Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Red, White...and Blue Decendants of Pocahontas

It is not unusual to find Red and White descendants of Native American ancestors - particularly if it is a famous character - like Pocahontas, but this is my first encounter of a group called "Blue" descendants.
As I had promised, I have been working on the line that led from the famous Indian princess to my family of coalminers. I have collected census records, birth, death, and marriage certificates. Along the way I have come to appreciate military pension requests and requests for membership in the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution and have found them to be a wealth of information.
So, I am carefully documenting each generation of ancestors in this line to be able to prove that we are, indeed, descendants of the "Guardian Angle of Virginia". That is, until today, when I came across this "new" term - Blue descendants.
Note to all new and inexperienced genealogists: This is why, as much fun as it is to gallop through the  pages of and other family history pages, when it comes down to it, you really must do your own research and find official documents to prove the lines we follow are actual.
As you might imagine, a red line descendant is the blood line of an Indian (in this case) and a white line descendant is from a marriage of another time (before or after) to a European or non-Indian spouse. However, in this case there is a third option - who knew?
It seems that, first of all, I should have started at the top and worked my way down rather than the other way around. But, secondly, that Pocahontas and John Rolfe had a son (their only child), Thomas Rolfe, who married Jane Poythress and they had only one child. Their daughter, Jane Rolfe, married Col. Robert Bolling. The children from this union became known as the "Red Bollings" - the direct line from our famous princess.
Col. Bolling married, secondly, Anne Stith and the children from this marriage became known as the "White Bollings" - not directly related to the princess.
Col. Robert and Jane Rolfe had a son named Col. John Bolling who married Nancy Kennon and had at least 6 kids and one of those was Maj. John Bolling - the (military) force was strong with this family...
Anyway, Yoda, this is where things get ... interesting or frustrating depending on how you look at it.
Maj. John Bolling and his wife, Elizabeth Blair continued the "red" line and had as many as 18 children (according to one source) but most of them - maybe 11- died young.
Then there is this third group who also claim to be descended from this marriage which, if true, would make the couple the proud parents of 30 children!
It seems that there was a book published about the descendants of Pocahontas and John Rolfe and after the publication of said book there suddenly appeared this group of people complaining that their ancestors should have been included in the list of the children of John Bolling and Elizabeth Blair. Since they appeared "out of the blue", they became known as the "Blue Bollings".
The problem with this group is that they do not appear in the will of John Bolling or in letters or papers written by one of the sons of John Bolling. Some of them may not exist at all. But at the present time or in the most recent writings I have seen, there is still little, if any, evidence to substantiate their claims.  
They may have lived near or even with the family in question. Some may be illegitimate children of one of the parents.They may have been close relatives that were being taken care of by the family. One writer has said that they may even have been orphans that were cared for by the family. At this point no one really knows or can prove it either way.
My 6th GGrandfather, Maj. Benjamin Bolling, when I found him, was listed as a son. But, alas, he is in the list of the Blue Bollings and not in the blood line of the famous Indian Princess after all. We know he was a real person. He is a historical figure who was a famous pioneer who settled in Flat Gap which became Wise Co. Va. He was quite a colorful character whose story will probably be my next post on this wonderful site.

So take heart family members and stay tuned. We may or may not be in the direct line of Pocahontas, but there are plenty of colorful and interesting stories to tell about brave, intrepid pioneers, warriors, soldiers, and Indian Chiefs who have all helped make the words "red, white and blue" famous and a proud statement in our heritage.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Famous Indian Princess Found

A Famous Indian Princess Found

What do one of the most important couples in Jamestown Colony in the 1660's have to do with a humble family in the coal fields of West Virginia in the 1950's?

It's funny the way things happen sometimes and it's always exciting to stumble onto a line of ancestors that leads to a famous character in American History.

When I started this journey, I was mainly concerned with my surname - Green. So I concentrated on my fathers family and his fathers fathers. 

I had neglected my mothers side of the chart because for some stupid reason I didn't think it would be all that interesting. Man, oh, man, was I wrong. 

So, here I am just  plugging away on filling in the blanks moving from one ancestor to another...O.K. and his father was... and his parents were...chasing these lines to see how long it would take to find family in Europe when all of a sudden a name pops up with this note attached:

"GGrandson of Pocahontas"

What? Are you kidding me? 

You mean the Pocahontas, John Smith, Jamestown story? That Pocahontas?

 Well, not quite that story. But, yes, the Indian princess, "the guardian angel of Virginia" is an ancestor of mine. Wow! What a revelation, and what a cool thing to be connected to such a pivotal story in this nations history.

Well, how did that happen?

 I traced the line to Powhatan, the principal chief over a large group of tribes in what was to become the state of Virginia.

His daughter, Pocahontas, famously saved the life of John Smith who was one of the leaders of the fledgling Virginia colony. No one knows exactly why, but it is an established fact that the young princess was her fathers favorite daughter and he could deny her nothing.

As the English explorer's head was placed on a rock, his body held in place by several warriors, and several stone axes held ready to "smash the braines out of his head", the young maiden did plead with her father to spare this live. After all else had failed, the girl put her arms around Smith's head and placed her head upon his.
 Seeing this, the Chief could no longer fight and there followed a great feast and there was peace in the land ... for a few years ... until the war ... and the kidnapping of the favored daughter...
But that is a story for another day. (I promise I will flesh out the whole story and post it separately soon.)

