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Who Celebrated the 'First Thanksgiving'?

Miles Standish didn't get an invitation to these "first Thanksgivings" in 1541, 1564 and 1610. These celebrations predate the Plymouth colonists and their feast of gratitude in 1621.

Explorer in prow of boat holding banner Ferris, Jean Louis Gerome, 1863-1930, artist.

In May 1541, Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and 1,500 men celebrated at the Palo Duro Canyon -- located in the modern-day Texas Panhandle -- after their expedition from Mexico City in search of gold. In 1959 the Texas Society Daughters of the American Colonists commemorated the event as the "first Thanksgiving."

Another "first Thanksgiving" occurred on June 30, 1564, when French Huguenot colonists celebrated in a settlement near Jacksonville, Florida. This "first Thanksgiving," was later commemorated at the Fort Carolina Memorial on the St. Johns River in eastern Jacksonville.

The harsh winter of 1609-1610 generated a famine that caused the deaths of 430 of the 490 settlers. In the spring of 1610, colonists in Jamestown, Virginia, enjoyed a Thanksgiving service after English supply ships arrived with food. This colonial celebration has also been considered the "first Thanksgiving."

Learn more about these early Thanksgiving celebrations in the Thanksgiving Timeline linked from the American Memory Learning page.

A. Explorer in prow of boat holding banner. Pencil drawing, Anonymous. Created sometime between 1870 and 1950.

B. Ferris, Jean Louis Gerome, 1863-1930, artist.