Mother of the Modern Hospice Movement: Rose Hawthorne Lathrop/Mother Mary Alphonsa

Here’s yet another story of our Lathrop family lineage that adds to our long and growing list of notables…

It further exhibits their societal/cultural status as well as their talents and gifts for writing, painting, illustrating, and their lifelong philanthropic dedication and commitment.

Rose Hawthorne
Founder of the Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer (1851-1926)

Rose Hawthorne gently smilingThe first half of Rose Hawthorne’s life held many sorrows — her parents’ early deaths, the loss of her only son, her husband’s alcoholism — yet it offered relative security.  At age 45, with no family surviving and her marriage over, she found herself on her own.  She could have sought out comfort and ease.  Instead, she developed an overwhelming compassion for those far worse off: impoverished cancer patients, stricken with a disease believed at that time to be contagious and met by most people with dread and repulsion.  “A fire was then lighted in my heart,” she explained, “where it still burns.”  Gratefulness for the circumstances of her life helped turn her adversity into impassioned work for the greater good.
— Margaret Wakeley, Vocalist, Recording Artist, and Community Development Coordinator for A Network for Grateful Living (ANG*L) at

NathanielHawthorneRose Hawthorne Lathrop, third and favorite daughter of American novelist and short story writer Nathaniel Hawthorne (July 4, 1804 – May 19, 1864; author of The Scarlet Letter), was born in Lenox, Berkshire, Massachusetts on May 20, 1851, to Nathaniel and his wife Sophia Peabody Hawthorne  (September 21, 1809 – February 26, 1871), painter and illustrator.

Nathaniel & Sophia Hawthorne’s Children

Hawthorne's 3 Children

Una Hawthorne (1844-1877)

Julian Hawthorne (1846-1934)

Rose Hawthorne (1851-1926)

Sophia Amelia Peabody Hawthorne

Sophia Amelia Peabody Hawthorne, Age 36, Picture courtesy of : Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA

Before Nathaniel’s death in 1864 (when Rose was only 13), the family lived in Massachusetts, Liverpool, England, then London, Paris, Rome, and Florence, Italy. They returned to Concord, Massachusetts in 1860. Her mother and the family moved to Germany, then England.

After her dad’s death Rose tried to become an author, like him. She wrote book of poems, Along the Shore, which was published in 1888. She later decided to rededicate her life to restoring her family’s reputation after her brother’s illegal activities and prostitution attempts.

When Rose was 20, her mother died and shortly thereafter she married author George Parsons Lathrop,  (my maternal 4th cousin 4x removed), whom she had met in Europe in 1871–making Nathaniel Hawthorne father-in-law to George Parsons Lathrop.

George Parsons Lathrop

In 1876, George and Rose had a son, Francis, who died of diphtheria at the age of four. Their grief over the loss of their son and George’s alcoholism destroyed their marriage.   But, for a time they were attracted to Catholicism and converted to it in 1891.  Rose had thought this might help save her marriage.  But in 1895 they formally separated and George died in New York on  April 19, 1898.

Rose now in her forties, had devoted most of her  27 years of marriage to her husband and their “societal obligations.”  Now alone in New York City, she felt called to more fully express her faith. She was aware of the terrible plight of impoverished victims of cancer (i.e., Most 19th Century people feared them because they thought the disease was contagious).  Because no hospitals would treat cancer patients,  these people were banished to die on Blackwell’s Island (known today as Roosevelt Island).

Rose Hawthorne with cancer patientRose found cheap lodging in a neglected immigrant quarter of the Lower East Side and then took a nursing course.  She first visited cancer patients in their homes and next invited them to her apartment where she offered them ‘sanctity of life’ until they passed.  Contributions from her friends kept her services afloat. In great contrast to her refined upbringing and meticulous nature, Rose, day after day washed cancerous sores and changed the dressings and bed linens of her impoverished sick.  But Rose always extended them friendship, respect, and conveyed a sense of dignity to her outcast sick.  Inspired by the example of St. Vincent de Paul she borrowed his motto to describe her mission”  “I am for God and the poor.”

