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Direct descendent of Mayflower lives in Overgaard

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Overgaard, AZ
Priscilla and George Corsi of Overgaard, AZ

With Thanksgiving in recent memory, our story is slightly late in the season. However, there is a resident of Overgaard who is a twelfth generation direct descendent of John and Priscilla (Mullins) Alden, passengers on the Mayflower which landed in Provincetown Harbor in November 1620. Priscilla (Alden) Corsi has legitimate claim to her ancestry with a family tree to prove it.

Priscilla’s grandparents 12 times removed are John Alden and Priscilla Mullins who were memorialized in the famous 1858 poem, “Courtship of Miles Standish” written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow was himself a descendent of John and Priscilla Alden. The truth of the story laid out in his poem hasn’t been proven, but Longfellow claimed it was an oral history handed down in his family about the first love story in the Plymouth colony.

The Alden home still stands in Duxbury, MA.
The Alden home still stands in Duxbury, MA.

The poem goes that Captain Standish was timid around women and so he sent his friend John Alden to propose to Priscilla Mullins. Alden, who himself had eyes for Priscilla, went through his proposal on behalf of his friend when Priscilla replied, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?” Apparently he did as the two married and had 11 children. Priscilla (Alden) Corsi is descended from their third son Joseph Alden. Her parents are John William Alden and Beverley (Caldwell) Alden. (See her family tree below.)

Overgaard az
Alden family tree

According to a 1941 article in LIFE Magazine, at that time they figured there were 5 million Alden descendents in America.

Priscilla (Alden) Corsi was born in Chicago and lived in Illinois for many years. At 8 years old during a visit with her grandparents who were building a cottage in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Soo Evening News wrote an article on her and her ancestry. The last paragraph has a really cute story in itself. (To get the gist of it one must remember that several generations of students when this article was printed had studied the Longfellow poem in school)…

“While Caldwell is working on his Caribou Lake cottage, the Caldwells, along with their granddaughter, are guests at Bonnevue Lodge and Mrs. Pauline Jacobs, operator of the lodge, is authority for this amusing sidelight. Twice within a few minutes, Mrs. Jacobs said, long distance telephone calls were received for guests who had just checked out. Immediately thereafter the telephone buzzed a third time. It was the long distance operator. “I don’t know who’s kidding who,” Mrs. Jacobs quoted the operator as saying, “But a man named John Alden in Chicago is calling for a Miss Priscilla Alden. Please don’t tell me she has checked out.”

In 1968 Press Publications in DuPage County, IL did a research project to determine whether any direct descendents of original Mayflower Pilgrims resided in their area. They found Priscilla’s family and wrote an article on their Alden heritage.

In the early 2000s Priscilla, who had moved to a Denver suburb, met George Corsi in an AOL chat room. (My, how times have changed!) George, who lived in a nearby town said, “When I saw her walk through the door for the first time, I thought, ‘Boy, I hope that’s her!’” And, lucky for George, it was his Priscilla. The two have been married for 14 years and stay very busy with volunteer work. Priscilla and George both work for the Sheriff Auxiliary Volunteers (SAV) and Priscilla is a Lions member, Treasurer for Friends of the Library and Library Board member.

She said the names ‘John and Priscilla’ have been handed down in the Alden family for 396 years. According to Priscilla, “My dad (John) had 6 kids, 5 girls and 1 boy, and I know that he was glad to have another John Alden to carry on the Alden name and history. My brother is 46, had two sons one of whom is named John, so the legacy will go on at least another generation as far as the direct descendants of John and Priscilla.”

We all have family history resulting from those who lived before us. An excellent source that is available to everyone is the Find Your Roots family history class which meets every Thursday at 6:30-8:00pm at the LDS Chapel. The (non-religious) class is free and open to everyone.

We appreciate Priscilla sharing her story – if you have interesting ancestry, please feel free to share by contacting me at 602-818-1507.

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Barbara Samples was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ and has called Heber-Overgaard home since 2008. She is married to Larry Samples, who is co-owner with her in L & B, Inc., owner of the Mogollon Rim News. They have four (grown) children and two grandchildren. Barbara serves as the Editor.