The First Thanksgiving

by Helen Harris (Graebner)
Written in Second Grade!

     In the English village of Scrooby there were many people who did not believe in worshipping as the king did, so they held secret meetings. They were discovered and thrown into prison many times.

     "One night they were going to sail for Holland. The men took the goods over to the ship, and had just reached it when the captain of the ship saw the soldiers coming and would not stop to go back and get the women and children, who were huddled together on the beach, so the men had to go alone. In a few months, however, the women and children came to Holland also.

     They stayed in Holland for eleven years but the parents were not as happy as they should have been, because their children were growing up to be more Dutch than English. What was to be done? Every time the Pilgrims (as they called themselves) met, they talked about what they could do. Finally it was decided to go to America. Elder Brewster, one of their leaders, hired a small boat called the SPEEDWELL. They went to England, where they were to meet some of their friends on another boat called the MAYFLOWER.

     They had not gone far when the SPEEDWELL sprung a leak and they had to go back. It would have taken so long to fix the ship that they couldn't wait. Some of their friends who lived in England, offered to give up their places on the MAYFLOWER, so they all crowded into the larger ship.

     They sailed for nine weeks, and encountered several very hard storms. At last a sailor gave the joyful cry of "Land." They all thanked God for their safe voyage, and some of the men set out to explore the country.

     It took them many days to decide where they wanted to build their homes. Finally they decided upon a place that had at one time been worked by the Indians. They returned to the ship and told the weary company what they had decided. Soon after they started to build their houses. First they had to cut down the trees. They worked very hard. First they built a common house. Then they laid out Leiden Street. Next they built the other houses. Each man built his own house, excepting the single men and women. They were to live with the married people.

     During their first winter there was much sickness, and at one time there were only seven able bodied people to take care of the rest, but then came the joyful spring, and with it renewed hope and courage to the weary pilgrims.

     One day in early spring the men were chopping down trees when they were startled at seeing an Indian walk boldly up to the settlement. "Leap to your arms!" shouted Captain Standish, a soldier who had come with the Pilgrims, but they had still a greater surprise, for the Indian called out in good English, "Welcome, Welcome!"

     They took him to one of the houses and he told them his story. He stayed all night but there was a guard, for some thought he was a spy. He promised to bring Squanto, another Indian, and the next day he came back with Squanto. Squanto could talk good English. He told them that his Chief would soon be there. Very soon the chief came, and they signed a treaty of peace.

     Squanto was a great help to the white men, he showed them how to plant their corn and how to hunt and fish. He helped them harvest their corn and showed them how to make meal and how to cook with the meal.

     The people were very thankful for their safe voyage, for their friendship with the Indians, and most of all, for a plentiful harvest.

     One day Governor Bradford asked the people if they would like a week of thanks giving and rest. They asked him what he meant. He told them that they would not have any work during that week, but would spend it in fasting and in giving thanks to God. They invited the Indian Chief Wassesoit, and his Indians. Thursday was the biggest day of all. The first thing they did was to go to church, which lasted four hours. Then the women went home and prepared the dinner. The Indians came with deer and wild turkeys. Everybody had a feast and then they all played games.

     And this is how we got our Thanksgiving.

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