Our October 20 Fall Meeting and Luncheon will feature “How the Jamestowne Colony Led to the Sailing of the Mayflower”

Our Fall Meeting and Luncheon will be held on Saturday October 20, 2018 at 12 noon at the Long Beach Yacht Club, Skipper’s Cove Room, 6201 E. Appian Way, Long Beach, CA 90803.  For directions, please go to: http://www.lbyc.org/directions

LBYC phone: 562-598-9401; Website: www.lbyc.org

Our program, How the Jamestowne Colony Led to the Sailing of the Mayflower, will be presented by Erica Hahn, a First California Company and Jamestowne Society member since 2013 and past Governor of the Orange County Colony of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.

The luncheon will cost $40 and be an Italian buffet of penne pasta with marinara or sausage velouté, mixed grilled vegetables, fruit salad, mixed Italian salad, garlic bread, and dessert.

Please make your reservation and check payable to First California Company, Jamestowne Society, and mail to:

Treasurer Richard Burke; 1810 W. Northern Ave A-5 153,; Phoenix, AZ 85021-0965

Phone: 804-938-5060; Email: firstcaljs@gmail.com

They must be received by Wednesday, October 10, 2018.

Please include your name (and others in your party, plus Email and Phone, and indicate whether a member, Friend, prospective applicant or guest.

For more information or other help, please contact Governor Julie Plemmons at her email address: jpnkids@yahoo.com or phone: 619-207-7006


Posted in 2018, 2018 Fall Meeting, Early American History, Erica Hahn, First California Company, Historic Jamestown, Jamestowne Society, Long Beach Yacht Club, Mayflower, News, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Our October 20 Fall Meeting and Luncheon will feature “How the Jamestowne Colony Led to the Sailing of the Mayflower”

Our June 23rd, 2018 Annual Meeting

Our 2018 Annual Meeting was called to order at 12:05pm on Saturday, June 23rd by Lieutenant Governor Julie Plemmons in absence of Governor Scarlett Gathings Shepherd at the San Diego Yacht Club, 1011 Anchorage Lane, San Diego.

We had 36 in attendance, 20 of whom were members of the Society and First California Company, plus nine guests and seven prospective applicants. Chaplain Sandra Orozco delivered the Invocation and Councilor and Past Governor Donna Derrick led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America; the attendees then introduced themselves.

FCC welcomed our new members; from left to right: Lori Darnell; Denise Lonngren; Susan Astarita; Kathleen Beall. The new members introduced themselves to the group and shared some info about their Jamestowne ancestor. There also were six prospective applicants in attendance, so we are looking forward to some additional new members soon.

Membership Chair Marty Sommercamp welcomed four new members who were present, Lori Darnell; Denise Lonngren; Susan Astarita and Kathleen Beall. New member Ellen Anderson was absent.

Bonnie M. Harris, Ph.D. made a presentation on A Foundation for Revolution: The Intersection of Religious and Civic Life in Jamestowne, 1607 to 1777. She related how the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was a statement about both freedom of conscience and the principle of separation of church and state. Proposed first by Thomas Jefferson in 1777 and passed by the Virginia General Assembly on January 16, 1786, it was the forerunner of the first amendment protections for religious freedom, which was considered a natural right that could not be infringed upon. Religious tolerance and freedom were not practiced in early to mid-17th century New England and Plymouth as the Puritans had created what was essentially a theocracy, but were given more leeway in Virginia.

She traced the 300-year history of religious dissention that began in the 16th century, down through the English 17th century colonization of Ireland to impose conversion through exploitation, the wars among the English, Dutch, French and Spanish in the 17th century and the establishment of Virginia as a royal colony in 1624, when the General Assembly openly tolerated other sects and dissenters. Religion was governed locally by vestries in Virginia as no Anglican bishops were seated. The governing elite consolidated religious and civic issues and tolerated religious diversity, which fostered civic dissent. Our Revolution actually began in the 1760s with a change in general religious sentiment during the French and Indian War and violent reactions to the Stamp and Declaratory Acts, leading to Virginia’s 1786 enactment of the Statute and, soon after, adoption of our First Amendment in our Constitution in 1789.

