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Discover the Wathen Story

Do you know the story of the carpenter John Wathen who left his home in England aboard the Francis & Mary in 1670 to settle in Southern Maryland? Have you heard of the Wathens who moved out West from Southern Maryland, resettling in places like Kentucky, Missouri, and Indiana? Do you know which Wathen families remained in Southern Maryland, and how they are related to one another?

I love local history, especially family history. It's exciting to piece together the stories of past generations and discover the events that brought us to today. As a Wathen - one of the oldest families in Southern Maryland - I've spent years working to uncover the history of my family, and I've found stories of farmers, soldiers, priests, nuns, bourbon distillers, politicians, and, of course, countless mothers and fathers who did their best to raise their children well.

Over the past few years, I've poured over as many local historical documents as I've been able to in my efforts to make sense of the Southern Maryland Wathen family tree. Through visits to the Leonardtown library, the St. Mary’s County Historical Society, the Southern Maryland Studies Center in La Plata, the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis, the Maryland Province Collection at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, local Catholic parishes, and, of course, numerous websites, I’ve verified that all local Wathens fit on three separate branches of the Wathen family tree: Most St. Mary's County Wathens are descendants of James Hanson Wathen (c. 1765–1826), a blacksmith, tax collector, and justice of the peace whose parents are unknown. Other St. Mary's County Wathens, like me, are descendants of Benedict Aloysius Wathen (c. 1830 to 1873), a poor farmer whose parents are also unknown. Most Charles County Wathens are descendants of George W. Wathen (c. 1803-1852), a land-owning farmer. Genealogical records have not been able to connect these three branches to one another or to the colonial John Wathen, but groudbreaking Y-DNA research has provided exciting insights!

In The Wathens of Southern Maryland: Their Genealogy & History, I tell the story of the local Wathen family, using evidence from both historical documents and genetic testing. My hope is that this book will provide a meaningful keepsake and helpful reference for all who have Wathen ancestors from the Southern Maryland area.