The Obsession Begins
My interest in genealogy began with my 10-year-old daughter’s school project. She was tasked with collecting the names of three generations of her ancestors, or as she put it, her “aunt-sisters”. We enlisted the help of all of her grandparents and my daughter had a great time with her research. This little school project led to a father-daughter genealogy project. We opened an account with ancestry.com and began our research. My daughter lost interest early on, but I became obsessed and quickly found myself immersed in my new hobby. Among the most exciting of my many enlightening discoveries was finding a Pilgrim in my past.
During the course of my research, I discovered that my 6th great grandmother on my mother’s side was named Molly Sarah Standish. She was born in Pembroke Massachusetts in 1765 and died in 1805 in Lincoln County Missouri. Being a lifelong student of early American history, I immediately wondered if Molly was descended of the Standish Family. After several more hours of research, I confirmed that Molly was indeed the great granddaughter of Captain Myles Standish.
The Story of Captain Myles Standish
According to the Encyclopedia of World Biography, little is known about the early life of Myles Standish, but he is thought to have been born in 1584 in Lancashire, England. There are records of his military service to the Crown in The Netherlands where he earned the rank of Captain in the Ango-Spanish war.
While he wasn’t a member of the Leiden Congregation and despite the evidence that he didn’t necessarily share their puritan views, he was hired by the Pilgrims to accompany them to the New World to coordinate their military defenses. Captain Standish arrived in Plymouth with the Pilgrims in 1620. He was the sixth man to sign the Mayflower Compact. In his role as the defender of the new colony, Captain Standish displayed an aggressive nature, remarkable leadership abilities and personal courage. These attributes earned him the respect of his fellow Pilgrims and his enemies.
Myles Standish went on to become one of the most influential members of the early American colonies. He is often referred to as “America’s First Soldier”. The famous American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, even wrote a narrative poem about Captain Standish entitled “The Courtship of Miles Standish”.
The Impact of My Discovery
My discovery that Myles Standish is my 10th great grandfather was both exciting and inspiring. To know that one of my ancestors was in America 150 years before the Declaration of Independence is a great source of pride. While my genealogical research is ongoing, the discovery that I am a descendent of Myles Standish will certainly go down as one of my most exciting finds. My family and I are currently planning our first visit to Massachusetts and the highlight of the trip will undoubtedly be our visit to Duxbury to see the Myles Standish Monument.