Thanksgiving thoughts of ancestors

Posted Nov. 21, 2010, at 9:31 p.m.

I love telling my grandchildren about 4-year-old Mary Allerton, the Mayflower passenger who grew up to be my ancestor and was the last surviving passenger of the little ship that landed in Plymouth, Mass., in 1620.

During a recent trip to Maine State Library in Augusta, I stopped in at the Maine State Museum bookstore and purchased a children’s book, “Sarah Morton’s Day,” for my granddaughter. The book is one of several written by Kate Waters with beautiful photographs of Plimoth Plantation, the living history settlement, taken by Russ Kendall, a former Bangor Daily News photographer.

The George Morton family came over on the Anne, not on the Mayflower, but were of the 1627 period “lived” by people at Plimoth Plantation.

Some of my grandchildren also have Native American ancestry — definitely Penobscot, and probably Passamaquoddy.

So I looked up the Kate Waters-Russ Kendall series on line and found that in addition to “Samuel Eaton’s Day” and “On the Mayflower,” there is “Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times.”

Plimoth Plantation, which is open through Nov. 29 this year, also offers a Wampanoag home site. The people found there do not portray Indians from 1627, but they are Native Americans and they do speak with visitors to the center.

The Wampanoag were essential to the survival of the Pilgrims and actually had a treaty with them for decades.

But later on there were a number of wars between Indians and the newcomers, not to mention diseases that came over from Europe.

These facts are a part of American history. And those whose ancestors have been on this continent for 12,000 years are entitled to whatever feelings they may have about Thanksgiving and the arrival of Pilgrims and other immigrants.

You may know that since 2005, Maine educators K-12 have been required by law to include Maine Indian history and culture in their classrooms. The Maine Indian History and Culture Law, referred to as LD 291, was presented to the 122nd Legislature by former Penobscot tribal representative Donna Loring, who recognized a need for Mainers to become better educated about the indigenous people of the state.

The final workshop of the “Teach the Teachers” series will be hosted by the Penobscot Nation Cultural & Historic Preservation Department on Thursday, Dec. 2, on Indian Island. Topics will include incorporating Maine Indian history and culture into the classroom, identifying historically accurate and culturally appropriate classroom resources and helping foster a continuing relationship between educators and the Cultural and Historic Preservation Department.

Loring states that “with knowledge comes understanding, and with understanding comes respect.”

The fee for the workshop is $35, including lunch and a copy of the DVD “Penobscot: A People and Their River.” Preregistration is required. Register at www.penobscotculture.com. For information, call 817-7471.

This website is a great resource, with several good books on Native American history available for purchase, as well.

I wish you a Thanksgiving of blessings, and increased understanding.

• • •

For several years, the Bangor City Directory also included Brewer, Hampden, Old Town, Orono and Veazie.

My 1947 City Directory also includes a separate section for Indian Island. It notes that the Penobscot Tribe census for Jan. 1, 1947, numbered 574.

Surnames found in the slightly more than two pages of names are:

Albert, Andrews, Archambaud, Arsenault, Attean, Baer, Banks, Bassett, Beck, Bernard, Betters, Black, Blossom, Brown, Chaffeur, Clark, Cook, Cushman, Daigle, Dana, Davis, Dennis, Dow, Dressler.

Fallon, Forliss, Francis, Gardner, Glossian, Godes, Gosselin, Gould, Hamilton, Jackson, John, Joseph, Ketchum, Lebritton, Lewis, Lolar, Loring, Miles, Mitchell, Morris, Myrtle, Nelson, Neptune, Newell, Nicholas, Nicola, Norwood.

O’Mara, Orson, Paul, Pennewaite, Perham, Phillips, Polchias, Poolaw, Ranco, Sapiel, Sappier, Saulis, Shay, Sockalexis, Sockbeson, Solomon, Spencer, Starr, Stevens, Susep, Swassin, Taylor and Tomer.

Members of the island government in 1947 were Albert Nicola, governor; Melvin Neptune, lieutenant governor; and councilors Nicholas Ranco, Louis J. Gould, Horace N. Polchias, Sylvester Francis, William L. Shay, Walter Ranco and Francis Ranco. Horace N. Polchies was the representative to the Legislature.

• • •

Abiel Briggs marched with Benedict Arnold through Maine in 1775 on Arnold’s famous, ill-fated attack on Quebec.

Hank Lunn, a descendant of Briggs, will present “Abiel Briggs: American Patriot” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23, at the Camden Public Library, in costume and in character.

Abiel Briggs walked 40 miles from Freetown to Boston and joined the volunteer militia for the Arnold Expedition to Quebec, even though his parents were Loyalists who would eventually emigrate to Canada. He served as a volunteer throughout the rest of the Revolutionary War and returned to Maine to settle in Aroostook County.

In period clothing, “Abiel” will discuss the hardships of the trek to Quebec and what life was like for American patriots during the early years of the American Revolution. Briggs and Arnold made their trek through the wilderness of Maine and were at the gates of Quebec City by Nov. 23, 1775.

“Abiel” will trace his travels on a map of Col. Benedict Arnold’s invasion of Canada by birch-bark canoes and bateaux from the mouth of the Kennebec River to Fort Western (Augusta), Fort Halifax (Winslow) and on to Quebec City. The hardships of the expedition were made famous in Kenneth Roberts’ book “Arundel.”

Send queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402.

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