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Life in Plimoth: Elizabeth and Damaris Hopkins, Pilgrims

Damaris was three and a half when she and her mother traveled on the Mayflower. Here are their answers to students' questions.

  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

Stephen and Elizabeth Hopkins traveled on the Mayflower with their daughter Damaris when she was three and a half. While at sea, Elizabeth gave birth to son Oceanus. Also traveling with the family were Stephen's children from his first marriage, Gyles and Constance, and two servants, Edward Doty and Edward Leister.

In addition to Elizabeth and Damaris, historical interpreters from Plimoth Plantation also share answers to some of the questions.

How did you feel when you first arrived in The Coast? What were six things that you ate at the first Thanksgiving? How old you were when you where a Pilgrim?
Damaris: I do not remember much about our arriving here because I was not even three years old. Now I am almost 4. Mother says she was pleased to be in her proper element again — she means to be on the earth rather than the sea. She was seasick on the ship and also my brother Oceanus was born at sea.

To celebrate our first harvest in New Plymouth we ate duck and goose and venison, that is deer meat that the Indians brought to us, and porridges of Indian corn... same as we eat most days at this time of the year but for a celebration there was much more to eat. I was full!

How was life there? And can you please tell me the story about the first Thanksgiving?
Damaris: Mother and father are happier now that we have brought in a good harvest of Indian corn. This is very strange corn that I have never seen before, all party colored, but the porridge of Indian corn likes me well and fills my belly.

Elizabeth: Our first harvest in New England was a fit occasion to rejoice. Our Governor sent men fowling and they killed sufficient duck and geese to feed us for almost a week. Many of the Indians came amongst us, even their greatest king Massasoit with ninety men or thereabouts. There were many more Indians than English!

What did the Church of England believe that the Puritans disagreed with?
Elizabeth: I suppose my family and I are some of these "puritans" that you speak of — I know that you did not mean it unkindly, but it is not a word we use to describe ourselves. We understand from learned men that the Church in England wants more reforming to bring it closer to the Bible and away from the Church at Rome. Some here in New Plymouth have gone so far as to separate themselves from our English church, which is unlawful.

What were the differences between the Pilgrims and the Indians? Like food, homes, education, etc.
Damaris: The Indians don't look like us; they have no hair on their faces. Even in the cold they do not wear many clothes, only leathers. On their heads, long hair to their shoulders trussed with feathers or foxtails. Father visited their King Massasoit. Father says their houses are made of bark mats and they sleep on tree boughs and furs.

How did you plant crops there?
Damaris: We have no beasts to pull a plow so we must dig the ground with mattock and spade, then put a kind of fish called alewives in the ground to manure it. Then we set the corn seed. But the wolves and dogs will come and dig up the rotting fish, so father and the other men had to keep watch on the fields at night.

Why did you take a bath only once per year?
Damaris: Mother would not have us bathe too much for she does not wish us to be ill. But the summer was so hot and I worked so hard that I got very dirty and my sister, Constance, took me to bathe sometimes in the brook. It was very cold.

Why did you leave to go the New World?
Elizabeth: Stephen made the decision to come on this voyage. He had been in Virginia years before and wished to plant America for the English crown, elsewise the Spanish or the French or the Dutch will plant here.

What was the first Thanksgiving like? What food did they eat? What did the people dress like? Did the people have an accent? What did the children eat? Did the pilgrims do it for fun? What Indian tribe did the pilgrims eat with?
Elizabeth: Our first harvest of Indian corn in New England was cause for rejoicing in a special manner. Among other entertainments, the men exercised their arms. We had waterfowl enough to eat for a week. The men of our town come from all parts of England. Those from the north, like William Bradford, our governor, speak differently from those from the west, like Mr. Winslow.

Our manner of dress is as it was in England, although our clothes are now much worn. We look for new supply from England soon.

Plimoth Plantation: The Native American people who lived in the area were the Wampanoag. Plymouth colony was built on the Wampanoag village of Patuxet.

How old are you?
Damaris: I am nearly four years old.

How tall are you?
Damaris: I don't know how tall I am but I have grown too tall for my old petticoats.

