Friday, June 26, 2009

Ypsilanti's Mayflower Gourd: A Vegetable Mystery

"One of the historical artifacts I'd most like to find," said fellow volunteer B.B. today, "is Ypsilanti's Mayflower Gourd."

Mayflower gourd? Sure enough, this undated newspaper article discusses a gourd, made into a powderhorn, that came over on the Mayflower. It belonged to an ancestor of onetime Ypsilantian John Howland who once ran a tannery near the modern-day Michigan Ladder Co and old grain elevator on Forest Ave.

This was no ordinary gourd, mind you. It was "ornamented in silver" and may have resembled the historical reconstruction at right. It dates back to the early 1600s! This is an extremely special and venerable gourd--arguably Ypsilanti's most important gourd.

Not that you would really argue that with anyone, unless you were really hot-headed and passionate about Cucurbitaceae. Most people would probably be content to cede to this eminent vegetable the title of Ypsilanti's most historically significant gourd without much of a fight. And if not--hey, you wanna step outside? Huh?

This aged vegetable is rumored to still be in the possession of Howland descendants, several of whom live in the area. But who knows? This noble squash may surface someday, perhaps overlooked in an estate sale, perhaps as an item in a will, perhaps as a donation to the Ypsilanti Museum. Best to keep your eyes peeled and stay on alert for a sighting--fame will surely be yours if you find this vanished treasure.

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