I recently took a trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts and visited an ancestral home belonging to the son of the Mayflower pilgrim, John Howland. John Howland and his wife Elizabeth Tilly, also a Mayflower pilgrim, lived in this house with their son Jabez and his family during winters, Indian uprisings, and for six years after Elizabeth became a widow until she moved in with her daughter. This is the only surviving house belonging to one of the original pilgrims who came to Plymouth in 1620.
|Mayflower II and Plymouth Rock.|
The original house was built by Jacob Mitchell in 1666, son of my other pilgrim ancestors and purchased by John Howland's son, Jabez. I'm honored to be able to claim descent from 9 Mayflower pilgrims (my husband claims 14!). I'm truly blessed because Jacob Mitchell and his wife were killed in an Indian raid in Dartmouth in 1675 leaving behind three children who fled for safety and John Howland washed off the Mayflower on voyage to America, but was rescued. In fact, Jacob Mitchell's granddaughter married John Howland's great-grandson. If not for providence, I wouldn't be here today to write this blog post!
|Howland family crest and tankard. |
This ink pot would have been filled with iron gall ink.
John Howland was an indentured servant of John Carver, the first Governor, and acted as his bookkeeper and assistant. After Gov. Carver and his wife died the first winter,John Howland inherited his home and guardians -- the orphaned minors who the governor had taken into his household including Carver's granddaughter, Elizabeth Tilly, whose parents had passed away. He later married Elizabeth and all of their ten children survived to adulthood. John Howland's headstone reads: “Hee was a goodly man and an ancient / professor in the wayes of Christ. Hee was / one of the first comers into this land and / was the last man that was left of those / that came over in the Shipp called the / Mayflower that lived in Plymouth.”
One special item in the room was an intricately carved Bible box sitting atop a chest of drawers which belonged to the Howland family. I was surprised how large it was and the docent told me that the Bibles often were not very large at all and that the boxes were also used to hold important papers and other items. The picture doesn't do it justice since the room was so dim and flashes were not allowed, but perhaps this will give you an idea.
An interesting item displayed is a charred iron tasset (pictured below). The tasset, a thigh plate from a suit of pikeman's armor, is one of two pieces that have ever been found believed to belong to pilgrims. It was excavated from the hearth of another home belonging to John Howland. A fireback is one way to make use of an old armor.
I hope you enjoyed the view of Howland House. I so enjoyed it and it was fun sharing it with you.
What are some house museums that you've enjoyed visiting? Have you ever been to Plymouth?