So they had escaped the heavy hand of church and government and were, at last, free to shape their own destiny but winter was nearly upon them. The thing to do now was to pick a spot for a settlement and get housing and shelter built without delay. But they did not. Saturdays were spent in preparing for Sunday services and, of course, all day Sunday was spent in worship. The remaining five days of the week they mostly wandered along the cape without any real purpose. They discovered and robbed several sites where Indians had buried their stores of corn. They didn’t waste the corn, they saved it to plant in the spring, but they gave little thought to the hardship their theft might place on the Indians. When eventually they did get around to finding some possible settlement sites they wasted several more days arguing over which site to use. It was not until December 25th that they finally got to the task of building shelters against the winter that was now already upon them. If captain Jones had not taken pity on them and kept the Mayflower standing by for their use most likely none of these Pilgrims would have lived to see green grass again. The site they chose was across the bay from Cape Cod, on the mainland, and has since been known as Plymouth.
No pictures or paintings were ever found of the Mayflower but specifications indicated that it may have looked something like this.
It wasn’t until March 21st that the last of them left the Mayflower and took up residence in the brand new town. But there were no joyous celebrations. Not because of the conservative nature of the Pilgrims but because a deadly sickness had descended upon them. Part of the time there were not enough able-bodied among them to care for the sick. Death eventually took half of them and half of the ship’s crew, too. Among those who did not survive this”infectious fever” of 1621 were Edward Fuller and his wife, Ann. Their son, Samuel, was then taken in and raised by Edward’s brother, Samuel. Now it is time to take a look at this little group of people and see what made them such famous figures in history. By now, it is quite plain that they were not wealthy or politically powerful. Neither were they particularly clever or physically adept. In fact, they made practically no progress until a second ship brought tradesmen and laborers. Many people mistakenly think the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock were the first settlers but they actually missed that title by 100 years. Spaniards had established colonies in the south a century earlier that were successful and vigorous by 1620. Younger Dutch and English colonies were also doing well in the area of Virginia. So, if they weren’t first and they weren’t best, why do they stand so tall in history? One reason is that several of them were educated and quite capable writers. They left abundant records and publications which made it easy and inviting for historians to write about them. Another reason, and a good one, is that they were first in one thing; establishing a colony without the approval or help of their homeland government. This, in turn, led to their successors being pioneers in the struggle that made the United States of America a free and independent nation. One last note on the Pilgrims, they did not dress in the precise black and white costumes with large buckles on their shoes as they are so often pictured. This style of dress was often worn by Puritans but not by Pilgrims. Rather than being a specific organization, the Pilgrims were just an odd assortment of people from various walks of life but with a common goal. Therefore, their style of dress was probably as varied as their backgrounds.
Excerpted from “Wool Trompers” by J. L. Fuller