Back From the Future – Part 2

 A Quote from the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, June 2014:

Christopher Columbus never reached the shores of the North American Continent, but European explorers learned three things from him: there was someplace to go, there was a way to get there, and most importantly, there was a way to get back. Thus began the European exploration of what they referred to as the “New World”.

A Quick Recap

  • So, we left 21st Century Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in America (1607). Today, it is a living history of the 17th Century Jamestown Colony.
  • We resurrected and boarded the massive customized 300-ton English merchant sailing vessel, The Sea Venture–the same Virginia Company-owned ship that had 153 travelers and crew aboard and was to deliver the third supply to the Jamestown Colony in 1609.
  • We paused for a time to look back upon my 11th great grandfather, John Rolfe and others devastation, about 661 nautical miles short of their intended Jamestown destination.  This “tempest,” or hurricane, as we might call it today, was nearly the end of all of them.  But, they prevailed over the course of 4-days through their never-ending and tireless fight for their lives and the rescue of their ocean water-hemorrhaging ship. They finally steered the ship onto the surrounding reef to prevent its sinking then landed ashore on “Devil’s Isle.”  Bermuda, with its subtropical temperatures soon became a paradise to them and they replenished their souls and spirits.  The food, in fact, was plentiful because the island had an abundance of wild pigs, birds, and fish, tropical fruits, and even a freshwater lagoon.
  • When we last left our castaways, a year had nearly elapsed and it was springtime. Twenty-four-year-old John Rolfe’s wife, Sarah Hacker, had recently passed; his infant daughter, Bermuda, passed shortly thereafter.  Bermuda had been the first baby born there and Reverend Bucke performed the first marriage there, too. Today many go to Bermuda to marry or honeymoon.
  • I also learned that at some point before leaving Bermuda, John Rolfe may have grabbed up and secretly pocketed some tobacco seeds; possibly from an area today called Tobacco Bay on St. George’s Island, Bermuda.
  • The castaways are once again setting out to complete their voyage to Jamestown, but not before there are five separate mutiny attempts.  In general, some of the castaways questioned authority of their leaders in Bermuda and had fallen in love with the islands.  They weren’t willing to risk unknown hardships in little known Jamestown.   This time the remaining Jamestown-bound passengers and crew numbered only 138.  Eight had already left in a small boat never to be seen again; three died of natural causes; one sailor was murdered; one Indian was murdered; and one castaway, Henry Paine, was executed for sedition.  That left 138 to board the two ships they had built from salvaged steel and wood from the Sea Venture. And, these ships were named: Patience and Deliverance–How very understated yet so very appropo!
  • May 24, 1610 – Our English seafaring ancestors, headed by Sir Thomas Gates, now aboard the Patience and Deliverance, arrive at Jamestown–They find only sixty survivors of a winter famine, known as “the starving time”.

Onward to Heacham

We are journeying on, as well.  We are headed ENE, crossing further up the North Atlantic Ocean from our Bermuda latitude and longitude coordinates: 32.299507, -64.790337. Our destination once again: the time when John Rolfe’s family lived in Heacham, Norfolk, England (Latitude: 52.92 Longitude: 0.48), and where John and his father, Johannes Eustacius Rolfe, both were born–another 3,244 nautical miles.

The year is now 1585.  We have come to Heacham to learn more about John Rolfe’s family life and his early beginnings to better understand his quests.

But first, we need to learn more about the Heacham Village from which John Rolfe emerged.  Our 21st Century Heacham is a thriving village community and popular Norfolk coastal holiday resort situated three miles from Hunstanton and eight miles from Sandringham Village in Norfolk, England.  It is lit by breathtaking east coast sunsets and surrounded by glowing and aromatic purple lavender and scarlet poppy fields. Residents and visitors alike relish in Heacham’s sloping beaches and the soft rolling West Norfolk countryside, which has remained unchanged over time.  In fact, archeologists have discovered that Heacham has existed as far back as the stone age.  And that running water with fertile surrounding lands made Heacham an ideal location for early man to settle. What we know for sure is that there were inhabitants in Heacham around the 5th century when the Anglo-Saxon invaded present-day East Anglia.

lavender-and-poppy-fieldsHeacham–the home to the Rolfe family–History tells us that John Rolfe came from a farming family. For generations they farmed the land and traded on the nearby shores of the Wash.   Quite possibly, it was fields of lavender or poppies that they farmed.  Interestingly enough, Lavender is a plant rich in its own history and myth. With its roots going back to ancient herbalists, it’s properties as a disinfectant and antiseptic, lavender’s reputation grew throughout the centuries.  Lavender became known for its ability to even ward off the plague. And it’s popularity with English royalty also helped anchor it as a cosmetic herb. Queen Victoria had used it as a tonic for her nerves.

Heacham Hall before it burned down in 1941

Heacham Hall before it burned down in 1941

Sadly, Heacham Hall (the family home of the Rolfes) burned down in 1941.  My genealogical research traces the Rolfe family line back as far as 1455 when my 14th great grandfather, Robert Rolfe, also was born at Heacham Hall. But, it was October 17, 1562, when Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe, father of John Thomas Rolfe, our subject, was born there.  John Eustacius at the age of 20 married local Heacham, Dorothea (Dorothea/Dorothy) Mason on her 20th birthday, on Friday, September 24, 1582. Together they had five children in 10 years. Unfortunately, John Eustacius died two months after his 12th wedding anniversary. He was 32 at the time of his death, leaving John, age 8, and his other four siblings, with a 32 year-old widowed mother.

It is disappointing, to learn that not much more is known about John Thomas Rolfe’s childhood or education.  We do know, however, that his mother Dorothy Mason Rolfe, married a Dr. Robert Redmayne, LL.D. (Doctor of Law), on March 9, 1595, just a little over three months after John’s father’s death! Despite Robert’s preferred spelling of his last name “Redmayne,” he descends from Bishop Redman, whose family first settled in Cumberland, and then in Lancashire.  John Rolfe’s mother Dorothy, his stepfather, Robert Redmayne, and his father, John Eustacius Rolfe, are all buried in Heacham at Saint Mary the Virgin’s Church.

So, we can safely assume that John Rolfe’s skill, farming interests, and former family status in Heacham are likely the bases for his drive and desire to create a marketable crop in Jamestown.

We also know that John Rolfe, his wife Pocahontas and two-month-old son, Thomas departed Jamestown in the spring 1615 for Heacham, Norwich, England, to visit his mother now Lady Dorothea (Dorothea/Dorothy) Mason Rolfe Redmayne.

Much more history in John Rolfe’s life continues . . .



Boling, Texas: ZIPcode 77420

Too many historic and genealogical instances made it inconceivable for me not to have associated my Ford, Morris, Wharton, and Boling Family lineage with Wharton County’s Boling, Texas! And then, among the Google Books I found the following that placed the Texas Wharton’s and Boling’s back among  my paternal great grandfather’s and great grandmother’s of Virginia.. 