Lieutenant Governor Plemmons then read Governor Shepherd’s report and announced that the next company meeting would be scheduled when the new Council arranges it.

The membership ratified the findings in the Financial Review Committee’s report by Jim McCall and Jim Shepherd that had been accepted by the Council earlier. Treasurer Suzy Leif presented her report.

Chaplain Orozco led a moment of silence and remembrance for our recently deceased former member Thelma Yates.

Jim McCall reported that the National Parks Conservation Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation and Preservation Virginia had jointly filed new appeals of the DC Circuit Court decision in favor of the US Army Corps of Engineers permit to allow Dominion Energy to begin construction of the towers across the James River near Jamestown.

Lieutenant Governor Plemmons presented Sandy Krutilek’s Report on the Southern California Genealogy Society’s 2018 Genealogy Jamboree.

Jim McCall reported on plans for the Society’s 2019 commemorations to mark the 400th anniversary of the first representative legislative assembly in North America, as well as the arrival of the first recorded Africans to English North America, the recruitment of English women to help establish families among the male settlers to bring stability to the colony, the first official English Thanksgiving in North America and the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of the Virginia Colony. Commemoration events’ meetings have been moved from May to July 27-30 in Williamsburg. Details will appear in the forthcoming Society Magazine.

Nominations Committee Chair Suzy Leif reported out nominations for the 2018-2020 Council and the membership elected the following:

Governor: Julie Plemmons, Lt. Governor: Marty Sommercamp, Secretary: Sandra Orozco, Treasurer: Richard Burke, Historian: Jim McCall, Chaplain: Sandy Bill, Membership Chair: Martha Gresham, Councilor: Claire Murphy, Councilor: Joanne Murphy, and  Councilor: Immediate Past Governor Scarlett Gathings Shepherd (per the bylaws)

Bylaws Committee Chair Jim McCall presented revisions and amendments to the bylaws that the membership acted upon.

Outgoing Councilor Anita Guenin installed the 2018-2020 Council: Left to right: Outgoing Councilor Anita Guenin, Governor: Julie Plemmons, Lt. Governor: Marty Sommercamp, Secretary: Sandra Orozco, Treasurer: Richard Burke, Historian: Jim McCall, Chaplain: Sandy Bill, Councilor: Claire Murphy, and Councilor: Joanne Murphy, Absent: Councilor and Immediate Past Governor Scarlett Gathings Shepherd and Membership Chair and Past Governor Martha Gresham.

Councilor Anita Guenin installed the 2018-2020 Council.

Posted in 1619 First General Assembly, 2018, 2018 Annnual Meeting, 2019 Commemorations, Bylaws, Donna Derrick, Early American History, Elections, First California Company, French and Indian War, Jamestowne Society, National Trust For Historic Preservation, New Members, News, Officers and councilors, Scarlett Gathings Shepherd, SDGS Genealogical Jamboree, Virginia | Comments Off on Our June 23rd, 2018 Annual Meeting

2018 SDGS Genealogical Jamboree

A Message from Governor Scarlett Gathings Shepherd:

Our First California Company of the Jamestowne Society has been a part of The Southern California Genealogical Society’s Genealogical Jamboree in Burbank annually for many years. The Jamboree lasts three days and costs $150 for a table, with hotel rooms for out of town participants at an additional cost. It has been difficult to find enough people to man the table for three days and we did not get enough traffic to justify the cost. I investigated and found we could have a free table for one day in the corridor, which we have now had for the last two years. In addition, I found that being in the corridor, instead of the main hall, we were able to attract more visitors going to and from classes, while having more space between tables for set up. I also arranged for our table to be next to United Daughters of the Confederacy and the National Society of Colonial Dames of the XVII Century as we have members who belong to all three. The visitors, who were attracted to one table, would also visit the others and we were able to cover each others’ tables for lunch or breaks. This made three similar heritage tables side by side to attract visitors,

I have helped man our table for four years. This would have been my fifth year, however, two days prior to our participation, my husband and your historian, Jim Shepherd, suffered an emergency and was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, pleurisy and complications. For this reason, Jim and I were unable to attend. This was to be and is my last Jamboree. I am happy to report, though, that Sandy Krutilek has agreed to take over my responsibilities in the future re Jamboree as she has participated yearly with her husband, Scott, who is no longer with us. She is most qualified and able.

