Relationship Highlights New Understanding of Pocahontas on the Eve of Jamestownâ€™s 400th Anniversary
Williamsburg, Va., May 9, 2007 â€” As America commemorates Jamestownâ€™s 400th anniversary, genealogical detectives at Ancestry.com, the worldâ€™s largest online resource for family history, today unveiled key documentation which proves that Pocahontas and President George W. Bush are related.Â The families are linked by the marriage of President Bushâ€™s eighth great-grandfather, Robert Bolling, to Jane Rolfe, Bollingâ€™s first wife and Pocahontasâ€™ granddaughter.
President Bush is not a direct descendant of Pocahontas, but rather a descendant of Bolling and his second wife, Ann Meriwether Stith.Â In addition, Bushâ€™s eighth great-aunt, Mary Kennon, married John Rolfe, who is believed to be Pocahontasâ€™ great-grandson. These connections make President Bush directly related to many â€“ if not all â€“ the descendants of Pocahontas. The Bush-Pocahontas family tree is accessible at www.ancestry.com/jamestown.
â€œOn the eve of Jamestownâ€™s 400th anniversary, the Presidentâ€™s link to Pocahontas is a perfect example of the unexpected and unbelievable stories that are waiting to be discovered in our family trees,â€ said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for Ancestry.com. â€œWe wanted to confirm the claim of a possible Pocahontas-Bush family connection, and the research concretely provides the link.â€
The confirmation comes as the nation is learning about the real Pocahontas, who, contrary to legend, was more focused on diplomatic goals than romantic interests. New research by scholars such as Camilla Townsend of Rutgers University, author of Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma, illustrates how Pocahontas worked for peace between Virginia Indians and the English in order to ensure the survival of her people. â€œThere is every reason to believe she was a strategist, not a giddy, love struck girl. Despite the stories, there is absolutely no evidence that she ever loved John Smith, John Rolfe or any of the English more than she loved her own people,â€ said Townsend.
The news also highlights the roles of Virginiaâ€™s eight state-recognized tribes in the commemoration. The tribes are using the 400th anniversary an opportunity to generate a more realistic understanding of their culture and their role in the nationâ€™s history.
â€œMany Americans have family ties to Jamestown but do not realize it,â€ Smolenyak said.Â â€œJamestown was in many respects the nationâ€™s first â€˜Ellis Island,â€™ a point of entry not only for Europeans but also for Africans. The commemoration of Americaâ€™s 400th Anniversary is prompting many people to discover their familiesâ€™ role in the nationâ€™s earliest days.â€
Ancestry.com will have a presence at Americaâ€™s Anniversary Weekend, May 11-13 at the Jamestown sites. On-site researchers will help visitors explore their family trees with free computer access to Ancestry.com as well as provide them with family history research tips and techniques. Ancestry.com allows visitors to the website to build an online family tree, upload photos and stories and invite family members to participate â€“ all for free.
Single-day, date-specific tickets to Anniversary Weekend provide visitors with access to the entertainment and programming at Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement and Anniversary Park. Guests may purchase tickets at $30 for adult and $15 for children 6-12. Children younger than six-years-old receive free admission. Tickets are being limited to 30,000 per day to ensure guests enjoy a comfortable visit.
Anniversary Weekend tickets and accommodations are available through Colonial Williamsburg, the official hotels of the commemoration, and may be reserved by phone at (866) 400-1607 or through www.Americas400thAnniversary.com. The call center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Callers outside of regular operating hours will be prompted to leave a message, which will be returned the next day.
About Ancestry.com: With 24,000 searchable databases and titles, Ancestry.com is the No. 1 online source for family history information. Since its launch in 1997, Ancestry.com has been the premier resource for family history, simplifying genealogical research for millions of people by providing them with many easy-to-use tools and resources to build their own unique family trees. Ancestry.com is part of The Generations Network, Inc., a leading network of family-focused interactive properties, including MyFamily.com, Rootsweb.com, Genealogy.com and Family Tree Maker. In total, The Generations Network properties receive 10.4 million unique visitors worldwide and over 450 million page views a month ((C) comScore Media Metrix, March, 2007).
Jamestown 2007, a sub-agency of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, is coordinating efforts to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, Va., the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. The nationâ€™s first representative government, free enterprise system and culturally diverse society began at Jamestown. State, national, and international commemorative events to salute these legacies began in May 2006 and continue into 2008. Major corporate sponsors of Americaâ€™s 400th Anniversary include Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC), Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Other supporters include Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. (NYSE: BUD), AirTran Airways (NYSE: AAI), Consol Energy and CNX Gas Corporation, Dominion, James City County, Lockheed-Martin, McGuireWood LLP, Philip Morris USA, SunTrust, TowneBank and Wolseley PLC/Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. Contributors include the City of Poquoson and Rutherfoord Insurance. More information about the commemoration is available at www.Americas400thAnniversary.com.
Note to Editors: Information about contacting Camilla Townsend is available through Robin Crawford at Ruder Finn (202-974-5025 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Kevin Crossett, Jamestown 2007
Julia Burgon, for Ancestry.com
(212) 221-1616, ext. 124