Treasure  Hunter
By Lena Basha
Volume 139, No. 6, November/December 2005, Page 7

When Lisa Pennington finds a few free days in her busy schedule, she packs her bag and takes a trip—to Barbados, Curaçao, New York, Virginia. It’s not a sandy beach or a relaxing setting that leads her there, but a man named Isaac Allerton.

Attorney by day and genealogy sleuth by night, Mrs. Pennington has always been interested in her lineage—and she knew she was related to Allerton, who came to America on the Mayflower in 1620. But it wasn’t until her husband, David, stumbled upon a 1789 reference to a Bible owned by Allerton that the real interest kicked in.

“My husband and I don’t play golf for fun; we do historical research,” says Mrs. Pennington. “It’s like treasure hunting.”

Fascinated by the Bible they tracked to Plymouth, Mass., the Penningtons wrote an article and recently submitted it for review to the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
“It’s just a little window into his life,” she says. “He had underlined certain biblical passages, which, when we saw it, let us know what he was thinking almost 400 years ago. I think it’s very important for us to understand what the people on the Mayflower were thinking.”

When the couple retires, they would like to write a book about Allerton. “He traveled all over the world as a merchant,” she says. “He has a fascinating story—very enigmatic.”

Until retirement, though, the Penningtons will have to settle on Allerton being a side project. As managing partner of Houston law firm Baker and Hostetler, Mrs. Pennington stays busy overseeing the 120 attorneys and staff in her office, as well as the long-term planning for the firm’s 10 offices around the country. “It’s a challenge, but it’s the greatest job in the world,” she says.

Still, Mrs. Pennington says genealogy is her real passion. She attributes this interest to her membership in the DAR, which she joined with her mother in 1986. A member of the Ann Poage Chapter, Houston, Mrs. Pennington has served as both Vice Regent and Regent. The Ann Poage Chapter meets on Saturdays to accommodate women who work throughout the week.

“Before becoming a member, I was not aware of how involved the DAR is across the country in making sure history is preserved,” she says. “Serving on the board really opened my eyes to that. It really gives you a better view of what is going on in the organization.”

The importance of preserving one’s lineage is a DAR principle she tries to instill in her three children. “All our vacations are history trips, which we do get some complaints about,” she says. “But I think it’s very important to link your children with their American past and to get your whole family to realize—wherever they live or wherever they’re from—that they’re a part of the history of the country.”

Outside of her work and family responsibilities, Mrs. Pennington still finds time to contribute to local philanthropic efforts. A board member of the Houston Bar Association, she helps raise money for legal services for the indigent. “It’s really about wanting to give back to the community that has given to you,” she says. “I see giving as an obligation for people who were fortunate enough to have a privileged life.”

Credit: Photo by Tom Callins

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