In 1900, Rose became a nun, and in 1906, as Mother Mary Alphonsa, OP, (Order of Preachers), she was inspired by “The New Colossus”, a poem penned by her close friend Emma “The Fridge” Lazarus, to found a community of Dominican religious, now known as the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne.[1]


St. Rose HomeRose Hawthorne Lathrop was awarded an honorary Master of Arts (postgraduate) from Bowdoin College in 1925. She died a year later on July 9, 1926, at the mother house of her congregation in Hawthorne, New York.  The work of her congregation continues today in a number of homes around the country.  According to the strict rule she established, no money is accepted from patients, their families, or even from the state.

Rose’s trust in providence later inspired Dorothy Day, who was reading Rose’s biography decided to launch the Catholic Worker.  Hawthorne, Day observed, had not waited for official authorization or financial backing before beginning her charitable mission, working out of her tenement apartment and trusting that if it were God’s work, money and support would follow.

So the influence of Rose Hawthorne has extended in many directions.  The modern hospice movement was begun without reference to her example.  But she may fairly be credited with pioneering this new attitude toward “death and dying.”  In her ministry she affirmed the sanctity of life, even in its most distressing guise, even in its final moments.

Mother-Rose AlphonsoIn 2003, Edward Egan, Cardinal Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York approved the movement for Lathrop’s canonization.   She now has the title “Servant of God” in the Catholic Church.


1.  Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2.  “Exhibit highlights connection between Jewish poet, Catholic nun”. The Tidings. Catholic News Service (Archdiocese of Los Angeles): p. 16. 17 September 2010.

External links

To read Rose Hawthorne’s books online, please see the Project Gutenberg site.

Concord Magazine Blog– Rose Hawthorne, Candidate for Sainthood–

Diana Culbertson, O.P., ed., Rose Hawthorne Lathrop:  Selected Writings (New York:  Paulist, 1993); Katherine Burton, Sorrow Built a Bridge:  A Daughter of Hawthorne (New York:  Longman, Green, 1937).

Our 28th President, His First Lady Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, Pocahontas, and Me

In Celebration of November –  Native American History Month

President Woodrow Wilson – husband of my 3rd paternal cousin Edith Bolling Galt Wilson

Edith Bolling Galt Wilson was the 35th First Lady of the White House. President Wilson’s daughter, Margaret Woodrow Wilson served as first lady for a brief period following the death of President Wilson’s first wife, Ellen Axson Wilson (December 18, 1915), before his marriage to Widow Edith Bolling Galt Wilson in December 1916.


Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924) was the 28th President of the United States, in office from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913. With the Republican Party split in 1912, he was elected President as a Democrat in 1912.

Personal Details of  President Wilson

Edith Bolling Galt Wilson (1872 – 1961) – My 3rd cousin 6x removed

father of Edith Bolling
father of William Holcombe Bolling
father of Archibald BOLLING
father of Colonel John Blair BOLLING
son of Major John Kennon BOLLING
daughter of Robert BOLLING Jr
daughter of Rebecca “Jane” BOWLING BOLLING
son of Elizabeth “Betsy” GARRISON
daughter of Joseph James HIGGINBOTHAM
son of Elizabeth “Betsy” LEWIS
son of Lawrence T “Larl” BOLING
son of Edward Bud Vincent BOWLING Sr
son of Jesse Burton BOLING
daughter of Frank Burton BOLING

Native American Princess Pocahontas Matoaka Rebecca POWHATAN (1595-1617)

Princess Pocahontas was my 10th paternal great grandmother and Edith Bolling Galt Wilson’s 6th paternal great grandmother.  Hence, our commonalities.  The post by Gena Philbert-Ortega is reposted from the November 13, 2013 post as it appeared at


First Lady Edith Bolling Galt Wilson & Her Ancestor Pocahontas

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post—in celebration of November being Native American Heritage Month—Gena searches old newspapers to find stories about First Lady Edith Wilson and her connection to her famous Native American ancestor, Pocahontas.

When we think of great Native American leaders throughout U.S. history, names like Cochise, Geronimo, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull come to mind. But what about Native American women? Most Americans know the names of only two Native American women: Pocahontas and Sacagawea. Pocahontas, whose mythology was immortalized in a song sung by Peggy Lee and a Disney movie, might be the most familiar Native American woman because she left a sizable number of descendants through her son Thomas Rolf.

