Links to Collaborative Genealogy Sites

In the interest of seeing that our family tree, the actual genealogical “who, when, and where” is preserved, I have placed some of the research that went into this blog on five websites, four of which actually aim to piece together, person by person, a single family tree for everyone. Taken literally, that is wildly ambitious, not to mention completely impractical, but the effort alone has already produced, flaws and shortcomings notwithstanding, a very special body of research.

These “collaborative” genealogy sites are Geni, WikiTree, WeRelate, and FamilySearch. Each is a little different.

For example, Geni and WikiTree make room for all relatives including living people and then add privacy controls. WeRelate, meanwhile, has decided to forego information on living people and just focus on the near past. Geni makes little use of sources or documentation, but WikiTree and especially WeRelate strive, with varying success, to back up all assertions with primary documents. There are plenty of other differences, but that’s the gist of it.

The main point is that putting the information here means it will survive even in generations when no one inherits an interest in family history– something I see as increasingly  likely.

Here are some jumping off points, categorized first by site, and then by a few key relatives…














Finally, I said there are five sites. The fifth is, which somewhat sadly, has a paywall and curious people cannot simply click over to peruse the material at will. You can see it without a financial outlay, but to do so you’ll have to email me or Elisha Lee to be put on a list of invitees. Sorry, I didn’t make up those rules. If you are already on Ancestry, you can search for our tree which is called Kinsmen and Kinswomen (revised and sourced). [18,000 relatives and counting.] On the plus side, looking for a silver lining, the highly commercial aspect of Ancestry has paid huge dividends in making a vast trove of documents available online, including – in most cases – photocopies of originals. This includes birth certificates, marriage entries in the parish register, passport applications, draft registrations, VA records, medical examiners’ notes, high school yearbooks, biographical vignettes, and on and on. People can also share multiple digital copies of rare family photos.  There really is nothing like it for primary research.

At some point in the distant future, I’ll figure out how to put a version of our tree here, on this site, with measures in place to protect people’s privacy, but until then, the organizations above will have to suffice.

The Battle of Bunker Hill Seen As A Family Affair, And Other Odd Observations

My cousin, Elisha Lee, raised an interesting point last fall. He said (I’m paraphrasing) that if you could go back in time and visit certain key events as they happened, such as the Battle of Bunker Hill, you could more or less pick out numerous ancestors fighting, if not side by side, then at least on the same field. At that particular moment, they had nothing to do with each other, no outstanding connections other than their shared service, but within a century or so, they would, many of them, be united by the bonds of family. The same could be said of the ill-fated Quebec expedition, which saw its members imprisoned by the British.

With this thought experiment in mind, I thought I’d put together a list of events where we either know or are pretty sure that certain ancestors would have likely crossed paths with one another.

I’ve also included a couple other quirky lists, which might just double as Jeopardy topics. These include:  “Tutored by John Adams,” and “Father/ Son Military Service in the Same War.”

Where else were they going to go?


Passage on the Mayflower & Life in the Early Massachusetts Bay Colony

  • William Bradford
  • John Alden and Priscilla Mullens Alden
  • William Mullens and Alice Mullens
  • Edward Doty
  • Isaac Allerton and Mary Norris Allerton
  • John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley Howland
  • John Tilley and Joan Hurst Rogers Tilley


The Battle of Lexington and Concord

  • Timothy Bigelow, Sr.
  • Samuel Farrar, Sr. (aged 66 at  the time!)
  • Samuel Farrar, Jr.
  • (Note: Samuel Lawrence and the Groton company marched at the alarm, but didn’t arrive in time.)


The Battle of Bunker Hill

  • Willam Prescott
  • John Linzee
  • Samuel Lawrence
  • Samuel Farrar, Jr.
  • Jonathan French, Sr.
  • Elishama Brandegee


Quebec Expedition and Life as a POW

  • Timothy Bigelow
  • Elishama Brandegee


The Surrender of Burgoyne

  • William Prescott
  • Samuel Farrar, Jr.


Tutored by John Adams

  • Timothy Bigelow
  • William Paine


Father/ Son Military Service in the Same War

  • Timothy Bigelow, Sr. & Timothy Bigelow, Jr.
  • Samuel Farrar, Sr. & Samuel Farrar, Jr.


If you can think of others, drop me a line!

Martina Brandegee Lawrence’s ‘Early Affections’

During WWII, Martina Brandegee Lawrence took what Lee Albright called “a correspondence course,” and while there are no more specifics to offer, at least none that have survived, somehow this (typed!?) piece of writing was one of the results.

Part essay, part letter to a friend, part meditation, Martina writes here about some of the men she knew as a child who made a deep impression on her. I hesitate to characterize her feelings. Decide that for yourself. But there’s a sort of practical spirituality that emanates from her descriptions of these individuals. She doesn’t call them her teachers, per se, but it seems that each, in his separate way, showed her something about how to live…



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“Everybody’s June:” Martina Louise Brandegee Lawrence

There is a great phrase, “keeping a person’s memory green.” It’s basically an expression for the hopefully ongoing process of telling stories about a person who has died, talking about the things they believed in, using the funny expressions they liked, more or less just passing on a little of what made them them. Whatever may happen after we die, if people are keeping our memory green, some version of our spirit lives on.

