The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

How Am I Related to Pocahontas?

Posted on | August 21, 2023 | Comments Off on How Am I Related to Pocahontas?

My ancestor Colonel Robert Bolling

Having traced the ancestry of my paternal grandmother Perlonia McCain (née Bolt) all the way back to Rollo the Viking — seriously, that’s what the Internet says — my son Jefferson also took a look at the ancestry of my maternal grandfather, Hermit Eiland Kirby, whose father was William Thomas Kirby. His father, William Terry Kirby, was born in 1810 in Union County, South Carolina. His father, James Ransom Kirby, was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, in 1785; he lived past age 100 and died in Troup County, Georgia. James Ransom Kirby’s grandfather was John Kirby, born in Virginia in 1735. John Kirby married Jemima Bolling, whose great-grandfather was Colonel Robert Bolling, an early Virginia colonist prominent enough to have his own Wikipedia page.

Colonel Bolling’s first wife was Jane Rolfe, whose father, Thomas Rolfe, was the only child of John Rolfe and Pocahontas. If I were dishonest — like certain Democratic politicians — I might tell you I was a descendant of Pocahontas, but this is not the case. Jane Rolfe Bolling died in 1676 after giving birth to the couple’s only child, John Bolling. Colonel Bolling later remarried, this time to Anne Stith, who gave birth to seven children, including Stith Bolling, whose son Alexander Bolling was the father of Jemima Bolling Kirby. So while my ancestor was once married to the granddaughter of Pocahontas, I am not descended from her.

Nevertheless, the descendants of Pocahontas, through Colonel Bolling’s son John, are my cousins, a branch of the family known to genealogists as “the Red Bollings,” a lineage that includes Woodrow Wilson’s second wife Edith. My own branch, known as the “White Bollings,” includes Robert E. Lee’s wife, who was the great-granddaughter of Stith Bolling’s older brother, Robert Bolling Jr. All of this is pretty cool, but then I learned that another descendant of Colonel Robert Bolling is this guy . . .

Ain’t it a small world, cousin? Not kidding at all.

When I related these findings to my youngest daughter Reagan, she was indignant: “We’re cousins of both John McCain and George Bush? We’re getting nothing out of it! This nepotism thing isn’t working for us.”

No, but we’re still more Native American than Elizabeth Warren.



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