Select Page

Walking in the footsteps

It was almost exactly two years ago today that serendipity struck.

StMarysA reader, Jim Poole, had written in to comment about a blog post, noting that he wished search engines paid more attention to famiy websites, and he used the example of his own website,

I certainly agreed with Jim, and was about to give him a couple of other examples that I thought proved his case. And then it hit me.

Wait a minute. Pettypool? PETTYPOOL?

C’mon now. That’s not exactly the world’s most common surname. And it’s one of my ancestral surnames. Pettypool! And a website —! Could it be…?

Sure enough, James Furman Poole of South Carolina turned out to be a sixth cousin twice removed. We both descend from William Pettypool, also spelled Pettipool, Pettipoole, Petty Pool, you name it. Definitely a cool coincidence, and I blogged about it then.1

Now fast forward to this year.

Another reader, John Gadd of Colorado, wrote to ask if I’d be willing to take a look at a document he had about a land transaction his ancestor Thomas Gadd had been involved with. I agreed, John sent a copy of the document, and I carefully worked my way through it for him.

Thomas Gadd had been an indentured servant, he was at the end of his indenture, and was entitled to receive 50 acres of land in the Province of Maryland where he’d served. But he and another former indentured servant were, instead, assigning their rights to a third person, presumably in return for a cash payment. A really neat document dated all the way back in 1668.

And then it hit me.

The person Thomas Gadd and the other servant were assigning their rights to?

“William Pettipoole.”


My William Pettypool.

How’s that for serendipity?

And where am I today?

In St. Mary’s County, Maryland.

It’s a lovely county in southern Maryland, along the Chesapeake Bay and tucked between the Patuxent River on the east and the Potomac River on the west.

It’s an historic county — site of the first landing in Maryland in 1634, site of the first capital of Maryland from 1634 to 1694.2

And it’s the exact same county where, 346 years ago, Thomas Gadd sold his land rights to William Pettypool.

My William Pettypool.

My ninth great grandfather.

In whose footsteps I am walking today.

In the very county where he lived.

Three hundred and forty six years ago.

How’s that for serendipity?


  1. Judy G. Russell, “Serendipity Saturday,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 11 Aug 2012 ( : accessed 8 Aug 2014).
  2. St. Mary’s County, Maryland, Historical Chronology,” Maryland Manual On-Line ( : accessed 8 Aug 2014).
Print Friendly, PDF & Email