The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle


November 14, 2019

Darrell Alexander

Attendees perusing homemade items at the Naselle Lutheran Church's Bazaar and Bake Sale.

A Historical Synopsis of Thanksgiving

Everyone looks at Thanksgiving from a different perspective. To me it comes down to what are we really thankful for. For others it takes on a reverent religious meaning. Today Thanksgiving is our national holiday and occurs this year on Thursday, Nov. 28. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is recognized by most as the first Thanksgiving. For over two centuries, Thanksgiving was celebrated by individual states. In 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. It was prompted by Sarah Josepha Hale for 36 years. This noted magazine editor and writer, author of the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb," initiated a campaign to create Thanksgiving as a national holiday by publishing numerous editorials and sending dozens of letters to governors, senators, presidents, and politicians, securing her the nickname the "Mother of Thanksgiving." Abraham Lincoln finally regarded her request in 1863, at the peak of the Civil War. He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November. It was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. The president signed a bill in 1941 making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.

In September 1620, a ship named the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, transporting 102 religious separatists seeking a new home where they could practice their faith without restrictions while other individuals came because they were persuaded by the promise of prosperity and land. After 66 days at sea in the treacherous and uncomfortable Atlantic Ocean, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod. About a month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay where the Pilgrims began the work of forming their new village at Plymouth. Most of the colonists remained on board the ship throughout that first vicious winter, where they tolerated exposure, scurvy, and contagious diseases. Of the Mayflower's original passengers and crew, sadly only half would live to see their first spring. That March the remaining settlers moved ashore where they received an astonishing visit from a member of the Pawtuxet tribe named Tisquantum or more commonly known as Squanto, who greeted them in English. He was living with the Abenaki tribe. The Patuxet tribe lived on the western coast of Cape Cod Bay. In 1614 Squanto was kidnapped by English explorer Thomas Hunt who took him to Spain and sold him in the city of Málaga where he was among a number of captives bought by local monks who wanted to educate and evangelize them to Catholicism. Squanto made his way to England and from there he returned to his native village in 1619 only to find that his tribe had been wiped out by an epidemic, making Squanto the last of the Patuxet.

Squanto was able to teach the Pilgrims how to cultivate corn, introduced them to the fur trade, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and ignore toxic plants. With his help the settlers established an alliance with the Wampanoag tribe which would endure for more than five decades. In November 1621, after the first corn harvest was successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited their Wampanoag allies, including the chief Massasoit. It is now remembered as American's "first Thanksgiving," the festival lasted for three days. There is no record of their first menu, however; chronicler Edward Winslow stated their governor sent four men bid hunting and in one day killed as much fowl served the company for almost a week. Many of the Native Americans came along with their king Massasoit with some 90 men, whom for three days were entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed four deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on the governor and others. The Pilgrims didn't have an oven, and their meal did not feature pies or other desserts which have become a symbol of contemporary Thanksgiving. Did you know that lobster, seal and swans were on the Pilgrims' menu as well?

Today in many American homes, Thanksgiving has gone astray from much of its original religious significance; whereas now it centers on cooking and sharing an abundant meal with family and friends. Turkey is the ubiquitous Thanksgiving staple that has become synonymous with the holiday and may or may not have been offered when the Pilgrims held the original feast in 1621. Nearly 90 percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving whether it is roasted, baked or deep-fried, according to the National Turkey Federation. Of course, there are the traditional foods like stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.

Parades have also become a traditional part of the holiday in cities and towns across the nation. Since 1924, New York City's Thanksgiving Day parade organized by Macy's department store is the largest and most famous. It attracts millions of onlookers along the parade route that draws a massive television audience. During the mid-20th century the president of the United States pardoned Thanksgiving turkeys each year and sent them to a farm for retirement.

Some Native Americans have taken an issue with how the Thanksgiving story is exhibited to the American public, and predominantly to schoolchildren. They believe that the traditional description portrays a fraudulently positive representation of relations between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people. To them it only disguises the deaths of millions in the long and bloody history of hostilities between Native Americans and European settlers. Protesters since 1970 have gathered on Thanksgiving at the top of Cole's Hill, which overlooks Plymouth Rock, to commemorate a "National Day of Mourning."

Westend News

Every year before Thanksgiving, the American Legion Post #111 honors our men and women veterans by holding their pancake breakfast at the Rosburg Hall. The breakfast included pancakes, sausage or ham, eggs, coffee, milk, and orange juice. For over two decades American Legion Deep River Post #111 has served the local community faithfully. The men and women who volunteer are true patriots who love their country as well as their community

On Wednesday, November 20 the Thanksgiving potluck lunch will be held at Valley Bible Church. The Senior Lunch Club will provide turkey and ham. There will be no lunch gathering on November 27. All lunches will be served at 12 noon. Volunteers are needed so please contact the Naselle/Grays River Valley Seniors' president Diane Hollenbeck at or phone her at 1(360) 465-2991.

For the Rosburg Senior Community Lunches, the menu today (Thursday) features green chili chicken lasagna, zucchini and tomatoes, and apricot halves. On Nov. 21, the menu will consist of roast turkey, baked yams, stuffing, peas and cauliflower, ambrosia salad, and apple crisp. On Thursday, the 28th, they will be closed, so have a happy Thanksgiving. Anyone interested in renting the Rosburg Hall is encouraged to contact Sonja Kruse at 465-2251 or Frieda Footh (465-2574). Thursday luncheon at noon at the Rosburg Hall is sponsored by the Community Action Program (CAP) out of Kelso/Longview. Any questions, contact Denise Rae at (360) 425-3430 extension 259.

Darrell Alexander

Veterans preparing breakfast.

The Naselle Lutheran Church's Bazaar and Bake Sale on Saturday had items for sale inspired for those shopping for the holidays. There was a variety of handcrafted items, quilts and baked goods including traditional Finnish recipes. Coffee with homemade donuts and a "soup bar" with three different soups were offered. Even if you could not make this event, it would be nice if you could donate to help fix this roof. All proceeds will be dedicated to the "Fix our Roof Fund." For further information, call 360-484-3826.


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