By David S. Brody
Little did I realize how a random 2006 conversation with my elementary-school daughter would change my life.
“Daddy, who discovered America?” she asked.
Suspecting she was learning about the Vikings in school, I played along. “Christopher Columbus,” I answered.
“Wrong!” she said. “It was Prince Henry Sinclair from Scotland. He came to Westford in 1399.”
We were living in Westford, Massachusetts at the time, a bedroom community 25 miles northwest of Boston and an equal distance from the Atlantic coastline to the east. Westford boasts the highest hill in eastern Massachusetts, and is not far from a major river (the Merrimack) leading to the Atlantic, so it was not unreasonable to assume ancient explorers would have found their way here. And, even as a child, I had wondered why Europeans stopped exploring North America in the years between the Norse explorations and Columbus. But a Scotsman by the name of Prince Henry Sinclair in Westford a century before Columbus? This I had not heard before.