$100 Million Legacy Released a Century Later

Hon. Wellington R. Burt, a large timber baron in Michigan, died in 1919 and left his fortune to his family. Nothing unusual about that. But one condition stipulated in the will brought this large legacy into the news in 2011.

There was an interesting story this week about one of the most unusual wills in American history. It appears that about a century ago, one of the richest men in America must have been very upset with his immediate family.

Hon. Wellington R. Burt, a large timber baron in Michigan, died in 1919 and left his fortune to his family. Nothing unusual about that. But one condition stipulated in the will brought this large legacy into the news in 2011.

Wellington Burt’s fortune was not to be distributed to his family heirs until 21 years after all of his grandchildren who were living in 1919 had died. That condition has just been met, and the $100 to $110 million legacy is about to be released.

You may be surprised to see who has family ties to this history book event. Within the 25,000 plus relatives in the Family Forest kinship report (see question number ten) of Hon. Wellington R. Burt are a number of instantly recognizable names.

Some of the other wealthy Americans are Wall Street icon Warren Buffett (7C3R), AOL founder Steve Case (6C3R), Mrs. King Ranch Henrietta Maria Morse Chamberlain (7C), firearms manufacturer Colonel Samuel Colt (7C), department store heir Marshall Field V (6C3R), Wall Street legend JP Morgan (7C1R), and eBay executive Meg Whitman (7C3R).

Some of the entertainers are Humphrey Bogart (8C1R), Spring Byington (6C2R), Agatha Christie (6C2R), Cindy Crawford (8C4R), Bruce and Laura Dern (8C2R & 8C3R), Jane and Peter Fonda (6C3R), Matthew Fox (6C5R), Dorothy and Lillian Gish (6C4R), Ernest Hemingway (8C2R), Dennis Hopper (6C5R), Tom Mix (6C2R), Anthony Perkins (6C3R), Robert Redford (6C5R), Christopher Reeve (5C4R), Tim Robbins (6C5R), Pat Robertson (7C4R), Tennessee Williams (6C2R), and Jonathan Winters (6C4R).

And some of the politicians are both Presidents Bush (7C2R & 7C3R), Rep. Ed Case (6C3R), Sir Winston Churchill (6C2R), President Grover Cleveland (6C1R), Vice President Charles Curtis (6C1R), Vice President Charles Gates Dawes (7C2R), President Gerald Ford (6C3R), President Richard Nixon (8C3R), Governor Sarah Palin (6C5R), President Franklin Pierce (5C1R), Vice President Nelson Rockefeller (6C3R), Governor Mitt Romney (5C4R), and President William Howard Taft (8C1R).

I am a 7C4R of Hon. Wellington R. Burt, and the Family Forest® is a People-Centered Approach To History®.

Lionel Richie on WDYTYA

The part I like best is watching Lionel’s delight while giving his children the gift of knowledge about some of their own ancestral heritage.

I also like knowing that there is so much more to the story waiting for Lionel’s family.

One of my top two favorite episodes so far this season on ABC’s Who Do you Think You Are?

The part I like best is watching Lionel’s delight while giving his children the gift of knowledge about some of their own ancestral heritage.

I also like knowing that there is so much more to the story waiting for Lionel’s family.

I wonder how they will react when they discover that, according to recorded history, they are almost certainly descended from royalty and they actually share ancestors with recent WDYTYA subject Tim McGraw?

The program tells us that Lionel’s ancestor John Louis Brown was almost certainly either the son, or the grandson, of Dr. Morgan Brown. Dr. Brown is descended from Sir Anthony Browne, Viscount Montagu.

If you click on Viscount Montagu (PIN 27986 in the Family Forest National Treasure and ask for a ten generation ancestor view, you will see his generation-by-generation ancestral pathway leading to Edward I Longshanks, King of England (portrayed in Braveheart), through his grandson, Edward III.

You will also see another see another ancestral pathway leading to Longshanks through one of his granddaughters, Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent.

If you ask for a 20-generation descendant view of Viscount Montagu, you will see some lines of descent to some famous cousins of Lionel, including President FDR, Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, Senator John Kerry and Senator John Edwards, Queen Elizabeth II, Sarah Ferguson, Cary Elwes, Winston Churchill, Princess Diana, and “The Thornbirds” star Rachel Ward.

If Lionel’s ancestor John Louis Brown was the son of Dr. Morgan Brown, you can click on Dr. Brown’s wife Elizabeth Little  (PIN 282063 in the Family Forest National Treasure and ask for a twenty generation ancestor view. You will see her generation-by-generation ancestral pathway leading to Robert I, King of Scotland (also portrayed in Braveheart).

If you like Who Do you Think You Are?, you will enjoy visually exploring the National Treasure to see what we mean when we say that the Family Forest Project is Networking Family History with Hollywood™.

Tim McGraw on WDYTYA

The Family Forest® is now capable of generating a huge number of relationship charts connecting Tim and his children through common ancestors to most of the key people, places, and events in human history,…

This is another worthwhile and well-done episode from the team that creates the Who Do you Think You Are? program on NBC.

My favorite part is seeing how proudly people react to discovering and sharing with relatives that they have actual family ties to historical places, historical events, and real historical figures, and in this case, to two of Tim’s heroes.

It was interesting watching the story unfold leading up to being able to tell Tim that his hero George Washington knew Tim’s ancestors, and another one of Tim’s ancestors came to America with one of Elvis’ ancestors.

I wonder how Tim and his family will react when they discover that, according to recorded history, they actually share ancestors with George Washington, Elvis Presley, General Patton, Reese Witherspoon, and many other well-known people?

The Family Forest® is now capable of generating a huge number of relationship charts connecting Tim and his children through common ancestors to most of the key people, places, and events in human history, as well as to many of Tim’s entertainment collegues, and probably even more importantly, to Tim’s fans and potential fans.

The Kindness of Strangers

While we’ll never know the answer to that, we do know something else for certain. History pivots on small events, including the kindness of a stranger.

A new Family Forest® customer wrote “Actually, I had no idea about that. Thank you so much! That’s fabulous! Most of my information is from census records and marriage records, which, as you know, are quite impersonal. I will definitely have to check out that book.” 

Elizabeth was writing about a story our ancestral history tour guide service discovered about one of her own ancestors. 

With two of his brothers and their father, young Samuel Boyd was in a skirmish in South Carolina in the American Revolution. He was left for dead after a musket ball passed through his temple and took out his right eye. An old colored woman found him and took care of him until he was able to get away. 

He did not have any children at the time, but after surviving a shot to the head, he went on to become an early pioneer settler in Kentucky and father of a large family of children who became the ancestors of many living people today. 

What if that kind old colored woman had not befriended Samuel at that critical time? Would his descendants have never been born? Or would they have been born as someone else? 

While we’ll never know the answer to that, we do know something else for certain. History pivots on small events, including the kindness of a stranger. 

The story about Samuel’s pivotal Revolutionary event and his ensuing full life begins on page 121 in the 1892 Autobiography and Sermons of Elder Elijah Martindale by Belle Stanford.

It is Well with My Soul

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.

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?

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?

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?

An Important Message and Lesson

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?

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.

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…
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.
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.

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®.

Before there was a U.S.S. 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).

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?

Explaining the Unbelievable

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.

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.