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Pocahontas ancestry and DNA - Sullivan Family Connection

How I discovered my ancestor Pocahontas and her Sullivan family descendants of Northern Virginia using the web - a genealogy posting by Bob Atchison.

Pocahontas - the true Story - my ancestryThe web is essential for researching family history.  I use as my primary tool to construct my tree and attach data and stories.  Today I am writing about adding Princess Pocahontas of the Powhatan tribe to my tree.

My father was born near Stafford, Virginia.  The earliest Atchison ancestor I have been able to locate is a man named Johannes Filius Abe, who was a Scottish emissary to the Pope in 1320.  My family in Scotland spelled their name is different ways -  Achessone and Acheson are examples. In the early 1600's my ancestors John Acheson and his wife Katherine moved to Ireland at the request of James I as Protestant colonists. The Achesons were a well-known and successful family in Northern Ireland.

One hundred years after John and Katherine moved to Ireland from Scotland, in 1733 my ancestor, John Acheson/Atchison married Catherine Calhoun in county Armagh and left Europe entirely.  After their first son Matthew was born they sailed for America, arriving in 1735.  They came with family money - buying 300 acres in Little Britain, Pennsylvania.  I think they were following other Scots-Irish Presbyterians who had recently setted there.  John's grandson, David, moved to Stafford county sometime around 1810. Henceforth, all of my Atchison ancestors lived within a few miles of each other in Stafford. If anyone knows anything more about them in Stafford I would appreciate hearing from you.

Melvin Atchison - Robert Atchison -  Stella SullivanAbove:  Melvin Atchison, my grandfather; Robert Richard Atchison, my father and Stella Sullivan, my grandmother.

My grandmother on the Atchison side was Stella Sullivan.  My first Sullivan ancestor in America, Darby, came from Ireland in around 1660.  Sometimes his name is spelled Swillivan or Suilivan.  He lived near the docks as a boy and once stole a hot gingerbread from a windowsill where a woman had left it to cool. The story goes that he ran aboard a ship at the docks to hide and eat his treat, but fell asleep.  When he woke up the ship had sailed and he was on his way to America and Westmoreland County.

Pocahontas DNADarby's grandson, Darby Sullivan III was born in 1722.  He married Ann Fugate, who had Patawomeck Indian blood through both sides of her family. Her mother was Mary Martin,  the grand daughter of Ka-Okee, who was, in turn, the daughter of Pocahontas and Kocoum, the brother of Chief Japasaw.  Kocoum was murdered by the Jamestown settlers in 1613 when Pocahontas was kidnapped. Ka-Okee, who was two years old, stayed with the tribe.  In 1645, when Ka-Okee was 34 she married Theodore Pettus, they called her Jane.  In 1636 they had a female child, Christian Pettus.  We don't know the date of Ka-Okee's death.

Since I published this article I received the following information from William Pettus and I would like to share it with you, thank you William:

NOTE: Hi, I just had a quick look at your website, which claims that Theodore Pettus m. Ka-Okee, daughter of Pocahontas and Kocoum. I first heard about that claim a year or so ago, when I read a posting by Arthur Mitchell on After some exchanges with Mitchell and William Deyo, who is the historian for the Patawomeck tribe, Deyo and I concluded that the evidence more strongly favors Thomas Pettus, Theodore’s elder brother. The last record of Theodore in Virginia was in 1626, when he testified about a disputed shipment of tobacco in a court case heard at Jamestown. Thomas, on the other hand, patented 1,000 ac. of land on Potomac Creek in 1650. He sold it to Mr. Henry Meese in 1660. Potomac Creek is in Stafford Co. Meese was married to another Patawomeck woman. - I have received this information from William Pettus - I discussed this matter in the second volume of my books on the Pettus family of England and Virginia. Do you have any further information I may not be aware of?
William Pettus

To recap a bit - geneology can be confusing - Christian married John Martin, their daughter Mary married Josias Fugate and their daughter Ann Fugate married Darby Sullivan III (grandson of the gingerbread stealer) mentioned earlier.

The Sullivans have always been close to the Patawomeck tribe of Northern Virginia, even until today, because of this ancestry, which has been recognized by the tribe for hundreds of years. They were very proud of their Patawomeck heritage.  The Sullivan family claimed to retain Patawomeck features even up until my dad's generation.  I used to hear about Ka-Okee and Princess Pocahontas of the Powhatan tribe, but I didn't think much of the stories when I was a kid.  I wasn't interested in my family history until a few years ago.

I took the DNA test and my ancestry was confirmed back to Ka-Okee a few months ago.  Pocahontas was my 9th great grandmother. After so many generations the genetic markers proving my decent are small, actually only about 1% of my DNA is native American, but it is unique and matches other descendants of Pocahontas.

The story my family - and the tribe - tells of Pocahontas is very different than the one we have received through popular culture.  That tradition claims Pocahontas was kidnapped by the settlers at Jamestown and held captive as a slave.  The lack of women at the settlement forced the English men to grab women and girls from the tribe and use them as servants and sexual partners. The story that Pocahontas saved John Smith and having a relationship with him is simply not true.  She was only 10 or 11 at the time Smith was with the tribe, much too young to have a relationship with him.  The true history of Pocahontas can be learned from "The True Story of Pocahontas: The Other Side of History" by Dr. Linwood "little Bear" Custalow. The book can be ordered from

It's interesting that the Powhatan and Patawomeck tribes stayed in Northern Virginia and have maintained their identity/history even until today. They lived alongside my Sullivan ancestors for more than 400 years, just within a few miles of each other. My DNA results helped verify that lineage and history.

Bob Atchison