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December 07th, 2021

shelter article new june 2021=====FROM: November 23, 2006=====

 

By: Earl Watt, Southwest Daily Times

 

As his name indicated, Oceanus was born on the Atlantic Ocean during a special voyage.

Stephen and Elizabeth had been married two years earlier and were making their way to a new beginning and a new world.

They were passengers on the Mayflower in 1620, and during the journey, Oceanus was born.

It was unusual that a voyage ridden with so many tragedies would witness the birth of a child.

And the tragedy would continue as the first winter at Plymouth Colony would see more sickness, more death.

Oceanus would not survive the first bitter winter, either.

His older sister, Damarus, would also die at an early age in the New World.

But their parents persevered.

Stephen and Elizabeth would have five more children in Plymouth, which for those who survived that first year helped establish a tradition of large families.

While Oceanus' life was short, he was a part of a small band of settlers who made a significant contribution to the future of the nation they would help found.

Today, the population of the United States has topped 300 million, but 384 years ago, the Mayflower set sail with 102 passengers.

Others would settle in a variety of locations along the colonial coast, but the struggles faced by the Plymouth colonists set the standard for what is considered to be truly American.

Of those 102 that would later become known as Pilgrims, most would not survive their first year on the American continent.

While the men, during the worst time of the year, attempted to establish living quarters on the mainland, the women continued to live aboard the Mayflower.

They were used to calling the ship home.

Many lived on the Mayflower for six weeks prior to making the journey to the New World.

Yet while they remained anchored in the Cape Cod, the small band of settlers established the rules they would follow by writing the Mayflower Compact, announcing their allegiance to the British crown and their role in advancing Christianity while living in an equitable society.

Of the 102 original passengers, by the end of the first winter, most records indicate that only 44 survived, and only four of those were women.

According to Seward Coutny Community College American History instructor Lee Courtney, "At one time, only seven of them were healthy enough to bury the dead."

Despite the struggles, the survivors established what has become the heartbeat of American society.

"Many of our moral values today, our sense of right and wrong, our ethics, they all come from the Puritan ideals," Courtney said.

After surviving the bitter winter, the Mayflower colonists at Plymouth did not wallow in self-pity for what was lost. And that "original" Thanksgiving celebration lasted for three days.

To the contrary, they celebrated what remained, and they gave thanks.

"It was improptu," Courtney said. "Neither group thought they had brought enough food, so the Indians went out and killed two or three more deer, and the settlers killed more turkeys. It was a plentiful celebration of the harvest, and they gave thanks to God for surviving. It was a festive affair."

While settlers continued to pour to the new continent in search of a better life, economic opportunity, and religious and social freedoms, those who came on the Mayflower continued to hold the imagination and attention of Americans for 400 years.

Descendants of these surviving 44 populated the region. Their parents taught them, and as they branched out from Plymouth, they became the natural leaders in their new towns and villages.

Six of the descendants became president of the United States, including current President George W. Bush.

"Anywhere they went, they were in position to take leaderhsip," Courtney said. "They spread their ideas."

And some of those ideas included the belief that they were God's chosen people, put on earth to fulfill a special mission, according to Courtney.

"They wanted to build a city of God -- a city built by them for others to look up and aspire to," Courtney said. "That has become part of our national psyche. We still we believe we are God's chosen people, and we have a special mission on this earth."

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