Virginia Cousins

By G. Brown Goode
Genealogical Publishing Com, Jun 1, 2009 – History – 604 pages

This collection of verbatim wills from 1656 to 1692 pertains not to present-day Rappahannock County but to “Old Rappahannock” County. “Old Rappahannock” was formed from Lancaster County in 1656; in 1692 its land south of the Rappahannock River was re-named Essex County, while that to the north became Richmond County. Owing to his interest in the ancestry of Francis Graves, son of Captain Thomas Graves, a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1619, Mr. Sweeney painstakingly transcribed the wills of this extinct county from scattered deed and order books at the courthouse in Tappahannock, Virginia. Although he never found the coveted will of his ancestor, the compiler amassed, in the form of these wills, a priceless collection of information about “the extent and boundaries of early patents, the comfortable household equipment of a few of the inhabitants…the provision for widows and children, the maintenance of servants and slaves, the education of the children, the importance of livestock…the care of the sick, family quarrels” and much more about this newly settled community. Genealogists will be able to search among the very same wills for the names, relationships, and whereabouts of 2,500 of the earliest settlers of what would become Essex and Richmond counties.

From Pages 126 and 127:

Dr. AUSTIN WHARTON, of Cartersville, Cumberland Co., Va., was born in Albemarle Co., 1775: educated at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa.: practiced medicine in Cartersville from 1804 to 1834, when he removed to Goochland Co., where he died.  Married (I) Lucy GOODE, DAUGHTER OF John Goode, No. 109, born 1787, died 1818.  Married (2) a sister of Hon. Edward Bates, of Missouri, Attorney General of the United States.  Children. (All by first wife):–

847-1/2, CHARLOTTE WHARTON, d. unm.  848, Thomas GOODE, d. yg. 849, ROBERT HENRY, b 1811, d 1857.  850, Rev. Charles D., Presbyterian clergyman, b 1818, d. 1845. 851, RICHARD GOODE, B. 1815.

Dr. Austin Wharton was son of John Wharton, originally of Culpeper Co., Va., who died near Nashville, 1813; another son was Judge Jesse Wharton, of Nashville, another was William H. (Harris) Wharton, a leader in the early political history of Texas, Senator of the Republic, and minister to the U.S.; still another John A. (Austin) Wharton, was Adjutant General of the Texas Republic.  (See also H.A. Wise’s Seven Decades of the Union, p. 147.)

As one link led easily to another from references in the above book, my family tree quickly expanded.  Long ago I had recorded to my tree that Edward (Bud) Vincent Boling (my paternal great grandfather) married Mary Florence Wharton on May 9, 1898, in Spotsylvania, Virginia, where so many Bolings/Bollings/Bowlings and Whartons were born. And just today, I discovered that Dr. Austin Wharton was indeed my missing paternal 4th great grandfather; John Wharton was my 5th great grandfather; and, Judge Jesse Wharton and his siblings were my 4th great grand uncles. 


Wharton County, (named after brothers and former TX Congressmen, William Harris Wharton and John Austin Wharton) Texas Gulf Coast Farm to Market (FM) Rd 1301 and Farm to Market(FM) Rd 442 11 miles SE of Wharton.
Population: 1271

 Boling TX Pecan Orchard

 History in a Pecan Shell (As published by the Texas State Historical Association–10 Jun 2013)

Once known as Floyd’s Lane, Boling was renamed after the New York, Texas and Mexican Railway built through around 1900. The new name came from the middle name of Mary Bolling Vineyard, daughter of the man who platted the town. The name was misspelled when the post office was granted.

Although new settlers arrived after the railroad was built – the region was mostly made up of large tracts of land which had been former plantations. In 1907 Boling may have had a railroad connection, but the population was less than fifty with only the most basic businesses. That changed in the mid 1920s with the discovery of the huge oil, gas and sulfur deposits of the Boling Dome. The boom wasn’t as big as the oil boomtowns of legend, but the population increased tenfold to nearly 500 by 1930 and reaching 800 during WWII.

In 1941 the Boling Independent School District was formed of Boling and the neighboring communities of Iago and Newgulf. The high school was in Boling, the junior high in Iago, and the elementary school was inNewgulf.

The population had dropped to a little over 500 in the early 1970s but by the early 90s it had grown to nearly 1,300. The Newgulf sulfur plant closed in late 1993 and the population for Boling-Iago was still 1,271 while Newgulf joined the list of Texas ghost towns.

Boling Texas Today:

Boling TX Data and Demographics

Boling United Methodist Church, Boling Texas

Boling United Methodist Church
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, 2008

Boling United Methodist Church historical marker, Boling Texas

Boling United Methodist Church historical marker
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, 2008

Boling High School,  Boling Texas

Boling High School
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, 2008

Boling Texas mural depicting oil boom

Boling Texas mural depicting oil boom

Boling Texas Fire Station with mural

Boling Texas Fire Station with mural

Boling Texas fire hydrant painted like a dog

Most of Boling Texas fireplugs are painted like dogs.
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, 2008

Pump jack in Boling Texas

The town pump jack has Christmas lights on it.
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, 2008

Merle R. Hudgins, “BOLING, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online(, accessed June 10, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

More Than a Few Names or Mere Numbers

As an addendum to this week’s post What’s InTop 50 Family Surnames a Name?, I revised my Surname Report in Family Tree Maker™. This report shows that our family’s tree (including my spouse’s family) has 10,772 persons in it.  Of those persons (living and dead), 52 percent of them are male; making my database’s percentage of males three percentage points higher than the gender ratio in the 2010 U.S.Census of Population and Housing.  And, those 10,772 persons are related within the 2,170 surnames.

Largest Family Based Upon Surname

The largest number of families within the surname report originated within my maternal grandmother’s family.  The majority of  this family branch spelled their name as “Lathrop.”  Although, there were two other variations of this surname spelling (“Lothrop” and “Lathrope”) presented among the various data collections included in our tree of facts.  There were, in fact, 478 Lathrop families; 53 percent of these family members were male.  The Lathrop family name spans the years:  1450-1929 in our family’s history.

Similarly, the “Bowling” name, or the other 12 versions of its spelling dated from as early as 890 AD in France, where the family was known as the DeBoulogne’s.  Our most recent family members who spelled their name “DeBoulogne” date back to 1863.  This spelling spanned the years 891 AD – 1863:  972 years–just shy of a century!  The other spelling variations included among our tree of facts:   Baroling, Billung, Bolding, Boling, Boleine, Bollyng, Boulding, Bouldinge; Boulogne,  Bowlding, Deboulogne, and De Bolling.

Earliest and Newest People

The earliest entries of people in this report date back to 8 A.D. to Charlemagne (my 43rd great grandfather) and his son Louis the Pious of France (my 43rd great uncle).  The newest member of our family, Alaina Hazel, part of the Dickinson clan, blessed us with her appearance in April 2014–our third great grandchild.

