Back From the Future – Part 3 (With John Rolfe and Pocahontas)

I wish to thank my dear friend, retired College Lecturer, and fellow Pocahontas research enthusiast, Christine Dean, for her ongoing updates about happenings in and around her hometown of  Heacham, Norfolk, England.  From her undaunting energy and perseverance while delving into local legends about Pocahontas and John Rolfe, I am able to bring you new posts that allow us to travel back from the future and into the past based on new details and discoveries provided to me with the help of Christine in our present day.

So let’s begin Part 3 of this journey back from the future in the year 1597.  Here, we find John Rolfe, age 12, living at Heacham Hall with his mother Dorothea Mason Rolfe Redmayne, (who had been widowed in 1594 at the death of John’s father (Sir Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe), and with his stepfather,  Dr. Robert Redmayne (since his mother’s marriage to him in 1595).  Robert Redmayne had been Chancellor at Norwich Cathedral since 1588.  His chancellorship went on to span 37 years and five bishops including a family relative, Bishop William Redman (1595-1602), who chose to spell his name as it sounded. It would be only 12 years later when the U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration records would show that John Rolfe arrived in Jamestown, Virginia.  In fact, pages 15-21 of this reference include the persons aboard the Sea Venture, which left Britain in 1609 for Jamestown but was wrecked off Bermuda. And, specific names appear on pages 16 and 17, with genealogies of some of the passengers on succeeding pages.

Six years later in 1615, biographical histories have documented a visit to Heacham Hall in Norfolk County, England, by John Rolfe, his wife Pocahontas, and their infant son Thomas Rolfe.  This visit lasted nearly two years–from early June 1615 until March 1617.  Unfortunately Pocahontas died in January 1617, leaving her husband, John, a widow with their two-year-old son, Thomas.  Shortly after Pocahontas’ death, John Rolfe departed England to return to Jamestown, Virginia.  John left his son, two-year-old Thomas, in London, in the care of Sir Lewis Stukley.  Upon Sir Lew Stukley’s death in 1620, Thomas’ guardianship was transferred to John  Rolfe’s, two-years’ his junior, younger brother, Henry Rolfe, until Thomas was 21.  And in 1635, passenger and immigration records show that Thomas Powhatan Rolfe arrived in Virginia.

But Wait, Our Story in England Isn’t Yet Finished–We’re Gonna Be Talk’n ‘Trees’

The mulberry tree in the grounds of Heacham Manor (far right of building) Picture: Chris Bishop

The mulberry tree in the grounds of Heacham Manor. Picture: Chris Bishop









Heacham Manor Hotel 3

Today’s luxurious Heacham Manor Hotel

A four hundred year old legend exists.  It tells of the Rolfe’s now infamous visit to Heacham Village and adds trees into the mix of our family’s history–and not branches of our ancestry tree. But, literally a living mulberry tree and its branches.  A tree that Pocahontas is said to have planted at Heacham Hall during her stay there.  And today, 400 years later, the manor and villagers say this same mulberry tree  remains and is thriving beside the Heacham Manor Hotel main entrance.  

But wait–what if this mulberry tree could talk–what might it tell us?

Palace of WhitehallPrincess Pocahontas is said to have visited Queen Anne and King James I on Twelfth Night 6th January 1617 at their Palace of Whitehall in London.  They had a garden that had nine mulberry trees and they were giving away 1000+ mulberry seeds to all their noble friends, who they encouraged to plant them to grow trees for medicine, healthy food, drink, and wine and to cultivate silkworms for spinning silk from which new shirts could be made.  So, the question remains “could the Heacham mulberry tree seeds have come from King James I’s and Queen Anne’s Buckingham Palace Gardens?”

Syon House and ParkSyon Park also in London has about 200 acres (Thames-side near Isleworth), and includes the Syon House. This estate has been owned by Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland,  and his ancestors for about 400 years. Syon House was the  home of the 9th Duke of Northumberland’s family and Earl George Percy  was a President /Governor at Jamestown in 1609-1610 and his brother ‘Wizard Earl’ alchemist expert Henry Percy.  Henry Percy remounted  Pocahontas pearl wedding earrings with  silver clasps when she visited him at the Tower of London in 1616. Syon House  has the oldest surviving mulberry tree in England dating back to 1548 and growing in the meadow where Pocahontas stayed in their two cottages close by at Brentford after she became ill in London.  Could this tree be the parent tree to the one in Heacham?

Mulberry Tree Red Lodge Country HouseAnother old mulberry tree grows on the estate of Narford Hall that is situated in the Breckland District of Norfolk County, in the garden at the  Red lodge Country House behind the wooden seat–this was the home of John Rolfe’s  stepfather’s family, the Redmayne’s.  It possibly dates back to a 1643 gift from King Charles 1.  Further, Uncle Edmund Rolfe also lived at Narford Hall with his son Henry and grandson Francis.  Princess Pocahontas’ might had picked up seeds or truncheon twigs from this tree to plant at Heacham Hall.  Princess Pocahontas probably commuted between Heacham and other England vicinities by carriages, possibly changing horses at relatives’ stables in Narford Hall.

