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?

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?

The Power of Goal Setting Proven by a US Senator

“I will pray to God to give me the resolution to persevere in this intention. I have communicated this to my mother and given her this paper to keep, so help me God.”

Long before Napoleon Hill wrote “Think and Grow Rich” at least one person was actually demonstrating the power of goal setting.

Often when Ancestry.com announces some discovery they have just made, I look in the Family Forest® and find that we already have most or more of that same information already networked. This time we were lacking Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.

So while searching for any ancestral history that links to Ann Coulter, I found an 1893 book titled Creoles of St. Louis.

The book starts with a young girl, Marie Therese Bourgeois, who was “Left an orphan at a tender age, was placed under the care of the Ursuline Nuns at New Orleans, La., where she married, in 1749, Rene Auguste Chouteau, a native of Bearn, France. He came to New Orleans in early youth and engaged in business, and at the time of his death was possessed of considerable means.”

Before I found out who the author was talking about, I ran into the following passage on page 118 about one of that young orphan girl’s descendants.

Upon his leaving home he left the following document with his mother: “St. Genevieve, Mo., Jan. 16, 1832. On this day I left home, under charge of Mr. William Shannon, an old friend of my father, to go to Kaskaskia to study law in the office of Judge Pope. My education is very limited, but with hard study I may overcome it; I am determined to try and my intention is to return to my native State to practice law if I can qualify myself, and while doing so to become U. S. Senator from my native State, and to work for this until I am sixty years of age. I will pray to God to give me the resolution to persevere in this intention. I have communicated this to my mother and given her this paper to keep, so help me God.” In January, 1873, he was elected U.S. Senator from Missouri, and in the April following he was sixty years of age.

That determined young man who actualized his goal was US Senator Louis Vital Bogy.

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.

Jack Nicholson’s Cousins and the Emmy Awards

Jack Nicholson has some known cousins who have been nominated for an Emmy at the 62nd Emmy Awards, according to his Family Forest® relationship report.

Jack Nicholson has some known cousins who have been nominated for an Emmy at the 62nd Emmy Awards, according to his Family Forest® relationship report.

These Emmy nominees include Glenn Close, Ted Danson, John Lithgow, Sissy Spacek, Alec Baldwin, and Georgia O’Keeffe (although she’s not up for an Emmy, the movie Georgia O’Keeffe is).

Certainly you will find Jack’s Family Forest® relationship report quite fascinating. After tens of thousands of hours of connecting the dots of recorded history, I can ask the computer for a list of all of the people that Jack has been linked to and Voila! (after a couple of hours of calulation and formating), a 5,715-page report appears with the names of over a quarter of a million different people from the last few thousands years of human history who are related to Jack.

Finding President Obama, myself, and over 1,200 knights that Jack is descended from or related to seems amazing enough, but you may be more interested in his family ties to the Hollywood community, both past and present.

Within this one computer-generated report, which spokes out with Jack at the hub, are thousands of well-known people who have profile pages at IMDb.com, and a surprising number of them have worked with him during his career on many popular films.

I found the main star from his upcoming film How Do You Know, one of the main stars from Something’s Gotta Give, two stars from The Departed, two stars from Mars Attacks!, China Kantner from The Evening Star, his co-star from Ironweed, a co-star from The Witches of Eastwick, the producer of The Shining, the author of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, and both of the co-stars from Easy Rider.

The Family Forest® Project is, among other objectives, Networking Family History with Hollywood (TM).

Are you or any of your ancestors, or some of your favorite Hollywood stars, already networked to Jack Nicholson in the Family Forest? You can find out now.

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.

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.

The Heart of Bruce

So two centuries earlier two of his ancestors set out on a mission to take the heart of another one of his ancestors to Jerusalem. Who was this guy with the colorful ancestral heritage?

No, this is not going to be a story about my own heart, but it is about a very memorable story, at least for me, concerning the heart of one of my ancestors. 

Almost every day I enter many facts into the Family Forest®. There are over 900,000 source citations in the National Treasure, so it’s safe to assume that I can’t remember many of them. But a few of them evoke a powerful visual image that stays with me. This is about one of them. 

Do you remember Robert I, also known as Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland [PIN 7910] from Braveheart? When he died, two of his companions in arms, Sir James Douglas, Lord of Galloway [PIN 29237] (known in Scotland as “the good Sir James Douglas” and in England as “the Black Douglas”) and William St. Clair, Lord of Rosslyn [PIN 29273] (remember Rosslyn Chapel from “The Da Vinci Code”?), set out on a mission to take the heart of Bruce to Jerusalem. 

This was a vivid image to me, reminiscent of Brad Pitt taking his brother’s heart home in Legends of the Fall, and Brooke Shields feeling the need to touch the container of her ancestor’s heart in Who Do You Think you Are? 

