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dmckay

Did the Pilgrims actually have turkey at their feast?

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Did the Pilgrims (separatist puritans) actually have turkey at their Thanksgiving feast in the fall of 1621?  IMO it is very likely given that Wild Turkeys abounded in the region they were in...Mass. They had matchlock muskets which could be made into a shotgun simply by loading up a bunch of small lead shot. We do not have a copy of the menu but I deem it highly likely they did indeed have wild turkey on the table. Does anyone have more specific info?  Probably had oysters also since they were in a prime oyster region. Clams also. Venison and corn. Does anyone really care?  :Smile_teethhappy:  Comments? What do you think they ate? Some Native Americans joined in according to Bradford.  Wonder what they brought if anything.

Edited by dmckay

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Off the top of my head, I want to say that turkey as a Thanksgiving staple is an invention of the 19th or 20th Century.

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They probably did. On my commute each day, I see about a dozen turkeys wandering around, so they're not that hard to find. The difference would be that a deer or some other, larger animal would be the main course (it was a feast after all). As @Goose21891 said, the idea of turkey as a main course is a modern idea, but its origins do go back as far as Puritan Pilgrims.

 

Native Americans were skilled hunters, and could easily procure any animal needed. The settlers probably brought more by way of fruits and vegetables since they had large, established farms. Each group would be equally adept at fishing.

Edited by pewpewpew42

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No doubt that Turkey was there, but wild turkey is not that substantial of a creature for meat bearing.  You won't find any 'farm raised' 20 lb turkeys in New England at the time.

The animals were not as afraid of humans as well, so one could pretty easily walk up to a flock and blast away within 5 feet.

Native Americans had Maple sugar, so there were some desert treats.  Seems the 'white' people discovered it after the Natives showed them...   (not a real discovery, right?)

 

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Wild Turkeys ( the name Turkey comes from Britain who imported a similar bird from the Levant in the 18th century ) are prevalent and plentiful up and down the eastern US seaboard.  Obviously less plentiful today than 300 years ago, but I live in South Carolina and see them all the time.  It's probable that they were hunted by both Natives and the Colonists.

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I guess it is as if you say so but an I am not really completely aware of it and what @Goose21891 & @pewpewpew42 mentioned is true.

 

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3 minutes ago, AVR_Project said:

No doubt that Turkey was there, but wild turkey is not that substantial of a creature for meat bearing.  You won't find any 'farm raised' 20 lb turkeys in New England at the time.

The animals were not as afraid of humans as well, so one could pretty easily walk up to a flock and blast away within 5 feet.

Native Americans had Maple sugar, so there were some desert treats.  Seems the 'white' people discovered it after the Natives showed them...   (not a real discovery, right?)

 

Well even the wild type provide more meat than a wabbit or a pheasant (which were introduced here from Asia) .  I have had all three. 

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1 minute ago, Silver_kun said:

I guess it is as if you say so but an I am not really completely aware of it and what @Goose21891 & @pewpewpew42 mentioned is true.

 

Ya it became traditional much later but it is still very possible that the Pilgrims ate em. That is how traditions get started.

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1 minute ago, dmckay said:

Ya it became traditional much later but it is still very possible that the Pilgrims ate em. That is how traditions get started.

Can't disagree to that.

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Their Native American guest did show up with several dead white tail deer. So that's tradition and hey you can find on a road side near you. 

:Smile_glasses:

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7 minutes ago, RedSeaBear said:

Their Native American guest did show up with several dead white tail deer. So that's tradition and hey you can find on a road side near you. 

:Smile_glasses:

There are crazy Pilgrims all around where I live and they now got cars. They are hitting deer like crazy.  I saw 3 road kill deer on my way to town yesterday. They also suck at driving. Having originally settled on Cap Cod in Mass that right there helps explain their insane driving. I took a trip to Mass a few years ago and felt lucky to escape with me and my daughters lives driving in that state.:Smile_facepalm:

Edited by dmckay

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3 minutes ago, Sovereigndawg said:

Ben Franklin wanted the Turkey to be the National bird.

...but it was too delicious.  It seemed sacrilegious to eat our national emblem.  So a much less tasty, more visually striking bird was chosen.  I didn't make that up at all.

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Turkeys once were plentiful on the eastern seaboard but may not have been brought to the first Thanksgiving dinner by the Amerindians, who probably supplied meats like deer, ducks, and geese. If the Pilgrims ate turkey it was probably the domesticated ones they brought with them from England. By the time the Plymouth Rock Colony was founded the turkey had been domesticated in England for at least 80 years.

 

Quote

William Strickland is generally credited with introducing the turkey into England in the 1540s. His family coat of arms — showing a male turkey as the family crest — is among the earliest known European depictions of a turkey. English farmer Thomas Tusser notes the turkey being among farmer's fare at Christmas in 1573. A document written in 1584 lists supplies to be furnished to future colonies in the New World; "turkies, male and female".

 

Wild turkeys were pretty much killed off during the late 1800s to early 1900s and were completely extirpated from 18 states in which they once occurred by 1930. Most of the birds we now have in America are descended from re-introduced Rio Grande turkey stock.