The map of England’s Norfolk County from 1658, below, is the best I could find to try to show where the Rolfe and Redmayne farming families would have traded in their ships, horses and carriages along the yellow River Nar that flows from Kings Lynn to several major ports at Waterbeach Cambridge, Huntingdon, Peterborough, Isle of Ely, and the Royal Boston port.  The tidal water is highlighted in  grey.

Norfolk England Map 1658

Cottrell Joan

Dr. Joan Cottrell

Dr Kevn Burgess Columbus St Univ GA

Dr. Kevin Burgess

In just a few weeks, (sometime in May 2017), when the fresh mulberry leaves at the luxury country house Heacham Manor Hotel (formerly Heacham Hall) are mature enough, Dr. Joan Cottrell of the Forest Research, Northern Research Station, Roslin, Midlothian, UK, and Dr. Kevin Burgess of Columbus State University, Georgia, USA will take a six-inch branch from this tree to conduct DNA testing of it and compare it to branches from three other very old mulberry trees.  It is hoped this will lead to finding a DNA connection between the Heacham Manor Hotel’s tree and three other very old mulberry trees identified in the UK – at Buckingham Palace, Syon House in West London and Narford Hall, Swaffham, Norfolk, where it is thought Pocahontas might have visited and collected seeds from one of them.  This research could establish whether any of these three other trees are forebears of the Heacham tree–which today is still producing delectable fruit that is served on the menu at Heacham Manor.

As I understand it (in very lay persons terms), one chromosome passes from a mother tree to a child tree.  By analyzing clippings, scientists can sometimes detect a matching digital DNA barcode.  Ultimately, this process might identify and connect a species of seeds to this mulberry tree to help corroborate the story of Pocahontas’ mulberry tree planting in Heacham Village!

From Harp to Heart to Banjo Plucking Fingers

Our Family’s Gifted and Talented Musicians 

John Doan – Harp Guitarist


I have written a few times in past posts about our family’s gifted and talented, especially our musicians–past and present.  In particular, I have mentioned maternal cousin John (through my grandmother Loretta Lathrop (nee) branch and my 8th great grandfather Samuel Lathrop, Esquire (1623-1700) and his wife, Abigail Doane (1631-1734).

John is an Emmy-nominated performer, composer, public speaker, historian, instrument collector, and university professor.

Brandon Boling – Banjo Player

TwoTonTwigLogoIn past posts, I also briefly mentioned my brother Frank’s son and musician, 27-year-old Brandon Boling.  By day Brandon serves people food and drink and by night he and his band, Two Ton Twig, dish out lively fun and entertainment primarily in the Washington, D.C, Metropolitan area from where all five band members hail.  I mashed up these two family musicians in today’s post because to me their approaches to music and entertainment are so very similar.

As a master of the twenty-string harp guitar, John Doan pioneered a new way of playing guitar. In his international concerts, John uses his magical and musical storytelling adventures to evoke laughter, tears, and dreams that sweep you away. Likewise, Brandon’s Two Ton Twig band blends new and old-timey music. Their tunes and tales influenced by Folk, Americana, Hard Rock, Eastern European folk music, 80’s British Indie, and classic American Blue Grass deliver mesmerizing original music that includes high energy and fun, heart warming, dark and twisted, and sometimes even surprisingly life affirming lyrics and moods.

Brandon’s banjo finger-plucking goes from full throttle to really slow, really quiet, and really beautiful as Twig regales and involves their audiences in interesting and sometimes intense experiences.  Twig’s first album will soon be released, and they are spreading their gigs further down the south atlantic this weekend to play at the Legendary Kimbro’s Pickin’ Parlor on Saturday, January 24, at 8:30 p.m., just 10 miles south of Nashville in Franklin–one of the principal cities of the Nashville metropolitan area.  On Sunday, January 25, at 9 p.m. they will be at the Baja Bean Company, in the heart of downtown Staunton, Virginia.  If you live near either of these events, they make for a great inexpensive date night or evening out.  Come one, come all!

For those of you who have seen or heard of them–beware!  Twig is on the rise in their music genre.  Twig’s band members include:

Jordan Balzer – Mandolin, Vocals
Brandon Boling – Banjo, Vocals
Ian Greening – Bass, Vocals
Anna Hennessy – Fiddle, Vocals
Donnie Riggs – Dobro, Guitar, Vocals

Here’s one of Two Ton Twig’s newest originals–“Those Things”

Revisiting Lottie’s Cardboard Box of Momentos

Sometimes when searching for one thing you come across something entirely different, but the smell of old relics opens your senses, the aged paper catches your eye, and the written words touch deep into your heart;

You’re caught in the moment and it causes you to wonder once again what her life must have been before you became a part;

Or, the experience causes you to confirm what you knew or originally thought–to trust in your memories– that they were not so very far off… Joanne


He Giveth His Grace0001

Today’s find was an old double folded and yellowed piece of paper with handwriting that I know as my paternal great-grandmother Lottie’s.  At first I thought, with as much faith as she expressed throughout her life that she must have written these words into a three verse poem to give her comfort and strength–which would not have been uncommon, for many members of our family put pencil to paper to write, or mouths or fingers to instruments to play.

