Monday, November 19, 2012


Remember our Texas Pilgrims This Thanksgiving. HAPPY THANKSGIVING 

This is an excerpt from an essay published in "The Community Messenger" (November, 1998), by Janine Stubbs

     Texas had pilgrims as did  New England.  LaSalle and his Pilgrims from France came to the shores of  Texas after they were blown off course in stormy seas, similar to those who arrived at Plymouth from England. They were also blown off course in stormy seas.  While the New England Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, instead of Virginia, as planned, the Texas Pilgrims landed on the shores of Galveston and then Matagorda Bay, although they were headed for the mouth of the Mississippi River in what is now, Louisiana, where they intended to settle.

     Pilgrims journeyed long distances for religious purposes, similar to LaSalle's Pilgrims and the New England Pilgrims. LaSalle's Pilgrims were brave and gallant from good families who left France with missionary priests. They planned to convert the natives to Catholicism. They gave daily prayers, masses and their high priority was the building of the first Christian place of worship in Texas. It was "made of plaster over mud and covered with skins" inside their fort. The New England Pilgrims we study, unlike the French were more interested in doing away with anything Catholic. They wanted to separate from the  Church of England, they believed was too Catholic. They were known as Separatists.

     While the Texas Pilgrims arrived in Texas on January 1st, 1685 and the New England Pilgrims arrived in November of 1620, Texas Pilgrims could have arrived in November months earlier, had not LaSalle become seriously ill which required a stay-over on an island in the Caribbean.

     The traditional New England dinner we celebrate is similar to what the New England Pilgrims had in their celebration of Thanksgiving. They purportedly ate corn, pumpkins, and other harvest foods, along with turkey and trimmings. Priests, who recorded their arrival in Texas with LaSalle, mention their foods as being, corn, ducks, goats, fish and bustards(a kind of crane.) We know at other stops the French indulged upon crocodiles; perhaps this too could have been part of their menu at Matagorda Bay.

     The Indians the French met in Texas were not as friendly as those the New England Pilgrims met. The New England Indians reportedly helped the Pilgrims from England to survive, while the Indians the French Pilgrims met are given much blame for the demise of the French Settlers and their settlement near Matagorda Bay. Diseases took many French lives and one of LaSalle's men murdered him . But the aggressive Karankawas killed the remainder of the French Pilgrims.

     While we traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving according to the style of the New England Pilgrims, who arrived 65 years before our French Pilgrims, I think we should also remember our French Pilgrims,  who were significant to Texas history. Maybe have a modern day toast with a glass of good wine, if you can't get duck, goat, fish or bustard.  And I think crocodiles are still an endangered species.