Kristin Luce, February 2015
We are always on the lookout for the pre-Plymouth origins of our main characters, Alice Martin, George Clarke, and Richard Bishop. The more we research and learn, the more real these people become, and certain discoveries can be as titillating as any 21st century gossip. It was this kind of excitement that passed between Erin and me via text message, when I mentioned my latest find — that Edward Doty’s wife was named Faith Clarke. “GTHO” Erin texted back moments later, and after I figured out what “GTHO” meant (“Get the hell out!”), I realized that she was just as delighted as I was.
If you look back at Erin’s piece on The Elusive George Clarke, you can read about Clarke’s disputes with Doty, and why Doty’s marriage into a Clarke family is potentially significant.
The records indicate that the two were likely farming neighbors as Clarke drags Dotey into court claiming the latter is denying him access to his lands (PCR, vol 8., October 1637). In June of 1638, Dotey is fined for physically assaulting Clarke (vol. 1), and the bad blood continues for another four years, when Clarke is ordered to pay Dotey four bushels of corn for some infraction (vol. 2, February 1642).
If George and Faith were siblings, Doty’s and Clarke’s disputes over property lines could be explained as mundane in-law squabbles. Eugene Stratton, in Plymouth Colony: Its History & People, points out possible hostilities between Doty and his in-laws when, on “4 January 1641/42 the court settled differences between Doty and Thurston Clarke (father-in-law or brother-in-law?) by ordering Clarke to pay corn and money to Doty (PCR 2:30)” (Stratton, page 284). However, Doty had issues with many different people, most of whom were not named “Clarke.”
Erin Taylor, December 2014
Ask Kristin. I am a curmudgeon of tourist. I sneer at the gift shops, recoil at the fellow visitors replete with whining teenagers and their fanny-packed parents. So, as we planned our trip to Plymouth, I dreaded the notion of visiting Plimoth Plantation on a Saturday in November. I’m all for historic preservation, but seriously questioned the quality of historic reenactments. For the record, “Plimoth” is the spelling Governor Bradford used in his history of the colony.
Attitude, camera, and notebook in hand, I headed down to the 1627 “authentic” Plimoth village and was immediately smitten. Kudos to the nonprofit Plimoth Plantation for an engaging and transformative experience. I was especially impressed with the reenactors and their training (a new source of fascination for Kristin and myself). If there is an international standard for reenacting history, I’d wager Plimoth is setting it. Do visit – with your children or students especially – and live some American history.
Plimoth Plantation Nov 2014
Certainly, the museum needs to fund itself so there is the usual array of retail – ye old tyme thermal mug, authentic colonial fudge (cocoa wouldn’t be seen in New England for at least another century). But these are kept at a tasteful distance from the reenactment sites. And, in full, ashamed disclosure, I skipped the Wampanoag village (Native American) as I was so intent on spending time in a home similar to Alice Martin Bishop’s.
Kristin Luce, January 2015
The Plymouth Town Records tell us that in 1653, “Abigaill Clarke” registered “a half moone on the right eare” as her unique branding mark, to identify her cow from other wandering Plymouth bovine (vol. 1, p. 2).
For some reason, I’m having trouble getting the image of Abigail and her cow out of my mind. It’s a poignant picture I’ve been creating, of the lonely 12-year-old orphan with no one to love — or to love her back — but her cow. (I don’t know if cows show affection, but if Abigail fed it, it was probably glad to see her. My Oklahoma cousin Erin, somewhat of an expert, tells me: “They will nuzzle you if you show up with oats, but they aren’t going to spoon you in bed or validate you.”)
Cattle were plentiful in New England in the 1640s, to the extent that their value had dropped significantly by the time the Great Migration began to peter out in the early years of that decade. But while their value as a trading commodity decreased, they still played an important part in the daily lives of Puritan families — cows for dairy and breeding, gelded males primarily for draft work (Chartier, see below).