Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pilgrims, 'Witches' and Blue Coats Are We!

We are proud to call ourselves Americans, and I try to teach my kids why this country is such an amazing place to live. Our Fourth of July parade was just another opportunity to teach them about our heritage, so we built our little Mayflower Wagon and were on our way.
I've been learning more about our genealogy through documents my great aunt, Jean, gave me before she died. I'm so grateful to know how our family's story is woven tightly into the story of our great nation, and want to record it here to so that my kids will tell their kids, and on and on...

For the parade, we celebrated our ancestors, William and Mary Brewster, who were pilgrims on the Mayflower. They were forced to leave England for Leiden, the Netherlands, because of religious persecution. After twelve years separated from their congregation in England, they rejoined them to make the Mayflower Voyage, and landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. William was the spiritual leader of the pilgrims in America.

I learned of our relation to the Stiles/Town sisters through a cousin, Lois Hodges, who suffers from Ushers Syndrome, a rare genetic disease that causes deafness and blindness, and afflicted Rebecca Stiles Nurse (from the Crucible), our ancestor. We are related to the Stiles/Town family through the Griswold side of the family (Rubie Griswold is my great-great grandmother). The fate of our ancestors:
Rebecca Stiles Nurse: hanged July 1692, an accused witch.
(Rebecca "Goody" Stiles Nurse was 71 years old, deaf, and mother to eight who joined others in the community to denounce the actions of the afflicted girls, who later claimed that she tormented them. She was deeply religious and respected as a pillar in the community. Rebecca refused to confess and was hanged at Gallows Hill, her body buried at sunset on a rocky hill, since accused witches were not allowed burial in hallowed ground. Late that night, her sons disinterred her body and brought it to the farm.)
Her sister, Mary Town Esty, age 58, was hanged September 22, 1692, also an accused witch.
Her other sister, Sarah Town Cloyes, faced the magistrate but escaped being hanged.

We are descendants of the Revolution through my great grandfather, Rollo Shorthill's, family.

Inspiring, dark, fascinating stuff, history. But this country runs deep in our blood, and boy, do we love it.  We love Mark's home and native land up north too, by the way, but this is my blog post.
 Talk about creative! I loved Katie's family's wagon.
 Everyone's getting assembled to some patriotic tunes.
 It was a blustery morning, but I had to share this, because I'm just amazed by the way my kids show each other love and kindness--not ALL the time, mind you, but sometimes I capture those moments, and just want to hang on to them, like this morning. Lorelei's pilgrim hat kept coming off in the wind, so without even being asked, sweet little Gryffy was holding it on her head the whole way down the street.
 Here's the fire truck and firemen, who announced the winners. They didn't choose our wagon, but they didn't choose that cute little conestoga one, either, which totally deserved to win. But the kids were happy regardless--they were given balloons, donuts, and got to climb inside the fire engine. I love that our neighborhood has so many great activities for families each holiday.
 Miss America's getting a tattoo--that's probably a first.
 Gryffy's chowing down on chocolate donuts.

 And last night, we had a picnic and enjoyed Jazz in the Woods with our friends, the Heinauer family.

 Can you tell the kids love inflatables?
 We love playing in the fountains by Grammy and BPop's house. I was so glad I put the kids in swimsuits.

 Such love in that wittle wagon.

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