Scott_J on FamilyTreeCircles - journals

Scott_J on Family Tree Circles

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RAOGK is no more? Is there anything we can do here?

I read recently that the Random Acts of Genealogy Kindness website is gone indefinitely.

As reported by Dick Eastman, here: Random Acts of Genealogy Kindness (RAOGK) will be Offline for Some Time, the owner of that site said:

RAOGK has been around with our volunteers helping other genealogists get copies of documents required to prove your lineage back to Adam and Eve (giggle). Pictures of your ancestors' tombstones were also high on the lists of requests. I hope everyone got as much service as we were able to give. Our heart is saddened that we will be offline for quite awhile. Between computer problems (harddrive turning to toast) and the health of the administrator very questionable ... RAOGK, after 11 years, will cease to exist for awhile

Bridgett Schneider
RAOGK Administrator

I have often felt like FamilyTreeCircles is very similar to the service that the excellent RAOGK has provided for so many years.

With all deference to Bridgett, but given that there's no information on what's to come of, is there something that can be added to FamilyTreeCircles, a section, a feature, that would help fill the void, at least temporarily?

Having focused so much on FamilyTreeCircles for so long, and never wishing to compete with them, I never really looked much at ROAGK. So I look to the FamilyTreeCircles community to advise me on this.

What are your thoughts?


6 comment(s), latest 4 years, 1 month ago

Researching the JANGRO family originially of western MA. The name Jan...

Researching the JANGRO family originially of western MA. The name Jangro comes from GINGRAS, then JANGREAU.

Site layout change

I've changed the layout of the site so that it is a fluid design, rather than fixed width.

That's for two reasons: 1. the new sidebar just needs to be wider to accommodate the new content, and it was screwing things up with the fixed width because the content side got too narrow, and 2. the world is moving toward mobile, and a fluid layout will work better on mobile.

I've been around the site, but don't have every browser to test on. If you see anything that doesn't look good, please comment here and let me know, along with what browser you're using.


Some small changes on FTC

Hi All!

It's been a few years since we've done a server upgrade and in case things were getting a little sluggish here, we've upgraded today. You may have noticed the website was down for a while today while we made the move. We're all settled in and things seem to be going smoothly.

If you notice any issues, please do let me know.

Plus, being a little tired of the colors, I made some simple changes to the color scheme as well.

We're planning some bigger changes for later this year, so stay tuned for more news...

Scott and the FTC team.

Spam Spam Spam Spam

It's like a Monty Python skit around here!

I know that there has been a lot of spam here lately, and I thank the moderators who have been playing whack-a-mole trying to keep them at bay.

I've made a few small changes that I hope will thwart the majority of it.

If you see that something you post gets caught in a spam trap, please don't take it personally and know that I'll be keeping an eye on it. I apologize in advance for any false-positives that may happen.

55 comment(s), latest 2 years, 11 months ago

Spam update

This is a quick update to the spam situation that I'm wrestling with here on FamilyTreeCircles.

As mentioned a few days ago in this post, Spam Spam Spam Spam, I put in some checks to prevent blatant spam from getting posted to FamilyTreeCircles.

In just 4 days, 535 messages that appear to be spam were put into the manual review queue.

I've reviewed all of them (fun, fun) and only one well-meaning, legitimate user was negatively impacted. His posts have been approved. The rest deleted (that part really was fun).

I have to say that I'm pretty pleased with the results so far. I will be refining the algorithms to reduce the false positives going forward.

Here's to a spam-free FamilyTreeCircles.

76 comment(s), latest 4 years, 3 months ago

Spike Lee on Who Do You Think You Are?

Who Do You Think You Are - Crazy History - Video - you're in the U.S., did you watch this season's last episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" I haven't watched all the episodes yet, but this one, to me, was the most powerful. I guess that's why the saved it for last.

Film-maker and outspoken black-rights advocate, Spike Lee went on a journey to Atlanta, Georgia to learn about his slave roots on his mother's side.

As he uncovered his family history, he was confronted with some very powerful facts and ideas.

His GGrandfather Mars Jackson was a major land-owner after the emancipation, owning over 80 acres. He did not learn of why or how he lost that land.

His GGGrandfather worked in a Cotton Gin that was converted into a pistol factory. He was making pistols that were used against those who were fighting for his freedom.

That same GGGrandfather was taken by none other than General Sherman's army as they razed that town and pistol factory, and likely never heard from again.

His GGGrandmother was "Mulato" and likely the product of her mother being raped by their slave-owner.

He met his current, likely third cousin (twice removed), in real life and they had an emotional moment together on her sofa where they together faced the truths about the things that their ancestors did and lived through.

Thankfully, as far as I know, all of my ancestors were from New England and fought for the Union. I can only imagine how it must feel for genealogy researchers who have roots in the south to deal with the idea that their ancestors, not very long ago, had slaves and in many cases treated and traded them like objects.

As I watched this episode, I couldn't help but sing this verse of Ben Folds' "Rockin' the Suburbs" in my head.

