The True Story of The First Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving

Prompted by a good harvest, the first Thanksgiving in the New World was celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621. That feast was attended by 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans. The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating thanksgiving days of prayer thanking God for blessings.

Squanto spoke English and was Catholic!

1614, Squanto, (his true name was Tisquantum) a Patuxet Native American who resided with the Wampanoag tribe, was captured by John Smith who attempted to sell Squanto and other Native Americans into slavery (way to make friends Captain Smith!) via Spain. However, some Franciscan friars discovered the plot and acquired the captured Native Americans, Squanto included. During this time, Squanto received instruction in the Catholic Faith and received holy baptism.
As a freeman, Squanto traveled to London where he worked in a shipyard and learned English. Squanto returned to New England, in 1619 only to discover that his people were being decimated by European diseases.

Massasoit-chief of the Wampanoag’s, a tribe of the Algonquin Indians

Because of the ravages of disease, by the time the Pilgrims arrived, 95% of the indigenous population of New England, including the Wampanoag, had been decimated.
Massasoit could have easily overtaken and destroyed the invaders, who were barely surviving, but they had something he wanted. Massasoit feared that his tribe’s weakened state might spark an invasion from rival tribes to the south, and he noted that the Pilgrims had a few cannons and guns that could help even the odds.
So instead of attacking the Pilgrims, Massasoit sent an emissary-Squanto.

Massasoit had Squanto offer food during the first winter that helped the colonists survive. In 1623 Massasoit became seriously ill. Colonist Edward Winslow treated him with Pilgrim medicines and a purgative duck broth (ick!) that miraculously returned Massasoit to good heath. From this point on Massasoit and Winslow had a close relationship. Massasoit lived a long life and remained friendly to the Plymouth colony.

We do a disservice to history by seeing it through the eyes of the present day. Yes, terrible things happened between the native people of America and the newcomers. John Smith tries to enslave them but other Europeans set them free. Whatever came later, right at this moment, this first Thanksgiving, they were at peace. They were allies. Squanto and Massasoit wanted friendship, they helped the Pilgrims survive, they also wanted to share in defense against enemies of the Algonquin tribe. The  Pilgrims gave Massasoit medical care. Massasoit and Winslow were friends for life.

Don’t take the ills that came later and use them to make this moment and this shared respect, less than it was. They truly were Thankful for each other.


From the time of the First Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving proclamations were made often but at no set time or date and always locally. Then George Washington proclaimed the first nation-wide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God”.

From this time forward Thanksgiving was celebrated but it had to be declared each year and the time varied and some years it was skipped.

In the middle of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated on the final Thursday in November 1863.

Since 1863, Thanksgiving has been observed annually in the United States.

To get your name in a drawing for an ecopy of Candlelight Christmas, leave a comment telling me something you are THANKFUL FOR! My book and a second novella by Linda Goodnight are contained in Candlelight Christmas.Here’s a bit about them:1. The Outlaw’s Gift by Linda Goodnight
1880s Oklahoma Territory
When drifter Seth Blackstone shows up at Raven Patterson’s homestead, Raven thinks this may be the solution to all her problems. But Seth’s mysterious past is about to catch up with him and could mean disaster for them both.

2. The Christmas Candle by Mary Connealy
Arkansas Ozarks 1883
Gabe Wagner, has left his hectic city life and moved onto Rose Palmer’s mountain. His plans to build a house will tear the heart out of her Ozark Mountain home. Rose learns that what she calls peace and quiet has evolved into isolation and loneliness. As Christmas approaches and she searches for the perfect way to honor the Savior’s birth, she realizes she wants to let Gabe into her life. But to do it, she may have to face a larger world that frightens her while she gives up the safe life she has always known.
Can the search for the perfect Christmas candle and the broken hearts of two little boys bring a solitary woman and a grieving man together?

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Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

23 thoughts on “The True Story of The First Thanksgiving”

  1. i’m thankful for my husband and little boy. i know that sounds cliche, but i’m very grateful. i got married for the first time late in life (at 40 yrs old) and thought that motherhood had passed me by. i had my little guy two weeks shy of my 42nd birthday. he just turned three and is a joy i cherish.

    i’m also thankful for the ladies of Seekerville who are so generous with their wisdom as i attempt to pursue a “side-job” of writing. i’ve learned so much and have been exposed to a plethora of authors i wouldn’t have otherwise been aware of.

    i always enjoy reading about the history of the Americas and appreciate when it isn’t colored by “political correctness”. thanks!

