for June 30th, 1603. I doubt that any of Hester’s ancestors lived in Canterbury at the time it was inhabited by that great English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, in the 14th century. His Tales of Canterbury are now read by every high school student. It was two centuries later that the Walloons migrated to England in great numbers driven from that area that is now Belgium. Francis Cooke, too, came from Canterbury and may have known her there, sending for her to come to Holland (where he had gone earlier) to marry her. The record said that she was accompanied by her mother and sister Jennie. The Walloons are descendants of the Celts of northern Gaul, remnants of the Celtic empire that once spread over a great part of ancient Europe but was conquered by Caesar in 50 BC, and during the following centuries became completely Romanized, being granted Roman citizenship and adopting the Romance language, from which we get our modern Italian, Spanish and French, the latter being the dialect of the Walloons of today.
After the Emperor Charles V gave over the rule of Spain and the Netherlands
(at that time a group of 17 provinces, largely self-governing) to his son Philip
II, the latter attempted to stamp out heresy (as he called any religion but the
Catholic) by what is known as the Spanish Inquisition. During the second half of
the 16th century, thousands were put to death and other thousands fled,
including the ancestors of Hester. Ten of the provinces, part Walloon and part
Flemish, surrendered, but Holland and the others drove out the Spanish.
My dear Grandson,
By the time you read this,you will have jumped the hurdle from boyhood into youth.You are now a teen-ager on life’s battle-ground of preparation for manhood. You will need “the whole armor of God” which is given in detail in the last chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, verses 11-17. Read it so that you may stand firm.
I read recently these words “Americans are turning back to the story of their past for lessons of strength and faith” in an article in Reader’s Digest and I determined to start imparting to you some of the rich heritage I have discovered in my research for the Mitchell genealogical chart. This is an appropriate time to begin.
Although you are now living in the southern part of the West Coast your roots extend to the northern part of the East Coast, the Pilgrim Fathers being your direct ancestors. I am so glad that my huaband (your grandfather) descended from the Pilgrim fathers and not the Puritan Fathers.
I used to think that the term was interchangeable but they are distinctly different, and I will try to explain their origin. At the time that American history is beginning, there was much religious disorder in England. People were not free to worship as they pleased but were compelled by law to attend the Church of England or be put in prison. Your ancestors belonged to a group who left England and went to Holland where they were free to worship as they pleased. The term pilgrim was given to a person who went on a religious journey and that is why these people travelling from England to Holland in search of religious freedom were named Pilgrims.
The term Puritan was applied to those Protestants who aimed to make religion more pure. They believed in a very simple form of worship and in strict rules of conduct.
In my last letter I told you about a group of people in England who withdrew from the Established Church of England because they wanted a different form of worship. They left England and went to Holland because a law had been passed compelling people to go to the Church of England or go to prison. Although the Hollanders were kind to them they were not happy there as the manners and customs were so different as was the language. Besides many of them had been used to the outdoor life of a farmer and here they had to learn trades, especially weaving and work long hours indoors in order to buy food and clothing. But worst of all they began to feel that their children would grow up just like the little boys and girls of Holland and they wanted them to keep the customs and language of their mother country. Among these children was Experience Mitchell who was only eleven years old when the first group decided to go to America. Trading companies had been trying for some years to establish colonies in America. And one of their agents had come to Holland and told those exiles about the wonderful opportunities over there, so they began to dream about going. They had to get permission from the King of England and he was very slow about granting it. Also they had come to Holland without money and it took them time to raise enough to buy supplies to last and arrange for a ship to take them. Finally all was ready and they left in a little ship called the Speedwell though unfortunately it did not live up to its name and shortly after leaving England it signalled the Mayflower which was taking colonists also, mostly from England and both ships had to return to port and transfer all the passengers to the Mayflower. Some in both ships grow faint-hearted and turned back so room was made for all on the Mayflower. I told about the trip in the last letter to Mary Francis, of Grandmother Jane (7 times great).
Your Grandfather (7 times great) did not go to America until three years later but the girl he afterwards married there (Jane Cooke) went on the Mayflower with her father and brother.
My dear grandson,
I want to tell you about that historic city of Leyden (modern spelling Leiden) where Francis Cooke spent all the years of his early manhood before coming to America on the Mayflower. It was famous throughout Europe not only for its industries but its beauty. It is an ancient city reclaimed from the bottom of the sea by dykes and seawalls and like Venice its streets are tree-lined canals crossed by 145 bridges, inter-lacing the two branches of the Old Rhine River which meet in the center of the city. It was a prosperous city as reflected in its elegant houses and imposing churches and public buildings.
It played a key part in 1574 in the birth of the Dutch Republic, for when the
Prince of Orange, royal governor of three of the provinces of the Netherlands,
revolted against the cruel persecution of the Protestants by their king, Philip
of Spain. He sent word to the burgomaster (Mayor) of Leyden to hold out at all
costs for three months until he could come to their relief. In Motley’s “The
Rise of the Dutch Republic” the chapter describing the terrible suffering of the
brave people, resisting the tempting promises of the besiegers in spite of
starvation and disease, made me shudder. It was the ocean that finally came to
their rescue, for William, Prince of Orange, persuaded the people of the
surrounding country to let their lands be flooded by destoying the dykes in
order that a fleet from the neighboring province of Zealand could bring manpower
and food. Even so it took the fleet a month to reach the famished city where
thousands had already died, for there were a thousand obstacles to overcome.
Where the water was too shallow, the hardy Zealanders dashed into the sea and
with sheer strength shouldered every vessel through. At one point it seemed as
if the expedition would have to be abandoned when within a few days of entering
the gates of the city. Remember, ships in those days depended on wind and tide
as they were propelled by sail and oarsmen. A providential storm saved them and
under cover of the darkness they reached and sunk the enemies’ vessels, drowning
over 1000, and the Spaniards fled from their forts. Leyden was saved!
My dear Grandson,
I have just finished reading the History of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647, by William Bradford, from whom you are descended in a direct line, an ancester whom you could well learn from as he was not only the first American historian but was considered the greatest man of Plymouth Colonies and to-day is considered “one of the first great Americans”. For the history of New England prior to 1630 his manuscript is the sole source. It disappeared when the British soldiers left Boston in 1776 and all trace was lost for almost 70 years. It had been donated to the New England Library which was housed in the Old South Church which the Royalist forces occupied during the siege of Boston. It was finally located in the Fulham Palace Library in London through reference to it as a source by Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford, in his History of the Protestant Church in America (American edition published in 1849). Unsuccessful efforts were made to have it returned to America for a number of years but always the same answer that authority must come from Parliament. Finally, in 1896, Sen. Hoar of Mass. became interested and as a result of his efforts, it was delivered to the governor of Mass. and deposited in the state library. Perhaps you will see it there some day yourself. The Pilgrims did not name that area, it was called Plymouth on the map of Captain John Smith with which the colonists (or Planters, as they were named then) were no doubt familiar. However, as Plymouth was the last town they had left from in England and had received many kindnesses from some Christians there, sentiment may have led to their remaining instead of going to a more favorable site on the Bay, an area later (1630) settled by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which eventually absorbed them. Although their identity has often been confused in the minds of people, their character was entirely different. Plymouth was founded by a congregation of one church held together in three countries, Scrooby in England, Leyden in Holland and now in Plymouth. Their aim was a kingdom of God on earth. The goal of the Bay Plantation was to establish trade, although they also attracted many Puritans seeking religious freedom.
Memorial Day, 1957
My dear Grandson,
Have you been following the trip of Mayflower II which set sail for America from Plymouth, England, on April 20th in this year 1957, duplicating the voyage of that first Mayflower among whose passengers were nine of your ancestors? Watch the newspapers and cut out any items of its progress for your note-book.
As a good project in your study of history search out what other important events happened in the world in that year 1620. Here are a few of them: The opening battle in Germany of the Thirty Years War; the Ming dynasty in China was ousted by the Manchus who held power right down to 1911 when China became a Republic; in Japan, the Tokugawa Feudal Dynasty came into supreme power. Also that year there was an intense persecution of missionaries and Christian natives of the Island; it was in 1620 that the war broke out between Spain which was then the great world power and France, resulting in its loss of supremacy. How many more can you find in other countries?
The reason that the Mayflower has such a special place in the hearts of the
American people is because it brought to our shores the first families to make a
permanent settlement thus becoming founders of our country. It was not the first
permanent English settlement — Jamestown, farther south, has that honor -- but
the men who landed on the shores of the river in Virginia which they named the
James River in honor of their king, James I, came without women and children.
