Tag Archives: Ancestors

It is Well with My Soul

Last Sunday we were treated to a captivating organ recital at church by our organist and choir director, Dwight Beacham. Before he played “It is Well with My Soul” he told us the poignant story behind the hymn.

Horatio Gates Spafford was a prominent lawyer in Chicago, IL who had suffered devastating losses as a prelude to writing this popular hymn. Two years after his family had lost all of their possessions in a fire in 1871, he was planning to take his wife and four young daughters, aged two to eleven, aboard the steamer “Ville de Havre” to visit Europe.

He was unable to leave with them and expected to catch up with them soon. Before he could, he received news of the sinking of the “Ville de Havre” in which 287 people perished. The terse telegram message from his wife Anna said only “Saved alone.”

Horatio wrote “It is Well with My Soul” while at sea passing over the site of that tragedy on his way to reach his wife.

So I came home and quickly discovered that Horatio Gates Spafford was not yet in the Family Forest and that I needed to do some research to connect him in (no one gets into the Family Forest until they are connected by birth, marriage or occassionally adoption to someone who is already in).

Before I found Horatio I found his father, also named Horatio Gates Spafford. He was mentioned in a book of letters written by Thomas Jefferson, who held Horatio, Sr. in high regard.

Last night I ran a Family Forest kinship report for Horatio the hymnist. It was relatively short as far as these reports go, 60 pages versus the normally 6,000 plus pages for anyone who has been connected into the royal channel, and I was expecting to see only a couple of recognizible names.

Instead, I found the person associated with the term “And You Were There,” Walter Cronkite (6C3R), playwright Tennesse Williams (also 6C3R), and seven US Presidents. They were President Arthur (6C), both Presidents Bush (6C4R and 6C5R), President Ford (6C4R), President Cleveland (husband of a 6C2R), President Garfield (6C1R), and President Hoover (4C4R).

I wonder if any of those presidents knew of their family ties to those four little girls who lost their lives to bring this hymn to so many people?

I wonder how many everyday people know of their family ties to this hymn and the story behind it?

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Filed under Ancestral History, Family Forest, Family Forest National Treasure, Family Forest® Project, Genealogy, history, Horatio Gates Spafford, Spafford, Ville de Havre

Warrior Genes

Here’s a Veterans’ Day question. What do the most decorated U.S. soldier in World War I and the most decorated U.S. soldier in World War II have in common?

One answer appears to be warrior genes.

According to the recorded history mapped out and networked in the Family Forest®, and summarized in this computer-generated Family Forest® relationship chart, both Sergeant Alvin York and Audie Murphy are descended from Sir Henry “Hotspur” Percy.

According to his Wikipedia profile, Sir Henry Percy “early acquired a great reputation as a warrior.”

Who would have been more surprised? Would it have been Sir Henry Percy to learn that two of his descendants each also acquired a great reputation as a warrior? Or would it have been Sergeant York and Audie Murphy to discover they both shared the same famous warrior ancestor?

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Filed under Ancestral History, Audie Murphy, Family Forest, Family Forest® Project, Family Genes, Genealogy, Sergeant Alvin York, Sir Henry Percy, Veterans Day, World War II

An Important Message and Lesson

I just read a short preface in a book that was written more than a century ago. If you have any interest in discovering more of your ancestors, it is valuable for you to read it.

It illuminates how some of our ancestors were thinking long before we were born, and more importanly, it reveals a secret that genealogy big business does not want you to know.

In 1894 Guy Scoby Rix began a valuable 20-year genealogy research project that includes parts of the ancestry of probably more than one million living people. From Concord, NH in 1905, he wrote the preface to his work. It reveals his character, his intentions, and his commitment to accuracy.

Over the centuries there have been thousands of people like Mr. Rix who have published similar works on different families. Isn’t it much smarter to find out what knowledge is contained in those works, before spending tedious efforts sifting through raw unfiltered data?

The next time someone suggests that the first place for you to begin searching for your ancestors is in the raw data that hundreds or thousands of oftentimes very qualified people have been combing through for decades if not centuries, ask them, why?

