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Hi, I’m Mary Chilton, and I am one of the original Pilgrims who survived a year of famine to celebrate the first Thanksgiving in the New World.
After arriving in the New World, the first thing we needed to do was to write a document that would guide our new society. The men gathered together and wrote the Mayflower Compact. Every man who had traveled aboard the Mayflower signed the agreement on November 21, 1620.
Soon after the Mayflower Compact was signed, the men went exploring to find a place where we could build our new homes. After several days they returned to the Mayflower with some corn they had found. "We think we will find a place to settle soon," they told us hopefully. We were relieved. "Oh, thank the Lord," we said. After six more weeks of exploration, our men sent word that they had found a place to settle. December 31, 1620, was our first chance to see the place we would call home. We named it Plymouth.
The weather in January was bad, but the men worked hard to cut logs for the settlement. First, they built a common house to store our tools, furnishings, and supplies. Then, they built houses.
The work went slowly because many people were ill, and more than half died in the Great Sickness that winter. My family was one of the hardest hit. I lost both my father and my mother. My father was the oldest Pilgrim to make the voyage to the New World, and he died very quickly. My mother was a very strong woman, but she also died.
I know in my heart that she died because she wanted me to live. She always made sure I ate first. She would give me some of her food because there wasn’t really enough food for all of us to eat.
By the end of the winter, more than half of those who had crossed on the Mayflower had died, but the older women were the hardest hit. Only 5 of the 18 original married women aboard the Mayflower survived.
Although I was now an orphan with no mother or father, the other Pilgrims took me in and treated me with kindness. With so many women dead, I found myself busier than ever. I had to help do the cooking and the laundry for the men and boys who had lost their wives and mothers.
In March of 1621, a Native American came to our village. His name was Samoset. He walked into the village shouting, "Welcome! Welcome, Englishmen!"
Even though it was a very cold and windy day, Samoset was naked except for a cloth around his waist and moccasins on his feet. The men talked to Samoset for a long time. Samoset left the next day after promising to return soon.
After several days Samoset did return with another Native American who amazed us all with his flawless English. His name was Squanto, and he said he was the last surviving member of the Patuxet tribe.
Squanto stayed with us that whole spring and summer. He taught our men how to hunt and how to fish. He taught the women how to plant and cultivate corn, squash, and beans. Squanto helped us to make friends with the neighboring tribes. With his help, we signed a peace treaty with King Massasoit.
We learned that our seeds from England did not grow very well in the New World, but Squanto showed us that if we planted our seeds with herring, then they would grow. Squanto and other Native Americans also helped us with our crops. With their help, our corn, squash, and beans did very well that year.
To celebrate our bountiful harvest, we invited the great King Massasoit and his advisors to our village. The feast lasted for three days. We ate duck, turkey, deer, clams, lobster, and many kinds of fish. There were lots of berries, nuts, and several kinds of fruit. But the best dish of all was an Indian pudding made from pumpkin and sweetened with the syrup from a maple tree. We thanked God for the success of our harvest and for the kindness of the Native Americans who taught us the skills we needed to survive.
[Little Fox Introduction]
Little Fox is an award-winning library of leveled stories and songs. We create animated stories and songs to help kids to learn English easily as a second language (ESL). Visit our website, www.littlefox.com, to learn more about our unique curriculum and our thousands of digital resources.
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