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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Susanna Vasilievna Anisimoff Baeff Lawrence, c.1913-1949

At some point, in the near future, I’m going to do a post on the amazing Capt. Richard Lawrence, M.D. (1912-2000), or Richard Lawrence, Jr., as he was sometimes known, or simply, Cousin Dick. The man deserves as much.

In the meantime, there is this, almost as an aside: one small piece of the larger puzzle of his life, with the curious property that the closer one looks, the more the “piece” becomes a puzzle in its own right.

Roughly two years ago, I happened to be emailing with Robert Cutler, who, suffice to say, understands the (not-quite-lost) art of letter writing. He had embarked on a long and delightful tangent concerning Cousin Dick, whom at that point I had barely heard of, when, in the course of his excursion, he mentioned almost as an afterthought that before attending medical school, Richard Lawrence had spent a period of time in China, and while there, had met a Russian woman whom he married in Shanghai and brought back to America.

(Frankly, he said a good deal more than that, but this medium – which is obviously public –  has its limits.)

He went on to describe some of Dick’s better known activities in WWII, which as I said, I’ll get to someday, but, long after I’d finished reading, my mind kept going back to this Russian woman; China in the late ’30s; the circumstances of their meeting, and their exit; and what had really been going on?

Suffice to say, Robert had hooked me. I had to learn more, but, the more I learned, well, the more I realized I didn’t know, and– you get the idea.

Puzzles within puzzles.

This is part of what I found…

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An Extraordinary Life: The Story of John Endicott Lawrence by Seppi Colloredo-Mansfeld

When he was thirteen, Seppi Colloredo-Mansfeld persuaded his great-grandfather, John Endicott Lawrence, Sr. to be interviewed for a school term paper on the sweep of his life to that point. The resulting twenty-five page biography is – in my view –  a remarkable document. Much of that, to be sure, has to do with the subject, who as you’ll see lived a life with few dull moments. But a significant part of it is due to both the talent and the age of the biographer. Talent, because there is a beautiful range here in the scale of details: he’s included everything from the smallest of anecdotes all the way up to events of world historical importance. Moreover, the rhythm of his subject’s language, his word choice, his sense of humor, or wonder for that matter, come through vividly which is no small trick. And age, because while adults can and do edit what they say to children, omitting the truly grim, or for lack of a better term, “the inappropriate,” they can also drop their guard and open up with children in a way they may not with adults. There’s an emotional directness here that really shines. It makes me feel like I’m sitting by a fireside, one of my relatives has asked a question, and tonight the old man has decided he’s willing to talk…











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A Grandson Recalls His Grandfather: Franz Colloredo-Mansfeld on John Endicott Lawrence, Sr.

No commentary is required for this post, which first appeared in the Groton School Quarterly, and is used here by kind permission of the author and the school.



In Memoriam

John Endicott Lawrence ’27 


GP’81 ’83 ’85 ’93 ’94  ’00


Trustee ’47 to ’70, President ’65 to ’70

October 18, 1909 – March 27, 2007 

By Franz Colloredo-Mansfeld ’81


It is no easy task to write a brief description of my grandfather’s life. The problem lies in the fact that John Endicott Lawrence’s life was not a short story but a rather long story-­ an epic, in fact– that spanned nearly a century. Although he preferred not to talk about himself, occasionally, over a scotch, my grandfather could be convinced to give us glimpses of his extraordinary life: as a young boy traveling by horse, train and boat between family homes in Milton and Groton, Massachusetts, and Dark Harbor, Maine; as a student at Harvard, carousing in Budapest with college friend, Franz Colloredo­ Mansfeld, my paternal grandfather, whose son, my father, would later marry my mother; after college, in the thirties, training for the new Olympic sport of alpine ski racing; taking Easter tea at the Vatican in a private audience with the Pope; during World War II, playing deck tennis with Admiral Halsey under the big guns on board the battleship, U.S.S. New Jersey; witnessing the Japanese surrender on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri; post-war, declining a position in President Eisenhower’s administration to better care for my grandmother who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease; undertaking financially perilous-and occasionally hilarious-business adventures in Africa, the Middle East, and India.

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