Pilgrim Thanksgiving – Foods of the Settlers

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WIF History-001

Thanksgiving Edition

Foods the Pilgrims Likely Ate

at the First Thanksgiving

Unfortunately, there is no actual menu for the first Thanksgiving in 1621. There is some debate, however, whether or not turkey was on the table. There is even one story where the original intent was to hunt for turkey, and all the Pilgrims wound up bagging was a bunch of crows instead. We would guess that those were a wise bunch of birds.

So let’s assume that turkey became a holiday symbol later on, and look at some of the other foods that may well have been served at that first Thanksgiving. Keep some napkins handy, because you are about to start drooling something fierce.

10. Eel

Serving Eel for Thanksgiving

It is well known that Squanto took pity on the Pilgrims, and helped teach them how to live off of the land and water. One of thehunting methods that Squanto taught them was to spear eels, who were curled up in muddy areas during colder weather. As a matter of fact, the feast made when the Pilgrims made peace with the leader of the Massosoit tribe was a feast of eels. The hunting of eels is also backed up by Pilgrim accounts. So yes, instead of cranberries, the first Thanksgiving would have probably featured a second helping of eel. Just like Grandma used to make.

9. Dried Fruit

dried fruit for Thanksgiving

Fruit was considered to be more of a snack by the Pilgrims. However, there was not refrigeration to store fruits. The solution, particularly when out of season or when you did not have a budget to ship them in from Spain, was to dry the fruits and eat them later. Drying could be done either outside or in shelters, to keep away flies. In addition to sun-drying fruit, there was also the option of oven-drying fruits in cooler climates. Dried fruit, such as raisins, would have been a treat or dessert to eat at the first Thanksgiving table. Also, you might have wanted to store a few in your pocket for later.

8. Lobster

stuffed-lobster thanksgiving

While lobster is more of a delicacy today, the Pilgrims would have seen the crustacean as a staple of their diet. The Patuxet Squanto was again instrumental in teaching the Pilgrims to catch and cooklobsters. The Pilgrim Edward Winslow even sent a letter back to England in 1622 detailing the feast (which is reported to have lasted up to five days) and lobster was really put over as a major dish. This letter electrified the imagination of all who read it, and started to turn the Harvest Feast into Thanksgiving. So it might be a great idea to spend a Thanksgiving rolling out that very traditional Lobster Feast. Just don’t forget to remove the rubber bands afterwards. They’re chewy.

7. Hardtack

hardtack thanksgiving

To be fair, “Hardtack” was also a name applied to these biscuits served primarily during the Civil War. They were often derided, and would frequently be infested with bugs. Hardtack existed during the Pilgrims’ era too, would often be eaten in darker places (so they didn’t have to see the bugs) and dipped into liquids. The dipping had a dual purpose. First, it would lighten the biscuits’ rock hard jaw-breaking consistency. Plus, it killed the maggots, a recommended step for any good dish, really.

Hardtack is rather easy to make, as well as plentiful. if you’re sick of warm, soft, buttery rolls at your Thanksgiving, consider these glorified stones for all your future meals. Just  keep an eye out for any wriggling maggots that somehow survived the Dipping Holocaust.

6. Samp


When the pilgrims and the Wampanoag broke hardtack together, they would have enjoyed a helping of samp on the side. Samp, a derivative of a primarily-English porridge, is a mixture of corn and milk mixed into a rather soupy consistency. In the 1600’s book Two Voyages to New EnglandJohn Josselyn states that the Samp would be boiled by the gallon after the corn was ground into a flour and stirred in a combination of milk and water. Samp could have either been a side dish or a full meal, depending on the situation. Photo and Samp recipe.

5. Maize


Because it grew better than English grains, Pilgrims referred to Maize as “Indian Corn.” The corn was planted in the spring, with the Wampanoag using small herring fish as fertilizer for its growth. The corn would have been dried out by November, meaning the Pilgrims would not have eaten corn-on-the-cob at Thanksgiving. The corn would have been shucked, as well as ground. This would have been primarily done to make into a meal, or to cook into bread. Either way, maize would have been a staple of Pilgrim dietsat the time of the first feast.

4. Pumpkins


The classic image of Pilgrims making pumpkin pie for the first Thanksgiving is not quite accurate. The Pilgrims would likely have dug out the contents of the pumpkin, and refilled it with eggs and other items. The pumpkin would then have been cooked to a blackened outside shell. In this way, the pumpkin would have served as an edible pot, with the contents being scooped out and served. So pumpkins were likely a big part of the first Thanksgiving feast, though they were not specifically mentioned until the account of the second Thanksgiving feast.

3. Wild Fowl

THanksgiving Goose

Far moreso than turkey, it was quite likely that ducks or geese were served at the first Thanksgiving. The simple fact is that ducks and geese were more plentiful in autumn to hunt than turkeys were. There is also the great possibility that Passenger Pigeons, which have been extinct for over a century, would have been plentiful at the time. Swan may have also been on the menu.

One reason to use these birds over turkey is the issue of preparation. Smaller fowl can be spit roasted, which would make them easier to cook for a large crowd. Back then, turkey would have to be boiled prior to stuffing, which was a much bigger pain back in the day. It would have simply been easier to feed a crowd with birds other than turkey.

2. Fish

atlantic white cod for thanksgiving

Fish, specifically Atlantic White Cod, would have been a staple of most any meal done by the Pilgrims. Cod was plentiful, as well as desired for its lean white meat. The Pilgrims were quite intent on fishing, except they were terrible at it. Squanto and others taught the Pilgrims not only to fish, but also to use the rest of the fish as fertilizers for crops and oils.

Of course, cod would not be the only seafood on the menu. There would have also been quahogs (clams,) which were steamed. Bass and oysters would have been plentiful as well. In short, the bulk of the first Thanksgiving would have most likely been a seafood feast.

1. Deer (Venison)

roast venison - deer meat

While we’re doubtful about turkey being on the first Thanksgiving menu, there is no question about deer meat being on the table. According to Edward Winslow, author of the only known account of the event, the Wampanoag killed five deer for the feast. Winslow was extremely specific about the deer portion of the meal, and only vaguely referred to the bird meat as “fowl,” so you can guess which dish was his favorite that day. What can we say; some people are simply partial to red meat.

So if someone kills Bambi this Thanksgiving, they’re not heartless murderers of all thing innocent and childlike; they’re simply following a proud tradition dating back to 1621. Not to worry though; if you’re squeamish about killing your own deer, there are plenty of exotic meat markets out there willing to charge youridiculous amounts of money for the right to enjoy the ultimate hipster holiday treat.

Pilgrim Thanksgiving

– Foods of the Settlers

The Texas Rangers – WABAC to Real Border Security

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"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“We’re going to go back to the formation of the Texas Rangers, Sherman My Boy.”

“Swell, Mister Peabody, I love baseball!”

“Oh never mind.”


November 24, 1835: Texas Provincial Government Creates Texas Rangers


Securing the border

On November 24, 1835, the Texas Provincial Government (Permanent Council) authorized the creation of a mounted para-military police force to enforce laws throughout The Republic of Texas and protect its borders.


The men behind the badge

Stephen Austin had first formed the unit under the command of Captain Morris as an unofficial call for volunteers in 1823, while Texas was still the property of Mexico.  Texas became an independent republic in 1836, and was admitted as a state in the United States in 1845.  Although Mexico had welcomed American settlers to Texas, the Americans insisted on violating Mexican law by keeping slaves.  Fed up with the flaunting of Mexican law, Mexico decided to end immigration of Americans to Texas in 1830, triggering a war for independence from Mexico from 1832 to 1836 when Texas became an independent country.

Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers developed a reputation for courage and skill, and became known as an elite law enforcement force, fighting criminals, Indians, and anyone that threatened the settlers.   Disbanded briefly during reconstruction after the Civil War, Texas quickly reconstituted the force, and today it exists as The Texas Ranger Division of The Texas Department of Safety, not to be confused with the entirely separate Texas State Police.