Getting Past the Mere Numbers

Getting past the discussion of mere numbers, my somewhat random method for subject posts suddenly gets very logical. That is, my nearly 200 posts to date have focused on surnames that appear within the Top 50 Family Surnames in my word cloud, above.  [To create the word cloud I used (advanced) with some simple word ratios (exported from my Family Tree Surname report into Excel).]

Estimated Ethnicity

Based upon my DNA testing, a map of today shown below, displays the countries from which my families migrated: Great Britain, Ireland, Europe West, and West Asia.

DNA Estimated Ethnicity

However, if we look back at a map of nearly 1,000 years ago to where many of my ancestors were before they migrated, we find ourselves near the end of the High Middle Ages (967 – 1050).   The world was divided into Kingdoms, Territories, Empires, and Dominions,Europe 1050 AD crusades abounded, and the Catholic Church in Europe was expanding its power base.  Here’s where the real stories first began.

For a detailed timeline that includes European history with interactive maps, I encourage you to visit


You Little Dickens!

MarySusanMorrisFordMy mom has told me a story about my relationship with my Cherokee maternal great-grandmother, Mary Susan Morris Ford, ever since I was old enough to talk. Unfortunately, I was only 14 months old when Grandma Susan passed at 73 years old.

The story goes like this.  My great-grandmother went to sleep one night and when she awoke the next morning she was completely blind probably due to glaucoma.  Despite her blindness her favorite pastimes were knitting and crocheting and I was highly interested in her and her hobbies.  However, when Grandma Susan would leave the room for any reason I would toddle over to her chair, grab her yarn and needles and either take off on a run or try to hide them under the seat where she had sat. I’m told Grandma Susan would chuckle each time, retrieve her goods and say to me, “You, little dickens!”

littledickensknittedmouseAccording to, “Dickens” is a minced oath. It stands for Devil. A little Dickens is an imp. Used familiarly, it is usually affectionate.  The phrase “what the dickens” was coined by William Shakespeare and originated in The Merry Wives Of Windsor Act 3, scene 2, 18–23.

And to add irony to this story, little did anyone know that I would become the mother of “three little dickens,”–ah–Dickinson’s, that is.


To my knowledge, no one in our past or present day family has researched its Cherokee heritage. However, mom at 87, often looks at her arms and says that they remind her of her Grandma Susan’s; “except grandma’s skin had more of a red hue to it”.   Mama also is the only family member alive who remembers her grandmother telling her that she was full-blooded Cherokee–a powerful detached tribe of the Iroquoian family. And Grandma Susan’s father, Gideon W. Morris, passed away when she was only 5. So, again, immediate family information about our Cherokee heritage was not handed down from generation to generation.

In my recent research, however, I discovered that the Cherokee Nation formerly held the mountain region of the south Alleghenies, in southwest Virginia, western North Carolina and South Carolina, north Georgia, east Tennessee, and northeast Alabama, and claiming even to the Ohio River when first they were first met by De Soto in 1540.  Our Morris family branch hailed from Virginia and North Carolina.

Cherokee wars and treaties

Seven clans are often mentioned in Cherokee ritual prayers and in the printed laws of the tribe. They seem to be connected with the “seven mother towns” of the Cherokee, described by Sir Alexander Cuming in 1730 as having each a chief, whose office was hereditary in the female line.

Numbering about 22,000 tribesmen in 200 villages throughout the area, a series of battles and agreements around the period of the Revolutionary War (1763-1787) effectively reduced Cherokee power and landholdings in Georgia, eastern Tennessee, and western North and South Carolina, freeing up this territory for speculation and settlement by the white man.

Today’s Cherokee Nation is the federally recognized government of the Cherokee people with sovereign status granted by treaty and law. Its capital is the W.W. Keeler Complex near Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The Cherokee Nation has operated under a constitutional form of government since 1827. Today there are more than 320,000 registered Cherokee citizens, making it the largest Native American tribe in the United States.  And, for now, this is where my story pauses.  That is, until I find new discoveries that can place my Morris family within a particular clan and village before 1798 when my third great grandfather, James Thomas Morris, was born in Virginia. James was Mary Susan’s grandfather.

The Family “Do You Know” Scale

Yesterday’s post Family Stories that Bind Us  included a few family questions from Emory University’s Do You Know Scale.  Below are all the questions asked within Emory’s study. I’m going to try them out on my family and see just how much we have communicated our stories among the generations–and their different spins on the information.  I urge you to try it with your family, too.

Please remember; mothers and grandmothers are the ones who generally passed along family stories.  And, they often told these stories to teach a lesson or to help their children get through physical or emotional hurts.   In reality, the accuracy of the stories is not critical–it’s the communication and celebration of the information–the secret sauce that binds families together.

Remember–disagreements among family members about what really happened may occur.   But, these disagreements then become part of your family narrative. Keep in mind that “it’s not just knowing your family’s information, but the process of sharing it that’s important,” says Fivush, one of the leaders of Emory University’s 2005 study.

And this is why I blog!

Do You Know Scale



Family Stories that Bind Us

Often when I have writer’s block, I take time out to read what others are writing about or I simply google a theme that I have in mind. And, today, I discovered  the “This Life” column that appears monthly in the Sunday Styles Section of the New York Times.  

The article “Family Stories that Bind Us,” got right to the point of my topic and my concerns about our family–that is, how are we doing individually, what has happened to all our former traditions, and why don’t we always see eye-to-eye when we get together–times that are becoming fewer and fewer as our daily lives seem to be getting in the way of the importance of good times with family.

I am reprinting the article as it was originally written by Bruce Feiler and published in the New York Times on March 15, 2013.  I added a few subheadings to paragraphs and a couple of pictures of my family from times past.

NYT-The Stories that Bind Us

An August Family Gathering

Sure enough, one night all the tensions boiled over. At dinner, I noticed my nephew texting under the table. I knew I shouldn’t say anything, but I couldn’t help myself and asked him to stop.

Ka-boom! My sister snapped at me to not discipline her child. My dad pointed out that my girls were the ones balancing spoons on their noses. My mom said none of the grandchildren had manners. Within minutes, everyone had fled to separate corners.

Is There a Secret Sauce that Holds a Family Together?

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Later, my dad called me to his bedside. There was a palpable sense of fear I couldn’t remember hearing before.

“Our family’s falling apart,” he said.

“No it’s not,” I said instinctively. “It’s stronger than ever.”

But lying in bed afterward, I began to wonder: Was he right? What is the secret sauce that holds a family together? What are the ingredients that make some families effective, resilient, happy?

Some Timely Myth-Shattering Research

It turns out to be an astonishingly good time to ask that question. The last few years have seen stunning breakthroughs in knowledge about how to make families, along with other groups, work more effectively.

Myth-shattering research has reshaped our understanding of dinnertime, discipline and difficult conversations. Trendsetting programs from Silicon Valley and the military have introduced techniques for making teams function better.

The only problem: most of that knowledge remains ghettoized  [isolated] in these subcultures, hidden from the parents who need it most. I spent the last few years trying to uncover that information, meeting families, scholars and experts ranging from peace negotiators to online game designers to Warren Buffett’s bankers.