Theirs was not the idea to make a permanent home in America where they could
raise their families in freedom and worship God according to their conscience as
did the Pilgrims. These men were led by tales of the vast quantities of gold to
be found in America and thought they could get rich quick and go back to
England. If it had not been for Captain John Smith the colony would have
perished. 350 years ago this month of May, 1957, they landed and as you read all
about the big celebration going on down there now you can get an idea from the
pictures of how men dressed in Plymouth Colony.
My dear Grandson,
Would you like to know what life was like for that first Edward Mitchell to be born in America? Well, I will try to give you some idea. Boys became men much earlier in those days. Edward’s father, Experince Mitchell, came over in the Anne (the last of the three ships to bring the Pilgrim forefathers from Holland) without any of his family when only a year older than you. He shared in the division of lots that year in Plymouth, receiving 8 acres of land in partnerahip with George Morton, a much older man who came over with him and was destined to become a forebear of the mother of Alice Bradford whom Edward married late in life. Five years after he arrived, Experience married Jane Cooke who had come over in the Mayflower with her father and brother. Edward grew up on a farm in Duxbury (find it on your map) called Blue Fish River. The name indicates that there was a river nearby where Edward could enjoy fishing and swimming but rare were the occasions (except when fish was needed for the family table). There were chores to be done before going to school so it was necessary to get up very early in order to bring in the wood to make the fires in the fire-places to heat the rooms and in the wood stove to cook the breakfast, for there were no oil or gas burners or even coal furnaces nor gas or electric ranges for cooking — in fact when Edward was small, iron pots of various sizes were hung over the burning logs on iron rods and meat, fish and fowl were roasted on spits — much like our modern barbecuing. Ears of corn were roasted in their husks right in the fire. I have eaten corn cooked that way in outdoor fire-place and umm! is it good! Then there was all the livestock to be fed. Nearly twenty years before he was born his father had shared in the division of all the cows, pigs and chickens just as he had when the land was divided four years earlier. When they first came over, the colonists had everything in common but that did not work, so Governor Bradford had each family raise his own food on his own land so the lazy ones would not live at the expense of the industious ones. But it was thought wiser to keep the livestock all together until it had increased.
Tracing back your ancesters, I have found out more about William Bradford than any of them, no doubt because he came of a more important family. Robert Bradfourth (note old spelling) was born about 1450 and one of his sons born twenty-five years later (died 1542), named Peter, had a son Robert born around 1500 who owned lands in six parishes and probably raised sheep as did his father, who bequeathed baby lambs to all his descendants so they would carry on. His son Willie bought an estate in Austerfield and his son William married Alice Hanson in l584, (uniting the families considered the most important there) who became the parents of Governor William Bradford. He was bereft of his parents and grandparents before he was four years old, and being a delicate, shy child, misunderstood by those around him, he found his greatest happiness tending the sheep, spending long hours in solitude and reading. One day an event happened that changed his whole life, when he was in his mid-teens. A friend took him to Scrooby, a town 3 miles away (and that was not considered much of a walk in those days) where a group of people met in the manor house occupied by the master of the post, William Brewster, a young man of 23, when he succeeded his father in 1500, the year William Bradford was born. When he came back from London where he had been a secretary to the Secretary of State (being educated at Cambridge) he found that many people had not heard a sermon for years because of the scarcity of ministers. Thay wanted religious training for themselves and children so they formed a congregation about a year before William joined them. There all the needs of his starved nature were met and he continued to attend the meetings in spite of the bitter hostility of his relatives who threatened to cast him off. In William Brewster he found the father he had never known (as he died when William was 3) and a life-time loyal friendship was cemented. Bradford’s eager mind was fed under the tutelage of the older man and his soul was given spiritual food by Pastor Robinson, a consecrated man of God.
A word about a master of the post — a far cry from a postmaster of to-day. His job was to have constantly ready horses for the royal couriers. When William Bradford was in his teens there was no postal system as we know it to-day, in fact, not until nearly two and a half centuries later. Queen Elizabeth standardized the mail deliveries of England, four routes all starting from the court for they were not for the benefit of the private individual but only to carry messeges of the sovereign. William Brewster's father was the first post-master at Scrooby. Two horses had to be kept constantly ready with two lined leather bags to hold the packets and a horn to blow. Since James VI had become ruler not only of Scotland but of England as James I, in l603, Scrooby had become a very important post, situated on the royal route between the two courts. The postmaster had to also furnish rest and refreshment for travelers in the king’s service and sometimes aid them in the journey. Scrooby was near Sherwood Forest, (immortalized as the retreat of the legendary hero, Robin Hood) which belonged to the crown and used as a royal hunting ground. As the fastest the horse’s travel was, seven miles an hour (five in winter), it took several days even for such important news as the Queen’s death to reach her subjects in York, no farther away from there than New York from Washington. (Just a few moments ago Francis talked to me from there and I knew immediately that he would be down here to-morrow.)
Although the Brewsters were allowed to live in the manor house, it belonged to the Archbishop of York, and even as the little group were holding their secret worship services there, the king (who threatened to drive out all non-conformists from England or put them in prison) was planning to buy it as a dwelling when he was on a hunting trip. Brewster realized that it was not safe for the group to remain in England and suggested they go to Holland, where there was freedom of worship. It was a momentous decision to leave their homes and their means of livelyhood to go to a strange country without any certainty of a job. Besides, they faced great trials in the attempt to leave England as there was no freedom of movement as we know it in our land to-day. And, indeed, they did endure terrible hardships as you will soon learn, which tested their religious devotion to the utmost.
It was not until I read Bradford’s History of Plymouth Colonies that I had any appreciation of what they endured in their trek to Holland. Some of the people who formed the congregation at Scrooby had been members of the Separatist (the term used for those who left the Church of England) church at Gainsborough, a few miles away, the second to leave England and seek freedom of worship in Amsterdam. Arrangements were made to join them and a ship hired at Boston (for which Boston, Mass., is named) 67 miles east (reached by going in small boats with all the belongings they were able to take), but it was not there on the day agreed upon. The captain "kept them waiting at great expense to them, finally came in the night and when he had them all in, with their goods, he betrayed them, having plotted beforehand with the searchers to do so. They were put into open boats where even the women were put to the shame of being searched for money. Then they were carried back to the town, marched through the streets and made a spectacle of before the multitude flocking on all sides to see them. After being stripped of money, books and other goods, they were presented to the magistrates who treated them kindly but could not release them until the order came from the council. They had to wait a month in prison when all but seven (including William Brewster) were released.” I have given the quotation in modern English as you might have difficulty reading it in the original. Bradford does not tell how they got through the winter after they got back to Scrooby destitute having disposed of everything they did not take with them to Boston. But evidently they had very strong faith for he goes on to say “They made another attempt the next Spring, getting the promise of a Dutch man at Hull who owned his own boat.” Locate these cities on a map of England. Scrooby is too small to be on (the map) but it was across the river Trent (in the shire (county) of Nottingham) from Gainsborough, which you will find in the shire of Lincoln, and Boston is in the same county to the southeast near the North Sea. Hull is nearly 60 miles north in Yorkshire but 20 miles nearer Scrooby, a distance the Pilgrims walked while the women, children and baggage were floated down the River Trent 30 miles and 20 miles down the Humber.
“The women got there a day sooner and being sea-sick, prevailed the seamen to put into a nearby creek. Meanwhile when the men got there the shipmaster of the boat hired saw them walking about the shore and had gotten one boatful on when they saw a great company armed with guns and other weapons. Swearing, the Dutchman lifted his anchor and set sail. The poor men on board were in great distress, their family destitute of help and themselves with no other clothes except on their back, scarcely a penny, everything being on the bark that had carried the women. Afterward. they endured a fearful storm at sea. They saw neither sun, moon or stars for 7 out of the 14 days before they reached port and were driven near the coast of Norway. Even the mariners often dispaired of life and once, with shrieks and cries, gave up as if they were sinking without recovery. Bradford and his companions, with water running into their mouths and ears, prayed fervently, crying out ‘Lord, Thou canst save’. And He did save them, the ship began to recover, the violence of the storm began to abate and the Lord filled their afflicted minds with such comforts as everyone cannot understand and in the end brought them to their desired haven, where the people came flocking to congratulate them as much damage had been suffered. Meanwhile those left endured much misery, weeping and crying. The men that were in the greatest danger of arrest escaped before the troops could surprise them, those who could stayed with the women. After being taken from one constable to another who did not know what to do with all those weeping women and children crying with fear and quaking with cold. They all got over at length, the number reaching Amsterdam being 125 in all.” It was there that William Bradford met his future wife Dorothy May, at that time a girl of eleven or twelve, whose parents belonged to the church that had come first from England, called the “Ancient Church.” The Scooby group joined them for a year and then moved to Leyden. They found the air unwholesome in Amsterdam, then the great commercial city of Europe, and there was no fresh water within 6 miles, so beer was drunk mostly and for washing they used rain water kept in rain-bags. Most of the wood burnt had to be brought from Norway and Denmark and coal from Newcastle, England.
