Bridger Family Association

Bridger Crest


The Bridger Family Association was organized in May 2006. The organizational meeting was held at the Historic St. Luke’s Church in Isle of Wight County, Virginia.

The Association was organized by descendants of Joseph Bridger (1628-1686) and his wife Hester Pitt of Isle of Wight County, Virginia. The Association members have met annually every year since 2006.

As of April 2013 we have 76 Associate Members and 41 Voting Members.

Facts about General Joseph Bridger

  1. Son of Samuel & Mary Bridger of Woodmanscote Manor, Dursley, Co. Gloucester, Britain
  2. Baptized on 28 February 1631/2 in Dursley, Britain
  3. Member of the Cavalier Army in the British Civil Wars
  4. Emigrated to Virginia by circa 1654
  5. Married circa 1654 to Hester Pitt, daughter of Col. Robert Pitt of Isle of Wight Co., Va, and had:
    • Capt. Joseph II (ca. 1654-by 1713/4) who married Elizabeth Norsworthy
    • Martha, married Thomas Godwin
    • Col. Samuel (ca. 1663-by 1713), married a ? Godwin
    • Col. William (ca. 1668-1730), married Elizabeth Allen
    • Elizabeth, married Thomas Lear
    • Mary, married Capt. Richard Tibboth
    • Hester, probably, married George Williamson
  6. Member of the Virginia House of Burgesses for most, if not all, of the years 1657/8-1673.
  7. On Committee to adjust the Virginia/Maryland boundary on the Eastern Shore.
  8. Member of the Virginia Council of State, 1673-1686
  9. Co-Acting Governor of Virginia, 1684 & 1685.
  10. Colonel of Isle of WightCounty’s militia by 1673-1686.
  11. Adjutant General of Virginia, 1666.
  12. Commander of Nine Virginia Counties for Defense against Indians, 1680.
  13. Commander of Four Virginia Counties for Defense against Indians, 1683.
  14. Deputy Vice Admiral of Virginia, 1683.
  15. Owner of over 16,400 acres in Isle of Wight, Surry, Nansemond, and James City Counties in Virginia and in Somerset County, Maryland, making him the largest landowner of his day living south of the James River in Virginia and one of the ten largest in Virginia.
  16. Builder of Whitemarsh Plantation’s 21-room brick mansion — one of likely the two largest houses ever built in 17th-century Virginia.
  17. Traditional builder of Historic St. Luke’s Church, Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Probably constructed circa 1682, this Gothic brick structure is the oldest intact non-Roman Catholic Church building in the Western Hemisphere.

The Landed and Personal Estate of  Gen. Joseph Bridger by William Carrell II is an excellent and detailed book about Joseph Bridger and his holdings. It is a large file (23,204 KB) and can be seen at

Association Officers


Vice President:

  • William P. Carrell II, Founder and Genealogist, Louisville, Ky., Co-Founder


  • Merry Outlaw, Williamsburg, Va.

Social Secretary:

  • Donna Bridger, Winston- Salem, N.C.


  • William Hodsden, Suffolk, Va.


  • William P. Carrell II (acting)


  • Caryn Ann Cady Johnson, Silver Spring, Md.

Board Members At Large:

  • R. Cameron Bridger, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Bridger Eglin, Baton Rouge, La.
  • Merry Outlaw, Williamsburg, Va.
  • Ernest M. Pitt, Jr. Ashland, Ky.
  • Bonnie Bridger Mittelmaier, Williamsburg, Va.
  • Justin Bridger (Junior Board Member)
  • John Kovalchik (Junior Board Member)

Lifetime Board of Directors Emeritus

  • John Flowers, Hendersonville, N.C.

Board Members Emeritus:

  • James A. Bridger Jr., Founder, Raleigh, N.C. (deceased)
  • Dr. Thomas Wirt Sale (deceased)


Membership is by invitation only. Prospective members must be proposed by an existing Voting Member and be of good moral character. For information about membership, contact BFA President Jean Tomes at

There are three categories of Membership:

Voting Members

Those individuals who can document their direct blood descent from Gen. Joseph Bridger and his wife Hester Pitt to the satisfaction of the Association. The Association may give reciprocity to the approval of an individual’s Bridger descent from other lineage societies. There is a $25 application fee and a $250 lifetime membership fee.

Associate Members

Those individuals who are interested in the Association’s mission. There is a $125 lifetime membership fee. The $125 can be applied toward a Voting Membership.

Junior Members

Those individuals, under the age of 21, whose parent(s) or grandparent(s) are either a Voting Member or an Associate Member. There is a $50 life membership fee. That $50 can later be applied towrd either an Associate Membership or toward a Voting Membership.