In the mean time, Pocahontas does not marry John Smith, but a younger John Rolfe who was the man who brought tobacco to the colony.  Tobacco, of course, became the principal cash crop for the struggling colony.

So, between the Indian maiden's help and assistance to the people of the colony and the tobacco, this couple was responsible for saving the colony and the beginning of the State of Virginia. 

John Rolfe and Princess Pocahontas had one child, Thomas Rolfe, b. Jan. 30, 1615. (She was given the title of Princess by the Queen of England - she was the daughter of a "King" after all.)

Thomas married Jane Poythress and they had only one child - Jane Powhatan Rolfe b. Oct. 10, 1665 (as the mother died later that same year - possibly due to complications of childbirth).

Jane Powhatan married into the Bolling family - Col. Robert Bolling b. Dec. 26, 1646 who passed the line down through the next 4 generations when Elizabeth Bolling b. Mar. 8, 1767 married William Grancer Short b. May 15, 1768.

The line passes down that family for another 4 generations until Mary Elizabeth Short b. Apr. 16, 1877 marries William R. Bishop b. Feb.15, 1875.

Now, it just turns out that Mary Elizabeth and William Bishop have a daughter named Ethel Mae Bishop b. Jan. 1, 1905 who lives to be my mother's mother. 

And so, there you have it. From the tidewaters of Virginia to the coal fields of West Virginia. From the daughter of a great Indian chief to the daughter of a coal miner in 300 short years... ain't genealogy fun!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Greenberry mystery solved

Is it Greenberry "Green" Atkins or is it Greenberry Adkins Green? Is our Ggrandfather actually an Adkins and not a Green? What do 2 Mary's, 2 Nancy's, and 3 Greenberry's add up to and what is up with all these "Polly's"? Was it some kind of law that every family should have at least 1 girl named Polly?

Greenberry “Green” Adkins b. 1840 Yancy Co. NC
Greenberry’s niece, Nancy, had a son that she named (obviously after her uncle or possibly her brother) – Greenberry Green b. 1866.

Let's start here: 
Joshua Green, born 1792 in Yancy Co. NC married Elizabeth Sparks b.1802 Yancy Co. NC 

Joshua & Elizabeth Green had several children including; Mary “Polly” Green b.1819 and her sister, Nancy Green b.1823.

Mary “Polly” married Alexander Adkins abt 1843.

 One article says that Adkins was the father to Mary’s first 5 children. They must have separated for some good reason because she relocated to Wyoming Co. West Virginia with 5 kids and no husband.  She carried the Adkins name on the 1850 census after which she started using her maiden name, Green. Mary’s daughter, Nancy,(not to be confused with her sister Nancy) is 3 years old and listed as born in NC as well as a son listed as Green (berry?) Adkins (not to be confused with her brother Greenberry).

So between 1843 and 1850, she had 5 kids, left her husband and is living with 3 kids in WVa (some of the kids were living with other family members). On the 1860 Census she appears as Mary Green and 13 year old Nancy Green is listed in her mother’s household.

Alexander Adkins removed from Yancy Co. NC to Wise Co., Va. along with the families of ‘Lias Green and Billy Green. This is only 3 counties away from his estranged wife. Alexander had married Lavina "Viney" Green – sister to ‘Lias and Billy. I often wonder if it was not the news of this marriage that made Mary change back to her maiden name. 

It is said that some of the children that came into Wyoming County with Mary listed their father as Alexander Adkins and their mother as Polly Green. One daughter, Millie, listed her father’s name as John McKinney when she married John Sizemore. It occurs to me that this may have had something to do with the couple's dramatic split.

I have not found a record or article that mentions Nancy Green ever marrying before she had a son named Greenberry Green so at this point I have to assume that she had the child out of wedlock and was using her maiden name. In the 1870 Census she is living in the household of her brother Greenberry Atkins (not to be confused with her uncle Greenberry  Green) with her 5 year old son, Greenberry Green. Are you confused yet?

Articles about Greenberry refer to him as “Greenberry Green, son of Nancy Green who later married Nathaniel Rose.” Frustratingly void of the juicy details, grrr.

Nancy did, indeed, marry Nathaniel Rose and had several children with him who bear the surname Rose.

On the wedding certificate when Greenberry marries Juda Morgan, he lists his parents as _____(blank) & Nancy _____,

I am still trying to locate the marriage certificate of Greenberry to my Ggrandmother – Mary Ann (another “Polly”) Perdue. They are listed on the 1900 Census of Center District, Wyoming Co. WV as Greenberry Green and Polly Ann with 6 children all with the surname Green.

Polly must have been a very common name in that era – their son – my grandfather – Daniel married 1st  a woman named Ann "Polly" Taylor and 2nd my grandmother, Lula Jewell.

So there you have it: 2 Mary's, at least 2 Nancy's, 3 Greenberry's and a passel of Polly's. Isn't genealogy fun?

And what does it all add up to?  Well, I could very well have grown up as an Adkins but I didn't because my family name was handed down from father to daughter to daughter to son to be handed down to me by my great grandfather - Greenberry Green.


Mary Polly Green never remarried but she had such an impact on her community that the town now known as Itmann, W. Va. was for several years know as "Poll Green". She is last seen on the 1880 Census living in the household of her son. She died shortly afterward and is said to be buried on a hill overlooking the confluence of Barkers Creek and the Guyandotte River.