Francis Cooke and his wife Hester Mahieu, parents of Jane, who married Experience Mitchell at Plymouth in 1627 or -8, lived in Holland longer than any of the Pilgrims so far as I can find out as their marriage is recorded in Leyden in 1603, as also the births of Jane and her brothers John and Jacob are given by authorities as being in Holland (though not her two younger sisters). It has been difficult to find out the exact facts about the early settlers as they left no accounts of themselves and it is only in recent years that there has been serious research into old archives such as brought to light the marriage of Francis Cooke. A 100 years ago there was much guess work such as I read about Jane Cooke Mitchell having no children, while in “Families of the Pilgrims” (1956) they are given: Sarah, Edward and Jacob. This marriage record tells us, too, that both Francis and Hester came from the Walloon colony in Canterbury, England, so we can only guess whether the parents were English or had fled from the Walloon provinces of the Netherlands which did not join in the revolt of the rest of the provinces during the religious persecution of their Spanish monarch. Nor can we find out much about Experience Mitchell except that his father was named Thomas, born in 1566 and lived in Amsterdam and Leyden, possibly connected with the May family from Cambridgeshire, England, where his own family probably originated in the parish of Eltisley. He, no doubt, came over with the “Ancient” Church, the first one to go to Amsterdam (Gainsborough next and Scrooby third) where William Bradford met Dorothy May and Alice Carpenter, with whose family Experience most likely came over, as he seems to have kept a close association with them, being in correspondence with a near relative of Dorothy in Holland (as well as his nephew, son of his brother Thomas who remained there). I find that Experience also had a sister but I have not yet found when she came over but she married John Fobes of Duxbury, who was one of the original founders of Bridgewater. One of their sons married Elizabeth Southworth whose grandfather was the first husband of Alice Carpenter, who became the second wife of William Bradford after she came over in the Anne in 1623. Brewster and his wife, Bradford and his wife Dorothy, and also Experience Mitchell, went to live at Duke’s Place, London, in July 1619, where they carried on negotiations for a year to get to America. The Southworths had been living there for some time and probably arranged for them to get quarters there. It was an abandoned palace that had become (in modern terms) an apartment. Experience did not sail on the Mayflower but came three years later with Mrs. Southworth and children on the Anne, as her husband had died. I have just gotten straightened out on his age, finding from later authorities that he was 90 and not 80 when he died in 1689 which would make him (Experience) 24 when he came over. I could not understand a boy of 14 sharing in the division of land in 1623 and 4 years later (still a minor) the live stock. I am glad to have proof that the younger age was an error. There may have been others of the Pilgrims there at that time but I have not seen their names mentioned. Brewster and Bradford have been called the Moses and Aaron of the American adventure. But Brewster, 60 when he went to America (Bradford being only 31), was more like a father than a brother. In fact, Bradford lived in his household from the time he was 17 until he married, having the benefit of his large library and also his teaching. Brewster got his education at Cambridge in England and when he came to Leyden he earned his living teaching in the university there that had been founded by Prince William of Orange (statholder (governor) of Holland and Zealand) who led the revolt against Philip II, king of Spain and the Netherlands, because of the heroic resistance of Leyden which I have described on a separate page.
The decision to go to America had been made 3 years previously and a vote taken by the congregation and as less than half wanted an immediate departure it was decided that Pastor Robinson would stay with them. He never did get to America as he died early in 1625. He had been shepherd of the flock ever since the founding of the Independent Congregation in Scrooby in 1606. His influence had been strong in molding the fine character of the Pilgrims during all those momentous years. Not only a graduate but a dean at Cambridge, he was a man of wide learning and keen intellectual perceptions and, above all, of saintly character.
I must tell you about the heroic resistance of Leyden when besieged by the Spaniards from October 1573 to October 1574. They were bombarded not only by cannon but by tempting promises of pardon and the end of war if the people would return to the Mother Church. For seven years the people of Holland had been fighting on land and sea to retain not only religious liberty but their ancient and inviolable rights of self-government, and they knew from past experience that no trust could be placed in the promises of Philip II. Their hope was in the Prince of Orange who had promised delivery. He still held the territory that controlled the dykes and had persuaded the villagers who lived in the fifteen mile stretch between Leyden and the sea to let their lands be flooded in order that ships could reach the starving people. Over 200 vessels were assembled with 2500 men who as the waters overflowed the land were able to approach within 5 miles of Leyden, overcoming the few Spaniards in their way. Then unexpected difficulties arose. As the sea spread over the large area it became too shallow for the ships to navigate. They could reach Leyden by a canal but 3000 hostile troops lined the shores, and the bridge had been made into a fortress. An attemt to force a passage was unsuccessful and they began to dispair when a three-day gale arose swelling the tides, and the armada, again afloat, was guided by a fugitive from one of the villages in making a detour between two villages, and the Spaniards stationed there were so frightened by the rising waters that they fled. But again they were halted by the final dike and again the east winds caused the waters to recede. The Spaniards renewed overtures for surrender, saying “as well can the Prince of Orange pluck the stars from the sky as bring the ocean to the walls of Leyden for your relief.” But the people hurled renewed defiance from the ramparts, shouting “when the last hour has come, with our own hands we will set fire to the city and perish in the flames rather than to suffer our homes to be polluted and our liberties crushed.” But again God sent help in the form of another tempest and the fleet sailed through the darkness, sinking the enemy vessels as they went. The fortresses surrounding Leyden were deserted by the Spaniards in panic. The rescuers rowed their vessels through the canals which form the streets. Leyden was saved!
Do you imow that Bing Crosby belongs to the Society of Mayflower Descendants? He was elected to Lifeship in the Massachusetts Society, his State Society number being 4856 and General Society number 20153. He is eleventh in descent from Elder William Brewster, about whom I have written you quite a lot.
To-day’s mail brought me word that the Supplementals (lineage sheets that I filled out tracing your grandfather back to other Mayflower passengers) had been approved by the Historian General and filed with his original paper so he is on record as descending from Francis Cooke, Gov. William Bradford, James Chilton, Richard Warren, Degory Priest, and Peter Brown. He is possibly descended from another, William Latham, but authorities say that Robert Latham (an ancester) is probably his son.There is no way to prove it and proof would be necessary to claim descent. It is a wonder that I have been able to find authoritative proof of all the others.
All those who came to Plymouth on the first three ships are considered “forefathers” so you have quite a line of them. The Fortune was the second ship, arriving in 1621. It brought a young widow whose husband had died on the voyage over, Mary Ford. She married, two years later, a bachelor, Peter Brown, who had come on the Mayflower and they became the ancestors of your Grandfather Mitchell’s mother. Another ancester on the Fortune was John Winslow, brother of Edward, next in prominence to Gov. Bradford, who had come on the Mayflower. He brought with him three heifers and a bull which were most welcome as a beginning of a supply of livestock for the colonists. About five years later he married Mary Chilton who had come over on the Mayflower with her parents, both of whom had died of the”sickness“ that first terrible winter. Mary became famous in history as the first female to put foot on land, a twelve year old girl who leaped from the small boat transporting them from the Mayflower and waded to shore.(The John Winslow, whose name and picture has recently been in all the papers as one of the crew who brought the Mayflower II from England to America, is a direct descendant of her brother John). They became the maternal grandparents of the paternal grandfather of Jane Latham who married Maj. Edward Mitchell, fourth in descent from Experience Mitchell.
The Anne, coming in 1623, brought more of your ancestors than the other two combined. Experience himself was on that vessel, and Jane Cooke (whom he married four or five years later), then about twelve years old or younger, with her mother and five-year-old brother Jacob. Alice Bradford, the second wife of Edward, son of Experience -- who was twice her age when married, and mother of his three children (no children having been born during his forty years marriage to Mary Hayward) -- had two great-great-grand-parents, three great-grandmothers and two great-grandfathers who came over on the Anne. The great-great-grandparents were George Morton and his wife Julian who were married in Leyden in 1612. With them were a son Nathaniel, who was secretary of the Colony for forty years, and a daughter Patience who, eleven years later, married John Faunce, also on the Anne. Their daughter Priscilla married, about 1650, Joseph Warren, whose father came on the Mayflower, but his mother with four step-daughters were on the Anne. Their daughter Mercy was the mother of Alice Bradford. Alice’s paternal great-grandfather, Gov. William Bradford, lost his first wife Dorothy May, who fell overboard from the Mayflower, anchored in Plymouth Harbor while the men were on shore finding a suitable place to live. Whether it was an accident or deliberate will never be known. Perhaps she was afraid of the unknown wilderness. On the Anne was a woman he had sent for to be his second wife. She was the sister of George Morton’s wife Julian, and they had gone to Amsterdam with their father Alexander Carpenter, a member of the Ancient Church, the first Separatist Church to leave England (it was in London). The Mays belonged to it and possibly Experience Mitchell, who is thought to be a relative and was from their part of England. The Scrooby congregation joined it before going to Leyden. She married Edward Southworth six months before William Bradford married Dorothy May, and went to London to live, now a widow with two sons.