Before jumping to any conclusions, I decided I’d put my fingers to work–this time using today’s technology, my trusted computer and old friend,  just to see if I could find any references at least to the first line I had read from Lottie’s paper.  Lo and behold, instant identification:  “He Giveth More Grace” – Musical Composer: Annie Johnson Flint and Lyricist: Hubert Mitchell – ©1941.  The Bill and Gloria Gaither Choir sings the audio file below.  

At first, I was a little disappointed that my find was not an unpublished original by my great-grandmother.  However, it was still special to me to know that she must have put much faith into the words that she transcribed or the message in this gospel piece she sang. She obviously read or spoke it from deep within her heart.  For as we know from my earlier posts about Lottie’s life, her path was not an easy one.  She had to have received strength and mercy from Him for her life’s multiple trials and her heart and body’s multiple afflictions during her time here on earth.

Thank you Lottie, for keeping and sharing this with me.  So sorry I was about 50 years late in recognizing and acknowledging its importance and meaningfulness to you.  But, I believe today was the day intended to visit with you and these words you treasured–on a day that at first look had presented me with my very own  trials and frustrations.  Our visit has turned an otherwise trying day for me into one with renewed vigor and faith.

Oldest-Known Holocaust Survivor Dies; Pianist Was 110

This blog would be incomplete if I failed to include references about the good, the bad, and the uglies of this world. So when I came upon this story of Alice Herz-Sommer, I realized it had all of those features and many more. Alice’s spirit, in only moments, touched my heart. I believe she survived two years in Nazi camp and so many more so she could tell her poignant story–one of a survivor! Thank you Alice and thank you film director Malcolm Clark and producer Nick Reed for your Oscar-nominated documentary The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.

NPR Logo

the Two-Way  Breaking News from NPR


February 24, 201411:44 AM
Alice Herz-Sommer in July 2010.

Alice Herz-Sommer in July 2010.

‘The Lady in Number 6’/AP

There are many remarkable things to say about Alice Herz-Sommer, who until her death in London on Sunday was thought to be the world’s oldest survivor of the Nazi Holocaust.

To start with, there’s her age: Herz-Sommer was 110.

Then there are the people she knew, including writer Franz Kafka — who died in 1924.

But what has particularly touched us as we’ve read about her this morning is her amazingly positive view of the world.

From the documentary ‘The Lady in Number 6’: Alice Herz-Sommer says whether life is good or not ‘depends on me.’

Bear in mind: In 1943, Herz-Sommer and her husband, Leopold Sommer, and their son, Raphael, were sent from Prague to a Nazi camp for Jews in the Czech city of Terezin. According to The Guardian, “she never saw her husband again after he was moved to Auschwitz in 1944 and many in her extended family and most of the friends she had grown up with were also lost in the Holocaust.”

According to the BBC, Herz-Sommer and her son “were among fewer than 20,000 people who were freed when Terezin was liberated by the Soviet army in May 1945. An estimated 140,000 Jews were sent there and 33,430 died there. About 88,000 were transported on to Auschwitz and other death camps, where most were killed.”

Still, when the Guardian spoke with her in 2006, Herz-Sommer had this to say:

“Life is beautiful, extremely beautiful. And when you are old you appreciate it more. When you are older you think, you remember, you care and you appreciate. You are thankful for everything. For everything.”

Film director Malcolm Clark and producer Nick Reed — whose Oscar-nominated documentaryThe Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life tells the story of the concerts that Herz-Sommer, a pianist, and others performed in concentration camps to lift the spirits of prisoners — say in a statement that:

“Even as her energy slowly diminished, her bright spirit never faltered. Her life force was so strong, we could never imagine her not being around. We can all learn so much from this most amazing woman.”

On the film’s website, Herz-Sommer was quoted about the role music played in her life:

“She speaks with great pride and passion of playing more than 100 concerts inside the concentration camp and she likens that experience, both for the performers and their imprisoned audience, as being close to the divine. Alice is unequivocal in stating that music preserved her sanity and her life — while bringing hope into the lives of countless others. To this day Alice never tires of saying ‘music saved my life and music saves me still.’ ”

The film’s creators added that:

“Despite all that has befallen her, Alice insists that she has never, ever hated the Nazis, and she never will. Some see in her tolerance and compassion a secular saint who has been blessed with the gift of forgiveness, but Alice is far more pragmatic — she has seen enough in her life to know all too well that hatred eats the soul of the hater, not the hated.”

According to the Guardian, after the war Herz-Sommer “went to Israel in 1949 with her sisters and taught music in Tel Aviv before moving to London at the prompting of her son, who had grown up to become a concert cellist but who died suddenly in 2001 while on tour.”

In the 2006 interview, she shared with the Guardian her secret to a long life:

“My temperament. This optimism and this discipline. Punctually, at 10 a.m., I am sitting there at the piano, with everything in order around me. For 30 years, I have eaten the same — fish or chicken. Good soup, and this is all. I don’t drink — not tea, not coffee, not alcohol. Hot water. I walk a lot with terrible pains, but after 20 minutes it is much better. Sitting or lying is not good.”

All Things Considered is due to have more about Herz-Sommer and her life later today. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show.


