I just discovered something very troubling. I have been misled all these years about the location of the first Thanksgiving! I subscribe to the Virginia Living Magazine email newsletter and this was their headliner. Received today, hot off the press. ‘Pilgrim’s Pride’ by Ben Swenson.
“Whatever our friends from the Northeast may say, the first English-speaking observance of Thanksgiving took place in 1619 on what is now Berkeley Plantation in Charles City County. You can still visit the site today, and for that, we give thanks.”
1619 versus the New England Pilgrim’s celebration in 1621. Even the date’s wrong! I am really not upset. It is nice to set the record straight, after all these years. So here is the story.
The James River settlement known as Berkley Hundred was an 8,000 acre area chartered by the Virginia Company of London. 38 men (no women) landed on December 4 (even the date was different, jeesh!) Anyway…”they stepped off their boat and into thick woods of the Virginia colony”. Here is the thanksgiving connection.
“Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia,” read the orders, “shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almightty God.”
Unfortunately this history and ritual was lost when an Indian Uprising of 1622 wiped out the Englishmen of Berkley.
“When the early settlement’s records—and the instructions for an annual thanksgiving—were discovered in 1931, the Jamieson family, then the owners of Berkeley Plantation, didn’t skip a beat. They held a small family service every fall, and by the late 1950s, the Jamiesons, along with descendants of the colony’s original leader, Captain John Woodlief, resumed formal thanksgiving celebrations at Berkeley. By 1961, they had established an official yearly observance and created the nonprofit Virginia Thanksgiving Festival, which celebrated its 50th annual event in 2011.”
Whatever the date, the location and the identity of our brave early settlers, Miles Standish or Captain John, we can be grateful. On November 24 we will all sit down, raise a glass and give thanks.
A Happy Thanksgiving to All from The B&B Team, Rick and Jan, Peter and Peggy, Scott and Marilyn, Eliot and Tish, Dana, Linda
Thanks for Listening,