My aunt Ruth made some super cute self standing pilgrim dolls out of coke bottles, baseballs, and gym socks and dressed them up and gave a pair to my mom when I was little. I grew up with them as our only Thanksgiving decor and I played with them every year. They weren't meant to be played with of course, but I was careful.
I decided last year that I would like my own little pilgrim decoration dolls. I thought I would make them like Ruth's; but Mom couldn't find them right away and I decided I could just make my own dolls and dress them as pilgrims for a similar effect. I wasn't sure where I would find full sized glass Coke bottles anyway. I found a doll making book at the library, The Fairytale Doll Book by Valerie Janitch, (1989) which is apparently also available on ebay. I used the pattern for the doll bodies but the head didn't work out, this may have to do with my inability to follow instructions, or maybe the instructions weren't clear. The head turned out like a sideways potato so I scrapped it and drew my own pattern for the head. I also modified the patterns for the clothing to make them fit and to make them pilgrim-like.
I researched pilgrim clothing and found that what we think of as pilgrim clothing with the buckles and tall hats and all black and white is a Puritan style that didn't come into fashion until well after the Mayflower had landed. I found a great website about it here with pictures and I used those as my guide.
I didn't entirely stick to accuracy however, I kept the colors somber and the "pilgrim hat" and belt buckle just for recognition's sake.
I also modified the cap to show the hair since it's cuter to me.
These dolls actually can stand on their own, but only without their shoes and at very uncomfortable looking angles so I'm using doll stands to hold them upright. (score one for the Coke bottle)
I'm not sure what the material is called that I used for the neck ruff/petticoat. It's a sheer, stretchy, lightweight, fine netting that I got on clearance at Walmart. That piece was made with a long rectangle that I gathered 3/4 of an inch from the top of the wider side, then top stitched it down to lay flat and cut two holes in the sides for the arms. (I would have taken a picture of her in just her petticoat to show you, but the dress is a pain to remove and put back on, and Tilley here is too modest anyway. Seriously, she blushed when I lifted her skirt.)
I've named them Howland and Tilley for two of my Mayflower ancestors.
The dolls bodies are made of 50/50 cotton poly broadcloth (even though the pattern called for felt). The cuffs, collar, cap, and apron are made from an old cotton bedsheet. The suit and dress are made from cotton quilting fabric. The hat, belt, buckle, and shoes are made from felt. The hair is crochet thread. The faces are drawn on with a super fine sharpie. They stand 15.25 inches tall. They took a full month to make with the pattern inventing and all the little details and the fact that I was working holiday shifts. I didn't actually finish them until after Thanksgiving last year so this is their first Thanksgiving on display. I wanted them to be strong enough to hold up to light play by children, but we'll see how long they last.
And now for the family history part of this post. If you are not descended from Mayflower passengers, you are still influenced by them and by their descendants. If you are a Mayflower descendant you are special! and also not, because there are millions and millions of us. It does however make history live a little more when you have a personal connection. My mom had told me at one point that I was a descendant of John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley. While researching for this post I tried to find them and how I'm connected. It took several days of
looking through thousands of family tree names, and in the meantime I found a few more Mayflower passenger ancestors. There may be more, but I ran out of steam. If you are my sibling, we have EIGHT Mayflower passenger ancestors.
For the Shirts cousins here is the line, the names in bold are the passengers. I don't give most spouses, just the thread of descendants.
John Tilley & Joan Hurst Tilley and daughter Elizabeth Tilley who married John Howland- Desire Howland & John Gorham had Temperance Gorham and Joseph Gorham Whose Children married each other (first cousins) Thomas Baxter & Desire Gorham- Joseph Baxter- John Baxter – William Baxter –Zimri Harford Baxter –Eunice Adelaide Seavy Baxter – Mary Jane Broadhead –Ruth Harward- Max Leroy Shirts
For the Rushton cousins,
John & Eleanor Billington and son Francis Billington & Christian (Penn) Eaton (Widow and third wife of Francis Eaton – a Mayflower passenger) – Isaac Billington – Mary Billington –Lydia Wood – Priscilla Thompson – Sarah Sturtevant –Dudley Leavitt- Dudley Leavitt- Mable Lydia Leavitt- Ned LaMar Rushton
Francis Cooke- Mary Cooke – Mary Tinkham- Shubael Tinkham- John Thompson – Priscilla Thompson- Sarah Sturtevant –Dudley Leavitt- Dudley Leavitt- Mable Lydia Leavitt- Ned LaMar Rushton
And now for the inevitable list of famous people who are known to share these ancestors. Enjoy.
John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley
Joseph Smith Jr.
Emma Hale (seven generations removed)
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
President George H. W. Bush
President George W. Bush
Nathaniel Gorham (Continental Congress President)
Edith Roosevelt (Theodore's wife)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
President James A. Garfield
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
President George H. W. BushPresident George W. Bush
Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma Moses)
Dr. Benjamin Spock
Dick Van Dyke
My sources are familysearch.org, themayflowersociety.com, and okmayflower.com