“If You’re Reading This”

Tim McGraw 2013

While driving from my home to my parents this morning, I heard a song on a country radio station that affected me so deeply that I had to pull off the side of the road until it had ended and I had composed myself again.  The music, lyrics, and singing were great, but its sentiment hit me like a ton of bricks.  And, guess what–this song is six years old.  I don’t know where I’ve been that I hadn’t heard it before today.    I’m talking about If You’re Reading This, by American Country Music Artist Tim McGraw.

After researching it, I learned that Tim first performed this song live at the Academy of Country Music (ACM) awards which were held in Las Vegas, Nevada and aired May 15, 2007 on the CBS Television Network just two weeks before 2007’s official Memorial Day.

About the Song

If You’re Reading This is a tribute to the families of soldiers who have died. Its lyrics take the form of a letter written from a soldier to his family — a letter that is intended to be sent only if the soldier died.

About the Authors and Singer

Inspired by reading a magazine article on war casualties, McGraw, along with Brad and Brett Warren of country duo The Warren Brothers, co-wrote If You’re Reading This about three weeks before the ACM awards aired. 

Viewer and Listener Responses

When McGraw performed the song at the  awards show, one hundred relatives of soldiers joined him onstage, under a banner that read “Families of Fallen Heroes”. Audience members and families on stage gave him a standing ovation.

Then, radio stations began playing it on air from the telecast.  And, it debuted at #35  on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts from the unsolicited airplay.   McGraw later released a remixed version of the live recording for radio broadcast as a single. (A live recording studio version was never cut.)   In November 2007, If You’re Reading This reached a peak of #3 on the Billboard country charts, becoming McGraw’s 42nd Top Ten country hit overall. The song also peaked at #41 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Today’s music has too few songs that really touch our hearts and make us think about who we are and the times we live in.  I just wanted to share this one with you. I hope you enjoy it.

Searching for and Documenting Ancestral Gifts and Talents: I’ve Got the Music In Me, Part 7

This post continues a discussion I began on FaceBook about three months ago, “Has anyone documented gifts and talents, especially musicality of Bolling ancestors?”  The post received about 100 views and several responses from a dozen or so descendants of the Bolling family.  So, I thought I would summarize the anecdotal information below and include a couple of examples of the talents:

Surnames of those Bolling Descendants who Responded with Comments:

Boling, Bostwick, Bowling, Boyance, Bushman, Frazier, Hutson, Pollard, Powell Goins, Semones Probus, Tomlinson

Three Months of Anecdotal Responses:

  • My mom was a Boling and very artistic and creative… Also musical–played piano by ear! Most of her descendants inherited her creativity.  February 23 at 10:40am
  • Must surely be genetic talent–everyone on my maternal side (who descend from Bolling) is musical! March 1 at 12:22am

  • I was able to play almost any instrument given to me as a kid. My older kids definitely inherited that. I’m also an artist and writer. All my kids seem to be artistically gifted.  April 7 at 6:44pm
  • My grandmother, mother, and many other family members are very artistic. Painting, drawing, music, etc.  April 7 at 7:26pm 
  • My husband is the BOLING, most of his kin are very, very artistic and musical.  April 8 at 8:03pm 
  • Same here, My dad was artistic, My oldest girl,15, is amazing at drawing, painting and has taught herself almost five instruments. It just passed over me I think.
  • I don’t have a bit of artistic ability.  April 9 at 6:41pm 
  • I have an artist web site and would love to have others from here post their work on it. Be sure to say you’re from the bowling/bolling page.  Would be fun to see some family work. April 9 at 6:43pm
  • I remember drawing and writing poetry and short stories up until high school but I was never encouraged to keep it up and I just stopped. My children all seem to be able to draw, sing, play instruments etc.. That makes me happy and I encourage them to continue.  April 9 at 7:06pm
  • I didn’t think about writing poetry…I do write well and I really like it. Haven’t written for fun in a long time. Not since I started back to school.  April 9 at 7:07pm Sophia Frazier Book Cover
  • So far, I know I’m from the Clarissa Bowling *father Ambrose G Bowling* line, if that helps. I’m a published author and have sold some paintings. I was adopted so will have to ask my cousins who else on my father’s side may have some artistic talent. I remember them telling me one of my uncles or grandpa wrote a book.  April 9 at 7:10pm 
  • If bad singing is a musical talent, we’ve got it covered! April 10 at 11:21am 
  • LeonaBushmanBookcoverI’ve written a few books. My dad plays musical instruments. My dad, my sister and I all draw. My niece writes poetry.  April 10 at 1:11pm
  • Yeah, singing, I love to, but have to have an instrument blaring in my ear.  If someone asked if I could sing, I used to say, “Only if I wish to offend…” April 10 at 1:58pm 
  • I sang in high school and now in the church choir. My daughter, Alex, can sing the first verse of the Ave Maria she is only 9.  April 16 at 8:49am 
  • Amazing talents abound. We are so blessed. April 16 at 9:03am 
  • Jason Crabb - Grammy Award Winning Gospel Singer

    Jason Crabb – Grammy Award Winning Gospel Singer

    My distant cousins (the Crabb Family) of the “Bowling Family Group” sing gospel. One is the sister of Jason Crabb (Grammy Award Winning Gospel Vocalist) April 19 at 2:59pm [BTW, Jason’s features very much resemble several of the men in my Boling family.]