Thank you, Sandy, and thank you to all for allowing me to serve.

Scarlett Gathings Shepherd, Governor, First California Company of the Jamestowne Society

Pictured are from L to R Susan MacWilliams, United Daughters of the Confederacy Nancy Hippert, NS Colonial Dames of the XVII Century and Sandy Krutilek, First California Company of the Jamestowne Society


Posted in First California Company, Jamestowne Society, Jim Shepherd, News, Scarlett Gathings Shepherd, Scott Krutelik, SDGS Genealogical Jamboree, Uncategorized, Updates | Comments Off on 2018 SDGS Genealogical Jamboree


By Scarlett Gathings Shepherd, Governor, 2016 – 2018

Company Governors Assemble at 2018 Meeting. Governor Scarlet Gathings Shepherd is in white at left center.

The 2018 Jamestowne Society National Conference was held May 10 – 12, 2018, at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg. This was a new venue for our Society functions as we previously met at the Williamsburg Lodge in Williamsburg. This resort is in a gated community and is a golf resort.

The Governors Wine and Cheese event on Jamestowne Island:
Jim Shepherd (FCC Historian ), Anne Stokes Moore (Society Historian and Chairman of Special Events), David Givens (Senior Staff Archaeologist-Jamestown Rediscovery- Preservation Virginia), Richard Bradley (Lt. Gov. First Mississippi), Bonnie Hofmeyer (Executive Director- Jamestowne Society)



Thursday, May 10 there was a Wine and Cheese event hosted for company governors and one guest per governor at the Dale House Cafe and Archearium on Jamestown Island for guests to mingle with one another as well as with archaeologists and national Society Council members. David Givens, senior staff archaeologist, showed a plaque of wood, which will be used for the pews in the restored church. He explained that when he was in England, he measured pews in several old churches, taking into consideration that the average Englishman in yesteryear would have been smaller. There were many such discussions amongst the guests and everyone was delighted to see Dr. Kelso and have him sign his book, Kingsmill Plantations, which was gifted to all attendees at the conference by Jamestowne Society.

Recognition of Society members who are military veterans. FCC Historian Jim Shepherd is in white shirt standing at extreme left

The governors’ business meeting was held at the resort on Friday, May 11. Seven of our elected national officers, six Regional Directors and thirty-six of the fifty-three companies from across the country were represented. Past Governor Jerry Zillion introduced the Jamestowne Society military veterans who were present at the meeting.

Besides being provided important leadership information, there were break out group discussions led by Regional Directors. Our Western Regional Director is Jane “Xan” Alexander. Later there was a chance for input or questions for the entire group. Some of the items discussed were to start the membership process, their Society sponsor (a member) would contact Bonnie Hofmeyer to ask that an invitation be sent to a prospective member. However, Bonnie recommends that the invitation not be requested until the prospective member has their papers in order. As always, the one-year limit exists and if the application is not sent in within the year, there will be a penalty assessed. The only exception to the rule is if the Society has made an error. Unofficially, many Governors have their membership chairs assist prospective members with their papers. Please note: only the 4th edition of Adventurers of Purse and Person are now accepted and these are not normally found in libraries.

The Society has confirmed over 900 names of individuals who meet its 17th century ancestry criteria and are listed among its Qualifying Ancestors. On the Society’s Home page, click on the link for the Revolutionary War Era couples to Jamestowne Society Qualifying Ancestor project list, last updated May 2017.

