Featured Post

The Advantages of Knowing Your Past

For those lucky people who have been given a true sense of their family history my story may seem quite unusual. However, today families ar...

Monday, July 10, 2017

I'm back! What have I been doing???

Finally, after 3 months of back to back shows and a research project that sucked up all my time, I'm back blogging again!  Yeah!

I went on a whirlwind journey researching for the TV show "The Dead Files" for an episode coming out late fall or early 2018.  While I can't say much about it until the program airs, I'll say it was an interesting dig into some not so great deaths, but I ended up digging into some really interesting lineages in Connecticut that may end up having a personal connection.  Crazy, yes, but with me I'm never surprised.  I think these people found me so their story could be told.  Serendipity, again!  That seems to be how I roll these days.

There will be more later once the episode airs, so stay tuned!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

I'll Be Back!!

So sorry for the lack of posts recently, but I've had to take a break from blogging.  My other career as a professional musician has taken me on an intense journey shuffling between 3 musicals, Beauty and the Beast, Sweet Charity, and The Most Beautiful Room in New York, for 3 months.  The last musical is a high profile World Premiere http://longwharf.org/beautiful-room

I will do my best to get back to blogging as soon as possible!  Thanks to everyone for reading my journey through my passions. I am never bored!!

Friday, March 31, 2017

A Soul's Journey

The definitive answer to life's mystery is yet to be discovered.  For each of us the journey is unique, yet we continue to strive not only for a simple answer, but for commonality.  
Have I, as a soul, choosen my plight or good fortune?  Is  Karma, destiny, free will, or the many short answers all that simple?  
These gray, unanswered questions have been my source of great pain and great discovery, with periods of joy thrown into the mix.
This, above all else, has driven my longing for a cosmic and historical connections to the past.  It has and continues to  be my salvation.

A big "thank you" to all my dead people who continue to nudge me, scare me, and thrill me!  My job is to bring your spirit, through genealogy and history, back to life.  May I continue to find meaning in your short relevant lives!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

As the branches die, let us not forget their worth!

What you don't know about the descendants of Vincent van Gogh is amazing and relevant!

This day marks the birth of my favorite painter, Vincent Willem van Gogh(1).  Happy 164th birthday, Vincent!  I own prints of many of his paintings that hang on walls in my home.  Many years have been spent in admiration and trying to understand a deeply moving man.  When I was younger, one of my favorite songs was Vincent by Don McLean (famous for his song American Pie).  Rhapsodizing about his life and struggles can be left to reading Van Gogh:  The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith (highly recommended to really let you know how much you don’t know about van Gogh).  I will only say this and move on to the few descendants through his brother Theo's descendants and their admirable, tragic lives.  Vincent meandered from a young age trying to discover what his passion and service would be.  It wasn’t until he turned 27 that he began to become an artist, and by the age of 47 he was dead.  He was self-taught for the most part and put out 20 years’ worth of amazing work that never sold during his lifetime.  I could go on…..instead, I’ll leave you with a story on the man who sees into my soul.  Bear with me through the fact, it's another tear jerker.
picture from my wall

You can find basic details of Vincent’s life on-line easily.  Vincent(1) was born 30 Mar 1853 in Groot-Zundert, Netherlands, and died 29 July 1890 at the Ravoux’s Inn in Auvers, France with no issue (for non-genealogist this means no children).  What isn’t as easy to find are the details of his ancestry, much of which is covered in The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh, 3 volumes first published in 1958 (I own the third edition collection, 2000).  His sister-in-law provided a memoir of Vincent outlining the family lineage, referencing Annales Genealogiques by Arnold Buchelius which states “Jacob van Gogh (16th c. family already established in Holland) lived at the time in Utrecht…. Jan, Jacob’s son, sold wine and books….”.  The family lineage had generations of connections to art and literature.  The name van Gogh is believe to be derived from the small town Gogh on the German frontier.1  I will discuss some of his descendants (through his brother Theo). 

His brother, Theo(1), had 3 children (two sons, one daughter)….  Theo’s son, Vincent Willem van Gogh(2) (named after his love of his brother) was born in Paris, 31 Jan 1890, the same year as Vincent’s(1) death.  This gives you an idea of Theo’s(1) devotion to Vincent(1), leaving his wife and 6-month-old to rush to Vincent’s side as he died in Auvers.  Vincent(2) (Theo’s son, called the engineer) died 28 Jan 1978, Laren, North Holland, Netherlands.  This Vincent(2) continued his mother’s devotion to the legacy of van Gogh by establishing the Van Gogh Foundation in the 1960’s where van Gogh’s collection was transferred.  In 1973 the State of the Netherlands designed the Van Gogh Museum where the collection now resides.  This family's devotion is why we have the amazing amount of his work.

This Vincent(2) , son of Theo(1)who died at the age of 33, named a son....yes, you guessed it, Theo(2).  This Theo(2) was born 5 Nov 1920 in Amsterdam.  My heart skipped a beat when I learned of his execution by the Nazis at the age of 24, 8 Mar 1945.  He was a member of the resistance movement.  Your great uncle would have been so proud of you, Theo!  His nephew, yes...another Theo(3) was a film director, producer, and actor who was brutally murdered in 2004 by a Dutch Moroccan who was not happy about his outspoken views on Islamic woman's rights.  Yes, there is a book about this murder and it's meaning,  Murder in Amsterdam:  The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance by Ian Burma.  Theo's(3) last film was "06" about the murder (ironically) of an outspoken gay libertarian, Pim Fortuyn.  Theo(3) was murdered 911 days after Fortuyn, at the age of 47!  The same age as Vincent van Gogh(1)!  Serendipity!  My grandfather who died when I was 2 was 47!

