Last Captain’s Log

It’s time this web log from the last century finally moved into the 21st century future with a name change and a new location. The new Captain’s Log blog can be found at and it is now called Your Future, Your Past.

Thank you for following our progress as we have been creating the future of the past and
moving your ancestral heritage into the digital future.

Please continue following our progress by requesting these free Family Forest®
six- degrees-of-separation-type short stories at Your Future, Your Past.

History, and most especially your own ancestral history, can and should be fun and personally enriching. We hope to help make it that way for you and your family.

Six Degrees’ Kevin Bacon Connections in the Family Forest®

After listening to Kevin Bacon at Entertainment Weekly talk about his objectives for the just launched, I instructed the Family Forest® to list who is already connected through family ties to Kevin, and to calculate their exact relationship. A few mouse-clicks brought up a number of surprising connections.

Kevin shares ancestors in the Family Forest® now with some other Hollywood celebrities, including Ron Howard, Johnny Carson, and Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal. Kevin’s political cousins include: Senator Bob Dole, President Nixon, and both Presidents Bush. He also shares ancestors in the Family Forest® now with some famous historical figures, including architect Stanford White and astronomer Edwin Powell Hubbell.

His wife, “The Closer” star Kyra Sedgwick, has many more “six degree-type” family ties to people she shares ancestors with currently in the Family Forest® including:

Louisa May Alcott
Senator Evan Bayh
Lizzie Borden
Spring Byington
President Jimmy Carter
Dick Clark
Emily Dickinson
John Foster Dulles
Lee De Forest
Clint Eastwood
President Millard Fillmore
Bill Gates
Richard Gere
George Gilder
Dorothy and Lillian Gish
Senator Bob Graham
President U. S. Grant
Melville Bell Grosvenor
VP Hannibal Hamlin
President Warren G. Harding
John Hinckley, Jr.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Dina Merrill
J. P. Morgan
VP Levi Morton
Marilyn Monroe
Georgia O’Keeffe
Matthew Perry
Oliver Platt
Marjorie Merriwether Post
VP Dan Quayle
Chief Justice Rehnquist
Norman Rockwell
Governor Mitt Romney
President F. D. Roosevelt
Brooke Shields
Lowell Thomas
Prince Harry
Prince William
Tennessee Williams
Owen Wister
(in addition to many thousands of people, including quite possibly you!)

The Family Forest® shows how very true it is; we are very connected. Kristine and I wish much success in promoting this truth for the benefit of others.

The Future of the Past

What does the future hold in store for the past? Fun? Excitement? Positive, even life-changing discoveries? You can be certain of it!

Evidence abounds that since at least the time of the building of the great pyramids, and the writing of the Old Testament, knowing and passing along ancestral history has been of great importance and is precious to humanity.

A recent content acquisition and a just awarded contract confirm that the value of ancestral history continues to be treasured greatly today.

The stories of our ancestors began moving into our digital future only about three decades ago. Different strategies are being followed. Some of them are fleeting, and will certainly be replaced by better strategies. What are the available choices?

Content and the Future

A. Pre-Digital Content: Recorded thoughts, beliefs, images, and sounds that are not yet upgraded to digital.

B. Stage-One Digital Content: This is Pre-Digital Content that has been processed into digital format and is displayable on computers, but not yet searchable via computers – unless done through external “tags” which have to be manually added.

C. Stage-Two Digital Content: Stage-One Digital Content that has been processed through OCR (Optical Character Recognition) or similar software, and has transformed to become internally searchable via computers.

D. Stage-Three Digital Content: Content, often processed directly from Pre-Digital, which has been thoughtfully organized and precisely stored in a format which allows it to be processed via computers. Only Stage-Three Digital Content can generate detailed intelligent answers to specific queries. Equally, or more important, only Stage Three Digital Content is able to generate new, high-quality Stage-Two Digital Content that has never existed before. This new content creation may be thought of as data-mining.

For instance, if you want to know the exact family ties of Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen to Hollywood icons Clint Eastwood and Richard Gere, you can receive the answers from just a couple of mouse-clicks in the Stage Three content of the Family Forest®. A few additional mouse-clicks will show you maps of the generation-by-generation family ties connecting these stars to their shared ancestors. A couple more mouse-clicks will show you ……

This shows the power, and points to the great intrinsic value of Stage-Three Digital Content, and is the future of the past.

The Family Forest® Project is, and has been for almost twelve years, strategically utilizing advancing technology to showcase and pass along valuable ancestral history knowledge in a vastly superior format. What’s more, it does this in the fun and engaging way that future generations will use to explore their ancestral heritage.

Please stay tuned.

