All posts by Christopher Carter Lee

About Christopher Carter Lee

Christopher Carter Lee is a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, past member of the Committee on Heraldry of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and contributor to NEHGS's The Mayflower Descendant and other peer-reviewed journals. He has been part of the teaching staff of Boston University's graduate certificate in Genealogical Research and overseen implementation strategies for lineage and genealogical organizations. As a management and development professional, he has leveraged his expertise for roles with the U.S. Institute of Peace, General Society of Mayflower Descendants, Leyden Preservation Group, and the Center for Education Reform. He serves on several heritage organization and preservation boards and is also co-founder and director of programs that support the homeless and disabled.

Founders of Maryland

LeadAdThis past summer, the release of images and data discovered in the burials beneath the Jamestowne Colony’s first parish chancel attracted nationwide interest. These were remarkable for their antiquity, the prominent positions the interred colonists had occupied, and the unique reliquary buried with Captain Gabriel Archer.

A generation after Jamestowne was first settled, a major settlement was made at the northern periphery of the Virginia settlement, along the Chesapeake Bay and inland to the west. In 1990, the lead coffins of St. Mary’s City’s founders, a Calvert husband and wife, were discovered beneath the Jesuit chapel there. Continue reading Founders of Maryland

Ancestral saints and martyrs

Fra Angelico for C C Lee post
Christ Glorified in the Court of Heaven, attributed to Fra’ Angelico, ca. 1424, courtesy National Gallery, London. The saints and martyrs of Christendom have been a frequent image in Western art throughout the centuries. Many of us descend from the women and men such art depicts.

On All Saints’ Day, Christians honor all saints, both known – many of them commemorated throughout the liturgical year – and unknown. The date has been fixed on the first of November in the Catholic Church, often transferred to the first Sunday of the month by churches within the Anglican tradition and in other mainline Protestant churches. Continue reading Ancestral saints and martyrs

Family history for sale

Bear Castle 1
Bear Castle house and, at left, its garage, Louisa County, Virginia, photographed in the mid-1990s.

For the second time in my life, I have the nagging sensation of not being at all in the market for a home in the middle of Virginia – but wishing that I were. Bear Castle, dilapidated and sad-looking (“livable but needs work”), is for sale (“Sold AS IS”).[1] Its interior cluttered with the incongruous collections of more than two and a half centuries’ habitation, its kitchen startlingly reminiscent of a mid-twentieth-century diner, the thousand-acre estate it once governed has been reduced to just over three acres that realtors suggest might be subdivided further still. Continue reading Family history for sale

The Jamestowne Chancel Burials

Seal of the King of England, Scotland, Ireland, and France, as President of the Virginia Council. U.S. National Parks Service

The announcement Tuesday of the (probable) identification of the remains of four men buried under the chancel of the first parish church at Jamestowne, Virginia – first discovered in 2010 and unearthed in 2013 – has now made the front page of The Wall Street Journal and appeared in other leading news outlets. While not the first Englishmen to die in the nascent American colony, they were nearly so, probably interred in Virginia soil in 1608 and 1610, more than a decade before the Mayflower arrived on American shores; these men were certainly among the colony’s founders. Continue reading The Jamestowne Chancel Burials

Celebrating Presidential Kinship, U.S. Ancestry

George Washington portrait; Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860), NEHGS Rotunda, Boston.
George Washington portrait; Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860), NEHGS Rotunda, Boston.

The past year saw the American Presidency surpass 225 years as an establishment of government and state. Presidents of the United States number among the most recognizable, beloved, and reviled (not mutually exclusive) figures in our nation’s history and that of the world. Since the inauguration of George Washington, forty-three men have been entrusted by the American people to safeguard our independence, defend the Constitution which binds a widely dispersed and diverse nation, and exemplify virtues and qualities of leadership that contribute to this country’s exceptionalism.  Emerging from the seedbeds of the Revolution, genteel Southern patricians and their learned New England peers were joined by New York Dutch, Scotch-Irish settlers, proverbial young men who pioneered the West, and even descendants of relatively recent immigration as our presidential pantheon has expanded in number while also developing genealogically. The ancestries of recent presidents, Jimmy Carter, both Presidents George Bush, and Barack Obama, have embraced several of these regional and ethnic origins, much in keeping with the social development and mobility of the whole American people. Continue reading Celebrating Presidential Kinship, U.S. Ancestry

A lost relative in San Francisco

San Francisco burning, 1906. (Click on the images to enlarge them)

A few days ago at Vita Brevis, we heard from Andrew Krea on genealogical research running up against natural disasters. The consequent uptick in valuable family information appearing in periodicals and public records, as relatives and associates seek contact with those affected or provide refuge to survivors, provides an unintended boon in documenting extended family groups and far-flung kin. Such events may also supply an explanation to a point of family lore. A natural disaster and a bit of lore in my own family led me to encounter a genealogical project that is worthy of greater attention. Continue reading A lost relative in San Francisco

Election Day and your family tree

TR buttonI used to joke that I rarely thought about politics more than twenty-four hours a day. In fact, my pursuit of genealogical research developed alongside my work in opposition and campaign research. Exposed to a variety of Washington, D.C. area archives and repositories, I quickly gathered many records relating to my ancestors from primary sources kept in the same places I consulted in the course of my campaign efforts. Last week, as I researched the nineteenth-century ancestors of our Research Services clients amidst the news of electoral victories and disappointed prospects, I found myself thinking of an interesting source of records that genealogists rarely consult. Continue reading Election Day and your family tree