Plymouth MA

Mayflower memorial

Mayflower memorial

Yesterday I braved the 55-degree chill and drove to downtown Plymouth MA with the intent of searching for the graves of Jett’s Mayflower ancestors. Those who died in the horrible first winter are all buried on Coles Hill overlooking Plymouth harbor. But there are no headstones. It is not a traditional cemetery; it is just a small steep hill on which the Pilgrims were buried.  I was initially disappointed as I had hoped to find individual graves, but upon reflection I fully understand.  Those people were in flat-out survival mode.  It was winter and they were starving.  Just getting people buried – half their number died – was a major undertaking. I am sure marking their graves for posterity was pretty low on their priority list.

The hill is near the Plymouth Rock pavilion which houses Plymouth Rock – ostensibly the rock on which the Pilgrims first set foot on shore in Plymouth. I am skeptical, of course, that anyone bothered to mark the location where they first set foot. And in any case it is NOT the first place where they set foot in America as they landed first near the tip of Cape Cod, then worked their way along the shore of Massachusetts Bay until they found a suitable location for a settlement. The rock itself is unimposing, being about 5 feet long and 3 feet wide and tall. Like a billion other rocks along this shore. I took a photo, but it was late afternoon and the lighting was terrible.

Plymouth Rock pavilion

Plymouth Rock pavilion

Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock

Jett has at least one ancestor – Elizabeth Walker Warren, died 1673 – who is buried in a nearby cemetery in Plymouth – Burial Hill, the first “real” cemetery in Plymouth. It is a large cemetery and, being very old, many of the headstones are illegible. I had no realistic expectation of finding her headstone, but it was a beautiful cemetery with spectacular views over downtown Plymouth and out to sea. Walking through a cemetery like this and taking the time to reflect on the courage and fortitude of the early settlers is never a waste of time.

View from Coles Hill Burial Ground

View from Coles Hill Burial Ground

Burial Hill

Burial Hill

Burial Hill

Burial Hill

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