Susan McCrobie, the Jamestowne Society Magazine editor, advised that each company may submit via email two news articles per calendar year for publication in the Society Magazine, which are limited to 200 words. The name of the company, city and state must be included in the Word document. Also, a photo caption and only one photo may accompany each article. At the end include the name of the company governor and the name as well as email address of the person submitting the article. Jamestownesocietypublications@gmail.com and also Jamestowne.society@verizon.net

Questions: contact Susan at susanmccrobie@gmal.com

Please send upcoming company events to Jamestowne.society@verizon.net for posting on the Company event webpage at www.jamestowne.org.

Also, please refer members and prospective members to the website to keep up with future happenings.

During the business meeting, there was a discussion about the Annual Giving Campaign and where the money goes. Preservation Virginia, which is a non-profit organization was mentioned as needing funds as well as Jamestown Rediscovery. Everyone was given the same handout that we all were mailed. As this is aimed at individual members, Jim and I have chosen and donated $100.00 to the Harrison Ruffin Tyler unrestricted fund. From discussions, we learned that the unrestricted funds are easier to manage meeting the needs of various current and future projects.

The Reverend Roy Abbott Martin Jr, Governor of Jamestowne Society, encouraged members to get involved by filling out volunteer forms, indicating their talents and interests. Check the Magazine for the committee chairs and send your email to the Society.

Mary Anna Richardson, Lead Archaeologist Jamestown Church- Jamestown Rediscovery gave a special talk re her recent activities.

Dr. Bill Kelso leading Kingsmill Tour

After the business meeting, there was a buffet luncheon with Dr. William Kelso, followed by his presentation and a walking tour of the three sites. Buses were available for those who needed transportation.  Before construction began on the Kingsmill Resort, Dr. Kelso, working for the Virginia Historical Landmark Commission, partnered with Anheuser Busch to conduct fieldwork on this site.

The Governors’ Dinner was also held on Friday May 11. Governor Martin recognized Jim Shepherd (my husband and Historian of First California Company) as the Registrar who had helped him with his application papers for the Virginia Branch of the Huguenot Society of the Founders of Manakin in the Colony of Virginia. We were honored when he and his wife chose to sit at our table. Bonnie Hofmeyer, Executive Director and also Dr. John Shelton, Secretary of the Treasury greeted Jim warmly as he had also helped them with their papers for the Virginia Branch of the HSFMCV.

Saturday May 12 was the Spring Membership Meeting and Luncheon. Merry Outlaw, Curator of Collections Jamestown Rediscovery, was the guest speaker and had interesting slide shows to accompany her talk.

Next year will be the 400th Anniversary of the First General Assembly held at Jamestown. Instead of our annual Jamestowne Society meetings being held in May, they will be held July 27- 30, 2019. All indications this will be a special celebration, so please plan on attending.

Woodson descendants assembled; past FCC Governor Ginny Gotlieb is at extreme far right

Posted in 2018 Governors' Forum, First California Compoany, Gotlieb, Historic Jamestown, Jamestowne Society, Jamestowne Society Governor, Jim Shepherd, Kelso, Membership, Scarlett Gathings Shepherd | Tagged | Comments Off on 2018 JAMESTOWNE SOCIETY NATIONAL CONFERENCE

Our 2018 Annual Meeting Will Be Held on Saturday, June 23 In San Diego

Our 2018 Annual Meeting and Luncheon will be held on Saturday, June 23 at 12:00 Noon at the San Diego Yacht Club, Staff Commodore Room, 2nd Floor of the Club House (address and directions below.)

 Our speaker will be Bonnie M. Harris, Ph.D., whose program will be A Foundation for Revolution: The Intersection of Religious and Civic Life in Jamestowne, 1607 to 1777.

Dr. Harris is a lecturer in the Department of History at San Diego State University, Grossmont Community College District, and Southwestern Community College District. She is a descendant of Reverend Thomas Hampton, an Episcopal minister in James City Council and Williamsburg Parish.

Cost: $45; including luncheon. Your reservations must be received by June 15, 2018.