How many people are in your family?
Damaris: My family is my father and mother; my stepsister, Constance; my stepbrother; Gyles; my little brother, Oceanus; and the two servants, Edward Leister and Edward Doten.

I want to know what it is like on the Mayflower?
Damaris: I remember that the ship was dark and wet and stinking. One of the men, the governor's servant, John, fell off into the sea, but he grabbed a rope, and they pulled him out. The ship went back to England before we planted corn this spring.

How many Pilgrims were at the first Thanksgiving?
Elizabeth: Before we set corn in the spring about half of our company died. Now, after harvest, we number about 50 or thereabouts.

What foods are served?
Damaris: We ate our fill of duck and geese and deer, and porridges of Indian corn.

Why celebrate Thanksgiving in November when Governor Bradford hosted the feast in October 1621?
Elizabeth: We do not always celebrate our harvest, but when we do, it is when the harvest is got in. The harvest of Indian corn lasts through the month of December. In England, wheat and rye corns were harvested in August.

A day of Thanksgiving in the church at New Plymouth is entirely different. It is a day in church any time special thanks must be given.

Plimoth Plantation: I admit that this is a little confusing. Our modern American Thanksgiving holiday is more recent. By 1700, it had become the custom in New England to have a November Thanksgiving for general blessings. The custom spread around the United States. In fact, the harvest celebration at New Plymouth in 1621 was not the beginning of the Thanksgiving holiday that some of us celebrate today.

I'm from England. We don't have Thanksgiving here. When is it?
Plimoth Plantation: The annual American Thanksgiving holiday is the fourth Thursday of November.

Can you please tell me what types and amounts of cargo were on board the Mayflower?
Plimoth Plantation: For a ship as famous as the Mayflower has become, you would be surprised at how little is known about her. Historians do not know precisely what she carried or how much of it, but we can make some educated guesses about food supplies and tools necessary to build a houses and plant crops.

Elizabeth: We brought householdment with us — pots and kettles, bedding, clothing. And the company provisioned the ship with food as dried peas and butter, muskets, swords, and guns to defend our town, mattocks and spades to turn the ground, saws and axes for timbering.

What are four foods eaten by the Pilgrims on the Mayflower?
Elizabeth: Aboard ship we ate ship's biscuit which is a sort of hard bread. We ate poor john, what is salted fish with mustard sauce, and dried peas well boiled.

Why did the kids drink beer?
Elizabeth: Beer is our usual drink for everyone. Wee babes drink mother's milk but they are weaned on beer. But we have not had beer here since Christmas last, so we must needs drink spring water, which is pleasing enough if not so healthful as beer.

I am a student from Dike-New Hartford and I was wondering if it was fun, scary, and exciting being a Pilgrim and being at the first Thanksgiving.
Damaris: Some of the celebration liked me well... I ate so much mallard as I pleased and I favor to see father and Edward shooting their muskets at marks.

What was the life expectancy of a male and female Pilgrim in the 1620s?
Plimoth Plantation: The average life expectancy at birth for English people in the late 1500s/early 1600s was about 40 years old. This low number was mostly due to the high rate of infant and child mortality. A man or woman who reached the age of 30 could expect to live to 59. In the middle and late 1600s in New England, colonists lived longer than they had in England.

Elizabeth: Although we have been in good health since springtide, but during the winter season last past many died both young and old of coughs and colds and scurvy.

I was curious about what cities the Pilgrims came from in England? Were there any that came from outside of England?
Plimoth Plantation: Some Mayflower passengers came from London. A number came from towns in the North Midlands, like Scrooby and Sturton le Steeple. Others came from villages in East Anglia, such as Redenhall. There was a servant from Fen Stanton, Huntingdonshire, and a family from Henlow in Bedfordshire. Some of the children aboard were born in Leiden, Holland, although their parents were English.

Elizabeth: Stephen and I were married in London. Several others — John Billington and his family, Richard Warren — also dwelt in London before boarding the ship. Many of the others are strangers to me. I know not from whence they came, but from near all over England methinks.

What did you eat on the ship? How long did it take you to get there? Where did you go to the restroom?
Damaris: We ate much peas porridge and salt pork. And we used chamberpots.
Elizabeth: We were better than two moneths [sic] at sea.