Bridger Genealogy Book

After three years of research, compiling, and editing, Linda Bridgers Boyette and Doris Bridgers Capps-Owens released their book Bridger Family Chronicles, From the Old World to the New. It is a genealogical book, beginning with Henry Brygger (1480) of England, and includes 20 generations down to the present. The book contains 800 pages of maps, a timeline, a gazetteer, wills, deeds, census records, tax lists, birth, marriage, and death certificates, and a 654 page genealogical report on 6,500 descendants.

Volume II of the book contains 795 pages and connects 26 additional families to families in Volume I. Along with the 450 pages of new genealogical reports, Volume II contains sections that include information on descendants from Volumes I and II. The following sections are included: Additions and Corrections to Volume I (34 pages), a Family Picture Gallery and a Family Architectural Gallery (40 pages), Deeds (20 pages), Wills (50 pages), Family Bibles (30 pages), Remembering the Military of American Wars (112 pages), Memorial Tributes (4 pages), Gleanings (35 pages) and Helps (12 pages). You may contact the authors at to see if your family is in either of the books.

Both books can be purchased online at

Upcoming Events

May, 2015 — The 2015 gathering will take place in Williamsburg, Virginia  May 14-17 at the Doubletree Hotel. Please email BFA President Jean Tomes at if you are interested in attending.

 Photos of Bridger Events

Photos from Bridger past events  can be seen on Flicker at

You need to sign up for a free account to see the photos.
You can view many of the photos from our England Bridger Gathering from the You Tube pages below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:


Past Events

May 2006

St. Luke’s Church

An organizational meeting was held at Historic St. Luke’s Church, Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Dr. Douglas Owsley, of the Smithsonian Institute’s NaturalHistoryMuseum, made a presentation on the proposal to temporarily exhume the remains of Gen. Joseph Bridger relevant to a forthcoming exhibit at the Museum titled Written in Bone: Life and Death in the Seventeenth Century Chesapeake.

This meeting was preceded by the 49th Annual Pilgrimage that was dedicated to the Bridger Family, with a capacity crowd. Descendant, William P. Carrell II, delivered the homily.

January 2007


On January 27, 2007 Dr. Doug Owsley and his forensic team went to St. Luke’s Church to search for the body of Joseph Bridger with twenty of his descendants looking on. The video of the exumation can be seen at

Historic St. Luke’s Church has several photos of the exhumation at


Dear Cousins, 

Yesterday, Tuesday, February 18, 2014 was another profound day in the Bridger family.

The remains of our Grandfather Joseph, were returned from the Smithsonian by Alain Outlaw and reburied in St. Luke’s Church under the ledgerstone where he had lain from 1894 until 2007 when he was moved to Washington, DC.

A very nice, reverent service was led by Rev. Randy Green, Smithfield, VA, minister of the church attended by Rachel Buchanan, the new Executive Director of St. Luke’s Church.  We are very appreciative that Rev. Green was able to be with us.

Rev. Green read several passages of scripture and even gave some highlights into the life of our Great Grandfather.  Prayers were said which gave the reburial service finality. 

A beautiful spray of spring flowers was placed at the head of his ledgerstone.   We had even asked that a few sprigs of Rosemary be placed within the flowers as we are certain Rosemary was used at his funeral in 1686.   

We were very appreciative of the heartfelt assistance given by Ms. Buchanan in the short time we had in planning the service.  We look forward, with enthusiasm, to  working with Rachael in the future. What a welcomed addition she is to the church.  In talking with her, a Rosemary bush will be secured and planted near the church in Memory of Gen. Joseph Bridger by the Bridger Family Association.

All the Bridger family extends their many thanks to Alain Outlaw.  He has been such a super, wonderful person to our family for so many years and we are so fortunate to have him as a part of our family.

 In my heart, I know Grandfather is happy to be back in the church he cared for and loved so much.

 Rest in Peace.

April 2007

Liturgy of the Dead, according to use of the Anglican Church’s 1662 Book of Common Prayer, in celebration of the life of Gen. Joseph Bridger at Historic St. Luke’s Church, Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Descendants were involved in all aspects of this service including the delivery of a eulogy by William P. Carrell II and the singing of the metrical version of The Lord’s Prayer, from the 17th-century Hodsden Bible, by Abbey Outlaw.

This service was originally planned to mark the re-interment of Gen. Bridger’s remains to his vault in the Church, following their exhumation the previous January. That did not take place as it was learned that only about 20% of his remains were moved to the Church in 1894, and efforts were under way to locate the missing remains

Following the service, which was attended by over 200, the Second Annual Meeting of the Association was held in the Church. Dr. Douglas Owsley, of the Smithsonian Institute’s NaturalHistoryMuseum, gave a presentation of the exhumation of Gen. Joseph Bridger’s remains.

