Friday, April 8, 2011

Pocahontas Was My Grandma. Part 1

My maternal great grandmother was Virginia Leigh Boling Vanzandt Sanders. She was born 31 December 1925 in Hancock County, Kentucky to Lora D Boling and Eva Mae Sanders. In researching the Boling line, I kept coming across references to the Boling line being descended from Pocahontas.

By Simon Van de Pass [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When I first came across one of these references, I passed it off as wishful thinking. After all, most families have at least one legend of the sort and more often than not, the legend turns out to be false. It always seems that family legends say that the family descends from someone famous or has Native American roots.

When I noticed the references were coming up with quite a bit of regularity, I figured that it was just people jumping on the bandwagon. It's not unusual to come across erroneous information in a family tree that came from another tree that came from another tree and so on. Not a week goes by that I don't see other genealogists express frustration over the proliferation of erroneous information in online family trees. I've been frustrated with the issue myself.

Eventually I decided to investigate the Boling-Pocahontas connection. To be honest, I didn't figure it would go anywhere. First, I looked at Pocahontas. Records show that she married John Rolfe and had a son named Thomas Rolfe. Thomas Rolfe married a woman named Jane Poythress and had a daughter named Jane Rolfe. It was with Jane Rolfe that I found a connection. She married a Colonel Robert Bolling and had a son named John.

Even with a Bolling in Pocahontas' descendants, I was still skeptical. After all, there are lots of Bollings (and several variations of Bolling) around. We even have a lawyer with the surname Bowling a few towns over. Who's to say that my Bolings are part of this Bolling family?

Jane Rolfe Bolling passed away the same year her son was born and the Colonel remarried a few years later. His second wife was Anne Stith. There are believed to have been nine children of this marriage. Even if my Boling line did descend from the Colonel, odds were that it was through one of the children of his second marriage, not the single child from his first.

While I didn't hold a lot of hope for being descended from Pocahontas, I figured I may as well see it through. To be continued in Part 2.

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