  • Music is my thing. Played tbone in high school. Play guitar and piano. At one time I was studying drums and wind instruments. May 3 at 2:41am 
  • I also tried my hand at art and singing–I was told to sing “so low” and based upon my drawings–not to give up my day job!
  • Brother and sons are musicians and songwriters.  From “Crosswords” 1999 Album, “Cain”:  I’ve Been

    – my son is the drummer in this Contemporary Christian Music Band.  My grandchildren are gifted artists, writers and musicians.

  • My great niece is 8 and has an angelic voice with perfect pitch.
  • My aunt looked and sang very much like Patsy Cline.
  • JackieDrawingforFathersDay2013My young adult nephews and nieces are natural artists from caricatures to portraits.  My niece drew the next two pictures of herself, siblings, and father.
  • One of my artistic nephews tried art school, fell on hard times, and had to quit. He’s now a cook at a local pub, but playing guitar and singing in a small local band.
  • 20130502-162539.jpgJohn Doan Concert at the Chapel Arts Center, Bath, England

Posted on April 30, 2013 by Lorelle – Press Release (Bath, UK):— Emmy nominee and master harp guitarist John Doan with family roots to Bath and Burton, will perform at the Chapel Arts Centre, St James’s Memorial Hall as part of his European Tour 2013. Chapel Arts Centre is located at Lower Borough Walls, Bath, BA1 1QR. The show is scheduled for 8pm on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. Tickets are advance: £8.00, Door: £10.00. For more information, call the Chapel Arts Centre at 01225 461700.

A “Celtic Pilgrimage with John Doan” features music from John’s award winning recording “Eire – Isle of the Saints” (Winner of “Best Celtic Album of the Year”) and Wayfarer (also nominated for the same title).

Concert Description

Master harp guitarist and storyteller John Doan is a Bard for the 21st Century bringing back soulful and provocative musical sketches from a pilgrimage to the most sacred sites of the British Isles. “Thin Places,” as they were once called, were believed to be where the space between heaven and earth, and past and future, were thinly divided. John shares what he found there inspired by breathtaking landscapes, historic ruins, and dynamic stories underlying the faith and vision of a people who shaped the world we have come to call our own. He now leads his audiences back down ancient paths to locations made famous by St. Patrick and the “Twelve Apostles of Ireland” along winding roads to secluded sanctuaries and by boat to remote island retreats. Adventurous, thoughtful, and renewing, this is a journey memorable for its achingly beautiful moments and encouraging spirit.

What makes John Doan’s music provocative is that it is both ancient and contemporary, familiar and like nothing an audience has ever heard before. Some of the music on his Celtic albums were composed at Glastonbury while he was on tour, retracing his roots both in spirit and music.

Billboard Magazine says, “Critics Choice – John Doan’s music is a nearly perfect evocation of the Celtic spirit … intricate arrangements … poignant melodies.”

Philadelphia Weekly notes, “John Doan’s 20 strings liberates truly enchanting Celtic music… Doan transports us to another place and time.”

John Doan’s Instrument with Roots in England

John Doan has performed in various concert halls and festivals across the US and Europe, and his pioneering efforts – the first in modern times to compose and perform the twenty-string harp guitar – have resulted in the “John Doan Model” being manufactured in Ukraine this year.

Reminiscent of Queen Elizabeth the first’s favorite instrument, the Poliphont, the harp guitar supplements the standard guitar’s six fretted strings with six unfretted sub-bass strings and eight super treble strings, which ring with bell-like clarity. John Doan describes it as “almost the range of the piano but it is a lot easier to carry with you!”

John Doan’s Performance Background

In addition to his solo performances John has shared the stage with Burl Ives, Donovan, Rickie Lee Jones, among others. His virtuoso playing and arranging has attracted praise from no less guitar luminaries than Chet Atkins and Doc Watson.

John Doan has starred in various American PBS television specials one of which was awarded an Emmy-Nomination for “Best Entertainment Special of the Year.” John lives in the Northwest United States with his wife, Deirdra, where he is Associate Professor of music at Willamette University.

Family Roots in Bath

John Doan has family roots to Bath as the descendant of a former Mayor and the prominent Ames family of Burton. His puritan Doan ancestor escaped religious persecution in England and left to form the Plymouth Colony in North America in 1620 and served as assistant to the governor.

[This ancestor was Deacon John Doane, whose daughter Abigail Doane, married my 8th maternal great grandfather Samuel Lathrop/Lothrop.]

Doan is hoping that thousands of his extended family will give a good show of family spirit by attending his concert in Bath. He would like to formally forgive those in attendance for their ancestors inhospitable behavior toward his family (or ask for forgiveness for his family’s behavior who left to the USA). All should prepare for a good laugh or perhaps a cathartic experience. Either way, the audience should feel better than they did before the concert.

