Deep in the Heart of Texas

My brother and I each spent a very different day in Texas last week.

For him, the journey required a jet. For me, only books were needed.

For him, the trip was present day only. For me, the trip spanned more than a century and a half.

For him, he was only able to visit Fort Worth. I virtually visited Fort Worth, along with Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and The Alamo, the Hill Country, some of the world-famous Texas ranches, and many points in between.

He was able to meet only a few people IRL (in real life). I was able to see a wealth of fascinating Texas history through the lives of hundreds of Texans, a number of which are our cousins through our Montague ancestors. Some of them included Texas Rangers, America’s first lady Ambassador to Britain, the woman the Buick Electra was named after, political and business leaders, Civil War veterans, and a sports commentator.

I don’t know if he took any virtual side trips. My exploration triggered a number of pleasing recollections from my personal memory archives, including swimming in an absolutely crystal clear stream among the cypress trees on the outskirts of Wimberley.

I’m not sure what his mission was. My mission was to find, extend, and digitally map more Family Forest ancestral pathways into and out of Texas.

At the end of the day, numerous additional ancestral pathways that began in Rome, Scandinavia, England, France, Germany, New England, Virginia, etc. centuries earlier had reached Texas. Some of our neighbors who see me at the keyboard almost all the time are probably shaking their heads and thinking, “The poor guy never gets to go anywhere.” But they don’t need to feel sorry for me. At the beginning of each day, I am fortunate enough to be able to wonder “Where, and when, will my travels take me today?”

Don Juan

Last night Kristine and I tuned into the 1926 version of Don Juan on Turner Classic Movies. After listening to Robert Osborne’s enticing introduction, I wanted to just kick back and enjoy the movie. But it was not to be.

As with most classic movies I try to watch these days, I keep going back to the Family Forest 2002 Edition for historical perspective. I’m searching to see which of the characters and/or actors are already included in the Family Forest, and how they are related to other famous people and/or people who may also be watching the movie.

When I did a relatives search on the star of Don Juan, John Barrymore, it was not surprising to find his famous brother, Lionel Barrymore, and John’s granddaughter, E.T. star Drew Barrymore.

The surprises came when I was scrolling through the 3,404 names that appeared in the relatives Match List and found Humphrey Bogart, Sir Winston Churchill, Vice President Charles Dawes, President Pierce, both Presidents Adams, both Presidents Bush, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana.

I then did a relatives search on the co-star of Don Juan, Lucille V. “Mary Astor” Langshanke. Her list was much smaller (449 people) but I was surprised again, as I also found both Presidents Adams in her relatives Match List.

Two of the key characters in Don Juan are Lucrezia Borgia and her brother Cesare. Both are in the Family Forest 2002 Edition, and Lucrezia is the ancestor of another famous Hollywood actress, Brooke Shields.

While looking further at Brooke Shield’s ancestry (once I begin following my curiosity, it’s hard to stop), I found multiple ancestral lines leading back to the same Eleanor of Aquitaine who was an ancestor of Katharine Hepburn (and portrayed by Katharine in The Lion in Winter, see

Other than the inconvenience of running into the other room to check the computer, the Family Forest really enhances our enjoyment of classic movies, and continues to surprise us with the interconnected family ties of the casts, characters, and audience of Hollywood movies.