A Look Back at Winter 1621


For the Pilgrims, the winter of 1620 began with disaster averted. Francis Billington fired two guns between decks and almost blew up the ship when gunpowder spilled near a fire where passengers were warming themselves. Click here for the 53-minute presentation on YouTube.

Institutional Giving Manager at Plimoth Patuxet Museums, Tom Begley, describes the events of the first winter following the landing of the Mayflower in Plimoth harbor in which half of the 102 passengers died .

According to Gov. Bradford’s description in Of Plymoth Plantation, Dorothy Bradford drowns and James Chilton dies while the searchers are caught in the First Encounter, battle for survival aboard the shallop, spend the night at Clark’s Island, and explore Patuxet.

The Mayflower crosses Cape Cod Bay and the Pilgrims begin house construction on Christmas Day. Native fires are seen in early January, but Myles Standish can’t make contact. (Above) several Pokanoket wetus are shown in Patuxet. The common house burns and the numbers of death increase. Captain Standish attempts to keep things going as far as the creation of a body of laws. And John Goodman and Peter Brown get lost in the woods.