How Much Do You Know About Your Family?

Dickinson-BolingChildrenAfter a while, a surprising theme emerged. The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.

I first heard this idea from Marshall Duke, a colorful psychologist at Emory University. In the mid-1990s, Dr. Duke was asked to help explore myth and ritual in American families.

“There was a lot of research at the time into the dissipation of the family,” he told me at his home in suburban Atlanta. “But we were more interested in what families could do to counteract those forces.”

Around that time, Dr. Duke’s wife, Sara, a psychologist who works with children with learning disabilities, noticed something about her students.

“The ones who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges,” she said.

Her husband was intrigued, and along with a colleague, Robyn Fivush, set out to test her hypothesis. They developed a measure called the “Do You Know?” scale that asked children to answer 20 questions.

Examples included: Do you know where your grandparents grew up? Do you know where your mom and dad went to high school? Do you know where your parents met? Do you know an illness or something really terrible that happened in your family? Do you know the story of your birth?

“Do You Know” Test Results

Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush asked those questions of four dozen families in the summer of 2001, and taped several of their dinner table conversations. They then compared the children’s results to a battery of psychological tests the children had taken, and reached an overwhelming conclusion. The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. The “Do You Know?” scale turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.

“We were blown away,” Dr. Duke said.

And then something unexpected happened. Two months later was Sept. 11. As citizens, Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush were horrified like everyone else, but as psychologists, they knew they had been given a rare opportunity: though the families they studied had not been directly affected by the events, all the children had experienced the same national trauma at the same time. The researchers went back and reassessed the children.

“Once again,” Dr. Duke said, “the ones who knew more about their families proved to be more resilient, meaning they could moderate the effects of stress.”

Why does knowing where your grandmother went to school help a child overcome something as minor as a skinned knee or as major as a terrorist attack?

“The answers have to do with a child’s sense of being part of a larger family,” Dr. Duke said.

Every Family has a Unifying Narrative

Psychologists have found that every family has a unifying narrative, he explained, and those narratives take one of three shapes.

First, the ascending family narrative: “Son, when we came to this country, we had nothing. Our family worked. We opened a store. Your grandfather went to high school. Your father went to college. And now you. …”

Second is the descending narrative: “Sweetheart, we used to have it all. Then we lost everything.”

“The most healthful narrative,” Dr. Duke continued, “is the third one. It’s called the oscillating family narrative: ‘Dear, let me tell you, we’ve had ups and downs in our family. We built a family business. Your grandfather was a pillar of the community. Your mother was on the board of the hospital. But we also had setbacks. You had an uncle who was once arrested. We had a house burn down. Your father lost a job. But no matter what happened, we always stuck together as a family.’ ”

Dr. Duke said that children who have the most self-confidence have what he and Dr. Fivush call a strong “intergenerational self.” They know they belong to something bigger than themselves.

Create Family Sense-Making Narratives

Leaders in other fields have found similar results. Many groups use what sociologists call sense-making, the building of a narrative that explains what the group is about.

Jim Collins, a management expert and author of “Good to Great,” told me that successful human enterprises of any kind, from companies to countries, go out of their way to capture their core identity. In Mr. Collins’s terms, they “preserve core, while stimulating progress.” The same applies to families, he said.

Mr. Collins recommended that families create a mission statement similar to the ones companies and other organizations use to identify their core values.

The military has also found that teaching recruits about the history of their service increases their camaraderie and ability to bond more closely with their unit.

Cmdr. David G. Smith is the chairman of the department of leadership, ethics and law at the Naval Academy and an expert in unit cohesion, the Pentagon’s term for group morale. Until recently, the military taught unit cohesion by “dehumanizing” individuals, Commander Smith said. Think of the bullying drill sergeants in “Full Metal Jacket” or “An Officer and a Gentleman.”

But these days the military spends more time building up identity through communal activities. At the Naval Academy, Commander Smith advises graduating seniors to take incoming freshmen (or plebes) on history-building exercises, like going to the cemetery to pay tribute to the first naval aviator or visiting the original B-1 aircraft on display on campus.

Dr. Duke recommended that parents pursue similar activities with their children. Any number of occasions work to convey this sense of history: holidays, vacations, big family get-togethers, even a ride to the mall. The hokier the family’s tradition, he said, the more likely it is to be passed down. He mentioned his family’s custom of hiding frozen turkeys and canned pumpkin in the bushes during Thanksgiving so grandchildren would have to “hunt for their supper,” like the Pilgrims.

“These traditions become part of your family,” Dr. Duke said.

Most Happy Families Communicate Effectively, Beyond “Talking Through Problems”

Decades of research have shown that most happy families communicate effectively. But talking doesn’t mean simply “talking through problems,” as important as that is. Talking also means telling a positive story about yourselves. When faced with a challenge, happy families, like happy people, just add a new chapter to their life story that shows them overcoming the hardship. This skill is particularly important for children, whose identity tends to get locked in during adolescence.

The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come.

This article is adapted from Bruce Feiler’s recently published book, “The Secrets of Happy Families: How to Improve Your Morning, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smart, Go Out and Play, and Much More.”

A version of this article appeared in print on March 17, 2013, on page ST1 of the New
York edition with the headline: The Stories That Bind Us.


FORESTVILLE–1700′s to 1900′s

Frederick S DeMarr LibraryTucked away in the basement of the Greenbelt Public Library in the old town of Greenbelt on 11 Crescent Avenue, is a single room packed to the brim with historical information within the collections of the Frederick S. DeMarr Library of County History.
Historical Society Librarian

Susan Pearl, Historian, Prince George’s County Historical Society

It was here, among the many shelves of old documents, books, maps, newspapers, and local community pamphlets that I went looking for and found a good portion of Forestville, Prince George’s County, Maryland’s early beginnings.
As I read the pamphlet from cover to cover (all  5 pages) and saw the names and history associated with streets, subdivisions, schools, and properties I knew (yes, the Entwistle’s and the Randall’s and Forestville Volunteer Fire Department…), that I must share the history of this census designated place where I spent many of my earlier years.  And, what would my genealogical documentation be without the history of the community where I grew up?
So below, is the nearly 40-year-old digitized pamphlet that unfortunately includes no preparers’ names other than the Forestville Citizen’s Association.  I hope you find it as enjoyable as I did.  FYI, where I could find them, I added drawings, maps, and pictures, as appropriate.  I also added some further descriptors in brackets “[ ]”.

