Pilgrims and the Mayflower Society


Pilgrim descendents, Hallowell, 1982

Pilgrim descendents, Hallowell, 1982
Item 11445   info
Maine Historical Society

It is estimated that 10 percent of Americans are descendants of the Pilgrims who emigrated from England on the Mayflower. Even with a 400-year history of settlement in Maine and Massachusetts, Mayflower descendants are still the great-grandchildren of immigrants!

From left to right are Mayflower Society members, John Howland, William Bradford, Myles Standish, Priscilla Alden Rote, and John Alden in Hallowell, Maine.

Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, ca. 1820

Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, ca. 1820
Item 84   info
Maine Historical Society

Maine was part of Massachusetts when the Pilgrims—perhaps the most legendary immigrants to America—arrived on the Mayflower in 1620. They were among the first people who permanently moved to America for religious reasons.

Relocating in the “new world” was as much an economic as spiritual endeavor for the Pilgrims. By 1625, their search for resources led them north, where the Pilgrims established a fur-trading operation in what is now Maine; around 1628, they founded Cushnoc, a trading post in what is now Augusta. Maine’s fur trade industry was a much-needed infusion in the Pilgrim’s economy, and allowed them to pay off their debt to investors in England.

Longfellow tea set saucer, ca. 1900

Longfellow tea set saucer, ca. 1900
Item 102758   info
Maine Historical Society

The Wampanoag people who met the Pilgrims initially assisted them. An uneasy alliance between the two cultures lasted for 55 years, until the burgeoning Pilgrim population and cultural misunderstandings—especially about land ownership and resource management—led to the so-called King Philip’s War.

Longfellow tea set cup, ca. 1900

Longfellow tea set cup, ca. 1900
Item 102759   info
Maine Historical Society

Maine poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote "The Courtship of Miles Standish" in 1858. The poem sentimentalizes the early days of the Plimouth settlement and the love triangle between Miles Standish, Priscilla Mullens, and John Alden.

This cup is part of a larger tea set commemorating Longfellow’s romantic poems, and features a picture of the Pilgrims landing in Plimouth, with the inscription, “Pilgrim exiles”.

Society of Mayflower descendants seal, ca. 1867

Society of Mayflower descendants seal, ca. 1867
Item 102757   info
Maine Historical Society

In the late 1800s, as non-English immigrants flooded into America, descendants of the 102 passengers who sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 were eager to establish their standing as the first settlers of the “new world”.

The General Society of Mayflower Descendants — commonly called the Mayflower Society — was established in 1897. It is a hereditary organization of individuals who have documented their descent from one or more of the Mayflower Pilgrims.

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