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What Would Quadequina Do?

November 23, 2013 , , ,

My ancestors attended the first Thanksgiving party in Plimouth Colony. Most of my heritage is English, and the Mayflower was full of my peeps.  My 11th great-grandfather attended the feast as a representative of the Wampanoag people.  When he first met the Pilgrims they gave him alcohol , which must have aroused his curiosity.  The political system in New England was way different from the one in Europe.  The local natives made friends with the Pilgrims with reservations (not the kind they have been granted by the US government).  They had made contact with Brits before which had resulted in an outbreak of disease that killed a large number of the people.  They saw the Mayflower, but kept a distance since they assumed these Brits would be diseased as well.

Quadequina is credited with bringing popcorn to the first Thanksgiving.  The Wampanoags I met in Plymouth this year told me it was actually parched corn.  Either way, there was a potluck dinner and Quadequina brought corn as his dish.  He acted in good faith, was a respectful and polite guest, even allowing the Pilgrims to occupy his homeland and build a fort around their town.  It was fairly impossible for the American natives to do due diligence on these religious Pilgrims who had arrived and planned to stay.   Squanto, the famous translator, was about all the interface available.  The Natives of New England were stuck with this highly unnatural situation through no fault of their own.  They just happened to be where the Mayflower got stuck on the rocks.  It was their luck.

When my 10th great-grandfather Gabriel Wheldon wanted to marry Quadequina’s daughter he gave his consent and helped the couple avoid disaster from the Pilgrims:

Gordon B. Hinckley, Shoulder for the Lord” by George M. McCune page 35- ” Two of the early immigrants to Plymouth colony were Gabriel Wheldon, of Arnold, Nottingham, England, and his brother (name unknown). Gabriel had been married in England before sailing to America but his first wife named Margaret evidentally was deceased at the time of his migration. Both brothers had a free spirit much like Stephen Hopkins and found their way to the camps of the Wampanoags. There they both fell in love with two of the daughters of chief Quadequina, younger brother of the Great Chief. They each married and Gabriel gave his second wife the English name ‘Margaret’ after his first spouse. The two counseled with their father-in-law and his older brother Massasoit regarding what to do. The Plymouth Colony would probably punish them for their intermarriage. Massasoit advised them to return to the colyn and all would be well. The Plymouth Colony tribunals saved face by banishing the couples from Plymouth for life but did not send them back to England. Gabriel and Margaret established their home in Barnstable where the Hinckleys came in late 1630’s and here Gabriel and Margaret raised a large family of girls. One of these was Catherine “Catone” Wheldon who married Stephen Hopkins'(First to build a house in Mattachesse Villiage/Yarmouth) oldest son Giles on October 9, 1639. Giles had been given the home his father had build in Yarmouth and the couple established their home and raised four children there. When Giles’ father Stephen passed away about July 1644, his father left an estate.. Some records give Margaret as the wife of Gabriel Wheldon. It seems she was his second wife, who, after his death, may have returned to England with Rev. Marmaduke Matthews and his wife. Other records state that Margaret was an Indian Princess, Wampanoag, and give her lineage for several generations. He _may_ have been Margaret’s brother. He immigrated 1638, aPreacher of the Church of Malden. He returned to England in 1655, and Several of the Malden Church members went with him. Of these returning pilgrims, the widow Margaret Wheldon, who left a law-suit over the estate of her deceased husband, Gabriel, also went to England. (from: Pg 155 The History of Malden, Massachusetts, 1633-1785). Rev Matthews died 1683 in England.

I don’t believe he is partial to either pecan or pumpkin pie. I think Quadequina would have liked to see us celebrate equal rights and justice each November.  The story of Thanksgiving is mostly mythical, since very little was recorded at the time.  Turkeys may not be the best logo for  American seasonal gratitude.  Popcorn deserves a place at the table.

What do you think?

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this is so cool Pam.. so perfectly timed for Thanksgiving. love this ..


Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

November 24, 2013

my vote is for popcorn too. That apart, a lovely story – you really do have a fascinating past


November 24, 2013

I was asked who is my favorite ancestor, and I said I could not choose…but the truth is Quadequina and Mistress Bradstreet, Pilgrim poet really are my favorite in terms of plot and character. I need to write children’s books about both of them because they are so cool.



November 25, 2013

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