Chesterwood Village assisted living resident Kay Matson just received the official news of a lifetime. She is one of a handful of living descendants of the Mayflower.
Since visitors are not allowed in the facility during the COVID-19 crisis, the official confirmation came during a Zoom call with the Mayflower Society and several of Kay’s family members who were in on the extraordinary news. Siblings, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren from Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas and Illinois Zoomed in for the presentation.
“We suspected for years there was lineage, but no one ever took the excessive time it takes to track down all the documents,” says Karl Matson, Kay’s son. “Then my niece, Amy Walts, took it on as a project, pouring tons of energy into it. She had to gather generations of documentation such as marriage and birth certificates. She did it all from her home in New York as a gift to Kay, her grandmother.”
The research was indeed a labor of love to honor the almost-98-year-old Kay. It took two years for the Mayflower Society to recognize that Kay is indeed a direct descendant of John Howland who was not only a passenger on the Mayflower’s maiden voyage to the New World, but he was the Englishman who worked with his family to finance the Mayflower’s expedition. Howland is Kay’s eighth great grandfather.
“My mom’s hearing isn’t great and she is dealing with macular degeneration affecting her eyesight,” Karl explains. “But the staff of Chesterwood Village went through great lengths to ensure that mom had a lap top brought to her apartment, the sound was turned up and, as a special gesture, they presented the official certificate from the Mayflower Society and helped her through the induction ceremony into the Cincinnati Colony of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. Cincinnati Colony Lt. Governor Star Vondrell officiated. If she could not hear something on the call, the staff made sure she soaked in all the joy of the celebration. I can’t say enough great things about the Chesterwood staff and the owners, the Dixon family. What a class act!”
The staff assisted Kay with hearing the story of John Howland who somehow fell overboard during the voyage. A rope trailed the vessel for such occasions. Howland grabbed the rope and the crew hauled him back on board to safety. During the voyage he eyed a beautiful fellow passenger. Not long after landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620 they married and had 13 children.
Other ancestors include a great, great, great (and probably more greats) grandfather who worked as a spy for George Washington during the Revolutionary War. He worked directly with Indian tribes who provided intel on where the British were gathering.
The Matson family was told by the Mayflower Society that there are approximately 26 Americans who are direct descendants. The Society was kind enough to expedite the induction due to Kay’s age.
The joyous story of Kay’s quarantine doesn’t stop with this stupendous news. A grandson and his wife living in Chicago just had a baby girl, and a granddaughter and husband here in Cincinnati just welcomed a girl, making Kay a great grandmother twice during the pandemic.
“I am truly blessed to experience all these extraordinary life moments and to be surrounded by truly caring staff who are here for me during this pandemic when my family can’t,” Kay said through her son.