History of the Bolles Family Association
The Bolles Family Association was started in 1977. It is a result of the
outstanding efforts of many individuals too numerous to mention. However, two people stand
out as key founders.
We begin with our Genealogist, George E. Williams. He wrote the definitive book on the Bolles
genealogy. This was a massive undertaking requiring many years of effort and involving the
writing of hundreds of letters before the age of computerized word processors! His Great
Aunt, Anna Bolles Williams, had performed considerable work in genealogy and had instilled
that interest in George. He was a founder of the Connecticut Society of Genealogists. He
published "A GENEALOGY of the Descendants of JOSEPH BOLLES of Wells, Maine Vol. 1" in
A Volume 2 was published in 1989 providing corrections, updates and additional information
on the Bolles Family. George passed away 10 Feb 1998 at the age of 97.
JAMES EDWARD BOLLES (#2853), of Norwalk, CT is the founder of our Bolles Family
With his wife Norma they have hosted four national Bolles Family reunions, three Bolles
Family tours to England, and as a team they contribute greatly to the success of our National
Bolles reunions, where Jim's genealogical show, "What's His Name" is always a feature event.
The following article is by Jim Bolles:
HOW THE BOLLES FAMILY ASSOCIATION CAME INTO BEING:
It all began during WWII. While being stationed at the U.S. Submarine Base, New London,
Connecticut during Sub School days, I happened to wander into "Ye Ancient Burial Grounds"
while on liberty from the base. At the time I had no knowledge of my ancestral
connections, so you can imagine my surprise at finding headstones with my surname on them.
I still did not think I was connected in any way. The war ended and I went to New York City
where I began my career as an illustrator.
In the late 1960's I received a letter from George Williams asking for information about
my immediate family members to be used in a genealogy he was writing about the Bolles
family of Nottingham, England and New London, Connecticut. Since he lived a short distance
away I called him and he agreed to see Norma and me which we did, and that is where the
story really began.
When the genealogy was published in 1970 I became completely absorbed in our family's history
both in the U.S.A. and England. After thoroughly exploring our Connecticut roots, I decided to
go to England and explore the sites listed in George's book. There, Norma and I met a wonderful
man, John Holland, and became fast friends of the Holland family. John helped me locate most of
the Lincolnshire sites which included the famous Jacobean Arch in the tiny village of Scampton,
Lincolnshire. After a number of visits I could see that the Arch was suffering severe damage,
mostly caused by high winds. I informed the owner of the property where the Arch stands,
that I was concerned that the Arch might collapse if repairs were not done soon and to
contact me if he wanted my help to raise funds to save it.
About a year later he contacted me and said that a local archaeological organization wanted to
save the Arch. I contacted George and asked for the names and addresses of those who had
purchased his genealogy, He was happy to help me with his list. I then sent out over 300 letters to
those people who didn't know me from Adam, asking for their help. The response was
immediate and I was able to send over within a few months, $1,600 which was the seed money
needed to raise funds in England. It took three years to complete the full restoration of
the Arch at a final cost of about $15,000. The British said without the American interest
and initial funds, the project would not have proceeded.
With the success of the Arch restoration assured, I wrote to all persons who
contributed and suggested a family reunion in New London Connecticut to commemorate our
successful efforts to save part of our family's heritage in England. The first national
reunion of the Bolles family members took place in 1977 at Poor Richards Restaurant, New
London, Connecticut. At that time the Bolles Family Association was organized and Joseph
Bolles of Tulsa Oklahoma was elected as our first president, The rest is History!