May 2008

The reunion took place in Williamsburg, Virginia. There were 77 of us aboard the Miss Hampton II for our dinner/cruise. We requested that the Captain take us up the James River as that would have been the route our Grandfather Joseph would have taken when he arrived in the 1650s.

Dr. Doug Owsley and his wife, Susie, were with us. Doug shared information he learned about Grandfather Bridger, namely that lead tests have proven that Grandfather had a very, very large amount of lead in his bones. This was from eating off metal (pewter, white metal, etc.) plates and using metal eating utensils for so many years. Dr. Owsley said Grandfather also had Gout. With that and the lead poisoning, Grandfather was probably not a very happy person in his later years.

April 2009

The reunion was held in Washington, D.C. Over 200 attended. We were invited to tour the exhibit, Written in Bone —  Forensic Files of the 17th Century Chesapeake, at the Smithsonian Institute’s Natural History Museum by Dr. Douglas Owsley. We were allowed to enter the museum an hour before it was open to the public. We were all pleased to see our ancestor’s name on a plaque stating “A MAN OF MEANS – AND COLIC  Colonel Joseph Bridger was one of the ten wealthiest Virginians of his time. Between 1657 and his death in 1686, he held many prominent public offices and military commissions. He also probably suffered the effects of lead poisoning, especially the “dry gripes” of abdominal pain often mentioned in historic writings. When his remains were tested in 2007, his bone lead levels were 149 ppm—more than seven times the average level today.” Other plaques in the exhibit stated “Lead intake increased with wealth. A very high lead content in 17th-century bone indicates a person of means….Exposure to lead was a fact of life in the 1600s. All but the very poor drank from lead-glazed earthenware, and used objects made of pewter, an alloy of tin and lead.”

 May 2010

BFA Vice President Bill Carrell and President Jean Tomes at Bacon’s Castle

The gathering was held in Smithfield, Virginia. We took tours of Bacon’s Castle, Smith’s Fort Plantation and Windsor Castle Park. Alain Outlaw gave a presentation near Windsor Castle about archaeology done at that site. At the Saturday evening banquet meeting, we again heard a program by Alain on the Wheatland Foundation Inc. Archaeological Investigations at Whitemarsh, Home of Col. Joseph Bridger. A most exciting discovery at Whitemarsh was a wine bottle seal, which had the Bridger Coat of Arms molded onto the cap. Also a bottle seal with “HB” on it was also found which indicated that Hester Bridger, wife of Joseph, had her own seal for her wine bottles.

Wine bottle seal with Bridger coat of arms.

July 2011

Bridger Gathering 2011 023

The Bridger Family reunion was held at Fort Bridger in Wyoming. It was an exciting trip for all who attended. Members of the Fort Bridger Historical Society gave our members tours of the fort. At the Saturday night dinner meeting, Bobby Bridger> entertained the members and “retired his buckskin suit” and donated it to the Museum at Fort Bridger after his performance. There was a full-day trip to the Bridger-Teton National Forest <> and the Grand Teton National Park.

May 2012

Bridger Gathering 2011 359

Bridger Gathering 2011 382

The gathering was held in Suffolk, Virginia. We had cousins join us from all over the USA. Several of us did some research at the new Isle of Wight Courthouse in Smithfield. At our Friday gathering (photo above) we attended a picnic at Squire Hall. Caryn Johnson displayed a large Bridger descendant chart that she created. Our Saturday evening banquet group photo is above.

May 2013

May 3 Dinner Meeting

May 3 Dinner Meeting

Artifacts found at White Marsh

Artifacts found at Whitemarsh

American Rover Dinner Cruise

American Rover Dinner Cruise

We held our annual gathering at the Sheraton Waterside in Norfolk on May 9-12. On Friday evening we held our annual banquet/dinner meeting. Merry Outlaw was the speaker and she showed us artifacts found at Whitemarsh Plantation, the home of our ancestor Jospeh Bridger. She compared those artifacts to others found at other archaeology sites, and showed either actual items or photos of intact items, so that we could view what actually had been used by Joseph & Hester and their family at Whitemarsh Plantation.

September 2014




This Bridger Gathering was the trip of a lifetime! There were over 75 Bridger cousins with us when we visited Southern England where we visited historic locations where our Bridger ancestors lived. We stayed at the beautiful Tortworth Court Four Pillars Hotel, which is is a Victorian mansion in South Gloucestershire built in Tudor style for the 2nd Earl of Ducie between 1848 and 1853. We visited Woodmancote Manor, birthplace of Grandfather Joseph,  Slimbridge Church (picture above) where Lawrence Bridger was Rector for over 50 years, Berkeley Castle , Gloucester Cathedral where Samuel Bridger is buried, The Cotwalds, Stonhenge, Cheddar, and Chepstow Castle in Wales. More details and photos can be seen by clicking on the 2014 Reunion tab on the top of this page. 

