Category Archives: National Treasure

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

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

Virkus Clarification and Correction

Those of you who are unfamiliar with Virkus’ The Abridged Compendium of American Genealogy (later The Compendium of American Genealogy) should know what it is and what it isn’t, what’s wrong with it, and if there are any redeeming qualities.

In short, you should know the truth about it, and far more importantly, what’s been done to it recently since it was published more than a half century ago. 

This massive work in seven volumes, published over a decade and a half between the 1920’s and the 1940’s, maps out verbally an enormously large swath of generation-by-generation American family history over basically a three century period. 

Despite the potential ancestral history value that promises, and the fact that it is the one genealogy resource that can be found in most libraries, conventional wisdom these days says that it should be avoided like the plague. 

It has been known for a long time that it contains many errors, but I’ve never seen anyone quantify that statement. Is it 30% errors? 40%? 50%? The much lower answer may surprise you. 

But what if the correct answer was that it contains 50% errors? That would mean that one out of every two statements or dates is wrong. 

The glass-half-empty thinkers will say this massive genealogy resource is useless. The glass-half-full thinkers will say “Wow! Wouldn’t it be great if we knew which half of this massive genealogy resource is correct?” 

Highly respected genealogist Donald Lines Jacobus said about it “because of the high proportion of known errors, conscientious genealogists do not use statements in this work without verification.” 

“It is often a useful reference work for those who know how to use it properly” he went on to say. 

Suppose a conscientious person with Mensa-level intelligence spent 15 years digitally indexing, in lineage-linked format, the Virkus collection along with hundreds of other books and periodicals, filtering out annoying and confusing duplication, error checking each entry against everything else that had been previously entered, and connecting them to each other wherever appropriate? 

There’s no need to imagine the enormous upgrade in quality and usability that has already happened to Virkus’ massive work (as well as to hundreds of other books and periodicals, including many from NEHGS and NYGBR). Just explore for yourself in the National Treasure.

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Filed under Ancestors, Ancestral History, Compendium of American Genealogy, Family Forest National Treasure, Family Forest® Project, Genealogy, National Treasure

Civil War Hero to Receive Overdue Medal

Associated Press reported yesterday on an American heroism story that was 147 years in the making. It actually relates personally, literally, to many Americans. 

Alonzo Hereford Cushing has finally been approved to receive the Medal of Honor, 147 years after he fell in battle at Gettysburg. It’s been known for a long time that his actions were worthy of praise. 

Alonzo was the subject of a poem entitled “The Last Man At His Guns” that appeared in an 1895 book by Henry Stevenson Washburn called “The Vacant Chair and Other Poems.” 

I ran a Family Forest® kinship for Alonzo to see who he is known to be related to. There were over 37,000 people, including a very wide range of Americans, mostly everyday people, and some famous. 

They include President Abraham Lincoln (7C), Major-General John Sedgwick who was also at Gettysburg (6C), President U.S. Grant (6C2R), potential California governor Meg Whitman (6C3R), New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. (5C6R), Oscar-winning actress Jodie Foster (6C5R), baseball star Chase Utley (6C5R), Hollywood icon Raquel Welch (9C3R), astronaut Alan Shepard (6C4R), Admiral Dennis Blair (9C3R), Admiral George Dewey (7C2R), Vice President Aaron Burr (5C4R), both Presidents Bush (6C4R and 6C5R), President Grover Cleveland (6C), Vice President Charles Dawes (9C), President Millard Filmore (7C2R), President Gerald Ford (7C1R), President Herbert Hoover (6C3R), Orville and Wilbur Wright (6C2R), Admiral Richard Worsham Meade (6C), Samuel Holden Parsons who was a Major General in the American Revolution (Half 2C3R), other Revolutionary Generals Elisha Porter (3C5R) and Moses Porter (4C4R), and Civil War Generals Montgomery Cunningham Meigs (5C1R), Charles Edward Phelps (6C3R), Walter Cass Newberry (7C2R), Charles Jackson Paine (5C), Edward Porter Alexander (Half 5C), and William Tecumseh Sherman (6C1R). 

