More than 100,000 people may be able to count Pocahontas as an ancestor, and a new initiative spearheaded by Gloucester County intends to find them.
Gloucester, along with founding project partners Chief Anne Richardson of the Rappahannock Tribe, Henricus Historical Park and the Pocahontas Project of Replenish Richmond, will work together on the Pocahontas Descendants Initiative.
The project will feature special events, a dedicated website, publications and, of course, ancestry and genealogy resources and information, according to a news release from the Gloucester Department of Community Engagement.
The project finds its origins in Gloucester’s own connection to Pocahontas and the area’s Native Americans. In 1994, the county welcomed descendants of Pocahontas to the Pocahontas Festival and dedicated a statue in honor of Pocahontas, the daughter of a chief whose interactions with the colonists at Jamestown cemented her place in American history.
Werowocomoco, the headquarters of Powhatan and believed to be where Pocahontas famously saved John Smith’s life from execution, is in present-day Gloucester.
Earlier this month, ground was broken on a new state park in Gloucester intended to have an interpretive focus on Native Americans, according to a Daily Press report. The 644-acre park would be a few miles from Werowocomoco.
“We started thinking about how there’s such interest in DNA and relations,” said Carol Steele, Gloucester’s assistant county administrator. “We said ‘let’s pull all this together and promote education.’ ”
Steele expects the park will help generate interest in the program.
It’s estimated that more than 100,000 people are descended from Pocahontas through the Thomas Rolfe bloodline. Thomas Rolfe is Pocahontas’ only son by English planter John Rolfe. Because Native American tradition holds that Pocahontas had a daughter with a first husband named Kocoum, there’s also the possibility of a second bloodline, the release states.
The project will be a deep dive into all possible descendants of Pocahontas, and seeks to channel American society’s recent burst of interest in genealogy.
Gloucester isn’t alone in this.
Richardson will lend her support, as will Henricus Historical Park’s John Pagano, who will serve as the project’s educational and historical consultant. The Chesterfield County Park is the country’s leading interpretive site for the time in which Pocahontas lived in Virginia, according to the release. There’s also Replenish Richmond’s Pocahontas Project, which is intended to promote the woman as a model of civic engagement.
The initiative was formally announced Thursday. Moving forward, the project wants to expand its list of partners to better spread the word about the effort to find Pocahontas’ descendants. Virginia Indian tribes, museums, the 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution, politicians and tourism entities are among the potential partners that would expand and enrich the project, according to the release.
For more information
For more information about this project, contact Steele at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jack Jacobs, 757-298-6007, email@example.com, @jajacobs_