Happy holiday from Cranberry to Turkey Town

Several times each year I pass by Cranberry Township, Pa., usually as I’m exiting the Pennsylvania Turnpike heading to Pittsburgh, clad in black and gold, “Terrible Towel” in tow.

It’s a silly name for a township, I often have thought. So I chuckled last week at its mention on a media release sent to my newsroom from the U.S. Census Bureau titled, “Fun Facts About Thanksgiving From Turkey, Texas, to Pilgrim, Mich.”

Did you know Cranberry Township, Butler County, Pa., has a population of 30,132? And that Pennsylvania is home to not one, but two Cranberry Townships? The other is in Venango County, Pa., population: 6,465.

North Carolina also boasts two Cranberry Townships, and New York is home to Cranberry Lake.

Perhaps more importantly, the U.S. Census Bureau notes there are seven tiny little U.S. communities named for the centerpiece of Thursday’s big meal.

There is Turkey Creek, Ariz. (population 489); Turkey Creek Township, Ark. (population 316); Turkey Creek Township, Kan. (343); Turkey Creek Village, La. (424); Turkey Town, N.C. ( 242); and Turkey Valley Township, S.D. (167).

OK, am I the only one who thinks it’s ridiculous that our government actually paid some turkey (sorry, couldn’t resist) to compile these critically important facts?

I shouldn’t pass judgment since I bit. Here I am flipping through the lengthy report and sharing it with you this Thanksgiving week.

I learned three communities are named after the Mayflower, the English ship that brought the first Pilgrims to the New World: Mayflower, Ky., (3,191); Mayflower, Ark., (2,218); and Mayflower Village, Calif., (5,828).

Two counties have Plymouth in their names — as in Plymouth Rock, the supposed landing site of the Pilgrims — Plymouth County, Iowa, (popu. 25,027); and Plymouth County, Mass., (509,114).

Ever been to Plymouth Rock?

My husband and I traveled there more than 20 years ago with grand illusions of seeing that historically significant place where the Pilgrims first landed in 1620. After days of seeing countless historical sights in Boston and Salem back then, he and I finally made our way to Plymouth Harbor, expecting yet another memorable experience.

And there it was — a big grey boulder. Yep, Plymouth Rock is, well, a rock.

Despite its notoriety, no historical evidence exists to confirm that Plymouth Rock indeed was the actual steppingstone used by Pilgrims exiting the Mayflower. In fact, I’ve now read that this rock wasn’t even identified as “the” rock until some 121 years after the Pilgrims’ arrival.

Last summer, my husband and I, along with our two sons and my aging parents rented a minivan and trucked eastward across wide expanses of Pennsylvania mountains, through Connecticut amid heavy traffic and frequent gridlock to Cape Cod and Boston, Mass.

We had a busy vacation planned with no time designated to travel north to Plymouth. I think Mom was a bit disappointed at first when she learned we didn’t plan to visit Plymouth Rock.

But when I explained our previous experience, coupled with an image of the “Rock” that I pulled up on a Google search, she was quickly satisfied with a trip instead to Hyannis Port, hometown of her favorite president.

But I digress.

The Census Bureau also tells me there are two tiny U.S. towns named Pilgrim. One is in Michigan, population 52, and in Missouri, population 79.

Just 53 pilgrims celebrated the fall harvest, an English tradition, in the New World in 1621. In 2018, some 22.8 million people in the U.S. reported English ancestry. The number in Massachusetts was 607,612.

The first Thanksgiving included 90 Wampanoag Indians. The 2010 Census counted 6,500 members of the Wampanoag American Indian tribal grouping.

I’ll be gathering with my family at home this Thursday, and I’ll be giving thanks for all of them and for my many, many blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, no matter where you gather this week — from Plymouth to Cranberry to Mayflower Village, Calif., or anywhere in between.



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