Raising long lost cousins

In December of 2007, we drove to Oregon to pick up my husband’s 10 year old half-brother.  He’d been living in Washington with his dad (also my husband’s father), but that wasn’t going to work anymore.  Jay  was coming home to live with us.

To be honest, I had the hardest time adjusting.  My kids were older and pretty independent, but Jay was only ten.  He was amazingly resilient and bright and adaptable but still needed to be reminded to wash his hands before he ate and couldn’t be left home alone.  He was a great kid, though.   He adjusted well to our family, and (after a few grumpy days) I adjusted as well.

Jay is Hupa and when he came to live with us I was already familiar with the historic practice of kidnapping and indenturing Native American children.  Painfully aware.  Yet I distinctly remember looking at him one night as he stood in a doorway in his little boxer shorts looking cute and vulnerable,  and thinking  that I could see why someone would steal such a child.  I am embarrassed to admit it, but I could.   He was a beautiful Indian child and 150 years ago, people killed to possess them.

Oh, what to do with that?  To know that.  It hurts me to know and yet here I sit.  And share.

And move on to the point of my story which is, weirdly enough, about genealogy.



William Colegrove

In the mid 1800s a man named William Colegrove resolved to collect, organize and share his family’s genealogy and set about his task with great resolve. The 800 page volume took over 40 years to complete-but he did it because as he said,

 “Most of the sons and grandsons of the founder of the Colegrove Family in America, going forth from the original seat in Rhode Island as bold and resolute Pioneers, plunged into that immense Forest and fearful Wilderness…  and were completely lost to those of their kindred who remained behind.

William traveled over 5,000 miles, and though his search for information was fruitful, it was also exhausting and expensive.  He wrote over 2,000 letters and sometimes failed to gain any information for his efforts.   In one case, William tells us,
“Having for a long time tried in vain to get a response from a man, I began to feel vexed, and to blame him severely; but when I learned that he had been dead five years, I felt very willing to excuse him ! and still more so, if possible, in another similar case where the man had been dead eighty years ! ! “
In fact, William claimed he was perfectly ready to excuse any correspondent whose response was delayed because he or she was dead, or when William’s letters were never received, or when the recipient was “old and infirm” and could not write himself, nor get anyone to write for him. Despite these challenges, William found a tremendous amount of information and was able to trace his Colegrove ancestors from Wales to England to the wilds of Rhode Island and eventually New York and beyond. 
He published his findings in 1894  and noted with great pleasure that his efforts had reunited long-lost family members and allowed him to meet cousins he had not known he had.   

In his book, William listed cousin Andrew and his wife Betsy.  These Colegroves  produced two sons in the 1820s, Andrew Jr. and Francis Colegrove.  

William, through his research, knew that Andrew, the first born,  became a farmer like his father.  He married and raised a family. Had a daughter he named Mary.

William also learned that Francis Colegrove went to California in search of gold.  Francis had one son, William noted, but little was known about him.  Until now.

I, as many know, am interested in Genealogy-and because Jay is family-I focused on him. I discovered Jay’s family name was Colegrove and they were originally from New York.   

Jay’s first “Colegrove” ancestor in California was Francis, who settled in Trinity and Humboldt County and “married” an Indian woman.  Francis started the Colegrove family line in Hoopa. 

I also researched my own genealogy further.

A distant cousin working on my family tree listed my great-great grandmother Mary’s maiden name as “Colegrove”. Interesting coincidence, but there was no documentation.  Though, strangely, that cousin has also listed ANDREW as Mary’s father.  Francis’s brother Andrew.  Still, there was no documentation.  Until I found William’s book.

Which talked about young Francis Colegrove moving to California-and his brother Andrew’s daughter Mary.  Mary Colegrove who married James Randolf Robb, my great-great grandfather.  Williams book proved, without a doubt, that I was a also a Colegrove .  And related to Jay.

I’ve told others that Jay, my husband’s half-brother,  is a “Colegrove”.  But,  it seems, I am a Colegrove, too.

In the mid 1800s, William Colegrove began his painstaking efforts to trace his family’s genealogy and reconnect his scattered family.  But William could never have imagined that 115 years later,  across thousands of miles and in a country that now has over 300 million people,  his book would allow two people living together under entirely different circumstances, who had already lived under the same roof for 2 ½ years ,  would finally reconnect as cousins. .

There were a few times, when Jay first came to live with us, that I would talk about us all as “family”. 

“Yeah,” he would respond,  “But we’re not really family.  Not, you  know, by blood.”  Thanks to William, we don’t have that conversation anymore because crazily enough everyone in this house is related, you know, by blood.

 William dedicated his book this way,


Honored and Beloved, though scattered very widely, and many of them not personally known to me, this Volume is affectionately dedicated by the AUTHOR.

 Thank you,  William.



5 Responses to Raising long lost cousins

  1. Lynette M says:

    For the record, Jay and I are related through our mothers, meaning that my husband and I are in no way related –just in case there were concerns out there 🙂

  2. Ron Gallagher says:

    Nice! 🙂

  3. That is a pretty wild story, Lynette. I don’t put any “stock” in genealogy, but always love so-called coincidences.

    You don’t have to look too far into local history to find people marrying people in their own bloodline; lots of first-cousin marriages here. My own father is my 13th cousin, once removed! (My mom got into genealogy and found she and my dad were each 13 generations down from Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower– for what it’s worth.)

    Old William would have had a heck of an easier time with ancestry.com!

  4. […] Her great grandmother had survived the Indian Island Massacre. Yet, yet… Edie didn’t know her Wiyot language because she was never, in all her youth, home to learn it. Indian Boys in Hoopa   Hupa school boys, 1907   The boy on the far left is Francis Colegrove, the grandson, most likely,  of  the first California Francis Colegrove, an early Hoopa Settler and my (very distant) cousin. […]

  5. Deborah E. McConnell says:

    Thank you for your post. I, too, am from the Colegrove family and am the great grand daughter of the Francis Colegrove that is from Hoopa, California. Is it possible to purchase or get a copy of the William Colegrove book that you mentioned in your blog? I have been researching our family history for years, and until now didn’t know of the book. We do live in a small world….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: