As I sit here in my very comfortable home reading the The Mayflower Quarterly Diamond Jubilee Edition, published in celebration of the 75th anniversary of The Mayflower Quarterly, “the primary means of communication by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants”1, I again think about the treacherous and very dangerous journey our Pilgrim Ancestors experienced onboard the Mayflower during the fall months crossing the Atlantic Ocean and indeed, during the first winter when more than half of their number died.
With a deep desire to honor my Pilgrim Ancestors, I have filed nineteen (19) initial and supplemental applications which have been approved by the General Society; I have also joined The Pilgrim Henry Samson Kindred, the Delano Kindred, and The Pilgrim John Howland Society, all in an effort to pay tribute to their ideals, their stamina, and their willingness to be governed by a communal, mutual agreement outlined in the Mayflower Compact.
Again, from the Mayflower Quarterly Diamond Jubilee Edition, “The General Society was established in January 1897 by four State Societies (New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania).” 2
I was given as a Christmas present, by the Lt. Governor of the Los Angeles, CA. colony of Mayflower Descendants in the State of California, a selection of pages from a book he discovered while doing research for a paper he is about to write on the History of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.
Much to my surprise and again learning the lesson of humility, I discovered that I am not and was not the first Grinnell to take an interest in our Pilgrim Ancestors.
As stated above, the General Society of Mayflower Descendants was established by four State Societies. The New York State Society was the oldest of the original four founding Societies.
On December 15th, 1894 an announcement from New York went out to the general public, stating:
You are invited to be present at a conference of the descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims, who landed at Plymouth in 1620. The meeting will be held at the rooms of the New York Genealogical Society, No. 23 West 44th Street, at 8 P. M., on the anniversary of the landing, Dec. 22d, 1894.
Please extend this invitation to any of your friends who had ancestors on the Mayflower.
- Richard H. Greene
- Edward L. Norton
- William Milne Grinnell”3
There it is: a Grinnell as one of the founders of the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of New York. As I read further:
“At this preliminary meeting, at the rooms of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, there were present, besides the three who issued the call:
- Walter Scott Allerton
- James H. Hoadley
- Francis Bacon
- Augustus H. Hutchins
- J. Bayard Backus
- Waldo Hutchins
- William H. Doty
- Edward Clinton Lee
- Miss H. M. Fisher
- Miss Susan T. Martin
- Marshall W. Greene
- Mrs. Russell Sage
- Miss L. B. Grinnell
- Miss Nancy Grinnell
- Victor Seggermann
- Joseph J Slocum
- Mr. Edward B. Hill
- George H. Warren
- Mrs. Edward B. Hill
- Mrs. Wm. H. McCartney communicated by telegraph.
There: two more Grinnells- Miss L. B. Grinnell and Miss Nancy Grinnell4
And reading further:
An explanation of the purpose of the meeting having been made, a vote was taken for temporary officers, which resulted in the election of Richard Henry Greene as chairman, and William Milne Grinnell as secretary, those present then enrolled, as appears above.
A committee was appointged to formulate a plan for the organization, to consist of Richard Henry Greene (chairman), J. Bayard Backus, Edward Clinton Lee, Walter Scott Allerton, Joseph Jermain Slocum, Edward Loudon Norton and William Milne Grinnell and this committee, on February 22, 1895 chose Mr. Norton as its treasurer.
At a meeting of the enrolled members, March 28, 1895, the following were nominated and elected as a Board of Assistans: Richard Henry Greene, William Milne Grinnell, Edward Loudon Norton, J. Bayard Backus, Edward Clinton Lee, Walter Scott Allerton, and Joseph Jermain Slocum.4
At a meeting of the board on the same day Mr. Greene was made chairman; Mr. Norton, secretary; and Mr. Grinnell, treasurer. This board with the above officers continued to act until the annual meeting, prior to which time more than a hundred members had been enrolled. At the annual meeting, November 22, 1895, the following were elected the first officers of the society:
- Henry E. Howland, Governor
- Edward Clinton Lee, Deputy-Governor
- Joseph Jermain Slocum, Captain
- Rev. Roderick Terry, D.D., Elder
- Edward Loudon Norton, Treasurer
- William Milne Grinnell, Secretary
- Richard Henry Greene, Historian”5
On December 15, 1896, the following were chosen delegates to a conference to be held at Plymouth, Massachusetts, January 12, 1897, for the purpose of organizing, with the other societies, a General Society of Mayflower Descendants: Edward B. Hill, Richard H. Greene, Dr. J. D. Bissell, Mrs. Russell Sage, Dr. Roderick Terry, J. Bayard Backus, W. Milne Grinnell, George H. Warren, Walter S. Allerton and Howland Davis.”
Mr. E. B. Hill and Mrs. R. Sage did not attend; their places were supplied by Marshall Winslow Greene and Frederick Horace Hatch. These ten constituted the delegation from the New York Society at the meeting, January 12, 1897, when the General Society was organized.”6
There it is: a Grinnell playing a prominent role in the formation of one of the oldest and largest lineage and heredity societies in the United States; The General Society of Mayflower Descendants.
The first few hundred General Society membership numbers were given to the New York Society to match that Societies membership numbers, so the Grinnells' New York Society numbers are also the General Society membership numbers. Among these first New York and General Society membership numbers, the following names appear: #3. William Milne Grinnell, New York, NY. Tenth in descent from William Bradford; #15. Louise Bliss Grinnell, New York, NY. Ninth in descent from John Alden;
#17. Nancy Grinnell, New York, NY. Eighth in descent from John Alden; #29. George Bird Grinnell, New York, NY. Tenth in descent from William Bradford; #30. William Morton Grinnell, New York, NY. Tenth in descent from William Bradford.7
The lines of the above New York members are as follows:
#3. William Milne Grinnell1, George Blake Grinnell2, Eliza Seymour Perkins3, Rev. Nathan Perkins4, Catherine Pitkin5, Temperance Clap6, Elizabeth Adams7, Alice Bradford8, Lt. Gov William Bradford9, Governor William Bradford10.
#15. Louise Bliss Grinnell1, Brenton Bliss Grinnell2, Elizabeth Betsey Pearce3, Jepthiah Pearce4, Deborah Searle5, Sarah Rogers6, Elizabeth Pabodie7, Elizabeth Alden8, John Alden9.
#17. and #15. also have a line to: Nancy Maria Grinnell1, Brenton Bliss Grinnell2, Elizabeth Betsey Pearce3, Jepthiah Pearce4, Deborah Searle5, Sarah Rogers6, John Rogers7, John Rogers8, Thomas Rogers9.
#29. George Bird Grinnell1, George Blake Grinnell2, Eliza Seymour Perkins3, Rev. Nathan Perkins4, Catherine Pitkin5, Temperance Clap6, Elizabeth Adams7, Alice Bradford8, Lt. Gov William Bradford9, Governor William Bradford10.
#30. William Morton Grinnell1, William Fowler Grinnell2, Eliza Seymour Perkins3, Rev. Nathan Perkins4, Catherine Pitkin5, Temperance Clap6, Elizabeth Adams7, Alice Bradford8, Lt. Gov William Bradford9, Governor William Bradford10.
Perhaps this article will stir the interest of other Grinnell Family Association members in pursuing membership in the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. If so, I am willing and able to assist you in discovering your lineage back to one or more of our Mayflower Pilgrim Ancestors, and in filing the appropriate application for membership.
Teal, Alice Carnrite Teal, Editor and Folger 3rd, Harry Paine, Assistant Editor,The Mayflower Quarterly Diamond Jubilee Edition (General Society of Mayflower Descendants, Plymouth, MA. 2012)
Teal and Folger, ibid.
The General Congress MCMI The General Society of Mayflower Descendatns: Meetings, Officers and Members Arranged in State Societies, Ancestors and Their Descendants.p. 5
ibid. p. 6
ibid. p. 7
ibid. p. 8
ibid. pp. 77,78
Certificate of Incorporation of The Society of Mayflower Descendants from the Bulletin of the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of New York, No. 5 (Printed for the Society, New York March 1916)