Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving History

Veronica Scott is a fellow Carina Press author. Not only do we share a love of romance, but also a  love of history--and research.  Both of these talents are evident in her post today. Veronica's novel, Priestess of the Nile, releases in January of 2012.

Here's Veronica!

As one of the themes of Thanksgiving, we have the quintessential romance story, with a chaste love triangle. Poor orphaned Priscilla Mullins (my ancestress, thank you but we’ll get to that in a minute), sought after by gruff old Captain Miles Standish, recent widower. Miles is not a dab hand at woman-attracting prose so he enlists his friend John Alden, he of the silver tongue. Ah but guess who John loves? The young Mr. Alden,  my other ancestor, dutifully went and began reciting the beautiful speech he’d written, ostensibly for his friend Miles (but my guess is John poured his own heart out in the speech and that’s what made it so compelling).
Mistress Mullins stopped him and said in her best Pilgrim demure fashion, “Prithee, John, speak for yourself.”  Really, what self respecting heroine of a modern day romance novel wouldn’t have done the same? And John didn’t have to be asked twice apparently. HEA ensued, complete with ten – maybe eleven – children.

Everyone knows the story, right?  

When it comes to Thanksgiving, I’ve always taken a special interest in the whole Miles Standish – John Alden- Priscilla Mullins love story because (a) I like romance and love stories and (b) I’m descended from them.  (My mother was a die hard genealogist before it was popular – don’t ask!)  The relationship was a special point of pride for me as a child. I even got to play Priscilla in the third grade Thanksgiving pageant, with a pale blue bonnet that was amazing in its historical inaccuracy.  I remember nothing else of the costume so the dress was probably more authentically Pilgrimlike and boring than the hat.

Clarence Somebody played my John Alden but I had a crush on Henry S., who played Miles. Clearly I wanted to rewrite history in our little pageant, as well as wearing that to-die-for-bonnet. Unfortunately my third grade teacher was a hard liner and we went with the original plot. Clarence and I presided over the feast (chocolate milk and cookies) while the rakish Henry was off teasing Debbie B, my rival. Priscilla didn’t have these problems! She appears to have been a woman of unusual gumption for the 1600’s and probably would have ended up with Henry, were she in my sneakers.

OK, flash forward to adulthood. I now know there are approximately 1,000,000 descendants of Mr. and Mrs. Alden living today. (One of their daughters married one of Captain Standish’s sons – sequel material there!) There are actually 10,000,000 living descendants of the entire Mayflower passenger list.  So you and you and you may be just as descended from them as I am.  I clearly wasn’t as cool and unique as I thought in third grade.

The idea of taking a day to stop and give thanks for what we have remains a happy thing, even 380+ years later, in my case, or whenever Thanksgiving or its equivalent holiday falls on the calendar in your part of the world! Best wishes to you and yours in November!


  1. Veronica, this story cracked me up! I love that your ancestor had so much gumption, and I think I probably had the same historically inaccurate bonnet in our elementary school play, although I believe mine was a hideous shade of brown. Maybe that was more accurate?? Either way, Happy Early Thanksgiving!

  2. Thanks Rebe! I bet your bonnet was more accurate than mine, at least the color! Well, we all had fun though...thanks for coming by! Happy Thanksgiving to you too!