Isn’t it best to find out first what the experts have already discovered? Why use any of your valuable research time to search for what’s already been found?

Naturally, I strongly recommend that the best starting point for ancestral history is our high quality tour guide service (the primary Family Forest® or some of it’s  hundreds of secondary publications.

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Filed under Ancestral History, Family, Family Forest National Treasure, Family Forest® Project, Genealogy

Meg Whitman Narrowly Beats Rival in A Related Contest

After the Family Forest® Project revealed to me that California gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman is related to former Alaska Governor and possible 2012 Presidential candidate Sarah Palin (they are 8th cousins once removed through common ancestors Rev. Joseph and Elizabeth (Bulkeley) Emerson, who are also ancestors of Hollywood super star Matt Damon), just for fun I began comparing their kinship reports to see how closely the two of them are related to other politicians, celebrities, and historical figures.

The Family Forest® shows that in the overall results of a number of relationship comparisons I looked at, Meg Whitman narrowly wins over Sarah Palin.

By a very narrow margin, Palin does win against Whitman in their relationship to AC/360 host Anderson Cooper. Palin is an 8th cousin once removed of Cooper while Whitman is a 9th cousin of Cooper.

There is a similar win for Palin in the two politicians’ relationships to President Obama. Palin is a 10th cousin of the President, while Whitman is an 11th cousin of the President, and Palin also wins against Whitman in their relationship to New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., 9C vs. 9C3R.

In their relationships to five other business moguls, Palin wins two of the five, one is a tie, while Whitman wins the other two.

Palin is a 9C3R of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates while Whitman is a 10C2R, and Palin is a 16C3R of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos while Whitman is a 17C4R.

AOL founder Steve Case is the tie at 9C2R.

Whitman is a bit closer to Warren Buffett at 9C1R, while Palin is a 9C2R to the Sage of Omaha. Whitman is quite a bit closer to Walt Disney at 7C2R, while Palin is a 9C2R to the founder of the Disney kingdom.

There are a number of Hollywood ties, including TCM co-host Alec Baldwin (8C1R cousin once removed), “Seabiscuit” racing announcer William H. Macy (9C1R),  Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges (10C1R), rising star Amy Adams (10C1R), and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns (18C).

Palin beat Whitman in their relationships to Hollywood icon Katharine Hepburn (7C2R vs. 8C1R), “Hereafter” star Matt Damon (7C1R vs. 9C) and “Hereafter” director Clint Eastwood (10C vs. 10C1R), distant cousin Brad Pitt (16C1R vs. 17C), and very very distant cousin Keanu Reeves (47C5R vs. 47C6R).

Whitman wins most dramatically over Palin in many other relationships in the Hollywood arena. These are “I Love Lucy” star Lucille Ball (7C vs. 9C1R), Hollywood icon Humphrey Bogart (8C1R vs. 9C2R), Oscar-winner Jodie Foster (9C vs. 9C1R), President John Adams portrayer Paul Giamatti (9C vs. 10C), “True Grit” villain Josh Brolin (9C1R vs. 11C1R), “Who Do You Thinks You Are?” subjects Brooke Shields (910C1R vs. 10C1R) and Sarah Jessica Parker (9C3R vs. 18C3R), “24” star Keifer Sutherland (10C vs. 19C1R), Oscar-winner Meryl Streep (10C vs. 10C1R), “Big C” star Laura Linney (11C3R vs. 14C1R), singer/actress Hilary Duff (11C2R vs. 14C), and distant cousins and “How Do You Know” co-stars Reese Witherspoon (19C3R vs. 20C3R cousin) and Jack Nicholson  (17C3R vs. 18C4R), and Oscar-winner Tom Hanks (19C vs. 20C).

Whitman scores 1-1 with Palin against two CBS news anchors, Walter Cronkite (11C1R vs. 9C1R) and Katie Couric (11C2R vs. 14C).

The two politicians’ relationships also tied against Prince William and Prince Harry at 9th cousin once removed.