I wondered who these two great warriors were who would undertake such an unusual mission for their friend and king. So I clicked on “the Black Douglas” and asked for an 8-generation descendant view (the default setting) in the National Treasure. 

His descendant who caught my attention was Lord William Sinclair [PIN 29306] who died in 1570. I knew the surname Sinclair is a derivation of St. Clair, so I was curious to find out if this descendant of “the Black Douglas” was also a descendant of the companion of “the Black Douglas,” William St. Clair, Lord of Rosslyn.  

So I reversed direction by asking for a 10-generation ancestor view (the default setting). Sure enough, Lord William Sinclair is a descendant of both of them. More surprisingly, he is also a descendant in five different lines of Robert the Bruce.

So two centuries earlier two of his ancestors set out on a mission to take the heart of another one of his ancestors to Jerusalem. Who was this guy with the colorful ancestral heritage? 

I asked for a 20-generation descendant view (to reach down to present day) and I was really surprised this time. In one of the 941 boxes this chart filled in was my name! According to recorded history, it is one of my own ancestors who has this colorful ancestral heritage. He is also an ancestor of Princess Diana, Sarah Ferguson, Winston Churchill, Montgomery Clift, The Thornbirds star Rachel Ward, Admiral Dennis Cutler Blair, Prince Albert of Monaco, and Madonna’s son Rocco Ritchie. 

P.S. I hope I will be forgiven for not recognizing some of my own ancestors, as my own 40-generation ancestor view chart in the National Treasure fills in 3,074,306 boxes with the names of some of my ancestors.

Lost Cousin links to Ancestral Mother

I pulled up a 30-generation ancestor chart last night for my “Lost” cousin, Matthew Fox, to see if he has ancestral pathways into the new Robin Hood movie, and indeed he does.

I pulled up a 30-generation ancestor chart last night for my “Lost” cousin, Matthew Fox, to see if he has ancestral pathways into the new Robin Hood movie, and indeed he does. 

Right away I saw one of his ancestral pathways to one of my favorite ancestral mothers, who is portrayed in Robin Hood. Then I saw another, and another, and another. By the time I finished counting, I found that Matthew has at least 48 different ancestral pathways to Eleanor of Aquitaine in the Family Forest® National Treasure. 

There are 16 through King John (son of Eleanor by King Henry II), 30 through Eleanor (daughter of Eleanor by King Henry II), and two through Mary (daughter of Eleanor by King Louis VII of France). 

Seeing these types of connections all the time does not keep me from being surprised by new ones I am continually discovering in the Family Forest®. 

The Family Forest® Project is Networking Family History with Hollywood™, as well as with American and Old World history.

One of my favorite ancestral mothers

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
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!

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!

Brooke Shields on Who Do You Think You Are

Brooke Shields on Who Do You Think You Are
If you liked this show, you’ll love the Family Forest® National Treasure Edition. It continues on well beyond where the show leaves off.

My favorite quote from this episode was when Brooke said “Being able to find your place in the grand scheme of things, there’s something empowering about it.” That sums up exactly what we are delivering to customers, personal empowerment, by showing the one and only place our individual ancestors fit in the unfolding of history.

Thank you cousin Brooke. This was my favorite episode yet. And it was just like an infomercial for the Family Forest® Project, as those of you who explore the Family Forest® already know. 

If you liked this show, you’ll love the Family Forest® National Treasure Edition. It continues on well beyond where the show leaves off. 

In fact, if you click on Brooke in the National Treasure and ask for a 50-generation ancestor view, you will get a chart with 760,723 boxes filled in. Not only will you see many more kings and Saints on the chart, you will also see at least one Pope. 

As impressed as Brooke seemed when she discovered that her ancestor was the official banker to the Vatican, I hope she will be delighted to discover that another of her ancestors actually ran the Vatican. 

My favorite quote from this episode was when Brooke said “Being able to find your place in the grand scheme of things, there’s something empowering about it.” That sums up exactly what we are delivering to customers, personal empowerment, by showing the one and only place our individual ancestors fit in the unfolding of history. 

Many of Brooke’s ancestral pathways, including the one through King Henry IV of France, lead to Rome. 

Potential celebrity avatars for the Rome game, those who already link to ancient Rome through generation-by-generation ancestral pathways in the Family Forest®, are so numerous that they will be a dime-a-dozen in the virtual world. But the celebrity hostess avatar to the game, someone whose own ancestors lived in the Emperor’s Palace, could be omnipresent in the game. 

If you know Brooke’s agent, please pass along this blog. He or she will be glad you alerted them to the celebrity hostess avatar opportunity, and will be in a much better position to land Brooke a rewarding role portraying one of her own ancestors, as her cousin Katharine Hepburn has already done.