With Thanksgiving on the horizon, we share two holiday-themed contributions from Weekly Genealogist readers.
Carol Ubosi of Silver Spring, Maryland, sent a copy of the 1897 Thanksgiving Day diary entry penned by her grandmother, Mary Miller Bell of Harrison, New York. Mary Bell (b. 1878) was the daughter of Samuel Bell, a member of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment who died in 1883. Mary Bell celebrated the holiday with her mother, Elmira Bell, her grandmother, and her two sisters: Thanksgiving Day. We observed this day in a quiet way. No one except our own family took dinner but we had a good dinner and we all were in good health so we enjoyed it. The dinner consisted of Roast chicken, pickled beets, sweet potatoes (boiled), turnips, white potatoes, pickled peaches, sweet cider and pumpkin pie. No callers.
Deborah Sweet of New City, New York, wrote about her family's unusual Thanksgiving centerpiece: We descend from seven Mayflower passengers via the Mullins, Fuller, and Alden families, so at least some mention is always made of the Pilgrim celebration and a special (some might say peculiar) object takes center stage on our table. While many have elaborate floral arrangements, the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving table is a humble brick.
I had attended an Alden Family reunion in Duxbury, Massachusetts, several years ago. One of the highlights was a walk through the woods behind the Alden House, to the recently discovered site of the original Duxbury home of John and Priscilla Alden. The site had been excavated, studied, and reburied. During the dig, some of the original house bricks had been removed from the site and retained by the Alden Kindred of America. Over the course of the reunion, a silent auction was held and I won one of the bricks!
And that is how a simple brick, quite probably made by the hands of my 10th great-grandfather John Alden nearly 400 years ago, graces our Thanksgiving table and reminds us of our heritage. I hope that this ordinary object with such an extraordinary past will continue to be cherished by future generations of our family.