Whitman beat Palin again against Mark Twain (6C3R vs. 10C4R) and Julia Child (7C1R vs. 8C2R).

All of these results were computer-generated on October 19, 2010 from the vast network of generation-by-generation family ties assembled in the Family Forest®.

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Filed under 2010 Election, 2012 Presidential candidate, Cousins, Family Forest National Treasure, Family Forest® Project, Family Trees, Genealogy, Hollywood, Meg Whitman, News, Sarah Palin, Walter Cronkite, Who Do You Think You Are

Before there was a U.S.S. Spangler

We recently learned of the U.S.S. Spangler reunion which will be starting on Monday October 25, 2010 in San Antonio, TX.

Prompted by a great visit from Kristine’s cousin Jeannie, both nieces of the Purple Heart recipient the ship was named for, we began reading through a large stack of Uncle Donald’s letters and clippings that were still in the possession of his only living sibling and my outstanding father-in-law, nonagenarian Robert Kent Spangler.

Amid the sorrow of losing so much promise so early, what fun it was! New discoveries led to other new discoveries.

For instance, we found a letter written on the Fourth of July 1943 to Mr. and Mrs. Martin and Myrtle Elizabeth (Blue) Spangler (Donald’s mother, Mrs. Spangler christened the U.S.S. Spangler).

It was from Miss Velma V. Vogelman of Baltimore, MD who knew Donald from his Naval Academy days. She had just learned of his death through LIFE magazine, and she was writing on the anniversary of a significant day.

“On July 4, 1940 he came to Baltimore and spent the day with me and my parents. This day I shall always remember as one of the happiest in my life. He spoke often of his home and parents and how he would have enjoyed spending that particular day with you in Albion, Ind.”

We had never heard of a mention of Uncle Donald in LIFE. So we used Google Books and quickly found it in print in the July 5, 1943 issue on page 21.

We’re looking forward to following up on other discoveries from the letters and clippings. What other interesting insights to history are waiting to be found?

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Filed under Ancestors, Ancestral History, Cousins, Family Forest National Treasure, Family Forest® Project, Fourth of July, Genealogy, history, Independence Day, Reunion, Uncategorized, USS Spangler, Veterans Day, Women's History Month, World War II

Explaining the Unbelievable

On his 84th birthday I ran a Family Forest® kinship report for my Dad. How do I explain that amazing report? It shows results that a lifetime of learning has taught all of us to believe is impossible.

The software searched through the entire system of digital links I’ve spent tens of thousands of hours assembling. It was looking for every person in the Family Forest® who, according to recorded history, is related to my father through either birth or marriage.

It took 5,823 pages to display the results. The report shows that my father has family ties to over a quarter million different relatives over thousands of years, and they include most of the key people who were at most of the pivotal places and events in human history, as well as many of the Hollywood celebrities who have portrayed much of that history on film.

For instance, there are 27 signers of the Declaration of Independence on this report. That’s only one person short of half of the heroic men who signed. How can this be?

Well the simple explanation is that anyone who is connected into the Royal Channel in the Family Forest® is instantly networked through family ties to every other person who has already been connected into the Royal Channel.

Although my Dad is unique and very special to me, sociologically and genealogically speaking, he is an average everyday guy. With over a million boxes to fill in on their pedigree charts for just their first 20 generations, over time all average everyday people are descended from a number of the same ancestors famous people are descended from.

This is a message I have to deliver. It sounds simple, even though it runs contrary to common knowledge and it still seems unbelievable.

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Filed under Ancestral History, education, Family, Family Forest, Family Forest National Treasure, Family Forest® Project, Genealogy

Texas Heroes and Google Books

I’d like to share a fascinating ancestral history gem I discovered at Google Books this week. 

It involves early Texas heroes, and the essence of it has now been digitally lineage-linked in the Family Forest® to a more recent national hero from Texas. Literally millions of people, including probably you (I know I am one of them), relate to this story through their own family ties. 

Audie Murphy was a national hero from Texas, the most decorated American soldier in World War II. His biography, No Name on the Bullet, mentions that his family tree included such men as one of his great-grandfathers, John Berry, but gives no identifying details about John Berry or what he did. So I turned to Google Books in search of answers.

