Introduction: In this article, Melissa Davenport Berry begins a new series, profiling descendants of the Mayflower settlers. Melissa is a genealogist who has a blog, AnceStory Archives, and a Facebook group, New England Family Genealogy and History.
Too early for turkey? Not for Mayflower tidbits! I dish out a spread of stories on the “Who’s Who” of Mayflower lines. GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives have a banquet of all things Mayflower. Today I cover a Plymouth, Massachusetts, family who honored their Pilgrim ancestors by living their lifestyle and dressing the part.
This 1944 Chicago Sun article is about Philip Stanley Barnes and his wife Mercie (nee Hatch) Barnes celebrating Thanksgiving with three generations of family, minus one – a son, Parker Loring Barnes, who had enlisted in the Marine Corps and was off fighting on the front in WWII.
The photo caption for this newspaper article reads:
“Heads bowed, the Barnes family gives thanks. They pray for peace in the year to come so that next Thanksgiving their family circle again will be complete. From Mr. Barnes, clockwise, they are: Grandmother Hatch, Mercy [Mercie] Barnes, Lothrup Withington, 3rd (Cricket), Mrs. Barnes, Ann Withington, Souther Barnes, Lois Withington, and Philip Barnes, Junior.”
The Barnes children are direct descendants of William Brewster, John Howland, Edward Doty, John Tilley, and William Bradford. Their mother Mercie Hatch, born to Benjamin Wiggin Hatch and Lydia Brooks Souther, made quite a study of Pilgrim history. Their father, Philip Stanley Barnes, son of Henry Walter Barnes and Hannah Loring, supported efforts to teach the children their ancestors’ traditions.
At that Thanksgiving celebration, their relations, Withington family members Lois, Anne and Lothrup III (aka “Cricket”) joined them.
The beginning of the article states:
“The Barnes family of Plymouth, Massachusetts, who number among their ancestors 21 Mayflower settlers, gathers as usual on Thanksgiving Day this year. Although young Parker Barnes is overseas with the forces, the loved ones he left behind have their turkey dinner just the same. It is not as gay without him, and there is special significance in their Thanksgiving prayers. For they are grateful that their boy has come safely through another year of war, and that victory is in sight for the Allied forces.
“Thanksgiving Day has always been an important occasion for the Barnes family, who live in the shadow of Plymouth Rock where the American Thanksgiving tradition began. As they stroll down the hill to Grandmother’s house for the family dinner, the Barneses, old and young, can look out over blue Cape Cod Bay and imagine that the Mayflower still swings at anchor there. They can look out beyond the houses of Plymouth to fields where their ancestors planted corn more than three centuries ago.”
While turkey was the main staple of the Thanksgiving meal, there was squash from the neighboring fields and cranberries from the Cape Cod bogs beyond. Mrs. Barnes knew all about the cranberry harvests; her father and his Hatch ancestors were cranberry growers.
The traditions of Thanksgiving spread far beyond the boundaries of Plymouth, and in 1944 the spirit of thanks and prayers for peace were just as potent as the ones of the Pilgrims in 1621.
Here is an obit for Mrs. Barnes’ sister, Ellen Hatch Brewster, from the Boston Herald. Like her sister, she was a member of the Pilgrim Society and was involved in the preservation of Plymouth history. At the time of her death Ellen had 21 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews to carry on the line.
The Plymouth Antiquarian Society has a treasure trove of Mayflower images archived on their site. Link: The Origins of a Plymouth Tradition.
Brooks Barnes is in a feature photo in a 1925 Boston Herald article in front of the Russell House in Plymouth. Brooks and her family were participating in a festival for the Colonial Street Fair that opened the historic homes of Plymouth that housed many generations of Mayflower families.
Here is Souther Barnes in a feature photo for a 1939 Boston Herald article.
Fifteen years later, in 1954, the Barnes family celebrated Turkey Day with a family wedding. I found the announcement in the Boston Herald, once again featuring Souther Barnes.
Stay tuned for more Barnes family and other Mayflower descendants celebrating Forefathers’ Day!
Note for Header Photo: Souther Barnes (second from left) and his sister Mercie Barnes (third from left) greet guests to the Harlow Old Fort House for the Pilgrim Breakfast on 6 July 1941. The cost was only 50 cents. Courtesy of Plymouth Antiquarian Society Archives, Plymouth, Massachusetts.