How do you feel your life is like? Do you like how you live with your family? Do you have a family? Sorry for all the questions but I want to learn about your life and how you live. Thank you.
Damaris: Sometimes my sister, Constance, longs for home, but I will cheer her with a buss [kiss]. Mother and father are well, and soon Oceanus will no longer be the baby.

How many people were on board the Mayflower? What was the work that people had to do?
Elizabeth: We were about a hundred passengers aboard the ship and crew besides.

Damaris: I help Mother in the kitchen garden and setting corn in the fields and weeding it and scaring the birds from it. I pound the corn for flour and gather kindling for the fire. On a sunny day, I help her lay out the laundry to dry, and I mind the baby and so many things.

Where did you sleep?
Damaris: Here our house has one room, and I sleep on a featherbed on the floor beside my sister, Constance, and my brother, Gyles.

Did the children play games with the Indian children?
Plimoth Plantation: The English men, who wrote the journals and letters that help us to understand Plymouth Colony in 1621, didn't write much about children. So we simply do not know if English children and Wampanoag children played or worked together.

Damaris: I often have work to do and have not much time to play. Sometimes my sister, Constance, will blow bubbles through an old tobacco pipe for me, but she, too, has cooking and pounding of corn, and many other things to be about if we are to have enough to eat.

How do you build your house? Was it hard to build them?
Elizabeth: Francis Eaton, who was a carpenter in England, has shown my husband, Giles, and the servants how to saw and hew the timbers for our house. After the frame was raised up, all of us have labored at digging clay for the walls and carrying thatch for the roof. It was difficult to cut thatch in the reed ponds and dig clay for the walls in January and February, it being so cold.

Did you have friends? If you did what were their names? Were they Pilgrims?
Damaris: I have two friends. Their names are Mary and Resolved. Sometimes we must mind baby Humilty, too.
Elizabeth: Mary is Mr. Allerton's daughter. Resolved is Susannah Winslow's boy; his father was William White. Humilty Cooper is an orphan.

Was life in Plymouth hard to handle? Was it fun in Plymouth or boring? What kinds of jobs did you have?
Damaris: This question is hard to understand, because I do not know the word "fun" and I do not know the word "boring." I gather kindling for the fire and I help pick grapes and gather nuts. In the summer, I scared the birds out of the corn.

How did you set the fire? With rocks, sticks, or something else?
Damaris: Mother or father or Constance or Gyles strike a spark with a flint, which is a piece of stone, and steel. They blow it into tinder until there is a little flame, then we use that to light the hearth.

Did kids get to shoot animals?
Damaris: The lads who are strong and big enough to fire a piece do shoot fowl for us to eat.

Do you have a pet?
Damaris: Nay.

Elizabeth: When we have beasts here, there will be no cade lambs or kids, raised up in the house, but rather for eating.

Did you play soccer back then? Because I play soccer.
Elizabeth: Back in England, lads might play at football on a holiday.

Was it hard to leave your home of England? Was it sad? Did you miss your friends and home?
Elizabeth: It was most difficult to leave home, but we must look to God's will in this as all things. And He will give us comfort.

Were you the first Pilgrim to have child in Plimouth?
Elizabeth: My son Oceanus was born will we were still at sea, but Mistress White brought abed a son, Peregrine, while we were anchored at Cape Cod.

I was just wondering what the Pilgrims were wearing the day of Thanksgiving?
Damaris: I wear the same thing every day, for it is all I have that fits me now. Mother says when supply comes, I will have new shoes and hose.

Elizabeth: Some were better supplied than others with clothing when they came, but most have clothes to work in and their best things. Much of what we brought with us is now well worn and clouted [patched]. Please God we should see supply of cloth and clothes come from our adventureres before winter falls.

Did they get sick on the voyage?
Damaris: Most were seasick in the usual way, but I was not troubled by it.

Who was the infamous assistant to Governor Bradford?
Plimoth Plantation: I suspect you are referring to Mr. Isaac Allerton, who was the first assistant elected in 1621. He continued in that position and in the position of factor, or business agent, for many years. He eventually got into trouble with the colony over business matters. But in 1621, Elizabeth Hopkins didn't know that yet.

