John Alden, of the Mayflower, was arrested for murder in Augusta, Maine and taken to Boston to face trial.

It was 1634 and what is now Augusta was called Cushenoc, for the local Indians, and Maine, having not yet become a state, was part of Massachusetts.

Some years earlier, the Pilgrims had established a fur trading post on the Kennebec, at the sight where Fort Western now stands.

Every man, woman and child in Plymouth shared in the debt still owed the "Adventurers" in London who had financed much of the Mayflower adventure. At first, the Pilgrims planned to make good money fishing, having arranged for two boats for the crossing: the Mayflower and a smaller ship, the Speedwell. They would keep the Speedwell in the new land for fishing and in case things went bad, they would have a way back across the ocean to England. However, after two failed starts to sea, the Speedwell proved unseaworthy and they had to leave it behind.

Now, some years later, and with up to 50 percent interest on the loans, their debt was threatening to sink them. There was no way, however, that the majority of Plymouths citizens, having all they could do to keep their homes and feed their families, could discharge the debt.Things looked bleak.

So, in 1627, a plan was put together by the leading men of the colony to “undertake” the debts and pay them for everyone through establishing trading posts to “truck” with the Indians – using as “trucking stuffe” with the Indians such things as corn, beads, hatchets, knives and other goods in return for furs. Called the "undertakers”, they would take on the expense and work of running the posts and paying the debts in return for keeping any profits among them. The first thee “undertakers” were William Bradford, Issac Allerton and Myles Standish. They later chose, as additional undertakers, John Alden, William Brewster, Edward Winslow, Thomas Prence and John Howland.

They got a grant from the king for a track of land on both sides of the Kennebec that stretched up and down the shores for 15 miles and inland on both sides for 15 miles.

This would give them exclusive rights to trade with the Indians there and with Indians north of the post who would bring their furs down river. (They also set up trading posts in Machias and Castine.)

These men then set about to get the trading posts up and profitable so they could start getting the debts paid down. So up the Kennebec they came in the shallop, a small boat from the Mayflower, to set up the post in what is now Augusta.

The trading post consisted of a three-room building, 20 by 60 feet, set on posts. (The location of the building was discovered some years ago, but they made it into a parking lot. Typical. There’s a small brass plaque signifying the site as a "historical" site, but just not what it was! On a rock, on the river side of the parking lot, is a metal plaque set into the rock that does tell about the post. This was erected some time ago by Mayflower descendants. And that is that.)

The three rooms of the post building were divided into a family room on one end, with a wattle and daub chimney and fireplace, the room for trading in the middle and a store room on the other end. It was, undoubtedly, the first prefab building in New England. They actually made it in Plymouth and brought the sections up the Kennebec to reconstruct. Quite a feat

It was John Howland, with his wife and three little girls who occupied the trading post in the winter — fur season. (Imagine the isolation!)

And so the posts were operated for a few years without disturbance. Then, in 1634, a gang of scallywags came up the Kennebec intent on encroaching on their trading rights, which would have cut off the trade from the Indians upriver. Howland, as resident agent, ordered them to move on but they refused, replying in “ill manner.” John Alden was also present at the time. He agreed with Howland that to let them proceed would be a great blow to their business, which they could not afford.

They tried to reason with the interlopers again, to no avail. A scuffle broke out and Hocking, the lead man of the intruders, fatally shot one of his own men. His partner then grabbed his musket and shot Hocking dead.

News and rumors soon flew and John Alden was accused of murder and hauled off for trial in Boston. Now the Puritans of Boston Bay Colony had been trying to take over Plymouth Bay Colony for years. The Puritans were a stiff-necked, holier-than-thou group — and, by the way, they were the ones who dressed in black and white, not the Pilgrims. (Indeed, Elder William Brewster, the Pilgrim's spiritual leader from the time of arrival until his death at a few weeks shy of 80, had listed in his will a long red velvet cloak … and a "pair of greene breeches.”)

Upon investigation and eye-witness accounts of the melee on the Kennebec, including from one of Hocking's gang, exonerated Alden and he was set free.

He and Priscilla had 11 children and their third house, built in Duxbury, was lived in by Aldens well into the 1900s. A charming two-story home, it is now a living museum and well worth a visit. Photos can be seen online.

In the early 1900s, about 300 years after the Mayflower landed, in a renovation of the Alden house, a secret compartment by the front door was discovered. In it was the cobwebbed carbine that John Alden had brought over on the Mayflower. A Wheelock, the rifle was in remarkable condition even though it showed a good deal of use – perhaps one time on the Kennebec?

It is now a prized possession of the NRA’s National Firearms Museum. It can be seen on their website.

It also probably shot its share of "ye wilde turkey," maybe even for the first Thanksgiving tables and most probably, in the games of skill that the Pilgrims and Indians competed in during the three days of feasting and festivities.

And remember, that first Thanksgiving had a lot more on the tables than "ye wilde turkey," as attested by Gov. William Bradford in his family journal, now in print under the title “Of Plymouth Plantation.” They had “plentiful wilde fowl,” fish — including shellfish — and the venison that the Indians went out and got.

The best document account I have seen on the Pilgrims is the History’s Channels “Dangerous Crossing." It's available on DVD. It can also be seen on YouTube in three parts. The saga of what that intrepid little group went through and accomplished is fascinating and sobering and the film has all the intrigue, action and breathtaking photography that we have come to expect. I’ll be watching it tonight on my big flat screen TV, compliments of YouTube and the cable that transfers it from my laptop to my TV.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, is a Maine native and a graduate of Belfast, now living in Morrill. Her column appears in this paper every other week.