Alice Bradford had her roots deep down in the Plymouth Colony with two of her great-grandfathers coming to America on the Mayflower and the other two on the Anne, for besides John Fauce here was Thomas Richards, whose daughter, Alice, brought over by her mother in 1630 (on the Mary and Jonn) at the age of three, married in l650 Maj. William Bradford Jr., son of the governor. Also on the Anne were Phineas Pratt and Mary Priest, who later were married at Plymouth to become the great-grandparents of Mary Pratt, mother of Captain Abraham Washburn, whose daughter Chloe married Edward Mitchell, fifth in descent from Experience, in 1789, the year the United States was born. Your Grandpa Mitchell’s mother descended from a brother of Phineas. The father of Mary Priest came on the Mayflower and also her mother’s brother, Isaac Allerton, one of the assistants of Gov. Bradford. Her mother was a widow when she married, in London, Degory Priest (Mrs. Vincent) and she came on the Anne, bringing Mary, with a third husband Cuthbert Cuthbertson, a Walloon hatter of Leyden, as Degory Priest had died soon after reaching America of the “sickness” that took a toll of 51 of the l04 passengers of the Mayflower. William Bradford gives a vivid description—“During January and February often but six or seven sound nersons (had) to attend the rest, fetch wood, make fires, cook and feed them, make their beds, dress and undress them, wash their loathsome clothes and bury the dead. The sickness combined the worst features of pneumonia, tuberculosis, scurvy, killing two or three a day” (I have quoted in modern spelling). Tke 20-foot square building that had been put up as a common dwelling for several families while the rest continued to use the ship, which remained until Spring, had to be converted into a hospital. It had a thatched roof and sparks from the chimney caused it to catch fire on Jan. 14 “when it was as full of the sick as it was possible to crowd them. Quick action prevented its destruction but it was a set-back to the sick and destroyed clothing and other invaluable articles.” James Chilton, who was not a Pilgrim but a tailor from Canterbury and the oldest of the lot, 57, died on board the Mayflower Dec.l8th before the first house was finished. His wife died on land the following April. Four families were entirely wiped out. Only three couples remained unbroken and of the 41 men who had signed the Compact on board the Mayflower only 18 survived the “sickness”, and 12 of the 20 women had died. Only 20 of the Leyden folk survived and of these, William Bradford and William Brewster with his wife were the only ones who could be traced to the original church in Scrooby, England. There was a sadness mixed with joy when the Anne arrived at Plymouth with its more than 90 passengers as many loved ones were missing and the appearance of those who had survived the hardships of those first three years brought tears to the eyes. They were lean with hunger and ragged. Even the children bore the strain for they had to work long hours in the field to raise the corn. No help had come from London, in fact quite the contrary, for the man who had negotiated the formation of a joint stock company with the Pilgrims, persuading them to turn down the offer of free transportation to New Amsterdam by the Dutch, went back on everything he had promised. In fact, this Mr. Weston sent over on the Fortune in 1621, 55 of his own men and no provisions or supplies so that the Colony was brought to the brink of starvation. At the Compact dinner that your grandfather and I attended last November (it is held annually by the Society of Mayflower Descendants), there were four grains of corn at each place and we were told that was a reminder of this critical period when that was the daily ration of each Pilgrim. They were starving in the midst of plenty of fish to be caught for they had no knack for fishing, being brought up as farmers or artisans. As someone has said, “An Englishman’s dominant trait is to stick to familiar ways”. Fortunately, these Weston men got tired of hardships and when they found that they could not get rich quick they returned to England. However they left plenty of trouble for they aroused the animosity of the Indians by their brutal treatment of them and a plot to kill all tne white settlers was only nipped in the bud by the prompt action of the Pilgrims, who had won their friendliness by their fairness and kindness to them, which paid off as the Indians showed them how to plant and fertilize corn, their main stay, and taught them many other things.
Plymouth colony must have looked rather miserable to Experience Mitchell coming from the beautiful city of Leyden in prosperous Holland, and more recently from London. The settlement consisted of only twelve houses built differently from any that you have ever seen. You must remember there were no lumber yards there where one could buy ready-cut timber. Wood there was aplenty but it was in the trees which had to first be cut down, no easy job, hewn and sewn into planks (harder still), of which they made a rough framework to which they attached quantities of marshgrass or rushes which they daubed with a very primitive clay plaster. The chimneys were wooden lined with clay and the roofs were thatched with great piles of marsh grass. They had no glass windows as we have, but only small openings covered with paper dipped in linseed oil. We can imagine every man, woman and child frantically busy, each doing a task suitable to his ability as they strove to build a protection against the onslaught of winter.The houses were just one room with a loft overhead for the children to sleep in. Later, of course, as they had more people to help, they built better houses, nailing vertical boards to a sturdy frame and they learned how to make plaster by burning shells (shell-fish were very plentiful) for lime. The arrival of the Anne with ninety passengers, literally doubled the population. Fortunately it was Spring so maybe some of them could camp outdoors but when we read of the number in a household we wonder where they put them all. All pitched in to build more houses and in a few months there were thirty-two in all. No family had a house to themselves, but shared with others and in an item about the division of cattle in 1627 I read this: “The first lot, the smallest, of the 4 black heifers and 2 shee goats, fell to his (Francis Cooke) company of l3, composed of himself, his wife Hester, his sons John and Jacob, and daughters Jane, Hester and Mary, also Moses Simonaon, Philip Delano, Experience Mitchell, John Faunce, Joshua and Phineas Pratt”. John came over in the Mayflower with him, and his daughters Mary and Hester were born at Plymouth, and I do not know when Moses Simonson and Philip Delano came over, but evidently he took into his household Experience Mitchell (your direct ancester) and also John Faunce and the Pratt brothers (Phineas, an indirect ancester, who came on the Anne with his wife and children). Francis Cooke is also a direct ancester as Experience married his daughter Jane “after 22 May, 1627”, probably in 1628. She was a child when she had come over in the ship with him but during these four or five years she had grown up and he had fallen in love with her. Certainly they knew each other’s faults as well as virtues during these years living under the same roof so their marriage must have been a success. Nahum Mitchell, in his History of the Early Settlement of Bridgewater, published in 1840 (which is in our library) says:”he sold his place in Plymouth to Samuel Eddy in 1631 and removed to Duxbury” so evidently he left the crowded Cooke household when he married. Also Nahum Mitchell says: “he had a share in the first division of lots at Plymouth in l623, and of the live stock in l627”, so he had land to build on and something to start housekeeping. He arrived at Plymouth just at the time that Gov. Bradford had decided to abandon the communism that had been forced on them by the terms of the contract the Pilgrims had to sign with Mr. Weston (of whom I have written a couple of pages back) in order to get to America. The fruits of five days labor was to be put in a common storehouse to go to the Stock Company formed to bring them over. No person was to own any land, all was shared in common. In Bradford’s own words (but not his spelling) “Young men resented the fact that their labor went to feed other men’s children and men of experience felt hard that their counsel and wisdom should count for naught. Husbande were irritated at their wives washing and cooking for bachelor strangers as if they had been servants.” The experiment having proved a failure, just as it was in Jamestown, the lazy loafing and being fed by the toil of the thrifty, the arrival of the Anne, swelling the population to a hundred and eighty souls, determined Gov. Bradford to allot the land, the produce belonging to the ones cultivating it, thus giving each an incentive to put his best efforts into it. There was not enough stock to divide until 1627 by which time the increase had made the division feasible. It was neceasary to double up until newcomers could build homes. Gov. Bradford had 17 in his household.
