Man overboard! One of the grandfathers of the American people fell off the Mayflower in the middle of the Atlantic during a gale, but managed to grab a trailing rope, allowing him to reach the new land, and he now has an estimated 2 million American descendents.

The tale of John Howland, who served as John Carver’s servant on the Mayflower, is the subject of a new children’s book, “The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland’s Good Fortune.”

The book is the work of P.J. Lynch, an Irish author and illustrator.

The story of Howland may not be news to everyone — after all, there is a Pilgrim John Howland Society with around 1,200 members — but for most Americans, only a few of the better-known names are familiar.

“The idea that the existence of all these people hinged on that one guy grabbing a rope in the ocean and holding on tight totally caught my imagination,” Lynch told the Associated Press. “Many of these people have made America what it is.”

Including ex-presidents Franklin Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, as well as Sarah Palin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and many others.

By James Haleavy