Who can claim descent from Pocahontas? At least one First Lady, numerous politicians, and even Confederate General Robert E. Lee, to name just a few. It was estimated in the 1980s that Pocahontas’ descendants probably numbered around 250,000. According to genealogist Gary B. Roberts, those who claim this lineage are through the Bolling line, which are the only known descendants traced beyond the early 18th century.*

Mrs. Woodrow Wilson’s Native American Ancestry

One American whose Pocahontas lineage was well reported was Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, the second wife of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. From the time she became engaged to the president, her family history was a frequent topic in the newspapers.

photo of First Lady Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, married to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson

Photo: Edith Bolling Galt Wilson. Credit: Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library.

This 1915 newspaper article provides some information about Edith’s family history. It reports that ever since the engagement was announced “there has been a live inquiry for the correct data.” The article provides that data by tracing Edith’s direct line to Pocahontas and proclaims Edith Bolling Galt the ninth in descent from Pocahontas.

Fiancee of the President Is Undoubtedly a Direct Descendant of Pocahontas, Idaho Statesman newspaper article 14 November 1915

Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho), 14 November 1915, page 5

In writings about Edith’s foremother, emphasis was placed that someone with “Indian blood” would now reside in the White House. This announcement about Edith’s lineage was also the catalyst for impromptu history lessons found in newspapers across the country. The short life of Pocahontas has been retold often, and—as with any well-told story—inaccuracies creep in. This old newspaper article provides readers with information and images reportedly of Pocahontas.

Unhappy Pocahontas, Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper article 24 October 1915

Richmond Times Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia), 24 October 1915, page 43

The widow Edith Bolling Galt married President Woodrow Wilson in December 1915. Undoubtedly, any presidential wedding results in gifts from a diverse range of well-wishers. The Wilson wedding was no different.

According to this 1916 newspaper article, one item that Edith received was a Pocahontas statuette presented by the Pocahontas Memorial Association. The article points out that Edith Bolling Wilson was related to Pocahontas through her paternal line.

Indian Statuette for Mrs. Wilson; Figure of Pocahontas, Her Ancestress, a Bridal Gift, Broad Ax newspaper article 8 January 1916

Broad Ax (Chicago, Illinois), 8 January 1916, page 3

The news article included this picture of the Pocahontas statuette.

photo of a statuette of Pocahontas given to her descendant, First Lady Edith Wilson

The statuette was not the only Pocahontas-related gift that Edith received while in the White House. Other gifts related to her Native American ancestry included dolls and a portrait of her ancestress presented by the heritage membership organization Colonial Dames.

Pocahontas' Picture Gift; Private Copy of Original Portrait to Be Sent Mrs. Wilson, Oregonian newspaper article 3 March 1919

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 3 March 1919, page 14

When Edith Wilson visited England in 1918, this Duluth newspaper article heralded the visit of a descendant of Pocahontas—pointing out it was a little over 300 years since her ancestor made a similar trip. The newspaper article claims: “Only one other American woman [Pocahontas] ever has been received in England with the social and official courtesies which will be lavished upon Mrs. Woodrow Wilson.” The news article goes on to trace Edith’s roots to Pocahontas and even to her early Bolling English roots.

To Be Greeted as Was Pocahontas in 1616; England Prepares for President's Wife, Duluth News-Tribune newspaper article 3 December 1918

Duluth News-Tribune (Duluth, Minnesota), 3 December 1918, page 12

Pocahontas Research Resources

Are you a descendent of Pocahontas? You may be interested in the book Pocahontas’ Descendants: A Revision, Enlargement, and Extension of the List as Set Out by Wyndham Robertson in His Book Pocahontas and Her Descendants (1887), by Stuart E. Brown, Jr., Lorraine F. Myers, and Eileen M. Chappel (the Pocahontas Foundation, 1985).

Gary B. Roberts’ article Notable Kin: Some Descendants and Kinsmen of Descendants of Pocahontas: An Excursion into Southern Genealogy on the American Ancestorswebsite has additional sources you may be interested in.