Who was the infamous assistant to Governor Bradford?
Damaris: Mr. Carver, our first governor, died at planting time. Then the men of the town chose Mr. Bradford, but he was ill, so they also chose my friend Mary's father, Mr. Allerton, to be his assistant.

Was Governor Bradford mean?
Plimoth Plantation: We don't know if William Bradford was a mean governor. We do know that he continued to be elected governor by the men of New Plymouth for many years. In 1624, William Bradford wanted the town to choose a different governor, but he was apparently elected again. Maybe the job was so hard no one else really wanted it!

Where was the first Thanksgiving feast held?
Elizabeth: Methinks every table in New Plymouth was laden with food at one time or another, for we did not have one feast, but several days of entertainments in celebration of our first harvest here. Upon one day, the Governor entertained the chief men at his table. Another day my husband entertained some of the Indians and some of our neighbors at our table.

Plimoth Plantation: In 1621, the Plymouth colonists celebrated their first successful harvest in their newly built town. We know they ate. We know they entertained many Wampanoag. But how and where exactly is unknown.

It is likely that many meals took place at different times in different places over the course of the week. It is also likely that important men, both Native and English, ate together, and that people of lower status ate together.

Were the Pilgrims thankful for the friendship of the Wampanoag and Squanto? I know the first "Thanksgiving" was not a "day of thanks." But did the Pilgrims give thanks for their friendship with Squanto and for being alive on that day?
Damaris: At every meal we say grace and give thanks for the blessings of God. Each day I begin and end the day with prayers.

Elizabeth: God sent Tisquantum as an instrument of our furtherance here. Thus it is to God that we give thanks.

Plimoth Plantation: You are correct in saying that the first "Thanksgiving" was not a "day of thanks;" it was a harvest celebration. You are also correct in thinking that the Colonists might have given thanks during that celebration. They did "in a special manner rejoice," which means they followed their Christian custom of grace and thanksgiving at meals. The Wampanoag also had customs of giving thanks for the daily gifts from the Creator.

The Native Americans the pilgrims encountered lived in teepees and traveled on horseback. Is this true?
Elizabeth: The Indians of this place live in small round houses covered with mats, which they can carry on their backs. They have no horses nor any livestock, save they do have dogs.

Plimoth Plantation: The Wampanoag lived in wetuash (round bark or mat covered houses) and traveled on foot or by mishoon (dugout canoe). The Wampanoag had and have very different traditions from the Western Native Peoples that we are used to seeing in the movies.

Why did the Pilgrims not eat pumpkin pie on the first Thanksgiving?
Elizabeth: I have not ever cooked pompion into a pie but rather do stew it or fry it. If you can afford spice as ginger and sugar, your stewed pompion will taste like apples!
Plimoth Plantation: As hard as it is to imagine, the pumpkin pie that we now eat at Thanksgiving just hadn't been invented yet.

How did they hunt their food?
Elizabeth: My husband and our servants go forth with muskets or fowling pieces and shoot ducks and geese as they sit upon the water. The spaniels are also helpful in getting fowl.

Where was their settlement located?
Elizabeth: Contrary winds and dangerous shoals kept Mayflower from sailing to the mouth of Hudson his river, in the northern part of Virginia, so we have planted our town at New Plymouth in New England. This place is called by the Indians, Patuxet.

How did they make their settlement successful?
Elizabeth: We have been here but one year and have yet to see supply from England. Without it I know not if we will succeed, but God's will be done.

How long did you sail for?
Mayflower left Plymouth, England, on September 6, 1620, and arrived at Cape Cod in the midst of November.

Did the kids get to sit at the dinner table
Damaris: I sit upon a form [bench] at table.

Where was the Mayflower built?
Elizabeth: I know not where the ship was built in England, but was hired in London.

Plimoth Plantation: Mayflower II was built in Brixham, England, in 1955. She sailed to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1957 where she remains open to the public.

Was hunting hard or not?
Damaris: Father had not hunted before we came here but he has gotten more skilled at it. Yesterday he brought in three brace of duck.

Were the biscuits hard?
Elizabeth: Ship's biscuit is quite hard, which is why it keeps so well on the journey. It is made better by sopping it in broth.

Do you think the voyage was worthwhile?
Elizabeth: It is soon to know if the country will be hospitable, but it rests as all things in God's hands.