I found more than I was hoping for. It was hidden in a book from 1900 by A. W. Sowell titled Early Settlers and Indian Fighters of Southwest Texas. 

Within a six-page section about John Berry’s wife (titled Mrs. Hannah Berry) are details about who he was, what he did, and in particular the noteworthy service he performed for Davy Crockett shortly before the Alamo. But it was a statement about his wife, also an ancestor of Audie Murphy, which caught my attention. 

While she was still alive, Grandma Berry is said to have had “seventy-four grandchildren that she knows of, and one hundred and twenty-four great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.” 

We now know what the author A. W. Sowell could not know; a half century later, Grandma Berry would become an ancestor of at least one Hollywood actor, the most decorated American soldier in World War II. 

How many thousands (tens of thousands?) of living descendants might Grandma Berry have now, a full century after she finished her historically eventful and productive life in Texas at the age of 91? How many of her descendants do not yet know of their own family ties to her, the Alamo, and Audie Murphy?

The National Treasure Hunt begins in Texas. See for yourself.

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Filed under A People-Centered Approach To History®, Ancestors, Ancestral History, Ancestry, Audie Murphy, Family Forest National Treasure, Family Forest® Project, Family Trees, Genealogy, Google, history, Hollywood, National Treasure, Texas, World War II

Did You Hear About the Morgans?

After enjoying watching Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant in this movie, we tried one of the really cool features of our new Roots Magic program. We asked if it could create a Relationship Chart in the Family Forest® between the two co-stars. 

Almost instantly a chart appeared showing generation-by-generation exactly how Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant are distant cousins. They share ancestors in the Family Forest®. Who would have guessed? (Well, maybe those who read our last Sarah Jessica Parker blog.

And there are other surprising family ties from “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” as well. Although Mary Steenburgen’s ancestry is not in the Family Forest® yet, the ancestry of her husband Ted Danson (subject of my favorite ancestral coincidences [or not?] story is. So through marriage, Mary is related to both Hugh and Sarah Jessica.  

But the bigger and better story than how these three stars are related is about how so many individual fans are related to one or more of them through their own family ties. 

We’re looking forward to sharing these fun connections with more Family Forest® customers personally.

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Filed under Ancestry, Family Forest National Treasure, Family Forest® Project, Genealogy, Hollywood, Mary Steenburgen, National Treasure, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ted Danson, Who Do You Think You Are

Independence Day 2010

The Fourth of July always triggers many fun memories from childhood and later years that I cherish.

Yet I can’t help but wonder how much better those memories might have been, and how much more I would have paid attention in school, if it hadn’t taken more than 40 years to discover that I am personally connected through generation-by-generation family ties to the original Fourth of July and the struggle for American independence.

My wish is that our future leaders experience this enriching discovery while they are still in school, that this knowledge is given to them early enough in their life to make a meaningful impact in their lives and the lives of their families.

That is why the American Revolution has continued to be one of the top five focus areas of Family Forest® growth during the last 15 years.

It is also why we say that the Family Forest® National Treasure Edition can connect more people through family ties to more of the people, places, and events in American history than any other digital resource, either online or offline.

Happy Fourth of July!

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Filed under American Revolution, Ancestors, Ancestry, Family Forest National Treasure, Fourth of July, Genealogy, Independence Day

Early Long Island Ancestors of Celebrities in the National Treasure

A friend of ours is going to be exploring Long Island for the first time, and he asked if there was anything he could do to help spread the word about the Family Forest® Project while he was there. Some of you may enjoy knowing what I found when I explored in the National Treasure Edition for early Long Island ancestors and some of their notable descendants. You can see Ancestors-at-a-glanceÔ for many of those descendants listed below.

Samuel Blakeman PIN 107577: Matthew Fox, Jodie Foster  

Richard Borden PIN 284620: Tennessee Williams, Marilyn Monroe, Lizzie Borden, Lana Turner, Willie Nelson, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Christopher Van Hollen, Jr.  

