First Thanksgiving…Which One?

Posted: November 19, 2010 by April Watkins in Holidays in America
Tags: , , , ,

Several of my friends have been discussing the origins of Thanksgiving in the United States.  Some have cited examples of it being merely a celebration of the harvest (thanks to the Native Americans), but not necessarily a “religious” event. 

Portrayal of Pilgrims feeding the starving natives. What a sham!

Many more of us cite earlier examples where the settlers to the New World, indeed, did stop to give thanks to God for their survival, arrival, or well-being.  Being a descent of the settlers to Jamestown (which predates the Pilgrims – my guess is they must have had a better PR guy, because they were the LAST bunch to have a “Thanksgiving”…but I digress), I put in my two-cents of opinion and discovered more than I had known! 


In the season of Thanksgiving and Harvest Home, I give you the following information.  Interesting!! 

VIRGINIA:   In 1607 when the first permanent English settlement was
established in Jamestown, Virginia, Rev. Robert Hunt led the Englishmen in a
Eucharist of thanksgiving and praise – consecrating the colony to God.

MAINE:   On August 9, 1607, English settlers in Maine under Captain George
Popham held a harvest feast and prayer meeting on the Kennebec River with
the Abnaki Indians.

FLORIDA:   On September 8, 1565, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, a Spanish
explorer, invited the Timucua Indians to dinner in St. Augustine, FL, after a
thanksgiving Mass celebrating the explorers’ safe arrival.

Adm. Gaspard de Coligny

An earlier Florida Thanksgiving was held in 1564 when French Huguenot colonists celebrated near Jacksonville, FL.   Prominent Huguenot leader,
Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, envisioned America as a refuge for persecuted French Protestants.    He sponsored a group of Huguenots to found Fort
Caroline on Florida’s St. John’s River.   The settlement struggled, but reinforcements came just in time to save it.   On June 30, 1564, the group
celebrated their first Thanksgiving Festival.

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado

TEXAS: But the first recorded Thanksgiving was May 23, 1541, in the Texas
panhandle when Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado held a service of thanksgiving for finding food, water, and pasture for his animals.

I cannot confirm at this hour, whether these dates are correct, but my genealogist friends are rather sticklers about such information, so I have given them the benefit of experience and research. 

If you have any additional stories of Thanksgiving, please share them with us.  We should post all of the stories of our ancestors giving “Thanks” to God for their survival in this New World that we now call the United States of America. 

Thanks Be To God!


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