FORESTVILLE…A Bicentennial Look At Its Past–Presented by The Forestville Citizens Association, A Bicentennial Community:  MARCH 1976 [Digitized by:  Joanne Boling Dickinson, July 18, 2014]

early colonist fightersAt the beginning of this Bicentennial Year [1976], the Forestville Citizens Association applied for and obtained from the Bicentennial Commission recognition as a Bicentennial Community. We celebrated that event with a Bicentennial flag raising ceremony at the home of Post Number 482 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Ritchie Road in March 1976. As the second and last days of our celebration we are issuing this pamphlet telling what we have learned of the history of Forestville and what the town was like before it was overtaken by the great migration to the suburbs in the early 1940s which is continuing. The biggest changes in the area were brought about first, by the establishment of Andrews Field [opening on May 2, 1943]:

“On 26 August 1942,  President Roosevelt directed Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson to purchase 3,200 acres in the Camp Springs area, which would become an Army Air Field. The acquisition included a few hamlets in the Maryland countryside—Centreville, Meadows, Woodyard—and many farms. More than 100 families left their homes on 269 tracts, which ranged from small plots of bottomland to great estates with hundreds of productive acres.”

Secondly, [in 1959 and 1960], Pennsylvania Avenue was extended east out of D.C. to Meadows as a controlled access four-lane divided highway and designated MD 4. Marlboro Pike was assigned MD 4 Business, a designation that was gone by 1970.  

Hills Bridge Platt 1955By 1970, the MD 4 freeway between Meadows and Hills Bridge in Waysons Corner was complete. Third and last, the building of the Capital Beltway [1957-1964]. The extension of Pennsylvania Avenue brought a tremendous increase in resident population and the Beltway brought a tremendous increase in commercial development ending, perhaps forever, the small-town atmosphere of Forestville.
Alms House

Prince George’s County Alms House, 1771-1965.  Picture Circa 1958

Little is known to us of the time when Forestville was first recognized as a community. We do know of the history of one important early institution–namely, the Prince George’s County Alms House. In 1768, the MD General Assembly passed the “Act for the Relief of the Poor” authorizing the construction of Alms Houses in several counties.   Most Alms House residents were people deemed insane, disabled due to loss of limb or sight or people just considered to be “outcasts of society” during this period in history. John F. Beall, acting as “Trustee of the Poor,” purchased 30 acres from Nathaniel Magruder for the Alms House. This land was part of the original 1761 land grant known as “Black Oak Thicket.” The original building was constructed in 1771 on D’Arcy Road, formerly known as Alms House Rd.  It fell into ruin by 1860, and a second building was constructed on the same site and finished in 1870 (pictured).   Alms Houses became obsolete over time, mostly from government programs such as Roosevelt’s “New Deal” and Johnson’s “Great Society.” The PG County Alms House closed in 1965, and was torn down in the 1970’s. It was located on the current location of the PG County Department of Public Works on D’Arcy Rd.

Prior to and for some time beyond the Revolutionary War (1764-1789) , activities of greater significance occurred in the communities that grew close to the principal means of transportation which was by boat on the many navigable tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. However, for a short span of several days, this area was the scene of much activity and excitement because of the invading British troops who encamped in the vicinity and marched up Marlboro Pike on their way to burn the Capitol of the United States during the War of 1812.
We have no record of the emotional reaction of the residents of the area to those events but it takes little imagination to visualize what those emotions were. We were at war with a much superior enemy and his well-trained and battle seasoned troops were passing through our community. Undoubtedly, the residents of the area figured the worst in the form of alleging  burning of homes, arrests, and other abuses.
R Lee Van HornAbsence of any historical notes on the score of those things happening but it is safe to assume that the residents left little during that period. We will tell you in the words of our late [Prince George’s County native and] historian, Mr. R. Lee Van Horn, [Judge Van Horn – 1861-1972], of the events that took place at that time. “Although little of significant history took place here in so far as County, State, or National impact is concerned, people did live here.  They raised families here, built churches here, commenced businesses here and experienced the successes, failures, heartaches, and glories that people everywhere in this great land experienced, and these experiences were just as important in their lives as those experiences of greater historical impact were on the lives of our great historical figures.”
Edna and Eugene Entwistle, Upper Marlboro Mailman James Coale

Edna and Eugene Entwistle, Upper Marlboro Mailman James Coale

Recollections of the persons and their activities that help create or assume are digested from stories told to us by respected senior citizens, Mrs. Norman Collins and Mrs. Edna Entwistle. Their stories augment the story of Forestville as told by Mr. Willard Entwistle in his line picture story at our March flag raising.

“The Alms House Story”

Time 1700’s

Have you ever noticed a large red brick building on D’Arcy Road, amid the public works buildings? It is the remaining part of what was the Alms House Project.  It is more than 200 years old.

Black Oak Thickett SurveyThis project was founded on December 23, 1771 when the trustees of the poor for Prince George’s County purchased the land as follows:  157 pounds 10 shillings current money paid in hand for 90 acres of land called the Black Oak Thickett and 50 pounds current money paid in hand for 10 acres of land called the second addition to OFFUTS Adventure.

The two deeds were recorded on February 22, 1772. This 100 acres of land was formerly owned by a gentleman named Nathaniel Magruder who was given the land by Lord Baltimore as a patent on January 7, 1761. On the law books of Prince George’s County, there were 14 articles which cover the running of this project and apparently it was used for various purposes besides being a home for the poor. One such use was a place to house vagrants where they were to be kept at hard labor. Possibly their hard labor was to work the acreage as there were tobacco barns, cornfields, a large orchard, and other farm operations. The story is told that the money from fruit sales (especially pears) was used later to put in the electricity and water system without any cost to the county. Forestville Map 1878 Of the various stories that have been told, one was that British troops killed in the attack on Washington were buried there. It is known that persons that died in the Alms House and others who had no burial ground were interred in the cemetery that used to be there.  But, no evidence has been found that British soldiers are buried there.

Up until about 1951, a single lane dirt road called Almshouse Road went through the woods and over a little white bridge up the hill to the property.  There was no other entrance.

In later years the place became solely a rest home for the indigent poor and the name was changed to “County Rest Home”. There were many old folks who spent their declining years there in peace and security. It was a pleasant place to live. The old folks would sit outside in good weather and watched the turkeys, chickens, ducks, cats, dogs, and even the pigs and cows, or look over their neatly kept vegetable garden.

The complex could care for 35 persons and it was for all races, colors and creeds. Citizen organizations, churches, and school children went there to entertain the inhabitants. The history of the Alms House has been compiled into two volumes that are available at the Courthouse in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

2014 Insert: Cemetery notes and/or description from

Also known as The Alms House of Prince George’s County, Maryland. This was a County Financed Program. The caring for the County’s destitute dated back to 1768. The original Alms House was constructed in 1772, and its successor built approximately 100 years later on the same site. Both structures have long since faded into obscurity, leaving no current landmark(s) to reflect the exact site of the County’s Program. The physical location of the Alms House [8401 D’Arcy Road] was noted to be in front of the cemetery, (notes describe the cemetery as being located in an open field directly to the rear of the Alms House).

Alms House CemeteryOf the 143 interments, only one single grave marker remains at the site of The Alms House, where those listed were buried. Petitioners were voted and acted upon by the Executive Committee, comprising of the Trustees of The Alms House.

Residents consisted of indigents, paupers, the disabled and any other citizens of Prince George’s County with no visible means of financial income or support. Paupers (with previous ties to Prince George’s County), who died in neighboring jurisdictions were also buried here.

