CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A lawyer who once practiced in West Virginia is now working to preserve the early history of the Pilgrims and Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
Michael Farber works with people who recently built an exact replica of the Elizabeth Tilley, a shallop used by Pilgrims after they landed on Cape Cod back in 1620.
"The Elizabeth Tilley was a work boat Pilgrims used to do their trading around Cape Cod Bay. It was 40 feet long and single-masted," said Farber, who now lives in Cape Cod. "The Mayflower was huge, weighing 180 tons. Cape Cod Bay is relatively shallow. This is the type of boat the Pilgrims used."
The original Elizabeth Tilley was stowed on the Mayflower on its 1620 voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Stored in pieces, the shallop was reassembled to explore the Cape after the Pilgrims landed in Provincetown.
When he first moved to West Virginia in 1972, Farber worked as a surveyor helping build trails.
After practicing law for 22 years, he returned to Cape Cod in 2005, where he started studying Pilgrim history.
"I stumbled upon an old survey chart that revealed the Pilgrims used the natural land features surrounding Cape Cod Bay as a compass rose to lay out the first comprehensive land survey in the New World," he said.
"The discovery of the Pilgrim Land Survey of Cape Cod has changed perceptions of Pilgrim history at the very roots of western culture," Farber said. "They were not merely religious zealots, but astute scientific observers who fashioned the New World from the wilderness using mathematics and geometry."
Farber said he is trying "to alter the perception of the Pilgrims."
"They did not just found Thanksgiving," he said. "We want to bring Pilgrim culture back to the Cape."
Farber graduated from law school in 1983, and then worked for current Attorney General Darrell McGraw, then a West Virginia Supreme Court justice.
Farber was born and grew up in Baltimore, where his father was president of the National Brewing Co. National Brewing owned the Baltimore Orioles for a few years, after the St. Louis Browns changed their name when they moved to Maryland.
In 1956, when Farber was 4 years old, his family bought a summer home on Cape Cod.
A maverick lawyer who often represented underdog clients in West Virginia, Farber worked for groups seeking better health care, a cleaner environment and higher taxes on coal companies. He also worked on juvenile and divorce cases.