Summer Guide Cape Cod

Summer Guide Cape Cod 2019

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Page 100 of 147 99 and an abundance of crops which also led to their first altercation with the natives. On November 11, 1620, 41 male Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact, to avoid alter- cations with each other, aboard the ship while docked in Provincetown. With some Pilgrims serving as Separatists and others belonging to the Church of England, the document was intended for the groups to remain as a united front as they continued settling the land. This compact is believed to have influenced the Dec- laration of Independence and the U.S. Consti- tution as we know it today; and John Quincy Adams has described the agreement as "the only instance in human history of that positive, original, social compact." Shortly after the signing, the Pilgrims found the Provincetown land to be too sandy. So, they continued to travel to what would become known as Plymouth where, today, visitors can see monuments and landmarks like Plymouth Rock. For the next 20 years, the Pilgrims spread north and south of Plymouth to inhabit areas of Cape Cod today known as Sandwich, Barnsta- ble and Yarmouth, which were all incorporated in 1639. While there, the Pilgrims who were skilled in hunting, farming and fishing, used hay to feed cattle and build house roofs. Some of the first homes built by these settlers were wigwams, dome-shaped tents made of twigs, bark, cornstalks and grass. This was a tactic that the English settlers copied from the Wampa- noag people who originally inhabited the land. The Wampanoags eventually taught the settlers how to thrive in the new land, including how to strip blubber from beached whales. Over the years, the English settlers stripped the Cape land of its forests so they could create farms and build more European-style homes designed for growing families and, today, this architecture is still prominent throughout the entire Cape. Ancestral Roots Remain Strong Today, descendants from both the Pilgrims and Wampanoag people carry an immense sense of pride and respect for their historic ancestors. Debbie Beal is a descendant of William Brews- ter, an English official and passenger aboard the Mayflower in 1620. Brewster was the only uni- versity educated member amongst the settlers that landed in Plymouth Colony; so he eventu- ally became a senior elder and the leader of the community. "[Brewster] really earned his place as an English official and senior elder. He was highly educated, with a strong conviction that tran- scends many generations," Beal said when reminiscing of her ancestor. "My family demon- strates the value of education, strength, tenacity and independence; and we strive to keep mov- ing it forward today." Today, Beal finds Cape Cod still carries an abundance of history, natural resources and di- versity that once led her ancestor to the land. "There are many things I enjoy about the Cape; but the closeness to natural resources resonates most with me, from the water to the natural parks and wildlife preservation efforts. I still find a lot of individuality, ingenuity, creativity and ap- preciation of the land today, which makes me proud to be a descendant of the early settlers," Beal said. In her free time, Beal visits the historic graves of smallpox victims who were early set- tlers, while also appreciating the old founda- tions of the area's first buildings. "The history and people still live on. It draws you to learn more about the past and see just how rich it was," Beal added. Preparation and Celebration of 400 Years The history of the early settlers is so important to the Cape that, today, planning is well un- derway to make the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims landing in Provincetown unforgettable. "We have an amazing set of activities This early painting by Edward Percy Moran depicts the signing of the Mayflower Compact aboard the May- flower ship on November 11, 1620 Photo credit: Edward Percy Moran, Pilgrim Hall Museum

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