Links to Collaborative Genealogy Sites

In the interest of seeing that our family tree, the actual genealogical “who, what, when, and where” is preserved, I have placed some of the research that went into this blog on three websites, two 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 WikiTree and WeRelate. Each is a little different.

(For example, WikiTree makes room for all relatives including living people and then adds privacy controls. WeRelate, meanwhile, has decided to forego information on living people and just focus on the near past. There are plenty of other differences, but…)

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– which I see as increasingly  likely.

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

 

WikiTree

 

 

WeRelate

 

 

Finally, I said there are three sites. The third is Ancestry.com, which somewhat sadly, has a paywall and curious people cannot simply click over to peruse the material at will. You can see it without paying, 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). [15,000 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. There really is nothing like it for primary research.

At some point, I will 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 three 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?

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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 never-ending 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, 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.

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.

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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.

Father told me in 1994, half a year before he died, when we were at the Dark Harbor church, that it was there, at age five, that he spotted her. She was also age five.  He said “She had a big white straw hat, and I thought she was beautiful.”  Father was envious of Mother’s French governess.  He thought it must be wonderful to have an in-house tutor and would come by to talk French. “Le petit Garcon Lawrence, il est merveilleux.”

Mother’s early life was spent at home with governesses and tutors.  School began for her at Winsor at age 11 or 12, in 5th or 6th grade.

Of all her friends, Betty Bartlett McAndrew and Mabel Thayer Storey were the two whom I would come to know the best. Mother asked Betty to be my godmother, but it was Mabel, or “Aunt Mabel,” who later became a wonderful, lifelong friend of mine, and in 1968 I asked her to be [my daughter] Martina’s godmother. Jean Sears Alexander was another very close friend, and became my brother Jimmy’s godmother.

Mother was, according to Aunt Mabel, a very bright, fun-loving child who laughed and enjoyed friendships, parties and life. She was the “apple of her father’s eye.”

Stories of her childhood… At age twelve, my mother spent a winter in Egypt on a cultural trip with her parents. And she told me that her father always insisted on tipping the hotel staff individually because otherwise the major domo would keep the whole amount. For some reason, this made a huge impression on me. I remember her telling us about the time Uncle Langdon, her brother with whom she was very close growing up, rowed the French governess to Gull Rock, leaving her there as the tide rose! She also used to tell us about the butler in Dark Harbor who each morning, when Granny and Grandfather Brandegee were in Europe, would swim over to Seven Hundred Acre Island and back, and serve the children luncheon in a wet bathing suit.

As a teenager she loved skating, and there is a wonderful photo of Mother at The Country Club in Brookline with friends.  I think when it came to school she was “over lessoned,” as she would always relent whenever we refused our own lessons (alas!).  She had always had a rigorous program, and was therefore more forgiving to us when we wanted to hang out. She used to tell me “the mistakes I make you won’t make and the ones you make your children won’t make.”

She spent her junior year with her parents in New York city, and attended the Chapin School. She loved it! She said it was her best year of school. She wanted to go to college, and was accepted to Radcliffe for the fall of 1923 or 1924, but it was not to be.

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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.

 

jlb-face-bnw

John Langdon Brandegee

 

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.

grace-episcopal-church-utica

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]

 

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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.

 

Overview…

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Closeup…

img_9326

 

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.