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Page shares Mayflower ancestry descent

It’s that time of the year again; the day the Pilgrims and Native Americans sat down to eat a meal that came from the new world. It was a day to give thanks to God for the bounty and for their survival in what has become America.

Most Americans know the story, but seldom think about it, but there is one group of people who are happy to tell the story of the Pilgrims and the “Mayflower.” These are the people who actually can trace their lineage back to ancestors who made the decision to step on to that tiny ship to brave the unknown in order to better them.

One Brewtonian who claims that distinction is Barbara Page, a retired longtime teacher at T.R. Miller High School.

“Although I didn’t go out and research this for a long time, the story came as no surprise to me,” she said. “I grew up hearing the story of my ancestors at the knee of my great grandmother. Every year at Thanksgiving she would always remind us of our forefathers and the pride she had in them. I never forgot the stories and later in my life I decided to do the research.”

She not only did the research; she collected enough information for her to join The General Society of Mayflower Descendants. She has proven descent from 15 of those on board the Mayflower. Considering how few in number there were, being related to more than one is not unusual.

Her story began in England.

“There were people in England in the1500-1600’s who felt that the Church of England, (Anglican) had strayed from the Bible and had added too many man-made rituals and too little reliance on God’s Word, the Bible.

They began to meet in groups to worship how they felt it should be done. One group, the Puritans, felt that corrections should be made within the Church of England. The other group, the Separatists, thought there was no hope and the only solution was to separate from the Church of England. This is the group we refer to as Pilgrims today.

Many of the Separatists suffered severe persecution at the hands of the monarch, especially King James I.

Since Holland was tolerant of different sects, they emigrated there and stayed there for several years. Worried that they were losing their English ways, they sought an alternative, which was to come to the New World. Two ships were engaged- the Mayflower and the Speedwell which leaked badly and did not make the trip. They left Plymouth, England on Sept. 6, 1620 and crossed the Atlantic during hurricane season. Many storms tossed the ship around and it took until Nov. 9, 1620 to reach Cape Cod. There were 101 passengers aboard. Fifty were Pilgrims and 51 were those who wanted to come to settle.

They were off course and too far north. They were meant to land in the northern section of the Virginia Company. (Jamestown had been settled in 1607.)

Since they were not under any government, the leaders were worried that there would be problems so they drafted what is known as the Mayflower Compact. It basically says that everyone votes on the rules and whatever the majority determines that all will obey. It is one of the earliest documents to form a basis for our own current form of government.

Half of the passengers died in the first winter of sickness. Food was scarce and they suffered hunger and malnutrition. With help from Indians, Samoset and Squanto, they learned to plant in the new world what would grow.

The fall of 1621 brought a good harvest and the people decided to celebrate and thank God. Thanksgiving services and practices were part of most religions-they were not the only group to do this. They invited the friendly Indians and prepared to celebrate. There were four married women and five teenage girls still alive to help. The celebration lasted several days with lots of good comradely.”

Page was born and raised in New England. She met her husband, Robert Leo Page II, while he served in the U.S Air Force. They were married in 1957 and came south to Brewton for a while. They moved in 1960 to a permanent home in Brewton. She taught school for many years and retired in 1994. She has three children, Robert Leo Page III, Lynda Leigh Stringfellow and Nina Winkler.