It was several months before the Pilgrims met Squanto, nor was he the first friendly contact they had. Indians frequently came skulking around but would quickly run away if any of the white men tried to approach them. One day while the men had gone to dinner some Indians stole the tools they were using to build a house. Governor Bradford gives March l6th as the date “Samoset came boldly among them, speaking in broken English. He came from an island about a day’s sail from Plymouth frequented by fishing vessels from Europe.” The name of the island is Monhegan located off the coast of Maine between the mouths of the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers. See if you can locate it on your map. Samoset was the sachem of the Indians there and had learned some English from the fishermen who came across the ocean to catch the fish so abundant there. In 1622 when the colonists were on the brink of starvation because Weston, the man in London responsible for them, had sent over another shipload of men but no food. Governor Bradford remembered what Samoset had told him about this Island and sent the shallop there with men to seek corn with good result. On a Sunday, two weeks later, Samoset appeared again with five other Indians. They wore long hose of dressed deerskin and a deerskin hung across their shoulders. Their hair was cut short in front, falling to their shoulders in the back. One had his front hair done up on a feather fan-shaped while another wore a fox-tail hanging down. Samoset had on his badge of authority — a wild-cat’s skin on his left arm. They had come to prepare for the visit of Massasoit, the Great Sachem of the Wampanoags and after being fed and given gifts they showed their appreciation by dancing and cavorting, not realizing how greatly shocked the Pilgrims were to have their strictly observed Sabbeth so rudely desecrated. To them dancing was a sin even on a weekday. Several days later, Massasoit arrived to sign a treaty with the Pilgrims and one writer has termed that incident one of the most picturesque in American history. Visualize a little band of white men, haggard and emaciated from their hard winter, on one side, facing a group of copper colored virile Indians, some wearing skins, some entirely naked, their faces painted various colors — red, yellow, white or black. Some had head and face oiled. Massasoit, their king, sat upon cushions, a kind of portable throne, surrounded by 20 of his braves. He was painted a “sad mulberry”, with a deerskin covering one shoulder, a large chain of white bone beads around his neck, a large knife suspended from a string hanging down in front and a small tobacco pouch behind. His tribe of 60 warriors faithfully kept this treaty of peace for more than 50 years but it was broken in 1675 by his son, King Phillip. I will tell you later. Squanto was with Massasoit as he had gone to live with the Wampanoags when he came back to America and found that his whole tribe, the Patuxets, had been wiped out by small-pox. But from this day he attached himself to the Pilgrims with William Bradford his closest friend, becoming verily a part of his household. Bradford Smith, in a recent biography of his ancester, paid him the following tribute: “Without his services as translator, agriculturist and adviser, Plymouth and the Pilgrims would have been a footnote in American history.” He surely was “a special instrument sent by God for their good beyond their expectation”. He showed them how to manage a weir for catching the alewife (something like a herring or shad) in the brook which ran through Plymouth, and how to bury the alewives in the hills of corn, as used as a fertilizer they increased the crop threefold. Squanto also taught the Pilgrims how to hunt and fish so by the end of the summer the little settlement was in a very good condition as they had raised a good crop of corn. There was plenty of game and fish had been salted and stored for the winter. The Pilgrims were very religious, so they decided to show their appreciation of God’s great blessings by having a period of prayer and thanksgiving — the inspiration of our annual National Thanksgiving Day. They invited their Indian friends to partake of a feast with them and sent hunters into the forest to kill turkeys and wild game. The women were busy baking corn bread and making cranberry sauce and cooking vegetables and even the children helped, gathering nuts and fruit. The Indian guests contributed, too, by bringing 5 deer. The historic feast lasted three days. Captain Miles Standish led the little army in a parade and had a drill and there were outdoor games for the young. The Indians expressed their happiness by dancing and singing and at the end of the 3 days they were all better friends. Experience Mitchell was a great friend of Governor Bradford (little idea had they then that the son of one would marry the great-granddaughter of the other) and one day the Governor showed Experience the diary that he was writing which became the History of Plymouth Plantation, later earning for him the title of America’s first historian. Experience was particularly interested in reading all the passages about the Indians as they were an entirely new people to him. Let’s look over his shoulder and enjoy learning about them, too, but I will have to transcribe as I am afraid 17th century spelling would be somewhat difficult for you to understand. When the captain of the Mayf1ower cast anchor in Cape Cod Bay, November 15th, 1620, 16 of the men embarked in the long boat brought over in the ship to find a suitable place to land. “After going 1 mile along shore, saw 5 or 6 Indians and dog coming towards them, but they fled into the woods. Next day they followed foot-prints up the shore and came across ruins of a house and a large kettle and newly made sand hills which they dug into and found Indian baskets full of corn, some in ears of various colors. This is the way they store their seed corn until planting time.” This was the first trip but no good spot to land was found. “After the Shallop had been readied they made another trip of reconnaissance.” The Shallop was a 33-foot rowing and sailing craft, which was stored in the Mayflower in sections (like ready-cut houses). In a 1956 Mayflower Quarterly there was a picture of a replica of it that had been built and Alan Villiers, who sailed the Mayflower II to America, took part in the launching ceremonies at Plymouth, Mass., March 16th, 1956. On this second trip there were more men including the captain and crew of the Mayflower. “This time they found 2 Indian huts, covered with mats with various implements inside but the people had run away. They found a lot more corn and beans (about 6 bushels) which they took, expecting to make payment (but it was 6 months before they had the chance).” (3d. trip) “Camped on shore and saw Indian fire several miles distant. They had seen 10 or 12 Indians on shore (from their boat) very busy about something. Came to the place next morning where they had been and found that the Indians had been cutting up a large fish like a grampus.” See if you can find out what a grampus is). “Ranged up and down all day but found no signs of Indians or a good place to settle. At night made a barricade of logs and stakes and thick pine boughs, tall as a man, leaving it open to leeward, made fire in middle and slept around it, protected from cold and savages. About midnight heard a hideous loud cry and then sentinel called “arm, arm!” Shot a couple of muskets, then the noises ceased. They thought it might have been wolves, but the next morn as they ate breakfast, preparing to get away early, they heard the same sound again and arrows came flying amongst them. The men had left their guns on the bank ready to put in the boat so they ran for them. Meantime several of the men had kept their muskets in the barrack they had made and began firing. The Indians shot from behind trees but when the bullets struck the trees they gave a yell and ran. The men were unhurt but their coats hanging on the barricade were riddled. They thanked God for their deliverance, made a bundle of the arrows and sent them to England, calling that place the first encounter.”
Do you know that Cape Cod was named by an English explorer, Bartholomew Gosnold, in 1602? He wanted to establish a permanent colony there but he could not persuade any of his men to stay.
Indians were not numerous on Cape Cod when the Pilgrims arrived there because a short time before many had been wiped out by a plague brought over from Europe by fishermen who visited the coast. Shell heaps mark places to which Indians resorted to at certain seasons for food. Wigwams were their traditional houses and few articles have been found that were not obtainable in that region, indicating that they had a very limited exchange with other tribes. Evidently they kept very much to themselves.
Next time I will tell you about Squanto. On the last page of November Guideposts there is an article about him. He was the only native of Patuxet, the Indian name for New Plymouth, surviving as he was in Europe at the time his tribe was wiped out by disease. His capture seems providential as Governor Bradford said “of all God’s gifts, this Indian had been the greatest.” Squanto’s importance to the white men made him very cocky. He lorded it over the Indians in the area by telling than that the Pilgrims kept the dreaded plague buried in casks and he could get them to let it loose against any who neglected to win his friendship. But Squanto had a rival, Hobomok, one of Massasoit’s chief warriors who came to live with Captain Miles Standish, who was the military leader of the coloniats, becoming his adviser and companion. Governor Bradford wrote in his history many instances about them such as this: “One summer’s day Hobomok came running all of a sweat to Bradford vith the tale that he and Squanto had been visiting an Indian chief named Corbitant, who began a quarrel with them for being friends of the Englishmen. Corbitant tried to stab him but he fought free but Squanto might even now be dead. Bradford called an informal council which decided that such a challenge had to be met head on or they would soon be the prey of every Indian in New England. So fourteen of them (leaving only six grown men behind) launched an attack at night surrounding Corbitant’s hut, but he was not to be found. The few who tried to escape were wounded (later taken to Plymouth and cured). Squanto was found unhurt. As a result many other sachems now came hustling into Plymouth to bind themselves in peace and friendship.” But the Narragansett tribe dwelling in Rhode Island were more hostile. One of their braves came striding arrogantly into the Colony and flung down a snakeskin tied around a bundle of arrows. Squanto said it was an insulting challenge. With the advice of his informal council, Bradford stuffed the snakeskin with musket balls and sent it back with the message that “if they would rather have war than peace, they might begin when they would, for they had done them no wrong, neither did they fear them or should they find them unprovided.” That ended the threat and the Pilgrims traded unmolested with the Indians who brought them valuable furs, especially beaver, which was unknown in England, receiving in return beads, trinkets, cloth and other commodities that the colonists had brought over for that purpose. The staggering debt incurred to be brought to America was paid off in part by shipping furs to England.
Experience Mitchell loved to go on the expeditions to get furs from the Indians with the older men. One day they had gone in the shallop to visit the Massachusetts tribe across the bay who had plenty of beaver. They had finished trading and were pulling off when they saw several women running towards them, frantically waving the skins which had been their only covering and which they had replaced by tying leafy branches around their waists, so they went ashore and gave the squaws what beads and trinkets they had left for the furs, amid squeals of delight.