Whether or not you have Native American ancestry, dig into GenealogyBank’s historical newspaper archives to find out more about your ancestors, discovering the stories that help fill in the details on your family tree.


*Notable Kin: Some Descendants and Kinsmen of Descendants of Pocahontas: An Excursion into Southern Genealogy by Gary B. Roberts. American Ancestors. 1986. accessed 11 November 2013.

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Written by Gena Philibert-Ortega

Gena Philibert-Ortega

Gena Philibert-Ortega holds a Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Master’s degree in Religion. Presenting on various subjects involving genealogy, women’s studies and social history, Gena has spoken to groups throughout the United States and virtually to audiences worldwide.

Gena is the author of hundreds of articles published in genealogy newsletters and magazines including Internet Genealogy, Family Chronicle, GenWeekly, FGS Forum, APG Quarterly and the WorldVitalRecords newsletter. She is the author of the books, Putting the Pieces TogetherCemeteries of the Eastern Sierra (Arcadia Publishing, 2007) and From the Family Kitchen (F + W Media, 2012).

Gena is the editor of the Utah Genealogical Association’s journal Crossroads. An instructor for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, Gena has written courses about social media and Google. She serves as Vice-President for the So. California Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists, board member of the Utah Genealogical Association and is a Director for the California State Genealogical Alliance.

Her current research interests include social history, community, social history, community cookbooks, signature quilts and researching women’s lives.

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Revisiting a 20-Year-Old Oral History from Frank and Norma Boling

Oral History Interview American Studies Class – 1993 University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus By:  Student, Jennifer L. Dickinson

About the Interviewees

Frank-NormaBoling1990sFrank Burton and Norma Florence (Ford) Boling [my maternal grandparents] are in their mid-60’s.  Frank is a retired Federal Government Employee—a pressman by trade.  [Born in the mid-1920’s, and married in their teens], for most of their marriage (47 years), Norma has been a stay-at-home wife and mother. Because the Boling’s are my grandparents, it was easy to ask them to participate in my oral interview–an assignment for my American Studies Class at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus, Catonsville, MD, 1993.

Where They Live

ForestvilleGISMap The Boling’s live in Prince George’s County, Maryland within a 4-square mile unincorporated area and census-designated place (CDP) known as Forestville. According to the 1990 Census of Population and Housing, that population was 16,731 persons.

The Interview

The Boling’s do almost everything together and it is hard to set a time to interview just one of them. I conducted this interview with both answering my questions. As I began, I noticed that I was a little nervous, and to a small degree, so were they. There were a few distractions while doing this interview. My grandfather kept yelling at the dogs in the backyard. My grandmother kept noticing other things about the kitchen we were in. When they started arguing, I stopped the tape. (Maybe I should have kept it rolling, because it was quite amusing.) They spent five or ten minutes trying to clean the front of the trash compactor and blaming each other for the mess. Sometimes I lost track of my thoughts and had to stop and refer back to my questions.  I did jump from one type of question to another, but it was unavoidable. I was curious to know their thoughts and how they related to my census analysis. My grandmother was quite accurate in her guesses. They answered most of the questions realistically.  I did not perceive much exaggeration, if any. I learned a lot about my grandparents that I had never known before. The interview was a good experience. NormaFrankBolingNorma and Frank Boling were born near and/or raised in Washington, D.C.  They met at an early age and were married. Frank began work in the printing industry at age 15. He worked there for awhile but, because of World War II, he entered the service at age 17 (1945), just as every eligible man did. Frank said when you got old enough you automatically joined the service. He said he earned, “twenty one dollars a day once a month.” Twenty one dollars seemed a small amount but Frank said the Navy also clothed and fed him. After the service, Frank went back to printing and worked in that field (about 38 years) making much more money until he retired for a disability after a stroke in 1985.

