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Society History

In 1620 a small group of Pilgrims, seeking religious freedom, set sail from Plymouth, England with the hope of establishing a colony, what was known at the time as, the northern part of Virginia territory. They chartered two ships, the Speedwell and the Mayflower, for the journey. The Speedwell was determined to be non-seaworthy, leaving just the one vessel for the Pilgrims. Though not much larger than a tennis court, 102 passengers and crew members managed to squeeze themselves on board.

During the stormy fall voyage of the Mayflower there were many incidents, including a death and a birth, a main beam that split during a storm, and one of the pilgrims falling overboard. The captain steered them much farther north than they had planned, landing the group at Cape Cod. After exploring the area, they settled at Plymouth, a settlement protected by a small harbor, where they struggled to survive with many in the party dying from an unknown epidemic during the first winter. In the following year, conditions vastly improved and the Pilgrims celebrated their success in the fall with a dinner of Thanksgiving. This tradition has grown into a major American holiday commemorating the struggles of those first Pilgrims.

More than one hundred years ago, a group of descendants of the Pilgrims saw the need for a national society to honor their memory. In 1897, The General Society of Mayflower Descendants was organized in Plymouth, Massachusetts, as a volunteer-run society to celebrate the memory of the Pilgrims, to study and preserve their history and to perform other services such as presenting educational programs and distributing scholarships. Today there is an autonomous society in every state as well as the District of Columbia and Canada.

The Washington State Society was formed in 1912 under the leadership of Warren Greene, being inspired by his cousin, Richard Henry Greene, of New York City, who founded the Society of Mayflower Descendants. A number of members of the General Society in other states, but residents of the State of Washington, requested permission of the society to organize a unit in the State of Washington. Having met the necessary requirements this charter was granted March 28, 1912.

The first meeting was held May 7, and organization completed. Beginning with twenty-one charter members, today we have over 350, who hold meetings with speakers on historical topics, stage events, provide junior education, and in many other ways contribute to the remembrance of our Pilgrim ancestors.