How did you catch the fish?
Damaris: We eat not much fish save clams and mussels and lobster. Father says we need hooks and seines [nets] of fit size to fish but these must needs come from England.

When did the Mayflower come back to England?
Elizabeth: Mayflower left New England at the first of April last past. I know not if she hath arrived safely or no.
Plimoth Plantation: The original Mayflower did arrive safely back in England in 1621.

What games do you play in 1621?
Damaris: There is not much occasion for sport, but mother has fashioned a rag baby for me. Some of the lads played at stool ball and pitching the bar during our harvest celebration.

What sorts of clothing did Elizabeth wear? Thank you.
Elizabeth: Close to my skin, I wear my linen smock, the which I sleep in as well. Upon that I lace my stays [corset], then a woolen gown and apron. Upon my feet are woolen stockings and leather shoen [sic], and upon my head a linen cap.

Where did you get the firewood?
Damaris: Everyone marvels at the abundance of wood here. I help gather branches and waste from building, but I dare not venture near the forest for fear I will lose myself as John Billington did.

Why did people die in the first winter?
Elizabeth: Many had the first cause of their death when they waded on land from the shallop [small boat] while exploring. And wanting warm and dry lodging scarce any were free of coughs and colds, which afterwards turned to scurvy.

Who is the Pilgrim leader who invited the Wampanoag Indians to the first Thanksgiving?
Plimoth Plantation: Why the Wampanoag came to the English colony during the colonists' harvest celebration in 1621 is unknown. There is no record that they were invited by the English governor William Bradford. Plymouth colony was, after all, in the middle of the Wampanoag Homeland, so the Wampanoag didn't need a reason or excuse to be there.

Who is the woman who is credited with making Thanksgiving a national holiday?
Plimoth Plantation: Many people give Sarah Josepha Hale credit for convincing President Abraham Lincoln to nationalize what was already a popular holiday. As editor of a popular women's magazine, she set trends in decorating, fashion, and cooking. She promoted Thanksgiving as the yearly centerpiece of a woman's domestic skill. Hale influenced a national audience through her magazine, Godey's Lady's Book, where she printed Thanksgiving recipes, stories, and editorials.

What diseases did the Pilgrims bring to Plymouth?
Elizabeth: Men do not carry illness like they carry a knapsack. An unbalance in your humors will cause sickness, and pestilence can be caused by unsavory vapors and winds. Praise God since we recovered of the general sickness of the last winter, the Lord has preserved us in health.

What is a hearth furniture?
Elizabeth: Pot hangers and andirons, pots and kettles, fire shovels and tongs are all hearth furniture. Such tools as I use in my hearth to cook and tend the fire.

Is there any reference to music at the first Thanksgiving celebration? If so, what was it?
Plimoth Plantation: There is no reference to music in the only existing description of the harvest celebration in New Plymouth in 1621. The writer, colonist Edward Winslow, says, "amongst other recreations we exercised our arms" and Massasoit came with 90 men "whom for three days we entertained and feasted."

What were these recreations and entertainments? We will never know for certain but it is likely that music was part of it since both the English and Wampanoag had long traditions of singing at gatherings. Ordinary Englishmen of the 1620s often sang psalms as well as country tunes in unison, rounds or harmonies.

What three natural resources helped the Pilgrims decide where to start their colony?
Elizabeth: After viewing many places, our company came to conclusion by most voices to plant our town here because there was much land cleared where corn had been planted before; there is a sweet brook that runs under the hillside full of fish in their seasons; there are many delicate springs of as good water as can be drunk; there is good harbor for our shallops and boats; and there is a great hill upon which we have made a platform to plant our ordnance [canons].

What was the daily life of the Pilgrims like?
Damaris: Some things are the same every day: We must draw water and kindle the fire and pound corn. Some work changes with the time of year, for now we no longer have a garden to tend or corn to weed Instead there is more wild fowl to pluck and nuts to gather. Sunday is different, for the rest of the family goes to meeting all morning, and I must mind my brother Oceanus, although Giles will often stay with us during afternoon service.