William Bowne PIN 26736: President Abraham Lincoln, Senator Gary Hart

Alan Breed PIN 290857: David Hyde Pierce, Paul Giamatti, Vice President Dick Cheney  

Ensign Thomas Cornell PIN 246157: President Jimmy Carter, President Richard Nixon, Senator Bob Graham, Richard Henry Dana, Kyra Sedgwick, Edie Sedgwick, Marilyn Monroe, Lizzie Borden, Bill Gates, Senator John Kerry, Betty Grable  

John Hand PIN 502015: Frank Lloyd Wright, Anne Baxter, Ron Howard, Julie Bowen  

Barnabas Horton PIN 46455: Senator John Kerry, Jane Wyman, Patrick and Don Swayze, William Holden  

Thomas Lawrence PIN 331577: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt  

Captain William Lawrence PIN 98130: Christopher Reeve  

Judge Matthias Nicholls PIN 129015: Michael Douglas, Governor William Weld  

Louris Jansen Op Dyke PIN 504326: Shirley Maclaine, Warren Beatty  

Thomas Sayre PIN 43327: Jane, Peter, and Bridget Fonda, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., Admiral Dennis Blair, Marjorie Merriweather Post, Dina Merrill, Winston Churchill, Howard Dean  

Captain John Seaman PIN 327807: Clint Eastwood  

Lawrence Southwick PIN 281365: Winston Churchill, President Richard Nixon 

Lieutenant Nicholas Stillwell PIN 257162: Orville Wright, Wilbur Wright, Howard Hughes, Sonny Whitney (financier of Gone with the Wind), Anderson Cooper  

Dr. John Stites PIN 267240: Howard Hughes  

Thomas Talmadge PIN 62628: Dwayne Shattuck, Ernest Hemingway, Mariel Hemingway, Archibald Cox  

Captain Thomas Tappin PIN 119700: Cole Porter  

John Thompson PIN 284749: Lee Remick 

William Thorne PIN 43859: Sonny Whitney, Anderson Cooper, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator John Kerry, Betty Grable  

Robert Titus PIN 307171: Senator John Kerry 

Thomas Tobey PIN 274652: Raquel and Tahnee Welch 

Edward Treadwell or Tredwell PIN 43924: Steve Forbes  

Henry Tuthill PIN 17075: President Jimmy Carter, Elvis 

Captain Jan Thomasse Van Dyke PIN 43769: Vice President Hobart, Garry Trudeau, Oliver Platt, Maude Adams, Molly Ringwald, Paris and Nicky Hilton 

William Washburne PIN 523573: Senator Bob Dole, Ron Howard, Kevin Bacon, Senator John Kerry, President Richard Nixon, Johnny Carson, Walter P. Chrysler, Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal, Edwin Hubble 

Hon. Edward Howell PIN 46500: Jane, Peter, and Bridget Fonda, Howard Dean, Dick Clark, J.P. Morgan, Governor John D. Rockefeller IV

Daniel Whitehead PIN 559319: Sonny Whitney, Anderson Cooper

Thomas Whitney PIN 328293: Norman Rockwell, Mike Huckabee, both Presidents Bush, Bill Gates

Robert Williams PIN 523617: Senator Bob Dole, Ron Howard, Kevin Bacon

Barnabas Wines, Jr. PIN 327229: Jane Wyman, Patrick and Don Swayze, President Gerald Ford

Joris/George Woolsey PIN 352095: Senator John Kerry, Bill Gates 

Peter Wright PIN 5134: Elvis, Howard Dean 

Are you surprised that Long Island’s early settlers fathered offspring who would leave their marks so deeply etched in America’s culture and our history? To us, it is not surprising at all. We have daily access to the world’s most interconnected family history research tool: the Family Forest National Treasure Edition which, incidentally, is available online as a download.  Also, some of your ancestors probably have celebrity descendants, and you may want to check our website for our hundreds of ancestral history eBook titles with prices starting as low as $5.95.

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Filed under Ancestors, Ancestral History, Family Forest National Treasure, Genealogy, Long Island, National Treasure