Their Homes, Neighbors, and Neighborhoods

During Frank’s time in the service, Norma did not work and received an allotment. She saved her money and both of them put what they had together to buy a piece of property on which to had their first house built.  They had plans drawn up and built a small frame 2-bedroom house in a town called Capitol Heights–next door to Norma’s brother’s and parents’ houses.  In the 1950’s they covered the asbestos shingles with the “in-material of the day”–aluminum siding.  They were trend setters in their neighborhood as it turned out.

scan0001But, they felt like they were in a little poor country town. Norma’s brother and parents had moved on. Their second child slept in their bedroom with them. There were no sidewalks or street lights. They wanted to live in an area more like a city that had sidewalks, street lights, close to shopping, schools, and work.  Frank and Norma agreed that everyone commuted to D.C. to work and a community close to the district was desirable. Of course, the idea of brick house was appealing also. Diveways were an added attraction, at least for Norma. Forestville (about 3-1/2 miles SE of Capitol Heights) seemed most appropriate and had a couple of new subdivisions under construction.


The Boling’s sold their little house in Capitol Heights and enthusiastically moved to Forestville on September 13, 1960, (in the midst of Category 5 Hurricanes Donna and Ethel).  They have lived there ever since. Norma said, comparing 1960 with now, “when we first moved here you could sleep without locking your doors if you wanted to—now, 33 years later, there is crime across cities and small towns everywhere.”

Norma says she considers all of Forestville and District Heights to be her neighborhood. She does not want her residency information limited to just their housing development nestled between Marlboro Pike and Pennsylvania Avenues.  Despite her concerns about changing demographics and crime she is happy with her community and has no plans to move.  She says she will stay right where she is.


Frank and Norma both agreed that people, in general, in the 90’s did not seem to have the same work ethic as when they entered the business world in the 40’s.  They say people want fast, easy money.

Migration to the Suburbs

Norma says people are moving out of the District of Columbia and nearby cities because their educational systems don’t measure up to those in Maryland’s suburban counties, crime rates in inner cities are typically higher than in the suburbs, and commutes into the district are reasonable with recent additions to the public transportation system; and, Forestville situated just 4 miles SE of the district line where Maryland’s Pennsylvania Avenue Extended meets the district line at Southern Avenue is convenient.

[The Boling’s overlooked mentioning a couple of major contributors to their changing demographics:

Between 1957 and 1964 to the in-migration of people and businesses to Prince George’s County; i.e., the construction of the 64-mile Interstate Highway known as the Capital Beltway.  The Beltway’s final Maryland segment opened to traffic on August 17,1964. The Beltway surrounds Washington, D.C., and the city’s inner suburbs in adjacent Maryland and Virginia.  Built to provide Interstate Drivers with easier access to the Washington Metropolitan Area, the Beltway quickly became the fastest, easiest way for locals to commute across towns and cities.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education made racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional.

In 1974, Prince George’s County, Maryland, became the largest school district in the United States forced to adopt a busing plan. The county at that time was over 80 percent white in population and in the public schools.  A 1974 Gallup poll showed that 75 percent of county residents were against forced busing and that only 32 percent of blacks supported it.  The white population of the Prince George’s County Public Schools was growing until school busing was started; it dropped significantly afterward.  The federal case and the school busing order was officially ended in 2001 and neighborhood-based school boundaries were restored. ]

When Frank and Norma moved to Forestville, they were a young couple in their thirties raising two children.  In 1963 their third child was born.  Since then they have been blessed with 6 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. This was similar to other people in their community. However, there were a few couples who were older and had grown children and some couples without any children. Norma said there were more boys than girls being born. She says she remembers seeing many more boys than girls. Mrs. Boling attributes this to the fact that boys tended to play outside and the girls tended to play inside.

Norma also added about neighbors being friendlier back then. People had more time to get out and talk to each other. “Nowadays, everybody is so busy doing their own thing that no one has any time to show a neighborly [gesture].” I asked, when they moved in, if people came over with cakes and said hi to their neighbors. Norma said, “Nobody came over with cakes and said hi neighbor—that only happens on TV.”

The Boling’s and their neighbors shared other commonalities as well.  They all had and still have middle-class cars.  Norma said that you had to have a car living here. “Everyone that I knew had a car.” There was public transportation on the main road, but Norma considered it a long walk. Frank added that the buses did not have a regular schedules like they do today. The main road itself has changed a great deal in the time the Boling’s have lived there. Norma says; “Marlboro Pike didn’t have the traffic that it has now–a whole lot less traffic. You felt like you were really in the suburbs when you lived here then. Now it’s much more populated.” She commented on how there were quite a few vacant areas on Marlboro Pike, gas stations, restaurants and the Catholic church. There was no post office that is now at the entrance to their development.