Association NEWS

Our 2015 Gathering will take place May  in Virginia in Williamsburg at the Doubletree Hotel. Please email BFA President Jean Tomes at if you are interested in attending.

Joseph Bridger Descendant Chart

Joseph Bridger Descendant Chart

Caryn Johnson displays the descendant chart she created at our May 2012 gathering.

Whitemarsh Update

Alain Outlaw reported at the May 2012 dinner/meeting that at the dig at Whitemarsh last spring he found two graves containing remains of males buried in the early 1700s. He immediately knew they were males because he found three buttons in each grave at the waist line, which were the trouser buttons. Alain knew that neither grave was Joseph Bridger’s as none of the bones were missing in the two graves. Alain was not able to remove any remains because the bones were “mushy,” as the graves were in a low area of the farm.

Bones of Joseph Bridger

Bones of Joseph Bridger

The remains of Joseph Bridger that were removed from St. Luke’s are still in the Smithsonian. There has been no date set for reburial. There will be no reburial ceremony, since there was a memorial held in 2007, and because the church is too small to accommodate a large crowd. The floor tiles will be removed for the reburial and then replaced. We have given Dr. Owsley permission to retain the femur bone for future testing for DNA identification whenever that kind of testing is available.

BFA Membership Applications

All Lifetime-Voting approved applications and documentation will be digitized so they can be preserved. The portion of the application that shows lineage from Joseph Bridger down through 1899 will be displayed on this website in the near future. We will do that in order to assist future members with their membership applications.

 Membership Certificates

Certificates were presented to all the Lifetime-Voting members in attendance at our last four gatherings.

The Bridger Family Association Facebook page


Webmaster: Elaine Powell

Website Copy Editor: Sue Hatfield-Green

14 thoughts on “Bridger Family Association

  1. Jean, please email me the information on the trip to England in 2014. I would love to stay in the manor house!

  2. Beyond a shadow, suspected family members can now be assured whether they are or are not related to this outstanding family of Bridgers, from England. For if it was not for people doing what they have done in this case, many would still be left out in the cold, when it comes to accurate Bridger Family information and histories. Thanks to all, involved.

    Possible relative through Sallie Bridger, my great grandmother that married John William Nelson, both citizens of Northampton County, North Carolina.

  3. Jean Tomes, I have an incorrect email address for you. I am trying to get some information concerning Joseph Bridger’s return to St. Luke’s. My three sons are direct descendants and are very interested, as am I, about the family. They are also interested in events that the Bridger descendants hold at St. Lukes. They are only just hearing about the association, but hope that there are some events that they might be able to attend. Thanks for any assistance you can give.

    Charlotte Kerr

    • Hi Charlotte,

      I have replied to you directly to your email address and copied Jean Tomes also. She should get in touch with you soon also.

      I have been informed by Jean that the recovered bones of Joseph Bridger are still in the Smithsonian and have not yet been reburied at St. Lukes. However, there will be no ceremoney or gathering of family for the reburial.


  4. For the past 20 + years, I have been searching alone, all of my blood lines, origination back from England. I am happy to report to you, I am still searching for those Bridgers that have alluded me, and will keep on searching, while one is not accounted.

    • Hi Cherry,

      Is there any way I can help you? If you tell me what your line is, then I can see if somebody else in our association has the same line of descent. Do you just have one generation that you can’t prove? I have hundreds of Bridger/Bridgers in my family file, so I might be able to help. You can email me directly at to discuss.

  5. Elaine,

    Thank you for offering to assist me with any Bridger information, and then providing to me recently all you did. It helped a great deal, pin pointing my connection through my great grandmother to the Bridger Family and information to Colonel Joseph Bridgers. What a fascinating family to be so involved with.

    I am attempting to compile information you also asked for, and will be forwarded to you as soon as completed. My short stories of several members of the family and their lives will be forthcoming shortly, first.

    Thank you again for your willingness to assist me, another Bridgers family member.

    Sgt Raymond L Britt, USMC
    Vietnam & Cold War Veteran
    Police Worker, Deputy Sheriff, Selected State Trooper

    • Hello Linda,

      Please go to and type in the information about Braswell Bridgers in the upper left corner of the main information page. Just yesterday I came across his name while at that site. I am almost certain you will find the information you seek.. The process may take you some time, but I can say some of your needed information is there. I also find it useful to switch between and You should be able to find copies of official documentation there at, like death certificates, federal census reports, Selective Draft Cards, etc.

      Warmest regards

      Sgt Raymond L. Britt, USMC
      Decorated Vietnam & Cold War Veteran
      Police Worker, Deputy Sheriff, Selected State Trooper

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