Time 1800’s

WAR OF 1812 . . . From an article by:  Judge Robert Lee Van Horn

Major George Peter wrote to Colonel J. S. Williams, May 24, 1854, who was then writing his book on the invasion and capture of Washington, as follows: “I was ordered back to join the concentration of the army at Long Old Fields (Forestville).

During the nights of August 22 and August 23, there was the constant alarm of guns being fired by sentinels, always the result of an army comprised of raw militia. On my arrival at Long Old Fields, I found Smith’s brigade and the flotilla men under Commodore Barney with a battery of two 18 pounders and the Marines under Colonel Miller. General Ross (British) occupied Centerville having arrived there at 2 PM August 23.

He (General Ross) sent back to Marlboro and dragged up with his sailors, two or three pieces of light artillery the only guns he had with him at Bladensburg.

There was a conference between President Madison, his cabinet and General Winder (Commander, US forces) in the general’s headquarters in Long Old Fields. General Winder ordered a forced march from Old Long Fields to Washington. On August 23 and 24, General Ross and army bivouacked in the woods and at 4:00 AM on the 24th  passed through Long Old Fields on his way to Bladensburg where he arrived at noon on August 24th, and in 1814 the Battle of Bladensburg was then fought.”


Before the Civil War, a large part of what is now Forestville, was owned by David and Lowenia Sommers and was known first as Magruder’s Plains, later as Long Old Field and then as Ole Long Fields, changed to Forestville in the 1870s.

The Marlboro Turnpike or Old Stage Road ran through it from Washington to Upper Marlboro, with two toll gates at the main entrance to District Heights and at Marlboro Pike and Forestville Road.

Before the Battle of Bladensburg, troops marching overland from Hills Bridge and Benedict and camped at Ole Longfields. In or about 1869, a Mr. Nye, from Pennsylvania bought a large piece of Mr. Magruder’s Plains and built a large home and a store for groceries, dry goods, and general merchandise. A part of the store became the First Post Office in or about 1874. This was the only post office between Washington DC and Marlboro. Each morning the mail carrier met the Popes Creek train line at Marlboro and took off the bag of mail for delivery. This post office was on the north corner of Forestville Road and Marlboro Pike where the Sunoco station is now [the Sunoco station still remains there in operation].

Next to the post office on Marlboro Pike was Dr. Brent who had his office, and up the road on the opposite side, was a Mr. Rielly’s store which served for many years as a polling place.

Across Marlboro Pike from the post office were two stores and a residence (where Mitchell’s gas station is now).

The ground for the First Methodist Church was bought in 1820, 4/5’s of an acre from Mr. Marshall – price $50. This is the fourth church on this site with additional land being bought over the years.

The Episcopal Church cornerstone was laid in 1865. Its educational building/rectory etc. were added later. Noah Smith, a local preacher from England, bought a plot of ground after the Civil War from the Sommers tract and built what is now Phelps Addition to Forestville.

J.W. Randall's Home located adjacent to the Forestville Volunteer Fire Department

J.W. Randall’s Home located adjacent to the Forestville Volunteer Fire Department

J. W. Randall and wife from New York bought from the Sommers tract a parcel known as Grey Eagle and built his home just down Marlboro Turnpike from where one of his sons Charles and his wife built their home and a large lumber or saw and grist mill in 1854, which served the Forestville and surrounding country for many years. This is the site of the Forestville Fire Department [still an active Volunteer Fire Company].

The Forestville School situated between the Methodist and Episcopal churches was opened by Alonzo D’Arcy who taught there, 1866 to 1883–10 months a year to about 50 pupils– cost of each approximately $18 per year.  The school building is now occupied by a surveyor [W. L. Meekins].

Since 1900 we have seen four elementary and junior high schools in Forestville. In the early 1800s Phillip Spaulding, a large landowner in Old Long Field, kept a tavern and stagecoach inn on the present site of the Regency Nursing Home [7420 Marlboro Pike]. This was later used as a polling place and when our election district was formed, Spaulding District, was the first. Our junior high in Forest Manor bears his name.

wheelwright shopAt Marlboro Pike and Westphalia Road, W. L. Moore operated a blacksmith and wheelwright shop on what was known as Kalverton Edge Tract.

On the north east side of Westphalia Road extending toward the post office was land owned by the Armstrong’s who gave the ground for the present Methodist Parsonage in 1882.

On the south side of Marlboro Pike extending from the gates down Marlboro Pike to Westphalia Road was land owned by John Brady, great, great, grandparent of the Beans who operated Old Longfield’s Dairy on the south side of Marlboro Pike. Mr. Brady donated the ground for the first Odd Fellows Hall built in 1894. Ryon House-Covert Farm2-1984This was located where the overpass of the Beltway crosses Pennsylvania Avenue. In the back of this land with outlet on Marlboro Pike and running through Forestville Road was Covert Farm [3700 Forestville Road], bought by Thomas Ryon in 1849.  [Edna Ryon Entwistle inherited this property through her father, W. Ward Ryon,  who inherited it from his father,Thomas Ryon.]

Freddies Liquors Forestville MapJohn Henry Bayne (born on my birthdate January 5, in 1840) was the wheelwright and blacksmith at the intersection of Marlboro Pike and Ritchie Road (7700 Marlboro Pike)– owned and occupied  for decades now by Freddie’s Liquors.    Wheelwrights like John were very important tradesman in small rural towns like Forestville. They made wheels for wagons, carriages, and riding chairs.  Because the roads were rocky and rugged, wheels had to be made to handle these rough conditions. He also built or repaired carts, wheelbarrows and wagons so local farmers could transport stock or take their crops or milk to market.  In April, 1868, John Bayne married Amelia Louise Moore from Westphalia Road.  Amelia died as young mother at age 27  leaving John a widower with four children. He next married Mary Ellen Rebecca Darcy and they had nine children together.   John died on December 23, 1921, at the age of 81.  Forestville’s native, John Bayne, never left Forestville.  In fact, he and his two wives are buried at Epiphany Episcopal Church Cemetery, 3111 Ritchie Road–the same church I attended as a child and where I was married in 1965. 

Later on there was another blacksmith, Mr. Proctor, who had a home and shop on land owned by Dr. John Sansbury who had his home and office just west of the present location of the Regency Nursing Home. This same Dr. Sansbury had a racetrack in 1908 on what is now Sansbury Subdivision. That track was the first in Prince George’s County, a trotting track, one half mile long.

Dr. Sansbury’s residence and office later and was owned by J. H. Boyd, M. D.

In the 1880s, part of the Pike, across from where Penn Mar is now [2950 Donnell Drive], was a shoe repair shop (Keiler’s). In those days, and up to about 20 years ago [1956], the site of the Penn Mar shopping center was a part of O’Donnell’s farm and the present Donnell Drive was a dirt road that went back to the farmhouse. The house was somewhat to the north of the present Pennsylvania Avenue Extended. Pennsylvania Avenue Extended did not exist then.

