On September 6, 1620, the sturdy merchant ship, the Mayflower, set sail with 102 passengers in search of a haven of freedom and prosperity in the new world.  The story of these courageous colonists has left an indelible imprint in the annals of the birth of Americanism.

Mary Chilton was destined to have her name recorded as one of those who "braved the tempests of the vast and furious ocean and the terrors lurking in the American Wilderness."  Mary was the last child born to James Chilton, a tailor from Canterbury and his wife.  Mary was the only one of their children to accompany them aboard the Mayflower.

After three strenuous months at sea, the Mayflower dropped anchor near what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts.  Explorers were sent out to find "a goodly land." Mary Chilton's father was never to see that goodly land of the Plymouth Colony.  Like many of the Pilgrims who were weakened by the crowding, exposure and inadequate diet of the sea voyage, James Chilton died at Cape Cod scarcely a month after signing the historic Mayflower Compact.

The exploration party returned to the Mayflower to lead them to the land they had found for the settlement.  As the Pilgrims prepared to disembark, legend has it that the thirteen-year-old Mary Chilton, in her youthful exuberance, was the first to set foot on Plymouth Rock.

Mary Chilton's mother died in early January, leaving the young girl an orphan in a strange new land.  Mary's own sense of hope and courage must have sustained her as she rolled up her sleeves and dug in to help care for the orphans, the sick and the dying.  Food supplies were short and tragedy continued to dog the settlers.  When the autumn harvest was finally gathered, Mary Chilton must have rejoiced as she joined in that first Thanksgiving celebration. 

Mary later married John Winslow in 1624, with whom she had nine children.

In 1915, our chapter was named for this brave young lady who made the first historic step in the new world.  It's unknown why the founders chose her for our namesake.  Perhaps, it was her tenacity in the face of a harsh new world.  In 1915, Sioux Falls must have seemed just like that to South Dakota's early settlers. It might have simply been her lineage.  We have several members in our chapter who descend from Mary Chilton and John Winslow.