Kinship reports like these illustrate the fact that the Family Forest® can connect more families personally, through actual family ties, to more of the people, places, and events in American and Old World history than any other resource.

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Filed under Alonzo Hereford Cushing, Ancestors, Ancestral History, Civil War, Family Forest National Treasure, Genealogy, history, National Treasure

One of my favorite ancestral mothers

Maybe it’s because she was the first of my ancestors I saw portrayed in a movie (The Lion in Winter), and maybe it’s because she was portrayed by one of Hollywood’s most beloved icons (Katharine Hepburn), but at or very near the top of the list of my favorite ancestral mothers is Eleanor of Aquitaine. 

She was married to a king of France and a king of England, and was the mother of at least ten children, including two of history’s most remembered kings, Richard the Lionhearted, and King John who signed the Magna Charta. 

Eleanor is a very key gateway ancestor. Her ancestral pathways lead back thousands of years to and through exciting ancient worlds, some of which are already being re-created in 3-D virtual environments.

She is probably an ancestral mother of everyone who reads this. You can see Eleanor’s Ancestors-at-a-glance™ here

Moms have been making it all possible since before recorded history, and that’s why we are proud to emphasize them so strongly in the National Treasure. Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

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Filed under Ancestral History, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Family Forest National Treasure, Family Forest® Project, Genealogy, history, Hollywood, Mother's Day, National Treasure, Royalty, Uncategorized

Susan Sarandon on Who Do You Think You Are?

Kristine and I are eagerly awaiting the return of our new favorite program. We are very curious to find out where Susan Sarandon’s ancestral pathways lead. 

Anyone can now click on Susan’s sons in the Family Forest® National Treasure Edition and visually explore their paternal generation-by-generation ancestral pathways for thousands of years. 

In fact, her sons’ ancestral pathways lead to some of the same ancestors as another famous Hollywood actress who has previously portrayed Susan’s daughter, Who Do You Think You Are? co-star Brooke Shields. 

If you like Who Do You Think You Are?, you’ll love exploring in the Family Forest® National Treasure Edition. For some of the episodes (please see previous blog posts about Sarah Jessica Parker and Brooke Shields), it continues on well beyond where the program leaves off.

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Filed under Ancestral History, Family Forest National Treasure, Family Forest® Project, Genealogy, National Treasure, Sarah Jessica Parker, Susan Sarandon, Who Do You Think You Are

Disappointment turns to delight

Customer experiences like this make my day.  Since similar delightful experiences are already preserved and waiting for millions of others, including quite likely you and your family, I’d like to share this quick story with you. 

I was teaching a new Family Forest® National Treasure customer how easy it is to pull up a 35-generation descendant chart for his ancestor and mine, Edward I, Longshanks, King of England (the English king from Braveheart). 

This is an enormous chart that you can’t get on the Internet. It fills in over 154,000 boxes with the names of Longshanks’ descendants and the people they married, and it spans from the 1200s to in a number of cases, present day. 

The customer displayed this chart on his computer (which by the way is only one of countless millions of charts the National Treasure can generate), and he was disappointed. The chart did not reach down to him, yet. The closest connection he could find in the National Treasure was a pair of his great-great-grandparents. 

So I quickly generated a Family Forest® kinship report from the National Treasure for his great-great-grandmother, Mrs. Sophie (Hale) Camp (PIN 103549 for those of you who would like to try this at home), and emailed him this 604-page PDF report of exactly how his ancestor is related to 43,431 different people and who their common ancestor is. 

These relatives of our new customer include four signers of the Declaration of Independence, ten U.S. Presidents, several famous Civil War generals, Ransom Eli Olds (Oldsmobile), Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, Marjorie Merriweather Post (the key person responsible for bringing frozen food to our supermarkets), short-story writer O. Henry, Bill Gates, Hollywood actors Humphrey Bogart, Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood, Peter Fonda, Kurt Russell, Christopher Reeve, Matt Damon, Matthew Perry, and Tim Robbins, as well as many other readily recognizable people from human history. 