With as many as 300 Rangers during the War for Independence, the Rangers maintained a small number of men afterwards, around 56 to 150 Rangers at a time.  Today, there are only about 150 Rangers, along with 66 support personnel.  Such is the reputation for toughness and effective law enforcement that the saying, “One riot, one Ranger.” (stemming from an 1896 Dallas illegal prize fight where only 1 ranger was sent to enforce the law when many seemed more appropriate) has come to symbolize the Spartan like reputation of this agency.

Part of the cachet of the Rangers can be traced to the arming of the Rangers with the Walker Colt revolver (1847), a massive .44 caliber handgun that outclassed all black powder repeating handguns in history.  In fact, the Walker Colt was the most powerful revolver produced until the introduction of the .44 Smith & Wesson Magnum in 1955!  Designed especially for the Texas Rangers by Ranger Captain Samuel Walker and Samuel Colt, the Walker Colt was made to stop an enemy decisively with one shot.  Only  super gunslingers could wield such a super pistol, and that was the Texas Rangers.

Throughout their history the Rangers have performed numerous law enforcement and paramilitary roles, including investigating murder and other crimes, fighting hostile Native Americans, protecting the Governor, putting down riots, and investigating political corruption.  Their reputation was enhanced by putting down notorious criminals such as Sam Bass and John Wesley Hardin.  A former Ranger was instrumental in killing Bonnie and Clyde.  During the height of range wars and Indian wars, the Rangers were accused of ruthless tactics such as summary execution and torture, but that only added to their mystique.  The Rangers protected the meeting between US President Taft and Mexican President Diaz in 1909, preventing assassination attempts on both statesmen.

During the period of upheaval in Mexico in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries the Rangers combated Mexican raiders along the border, killing as many as 3000 Mexicans from 1910 to 1919!  The brutality of the Rangers at this time was not ignored, and some of the Special Ranger units were disbanded, and the number of Rangers was reduced, reaching only about 45 Rangers during the Depression.  In fact, all serving Rangers were dismissed in 1933 by a reform minded state governor, and in 1935 the Rangers were placed in the Department of Safety where they remain today, maintaining all the reputation for toughness and effectiveness with a sterling reputation for professionalism.

The Texas Rangers have achieved almost mythical status as the epitome of rugged Western law enforcement and individualism.  A small, elite force, popular culture such as movies, books, and television has added to the legend.  Even the Texas Rangers baseball team has latched onto the reputation by taking their name.  You can visit the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas, established in 1968.

The Texas Rangers

– WABAC to Real Border Security

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #42

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #42

The good thing about railroad tracks is that they travel as very nearly as the crow flies, the shortest distance between two points…

Part 3

Part 3

A drawing of the Colt Navy Model .36 cal revolver manufactured in 1851. The scene beneath the revolver shows a group of sailors firing a canon at a distant ship. One of six prints enclosed in a folded cover entitled "A Collection of Colt Historical Prints 1836-1873".

For the record, 30 minutes before the beginning of 5 October, Jacob Haley summons the Campbell’s for their flight from servitude. The children have been properly coached in the art of silence, as well as single file marching. Willy leads the way, followed by Hosea, Agnes, Francis and Alfrey, backed by Mother, Grandmother and finally, Jacob, bringing up the rear with a Colt Navy Model 36 Cal.  revolver on his belt and the determination of a charging bull. Willy sets the pace, Jacob backs them up.

          Much of the ground leading to the Pensacola & East R.R. right-of-way is woodlot, which provides fuel for all the many and varied Sumter fires. That forest of deciduous trees absorbs this string of conspicuously shadowy figures, formerly highlighted by a full harvest moon.

Uncut windfall and branches make for treacherous going, slowing their all important pace. Jacob is aware of the P&E R.R.’s midnight freight, but does not know where it is on its way west, as the clock strikes 12. His nose tells him that absence of coal smoke means it has not preceded them, his heart hopes that it is still stopped in Tallahassee, taking on much fuel and water after its long haul from Jacksonville.