Pearl Harbor

Just after preparing a Family Forest® Kinship Report for a friend’s 11 year old son, the Pearl Harbor movie came on TV last evening. We were only able to watch the first hour before the 57th Annual Emmy Awards came on, but the coincidences seemed dramatic, and I wondered how they might have impacted me when I was eleven.

I had just finished scrolling through Jesse’s 846-page Family Forest Kinship Report looking for some of his relatives who might be of interest. I found quite a few recognizable distant cousins, including Alec Baldwin, Countess Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump (General Tom Thumb’s 32-inch tall wife), Julia Child, Bing Crosby, Queen Elizabeth I, Richard Gere, Charles Dana Gibson (creator of the Gibson girl), President Ulysses S. Grant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Batterson Stetson (the hat manufacturer), Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. (publisher of the New York Times), Brigadier-General John Swift (entered the American Revolution at the age of 15), General Joseph G. Swift (first person to graduate from West Point), Raquel Welch, Orson Welles, and three signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Within the first hour of the Pearl Harbor movie, two of Jesse’s cousins either appeared, or were portrayed. The first was a Hollywood actor he shares 1600’s New England ancestors with, Alec Baldwin, portraying General Jimmy Doolittle who became famous for his daring raid on Tokyo. Coincidentally, within just a few hours later Alec Baldwin appeared on the 57th Annual Emmy Awards Show.

The second was one of the most popular U.S. Presidents that Jesse also shares 1600’s New England ancestors with, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, being portrayed by Hollywood actor Jon Voight. Coincidentally, within just a few hours later, the HBO movie about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Warm Springs, won the 2005 Emmy Award for the best Made for Television Movie.

As counterintuitive as it may sound, everyone has cousins in Hollywood, and everyone has cousins who did something outstanding that history remembers them for.

How much intellectual curiosity might be stimulated, how much inspiration might be provided, and how much of a difference might it make if our future leaders discover this truth at the age of 11?

Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe

Long before they starred together in “River of No Return,” and even before they ever met, Marilyn Monroe was making sandwiches for Robert Mitchum.

It seems odd to even picture Marilyn Monroe fixing meals in a kitchen, but why was she making sandwiches for someone who she had never met?

Before World War II, and long before Robert Mitchum became a Hollywood icon, he was a struggling actor (and expectant father) who took a job at the Lockheed Aircraft plant in Burbank, CA. He was partnered with another machine operator, Jim Dougherty.

Jim’s girlfriend (and soon-to-be wife) used to throw an extra sandwich or two in Jim’s lunchbox for his hungry working buddy, Robert Mitchum. She was Norma Jean Baker, who became one of the most recognized and internationally famous Hollywood icons, Marilyn Monroe.

Los Angeles was a much smaller place in those days, and considering the intricate web of ties that led to me entering Robert Mitchum into the Family Forest (no one gets into the Family Forest unless they are related by birth, marriage, or occasionally adoption, to someone who is already in the Family Forest), I shouldn’t have been too surprised by this seemingly very coincidental early connection between these two famous icons.

I had previously looked through Lee Server’s “Robert Mitchum: ‘Baby, I Don’t Care’” for family ties to enable me to add him, but was unable to find any. Then a Kevin Bacon six-degrees-of-separation chain of family ties grew from Steve McQueen to allow me to enter Robert Mitchum and his family.

According to recorded history, Steve McQueen is descended from royally-descended Captain Roger Mallory of VA (also a Tom Hanks and Sissy Spacek ancestor), who was already in the Family Forest lineage-linked to his royal ancestors. One of Steve McQueen’s wives was Ali MacGraw. She was also married to Robert Evans who was also married to Catherine Oxenberg.

Catherine Oxenberg, who has been in the Family Forest lineage-linked to her royal ancestors for years, is now married to Casper Van Dien (the 20th Tarzan, and now their two daughters, appearing in Lifetime’s new “I Married A Princess” television show, are now lineage-linked to Tarzan creator, Edgar Rice Burroughs). Casper Van Dien’s earlier wife was Carrie Mitchum, granddaughter of Robert Mitchum, whose two great-grandchildren are also appearing in Lifetime’s new show “I Married A Princess.”

So now on Monday nights on Lifetime, you can see Marilyn Monroe’s first husband Jim Dougherty’s working buddy Robert Mitchum’s great-grandchildren on TV. You can also use the next Family Forest to visually explore maps of generation-by-generation family ties connecting them to each other, and to so many others.


Could the success of the hugely popular Cheers television show be due to genes?

Could Ted Danson’s excellence in the role of Sam Malone be due to his own ancestry?

While I was adding Ted Danson’s family and their ancestral history into the Family Forest® I came across an interesting story about one of his 5th great-grandfathers, Thomas Allen.

During the American Revolution and afterwards, Thomas Allen was the proprietor of a popular establishment in New London, CT “where everybody knows your name.”