For more information or details, please contact our Treasurer Suzy Leif at 619-922-9823; email: suzyleif@gmail.com

For reservations, please make your check payable to First California Company, Jamestowne Society, and mail to: FCC Treasurer Suzy Leif, 3345 Hopi Place, San Diego, CA 92117-3516

Please include the names, email addresses and phone numbers for you and your guests; indicate if they are a FCC Member, FCC Friend, a prospective member or guest. Please also select from the following entrees: Pecan Crusted Chicken with Pear Sage Reduction; Seared Atlantic Salmon; or Pasta Primavera (vegetarian choice.)

SDYC is located at 1011 Anchorage Lane, San Diego, CA 92106. Phone: 619-221-8400. Website: https://sdyc.org/

Parking is limited at the club, but friendly neighborhood parking and metered parking within three short walking blocks is available.

Directions: From Interstate 5 South or 8 West:
Exit at Rosecrans Street exit. Follow Rosecrans Street until you reach Talbot Street (3½ miles, to third street past Shelter Island Drive). Turn left and go to Anchorage Lane.

From Interstate 5 North:
Exit at Hawthorne (airport exit). Follow to Harbor Drive toward Pt. Loma. Turn left on Rosecrans Street (signal). Go a few blocks to Talbot Street (signal). Make a left turn and go to Anchorage Lane.

For a map, please go to https://sdyc.org/visitor/map/upon-arrival

Posted in 2018 Annnual Meeting, Bylaws, Elections, First California Company, Jamestowne Society, News, Scarlett Gathings Shepherd, Uncategorized, Updates | Comments Off on Our 2018 Annual Meeting Will Be Held on Saturday, June 23 In San Diego

Photos of our 2018 Winter Meeting

We have the following photos from our 2018 Winter Meeting on February 24 ( see recap):


Membership Chair Marty Sommercamp introduced new member Sandra Bill, with Governor Scarlett Gathings Shepherd looking on.  (courtesy Ed Bill)

Table # 3 right to left. Harry Holgate, Brandynn Holgate, Susan Holgate, Leigh Bryan, Donna Riegel, David O’ Hoy, Suzy Leif, Dorothy Flynn. (Courtesy Jim Shepherd)

Table # 4 right to left. Craig Swanson, Ellen Anderson, Marty Sommercamp, A. J. Cleveland, Carl Chidiac, Sherrie Stein, Susan Pitney. (Courtesy Jim Shepherd)

Table # 5 right to left. Lia Peterson Miller, Dorothy Peterson, Lawrence Beall, Kathleen Beall, Byron Taylor, Betsy Zafuto, (Courtesy Jim Shepherd)

Table # 2 right to Left Patricia Fleming, Jerry L. Willoughby, Donna Derrick. Julie Samaniego, Ginny Gotlieb, Kathleen Flaherty, Sandra Krutilek, Claire Murphy. (Courtesy Jim Shepherd)

Table # 1 Right to left: Edward Bill, Sandra Bill,. (Courtesy Jim Shepherd)

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The Spring Heritage Tour – May 11, 2018 – is fully reserved and closed

The Society has asked us to alert our members and other readers that the Spring Heritage Tour scheduled for May 11, 2018 that will feature a luncheon presentation by Dr. Bill Kelso and a walking tour of the Burwell and Pettus house sites  has been fully subscribed at March 10 and no further reservations will be accepted.

Posted in 2018, 2018 Spring Heritage Tour, Historic Jamestown, Jamestown Rediscovery, Jamestowne Society, News, Updates, Virginia | Comments Off on The Spring Heritage Tour – May 11, 2018 – is fully reserved and closed

A Recap of Our 2018 Winter Meeting in Dana Point

Our 2018 Winter meeting was held on Saturday, February 24 at the Salt Creek Grille in Dana Point, with 38 members and guests in attendance. Governor Scarlett Gathings Shepherd presided. We were pleased that First Arizona Company Governor Richard Burke could join us.