Can I say, "What the...?"  Is there a curse on this family?

Theo's(3) son, Lieuwe van Gogh is an ARTIST!  Born in 1992 in the Netherlands and is on Facebook!  https://www.facebook.com/lieuwe.vangogh  He was 12 years old when his father was murdered.  I can't imagine....

To learn more, please click on the highlighted references, visit the Fogg Museum in Cambridge, MA, or the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, or any other place that has a van Gogh painting on exhibit.  A picture never does his work justice.  My most moving moment was at the Boston MFA getting very close and seeing the thick strokes of paint then walking slowly further away to see the paintings evolve.  He was a very deep soul.

1The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh, Bulfinch Press:  Little, Brown and Company, Boston, New York, London, third edition, 2000, xv.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

DNA Detective Work

DNA results can be very daunting to read and interpret.  As usual, I tend to just live with things for a while as I jump around trying to find links, and see what I come up with.  The hunt is what drives me!  While waiting for my knowledge to develop by reading The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger, I was able to pin down a viable link to my native american test results.  Here's what I did:

On gedmatch.com I took my gedcom (family tree) file, looked for gedcom matches to my Tapp line, which has been proven native american, and search for others that had matches to my Tapp line.  I found a gentleman who was linked to the early Taptico chief's, as I believed to be.  Then, I took his DNA kit and compared it to mine.  I found we had a small 7.3 centimorgan match on our 11th chromosome.  I went back and looked at where the native american link was on my chromosomes and there it was the bottom 11th chromosome for us both, exact same place.

Now, this method is probably not the tried and true way of connecting methodically, but I like it because I got to play detective and have fun!

This is a picture of Captain John Smith attempting to take the King of Pamunkee (Opechancanough-brother or cousin to Powhatan, father of Pocahontas) prisoner in 1608, from an inserted picture collage from the book Virginia 1584-1607 The First English Settlement in North America edited by Alan Smith, published in 1957 in London (in my possession).  They are reprinted in this book from Captain John Smith's The General Historie of Virginia, New England & The Summer Isles, first published in 1624.

The only knowledge of my native people is through the British documentation of the time.  The book I have, mentioned above, has great detail of their way of life, even if from the onlookers perspective.  This is a piece of my ancestors language:

My 7th great grandfather, King Taptico (1664-1695) (Wicocomico Tribe)probable father Machywap (Chicacoan tribe) were part of this later Powhatan Empire.  Man, did I have fun doing this!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sherlock had his Moriarty, I now have mine!

Serendipity!  I have written about my wife’s past life regression that gave me Rebecca Putnam Andrews Browne.  The layers of cosmic connections grow and grow.  Rebecca’s father was John Hancock Andrews of Salem, prominent merchant.  I worked for a few years at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and my connection to this institution began with just walking in the door and asking about volunteer opportunities.  Within a short time, I was working there as a researcher full time.  To this day, the biggest mistake of my life was leaving the place I loved the most.  I couldn’t handle a difficult situation that would have resolved itself in time had I just stuck it out.  An opportunity came up that allowed me to get out of a toxic situation and I took it.  To this day, I have never gotten over my deep connection to the Society and even more the library space.  It was a sanctuary for me!  I always felt something or someone guiding me while I was there.  I think I’ve uncovered my spirit guide!

George Andrews Moriarty, Jr. makes my world small and connected.  Who is he and how does he connect to me?  I will tell you!  His grandmother was Rebecca Putnam Andrews Browne’s sister, Nancy Page Andrews Moriatry!  Oh…that’s not all!  George Andrews Moriarty, Jr. was a prominent genealogist who practically lived at the NewEngland Historic Genealogical Society, mostly at their location at 9 Ashburton Place in Boston.  During his time he was considered to be the greatest antiquarian of his generation.  He was very old when the Society moved to their current location, where I worked, at 99 Newbury Street, about 4 years before he died, also when he remained at a nursing home in York, Maine.  It's highly unlikely he was able to visit the new location.  His legacy lives on through his writings in the New England Historical & Genealogical Register and other publications such as TAG (the American Genealogist).

Wait…it gets even more serendipitous!  He was a student at St. George’s boarding school in Newport, Rhode Island where I used to teach!!  St. George was established in 1896 when G. Andrews was about 14, so it's likely he was one of it's first students.  

  George Andrews Moriarty, Jr.

Thank you, George, for looking over my shoulder!  I hope to make you proud by writing about you, your family, and Rebecca’s forgotten life.  Cheers, compatriot!!

The Moriarty lineage is also from Salem, dating back to the 12th century,  Lords of Loch Linn, Kunkerron, and Templenoe, staying in the Tralee area until the 18th century.  G. Andrews' 3rd great grandfather immigrated from Tralee, Ireland in 1775 to Salem.  G. Andrews' grandfather, John Moseley Moriarty (Port Physician of Boston/Gloucester) married Rebecca Andrews Browne's sister Nancy Page Andrews.  

Currently, George Marshall Moriarty, a Boston retired lawyer, who worked/works for Ropes and Gray law offices in Boston, may be connected to G. Andrews Moriarty (as he signed his name).  Ropes and Gray assisted the Society with litigation when they moved to the Newbury Street location back in the 1960’s.  George Marshall is a former president of the Boston Athenaeum and a current Councilor at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, former board president of Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston.  I must contact this man to see if he will converse on this subject.  George Andrews had only one child, a daughter.  A direct lineage link doesn't look promising, but I have suspicions there is some relationship.  Hopefully, I can update this later!

I really love how history comes to life through this process.

Did I mention, I LOVE what I do!