We remember the Thanksgiving depicted in the painting above. History teaches children that a great dinner of thanks was held at Plymouth Plantation in 1621. Did you know that this Thanksgiving was not actually the first?
Jamestown is the site of the first permanent English colony in America, and could be the site of the first Thanksgiving feast.
In 1609 at Jamestown, Virginia, a period they called “Starving Time”, they subsisted on starch from their shirt collars, shoe leather, and resorted to cannibalism. They held a feast of some kind, who knows with what provisions they had left, and waited for their relief ship. Only 60 of the original 214 settlers at Jamestown survived.
In 1612 at Jamestown, Virginia, a dinner was held after Governor Dale arrived with a ship full of women (girls) intended to become the wives of the lonely male settlers.
North of Jamestown, Virginia, at Berkley Plantation on 4 December 1620, local colonists began an annual autumn feast known as a day of thanksgiving to celebrate the day they first arrived in Virginia in 1619.
Jamestown Massacre 1622
The relationship between the colonists and the Powhatan deteriorated after second group of settlers arrived in 1610. A critical shortage of food contributed to the strife. The Anglo-Powhatan War lasted until Wahunsenacawh’s daughter Matoaka, we know her as Pocahontos, was captured. The chief accepted a treaty of peace in order to free his daughter. Pocahontas married a wealthy settler, John Rolfe in 1614. This union brought years of prosperity and wealth.
Tobacco was growing wild from a Spanish shipwreck, years earlier. Rolfe began to harvest tobacco. He and other settlers were expanding their plantings to land that belonged to the local tribes. In 1617, Pocahontas died, and her father died the following year. Her uncle, Opchanacanough, became the head of the Powhatan Confederacy and it all went down hill from there.
In 1622 nine settlers from the Berkley Hundred were killed in a massacre, by the Powhatan tribe, along with one third of the Virginia colony. Among the dead was one of my 10th great-grandfathers from my paternal grandmother’s line, Samuel Maycock (1594-1622).
Samuel Maycock was a Minister, brought to Jamestown, from England. He was given a land grant north of Jamestown on the James River, his plantation was named Maycock.
During the Indian Massacre of 1622, 31 plantations were destroyed and 341 men, women and children were killed. Among those that lost their plantations was John Rolfe, the widower of Pocahontas. It is unclear if he died because of the massacre or because of illness he suffered during that time. Those that were saved would thank another of my 10th great-grandfathers, Richard Pace (1583-1627).
Richard Pace was an early settler of Jamestown, Virginia. A Powhatan youth, living with Pace, Chanco, was instructed by his brother to kill Pace and his family during the 1622 planned attack on Jamestown. Instead, Chanco chose to warn Pace of the attack. Pace secured his family and then traveled the James River to warn the colonists.
The only survivor found on the Maycock plantation was Sarah Maycock, the infant daughter of Samuel Maycock. In about 1637, Sarah Maycock married George, the son of Richard Pace and his wife Isabella.
There is a historical marker on highway No 10, about 3-4 miles West of Shurry, erected in honor of Richard Pace and another in honor of the Indian Boy, Chanco, for saving the English colony from total destruction.
I find it fascinating that a single child, the sole survivor of her family, lived and I descended from her. I’m only beginning to research the Maycock and Pace families, but it leaves me truly thankful to my ancestors and their descendants and their contribution to history.