In the 1880s farther up the Pike toward District Heights was Jackson Memorial Methodist Church, public school, and cemetery.

Next up was the first Catholic Church in Forestville, a frame church painted white built in 1912. It was replaced by the present Mount Calvary church, school, and convent. McNamara high school for boys was built later [converted to a coed school in 1992 when neighboring La Reine Catholic High School for girls closed its doors in Suitland].

Across the Pike, in what is now Berkshire, they drilled for oil in the 1900s with no luck. They also drilled on the Matthews tract which is now Andrews Air Force Base.

“Wells have been dug near Lonaconing in Western Maryland; in the Triassic soil of Frederick County; in Prince George’s County; near Leonardtown, and on the Isle of Wight near Ocean City,” reported The Sunday Sun Magazine in the 1940s.

“Most of the digging resulted in nothing but disappointment,” it said.”

“In 1919, the only real “strike” came in Prince George’s County, when an operating well produced a bucketful of oil every 24 hours.

Newspaper accounts at the time said it was so pure that it could be “put right into the gasoline tank of an automobile and run off with it.”

Abundance wasn’t in the cards, and shortly afterward, the well and its so-called pure oil went dry.  However, the talk of Maryland oil wouldn’t go away, as speculators continued to whip up interest.

“The kind of science the big companies employ is not to be believed. … Hardly a single geologic condition is favorable for the accumulation of oil near Washington. The usual requisites for an oil pool are lacking, and no reputable geologist would advise the expenditure of money under these conditions,” said a 1920 report from the U.S. Geological Survey published in The Sun at the time.

Bi-racial Relationships of the 60’s–the 1860’s!

The Year 1868

Last week my genealogical research took me back to my second paternal great grandfather, Lawrence T. “Larl” Boling.  I already knew that Larl married Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Tapp in Fredericksburg, Virginia, but when I looked more closely I found that their wedding took place just one week before Christmas 1868–that was the Christmas day when our 17th President, President Andrew Johnson, President Andrew Johnsongranted unconditional pardons for all persons involved in the Southern rebellion (Civil War). And just ten months earlier on February 24, 1868, he was impeached by the House of Representatives.  The Senate tried the case in a trial that lasted from March to May 1868. In the end, the Senate voted to acquit President Andrew Johnson by a margin of 35 guilty to 19 not guilty – one vote short of the two-thirds needed to convict him for breaching the Tenure of Office Act by removing Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War, from his cabinet.


WildernessWounded1864It was also only about four years earlier in May 1864 in Spotsylvania, Virginia, on land known as the Wilderness Field, where Sarah’s mother, “The Widow Tapp,” lived with her family when the “Battle of the Wilderness,” (Grant vs Lee) was fought, killing more than 50,000 men.  This battle became known as “The Crossroads of the Civil War.”

In glades they meet skull after skull
Where pine cones lay – the rusted gun,
Green shoes full of bones, the mouldering coat
And cuddled up skeleton;
And scores of such. Some start as in dreams,
And comrades lost bemoan;
By the edge of those wilds Stonewall had charged-
But the year and the Man were gone.
Herman Melville – (from “The Armies of the Wilderness”)

The remains of the carnage were still visible in the Wilderness years after the battle. Photo by Geroge Bell circa 1866. Courtesy LOC


Machywap Taptico: Artwork courtesy of Smithsonian National Archives

Despite their country’s severe turmoil, near the end of 1868, Larl (30) and Bettie (25) started their lives together.  He was from the ancient English aristocratic Bolling family and Bettie’s paternal lineage revealed she was Native American. Somewhat unimaginable for me, when at a time, brothers were fighting brothers over the issues of slavery and the rights of people of color!

The 1600’s

An on-demand book (Wicocomico Indian Nation of the Powhatan Empire – the Tapp Family Native American Heritage) that I am ordering traces the Native American Taptico/Tapp lineage back seven generations to 1678.  My own research has taken me back to my ninth great grandfather, Machywap Thomas Taptico (1630-1689) and tribes that lived along the Chesapeake Bay, the Rappahannock, and Potomac Rivers in the states of Maryland and Virginia. Machywap was the last Chief of the Chicacoan Tribe before it was merged with Wicocomico Tribes in Virginia in 1655-56.  He was selected as Chief of these merged tribes by the English because they thought he was a friend to them and could be easily managed. And, according to the Wicocomico Indian Nation, the English’s selection of Machywap didn’t set well with the Wicocomico and when threats on his life became serious, the English had to provide him protection from his own tribesmen.

And the irony within all of these periods of time, the stories about power, rights, and freedom–the discussion, confusion, and hypocrisy still remain–not only within North America but throughout the world.  Add to all of these facts that archeological studies spanning hundreds of years still indicate that the first people who arrived in North America were Paleoindians and that their presence dates back about 14,000 years–No, it wasn’t Amerigo Vespucci, Columbus, or the puritans that arrived here first and settled the Americas–rather it was indigenous natives. You can look it up for yourself, archaeologists call this period of North American history Paleoindian, meaning ancient Indian.  So this story became much more than one of a young bi-racial couple surviving during the American Civil War era and the legacies they left us. Thus, this story is far from over… 

Irish-American Heritage Month: March 2014

DNA Test Reveals 10% Irish Ancestry

From my dna report–A Look Into My Irish Ancestry – Primarily in: Ireland, Wales, Scotland, but some lived in France, and England:

Emerald IsleI guess the DNA results that revealed my blood lineage as 10 percent Irish, allow me to legitimately wear green today to honor my Irish heritage.  Ireland, called the Emerald Isle for its rolling green hills, is the second largest island in the British Isles, just off the west coast of Britain. Along with Wales, Scotland and a handful of other isolated communities in the area, it is a last holdout of the ancient Celtic languages that were once spoken throughout much of western Europe. Though closely tied to England, both geographically and historically, the Irish have fiercely maintained their unique character throughout the centuries.

My family’s Irish Surnames:

Irish Ancestry 1Irish Ancestry 2

People of prehistoric Ireland and Scotland

After the Ice Age glaciers retreated from northern Europe more than 9,000 years ago, hunter gatherers and farmers spread north into what is now Great Britain and Ireland. Around 500 B.C., the Bronze Age culture spread across all of western Europe, including the British Isles. These new people originated in central Europe, near what is Austria today. Many tribes existed, but they were collectively known as the Celts.

Population expansion

From around 400 B.C. to 275 B.C., Celtic tribes expanded to the Iberian Peninsula, France, England, Scotland and Ireland—even as far east as Turkey. As the Roman Empire expanded beyond the Italian peninsula, it began to come into increasing contact with the Celts of France, whom the Romans called “Gauls.”

A Tribe of Gauls on an Expedition by Alphonse De Neuville

Roman invasions

The Romans eventually conquered the Gauls and then invaded the British Isles in 43 A.D. They conquered most of southern Britain and occupied it over the course of a few decades. Those Celts who were not assimilated into the Roman Empire and retreated to other areas that remained under Celtic control, such as Wales, Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and Brittany. The Roman presence largely wiped out most traces of Celtic culture in England—even replacing the language. Since the Romans never occupied Ireland or Scotland in any real sense, they are among the few places where Celtic languages have survived to this day.

