Scott_J on Family Tree Circles

sort: Date Alphabetical
view: full | list

Journals and Posts

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 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 3 years, 4 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 5 years, 7 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 1 year, 8 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 Königsmark, a Swedish subject. A look at the Königsmark 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 Königsmark 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.

Welcome to

Hello and Welcome. is a new approach to an old technique of Genealogy Research on the Internet: Community and Sharing.

All over the Internet are groups of people sharing genealogy information. Email lists, message boards, websites. Email lists and message boards are great ways to communicate with a community of people, but what happens to the information that has gone by. I personally subscribe to 3 rootsweb mailing lists and the vast amount of information that flows by there every week is incredible. And if I'm not paying attention to every message that goes by, I'll miss something.

Message boards have a similar problem. I watch message boards for a few surnames, but the informations is provided only in chronological order and in message format.

Personal family research websites are great. But it takes a special dedication and talent to create a useful website, never mind find the time to do all that work in addition to the genealogy research that we already don't have time for! Finding those websites can be a big challenge and possible only if Google and the search engines have found it first and include it in their search results.

So as we all research and discover our family history, most of us just write it down or type it in and store it away in our computers and filing cabinets.

So we thought, why not allow researchers an easy way to store online the information that they're storing at home. Organize the information by user, in categories, and by surname.

That way, once you find a researcher who's information you're interested in, you can keep a close eye on that without having to watch information you don't need from countless others.

And you, as a researcher, can post your own information. Others will find your information and maybe fill in the holes in their own research, but they will also find you. Birds of a feather...

And why stop with research information. If you've got other genealogy information to share, write an article about that. We'll post it for the world to see in one of our general site categories.

We hope you enjoy this resource.

2 comment(s), latest 1 year, 9 months ago

What is Genealogy?


3 comment(s), latest 3 years ago

What to do about a member who is upsetting the community?

As communities grow there will be people who disagree, and people who upset the community with their behavior, whether it is intended or not. It is inevitable.

It seems we have ourselves in this situation. I won't name names, but you probably know what I'm talking about. I had hoped this situation would have resolved itself, but it came to a bit of a head over the past several days.

While quietly addressing the situation yesterday, I disabled this member's ability to post comments. I didn't feel it was necessary to publicize that action, but maybe it would have prevented some more misunderstandings.

I learned that later last night this particular member was subsequently deactivated by one of our admins. This is a decision that I understand and respect, but the technical ramifications of that were such that I decided to reverse that -- especially since I had already prevented him from posting comments and been in discussions with him to resolve the problems. More on that in a bit.

Apparently some people noticed both the deactivation and the reversal and are troubled by the apparent lack of action, or worse, the appearance that I'm sticking up for this member.

I want to explain that.

Account deactivation is something that is for the purpose of quickly removing a spammer from FamilyTreeCircles. This action removes all posts and all comments for a particular user. Deactivating a member like this who has posted a large number of posts and comments makes a big mess and fills the site with thousands of "account deactivated" messages. Worse, it potentially took away good information from the comments in some members' journals. I feel that we can address this in other ways. It is also a last resort that I hope to avoid.

I do recognize that there is an issue to be dealt with and I'm committed to getting it resolved.

Here's what I am doing:

  • I've indefinitely disabled this member's access to make comments, as it seems this is the primary source of the behavior that is offending others. The only way I will reinstate that access is if I'm convinced that the member will participate in a way that does not offend other members.

  • I have not disabled his access to posting journals. I don't see the harm in him doing that unless he uses that as a vehicle to address others or this issue, in which case I'll take further action. I don't anticipate that will be necessary.

  • I have been in communication with this member to start a conversation about what has happened and what changes we can make if he wants to continue to participate in this community.

  • I will be investigating ways to improve FamilyTreeCircles to allow the community to better self-manage and deal with these issues better before they get out of hand. For example, voting on comments up or down, so that offending comments can be flagged and hidden. This is something that I'll work on in the coming weeks so the next time this happens, well, hopefully we'll prevent it. (I've already done this on journals with "Thank" and "flag". More on that in another post.)

I care deeply about FamilyTreeCircles. It is something that I've been working on as a passion project for several years and it is distressing to me when there are issues. I hope that I can have your support in getting through this bump in the road.

Pulling your posts and going away is your prerogative, but I hope you will not do that. Instead, if you ever have any comments or feedback about this or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] Heck, call me: +1 617-910-0055. That's how much I care about this.

Thanks for your help, support, and understanding.

Scott Jangro

27 comment(s), latest 4 years, 2 months ago