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Mendon lifelong resident David Lowell finds his roots are broad and deep

A nearly full house came out in October to hear the Mendon Historical Society’s presentation by Rich Schofield about resident David Lowell’s long and storied ancestry. Courtesy photo

By Linda Chuss

On Oct. 22, 2023, Mendon Historical Society Treasurer Rich Schofield delivered an informative and lighthearted presentation about lifelong resident David Lowell’s ancestry. “Finding Your Roots – Mendon Edition” revealed surprising and impressive connections Lowell’s family has had in America dating back to 1620. Schofield said his “awareness of my friend David’s rich past, interest in making local history engaging, and the popular PBS show of the same name were the program’s inspiration.”

Finding out he was related to 43 of 45 U.S. presidents really impressed David Lowell – this tree shows the lineage tracing him to President Taft. Courtesy photo


Schofield also weaved Lowell’s family experiences into Mendon’s larger history, allowing current residents to better appreciate connections between themselves and the town’s past. From even before the original founding of Mendon, through King Philip’s War, witchcraft hysteria, and supporting the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, Lowell’s ancestors were there.

About the presentation, Schofield said, “We were excited to have 75 people attend, including David’s relatives and friends, curious Mendon residents, and other local history buffs.”

Among the biggest surprises for Lowell was learning The Mayflower Society awarded him membership based on being verifiably descended from John and Priscilla Alden, notable passengers aboard the famed ship. He was also presented with a certificate from the Sons of the American Revolution, acknowledging proof of several ancestors who were patriots.

Schofield said, “What impressed David most was learning he’s related, in one way or another, to 43 of 45 U.S. presidents. When you can trace your roots back as far as David can, there are an unbelievable number of connections because every generation doubles the number of direct ancestors in your tree. For example, everyone has 2,048 ninth great-grandparents, meaning there are lots of paths to lots of distant relatives. Many people are related to a president or two – I’m related to 11. But David’s lineage in this regard is remarkable.

“Closer to home, Lowell counts 18 of the 39 names on the plaque at Mendon’s Founders’ Park among his direct ancestors. Of Mendon’s five original selectmen, four were his eighth or ninth great-grandfathers. Probably the most fun bit David learned was Justine (Southwick) Brewer, owner of Southwick’s Zoo and a lifelong acquaintance, is his sixth cousin.”

“Finding Your Roots” was just one of the many engaging programs the Historical Society regularly conducts. Starting in February and continuing through spring, they will feature a local true crime story from 1778, an indigenous history of the area, and an antiques appraisal day.

For more about events, membership, opportunities to contribute, and other information, see To set up an appointment to visit the museum at 15 Hastings St. in Mendon, email [email protected].