Suddenly he was delighted with what the Family Forest® National Treasure can display about his own family’s ancestral heritage. Similar delight can be expected by the millions of others who have their own great-great-grandparents, or closer, already lineage-linked into the National Treasure. 

And by the way, this name is not cutesy marketing puffery. It is called the National Treasure Edition because it can link more Americans personally, through generation-by-generation family ties, to more people, places, and events in human history than any other resource. 

Also, this kinship report is another example of why we say that the Family Forest® is Networking Family History with Hollywood.™

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

Sarah Jessica Parker on Who Do You Think You Are?

I highly recommend this great program for everyone. It gives an excellent preview of the positive life enriching discoveries waiting to be found by each person who seeks to know about the bigger picture of where we came from. 

More importantly from a Family Forest® perspective, if you liked this show, you’ll love the Family Forest® National Treasure Edition. It picks up where the show leaves off. 

For instance, consider just one of the intersections in Sarah Jessica Parker’s ancestry which was discussed in the program. His name is Samuel Elwell and he is PIN 327364 in the National Treasure. 

Not only is he one of Sarah Jessica Parker’s ancestors, but according to the  recorded history already mapped out in the National Treasure, he is one of the 5th-great-grandfathers of Norman Rockwell. 

As much as Sarah Jessica Parker seemed to enjoy the feeling of being American that she gained from her ancestral discoveries, she should be elated to know that she shares Elwell ancestors with the person who personified Americans for decades, Norman Rockwell. 

A much bigger surprise still awaits Sarah Jessica Parker and her Mom (Will someone please let them know?). According to recorded history, the wife of their Samuel Elwell is Mary Jones, daughter of Isaac and Deborah (Clark or Clarke) Jones. 

Mary’s 20-generation ancestor view in the National Treasure pulls up a chart that anyone should be proud to claim as their own. I know, I’m speaking from personal experience, as parts of her ancestor chart I recognize as also my own. 

This one map of some of the ancestral pathways of Sarah Jessica Parker covers some extremely interesting human history that Hollywood has been making great films of for decades. These include some of her ancestors in Braveheart and The Lion in Winter, one of which was portrayed by our Oscar-winning cousin. 

Sarah Jessica Parker and her Mom can now watch a famous movie of our cousin portraying our ancestor. This is an example of why we say that the Family Forest® is Networking Family History with Hollywood.™ 

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Filed under Ancestral History, Family, Family Forest, Family Forest® Project, Genealogy, Hollywood, National Treasure, Norman Rockwell, Sarah Jessica Parker, television, Who Do You Think You Are

Meryl Streep on PBS

 I am really looking forward to seeing the program about Meryl Streep’s ancestry on PBS later this month. With all of the resources at their disposal, will they reveal more of Meryl’s children’s illustrious ancestral heritage than the Family Forest® National Treasure Edition?

Will their 30-generation ancestor view of Meryl fill in more than 14,304 boxes with the names of people who, according to recorded history, her children would call grandmother or grandfather (preceded by some number of “greats”)? 

Will the program take her back to one of her ancestors that Katharine Hepburn portrayed

Will the program be able to connect her through family ties to one of her idols she did a TCM tribute to, Bette Davis?

Will the program be able to connect her through family ties to ancestors she shares with Julia Child, one of Meryl’s distant cousins she recently portrayed in Julie and Julia

Will the program be able to show any of her generation-by-generation pathways leading to the Emperor’s Palace in 320 A.D. Rome

As Jimmy Buffett so sagely says on Banana Wind, only time will tell.

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Filed under A People-Centered Approach To History®, Ancestors, Ancestral History, Family Forest National Treasure, Family Forest® Project, Genealogy, Julia Child, Julie and Julia, Meryl Streep, National Treasure, television