Dr. Patricia Moseley Stanford



by Dr. Patricia Moseley Stanford, Junior Membership Chairman, GSMD

The, time was 1620 in Leyden. Excitement was everywhere. Ships were coming into ports and there was talk of a war with Spain. The city was overrun with cats from foreign ports. It was time to leave. Van Brewster and his wife didn't know what they would do. A cat was at every comer. One day they were in the house of some friendly people who were packing to leave for the new world. Peter asked, "Shall we go Martha?" Martha was sad to say "goodbye", but felt it was safer for them to leave this land they called home. They heard their name "Brewster" mentioned. How would these people know their name? Peter remarked, "Martha, they must be part of our family, let's go with them to this unknown world." A knitting basket was close by, so Peter and Martha Van Brewster settled in the bottom of the basket for the long journey.

There was talking and crying as they boarded Speedwell at Delf-Haven to join Mayflower in England for the voyage to the new world Speedwell was the name of the unsafe ship that had a hole in its seam, so it had to return to England. As many as could boarded Mayflower leaving the others behind. Peter and Martha were able to board Mayflower With the Brewsters, as you remember, Mrs. Brewster carried her knitting basket with her. The voyage began with 102 passengers. Days become weeks ... Peter and Martha came out only at night to check the ship. One night Peter heard a loud crack ... one of the ship's beams had split. "Oh, who to tell?" Peter and Martha found Mr. Brewster and scratched until he heard them and saw the damage. "We saved the ship!" Peter and Martha shouted. Another time they were so very tired of staying in the knitting basket that they ventured out during the daytime and saw "those" two boys playing with gun powder. Peter said: "We must save the ship!" He found Mr. Brewster and led him to the boys. Again the "Ship was Saved!"

Oh, what a storm was brewing ... everyone was sick and even Martha wasn't well and had remained sleeping in the knitting basket. The quarters were cold and wet. Women and children were whimpering.

A man named - John Howland - fell overboard when he slipped on the water soaked deck. The shout of "Man Overboard" brought every one running. John's foot was caught in a rope and he had grabbed it as he fell. He held on to the rope as he was tossed about in the ocean, allowing others to pull him to safety. Peter felt very tired with all this excitement and told Martha about John's narrow escape. After the storm passed, everyone seemed to become more restless. There was very little food. The food had weevils and the cheese was rancid. The people, called Pilgrims, ate every bite and didn't seem to mind that the biscuits had weevils and the cheese was rancid .

Peter and Martha hoped that they would soon sight land. They had been on the ship for sixty days. A baby boy, whom was named Oceanus, had been born to the Hopkins family. Peter and Martha could see him from their basket. The room was so small one couldn't even pray without disturbing others.

It was a sunny day today. Others went on deck, so we also wandered about. A shout came, "Land Ahoy!" After 66 days we could now see land. Martha and Peter's journey was almost at an end. Their ship, Mayflower, dropped her anchor on November 11, 1620. Peter and Martha went ashore with the other passengers and crew. Since it was Monday, the laundry was done. It had been 66 days without clean clothes. When it came time to return to the ship, Peter and Martha decided to stay a few more days.

Another exciting event happened - Peregrine White was born to the White family. Mr. Bradford lost his wife when she accidentally lost her balance while she was sitting on the ship's rail. She fell overboard and drowned. Many of the passengers were still sick. Peter felt that they had better leave. They had done what they could to save the ship and help where needed.

Peter and Martha's story ended as they left the ship to make their home in a place called Plymouth. The Pilgrim passengers had mentioned that area. Peter and Martha had been there when they first stepped on Plymouth Rock to go ashore. Peter and Martha started their family and perhaps you have seen them in the fields. They helped find the corn the first winter they were there. Peter, Martha and their two boys were there for the Pilgrims First Thanksgiving. Once again Peter told their sons about their Mayflower voyage and the happenings in their new land - "Remember," as Peter said, "We came on the Mayflower, too!"