The First Thanksgiving: Yes, They DID Eat Turkey

On November 27, 2013 by MMM

First thanksgiving pic


I get tired of people saying that the Pilgrims did not eat turkey. Yes, they did eat venison and fish and other stuff, but turkey was definitely on the menu. So when people start babbling,” Hey! Did you know the pilgrims never even ate turkey?” You can just shake your head, or call them out – depending on if your mouth is full of pie or not.

How do I know? Eyewitnesses. There are only two known accounts of the Pilgrims early years, and specifically the Harvest Feast that eventually morphed into a Thanksgiving Holiday (under Lincoln).

The account written by William Bradford specifically mentions turkeys, “And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion.”

A more detailed account of the feast was written by Edward Winslow in a letter from December of 1621.

Here is a great little website that has details of the First Thanksgiving, and a lot more information about the History of the Mayflower, including genealogy. The quotes by Bradford and Winslow are included.

If you have too much time on your hands, and REALLY want to dig in and learn more about the Pilgrims, here is a great selection of the first-hand account from William Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation.” From History of Plymouth Plantation.  (The story of how the manuscript from the 1600s was lost, found and preserved is fascinating as well. Link here)

If you are a glutton for punishment, here is the entire book, written in the 17th Century English. (Link here)

Yes, I used the word “glutton” on purpose. Happy Thanksgiving!

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