Mrs. Boling says Marlboro Pike has built up a lot. She said there were a lot more open areas on Marlboro Pike when they moved to Forestville.  When Frank drives down Marlboro Pike now he notices the many numbers of black people around and Norma feels the stores cater to them. To her, they seem to be the majority shopping there. When they moved to Forestville they used to eat out at various restaurants in the area. Now they do not do it as much for a couple of reasons. Some of the restaurants are no longer around and the other ones that are, Frank and Norma feel they are in an unsafe part of the community.

Before the major shopping center was built, the Boling’s used to have to go out of the community to either Iverson or Landover Malls to do shopping other than for groceries. There were major grocery stores right on Marlboro Pike. Like the Boling’s, the other neighbors shopped at these same places.

Another commonality between the Boling’s and their neighbors was that most often the husband worked while the wife stayed home to take care of the children and house. Norma said, “Back in the early 60’s and late 50’s the mother that worked was the one who was different–and in the 1970’s the mother that stayed home started to be the one that was different.” I did not ask why, but assumed it was because it may not have been financially possible for this tradition of the mother staying home to continue. Norma and Frank’s children, Iike other children in the community, attended the local public schools. Schools were assigned based on where you lived.  This community was predominantly Catholic and some who could afford it chose to send their children to the local catholic school. The children were not taken to and from by a bus, so they had to walk and in bad weather they were taken by car.

When not working or in school, the Boling’s occasionally went to dances, bowled, and took in drive-in movies. Norma says, “They don’t have drive-ins around here anymore either. They used to be convenient to go to.” Now they do not do much for recreation because they are concerned with Frank’s health. Other people in the neighborhood belong to organizations such as the fire department for their recreation. Frank and Norma themselves belong to an organization called the Knights of Columbus.

On the topic of work, I asked Norma about unemployment.  Norma says, “I don’t think there was any unemployment then.  If a person wanted to work, they could get a job. Nowadays you could want to go to work and need a job and can’t find one.” I wanted to know if the unemployment is reflected in her neighborhood. Norma replied that she saw a homeless person walking down the main road that morning. She said he had all of his belongings in a shopping cart and regarded the whole thing as a shame. Since the Boling’s have lived in Forestville they have noticed some cultural changes in their neighborhood. Frank says, “[It] used to be a husband and wife, couple of kids, and now there’s about eight kids and about five or six people–black, and Asian. We have a couple of Indian families—black neighbor right across the street.  Mrs. Boling stated that basically, the same people lived in the area.

She has noticed that there are a lot more single parent families. Norma says “You don’t see too many two parent families anymore–they’re usually one parent.” Frank has noticed that when the older residents retire, they sell their homes and return to where they came from. He says, “Older people moved out and were primarily replaced by younger black people.” Frank says the residents at retirement age cannot afford to live here anymore and go back to Florida or Pennsylvania. Norma added that some people get scared when non-white people move in and so they moved out.

[The term “white flight” was common in the 1960’s and into the 1990’s.  It harks to the tumultuous period of riots, fights for civil rights and not-so-civil disobedience, when white people living in racially diverse communities began to sell or walk away from their homes. Their moves were often born out of fear and sometimes outright racial prejudices.  As white people left their neighborhoods, minorities moved in. The words I remember hearing to describe this societal phenomenon were, “The neighborhood has changed.” The implication was that the area had gone from white to black.  Younger generations may not even know the term. But those who lived during that era remember the phrase well. ]

Throughout their thirty-three years in Forestville, the Boling’s have noticed change that is inevitable with time. They have had many good memories and, of course, some bad memories. They appear to be happy with their community and have no intentions of moving out of it. They have made some very good and long-time friends in this community and have many shared beliefs and customs. They are happy and that is all I can hope for the rest of their lives in Forestville, Maryland.