Our speaker, Cheri Mello, Family Tree DNA Administrator, discussed Deciphering the DNA Soup, as follows:

Family Tree DNA provides powerful interactive tools to help find your DNA matches, trace your lineage through time and determine family connections. It can help you break through brick walls.  You can use the following types of DNA for genealogy:

  1. Y-DNA: A male carrying the surname that you wish trace will be taking this type of DNA test. Traces the testee’s father’s line or the top of his pedigree chart; the testee’s strict paternal line.
  2. mtDNA: Either a male or female can take this type of DNA test.  Traces the testee’s mother’s line or the bottom of the pedigree chart.  The testee’s strict maternal line; all females, all the way.
  3. Autosomal DNA (Family Finder): Either a male or female can take this type of DNA test.  Traces ALL lines of the testee back approximately 200 years.

DNA Tidbits:

How much DNA do you have from your ancestors?

*  50% from your parents

*  25% from your grandparents

*  12.5% from your great-grandparents

*  6.25% from your 2 great-grandparents

*  3.125% from your 3 great-grandparents

*  1.5ish% from your 4 great-grandparents

Chaplain Sandra Orozco offered a memorial to deceased member Scott Krutilek.  He was a valuable member, a fine gentleman and a friend to the Society.  Several members shared their memories of Scott.  His wife, Sandy and their granddaughter, Kathleen Flaherty, were present and joined in the memorial.

Membership Chair Marty Sommercamp introduced seven prospective members who were among the guests.

We were reminded that next year the Society will have a major ceremony to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the first General Assembly in Jamestown. Its membership meeting will be held in Williamsburg on July 30, 2019, rather than on the customary May dates.

Jim McCall’s reports were distributed, including a summary of the Society’s 2019 commemorations, status of the continuing effort to Save the James, and of a new website feature with his request of members to submit two or three paragraphs telling what they know about any of their Qualified Ancestors, especially beyond what might be found in Adventures of Purse and Person and similar sources.

Governor Shepherd spoke about the Veterans Pins and the one that was given to John Cahoon at our Annual Meeting on last June 24.  He passed away July 31, and was buried with his pin from the Society attached to his Navy cap.

Lt. Governor Julie Plemmons reported that the Company’s Annual Meeting will be held on June 23, 2018, at the San Diego Yacht Club.

Treasurer Suzy Leif reported on the sound financial status of the Company.

We will again have a table at the Southern California Genealogy Society’s Jamboree on June 1. There will be two other genealogical societies alongside our table, which should help attract more visitors. The Governor, Jim Shepherd and Sandy Krutilek will represent our company.

NOTE: We are planning to revise our website and will want suggestions, comments and ideas from our members. We will be conducting an online survey in mid-to-late April seeking their help. Therefore, we urge them to visit and scroll through its pages and information to be prepared to respond to the survey.


Posted in 2018 Annnual Meeting, 2018 Members Survet, 2018 Winter Meeting, 2019 Commemorations, Cheri Mello, DNA, Fall 2015 Meeting, First California Company, Genealogical Help, geneaology, In Memoriam, Jamestowne Society, Long Beach Yacht Club, Membership, New Members, News, Save the James, Scarlett Gathings Shepherd, SoCal Genealogical Jamboree, Winter Meeting | Comments Off on A Recap of Our 2018 Winter Meeting in Dana Point

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Our Winter Meeting Is Saturday, February 24

Salt Creek Grill

Our First California Company’s 2018 Winter Meeting will be held Saturday, February 24, 2018 at 11:30 AM at the Salt Creek Grille. 32802 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point, CA 92629 (location and directions below).

The general membership meeting will be followed by luncheon (selections below) and the program on how to decode the confusing terms of DNA.

We will welcome Cheri Mello, Family Tree DNA Administrator, who will discuss Deciphering the DNA Soup.

You have had your DNA tested, now, how do you use that tool to connect to your ancestors? Cheri will unlock the answers you have always wondered about and provide case studies that have used DNA to overcome brick walls that stood since the 1950s. You won’t want to miss this program!