Midnight Freight-001

The good thing about railroad tracks is that they travel as very nearly as the crow flies, the shortest distance between two points; over, around and through natural and man-made obstacles. The stretch from Midway to Quincy is as rugged and secluded as there is on its 400 mile course. The  hills are shaved, the hollows filled by the hills and the Little River valley trestle, making their five mile trek to State Road 268 as easy as possible. Any other way would never do.

After reaching the parallel iron rails, a left hand turn is made and the evenly spaced wooden ties are host to eight sojourners, careful to match their stride to each. There will be 13,000 creosote coated 6”x 8” timbers anchoring the rails on the path ahead.


 Alpha Omega M.D.

RR tracks

Episode #42

page 40

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Characters A.O.-001

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Good Candy, Bad Candy – WIF Treats and Tricks

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #41

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #41

…Who are you talkin’ to nigger?” Pigface enters unexpectedly; rounds being made by a round man…

Part 2

Part 2

The fifth of October 1896 passes without notice of an extra pair of hands, save a near extra bale of fluffy white fiber. Production overshadows any reason why, especially since there is some form of insect cutting into the yield. Jefferson Smythwick will never acknowledge that he is pleased with his workers.

“You did good, Mister Haley,” compliments Willy, who checks up on one tired lad. “I’ll bring yo supper shortly.”

The Throne

“Grits and gravy again?”  He has to ask. “I would really just like a chunk of bread, if you can spare it. I lost a night’s sleep to the outhouse yesterday and we’ll be on the run soon. No time to stop!” Time only for action. “Now you make sure to have everyone ready. When the moon clears the stable roof, I will meet you at your shack.” Jacob Haley has a serious look. “Are you sure you can get us to the tracks in the dark?”

It is too late to wonder, but Willy answers, “”Yessir, did so last eve, most likely while you were on the throne.” He speaks of the one person shed which covers a hole in the ground with a crescent moon cutout on the door.

“Very funny Willy. Not everyone’s constitution is used to pure pork grease.”

Willy looks up to the loft and sneers. “That’s right, causin’ we can’t be a stoppin’ along the way.”

Who are you talkin’ to nigger?” Pigface enters unexpectedly; rounds being made by a round man.


  Willy Campbell freezes, trying to pretend he was stretching his back, arms reaching for the sky saying, “I was tellin’ the horses to be ready for an early day in the morn, don’t you know.”

         Darkies Talkin’ to the animals… you’re ‘bout ready for the ol’ nigger pile, the one your woman’s mamma should be on… addled and useless,” he rambles. “You ain’t been kicked in the head or worse makin’ your own shine, have you? You been actin’ a fool lately.”

          “Oh no sir, no sir, no demon rum fo’ me,” he claims emptily.

          “You best pray it ain’t your brain goin’. We ain’t feedin’ no wacked out darkies on Sumter.”

A hidden and listening Haley will make sure Pigface won’t have to bother needlessly overseeing a family that deserves better.



Alpha Omega M.D.


Episode #41

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #40

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #40

…Willy looks at the hands of the school teacher and concludes, “Get yo hands dirty for the morrow, least you’ll look like you worked a day in yo life…

Part 1

Who is waiting for Willy at the gates of Fort Sumter South? It is the head overseer himself. Affectionately nicknamed, Pigface by his workers, this man is as ugly on the inside as he is on the outside. If his resemblance to a swine weren’t bad enough, he is a nitpicking all the day long.

His beef this day is tardiness. “Campbell Nigger! You were supposed to be back before sundown! I have a mind to throw you into the Hole!” The Hole is just that. Not a good thing.

“The horses needed water, Pig–uh, Master.” A name earned but never used near his presence.

“What about the pigs…? They ain’t got nothin’ to do with you bein’ a half hour late!” he grouses. “And I don’t see that barrel of molasses I asked you to get from the mill!”

Oops, there is an untimely oversight.

“I swear you ain’t worth the dirt you sleep on these days, heckfire, most of a month now.”

“I can go back for it, probably still on the dock, Master,” Campbell cowers. “I was thinkin’ you said meal, conemeal… got 2 sacks.” More correctly one sack meal and one sack of trembling bones.