DadMomSarahFrank and Norma are now octogenarians at 85 and 86 years of age struggling with some health issues.  Because of improved access to doctors, improved medical care, research, and technological advances they thus far have outlived their parents and grandparents by more than 10 years. The Boling’s live in the same house they purchased 53 years ago in 1960 for $18,750, with a 4 percent FHA mortgage loan.  They paid off their mortgage shortly after Frank retired. Their house was their primary life and financial investment.  Recent sales of houses in their neighborhood have brought $200-$250,000, despite the economic downturn that started in 2008.

Frank and Norma had three children; their children each had three children; and their 3 eldest grandchildren averaged 3 children; a great grandson had twins two years ago; giving the family 5 living generations. The current count of living generations: 3 Children, 9 Grandchildren, 15 Great Grandchildren, and 2 Great-Great Grandchildren. The Bolings are now the only members of their family that live in Forestville and Prince George’s County.  In fact, according to the 2010 Census figures, there has been a 26.2 percent decline in the population of Forestville since the 1990 Census.

Forestville CDP:  2010 Census Population by Race and Ethnicity




Persons under 5 years


Persons under 18 years


Persons 65 years and over


Female persons, percent


And, the Boling’s now represent part of the 4.7 percent of the non-Hispanic white population and the fewer than 10 percent population aged 65 who live in Forestville according to the 2010 Census.

Forestville CDP:  2010 Census Population by Race and Ethnicity


White alone


Black or African American alone


American Indian and Alaska Native alone


Asian alone


Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone


Two or More Races


Hispanic or Latino


White alone, not Hispanic or Latino


Most of the remainder of their family in the early 1990’s moved to neighboring Southern Maryland Counties:  Calvert, Charles, and Anne Arundel; and in 2005, one grandson moved his family to Lynchburg, Virginia–one of his son’s is in the Air Force and the other relocated to Chicago.

The Boling’s survive on Frank’s monthly social security retirement from his 20+ years in private industry and his small government retirement for his 8 or so years working for the Federal government.

Their immediate infrastructure of roads, highways, shopping centers, etc. has dramatically changed.  Malls started changing or disappearing with the advent of e-Commerce after my interview in 1993.  The ones they frequented no longer have the same retail store anchors in them; Landover Mall was demolished a few years and replaced with an NFL stadium for the Washington Redskins and several “town centers” were built in neighboring cities.  According to the 2007 Economic Census, Forestville had 1,142 firms, with 75 percent of them being black and women-owned businesses.  Hispanic owned businesses made up another 8 percent, and Asian-owned nearly 3 percent.  These more recent data validate some of Frank and Norma’s 1993 interview observations about Forestville’s and Prince George’s County’s changing demographics.

Forestville CDP:  2007 Economic Census


Total number of firms


Black-owned firms


American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms


Asian-owned firms


Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander-owned firms


Hispanic-owned firms




The Boling’s maintain their independent living with the help of family members.  They want to remain in their home of 53 years forever, but it is becoming more difficult all the time. Only a couple of their original neighbors remain in nearby homes.  Their newer neighbors over the past 10 or so years occasionally visit and exchange pleasantries with them across their fences.

Frank stopped driving his car about three years ago.  Norma drives only up the street and around the corner for her weekly hair dresser appointments in one of the few shops that have remained in the same location for about 30 years.

For much of their time they watch their 37″ flat screen LED TV.  They are one of the dwindling numbers of people who still subscribe to the Washington Post Newspaper. Norma still works her daily crossword puzzles and looks at the obituaries. Frank still reads the news and clips restaurant coupons.

shopping mallFor health reasons, these past two years Norma has stopped attending her longstanding weekly ladies groups meetings and luncheons and Saturday outings with a friend to shopping malls.  An additional reason–the e-commerce revolution is seriously impacting commercial real estate and creating the death of shopping malls.

The Boling’s no longer cook so they order in or visit one of several chain food restaurants just a mile away.  Family take them to their weekly doctor visits that always includes brief shopping for staples and dining out.  Family maintain the upkeep of their home and yard. Though diabetic, they keep chocolates and ice cream in good supply.   Their two dogs are their babies and add greatly to their quality of life.   They are thrilled about and love their two-year-old great-great grandchildren.  Their faces light up and their moods are lifted with every visit.