Cheri Mello began dabbling in genealogy as a 5th grader with the U.S. History assignment. She began her active adult research over 25 years ago, after the death of her remaining grandparents. Her expertise ranges from various areas of America, to Portugal, as well as DNA, genealogy software, Find A Grave, and more!

Luncheon selections include Oven Roasted Salmon w/Ponzu Sauce; Oven Roasted Chicken w/Bacon/Mushroom jus Sauce; Herb-Marinated Grilled Flank Steak (served medium rare to medium) and Roasted Portobello Mushroom (vegetarian choice.)

The total cost is $40 per person.

Please make your reservation to be received by Saturday, February 10, and mail your check to: Treasurer Suzy Leif 3345 Hopi Place, San Diego, CA 92117-3516.

Phone: 619-922-9823 – Email: suzyleif@gmail.com

Please include the total dollar amount of your reservation(s), the names of all in your party, plus each e-mail address and phone number. Also, please advise whether they are FCC or Jamestown Society members, Friends or guests.

The Salt Creek Grille is at the southeast corner of Crown Valley Parkway (southbound exit from I-5) and Pacific Coast Highway (northbound exit from I-5.) Its phone number is (949) 661-7799.

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Update: Our November 19 Fall Meeting

First California Company has cancelled its Fall 2017 General Membership Meeting and Luncheon for 11:30 AM on Sunday, November 19.

Our next meeting will be Saturday, February 24, 2018; details will follow closer to the date.

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How the Jamestown Colony led to the sailing of the Mayflower

By Erica Hahn

I admit that, despite many clues, until recently I never thought much about what role Europeans played in New England before the Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower in 1620.  All I knew was that their native friend, Squanto, greeted them in English, having been kidnapped and carried off to Europe years earlier. Tragically, when he returned, everyone in his village had died of a European disease.  Where his village once stood was now the site of the colony of Plymouth Plantation.  We also know that our ancestors agreed to the Mayflower Compact, signed in 1620 off Cape Cod, because they somehow missed arriving in “Northern Virginia,” which was the area of their land patent.

So, when did Europeans first reach New England?  Where did the name “New England” come from?  How about “Cape Cod?”  How about “Plymouth?”  And was there competition?

The answers to these questions actually lie in Jamestown, the first English language colony to survive, founded in 1607.

The key founder of Jamestown was an Englishman called Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, born in 1571.  He pursued a seafaring life.  Before Jamestown, in 1602 he explored colonialization in “northern Virginia” in what is now New England. In doing so, he named the peninsula he reached, Cape Cod because … well, there was a lot of cod.  He named an island there for his dead daughter, Martha’s Vineyard. On another island off the cape, now called Cuttyhunk Island, he and his people built a fort, but after a month they abandoned it.

Gosnold at Cuttyhunk, 1602, by Albert Bierstadt, 1858

The English by this point were quite keen to colonize in North America and as a result two rival joint stock companies were chartered, the Virginia Company of London, based on where its organizers lived, which had jurisdiction in what is now the American South, and the Plymouth Company, based on where its organizers lived, which had jurisdiction in what is essentially now New England.

In Dec 1606, Gosnold managed to pull together enough backing via the London Company, which he helped found, for another try and this time set out for what would become the Jamestown Colony. He died there in August 1607.  In 2003, what is probably his long-forgotten grave in Jamestown was discovered by archeologists.

There was another try at establishing a colony in Maine, the “Popham colony” in 1607, at the same time as Jamestown. This effort was sponsored by the rival Plymouth Company, organized by John Popham and Ferdinando Gorges, and led by John’s nephew, George Popham.  Both John and George Popham died the first winter and the colony was abandoned within the year.

In 1609, Captain John Smith, who had been the president of Jamestown’s governing council, left for England after injuries and in disgrace.  But, in 1614 he again set sail for the New World, with two ships, this time to explore Maine and Massachusetts.