Another thing the Romans brought was Christianity. During the few hundred years that the Romans occupied Britain, they promoted Christianity with varying degrees of force. Many missionaries traveled to the area and succeeded in converting the Celts from their pagan Druidism, though pagan religions resurfaced after the Roman Empire’s collapse.

Viking invasions

Beginning in the late 8th century, Viking raiders began attacking the east coast of England and the northern islands off Scotland.  During the next few centuries, they controlled parts of the islands, exacting tribute, pillaging villages and monasteries, and occasionally setting up trade outposts. During the 9th century, the Vikings established Dublin in western Ireland as a trade port. Vikings controlled this area of Ireland for nearly 300 years, but their power diminished after heavy losses at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.

Norman invasions

During the 12th century, Ireland consisted of a number of small warring kingdoms. When Diarmait Mac Murchada, the petty king of Leinster, was deposed by the Irish High King, he turned to England for help. Henry II, the Norman ruler of England, sent Norman mercenaries who assisted Mac Murchada and he regained control of Leinster, though shortly thereafter he died. In 1171, Henry II landed with a large army and seized control of Ireland. With the support of Pope Adrian IV, Henry II took the title “Lord of Ireland” and the Emerald Isle became part of the English Kingdom.

Drawing of Diarmait Mac Murchada, from W.R. Wilde’s A Descriptive Catalogue of the Antiquities in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol. 1 (Dublin & London, 1863), page 310.
King Henry II by unknown artist. Nation Portrait Gallery, London.
Pope Adrian IV

The Norman kings, ruling primarily from France, gave rise to the House of Plantagenet, a line of kings who began to merge and modernize the kingdom of England. Beginning in 1277, Edward I put down a revolt in Wales and led a full-scale invasion of the country, bringing it under control of the English crown. He then seized political control of Scotland during a succession dispute, leading to a rebellion there. Edward’s campaign against the Scots was less successful and remained unresolved at his death. By decisively defeating Edward’s son at Bannockburn in 1314, the Scots assured their independence.

The Great Plague of the 14th century devastated the Norman and English leadership in Ireland. This destruction of outside authority promoted a renewal of Irish political power, culture and language.

Early modern Ireland

Beginning in 1537 and for the next 70 years, the English monarchy reconquered Ireland. The English attempted to force acceptance of Protestantism among the Irish people, who had mostly remained Catholic. When forced conversion failed, the British Crown replaced the Irish landowners with thousands of Protestant colonists from England and Scotland. England also sold Irish prisoners and “undesirables” to Caribbean plantations as slaves.

The Irish diaspora

Two famines, one in 1740-41 and the second in 1845-52, decimated Ireland. They brought widespread death from starvation and disease and created a massive exodus of refugees. The first famine, caused by severe winter weather, led to the deaths of some 400,000 people; about 150,000 Irish left the country. The second, called the “Great Famine,” was the result of potato blight, killing 1 million people by starvation. Another million Irish fled the country, most immigrating to England, Australia, Canada and the United States, creating a worldwide Irish diaspora.

Victims of the Irish Potato Famine immigrate to North America by ship
The Irish Famine: Interior of a Peasant’s Hut by H. Werdmuller

And, from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Facts for Features

Percentage of U.S. Residents with Irish AncestryOriginally a religious holiday to honor St. Patrick, who introduced Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a celebration for all things Irish. The world’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade occurred on March 17, 1762, in New York City, featuring Irish soldiers serving in the English military. This parade became an annual event, with President Truman attending in 1948. Congress proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month in 1995, and the President issues a proclamation commemorating the occasion each year.

From the U.S. Census Bureau’s Facts for Features

MARCH MADNESS/Sports Celebration of Irish Heritage


Population of South Bend, Ind., home to the Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame. About 10.4 percent of South Bend’s population claims Irish ancestry.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey


Percentage of the Boston metropolitan area population that claims Irish ancestry, one of the highest percentages for the top 50 metro areas by population. Boston is home of the Celtics of the National Basketball Association.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey

78,390 and 16,167

Population of New Rochelle, N.Y., and Moraga, Calif., home to the Gaels of Iona University and St. Mary’s College of California, respectively. During college basketball’s March Madness, you will typically see these universities compete on the court, no doubt rooted on by some of the 8.4 percent of the New Rochelle population and 15.5 percent of the Moraga population that claim Irish ancestry.
Sources: 2012 American Community Survey

Population Distribution

34.1 million

Number of U.S. residents who claimed Irish ancestry in 2012. This number was more than seven times the population of Ireland itself (4.6 million). Irish was the nation’s second most frequently reported ancestry, trailing only German.
Sources: 2012 American Community Survey
Ireland Central Statistics Office


Percentage of the population in Massachusetts that claims Irish ancestry, which is among the highest in the nation. New York has 2.5 million people claiming Irish ancestry, which is among the most of any state.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey


Number of people with Irish ancestry who were naturalized citizens in 2012.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey

39.2 years old

Median age of those who claim Irish ancestry, which is higher than U.S. residents as a whole at 37.4 years.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey

Irish-Americans Today


Percentage of people of Irish ancestry, 25 or older, who had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In addition, 93.4 percent of Irish-Americans in this age group had at least a high school diploma. For the nation as a whole, the corresponding rates were 29.1 percent and 86.4 percent, respectively.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey


Median income for households headed by an Irish-American, higher than the $51,371 for all households. In addition, 7.4 percent of family households of Irish ancestry were in poverty, lower than the rate of 11.8 percent for all Americans.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey


Percentage of employed civilian Irish-Americans 16 or older who worked in management, professional and related occupations. Additionally, 25.9 percent worked in sales and office occupations; 15.9 percent in service occupations; 9.3 percent in production, transportation and material moving occupations; and 7.7 percent in natural resources, construction and maintenance occupations.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey


Percentage of householders of Irish ancestry who owned the home in which they live, with the remainder renting. For the nation as a whole, the homeownership rate was 63.9 percent.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey

Places to Spend the Day


Number of places in the United States that share the name of Ireland’s capital, Dublin. The most recent population for Dublin, Calif., was 47,156.
Source: 2012 Population Estimates

If you’re still not into the spirit of St. Paddy’s Day, then you might consider paying a visit to Emerald Isle, N.C., with 3,669 residents.
Source: 2012 Population Estimates

Other appropriate places in which to spend the day: the township of Irishtown, Ill., several places or townships named Clover (in South Carolina, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) or one of the seven places that are named Shamrock.

The Celebration

25.9 billion

U.S. beef production in pounds in 2012. Corned beef is a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

$21.5 million

Value of potted florist chrysanthemum sales at wholesale in 2012 for operations with $100,000 or more sales. Lime green chrysanthemums are often requested for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

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).

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