  2. I’m thankful for my 4 wonderful children and husband of 35 years. My health and that of my 88 yo mom and 82 yo F-I-L.

    My safe trip to Florida.

    The ability to read all the wonderful books in the romance genre.

  3. Laura G, that’s such a great reminder. My mom, age 84, is in great health. She’s the last of the four grandparents and she’s the sweetest lady on the planet. I don’t spend enough time with her…just LISTENING to her, because she’s very wise.
    I’m going to change that. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Resolution in one leap. 🙂

  4. I’m thankful that I live in the United States and for the freedoms we have. Long may our flag wave! And I’m extremely thankful for my health, for family, and for good friends who make life so enjoyable.

    I’m currently reading Candlelight Christmas and I love it. I’m almost finished with Linda Goodnight’s story. I’m right at the end and anxious to see how Seth comes to terms with his past and accepts his future. And then I’ll be starting on yours. Can’t wait. I LOVE Christmas stories.

    Wishing you much success, dear Filly Sister.

  5. I am thankful that I live where I can worship the Lord as I wish.I am thankful that my cancer was caught VERY early and I am improving my health daily. I am thankful for my husband, family and friends. I am thankful that I can read and enjoy books. And I am very thankful for all the authors who share such wonderful stories and knowledge with us. I’m also thankful for Mary’s sense of humor as she never fails to make me laugh. I am also thankful for the freedoms bought and paid for by so many.

  6. Great post, Mary. I’m thankful for my husband and children, my friends and Once Upon a Time. The show, not the phrase. Although, I love the phrase, too. 😉

  7. DebH, your first child at age 42, wow, good for you, mama. I’ve known people who had a ‘straggler’ baby at a late age and were horrified about it … and that child ended up being the joy of their lives.

  8. CrystalGB, that’s wonderful. I think we can get very busy wanting more and being upset by things. It’s so wise to stop and realize how blessed we are in BIG things. I hope it helps us remain calm about little things. Or even other big things that still don’t define our whole lifes.

  9. Linda Broday, thank you so much for the kind words about Candlelight Christmas. Wasn’t Linda Goodnight’s book fantastic? It’s just got such a great True Meaning of Christmas finale. I loved it.

  10. Connie, thanks for including me on that great list. God bless you as you go through Cancer Treatment. I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with that. So scary! I’ve had cancer in my family and know how frightening it can be.
    FREEDOM. It seems appropriate that we have Thanksgiving so soon after Veteran’s Day.

  11. Renee, that is such a great point about Once Upon a Time. I’ve got smaller things to be thankful for, too.
    My new bedside table lamp that cost $3. It’s not about design folks, I needed the light!

    And no one goes in that bedroom but my husband and me. He doesn’t care so who else matters?

    I’m thankful for crossword puzzles and furry blankets and central heating and air conditioning and darn it, I’m waaaaaay too thankful for Nachos.

  12. I am thankful for so much BUT…at the top…that while in our 40’s (8 years ago) the Lord saw fit to move me out of the pastor’s wife role into one as a missionaries wife. I have loved every role I’ve ever been in but now we get to travel Central America to share Jesus Christ!

  13. I am so thankful for my family and friends!! The Lord has kept us healthy, He’s protected and provided for us, we are so blessed. On the top of the list I am thankful for my salvation and how God has led throughout my life.

  14. Things I am thankful for… My family, My pets, the little extras I can have, & the many talented authors out there that write such wonderful stories for us readers to enjoy. 🙂

  15. I’m thankful for my growing family. With 2 grown up kids, a hubby, and 2 granddaughters, as well as cousins and a sister all living nearby, I consider myself very lucky and grateful.

  16. I am very thankful for my family that is there when I need them. Also thankful for the great books you authors write us that helps us escape to another world from time to time.

  17. Hi Mary,
    I am thankful for my daughter. I had her (as a straggler), at the age of 43, but not as my first, but 5th. There are 20 years between her and the others. She is my shining light and at 34, is taking care of her dear old mom.
    I am also thankful that I live in California and not in the Hurricane prone east coast. (Earthquakes don’t bother me that much).
    And I’m thankful for the sense of humor that goes along with living here.
    Hugs and Happy Thanksgiving.

  18. I’m so blessed. I’m thankful for my hubby. Because of him I have two great kids and they have a wonderful father.

  19. I’m also thankful for my family! This is the time of year for family! I’m not only thankful for my husband and adult children but my parents and siblings. We’ve all had our ups and downs but we’ve led a “wonderful life” and I’m grateful! I’ve been able to travel in many countries in the world and I’m glad I live in the USA!

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