     In a haze these days 
     I pull up to the stoplight 
     I can feel that something's not right 
     I can feel that someone's blasting me 
     With hate and bass 
     Sending dirty vibes my way 
     'Cause my great great great great granddad      
     Made someone's great great great great grandaddy slaves 
     It wasn't my idea 
     It wasn't my idea 
     It never was my idea 
     I just drove to the store 
     For some Preparation H

This episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" and the others can be seen on

Starting Over with Reunion for the Mac

Today, I decided to start fresh with my family tree and create a new one that contains only sourced records. I've got a tree that I've been building over the past 20 years that has over 1000 people in it. Big deal, because it is filled with the early mistakes that any newbie family tree researcher makes which is to merge trees from other researchers without regard for accuracy.

With that, I've created a new tree in my genealogy software and I'll be adding people slowly and deliberately, citing sources along the way as I pull the information from the old tree.

50E0F4A6-36CB-4D68-B7D2-770A6C1CFEF8.jpgI've also purchased a license of Reunion 9 for the Mac (I've switched to a Mac since I've been working on my tree in earnest). It figures, because just announced FTM for the Mac after all these years.

Literally decades have passed without FTM on the Mac. I purchase software and merely hours later, Ancestry makes that announcement. The story of my life.

That's ok, as a Mac user I'm used to spending lots of money.

1 comment(s), latest 6 years, 6 months ago

The 1940 U.S. Census Index is Complete announced on Friday that the 1940 U.S. Census is 100% indexed.

You can now search the entire 1940 index for free, all 48 states (Hawaii and Alaska were not states yet) plus territories. A free account is required, but word is that Ancestry will make this index free through 2013.

According to

Our indexing came up with 134,395,545 people counted. Most reports on the 1940 census give the U.S. population as 132 million and change, so you may be wondering where the extra 2 million people came from. Two words: Puerto Rico. OK, and Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Panama Canal Zone. They were all included in the 1940 U.S. census and add another 2.1 million or so records to the final count.

I've found all of my grandparents. How about you?

Search the 1940 index directly here.

5 comment(s), latest 2 years, 7 months ago

Thrice WeddedOnce Bedded

Thrice WeddedOnce Bedded

In the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries marriage amongst the Upper and Middle classes was not so much a matter of personal attraction but more a matter of ownership of property and of money. When Joceline Percy, 11th Earl of Northumberland, died his only child, Elizabeth, became the most desirable heiress in the Kingdom. Elizabeth's mother had scant influence in her upbringing which was taken over by her grandmother, the formidable and well-connected, Elizabeth Howard. A marriage was arranged between the 13 year old Elizabeth Percy and Henry Cavendish, Earl of Ogle, who was two years older. The marriage was not consummated and the couple were immediately parted to await the time that they had reached a degree of maturity. It was never to be as the young earl was soon to die.

Elizabeth's grandmother lost little time in assessing the ranks for a likely second husband for the girl who was now 15 years of age. The selected groom was the very rich Thomas Thynne of Longleat, "Tom o' Ten Thousand." When the pair met for the first time at the home of a Major Brett on 14th July 1681, they were straight away married by special licence. Once again before the marriage was consummated, Elizabeth was whisked away, this time to the Netherlands by Lady Dorothy, the wife of Sir William Temple, who was ambassador to the Hague. Sir William's secretary was a distant relation, Jonathan Swift.

Europe was in its usual state of ferment and was a place of opportunity for soldiers of fortune. One such of these was John Philip Knigsmark, a Swedish subject. A look at the Knigsmark family will outline their place in European history. John Philip's older brother was accused of an intrigue with Sophia Dorothea, wife of George, the Elector of Hanover and future King of England. She was divorced and locked up in the castle at Zelle. One of John Philip's sisters, Aurora, became the mistress of Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. He was reputed to have had 350 children. Hisson by Aurora became the famous Marshal Saxe. Aurora was made abbess of the convent at Quedlingburgh, in Austria.

John Philip, although penniless, had some idea of gaining the hand and fortune of Elizabeth Percy Thynne. The fly in the ointment was Tom o' Ten Thousand. Konigsmark recruited three desperadoes to assassinate Tom and this was accomplished by discharging a musketoona sort of blunderbussinto his carriage as they waylaid it in Pall Mall. Tom was mortally wounded and died the next morning.

The three villains were soon arrested and Knigsmark was apprehended trying to leave the country. Arraigned as an accessory, he was acquitted by the intervention of the King of Sweden. The other three were hanged in Pall Mall at the scene of the crime.

There is a memorial depicting the murder in Westminster Abbey. A mock epitaph appeared in the London coffee houses:

"Here lies Tom Thynne of Longleat Hall
Who never would have miscarried,
Had he married the woman he lay withal
Or lain with the woman he married."

Elizabeth's third marriage was to Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset. She was appointed Mistress of the Robes to Queen Anne and had great influence at Court.
Swift throwing caution to the winds and in his cynical and satirical manner, wrote the following:

"And dear England if aught I understand
Beware of carrots from Northumberland;
Carrots sown Thynne a deep root might set
If so they be in Somer set,
There Conyngs mark thou; for I have been told
They assassinate when young, poison when old."

This seems to implicate Elizabeth and he was in the Hague and in a position to know. Elizabeth wrought her revenge on Swift by using her influence with Queen Anne to deny him the bishop's mitre he so much wanted. He remained Dean of St Patricks, Dublin, until his death.

The Northumberland succession passed to the 7th Duke of Somerset, son of the 6th Duke and Elizabeth.