On page 218 of the July 1920 edition of The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, one paragraph says:

Caulkin’s History of New London, pp. 578-9, states: “Allen’s Marine List was esteemed a valuable appendage to Greene’s newspaper. He enlivened the dull record of entries and clearances with maxims, witticisms and sudden insertions of extraneous matter which were often grotesque and amusing. The list commenced in 1770. During the Revolutionary War, he [Thomas Allen] kept a public house on Main Street, and the marine list renewed Jan. 1, 1785. This house was regarded as the center of good living and convivial brotherhood. Here was to be heard the latest news, the freshest anecdote, the keenest repartee: here was served up the earliest and best game of the season, the January salmon, the eighteen pound black fish, trout, woodcock and wild duck, in advance of every other table. It was then much then in vogue for gentlemen of the town to dine together in clubs. The following advertisement from Greene’s Gazette gives notice of the re-opening of the City Coffee House: ‘City Coffee House reopened by Thomas Allen, next door to Captain Joseph Packwood’s, where can be had drink for the thirsty, food for the hungry, lodging for the weary, good stabling for horses. Said Allen has also in supply of choice Madeira Lisbon and Port wines for the benefit of the sick and weakly, and good horses to let to merciful riders.’ ”

Which of your own ancestors might have lived lives very parallel to yours, and in some meaningful way might have prepared you for excellence in a particular endeavor?

32nd Annual American Music Awards

As the press release about the American Music Awards will say in couple of days, the latest and greatest Family Forest®, the amazing Leadership Edition, has been selected for the prestigious Celebrity Gift Bags for the 32nd annual American Music Awards on Sunday night.

When I looked at the list of performers and presenters to see which celebrities will be receiving the Family Forest® Leadership Edition, I instantly spotted William Shatner.

His Star Trek character changed my life for the better by stimulating me to become much more of a futurist, and believe it or not, an observation from Star Trek provides one of the fundamental concepts guiding the growth of the Family Forest®. Also, these reports on our mission to explore ancestral history are called the Captain’s Log because of William Shatner.

Now I may get a chance to return the favor. I’m hoping William Shatner will gain one or more personally enriching new perspectives from the Family Forest® Project that will change his life for the better. The potential is there for him, and for everyone else looking for discoveries.

For one example, appearing with him on Sunday nights in Boston Legal is co-star Rene Auberjonois (my 16th cousin once removed). Rene Auberjonois (also a Star Trek veteran) is now connected through family ties, according to professionally recorded ancestral history, to over 138,000 different people in the Family Forest® (including recent Presidential candidates).

Some of Rene Auberjonois’ ancestors are certain to also be William Shatner’s ancestors, as well as the ancestors of many people watching Boston Legal, many people watching the 32nd annual American Music Awards, and many people reading this Captain’s Log.

The Family Forest® Project is about much more than connecting people to their own ancestors. It’s also about mapping the many other ancestral pathways leading back down from their own ancestors to stars and celebrities in newspapers, in magazines, on the radio, on TV, and in the movies; it’s about connecting large audiences to events and celebrities.

Discovering your own family ties to particular stars and celebrities will make you much more aware of who they are and when they will be appearing, and will enhance your enjoyment of their performances.

Virkus: Fact or Fiction?

I basically agree with Dick Eastman’s comment about Virkus in his recent review of the new Family Forest® Leadership Edition. The seven-volume “Compendium of American Genealogy” by Frederick Adams Virkus does contain a very large number of errors.

But should that lead to the conclusion that the enormous amount of ancestral history information Virkus collected should be totally ignored?

Anyone who spends literally thousands of hours digitally indexing and cross-checking a sizable amount of the ancestral history in Virkus’ Compendiums, as I have, will find them to contain a great deal of real value.

In fact, they will discover that the majority of the statements and connections in Virkus agree with the statements and connections in publications created by the New England Historical and Genealogical Society (NEHGS), The American Genealogist, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and a number of the most respected genealogists of past and present, including members of the National Genealogical Society’s Hall of Fame.

Suppose one in four statements and connections in Virkus is wrong (I don’t think it’s anywhere near that much). This sounds terrible from a glass-half-empty perspective, but from a glass-half-full perspective, this means that 75% of the information in this enormous work is correct.

The difficult and time-consuming task is in separating the good from the bad. In the digital age, once one person has done that, others can take advantage of the good parts without being mislead by the bad parts.

My informed opinion is, if the errors and repetitions are removed from Virkus, if the implied knowledge is replaced with more complete information from newer and better sources, and if tens of thousands of dead ends are connected to external sources that extend ancestral pathways for centuries, the very large foundation laid by Virkus becomes extremely valuable.

