I was in Dallas for the first time a few weeks ago for my cousin’s wedding. A lovely time, seriously charming wedding (sweet, impressively solid couple).

And the morning before the shindig got underway I had occasion to take a drive into downtown Dallas with two other interested parties (another cousin’s partner and his son) to check out no less an important historical location than Dealey Plaza, the site of the assassination of the 35th President of the United States, JFK.

Behind me, myself and I in the above pic, and below: the Grassy Knoll itself, confirmed site where Mr. Zapruder took his home movie featuring infamous & awful frame 313–unconfirmed location of a second or even third gunman, behind the gently sweving road where Kennedy died, essentially in front of the world.


(Remember that at this point in 2017 the only person confirmed–more or less universally–to have shot a gun whose bullet hit President Kennedy is Lee Harvey20170617_111320 copy Oswald, from the 6th floor window of the Texas Schoolbook Depository. Mind you, that doesn’t preclude that another gun in another person’s hands fired the “kill-shot”, i.e., the one that took JFK’s life–but there simply isn’t enough conclusive evidence as to that other shot or shots to convince enough people of only one version; there are as many versions of where the other shooter was as one can imagine. Meanwhile, the window where Oswald sat 132696-004-1B6A5A8Aand from which he fired his infamous Carcano rifle, is today the museum about the assassination. We didn’t go there, but did visit the bizarre gift shop, which sits on the ground floor of the building across the street from the former Depository.)


And so but this location, Dealey Plaza, is crazy. Not just because a major world leader was killed right out in public, not just because that’s relatively rare in the US, or even just because it’s also still essentially unsolved. It’s precisely the multiplicity of other versions Picture 3and the number of eyewitness accounts and bewildering lack of a consensus conclusion that makes this location crazy. It’s so heavy a site because that event provides a tightly, intricately 539484561focused hypermicrocosm of epistomology: almost every Picture 5aspect demonstrates–wantonly, defiantly like nailing down quicksilver–just how many uncertainties can bedevil a given slice of so-called “reality”.

This thing happened…or did it? This person stood there and saw “X”…or did they? Well 112. Assassination Aftermaththey *heard* “Y”…or at least this other person did. And “Z” was caught on film…or was it? So many pages, files, terrabytes of analyses…that just don’t add up…with each moment that passes rushing us all hopelessly further past the moment at 12:33 pm that autumn day that a bullet from some gun somewhere in, above,ZZZ. Dealey Plaza Aftermath (2) near, passing by Dealey Plaza blew the top of our President’s skull & at least a third of his brains out, ending his life–BANG–right then and there, unchangeably.


Reality is many sided. Perspectives are tenaciously held to. It continues to roll onward, and usually the stakes are not that final, but any moment has as many potential veracity chasms–my term for things there just isn’t definitive proof for.  What do we do with veracity chasms? We fill them in, naturally. But with what, is the question.





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Posted by on July 22, 2017 in Uncategorized


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History on the Screen 2: Thanks Be to GOT!


Thank heavens for the success of Game of Thrones!



Its huge wave of popularity emboldended moneymen, er, TV producers to greenlight similar shows set grimly & grimily in that distant past of dark armor, shields & swords that gives Game of Thrones its look and feel.

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Surging forth first (or at least most notably) on this cashflow has been the epic & popular “Vikings”, and now “The Last Kingdom”, a BBC adaptation from a book in a series by British historical novelist and former news correspondent Bernard Cornwell that chronicles goings-on in England in the centuries before the year 1000.

And it’s awesome.

Statue_d'Alfred_le_Grand_à_WinchesterIt’s set during the reign of King Alfred the Great of England, so in the late decades of the 800s AD/Common Era (CE). Like stories &960 copy cinematic adaptations before such as Little Big Man, it inserts a fictional character into totally historically accurate situations to tell the past context in human detail.

For now, and for any fan of the show, here’s a chart I’ve done showing Alfred’s descendants for a few generations. Click on it and in the new tab click it again so you can check it out in detail if you like. More on this show later.


More on the show next time.


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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Historical Imaging 2



This follow-up post presents the historical imaging I’ve done focused on maps and location. Actually, I’d say that it’s most correct to say that this is imagery driven not by simply the “location”, but by the agenda of attempting to locate a thing; to impart a sense of how and where the thing in question is located–oriented–to the viewer.

To locate a thing so that it fits with the audience’s world.

Obviously this can’t always work.

It turns out (of course) that usually at least some sort of context is necessary. For images of a place (whether from a map, an aerial photograph or other rendering, crude diagram in the sand…whatever!), for it to mean a ding dang thing, your intended audience much of the time needs to have at least some basic geographical knowledge.

But that said, it’s a very interesting and multi-faceted challenge to try and make an image conveying a sense of place if you consider your audience consisting of people who don’t know…don’t really care. lol

When & Where… & when, again?

