Two Pocahontas Descendants Became First Ladies


A wonderful post dated July 12, 2013 on the Edith Bolling Wilson Museum’s Facebook Page that includes many wonderful short snippets about Edith, her life, and museum artifacts, pictures, and events in Wytheville, Virginia was all the prompting I needed to adapt and expand it.

Pocahontas and Edith Bolling Wilson…
Strong Women and Role Models for Young Girls.

How many young girls can claim they descend from Pocahontas? I didn’t know much about my ancestors or my relationships to them when I was a girl, but I do now and I’m very glad that I took the time to learn more. In fact, this is my primary reason for writing these posts–to share the knowledge of our heritage with future generations.

pocahontas

Princess Pocahontas Matoaka Rebecca POWHATAN

To summarize one of my earlier posts written nearly two years ago, Pocahontas was a Virginia Indian notable for her association with the colonial settlement at Jamestown, Virginia.

In 1614, Pocahontas married John Rolfe, a tobacco farmer, and gave birth to Thomas Rolfe in 1615.  The marriage between John and Pocahontas was the first recorded interracial marriage in American history.  Soon after having Thomas, John and Pocahontas left for England where she became somewhat of a celebrity.

At age 22, Pocahontas, became gravely ill and died.  It was Thomas, her only child that began the lineage of Pocahontas descendants, including the First Families of Virginia, First Ladies Edith Wilson and Nancy Reagan, and astronomer Percival Lowell.

Nancy Reagan

Nancy Reagan, First Lady to 40th US President

Mrs. Wilson, too, was very proud of her heritage.  She was the 9th generation descendant of Pocahontas, and her great-great grandmother was also sister to Thomas Jefferson.

Percival Lowell

Percival Lowell, Astronomer

Gown-Edith Bolling Galt Wilson

Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, First Lady to 28th US President

 

 

I’m wondering if Edith’s large, poor southern family and being the seventh of eleven children born to William Holcombe Bolling and Sarah “Sally” Spiers White was the impetus for her becoming a strong woman and even a secret president (as she cared for her ailing husband, President Woodrow Wilson)?

Below is an excerpt from Edith Bolling Wilson’s book, My Memoirs, published in 1935 by the Bobbs-Merrill Company.  I understand used copies of this book may be purchased from the Edith Bolling Wilson Foundation by emailing them at:  info@edithbollingwilson.org.

Snippet--MyMemoir

The Genealogy of Edith Bolling Wilson

Edith Bolling Wilson and I through many generations, share the same direct descendants of the famous American Indian, Pocahontas, as shown below:

The genealogical path from Pocahontas

  1. Pocahontas and John Rolfe – son, Thomas Rolfe
  2. Thomas Rolfe and Jane Roythress – daughter, Jane Rolfe
  3. Jane Rolfe and Robert Bolling – son, John Bolling
  4. John Bolling and Mary Kennon – son, John Bolling, Jr.
  5. John Bolling Jr. and Elizabeth Blair – son, John Bolling III
  6. John Bolling III and Mary Jefferson – son, Archibald Bolling
    (Mary Jefferson was sister of Thomas Jefferson)
  7. Archibald Bolling and Catherine Payne – son, Archibald Bolling Jr.
  8. Archibald Bolling Jr. and Anne Wiggington – son, William Holcombe Bolling
  9. William Holcombe Bolling and Sallie Spiers White – daughter, Edith Bolling

The genealogical link to Martha Washington (includes Robert E. Lee)

  1. Martha Dandridge’s (Washington) first husband – Daniel Parke Custis
  2. Martha Dandridge and Daniel Parke Custis – son, John Parke Custis
  3. John Parke Custis and Eleanor Calvert – son, George Washington Parke Custis
  4. George Washington Parke Custis and Mary Lee Fitzhugh – daughter, Mary Anna Randolph Custis
  5. Mary Anna Randolph Custis and Robert E. Lee – son, William H. Fitzhugh Lee
  6. William H. Fitzhugh Lee married Mary Tabb Bolling, descendant of Colonel Robert Bolling and Ann Stith, Robert Bolling’s second wife

I encourage you to visit the museum:

Edith Bolling Wilson Museum
145 East Main Street Wytheville, VA 24382
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.