My Former In-Lawsnby Thomas O. JonesnChristopher Columbus’nNorth American DescendantsnMy former in-laws in the UnitednStates are direct descendants ofnChristopher Columbus. This is fact. Itnwill now be demonstrated. No othernfamily in North America can make thisnclaim. These worthy people are thenBoals. Their ancestral home in Americanis a tiny village called Boalsburg in centralnPennsylvania. I’ll attempt to explain,nwithout the bias of a former in-law, whynthe Boals aren’t better known, or knownnat all, in this quincentennial year ofnChristopher Columbus.nIn 1908, the Boals inherited the familynchapel of the Christopher Columbusncastle in Spain. The bequest includednboth the stone masonry of the chapelnand the many priceless objects inside.nIn 1909 Theodore Boal—known as Terry—broughtnthese materials across thensea to Boalsburg, where he reassemblednthe chapel. In 1912 he built a small,nstone barnlike structure to enclose thenchapel. The only genuine Columbusnmuseum in the New World had beennestablished.nThe Columbus chapel can hold onlyn35 people. Any visitor with a historicnsense will stare in wonder at the objectsninside. It even has the trunk Columbusn46/CHRONICLESnVITAL SIGNSntook on his voyages, where it functionednas a desk and in which he stored his nauticalnstudies. There is also a large silverncross that Columbus owned. If he didnnot hold this particular cross when firstnstepping onto the new land, he carried ansimilar one. Also transported fromnSpain were swords belonging to thenColumbus family, other personal heirloomsnof the great explorer, a small casketncontaining relics (a gift to thenColumbus castle in Spain in 1817), anchurch maniple more than five-centuriesnold, and carved Renaissance statues ofnsaints. To enter the Boalsburg chapel isnto enter the Spanish Renaissance. Masterpiecesnof oil painting adorn the walls,nincluding the Pieta by Ambrosius Bensonn(circa 1535) and The Sacrifice ofnIsaac by Ribera (circa 1615).nTerry Boal, an international adventurernand war hero had brought home tonthe tiny town bearing his name the onlyncollection of personal belongings ofnChristopher Columbus on this continent.nHe had been studying architecturenin Paris in 1894—^his stone encasingnaround the Columbus chapel was donenby an experienced hand—and in a whirlwindncourtship he met and married thenlovely Mathilde Denis de Lagarde.nMathilde provided the family-tree connectionnwith Columbus. When she inheritednthe Columbus chapel and treasuresnin 1908, Terry brought thisncollection, stones, mortar, and paintingsnto Boalsburg the following year.nI encountered a pleasant, welleducated,nhardworking, middle-classnBoal family in the early 1960’s, in angrowing suburb outside Los Angeles.nThese Boals lived a short drive on uncrowdednfreeways from Pasadena, California,nhome of the Rose Bowl footballngame. The Boal family living nearbynwas not notorious (or acclaimed) forntheir puns, but they did name their eldestndaughter Rose Boal. Rose becamenmy wife for three years, from 1969 ton1972, and this brief young marriage allowednmy only connection with worldnhistory on a grand scale.nI must mention that “Rose” was hernmiddle name, though this did not preventnher from the same teasing I receivenfor being baptized Tom Jones. We atnleast started off with something in common.nToday Rose’s desire for anonymi­nnnty from the Columbus spotlight couldnbe intense, and her fondness for mensmall, so I’ll kindly refrain from mentioningnher first name or other identifyingnfacts—with the exception that shendid like to sail. She was a tall, graceful,nathletic woman. She could sail a smallnunmotored craft over turbulent watersnwith skill and ease. Her father was alsonan expert sailor, and found shipboardnlife more challenging and exciting thannhis house in the suburbs. Rose affectionatelyncalled him Pilot. Today mynformer father-in-law lives on his boat,ndocked somewhere on the Californiancoast, and applies for honorary seaman’sntitles. To insist Christopher Columbusnwas the source of these traits, which PilotnBoal passed on to Rose, would be ludicrous,nthough it has given me occasionnto ponder, especially during this quincentennialnyear. Rose and I didn’t havenchildren, but it’s likely they’d have beennintroduced early to toy boats.nI also can’t avoid letting red hair enternthe discussion. The Christopher Columbusnof Cenoa had red hair, as did manynof his descendants, including remote descendants,nlike my in-laws. Other commonnfactors? All were stubborn. Allnwere too widely read not to believe theyncould sail off into any direction withoutnfalling off an edge.nI do not expect to be even a tiny footnotento history, though my all-too-briefnconnection with the discoverer of mynnative land interests me. Sixty years afternTerry and Mathilde Boal inheritednthe Columbus chapel in Spain, I begannmy own whirlwind courtship of RosenBoal near Pasadena, and 61 years afternTerry Boal brought home the Columbusntreasures, I married his descendant. Thenguests at our wedding chuckled and gigglednat the most solemn part of the ceremonyndue to our hilarious names—n”Tom Jones, do you take Rose Boal tonbe your…” Back then Rose and I werenyoung 60’s people, baby boomers fromnthe lily-white suburbs, intensely involvednwith reading about the social injusticesnaround us, two generous and caring people,ndefining our politics of compassionnby our hair-lengths and the number ofndecals and patches on our jeans. Yet wencared enough for our families to wed inntraditional attire, like the little plasticnbride and groom figures on our cake,n