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Mayflower, Day by Day - Tuesday, 29 December 1620

29 Dec 2020 3:04 AM | Soule (Administrator)

 At anchor, Plymouth harbour

A party from the ship went ashore to explore, some going by land and some keeping to the shallop.  A creek was found leading inland to a settlement site near the (modern) town of Kingston: “We found a creek, and went up three English miles. A very pleasant river, at full sea a bark of thirty tons may go up, but at low water scarce our shallop could pass. This place we had a great liking to plant in, but that it was so far from our fishing, our principal profit, and so encompassed with woods that we should be in much danger of the savages, and our number being so little, and so much ground to clear, so as we thought good to quit and clear [i.e., leave] that place till we were of more strength.”  It was given the name of “Jones River” in compliment to the captain of the Mayflower.  “Some of us having a good mind for safety to plant in the greater isle,” i.e., Clark’s Island, where the exploration party had spent two days the previous week after almost being shipwrecked during a storm, “we crossed the bay which is there five or six miles over, and found the isle about a mile and a half or two miles about, all wooded, and no fresh water but two or three pits, that we doubted of fresh water in summer, and so full of wood as we could hardly clear so much as to serve us for corn. Besides, we judged it cold for our corn, and some part very rocky, yet divers thought of it as a place defensible, and of great security” -- this would certainly have been a safe spot to defend in case of an Indian attack.  All came aboard at night with resolution to fix, tomorrow, which of the several places examined they would settle upon: the options were (1) making a settlement inland near modern day Kingston, although this was the least acceptable, and was probably not even considered in the final choice; (2) returning to the defensible and wooded but water-poor Clark’s Island; (3) the top of a 165-foot hill that had been cleared by the Indians (although none were in evidence) and from which the surrounding coastline could be seen for miles, near several fresh water springs, a salt marsh, and an anchorage for small boats.

Comments

  • 29 Dec 2020 3:32 AM | Soule (Administrator)
    On the Jones River Landing Environmental Heritage Center website (https://jonesriver.org/media/the-story-of-jones-river/) can be found a .pdf download of a brief (52 page) pamphlet "The Story of Jones River," produced by Sarah Y. Bailey and the Kingston Branch of the Alliance of Unitarian Women in 1920 for the three hundredth anniversary. The photographs are striking, because most of the locations look nothing like that now. The text describes previous visits to the area (Pring, Smith, and Dermer) as well as the first Pilgrim settlers (Bradford, Allerton, Cook, Fuller, Howland, Rogers). It was close enough to get to Plymouth easily, but far enough away to spread out.
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