Mayflower bean

mtilton(7a OK)April 29, 2005

I was wondering if anyone has ever tried the Mayflower bean, which supposedly came over on the Mayflower in 1620. If this is true heirloom from that voyage, I think it would be exciting to plant, because I have one ancestor who came over on that ship. I already have it on order.

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You should contact Plimoth Plantation (correct spelling) in Massachusetts. They have a website. They would be able to tell you if there was any such authentic thing as the Mayflower bean.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2005 at 6:42PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

They would be able to tell you if there was any such authentic thing as the Mayflower bean.

Mayflower bean has long been listed at SSE and knowing bean enthusiasts and their quest for infomation, there would be documentation referred to if it were known for a fact that it was brought over on the Mayflower.

As it is, the blurbs just read "said to" have come over on the Mayflower.

Unless there's documentation, which in this case I think is impossible, for me it remains in the realm of so many varieties of this or that "said to" come from here or there or grown by this person or that person.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 8:48AM
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Sad but true.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 12:52PM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

I don't know if sad is quite the right word, Ginny. Sure, it would be fun to know for sure. But the reality is, we mostly don't.

Unless an heirloom was a commercial introduction, and, thus, there are records of it, most heirlooms cannot really be documented more than three---or at most four--- generations. Anything longer than that usually falls into the realm of anecdotal.

A typical scenario would be like my Faulkner's Cornfield bean. I collected it from a woman who'd inherited it from her mother, who'd recieved it as a wedding gift back in 1931. The gift giver was her new mother in law, who presumably had been growing it for years.

So, I can document it to "sometime" before 1931. But I have no real idea where or when the mother in law got it. Concievably it had been in her family for generations before that. But just as concievably she had only started growing it in 1930.

A more cogent example would be my Whippoorwill peas. My strain comes from a family that can document having grown them since just after the War Between the States. However, family lore has it that they've been growing it since settling in western Kentucky in 1820. While there is other evidence that supports the 1820 date, the fact is I can only document it to the late 1860s.

The world of heirlooms is full of stories like the Mayflower Bean. And they add a real touch of romance to what we are doing. I mean, what could be more romantic than the idea of a 1,500 year old bean that still germinated? Or of a tomato found in a pharoh's tomb that still produced?

Heirloom collecting would be less than it is without these stories. But it's important that we differentiate them from things we know for sure. Which is why savvy seed collectors use terms like "said to" and "supposedly" and such.

IMO, it's neither sad nor glad. It's just the way it is.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 7:30AM
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