Edited by Snargfargle

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1 hour ago, Triela50 said:

Very good info.  Still rather murky as to whether or not they had turkey but IN MY WORLD they did....very possible!  Articles emphasized this feast was one of giving tks to God. Good.  I have heard some ultra PC types in the past few years begin to trash the first Thanksgiving but they generally know little or nothing about the Separatist Puritans and attempt to spin it into something that it was not.  That is all I will say.  Again, nice post. +1

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8 hours ago, Triela50 said:

A quite logical article. My guess is like most every holiday it has been embellished and dramatised over the years to suit the times. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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That article makes a glaring mistake right off the bat in saying that the pilgrims had no ovens. Did the author think that ovens were never used by the colonists until iron ones were imported from England? Earthen ovens were used by the British from Medieval (and before) through late colonial times. The Pilgrims also brought large iron pots with lids on their voyage (i.e., Dutch ovens). 

 

  

Edited by Snargfargle

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More info:

 

Quote

 

The turkey was first domesticated by the Aztecs of Mexico. The Spanish took the domesticated turkey from Mexico to Europe about 1519. Turkeys were being bred in England by 1541. Roast turkey quickly became a popular holiday dish in England.

William Bradford reported that the Pilgrims found a "great store of wild turkies" during the autumn of 1621, famous for the "First Thanksgiving." We don’t know for certain, however, that the Pilgrims had turkey at that harvest feast.

 

 

The Pilgrims were not all that well prepared as a colony, being more zealots than frontiersmen. They did bring some chickens with them on the Mayflower, as evidenced by a diary entry that noted that someone who fell ill was given chicken soup. Early reports by colonial administrators showed them to have goats, pigs, chickens, and (much later) cows. 

Edited by Snargfargle
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1 minute ago, Snargfargle said:

More info:

 

 

That's interesting thought know.

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30 minutes ago, Snargfargle said:

More info:

 

 

The Pilgrims were not all that well prepared as a colony, being more zealots than frontiersmen. They did bring some chickens with them on the Mayflower, as evidenced by a diary entry that noted that someone who fell ill was given chicken soup. Early reports by colonial administrators showed them to have goats, pigs, chickens, and (much later) cows. 

Butter!  They were short on butter when they got to Cape Cod. Why?  Glad you asked.  They had to sell a bunch they had on board the Mayflower before they left England to pay off debts owed to financiers who helped finance the voyage. Also their charter stipulated they were to go to the Hudson River region in NY but they could not get there due to terrible weather so the Master of the ship sailed up to Mass and said this is good enough and dumped them off there. They actually started the voyage with 2 ships the other being the Speedwell but it sucked cause it was leaking so they turned around and went back to England and then they all jammed into 1 ship....the Mayflower. They were also short on beer when they arrived cause that was all they drank....men, women, and children. 

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2 minutes ago, dmckay said:

They were also short on beer when they arrived cause that was all they drank....men, women, and children. 

Beer was a good way of preserving both water and grain. A lot of people complain about how polluted our rivers and streams are today and pine for the "good old days" when they were pristine. However, rivers and streams have never been all that good to drink out of. Almost every account of a major troop movement before the discovery of microbes and the development of germ theory has at least one reference of someone getting sick from drinking bad water. An entire battalion of American volunteers headed south to fight during one of the wars of the early 19th century was stopped dead in its tracks when they camped for a night and drank from a contaminated river. There was a swamp in the south somewhere that was known for its "magic water" that never went bad. Ships captains liked to re-provision their water casks there and would oftentimes sail days out of their way to do so. Modern researchers have discovered that the tannins leached from oak trees overhanging the stream system sterilized the water.

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1 minute ago, Snargfargle said:

Beer was a good way of preserving both water and grain. A lot of people complain about how polluted our rivers and streams are today and pine for the "good old days" when they were pristine. However, rivers and streams have never been all that good to drink out of. Almost every account of a major troop movement before the discovery of microbes and the development of germ theory has at least one reference of someone getting sick from drinking bad water. An entire battalion of American volunteers headed south to fight during one of the wars of the early 19th century was stopped dead in its tracks when they camped for a night and drank from a contaminated river. There was a swamp in the south somewhere that was known for its "magic water" that never went bad. Ships captains liked to re-provision their water casks there and would oftentimes sail days out of their way to do so. Modern researchers have discovered that the tannins leached from oak trees overhanging the stream system sterilized the water.

Ya they all drank beer or some kinda spirits back in Europe cause of water pollution. In the Civil War it was really bad when your regiment camped downstream from another regiment and that regiment upstream was "dumping" in the water and that's what you got to drink downstream of them. Dysentery, Typhoid, etc. was the result. Lotta men died. Germ theory was known in Europe about the time of the Civil War but that knowledge had not made it to America. It did right after the war....but too late for so many who died from germ stuff. Amputations were not done in the Civil War using sterile procedures hence gangrene was a common killer with that. 

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1 minute ago, dmckay said:

 so many who died from germ stuff. Amputations were not done in the Civil War using sterile procedures hence gangrene was a common killer with that. 

It's amazing how far wartime medicine has progressed, even since my day. The reason why so many amputees came back from the recent wars in the Middle East was that in previous ones most of them would have died. I wouldn't be totally lost as a current-era combat medic but there are several new devices and procedures that I'd have to familiarize myself with.

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36 minutes ago, Snargfargle said:

It's amazing how far wartime medicine has progressed, even since my day. The reason why so many amputees came back from the recent wars in the Middle East was that in previous ones most of them would have died. I wouldn't be totally lost as a current-era combat medic but there are several new devices and procedures that I'd have to familiarize myself with.

When was your era?  

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