 Elizabeth: Did your family know what happened to John Lyford and agree with the first "court" they held?
Elizabeth: I am somewhat ashamed to recount that amongst the first to be brought before the whole company here were our servants Doten and Leister last June. They fought a duel with sword and dagger, were both wounded, and adjudged to have their head and feet tied together for 24 hours. But after an hour, my husband humbly requested their release for they promised better carriage.

Plimoth Plantation: The Reverend John Lyford arrived in New Plymouth in 1624, so Elizabeth Hopkins in 1621 hadn't met him yet. When John Lyford was banished from New Plymouth, many others went with him. However, the Hopkins family stayed, which may indicate that they agreed with the judgment of the Plymouth court.

Why did you have to wear so many clothes?
Elizabeth: We dress as is fitting and modest for English husbandmen and tradesmen. In truth, last winter I would have been glad of even more clothes.

What does hardtack taste like?
Damaris: It doesn't taste of much, but the broth that it is sopped in.

Dear Elizabeth and Damaris: We live in the Netherlands. We are ESL students in fourth grade at an American school. We are learning about Thanksgiving. We come from Israel, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, Canada, and Norway. We want to know if you ever met Squanto? Did he take you hunting? Did you like him? Did he show you the country in a canoe?
Damaris: Did you know that Squanto speaks English so good as me for he had been stolen from his village here at New Plymouth and taken to live in Spain and England. When he came back to New Plymouth, he calls it Patuxet, his family was dead.

Elizabeth: Tisquantum, as I understand him to be properly called, has shown us the manner of dressing Indian corn and fetching herrings and eels from the brook,and likewise has served our governor to speak with the other Indians.

How did you feel about the Wampanoag children when you first met them? Were you afraid? Did you make friends? How long did it take you to become friends with them?
Plimoth Plantation: Unfortunately the men who wrote down what was happening in New Plymouth in 1621 didn't concern themselves with children much. So we do not know if Wampanaog and Colonial children were friends or how they felt about one another. We can imagine that some Wampanoag parents and some Colonial parents may not have wanted their children playing together. We can imagine that language might have been a difficulty. And we can imagine that some Wampanoag and some Colonial children were curious about one another. But these are all just guesses.

What kind of shoe did the pilgrims wear?
Damaris: We wear shoes of leather just as we did in England. Some have boots and buskins [short boots].

What is a common house?
Damaris: The common house was the first house built by my father and the others. It is for common use by the whole village, not the home of one family like our house is. Last winter all of the sick people were living in the common house.

Were there any doctors on board the ship?
Elizabeth: There was a surgeon of the name of Gyles Heale. He carried drugs and strong waters to keep the crew in health. Among the passengers was Samuel Fuller, the deacon of the church, who is also a surgeon. He has cured some of scurvy.

Plimoth Plantation: When Elizabeth Hopkins speaks of surgeons she does not mean the same thing we mean today. In the 1600s, surgeons were tradesmen like butchers and barbers. They were not university-educated doctors!

How did the pilgrims' arrival change the way of life for the Wampanoag?
Plimoth Plantation: This is a difficult question for Elizabeth Hopkins to answer because, in 1621, she couldn't yet see any changes. And as an English woman, not a Wampanoag woman, Elizabeth could not truly know how their way of life was changed.

Even before the Plymouth colonists arrived in New England, many thousands of Wampanaog had died of European diseases to which the Wampanaog had no immunity. These diseases were inadvertently carried by sailors, traders, and explorers.

Beginning in 1628, the English colonists began to claim, clear and fence more land. They also brought more livestock, and Colonists who in turn did more hunting, clearing, fishing. All of this was incompatible with and destructive to the Wampanoag way of life. The Wampanoag were forced off of or fenced out of their homeland. The English (and Dutch and French) colonists also felt it was their Christian duty to convert the Native Peoples to Christianity.

Did any boys hunt?
Damaris: The lads who are strong enough to fire a piece shoot fowl, and even the boys will help with the dogs or carry the fowl homeward.

Hello Elisabeth Hopkins,I just need to know what was it like having a baby on the Mayflower?
Elizabeth: Well child, should the Lord bless you with children of your own you will know well the pain and joy of it.