This is one part of the ancestral history tour guide service the Family Forest® Project is performing almost every day. As it says on the CD cover, Family Forest is hand-crafted distilled knowledge, digitally mapped, about who said what about whom when and where.

There are currently 143,584 source citations from Virkus in the Family Forest®, which represents less than 18.5% of the more than 778, 500 source citations in the Family Forest®. Each one of them, plus many more we will be adding, is only there until the moment better or more complete information from another source replaces it.

Seeing is Believing

A lifetime of learning and common knowledge has taught us that it just can’t be true. It is impossible, isn’t it?

One person can’t really have actual family ties to the Wright Brothers, both Lewis and Clark, Francis Scott Key, more than 40 U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents, 24 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 20 signers of the Magna Charta, Lee and Grant and other military leaders from many of the most famous battles in history, Prince William and Prince Harry, the author of “Alice in Wonderland” plus dozens of other authors and artists, Walt Disney, dozens of past and present Hollywood celebrities, and people from the Bible, can he or she?

Actually, if the ancestral history recorded over the centuries by many of the most respected experts of their time is to be believed, the answer is definitely yes. And the generation-by-generation connections can now be seen in the Family Forest®.

Kinship reports generated by the world’s most interconnected digital resource for ancestral history (the Family Forest®) show that Senator Kerry is, President Bush is, both Prince Charles and Princess Diana are, and most hereditary heirs of European thrones are.

Family Forest® kinship reports also show that dozens of past and present Hollywood celebrities are, including Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Olivia de Havilland, Bette Davis, Lucile Ball, Lee Marvin, Orson Wells, Joanne Woodward, Brooke Shields, Oliver Platt, Michael Douglas, Jamie Lee Curtis, and others.

More surprising is the number of everyday people (friends, co-workers, people at the supermarket and mall, etc.) who share so many of these actual family ties to important human history. This surprise came to me late primarily because of just one fact.

The vast majority of the growth of the Family Forest® has been earlier than 1850. In general, the ancestral pathways we have extended to present day so far have been to famous people.

Even though tens of millions of people have far more of their own ancestral pathways mapped out in the Family Forest® now than they can see anywhere else, their personal connection points are usually one to three centuries ago.

As we have begun responding to customer requests to extend specific ancestral pathways down to their immediate family, we found that we can offer parents and grandparents a priceless gift of family heritage for them to pass along to their children and grandchildren. This gift was not possible before, and it cannot be found anywhere else.

These fortunate children will be able to start with themselves and point-and-click travel through ancestral pathways to discover and explore their own actual family ties to a very large number of the famous people and events they will study in school.

I can’t help but wonder how much richer my life might have been if I had been given this intriguing personalized resource to ignite my intellectual curiosity at an early age while I was still in school.

The Last King

“The Last King” premiered on A&E last night. It was about the life and times of Charles II, King of England, and many of the family members, friends, and enemies whose lives were intertwined with his.

It is difficult for Kristine and me to imagine watching a movie like this without being able to enhance our enrichment by exploring the Family Forest digital maps of the ancestral pathways leading to and from those people.

Who were they? Where did they come from? Who were their descendants? What are some of those descendants doing today?

Before the movie, we checked the Family Forest to set the stage for what we were going to be watching. Some preliminary thoughts were shared last week. Other discoveries were found during and after the movie.

For historical perspective, Family Forest 20-generation ancestor charts can fill in 39,169 boxes for the wife of Charles II, Catherine of Braganza, 135,252 boxes for the mother of Charles II, Henrietta Maria of France, and 130,472 boxes for the father of Charles II, Charles I, King of England.

Sir Edward Hyde, Lord High Chancellor of England and tutor to Charles II in exile, is lineage-linked to at least one internationally known celebrity descendant in the Family Forest, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. In addition to having been the wife of a Prince, she has been the spokeswoman for Weight Watchers and a presenter at the 2004 Golden Globe Awards.

At least five more of Sarah Ferguson’s ancestors, according to the ancestral history mapped out in the Family Forest, were portrayed in the movie. They were Charles II, one of his mistresses and their son, and Charles’s parents.

The sister of Charles II, Henrietta Anne, married Philip I, Duke of Orleans, and became the ancestor of King Michael of Rumania and King Juan Carlos of Spain. The brother of Charles II, James II, is one of the ancestors of Princess Diana.

Searching for the titles of the nobility mentioned in the movie also adds interesting perspective, and sets the stage for greater understanding of the characters and the historical events.

There are probably more than ten million living descendants from just the named characters in this movie, and probably more than one hundred million more living descendants from the unnamed characters surrounding them.

Being able to visually see maps of the ancestral pathways leading to and from the people who lived at that exciting point in history can greatly enhance enjoyment of movies like “The Last King.”