Family Histories

Family Histories for the Rose and Kirkpatrick Families

Friday, January 8, 2016

There's an Indian Princess in our Family Tree

How many people have heard the story of the long ago Indian Princess that exists in their family tree?  I actually never heard that story in my own family, and while I do have Native Americans in my family, they are not biologically connected (my mother's stepfather).  Few of these stories seem to be true. 

Recently, I've returned to do more research on family  I know arrived in this country in the early 1600's and were among the inhabitants of Jamestown.  Col. Thomas Pettus, born in Norwich, England in 1598, came to Virginia as the commander of 40 soldiers, brought over to help the colonists fight the natives.  He was from a very prominent family in England and would have likely had a fairly comfortable life there, but he made the decision to stay in Virginia and help establish the new colony.  He became a prominent member of the Jamestown community in the 1640's - a large landowner and vestryman of a local parish.  He has a land grant documented in 1643 for 886 acres, in part by marriage to Elizabeth Durant, widow of Richard Durant, who originally patented it in 1636.  He also purchased land called "little town," whose owner had died. 

Thomas's first marriage is not well-documented; he may have married Elizabeth Durant in England or in Virginia.  There are several children listed for him that were born prior to his second marriage.  In 1645 he married "Elizabeth Mourning," aka Ka-Okee Patamwomeck, purported daughter of Pocohantas and her first marriage to Kacoum!  We don't just have any old Indian Princess, we have Pocahontas!

I admit that most of my knowledge of Pocahontas and Kocoum comes from the Disney movie, and I was unaware of any marriage she made prior to the one with John Rolfe.   The National Park Service's Historic Jamestown biography of Pocahontas says she married Kocoum in 1610 when she was 15.  Ka-Okee was supposedly born about 1615, but Pocahontas had been kidnapped in1613 and married John Rolfe in 1614, so that birthdate could not be correct if she was the daughter of Pocahontas and Kocoum.  In fact, Pocahontas gave birth to Rolfe's son, Thomas, in 1615.  The NPS biography says that the couple had a son after moving to his home village following their marriage.  Kocoum is said to have died during her kidnapping, but their son was spared because he was with another woman in the village. 

The Potowomecks today believe that Pocahontas and Kocoum did have a daughter named Ka-Okee, who was raised by the tribe after her father's death and mother's abduction.  Encyclopedia Virginia states that she married Kocoum in 1610, but there are no records of children from this marriage.

Whether or not Ka-Okee was the daughter of Pocahontas and Kocoum, or whether or not she is actually "Elizabeth Mourning," wife of Thomas Pettus, is still not clear to me.  I'll have to do some further investigating before I can really claim to be a descendant of Pocahontas, but it's a fun story to tell.  Who knows?

Powhatean woman 1600's

1 comment:

  1. As I scan the various web sites, I keep finding the story that Thomas came to Virginia in command of 40 men and that he married Elizabeth Mourning (some say Elizabeth Mouring). No one has offered any evidence for either claim. My guess is that isn't any. Thomas's son, Thomas II, married a Quaker girl named Mourning Burgh (I have the evidence, if anyone cares to check). That's where the name Mourning came into the family. Three tribes that formed the Powhatan Confederation have the tradition that Pocahontas married Kocoum and had a daughter named Ka-Okee. Because Ka-Okee had a daughter named Christian Pettus (according to the tradition), the question has been raised, who was the Pettus? I say Thomas. A Virginia land patent shows that Thomas Pettus owned land on Potomac Creek in Virginia. Potomac Creek was the seat of the Patawomeck tribe which claim Ka-Okee as an ancestor.