5 places that celebrated Thanksgiving before Plymouth colony

Maine – 1607

A marker at Popham Colony, located in modern-day Phippsburg, Maine.
A marker at Popham Colony, located in modern-day Phippsburg, Maine. | Screengrab: YouTube/ilhouette

Fourteen years before the Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrated Thanksgiving in Massachusetts, a similar observance was held in Maine at a short-lived colony.

Known as Popham, the settlement only lasted for about a year due to a combination of a brutal winter, poor supplies, and the deaths of its leader (George Popham) and chief financer (Sir. John Popham, relative of George). The survivors returned to England in 1608.

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Nevertheless, as the New England Historical Society recounted, in October 1607, local natives visited the fort where the colonists were based, and a big feast was held, which included public prayers and supplications.

“The Popham colonists had reached out to Nahaniida, a Native American, and invited him to come with friends to visit the fort,” noted the historical society.

“The Native Americans received gifts from the colonists. Following the feast, they returned up the river to the forest that sheltered them from the elements. The Popham colonists, however, stayed in their small fort near the ocean, which left them exposed to a harsh winter.”

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