But the too friendly Indians posed a problem for the Pilgrims as they caused a serious drain on the already inadequate food supplies for the extra people who had came from Europe. Hungry Indians kept dropping in, even bringing their families, so Governor Bradford decided to send Edward Winslow and Stephen Hopkins to see Massasoit in his village, called Sowans (it is now the town of Warren, named for one of your ancesters). They took him gifts, a suit of clothes and a red horseman’s coat and told him that the big chief would always be welcome and any of his men that had beaver to trade, but the unrestricted visits of all and sundry would have to stop. Winslow found out the reason of their frequent coming as Massasoit had no food to offer them, but to atone for the lack he invited them to share his bed with himself and squaw. The bed was hard and lousy and to add to the discomfort two lusty braves came in and flopped down on the same couch, and as was their habit began to sing themselves to sleep. The next day Massasoit bestirred himself and caught two bass which had to suffice for the whole village. Massasoit lived until 1661 and was succeeded by his eldest son. When rumors came to Plymouth that he was plotting mischief he was summoned to the General Court. He satisfied the magistrates that he was innocent of evil designs but unfortunately he was seized with a violent fever on the way home and died. The other son became king and blamed the pilgrims for his brother’s death which led to a war that lasted one and a half years until Philip was killled. That was 1676, just a hundred years before our American Revolution.
The Ohristmas sason is upon us and indoors and out are gala preparations. The streets are lined with colored lights, here and there large evergreen trees are ablaze with multi-colored bulbs. Homes are decorated on the outside as well as within with festive attire. Shoppers crowd the store to buy the myriad gifts and toys, and the postman is already delivering quantities of beautiful Christmas cards. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker are all feverishly busy supplying the holiday trade, not to say anything about mother as she prepares for the many dishes that make the Christmas dinner such an eagerly anticipated occasion. Not so in the days of your Pilgrim ancestors! We see much in the papers nowadays about Christmas in many lands, but the only place I have read about how Christmas was celebrated when our country began is in specific books about life in the colonies. Neither Puriatan nor Pilgrim believed in a joyful Christmas. While they had feasting and games as well as prayer on that day which gave birth to our annual Thanksgiving Day, as I wrote in my last letter, Christmas was a day of fasting coupled with prayer. No gifts, no Santa Claus, no big turkey dinner with all the delicious trimmimgs! Instead the whole family, even the little children, spent the greater part of the day in a cold cheerless church, the service consisting of prayers and a very long sermon, which was spiritual food for the adults but very dry crusts for the children. No beautiful music to uplift the soul in worship. The pews – crude wooden benches – must have been most uncomfortable, but at least would kep them from going to sleep. The women with the girls and small children sat on one side of the meeting-house, which was the lower room of the fort built on the top of the hill overlooking the town, six cannon mounted on top of the flat roof. The men sat on the other side of the room, and the boys were all together in a gallery built in the back. Being away from the control of their parents, they were apt to get very unruly at times were it not for the presence of a man appointed to keep order. Church service for them must have been a very unhappy time as we compare it with the Sunday program for young people now-a-days, with everything to attract them. Perhaps it was rebellion against the worldliness of the churches in England that led to the austerity of the little group that met in the tiny village of Scrooby, later fleeing to Holland. They made a covenant with God who had voluntarily made a covenant with them, steeping themselves in the lore of the Old Testament, desiring intensely to communicate directly with God as did the old Patriarchs, and America became for them the promised land where they could bring the laws of God to life on earth. Although Bradford and Brewster were the only members left of the original congregation of Scrooby, so great was their influence, one being governor of the colony and the other ruling elder of the church (they had no minister as they waited for Pastor Robinson who was never able to come) that they built a comnunity rooted deep in religious faith, the belief that God took a personal interest, their covenant with him being the basis of and the reason for their political and social organization. But although everything they did had a religious motivation, they did not mix the religious covenant with the political compact drawn up on board the Mayflower. Unlike the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, they established true independency of church and state which America has kept inviolate.
Miles Standish had charge of the defense of the Colony, so in an unknown wilderness inhabited by Indians who might not be friendly, even the attendance at church had a military approach. Bradford describes it in his History. At the beat of a drum, the men assemble in front of Captain Standish’s house, cloaked and carrying their muskets. The drum silent, they walk three abreast, led by the sargeant. Behind them comes the Governor in a long robe, the preachør on the right and the captain on the left, cloaked and carrying both side arms and small arms. They march into the church, setting their arms nearby. I presume the women and children follow behind. The whole town is laid out like a fortress, enclosed by stockaded fences on three sides, the open side facing the hill on which is the combined church and fort.
Four years had gone by since Experience disembarked from the Anne, a lad of 14, coming from one of the great cities of Europe into a tiny settlement in the wilderness. They were four years filled with hardships and perils, yet he had enjoyed them to the full. Each day brought something new to stimulate his adventurous spirit. This particular day, he was busy in the fields when he saw Squanto and Hobomok running breathlessly towards Gov.Bradford’s house with two strange men. (These two Indians had become as much a part of the Plymouth Colony as Experience himself.) Full of curiosity, Experience dropped his hoe and ran full speed to the Governor’s to learn what had happened, arriving almost as soon as the Indians. The strangers presented a letter to Gov. Bradford, telling them that they had come in a ship from England bound for Virginia but the captain had been taken ill and the ship got off course and was driven on a sand-bar south of Cape Cod. As the sea was then smooth they threw out the anchor. But by evening the wind became strong and the sea so rough that, breaking the cable, it lifted the ship off the bar. Fortunately they landed in a harbor with a sandy beach for the ship had sprung a leak. Soon as the tide was low they got out all their things onto the dry shore, saving most of their goods. But not knowing where they were nor what they should do “they begane to be strucken with sadness” (as Bradford relates it in his History). They were alarmed when they saw some Indians coming towards them in canoes but relieved when they heard them ask in English if they were friends of the Governor of Plymouth. Rejoicing, they feasted them and gave them many gifts when the Indians offered to guide them to Plymouth or take letters. The letter entreated Gov. Bradford to send them a boat with things they needed to mend their ship, also enough corn and other things necessary to continue on to Virginia. Experience joined himself to the party headed by Gov. Bradford himself taking all they asked for and also “some trading comodities to buy them corne of the Indeans.” They did not dare venture out into the Bay but put into a creek, Bradford having arranged for the Indians to carry the things across the two mile strip to the stranded party, all of whom were very grateful for the courtesy and generosity of the Pilgrims. Some of the sailors had run away among the Indians but Gov. Bradford made them return. Several days later, word came that there had been more trouble. After they had gotten the ship mended and they were ready to continue on their way, there was a bad storm which so damaged the ship as to make it entirely unseaworthy. They begged Gov.Bradford to let them stay with hin until they could transport themselves and their goods to Virginia, saying that of course they would gladly pay. Some of the well-to-do among them who had brought a nunber of Irish servents with them, after they had moved in to Plymouth, asked for some ground so as to give their servants employment raising corn before winter set in. This was gladly granted and the corn bought on their departure as well as badly needed shoes and clothing which the newcomers let them have. A lasting friendship was formed with one of the party, a Mr. Sibsey, and future letters revealed how important he became in Norfolk County, Va., becoming in time a member of the House of Burgesses and of the Governor’s Council, etc.
The following year (1628) Experience,though only 19, married Jane who had come over to America from Holland on the same boat and her father, Frencis Cooke, who had come over on the Mayflower, bringing his oldest boy, John, welcomed Experience into his household where he had been living ever since. But now that he had been given 8 acres of land and a share of livestock and moreover had fallen in love with sweet, pretty Jane, Experience wanted a home of his own. They lived there very happily for three years in the house that he built with his own hands, even cutting down the trees and sawing the timbers while Jane gathered great quantities of reed grass for a thatched roof and soaked paper in oil to nail over the openings for windows, for there was no glass in those days. Even the furniture had to be made by them, rough-hewn benches, tables, stools and bed-steads. Both were busy from dawn til dark, he raising the foodstuff and fishing, taking care of the livestock, she baking the bread (even brewing the yeast), churning the butter, spinning, weaving, making the candles, their only source of light in the evenings, etc. In 1631 they moved to Duxbury.