“Put those poor horses away, before I kick your dumb ass from here to Quincy! Their day has been long enuff. Molasses, meal, how ignorant can one nigger be!” The pompous people pusher himself embodies ignorance, however unaware he is of his own condition.

It’s best if he gets to the stable and don’t spare the horses. All is nearly lost before it can get started. He has a special guest to care for.


“You best stay in the hay loft ‘til the mornin’. I’ll sneak you some supper later, when things settle down—you like grits and gravy?”

Jacob is no position to turn away Campbell hospitality, even though gravy and his bowels are not close friends, but then again, how can they be any looser than they already are.

“You gonna need yo strenth to pick you a bale of cotton.” Willy looks at the hands of the school teacher and concludes, “Get yo hands dirty for the morrow, least you’ll look like you worked a day in yo life.”

No insult intended, none taken.

Alpha Omega M.D.

The Overseer

Episode #40

page 38

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Shays’ Rebellion – WABAC to the 13 Colonies

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Peabody & Sherman-001

“Where are we going this time Mr. Peabody?”

“I am to introduce you to an important figure in the founding of the United States.”

The Story of

Daniel Shays

  History is rich

On this date, September 29, 1825, American soldier, revolutionary, and farmer Daniel Shays (c.1747–1825) died at age 78 in Sparta, New York.  In those storied 78 years, Shays became most famous for being one of the leaders of Shays’ Rebellion, a populist uprising against controversial debt collection and tax policies in Massachusetts in 1786 and 1787.  The seeds of that rebellion were planted nearly a decade earlier amidst a revolution…


The rest of the story…

In a bitter struggle against the most powerful industrializing nation on earth, the thirteen colonies that would later be called the United States of America (U.S.), won their independence from Great Britain.  Victorious, the citizens of the new nation of America thought that their freedom from British rule would bring them together as a young and prosperous nation.  In some aspects they were right, but in others they were wrong.

By defeating, Britain, the Americans had proved themselves not only hard-workers, but also a new nation, held together by high ideals.  The Americans had a whole continent to explore and a new government to form.  The problems then that faced the Americans might not have been totally expected, but also could not have been a total shock.  It is not exactly easy trying to form a new country.

One such problem was the economy.  High taxes were imposed to pay for war debts, and in Massachusetts, the problem reached a dangerous level.  Although there was paper money in circulation, little of it was honored at face value.  When farmers were thrown into debt they wanted more paper money to help pay off some of their debts.  When the Massachusetts state legislature failed to issue paper money and reform the debtor laws, the farmers took action.

Daniel Shays, born in 1747 probably at Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and died September 29, 1825 at Sparta, New York, was a U.S. soldier who served as an Army Officer at the battles of Bunker Hill (1775), Saratoga (1777), and Stony Point (1779) in the American Revolution.  He later lead the uprising of several hundred male farmers to force the Supreme Court in Springfield to adjourn in September of 1786.  In January of 1787, Shays’s force of 1,200 men tried to attack a federal arsenal at Springfield.  There his revolt began to fall apart as the militia fired upon his party, before they could reach the arsenal.  As the militia pursued him, he was decisively defeated on February 4 at Petersham.  He then fled to Vermont.

At first the leaders of the rebellion were condemned to die for their treason, but they were eventually pardoned.  Later, Shays even received a war pension!

Shays’ Rebellion was not the only rebellion of its kind to take place in the newly independent U.S.  Several disturbances occurred in other states with the unsuccessful Whiskey Rebellion of 1791-1794, primarily in Western Pennsylvania, being the most famous.  Collectively and despite the rebels being technically defeated, these revolts resulted in two significant changes.  In Massachusetts, the state legislature created laws that would ease the economic condition of debtors.  On a larger scale, the Federal government became aware that it had to be strong enough to keep tranquility within its borders.  Although, Daniel Shays’ Rebellion to capture the arsenal had failed, he and his debt-ridden farmers had succeeded in helping to make the country strong and fairer and that is why we remember him on this 190th anniversary of his death on September 29, 1825.

Shays’ Rebellion

Thirteen Colonies

– WABAC to the 13 Colonies