I asked Lee Albright to compose a small piece about her mother, Martina Louise Brandegee Lawrence, because, in her everyday conversation and comments, Lee has devoted an enormous part of her life energy to keeping her mother’s memory green… She didn’t send me a finished piece of writing, but  rather a series of notes on slips of paper, stacked together.

The following is a compilation that I cobbled together from those notes. When I showed it to her, she said it didn’t sound like her voice, but to “leave it in.”

Take that as a caveat of sorts.


Martina Louise Brandegee Lawrence by G Cox

Martina Louise Brandegee Lawrence; oil on canvas; c. 1950s; by Gardner Cox




Langdon, you asked me to put together some thoughts and memories of my mother and so I shall… reminding you that these thoughts are simply my experiences and remembrances and are perhaps different from those of my brothers or others who knew my mother well.

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John Langdon Brandegee

John Langdon Brandegee, Martina Louise Brandegee Lawrence’s brother, died December 4, 1964, at the age of 56. He left no children, and a year and a half later, my father— rather than continuing the then-five generation tradition of first-born sons being named James Lawrence— gave me his uncle’s name, Langdon, instead. He wanted to ensure that the memory of the man would live on.

Langdon Brandegee was an enigmatic individual who I suspect was poorly understood by most of those around him, throughout his life. His sister was the exception to this; she probably understood him better than anyone. The two were very close.


John Langdon Brandegee (the girl in the pictures is his sister, Martina Louise Brandegee)


My father has described him as an unusually shrewd judge of character, which in turn led him to be distrustful of many, but also to hold enormous love and affection for a lucky few. I have heard some beautiful stories over the years of the goodness he could show people when he had decided they were “all right.”

His career of choice was finance, specifically the management of the large fortune left him and his sister, and he succeeded by almost any measure that could be applied. Under his canny eye, the money with which he had been entrusted was protected and indeed grew significantly.

I wish I could have had the chance to meet him, and talk a little. One of the things I would like to ask him is, if he had his life to live over again, would he choose a different career? Would he live where he lived, and do what he did, or would he make a break with the past and try something completely new?

He once told my father when they were talking about my father’s future life as a doctor, to get out of America, go to Africa, and practice bush medicine. That comment speaks volumes.

He died alone at his home in Jamaica Plain. I’ve wondered about the time leading up to his death. What had life become for him? What was he thinking? How did he depart this world? What had he learned, and where might his soul, if indeed any of us have souls, have traveled next?

There may be some clues to at least the first two of these questions in his will. In that document, he left one quarter of his considerable estate to the American Leprosy Foundation, three quarters to Deerfield Academy, honoring an old promise, and his furniture to his niece and nephews.



John Langdon Brandegee


Rediscovering Both a Painting and a Face: Martina Louisa (Condict) Brandegee, by Cecilia Beaux c. 1903

They say there are several deaths. The death of your body. The death of the last person who could remember you when you were alive. And, the last moment anyone speaks your name.

I think we could add to this list, perhaps near but not at the end, the death that occurs when your actual appearance is forgotten.

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Grace Church, Utica, N.Y.


No description of John J. Brandegee’s life would be complete without a specific mention of the church he helped found, Grace Church, in Utica, N.Y.


A passage from the church’s history reads:

The cornerstone was laid on July 10, 1856, but by September 1859, it seemed as if the edifice might never be completed due to financial problems. However, the Rev. John J. Brandegee, third rector, was a man of great courage and experience and it was through his persistence that enough money was raised to finish the church and pay off the mortgage. On May 20, 1860, the first service was held in the new church and on Easter Day, 1864, the $30,000 mortgage was paid. The church was consecrated on August 16, 1864, but unfortunately, Dr. Brandegee died a week after presenting the last offerings which freed the church from its debt. Truly it may be said of him that “…his real offering was himself, and that the church is his enduring memorial.”

Today, the church is still going strong, and actually houses several portraits of Brandegee, a bust of him, as well as one of the few extant contemporary copies of his book of sermons.

[Note: I have extremely low resolution photos of these portraits, kindly sent to me in the mid 90s by the church’s minister or perhaps historian, which I debated putting up here. The reproductions really need to be redone from the originals, though, in good lighting, with modern camera technology; even an iPad would probably be fine. A project for another day, however.–LSL]




The location and contact details for Grace Church are as follows:


Website for the church is here.

Facebook page is here.

Wikipedia entry is here.

An online walking tour can be viewed here. Note there are some irritating pop-up ads with this, but I still enjoyed it.

Lastly, you can get in touch at:

6 Elizabeth St,

Utica, NY 13501

Tel: (315) 733-7575


Google Maps:



Rev. John J. Brandegee Marries Miss Martina L. Condict

I found this in  NYC Marriage & Death Notices 1843-1856, available here. It is a contemporary announcement of the marriage of Rev. John J. Brandegee to Martina Condict. Since the marriage took place in New Jersey, I presume the notice was placed for social purposes and has no legal value.