Plimoth Plantation: Oceanus is not a strong child, no doubt for having been born at sea. A number of children were born onboard ships bringing families to the colonies. Aboard the Mayflower, Mary Allerton also had a baby, although the child was dead. And Susannah White had a son shortly after arriving at Cape Cod. On the next ship, Martha Browne had a baby the day she landed, and in 1623 Sarah Jenney had a child crossing in the Little James.

What are you learning in school? What grade are you in?
Damaris: There is no school here in New Plymouth.

What industry were the Pilgrims in? How did they make a living?
Elizabeth: Most of us had practised the trade of husbandry [farming] as even most Englishmen do. But many had dwelt in the cities of Holland, working in the cloth trades as weavers or wool combers. And some others plied guilded trades as cooper [barrel maker] or carpenter.

What role did religion play in the lives of the Pilgrims?
Elizabeth: I know of few good Englishmen who do not keep their households well ordered, the family attending church on Sundays and saying prayers morning and evening and before and after meals. As we have undertaken this difficult journey, we have often looked to God for guidance and help.

What religion were the Indians?
Plimoth Plantation: At first, the English colonists thought the Wampanoag had no religion. Because the Wampanoag were not Christian, the Colonists called them heathens. The Wampanoag did — and still do — have their own religion and spirituality that is personal and private.

What exactly is the Mayflower Compact and why is it an important document even today?
Plimoth Plantation: On November 11, 1620, before they came ashore on Cape Cod, the Mayflower passengers made an agreement to join together as a "civil body politic." They also agreed to submit to the government, which would be chosen by common consent, and to obey all laws made for the common good of the colony. 

The agreement (first called the Mayflower Compact in 1793) didn't get much official attention until after the American Revolution. Politicians struggling to establish the government of the newly-created United States looked to the early Plymouth colonists for precedent.

The Loyalists who supported peace with England pointed to their loyalty to King James and the laws of England. Pro-revolutionists saw the document as an example of pure democracy. John Quincy Adams, described the agreement in 1802 as "the only instance in human history of that positive, original social compact," which many believed to be the only legitimate source for government. Adams' view won out, and the Mayflower Compact has been viewed since as a cornerstone of American democracy.

How many women were on the Mayflower?
Plimoth Plantation: There were between 18 and 20 women above the age of 16 plus another six or eight girls.

What did the shipmaster do?
Elizabeth: The ship's master ordered his crew and commanded his ship. After we had arrived here, he showed us some kindness in bestowing beer upon the sick  and keeping his ship here until we were recovered of our sickness.

Is it true that the Pilgrims ate in the dark on the Mayflower so they would not see the bugs on their food?
Elizabeth: How could there be any light between the decks of the ship where we dwelt? It was most always dark no matter what we were about.

What did they believe? What food did they all eat? Why did they have Thanksgiving? Who makes the food? Who brought the food? How did they get there? Who planed it?
Elizabeth: We have made our voyage aboard the ship Mayflower to plant this colony for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.

Damaris: We eat different food at different times of year. In the summer, we ate clams and mussels. Now we are eating porridges of Indian corn and duck and geese. Usually Mother and sister Constance cook and I help some. The whole family must work in the cornfields if we are to have enough food. Edward and Gyles go fowling but I help with the plucking. Now I have a soft feather bed to sleep on.

What are some major reasons they celebrated Thanksgiving?
Plimoth Plantation: This question is difficult for Elizabeth to answer from the perspective of 1621, because the first real Thanksgiving among the English hadn't happened yet. The church at Plymouth kept days of humiliation and penance, which were sometimes followed by days of Thanksgiving. In the summer of 1623, they gathered in church to repent before God, because He was punishing their sins with a drought. When He forgave them with gentle rains and warm weather, they had a day of Thanksgiving.

Who was the main leader for the Pilgrims and what were his duties?
Damaris: Master Bradford is our Governor, and Master Allerton is his first assistant.

Elizabeth: The governor allots men to their labors and bestows the common supply.

When and where did the tradition of keeping a turkey's wishbone originate?
Elizabeth: You speak of the merrythought, which some will take from a chicken or a pheasant and set it upon his nose and all the while to think a thought and shake his head until the bone falls off. Then with another each take on of the legs of the bone and break it apart. If he has the longest piece he has his thought or wish.

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