History of the Plymouth Rock Landmark

Plymouth Rock, a large boulder on the edge of Plymouth Harbor, Massachusetts, is traditionally identified as the place where the Pilgrims first stepped ashore from the Mayflower in 1620 to found Plymouth Colony.

photo of Plymouth Rock
Credit: Wikipedia

Plymouth Rock has been visited, celebrated, and written about for centuries.

In 1835 Alexis de Tocqueville, a French author traveling throughout the United States, wrote:

“This Rock has become an object of veneration in the United States. I have seen bits of it carefully preserved in several towns in the Union. Does this sufficiently show that all human power and greatness is in the soul of man? Here is a stone which the feet of a few outcasts pressed for an instant; and the stone becomes famous; it is treasured by a great nation; its very dust is shared as a relic.”

Articles about Plymouth Rock have appeared in America’s newspapers since the early days of the nation.

Here is a verse from an early poem about Plymouth Rock written by Thomas Paine (1737-1809), published in 1799.

poem about Plymouth Rock by Thomas Paine, Federal Observer newspaper article 4 January 1799
Federal Observer (Portsmouth, New Hampshire), 4 January 1799, page 4

GenealogyBank has many newspaper articles reporting on Plymouth Rock celebrations over the years, including the 1820 celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing.

Celebration of the Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth, New England Palladium newspaper article 25 December 1800
New England Palladium (Boston, Massachusetts), 25 December 1800, page 4
Related:  Case Study Part 3: Finding Old Newspaper Articles about Family

2 thoughts on “History of the Plymouth Rock Landmark

  1. I am a descendant of Mayflower passenger Mary Chilton, said to be the first Pilgrim to step foot on Plymouth Rock for the first Thanksgiving feast. Her father, James Chilton, was the oldest passenger on the Mayflower and one of the first to die upon arrival. Mary’s mother died 6 weeks later, leaving Mary an orphan at age 14. It is said that George Bush is a descendant of Mary Chilton. How can I confirm this? I am new to the study of genealogy. My sister did all the previous research, for which I am so grateful. .

  2. Nancy-
    It has been estimated by Gary Boyd Roberts, of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, that there are some 30 million descendants of the Mayflower families. So even if you don’t carry the surname of one of the 23 progenitors that survived that first winter, it is still possible that you descend from one of them.
    A worthwhile website to look into is by historian Caleb Johnson dealing with Mayflower passengers and the history of the Pilgrims and early Plymouth Colony.
    http://mayflowerhistory.com/
    George W. Bush is a direct descendant through his mother of Mayflower passenger Henry Sampson. He is also a direct descendant through his father of Mayflower passenger Francis Cooke.
    When you start your genealogy research always start with what you know and can prove then go the the next generation confirming that information and so forth. This is the best way to do research.
    GenealogyBank.com has a wealth of information about descendants of the Mayflower in newspaper articles.
    You can also find many great books such as Mayflower Marriages and descendants books.

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