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No Thanks Given to NH Founders



The first New Hampshire settler sold fish to the first Pilgrims at Plymouth. It’s a story we’ve been plugging for decades – but is anyone listening? Either way, we’re going to tell it one more time. Here comes the classic Turkeygate satire with 21st century updates. (Continued)  



David Thomson Still Gets No Respect

Beyond the misleading myths of Plymouth Rock and Thanksgiving, most Americans know precious little about the Mayflower passengers who settled at Massachusetts in 1620. The Pilgrims left a detailed paper trail, but we still prefer the 19th century vision of pious figures in tall hats and buckled shoes gathered around a long linen-covered table eating pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce. That never happened, but it makes us feel good. Picture instead a more secular celebration early in October with dancing and beer, with twice as many Indians as settlers in a fragile truce, dining without silverware on venison, seafood, and migrating birds. Those who can handle the truth should read the superb book Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick.

New Hampshire residents know even less about our founders. We have no symbolic rock, no holiday, no historical paintings or reconstructed tourist village. We are largely clueless about David and Amais Thomson, who settled at what is now Odiorne State Park in Rye three years later in 1623. We know they came to fish with up to 10 other men. We know they brought their son John and left their daughter behind, never to see her again. We know the Thomsons lived in a fortified house at what they called Pannaway and that they were promised a large parcel of land at what is now Thomson Island in Boston Harbor. Within a very few years, David mysteriously disappeared and Amais moved to Massachusetts and remarried. Then a much larger group arrived at Strawbery Banke in 1630 and started over.

turkeygateteaer.jpgI always think about the Thomsons at Thanksgiving. I have been doing that for 30 years now, since I stumbled upon David Thomson’s connection to the Pilgrims of Plymouth while killing time in the library stacks. Back then I wrote an energetic satire about Thomson. Nixon had recently been driven from office, so I entitled the essay "Turkeygate: A 400-Year Scandal." It was a satire, but I half-hoped it would rile local citizens to action when it appeared in the now-defunct NH Profiles magazine. But alas, Thomson still languishes in obscurity, little more than a footnote to fourth-grade history with only a battered stone memorial in Rye to his name.

Reprinted here, for those of you who missed it, is the ranting of a young and hopeful historian from three decades ago. Perhaps the message still has merit. So rise up, ye jaded Granite Staters! Rise up and take back Thanksgiving!




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