I may have gone a little overboard with my lengthy last example, but if I am to build a comprehensive and worthwhile database of gifts and talents that includes heritage and relationships, I would need more bibliographic and biographic information to make it both more interesting and meaningful to its viewers.  And the ancient Bolling family, too, has an aristocratic history, many of whom were politicians and office holders, ministers, doctors, lawyers, authors, etc.  This is no short task before me.  More contributors/contributions of examples appreciated.

I’ve Got the Music In Me – Part 6

Bach’s Jesu’ Joy of Man’s Desiring

My Beautiful and Talented GREAT Niece – Alyssa Nicole LaLone on Saturday, June 1, 2013, granddaughter of my brother Frank and his wife Diane, and daughter of their daughter, Jessica and Todd LaLone,  celebrates her 8th birthday.

I’ve Got The Music In Me (Part 1Part 2, Part 3Part 4, or Part 5)

In one of my earlier posts, above, I mentioned that my niece, Alyssa, was found one day sitting in front of a new keyboard and playing Bach’s Jesu’ Joying of Man’s Desiring–a first time experience for her.  When her grandmother, Diane, asked how she knew this and how to play it, she simply said; “Oh, I just heard it somewhere.”  So, here we are back at our inherited and innate musical talents, again.  By the way, if you’re not familiar with this wonderfully soothing piece of music, you may want to listen to an audio clip of it at the top of this post. A very nice selection, Alyssa, especially for your very first try.

Before Chesapeake Church’s Christmas program this winter, Alyssa was only comfortable singing in front of her closest friends and family.  Then she sang in the choir at Chesapeake for her very first time.  And now, only a few months later, she has blossomed much and to everyone’s benefit.

As school’s usually do this time of year, they hold their spring concerts and talent shows.  So, on Friday, May 17, 2013, Miss Alyssa Nicole LaLone performed solo as her elementary school’s first contestant.  She was dressed as Princess Rapunzel and sang publicly solo for her very first time, Now That I See You,  from Walt Disney’s 2010 movie, Tangled.

And before the show, her stepmother, Viviana, recorded an informal rehearsal, which was technically better than the mix of voice, music, and video from her actual performance.  From a sweet girl with an angelic voice, and with much love, I share with you, Alyssa’s rehearsal.  Hope you enjoy!

Patriots Day, Boston 2013: Another Indelible Memory


Reflecting Upon Everyday Moments that became Precious and Often Indeliable Memories

Events in Boston have compelled me to update earlier prose originally written while I was employed at the U.S. Census Bureau and formalized into a post on March 7, 2013.

The events impacted, molded, and joined lives of the people who shared and survived them together.  Some of the moments became precious memories and others indelible because they were so horrific and unbelievable that we couldn’t forget them even if we wanted.


Memory” Instrumental by Zamfir
Google Images Search
America’s Best History Timeline

Pipers Piping, Ladies Dancing, and Lords a Leaping

And we’re off to Scotland in our ‘Reflections of the past and mirrors to the future…’

It’s a wee country, full of contradictions and BIG surprises!  In Scotland, you can…

  • See tiny, stone cottages nestled at the foot of huge, rugged mountains
  • Watch ominous steel-grey clouds part suddenly to reveal vivid blue skies and bright sunshine
  • Look in awe at ancient castles that stand proudly in the middle of busy city centers, or rest on the edge of rocky shorelines
  • Compare the darky, bottomless waters of inland lochs, with the jeweled aquamarine coastlines of the tiny islands”

The Legend and History of the Scottish Thistle

Image:  Scottish Thistle

Scottish Thistle

The Thistle has been recognized as a Scottish symbol for centuries, and the legend surrounding it goes back about 800 years.

In the 13th Century, Norse invaders (under orders from King Haakon IV of Norway) attempted to spring a ‘surprise night-raid’ on a portion of King Alexander III’s army in Northern Scotland.
So that they wouldn’t wake the sleeping Scots, the Vikings crept stealthily (and barefoot) across the Scottish landscape.
Unfortunately for them, they weren’t aware of the abundant growth of Scottish Thistles, and when an unlucky Norseman happened to step on the vicious thorns of this native plantl, his cries gave away the raiding partys’ whereabouts!

The Scottish army sprang into action, and were victorious in battle. Naturally superstitious and big on symbolism, the Scots declared the Thistle to have been their savior, and this humble plant became a celebrity.

Five Stereotypes of Scotsmen

Most people, when you ask them what they know about Scotsmen, answer that they imagine a tall, strong man with fiery red hair, dressed in kilt, standing on a cliff on a misty morn, playing bagpipes, possibly with some sheep in the background. Here are some myths and stereotypes about Scottish people that are not entirely true Scotsmen (condensed and paraphrased from the Scotland blog):

Scotsmen are miserly and reserved because of the hardship their nation went through

What many consider greed is actually being practical. It is often said that expenses are being cut in various fields, but Scotland is developing at least as well as the rest of Great Britain, in some areas even better.   Immigrants praise the way they were welcomed by native Scotsmen.

Scottish dishes are inedible

This is probably a myth that origins from the famous haggis dish (a mixture of minced heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep or calf mixed with suet, onions, oatmeal, and seasonings), which, for many can be a bit overwhelming.  But many well-known, delicious dishes come from Scotland: Tattie scones, Dundee cake – which is known for its rich flavor – they all come from Scottish cuisine.