  1.  Basic “when & where” map for an individual or familyMD2MA-1
  2. Tighter focus on the “where” (central Massachusetts in this case; a father and son located)
  3. Placing the very specific in the macro
    1. Farmstead of 4x-great-grandad that served as homebase for 3 generationswashcozoom1
    2. City unfamiliar to coast-dwelling typesLOUISVILLE 1 copy2
    3. When the exact part of a foreign place is important (for some reason)Jura copy
    4. Using cool maps cooly. For this one, the only context necessary is that this is the east coast of Ireland, just south of Dublin and that north is to the right.
      Wicklow 3D2 copy
    5. Tighter focus–after you’ve given some context
      1. Tober Townland was directly referenced on the map above, so now  you can zoom in there to see detail. The inset maintains the tether to the broad knowledge base you’re attempting to access.TUBBER1 copy 2
      2. southwestern Wisconsin, a couple miles off the Mississippi River & 5 or 7 miles from Illinois, showcasing an original land grantee whose descendants carried on in the location; 4x-great-grandkids remain in 2017.T DUSTIN LAND copy
      3. Various specific spots within a larger, but still relatively small (and not commonly  nown) location, the Dordogne in southwestern France. In the upper right of this one is Jumilhac, the castle seen in the last post.
      4. one place, Haverhill, Massachusetts and vicinity…

        image2212 copy

        … variations on perspective

        HAVERHILL SALEM copy

      5.  One place in detail: Foley, Minnesota

        FOLEY copy

Foley sits nearly smack dab in the middle of the state, among the flat, flat fields 15 miles east-northeast of the mini urban hub of St. Cloud and the bend over which it presides of the still quite wide Mississippi River. The tiny hamlet FLC LHC FOLEY copyof Foley has given the world doctors, lawyers, Indy 500 participants, lumber, all-night jazz dances in barns once upon a time, and been home to retired farmers, aspiring capitalist fashionistas, former religious zealots & their kids, descendants of royalty and lots and lots of regular people who very well might’ve been born in other countries or been the kids of those who were.

Rockefeller had a gas station here (like 10s of thousands of of other places in these United States); women turned out nearly to a 100% here in 1924 the first occasion they GnG OGG FOLEY copywere permitted to help choose the President. Foley is a stand-in for whatever your little town is, or was. Our Town is the most performed play (or close to it) in America because 100s of millions of us came from our towns like this. “I didn’t, but my mom did”,–we’re all from it together.

These small towns, whose children and grandchildren have flocked and flown out to the gothams and metropolitanias  were in their way, factories of the ever-new, ever-renewing people, of us all–factories of Americans.

The sprawling and ever interconnected suburbs and ex-urbs where so many millions of us now reside and have for some time–they are built by the developers and they are inhabited by the dwellers on the model of the myriad iterations of “Small Town America” like Foley, Minnesota. It was in these places that generations of people learned and were taught how to be Americans. Despite the regional differences that might inculcate one attitude or another toward or about other people, the style of day-to-day interaction and pacing and level of attentiveness to the people around you, it’s all very similar in this small town substrate of our collective sense of ourselves and how and who we are.

It is from this America that in many critical ways we came. And it seems to me worth knowing in order to figure out into what America we are, might, or can decide to be going.

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Posted by on March 25, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Historical Imaging



Showcasing images I’ve created, composited and/or altered in order to make historical situations, places or circumstances more readily accessible to as many people as possible.

This grew out of my effort–shared with anyone who gets intricately lost in making family trees–of trying to find relevant imagery to use for people of whom no pictures exist (e.g., anyone who lived before the 1840s). But not just relevant, you really want to push it further and find images that are interesting, too. Or at least I do. And accurate, for instance, to the time when a particular ancestor or historical personage might have actually lived or been at a given location. So from these endeavors, the following sampling of images.

First Example

This is Château de Jumilhac, a castle south of Limoges in southwestern France. In the course of working on a friend’s family tree, I learned some of his ancestors had been ChteaudeJumilhacleGrand copyinvolved in actually building it back in the 1200s. (!!) They’d been among its lords, too, for 150 years or so. After first thinking, aha! whatta sweet image to use for that string of ancestors, I learned as I read more about them and it, that the conical rooftops (that will surely strike Americans as quintessentially “fairy-tale”) were added hundreds of years after his family had been on the scene in the depths of the actual Middle Ages. Well I couldn’t use a historically inaccurate image, so I did something about it.

ChteaudeJumilhacleGrandOLD copy



This is much closer to what it would have looked like to the de Bruchard family as they knew it.




An older photograph also lent itself to easy changing:


















So the examples here are each within a category:

  • People & Location
  • Now to Then
  • Obsolete Professions
  • SketchUp 4 Teaching History
  • Now to Then 2 (showing elements)

People & