Most schoolchildren learn about the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony from a series of mnemonic rhymes. Here's a look at how well these couplets hold up to historical scrutiny:
The Rhyme: They hunted turkey for work-y/And for chuckles they ate their own buckles.
True or False? While it is true that most of the Pilgrims were employed by the Dutch East India Company as turkey trappers, there is little historical evidence to suggest that the Pilgrims ate their own buckles for fun—it's more likely they ate the buckles for their high iron content.
The Rhyme: Seeking freedom of thought/On the Mayflower they fought/Millions and millions of mermen.
True or False? The Pilgrims were actually already free to practice their religion at their settlement in Holland, and their reason for coming to America had more to do with cultural identity than freedom to worship. Also, the mermen are thought to be apocryphal.
The Rhyme: If you fall asleep covered in mud/The Pilgrims appear to eat all your blood.
True or False? Every mother warns her children that if they refuse to take their bath, a vengeful band of Pilgrims will materialize to extract a terrifying revenge. This is true, but you can also trigger the appearance of the bloodthirsty Pilgrims simply by reading the word "Pilgrim" nine times in the course of a day.