Saturday, March 28, 2015

Society Saturday - Pocahontas' Chicago Connection

At the Chicago Colony of New England Women meeting, we heard a program from member Jan Price.  She told us all about Amonute Matoaka Powhatan Rolfe, better known as Pocahontas.

Pocahontas was born ca 1595 to a chief of the Powhatan tribe in what is now Virginia.  She served as a peace emissary to the English settlers, although the story of how she stopped the execution of John Smith is probably embellished.

She did marry John Rolfe and traveled to England with him.  She died in England in 1616/17, probably from an infectious disease that the Native Americans had no immunity to.

Pocahontas had one son, Thomas Smith Rolfe, who was born in 1614/15 in England.  He returned to Virginia as a young man, and chose to live among the English settlers.   He had one daughter, Jane, who had numerous descendants.

Sophonisba Grayson Preston, the 7th great-granddaughter of Pocahontas was born in 1833.  She married Carter Henry Harrison, III who became mayor of Chicago in 1879.  He was assassinated during his fifth term of office in 1893.

Their son, Carter Henry Harrison IV was also mayor of Chicago for five terms, and was the first Chicago mayor to be born in Chicago.

A granddaughter of Sophonisba and Carter Harrison III was Sophia Preston Owsley, born in 1890.  She married Sterling Morton, heir to the Morton Salt company fortune, and son of Joy Morton, who donated land to form Morton Arboretum, just west of Chicago.

It's amazing how everyone is connected if you trace their lineage back far enough.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Society Saturday - General George Henry Thomas

The members of the Daughters of Indian Wars and the Dames of the Court of Honor recently met for a joint meeting.  Our speaker was Jerry Kowalski who portrayed General George Henry Thomas.  He spoke about the General's life and service prior to the Civil War.

Unfortunately, my camera wasn't working, but to show you his attire I found a similar picture of him at a previous event he spoke at.

(credit to

General Thomas was a Virginian who attended West Point.  While there, he became close friends with William Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, and Robert E. Lee.

He served in several battles leading up to the Civil War.  These included the Seminole Wars in Florida in 1841 and the Mexican American War in 1845.  He taught artillery and cavalry at West Point in the 1850's which allowed him to select some of the best cadets for his units later. 

When the Civil War broke out, he remained with the Union, feeling that his oath to the Constitution was more important than his native ties to Virginia.  This caused his sisters to disown him.  He commanded the Army at the first Union victory at Mill Springs (Logan's Run) in Kentucky.  He never advanced as far as some of his contemporaries, largely because there was always suspicion about whether he was truly a Union soldier based on his origins.

It was a very interesting program about an early American Military hero that we don't hear much about.