Scottish economy stands on sheep

Yes, Scotland is known for its sheep. But in recent years sheep breeding business is shrinking rapidly – it is seven hundred thousand pieces smaller than it was seven years ago. Scotland also has a good coal mining base, oil extraction on the North Sea shelf, well developed metallurgical, mechanical, chemical and electrical industries.

Men that wear kilts are always cold

It is actually really difficult to feel cold in a kilt. For one, it is almost 23 feet of thick wool covering the area from waist to knees – that in itself is plenty to keep one warm. Aside from that, there are the woolen socks covering the lower legs – if anything, it can only be too warm. And that actually ties with another stereotype – that

Scottish men don’t wear anything under their kilts.

It depends on the person, but sometimes adding another layer to the 23 feet of wool could really be a bit much.

“Yer a long time deid”…

is an old but familiar Scottish saying, ‘You’re a long time dead’.  Seems like an obvious enough statement.  But, wait, try this meaning:  ‘Enjoy life, because once you’re dead you’re going to be that way for a long time!’ Not a very uplifting thought, but true all the same.  And part of my enjoyment in life comes from learning my ancestral family’s origins and any possible connections to my past that may have influenced who I am today.  And equally important, sharing these facts and stories as a legacy to future generations.

So why Scotland?

Up to this point, posts have primarily focused on family roots in England, New England, and Virginia.  Yet, my genetic ethnicity reveals 85 percent of my family’s origins began hundreds and thousands of years ago in the British Isles.  As you can see in the map above,  the British Isles includes the United Kingdom (UK), Ireland, and Scotland in the uppermost northern section of the UK—and we haven’t yet begun to address my Scottish heritage that includes the Scottish wealth and royalty, stories of treason, exile, and executions.  So let’s begin.

My 10th Great Grandfather, William Ruthven, 4th Lord of Ruthven and 1st Earl of Gowrie (c. 1541 – 1584)

William Ruthven 1st Earl of Gowrie (1541 – 1584)
is my 10th great grandfather
William Gulielm Ruthven Ruffin (1617 – 1674)
son of William Ruthven 1st Earl of Gowrie
Robert Ruffin (1646 – 1694)
son of William Gulielm Ruthven Ruffin
Elizabeth RUFFIN (1685 – 1761)
daughter of Robert Ruffin
Patience KINCHEN (1715 – 1766)
daughter of Elizabeth RUFFIN
Mary Ann Molly TAYLOR (1760 – 1825)
daughter of Patience KINCHEN
Lavina ASBURY (1784 – 1858)
daughter of Mary Ann Molly TAYLOR
Thornton A BOWLING (1802 – 1863)
son of Lavina ASBURY
Lawrence T “Larl” BOLING (1838 – 1910)
son of Thornton A BOWLING
Edward Bud Vincent BOWLING Sr (1872 – 1946)
son of Lawrence T “Larl” BOLING
Jesse Burton BOLING (1902 – 1978)
son of Edward Bud Vincent BOWLING Sr
Frank Burton BOLING (1928 – )
son of Jesse Burton BOLING
Joanne Carol BOLING
You are the daughter of Frank Burton BOLING

William Ruthven was known as The Lord Ruthven between 1566 and 1581, was the second son of Patrick Ruthven, 3rd Lord Ruthven.  On 4 April 1562 the queen conceded to him and his wife, Lady Dorothea Stewart, lands in the barony of Ruthven (which his father resigned to him (Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1546–80, No. 1413)). Like his father Patrick, William was prominent in the political intrigues of the period and joined his father in the conspiracy against David Rizzio (private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots), on 9 March 1566.  And, on the queen’s escape to Dunbar William and his father fled to England. On the death of his father, Patrick, at Newcastle on 13 June 1566, he succeeded him as fourth lord.  William was, however, through an agreement with  the queen and the protestant lords, pardoned and permitted to return to Scotland, which he did about the end of December 1566 (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1566–8, No. 872).

Image: Huntingtower Castle

Huntingtower Castle

One of the Scottish Castles built by the Clan Ruthven family was Huntingtower Castle.  It was built in stages from the 14th century and was known for several hundred years as the ‘House (or ‘Place’) of Ruthven’. In 1582 William devised the plot to seize James VI of Scotland, (son of Mary,Queen of Scots),  when the king visited William’s home  at  Huntingtower Castle.  William and his associates seized the young king and held him prisoner for 10 months. This kidnapping is known as the ‘Raid of Ruthven‘ and the Protestant conspirators behind it hoped to gain power through controlling the king.

James eventually escaped and actually forgave William, but after a second abortive attempt by William and others to overthrow James, William was finally executed and his property (including Huntingtower) was forfeited to the crown.

The Castle and lands were restored to the Ruthven family in 1586. However in 1600, the brothers John and Alexander Ruthven were implicated in another plot to kill King James VI and were executed. This time, the king was less merciful: as well as seizing the estates, he abolished the name of Ruthven and decreed that any successors would be ineligible to hold titles or lands. Thus the House of Ruthven ceased to exist and by royal proclamation the castle was renamed Huntingtower. The Castle remained in the possession of the crown until 1643 when it was given to the family of Murray of Tullibardine (from whom the Dukes of Atholl and Mansfield are descended).

