Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Rope Of Destiny

Events in history have changed the destiny of all the people of the world over time. We, the living, owe so much to our ancestors. Their actions, whether they were chance meetings of future spouses, decisions on migrations to other regions of the world, or they may have even involved the presence or use of ordinary inanimate objects. One or all of those actions may have affected the destiny of all of us and our future decedents.

During a recent History Channel program, it was stated that 10% of the people in America are descended from those who came across the Atlantic Ocean on the Mayflower. I am one of those descendants of John Howland who was a passenger on the Mayflower. John Howland is my 11th great grandfather. John Howland had ten children and eighty eight grand children of whom I am descended through his daughter Desire. According to author Nathan Philbrick’s book Mayflower, John Howland came over as an indentured servant. All passengers were not allowed on deck for fear of falling overboard and lost at sea. It is supposed that John grew restless and climbed up on deck. The Mayflower suddenly lurched during a storm and John tumbled in to the sea. This should have been the end of him, but dangling over the side of the ship, was a halyard rope used to raise and lower the upper sail. John was in his mid twenties and strong. His hand found the rope and he hung on even as he was beneath ten feet of sea. Several sailors took up the rope and hauled John in, finally snagging him with a boat hook.

I am one of probably thousands of descendants who owe their existence to John Howland of the Mayflower. Two Presidents; George Walker Bush, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John’s ten children, eighty eight grand children, and I owe so much to him; to his shipmates, to the Mayflower and to the halyard rope that was trailing behind the ship. I am here today because of the presence of an inanimate object, a lowly twisted piece of hemp that just happened to be at a certain place and time in history. The “rope of destiny” saved all our lives.

My lineage:

John Howland>

Desire Howland Gorham>

Hannah Gorham Whilldin/Whilden>

Mary Whilldin Crowell>

Elishabee Crowell Godfrey>

James Godfrey>

Mathew Godfrey > and Thomas Godfrey>

Armina Godfrey Godfrey > (first cousins married) Henry Sheldon Godfrey>

Mary Elizabeth Godfrey McComsey>

Mathew “Mattie” Alice McComsey Smith>

Benjamin Franklin Smith>

Alda Lucille Smith Hopkins>

Harold Hubert Hopkins>

Geoffrey Ted Hopkins

Websites for more researching on the subject:

Pilgrim Hall Museum

History of Plymouth Plantation-Google Books

Wikipedia-John Howland

Mayflower History

The Pilgrim John Howland Society

By: Geoff Hopkins

Written for the blog; THOSE OLD MEMORIES © 2010

****Three weeks until the Midwest Family History Expo in Kansas City, Mo. Check out the schedule and attend a great genealogy conference. Speakers include: Thomas MacEntee, Leland Meitzler, Arlene Eakle, Tami Glatz, and Lisa Alzo- just to name a few.


  1. hi cheri, nice post & good blog, i think u must try this site to increase traffic. hope you have a nice day & keep blogging!!!

  2. Really lovely site. What Gardner line (tied to Flodder?)