Life in the Colonies was full of dangers but one of the greatest hazards was a fire, for there was no equipment to fight it nor were there trained firemen to deal with it. Experience Mitchell had his first great excitement that first winter after his arrival in Plymouth. He was aroused from sleep, for he had gone to bed early to keep warm, by the cry of “Fire, fire”. He, like all the other men and boys from the few houses in the settlement, rushed to where they saw the flames shooting up into the sky. Bradford in his History seys that it was caused by some seamen “roystering in a house where it first begane, makeing a great fire in very could weather, which broke out of the chimney into the thatch.” Remember, they did not have the roofing materials that we have to-day but had to make use of what they found at hand which, in this case, was long reed grass which was called thatch when dried. It was a hopeless task fighting the fire which soon spread to adjacent houses and three or four burnt to the ground with the loss of all their contents, goods and provisions. Indeed, as Bradford puts it, “There was much ado to save their common store-house, which if it had been lost the plantation would have been ruined. Some wanted to throw the goods out but they would have been stolen by the rude company that belonged to these two ships which were almost all ashore. But a trusty company was placed inside while others outside used wet cloath and other means to keep the fire off, so if necessary they might get them out with all speed. Malicious dealings if not plain treachery was suspected. When the tumult was greatest a voice was heard bidding them look well about for all were not friends that were near them.Shortly after, when the worst of the fire was over, smoke was seen coming from a shed joined to the end of the store-house and there was found a long fire brand, plaoed there by hand as it could not have been chance. But God kept them from this danger, whatever was intended.” Some of those who lost their homes and possessions returned to England when the two ships that had brought men that Mr. Weston sent over sailed back. As for the men left, they were finally sent from Plymouth to other parts.
Experience Mitchell and his wife Jane were among the early settlers of Duxbury, as it had been named by Miles Standish after Duxbury Hall, Lancashire, the old seat of the Standish family in England. He still remained the military comander of the Colony and was granted what is known as Captain’s Hill. On it now is the Standish Monument begun in 1872, a circular tower on a granite octagonal base, surmounted by his statue, the total height being 124 feet. John Alden and his family also moved from Plymouth to Duxbury. The two names reminds me of Longfellow’s “Courtship of Miles Standish”, but I am sorry to learn that it apparently has no basis in fact. Miles’ first wife, Rose, came on the Mayflower with him and died of “the sickness” that first Spring. A year later he sent for her sister Barbara, who became his second wife a year before John Alden and Priscilla Mullins were married. Of course, he might have found his case was hopeless before then. It is interesting to note that his son Alexander married a daughter of the Aldens. The Standish house built by him in 1666 still stands. John Alden, by the way, was the last surviving male and outlived only by Mary Allerton of all the Mayflower passengers.
Elder Brewster had a house and farm at Duxhury where his sons Jonathan and Love lived, but he retained his Plymouth house and spent most of his time there as the church which had been under his care from the the beginning was very dear to him. Also he valued being a close neighbor of Gov. Bradford whom he loved as a son. The Governor’s son John (by his first wife who was drowned before the landing at Plymouth), who remained in Holland with grandparents until 12, and his step-son, Constant Southworth, also George Soule, a Mayflower passenger, were other pioneers at Duxbury. There was an effort made to unite it with Plymouth which delayed incorporation until 1637, and so instead of being designated the second town it was the third as Scituate, though settled later, was incorporated a year earlier. Because of the superior fertility of its soil, Duxbury became prosperous, attracting a fine class of people. It was pleasant to live in with its fresh salt breezes and sweet smell of piney woods.
Experience was made a “freeman” in Duxbury (corresponds to our “voter,” except there has to be a certificate of good moral character from the pastor), and in the Plymouth Colony records are enumerated the many occasions that he served on petty juries, juries at the Court of Assistants, juries before the General Court, on Coroners juries and a number of Grand Inquests, being chosen by the town of Duxbury. Once he was fined ten shillings for refusing to serve on this last, but did not miss any more. Several times he was chosen to survey highways, and also to determine boundaries of lands that were being disputed. He also trained in the militia, bearing arms when necessary in any trouble with the Indians, until he reached the age limit of sixty years. His only known autograph is on a deed transferring a house lot in Duxbury to his nephew Edward Forbes, son of his sister Constant, and that deed was never put on record and is still in the possession of his descendents. When Duxbury was made a township June 7th, 1637, various grants of land were made. Experience received 50 acres and a few years later 30 acres more “for his children.” There were other grants, one being 50 acres from the town of Dartsmouth which he gave to Jacob, one of his sons. A great-granddaughter of Jacob married into the Small family. There is a picture of a house that Jacob built there, in a book that I consulted yesterday, which is still standing and considered one of the “most remarkable of the Pilgrim memorials.” This book, Decendants of Edward Small and Allied Families, by Lora Altine Woodbury Underhill, gave me more information about Experience than I had gotten anywhere, and much to my relief sttled the controversy about his age, and I quote: “The statement that he was born in that city (Leyden) in 1609, strongly asserted by some and questioned by others, appears to be quite firmly established by the recent investigations of the Rev. Henry Martin Dexter and his son Morton Dexter.” She pays him this tribute: “It is generally conceded that this “forefather” Experience Mitchell, though not occupying a position of great prominence in the Province of New Plymouth, as a man and a citizen did much toward the upbuilding of the Colony; and his descendants to the present day have been persons of much more than average capacity and enterprise.” This author thinks that besides being a “Planter”, he may have been a carpenter because a “Box with Several tooles” was mentioned in the inventory of his personal effects “and the sales of houses which he made, with the land upon which they stood, appear to have been strictly business transactions.” He may have engaged in real estate as there is the record of his selling the house and five acres in 1653 which he had bought from William Paybody in 1650, but he may have built himself another house on land that he “purchased from Norton, January 15, 1652.” Perhaps he lived in several different places during the years that he lived in Duxbury. All his children were born there — Thomas, John, Jacob, Edward, Elisabeth, Mary, Sarah and Hannah, but I can find no records of their birth dates, except Thomas, and I just yesterday came across it in the one issue that was in the Library of Congress of the Mitchell Family Magazine, July 1916. Strange to say the item contributed to it from a descendant from Experience Mitchell living in Richmond, Virginia, gave the information not føund anywhere else. Even Nahum Mitchell in his History of the Early Settlement of Bridgewater, containing genealogies of all the families prior to 1840, says only “Thomas first had land of his father at Dartmouth, but relinquished it again to his father in 1669, who the same day conveyed it to Jacob. There is no farther account of Thos.” This magazine item has 8 generations, giving Thomas as being born in 1627, settling in Malden in 1635, dying Sept. 1, 1709, married Mary Moulton in 1655. But it states that Experience Mitchell married Mary, daughter of Francis Cooke. It is authenticated that he married the eldest daughter Jane, who died in 1666. However, the last name of his second wife Mary is not known by any of the authorities that I have read heretofore, so it is possible that he might have married Mary, the youngest sister of Jane after her death.
It seems almost impossible to state with certainty when a person was born if in the first half of the 17th century. Dates when given have been proven erroneous or without sufficient foundation for fact by later researchers. Hubert Kinney Shaw, author of “Families of the Pi1grims” published by the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants in 1956, gives only dates that he has been able to prove from authentic records. Here is his list of the children of Experience Mitchell and Jane Cooke in the order in which he lists them: Sarah, born about 1641, died after 1731, married about 1662; Edward, born before 1650 (some authorities give 1643, others 1645), died March, 1716/17 (double dating from January lst to March 25th was used by England and her Colonies from 1582 when Pope Gregory established the 1st day of January as the commencement of the year instead of the 25th of March, until 1752 when England also adopted the New Style computation); Jacob, b. bef. 1650, d. 1675, m. 7 Nov. Susanna Pope, 1666; Elizabeth, d. aft. 1 Nov. 1681, m. 6 Dec. 1645 John Washburn; Hannah, b. aft. 1656, m. 1682 Joseph Hayward; John, d. aft.1701, m. (l) Mary Bonney, (2) Mary Lathrop, (3) Mary Prior; Mary, m. 24 Dec. l652 James Shaw at Plymouth; Thomas, b. bef. 1651, d. aft. Aug. 1672 and bef. Dec.1688.
The early records of Duxbury were destroyed by fire in 1654, and also the records of births and deaths of the Colony of Plymouth previous to 1647 are lost, too. I do not know what determined the order of this 1isting but it certainly cannot be according to age.
There were no public schools in the whole Colony previous to 1670 so the boys were either taught their three R’s by their father or, as was the general practice in those early times, their minister. As for the girls, their education consisted in learning how to spin, weave, churn and make candles (which succeeded the pine knots and rush lights used at first). Not one woman in the whole colony could read or write. The men opposed education for the women “for fear they might correct their spelling.
