Tyler may not be the first city that comes to mind when thinking about descendants who came over on the Mayflower ship from England in 1620.
But there are 23 members of the Tyler Colony of the Texas Society of Mayflower Descendants who meet twice a year here to celebrate their heritage of being descended from pilgrims such as John Alden and Myles Standish. The Texas Society is a part of the national organization called the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, founded in Plymouth, Mass. in 1897.
Betty Corcoran, who serves as the treasurer and the education chair for the Tyler Colony, said it took two years of research to provide the proof that she is descended from John Alden and William Mullins.
"Some people can trace their history to more than one pilgrim," she said.
Being able to provide that documentation is necessary to be admitted into the Mayflower Society, Ms. Corcoran said.
The Tyler Colony was created in 2006 because Ms. Corcoran and Carolyn McCall, who serves as governor of the Tyler Colony, were driving to Dallas for the annual Compact Luncheon held in November of each year. They were members of the DFW colony and had been making the drive for several years.
"On one of the drives to Dallas I made the off-hand remark, ‘wouldn't it be nice not to have to drive to Dallas'?" Ms. Corcoran said. "Carolyn's reply was ‘We could start a colony in Tyler.'"
"This sounded like a good idea so we began checking the Texas Society's membership book looking for members we lived in the East Texas area, made phone calls to those who did and found that there was interest in this endeavor," Ms. Corcoran said.
They met the criteria set forth by the Texas State Society, and on April 1, 2006, at an annual meeting with the Amarillo Colony in Amarillo, they received their charter from the General Society of Mayflower Descendants located at Plymouth, Mass.
"We began with a membership of approximately 12 members," Ms. Corcoran said. The Tyler Colony currently has 23 members, one junior member and several prospective members. "We meet twice a year, usually in May and definitely in November before Thanksgiving," she said.
During the first week of November, the group dresses in period clothing and goes to school libraries to give presentations. The group has an annual conference somewhere in the state, usually in the state, Ms. Corcoran said.
It's necessary for membership to have proof of descending from one or more of the passengers who were aboard the ship Mayflower.
Anyone interested in membership can call Carolyn McCall at 903-894-3697 or Betty Corcoran at 903-534-0742.