of the Society
The Society of Mayflower
Descendants in the State of New York holds the unique distinction of being the first
Society of Mayflower Descendents to be established.
Greene founded the Society on December 22, 1894 in New York City as a society for lineal
descendants of passengers who came over on the Mayflower in 1620.
The original seven members of the New York Society were:
J. Bayard Backus
Richard Henry Greene
William Milne Grinnell
Edward Clinton Lee
Edward Loudon Norton
Joseph Jermain Slocum
its inception, the Society has processed more than 5,550 applications and
as of December 31, 2009 had a membership of 1,150.
More Historical Notes of Interest...
With the outbreak of World War I, the Mayflower Society
donated an ambulance to the National League of Womans Services to be used in New
York for transporting wounded American soldiers arriving by ship to local hospitals.
During the 1920s the Society grew in membership and
activities leading up to the purchase of Mayflower House in 1928. The five story town house located on East 71st
Street was re-decorated and furnished to host Mayflower teas and receptions as well as
serve as the headquarters for the Societys operations and library.
In April 1931 the Society held its dinner dance at the
Ritz Carleton Hotel on 45th Street and Madison Avenue attended by several
hundred members, family and friends. In 1933
the Society decided to present a gold medal for conspicuous achievement to
President Franklin D. Roosevelt and in 1934 to present one to Dr. Alexander Hamilton Rice,
who made explorations in South America.
Unfortunately, the Depression of the
1930s forced the Society to sell Mayflower House in 1941 and by 1943 the
Society's offices were relocated to the New York Genealogical and
Biographical Society building at 58th and Lexington Avenue. The office
was relocated in May 2007 to it's present location at 20 West 44th
In the post-World War II era, the Society saw an increase
in young members; a dinner dance was held at the Hotel Pierre in January of 1947 - the
proceeds being donated to the Endowment Fund of the Mayflower House in Plymouth,
Massachusetts. Society members collected
books and records which were donated to vocational and convalescent departments in
Halloran Hospital and Manhattan Beach Hospital, both veterans hospitals.
In 1957 the Mayflower II - a replica of the original ship
manned by an international crew - sailed from England to Plymouth, Massachusetts. To celebrate its arrival, Gimbels
Department Store in Manhattan created a Gimbels Mayflower Museum. The Societys
then Governor, Pelham St. George, presided with Bruce A. Gimbel, president of Gimbel
Brothers, at a ribbon- cutting ceremony on June 24, 1957.
Over 200 members attended the opening of the exposition which featured
life-size reproductions of Pilgrim houses, a Cape Cod Indian hut, furniture, household
goods and mannikins dressed in authentic Pilgrim clothing.
Throughout the 1950s the Society held an annual
dinner-dance at the Plaza Hotel. The first
Ball at which six debutantes were presented was held in their Grand Ballroom.
In 1962 the Society donated a portrait of Martin Van
Buren, 8th President of the United States, to the White House for which First
Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wrote a thank you letter to the Society.
In 1970 the Society celebrated the 350th
Anniversary of the signing of the Mayflower Compact at its Ball at the Plaza. The Swedish-American line arranged a cruise on the
S.S. Kungsholm and 450 GSMD members sailed to Leyden where they laid a wreath on the tomb of
John Robinson, pastor of the Leyden Congregation. They
were also received by the Mayor of Boston, England and attended a splendid reception at
the Guild Hall in Plymouth, England.
During the 1980s and 1990s to the
present day, the Society sponsors two Educational Programs each year:
Educational Outreach Program with Plimoth Plantation and the Compact
Award Program for high school seniors. In addition to hosting its' Annual
Mayflower Debutante Ball, the Society hosts cocktail
receptions, a Cousins Dinner and an Annual Meeting held every year in April.
(This brief history of the Society was extracted from A
Short History of the Society of Mayflower
Descendants by Sondra Blewer).
Albany Colony History...
Although the Albany Colony was the first Colony in New
York State to be founded, its membership disbanded as a result of the Depression and World
Wars. In 1952 the Colony was re-organized and
set about to furnish the Mayflower room, an early Dutch bedroom at Ft. Crailo. The Colony donated a Dutch chest and table,
paintings, quilts and china from personal donations and fund-raising projects. The room was completed in 1962 but since then the
Fort has been taken over by the State of New York with the understanding that the Colony
gifts would be used in other exhibits. The
Albany Colony holds luncheon meetings twice a year.
Although Society members created the Buffalo Association
of the Society of Mayflower Descendants on June 25, 1901 with Henry R. Howland as its
President, the reconstituted Buffalo Colony held its first formal meeting in 1962. Its members helped save the Ainsley Wilcox Mansion
from being destroyed. This home served as a
barracks in the War of 1812 and was the site of Theodore Roosevelts swearing-in
ceremony upon the death of President William McKinley on September 14, 1901. The Buffalo
Colony continues to hold luncheon meetings twice