Elizabeth was apparently the oldest child. The date of her marriage is found in the Plymouth court records as Dec. 6th, 1645. All marriages were civil as the Pilgrims felt there was no authority given in the Bible for marriage in church. Mrs. Underhill, in her book “The descendants of Edward Small,” page 522, quotes Hurd’s History of Plymouth County, Mass., in saying that she could not have been much more than 15 at the time of her marriage to John Washburn Jr., “thus transmitting some of the best blood in the Colony to the Washburns.” We find this item about his father in Nahum Mitchell’s History of Bridgewater: “John Washburn was early in Duxbury; he had an action in Court against Edward Doten 1632; is named in the assessment of taxes 1633; purchased Edward Bonpasse’place beyond the creek called Eagle’s nest 1634. He and his 2 ss. John and Philip were included with those able to bear arms in the colony 1643, and his name is also among the first freemen of Duxbury. He and his son John were original proprietors of Bridg., and they and Philip became residents and settlers here in S.B. as early as 1665; he d. here before 1670. We find no notice of any other children.” It is interesting to note here that in the fifth generation, Edward Mitchell, (born 1766) married Chloe Washburn whose paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother were direct descendants of John and Elizabeth. They continued to live in Duxbury at Green’s harbour until 1670 when he sold the house and lands his father had given him and moved to Bridgewater, where their descendants continued to live for many generations. They had seven sons and four daughters. Nahum Mitchell quotes this extract of a letter which he says came from Thomas Mitchell, dated at Amsterdam 24th July, 1662, to his uncle Experience Mitchell, “I do also wish my cousin Elizabeth much joy with her daughter, that God has given to her six sons.” This first girl, Mary, was born in 1661. She married in 1694 Samuel Kinsley, grandson of Stephen Kinsley, Representative of Milton (d. 1673} who bought a place next to her brother, Thomas.
Jacob may have been married before Edward, for whom no record has been found of his first marriage—probably destroyed by fire — but we do know that the childless marriage lasted 40 years and that he married Alice Bradford August 26th, 1708. However, the marriage of Jacob to Susanna Pope is in the Plymouth Colony records and also that he sold his house in Plymouth (one of the present memorials) to Jabez Howland, son of John Howland, before 1673 and removed to Dartmouth Nov.15, 1669, receiving a tract of upland from father (Thomas surrendering his ¼ share). There he became prominent, holding many positions of responsibility until killed by the Indians in 1675. Never before had the colonists been attacked by the Indians as Massasoit kept the treaty that he made with Gov. Bradford until his death. But other people had come to the New England shores who had not treated the Indians so considerately and the new generation, led by the son of Massasoit, called King Philip, hated the white man and tried to expel them. Jacob’s three small children, Jacob, Thomas and Mary, escaped as they were safe in John Cooke’s garrison which their parents were trying to reach the next day, on horseback. They were taken to their Uncle Edward in Bridgewater and made most welcome in that childless household. They were carefully brought up and all three were married the same day to two dauthters and a son of John Kingman in 1696.
There is no date found for John’s birth, but the first of his three marriages is in 1675 to Mary Bonney of Duxbury, who died in 1677 leaving one child named Experience. Two years later he married Mary Lathrop, who died childless a year after. In 1682 he married Mary Prior and had five daughters and two sons, one barely reaching manhood and the other, Joseph, had a daughter Sarah who married Jonathan Ring, becoming ancestors of Leon Hills, assistent Historian of The Society of Mayflower Descendants of the D.C.
Hannah was born sometime after 1656, and became the 3d wife of Joseph Hayward, a deacon, brother of Edward’s brother- in-law Thomas, who was one of the first settlers of Bridgewater, “and by far the most honored and distinguished man in the place”, and of Elisha, a bachelor, with whom Edward lived after marrying his sister Mary.
The next wedding in the family was the day before Christmas 1652, also at Plymouth, when Mary married James Shaw of Plymouth, son of John and Alice Phillips Shaw. She had a daughter Mary and was widowed in 1679. No nore weddings for a decade when a third daughter Sarah, about 21, married John Hayward. Nahum Mitchell says this of his father: “Thomas Hayward came from England in the same vessel with John Ames and settled in Duxbury before 1638; was made a freeman 1646; was an original proprietor, and among the earliest and eldest of the settlers of Bridgewater; he d. 1681.” Her brother Edward married John’s sister Mary a few years later, and was married for 40 years when she died, leaving no children, but they adopted the three children of Edward’s brother Jacob when he and his wife Susanna were killed by the Indians in 1675. In 1708, Edward married Alice Bradford, whose father Maj. John Bradford was the grandson of Gov. William Bradford. He was married for 62 years when he died at the age of 84. Alice’s mother Mercy Warren (descended from Richard Warren of the Mayflower, paternal grandfather, and John Faunce, maternal grandfather, who came on the Anne 1623, with George Morton, his wife Julianna Carpenter and their daughter Patience, whom he married 10 years later when she was 18. Mercy outlived her husband 12 years, dying at 95. Alice’s grandfather Maj.William Bradford was next to Miles Standish as military commander of the Colonies, also assistant treasurer, Colonial Commissioner, Judge of Probate and Deputy Governor for 34 years. He lived in the same house where his father the Governor lived from 1627 to 1647, though that area is now called Kingston, separated from the original Plymouth. It housed a total of 18 then, only six bearing the name of Bradford, the rest being “adopted.” But William Jr. had 15 children of his own—10 by his first wife, a son by his second, the widow of Parson Wiswall of Duxbury, and 4 sons by his third wife, also widow of another pastor of Duxbury, John Holmes. The house is now in the possession of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants.
Hannah was the youngest child of Experience and may have been the daughter of his second wife Mary, as her birth is given as after 1656 and her marriage date 1683 or 1684, though it is possible that she was the daughter of Jane as listed by all authorities. Jane’s death is thought by most of then to have been about 1666, but one author stated that she died before her father whose death occurred in 1663. She gives as her reason the fact that Jane was not mentioned in her father’s will. Hannah married Deacon Joseph Hayward, brother in-law of her brother Edward, who had married Alice Brett in 1672, so he was probably much older than Hannah who was his third wife. Her story properly belongs to the next chapter—Bridgewater—as she was living here several years before her marriage to Joseph Hayward, whse father was one of the earliest settlers there. They had seven children: Mary, born 1685, married Thomas Ames; Thomas, born 1687, married Bethiah Waldo; Edward, born 1689, married Kesiah White about 1749 and lived in Easton; Hannah, born 1691, married Capt. Ebenezer Byram in 1714 (His parents were the oldest and first named members of the first church of East Bridgewater, instituted in 1724); Susanna, born 1695, married (probably 1719) Jonathan Packard; Peter, born 1699, married Abigail Williams in 1732; Abigail, born 1702, married Zachariah Snell 1731.
The Mitchells left Duxbury sometime between 1670 (the year Experience conveyed to his son Edward the family estate at Blue Fish River) and 1682, when records of the town of Bridgewater list him as a citizen. Experience had bought a share in the plantation that the Old Coloby court at Plymouth had given Duxbury the right to purchase to compensate them for the loss of that part of their land thad became the independent town of Marchfield. As Experience did not want to go to Bridgewater (as the purchase was called), he sold his share to Thomas Hayward, who became father-in-law of his daughter Hannah and son Edward. He did not go there until late in life, when Edward bought the property rght (or share) of Francis West, who remained in Duxbury.
We read in the Court Records of Plymouth Colony the following: “Ordered, that henceforth Duxbury New Plantation be allowed to be a township of itself, distinct from Duxbury, and to be called by the name of Bridgewater; provided that all public rates be borne by them in equal proportions.” It was the first interior settlement of the Colony, both Plymouth and Duxbury being on the coast. The center of the town is about 26 miles from Boston, 20 from Plymouth and 10 from Taunton, where your Grandpa Mitchell was born in 1878.
By purchase of land from three Indian sachems, the first from Ousamequin (as our good old friend Massasoit called himself in the latter part of his life), in 1649; the second from Pomponoho (alias Peter), living at the Indian reservation of Titicut, in 1676; and from Josiah Wampatuck in 1686. After the grants had been duly allowed by the court, Bridgewater had an area of nearly 100 square miles. This area remained without change until 1712, when part of it was incorporated into the town of Abington, and in 1784 another large area constituted the greater part of the incorporated town of Hanson, reducing the final area of Bridgewater to about 70 square miles.
Not more than a third of the original proprietors of Bridgewater became residents there. Experience Mitchell sold his share to Thomas Hayward, and did not go there until after 1683, when his son Edward bought the share of Francis Weston, who remained in Duxbury. Among the first to go there was William Bassett, who was the only forefather besides Experience, coming over before him on the Fortune in 1621, and both lived in Plymouth with Francis Cooke, who became brother-in-law with Experience. He was listed among the first freemen with Thomas Hayward and his son Thomas Jr., John Willis and his brother Lawrence, Arthur Harris, John Carey and Samuel Tomkins, who brought him up and left him all his property, having no children of his own. All of these families became connected with Mitchell through marriage.
A house lot of six acres was granted to each settler and were contiguous, so the compact settlement could defend itself against possible attack, and extended on each side of the river, called by the Indians Yuckatest.