The text of the entry reads: “MARRIED 1852: On Tuesday evening, June 1st, at St. Peter’s Church, Morristown, by Rev. Charles W. Rankin, Rev. John J. Brandegee, Rector of St. Michael’s Church, Litchfield, Conn., to Miss Martina L. Condict, daughter of Hon. Lewis Condict, of this Town.”

I have to confess it was fun to find this. Why? Really, it’s just an entry of an old fact in a decrepit, crumbling, little book of old facts. Perhaps because it reminds me there was a time when their marriage was actually news. Nothing of their lives together was “written.” And people, hearing of this, felt hope and good cheer.

Rev. John Jacob Brandegee

The following brief biography of Rev. John J. Brandegee (Edward Deshon “Ned” Brandegee’s father) is taken from the book, Genealogical Record of the Condit Family, Descendants of John Cunditt, 1678 to 1885,  by Jotham H. Condit and Eben Condit, Newark, 1885, pp.233-4, available online here and in paperback here; also reprinted in Condits and Cousins: The Condits and Their Cousins in America, Vol.6, edited by Norman I. Condit, Owensborough, KY, 1980—LSL

[An additional note, you can read Brandegee’s collected sermons online, here. I also have a .pdf of them which I will eventually post.–LSL]



A sketch of Rev. John J. Brandegee.


MARTINA L. CONDIT (Condict) (of Dr. Lewis) married. June 1, 1852, Rev. John J. Brandegee, D. D., who was born at New London, Conn., July 25, 1823. He was the son of John and Mary Brandegee, one of whom was of Dutch and the other of French extraction. Both families had long previously settled in this country. Dr. Brandegee spent his early youth at New London, and in 1843 graduated at Yale College with a high reputation as a scholar. He was confirmed by Bishop Brounell at New Haven, at the age of 18. Before graduating he formed the purpose of studying for the ministry, and on Sept. 27, 1843, he entered the General Theological Seminary, at New York City, where he completed his course of preparation, and was ordained a deacon by Bishop Brownell, July 3, 1846, at Hartford, Conn. After his ordination he went with an invalid brother to the West Indies, where he labored for two years. On his return he was ordained to the priesthood, Jan. 24, 1849, by Bishop Henshaw, of Rhode Island, at New London, Conn. At this time he was laboring in the parish of St. Michael, Litchfield, Conn., where he continued until February 4, 1854. He then entered upon his duties as rector of Grace Church, Utica, N.Y., and remained there during life, though repeatedly invited to other attractive fields. In the ten years of service at Utica his labors were abundantly blessed, and to his efforts may be credited the erection of the beautiful edifice now occupied by the parish of Grace Church. The cornerstone was laid in July, 1856, but the church was not opened for divine services until May 20, 1860. The last two years of Dr. Brandegee’s labor was frequently interrupted by sickness, which finally resulted in his death April 6, 1864. In 1867 his widow published a volume of sermons which he had preached at different periods of his ministry of eighteen years. They indicate a mind of uncommon intellectuality and breathe a spirit of true devotion to the service of the Master.  She died Dec. 11, 1904.

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Capt. Elishama Brandegee

Capt. Elishama Brandegee (1754-1832) lived a productive and event-filled life, but not a great deal is known about him.

A veteran of the Battle of Bunker Hill, he was also a member of the ill-fated Quebec expedition and consequently a POW held by the British. All of which leads me to believe he must have known Col. Timothy Bigelow, but that idea – of ancestors, not yet connected through marriage, who met each other simply in the course of their lives – will be the subject of a later post. After the war (I presume it was after the war and not before), Brandegee was active in the West Indies trade.

Here below are two nearly identical accounts of his life, placed side by side to highlight the few differences between them.

I wish I could write more.




Commemorative biographical record of Hartford County, Connecticut : containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, and of many of the early settled families

by J.H. Beers & Co, Publ. 1901


Available online here.

Capt. Elishama Brandegee, the Doctor’s grandfather, was born in Christian Lane, Berlin, April 17. 1754. During the Revolutionary war, May 5, 1775. he enlisted in the 2d Company, 2d Connecticut Regiment, under Capt. Wyllys. He was recruited in Middlesex county, and participated in the battle of Bunker Hill, after which he was detached and joined Capt. Hanchett’s company, Sept. 1. 1775. He took part in the assault on Quebec Dec. 31, 1775, and was with Gens. Arnold and Montgomery at Montreal. After the assault on Quebec he was taken prisoner. The 2d regiment was organized under Col. Wyllys as a Continental regiment.

…He was also] a sea captain…engaged in the West India trade and in merchandising in Berlin, where he died Feb. 26, 1832.

…Capt. Brandegee was married, March 10, 1778. to Mrs. Lucy (Plumb) Weston, of Middletown. who died Feb. 1. 1827, and the remains of both were interred in the South burying-ground, Berlin.


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