John Murray, 1st Duke of Atholl lived in the Castle with his wife Lady Mary Ross. After Lady Mary died in 1767, the castle was abandoned, except for farm laborers. Today, the Castle is in the care of Historic Scotland and is open to the public and sometimes used as a venue for marriage ceremonies.

Legend of Lady Greensleeves

Huntingtower is said to be haunted by “Lady Greensleeves”, a young woman named Dorothea who was the daughter of the 1st Earl of Gowrie. The legend states that she was in love with a servant at the castle and that the two used to have clandestine meetings at night in the eastern tower, where the servants slept. One night the girl’s mother, the Countess, is supposed to have discovered what was going on and made her way across the bridge from the family’s quarters in the western tower to the eastern tower to catch the pair. Dorothea heard her mother’s footsteps on the bridge and, unable to return to the other tower by that route, made her way to the roof. Here she leapt from the tower to land safely on the battlements of the western tower and so return to bed where she was discovered by her mother. The distance between the towers was several meters and thus she accomplished quite a feat in leaping the distance. The following day the girl and her lover eloped and no records exist to tell us what happened to them.

A number of sightings of the figure of a tall young woman in a green silk dress have been seen in and around Huntingtower over the years, usually at dusk but sometimes in full daylight. Her appearance is said to be an ill omen and a forewarning of some disaster to come. A traveller staying at Huntingtower in the 1930s is reported to have seen Lady Greensleeves in a corridor of the castle. The following day he resumed his journey to Fife and was drowned when he fell from the ferry taking him across the River Tay.

The Ruthven/Ruffin Family in Virginia

According to passenger and immigration lists, the Ruthven/Ruffin family first appeared in Virginia with William Ruffin I, arriving in the Isle of Wight County in 1635.  The Ruffin family lived primarily in Surry County until the early 1700’s.  Wiliam’s great grandson, Colonial John Ruffin moved to Mecklenburg County where he died in 1774. The Ruffin children went on to marry notable Virginia families such as: Cocke of Surry; Nicholas of Dinwiddie who had a plantation in Southhampton called Unota on the north side of Meherrin River; and the Clack; Roane; Dandridge; Hoskins; Claiborne; Goode; Gildart; Bland; Harrison; and others; and, the Ruffin families migrated to other counties throughout Virginia and some, to North Carolina.


The Scottish Thistle – A National Symbol of Scotland

“Ruffin Family,” William and Mary Quarterly, 1st Series. Vol. 18, 1910,_William_(1541%3F-1584)_(DNB00),_1st_Earl_of_Gowrie

It’s a Small World…


A Follow-On to I’ve Got the Music in Me–and Oh, How it Moves Me! – Part 3

On February 25, 2013, I published a blog I’ve Got the Music in Me–and Oh, How it Moves Me! – Part 3.  It included a song with lyrics sung by C. Daniel Boling, who shares the surname,talents and heritage of the Boling family.

Daniel, as it turns out, is an award-winning folksinger/songwriter/guitarist who “has a storyteller’s eye for detail,” as published in his bio on the web.  In his songs the interesting characters that live on through his music and lyrics are drawn from his life, family and friends. Here’s another example of Daniel Boling’s clever lyrics and entertaining stories.

Beginning in February, 2008, Daniel started performing and touring full-time. Daniel prefers venues where original, lyric-driven music is valued and folks love to listen to his creative stories.

Although Daniel and I didn’t know each other when my blog story went live, shortly thereafter he commented on it and we exchanged a few messages.  And, low and behold we learned that we do, in fact, share the same lineage from Pocahontas and Colonel Robert Bolling from the  15-1600’s.  We next discovered a link to the Reverend Jesse B. Bolling, born in 1758, who died in Kentucky 1841.  This Rev. Jesse B. Bolling, “The Elder,” is a great grandfather in Daniel’s line.

It appears that my grandfather, Jesse B. Bolling, (1902-1978) was a namesake to Daniel’s Jesse B. Bolling, 150 years later.  And just this week, I learned from my father that not only was my grandfather, Jesse, a cabinetmaker, but he also made a cigar box ukulele, indicating his interest in music, too.

Besides being creative writers, lovers of music, and apparently both quick witted, Daniel and I are sharing similar life experiences with our octogenarian elders.  It just goes to show you, that  the longer you live, the smaller the world becomes;and, around any corner may be another clue to who you are, from where you came, and who among you, might be a member of your family that you just haven’t met yet.  Just as in Adam and Eve’s days in the garden and in Disney’s Magic Kingdom, when it comes to family, it can be a small world–“It’s a world of laughter. A world of tears. It’s a world of hopes. And a world of fears. There’s so much that we share. That it’s time we’re aware. It’s a small world …”


“Darwin’s Pride & Joy” by: C. Daniel Boling Music, Lyrics, Songs, and Videos

Walt Disney’s: It’s a Small World After All Music published on YouTube by: OliviaYVids.

Joanne_Dickinson_Family_Tree-2 on