Remembering My Ancestors: Pocahontas and Edith White Bolling Wilson… Strong Women and Role Models for Young Girls
How many young girls can claim they descend from Pocahontas? I knew little about my ancestors or my relationships with them when I was a girl. But I’m very glad that I made time throughout my adult years to learn more. In fact, I started blogging 10 years ago because I wanted to share the knowledge of my heritage with future generations.
To summarize one of my earliest posts written December 3, 2012, Pocahontas was a Native American Princess of the Powhatan People. She was “the favorite” daughter of Chief Powhatan and lived near the colonial settlement that became known as “Jamestown,” in Virginia, in 1609.
In 1614, Pocahontas married John Rolfe (my 12th great-grandfather), a tobacco farmer, and gave birth to Thomas Rolfe in 1615. The marriage between John and Pocahontas was the first recorded interracial marriage in American history. Soon after having Thomas, John and Pocahontas left for England where she became somewhat of a celebrity.
At age 22, Pocahontas became gravely ill and died. It was Thomas, her only child that began the lineage of Pocahontas descendants, including the First Families of Virginia, First Ladies Edith Wilson and Nancy Reagan, and astronomer Percival Lowell.
One hundred years ago, Edith Bolling Wilson was serving as First Lady (1915-1921), when the United States entered World War I (1917-1919). During wartime, she promoted her husband’s vision for peace, set an example for Homefront conservation movements, and supported our troops. I’m wondering if Edith’s large, poor southern family and being the seventh of eleven children born to William Holcombe Bolling and Sarah “Sally” Spiers White was the impetus for her becoming a strong woman and even a secret president (as she cared for her ailing husband, President Woodrow Wilson)? Some have dubbed Edith as the mother of modern First Ladies because she focused more on politics and social issues rather than serving as a traditional White House hostess.
Below is an excerpt from Edith Bolling Wilson’s book, My Memoirs, published in 1935 by the Bobbs-Merrill Company. I understand used copies of this book may be purchased from the Edith Bolling Wilson Foundation by emailing them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Genealogy of Edith Bolling Wilson
The genealogical path from Pocahontas
- Pocahontas and John Rolfe – son, Thomas Rolfe
- Thomas Rolfe and Jane Poythress – daughter, Jane Rolfe
- Jane Rolfe and Robert Bolling – son, John Bolling
- John Bolling and Mary Kennon – son, John Bolling, Jr.
- John Bolling Jr. and Elizabeth Blair – son, John Bolling III
- John Bolling III and Mary Jefferson – son, Archibald Bolling
(Mary Jefferson was the sister of Thomas Jefferson)
- Archibald Bolling and Catherine Payne – son, Archibald Bolling Jr.
- Archibald Bolling Jr. and Anne Wiggington – son, William Holcombe Bolling
- William Holcombe Bolling and Sallie Spiers White – daughter, Edith Bolling
The genealogical link to Martha Washington (includes Robert E. Lee)
- Martha Dandridge’s (Washington) first husband – Daniel Parke Custis
- Martha Dandridge and Daniel Parke Custis – son, John Parke Custis
- John Parke Custis and Eleanor Calvert – son, George Washington Parke Custis
- George Washington Parke Custis and Mary Lee Fitzhugh – daughter, Mary Anna Randolph Custis
- Mary Anna Randolph Custis and Robert E. Lee – son, William H. Fitzhugh Lee
- William H. Fitzhugh Lee married Mary Tabb Bolling, a descendant of Colonel Robert Bolling and Ann Stith, Robert Bolling’s second wife