During his expedition, some of his company took native people as captives including Squanto. (It is uncertain as to whether this was the second time Squanto was taken captive.  He may originally have been taken captive in 1605 by an agent of Ferdinando Gorges.)

This map, New England Observed, 1616 is provided courtesy of the
Osher Map Collection at the University of Southern Maine and is part
of John Smith’s Description of New England

In 1616 in England, Smith published a book called A Description of New England. It is believed that this was the first time the name of New England was used for the area.

Smith created the map shown here and gave place names to various locations along the coast of Massachusetts including New Plimouth near Cape Cod.

It is unclear where the diseases that decimated the native people came from, but we know that in the years after Smith’s visit and before the Pilgrims arrived, a number of fishermen, French as well as English, frequented New England’s waters.  Cod was a very valuable commodity.

The religious separatists in Leiden, the Netherlands, who became known as the Pilgrims, must have poured over that book.  It was they who chartered two ships, including the Mayflower, for their voyage to the New World.

In 1619 in London, the Leiden separatists entered into a deal for a land patent with the London Company in the jurisdiction of the London Company, i.e., no further north than New York, as well as ships with the same company. When the Pilgrims started negotiations, they were soundly cheated by their original investors.  To satisfy new backers, a consortium of London financiers known as the Merchant Adventurers, they had to include “Strangers” among the passengers.  Many of the passengers on the Mayflower were not separatists but instead Strangers.

By accident or design, the Mayflower’s arrival on Cape Cod was considerably outside the jurisdiction of the London Company.  The following year in 1621 the Pilgrims obtained a new patent from the newly reorganized Plymouth Council for New England.

One of the Strangers was Stephen Hopkins, who came on the Mayflower with his second wife, some of his children, and two servants.  Stephen was unique in that he was the only passenger who had ever been to the New World before. In 1609 he had come on the “third supply”, then spent 9 months on Bermuda after a shipwreck, before the castaways built two smaller ships to get to Jamestown.   He then spent several years in Jamestown. A letter regarding “Eliezer Hopkins” arrived in Jamestown in 1614, probably bringing the news his first wife had died, and so he returned to England, Thus, he is a qualifying ancestor for both the Jamestowne Society and the Mayflower Society.

And not to forget the Canadian connection: The English were not the only Europeans interested in the area.  The French made several attempts to colonize in New England, mostly minor settlements for fishing and hunting as well.   Their first real North American colony was established in 1604 at St. Croix, an island at the extreme northern edge of what is now Maine.

St. Croix failed due to disease and in 1605 the founders moved what remained of it to what became Port Royal Habitation in modern Nova Scotia. A second French attempt in New England was a Jesuit mission called Saint Sauveur founded in 1613, also in northern Maine.  Two months later forces launched out of Jamestown wiped out both Saint Sauveur and Port Royal in 1613. Thus, Jamestown made New England safe for English Protestants.  And so, in 1620 English Protestants, i.e., the Pilgrims, started the successful colonization of New England.

Erica Hahn is a member of the California Mayflower Society and the Jamestowne Society.



Natalie Zacek, “Bartholomew Gosnold (1571-1607,” Encyclopedia Virginia, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org.

William Taber, “Maine’s Popham Colony,” Athena Review, vol 3, no. 2: Peopling of the Americas, http://www.athenapub.com

James Truslow Adams, The Founding of New England.  Boston, the Atlantic Monthly Press, 1921.

Peter Firstbrook, A Man Most Driven, Captain John Smith, Pocahontas and the Founding of America. London, Oneworld Publications, 2014

Caleb Johnson, “Tisquantum (“Squanto”)”, Caleb Johnson’s MayflowerHistory.com http://mayflowerhistory.com

Caleb Johnson, Here Shall I Die Ashore, Stephen Hopkins:  Bermuda Castaway, Jamestown Survivor, and Mayflower Pilgrim. 2007, Xlibris Corporation, 2007

Brenda Dunn, A History of Port-Royal/Annapolis Royal 1605-1800. Halifax: Nimbus, 2004.




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