Eyewitness To History

First person accounts

Most of what you read about what happened in the past is written by someone who read what someone else read about it. Here is a diverse collection of short first-hand, eyewitness accounts of what proved later to be important events. Vivid, uncensored, naked testimony from someone there at the time. Make up your own mind.Landing in New England, November 1620 William Bradford.

New England had been named by captain John Smith, who explored its shores in 1614. The first permanent settlement was made at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620 by the Pilgrim Fathers aboard the Mayflower, whose arrival is described here.

About ten a clocke we came into a deepe Valley, full of brush, wood-gaile, and long grasse, through which wee found little paths or tracts, and there we saw a Deere, and found springs of fresh Water, of which we were hartily glad, and sat us downe and drunke our first New England water, with as much delight as ever we drunk drink in all our lives.

When we had refreshed ourselves, we directed our course full south, that wee might come to the shore, which within a short while after we did, and there made a fire, that they in the ship might see where we were (as wee had direction) and so marched on towards this supposed River: and as we went in another Valley, we found a fine cleere Pond of fresh water, being about a Musket shot broad, and twice as long: there grew also many small Vines, and Fowle and Deere haunted there: there grew much Sasafras: from thence we went on and found much plain ground about fiftie Acres fit for the Plow, and some signes where the Indians had formerly planted their Corne: after this, some thought it best for nearnesse of the River to goe downe and travaile on the Sea sands, by which meanes some of our men were tired, and lagged behinde, so we stayed and gathered them up, and strucke into the Land againe; where we found a little path to certaine heapes of Sand, one whereof was covered with old Mats and had a wooden thing like a Morter whelmed on the top of it, and an earthen pot laid in a little hole at the tend thereof; we musing what it might be digged and found a Bowe, and as we though, Arrowes, but they were rotten; W supposed there were many other things, but because we deemed them graves, we put in the Bow againe and made it up as it was, and left the rest untouched, because we thought it would be odious unto them to ransacke their Sepulchers. We went on further and found new stubble of which they had gotten Corne this yeare, and many Walnut trees full of Nuts, and great store of strawberries, and some vines: passing thus a field or two, which were not great, we came to another, which had also bin new gotten, and there wee found where an house had beene, and foure or five old Plankes laied together, also we found a great kettle, which had been some Ships kettle and brought out of Europe; there was also an heape of sand, made like the former, but it was newly done, wee might see how they had padled it with their hands, which we digged up, and in it we found a little old Basket full of faire Indian Corne of this yeare, with some sixe and thirty goodly ears of Corne, some yellow, and some red, and others mixt with blew, which was a very goodly sight: the Basket was round, and narrow at the top, it held about three or foure bushels, which was as much as two of us could lift up from the ground, and was very handsomely and cunningly made.

-- KK 09/23/03

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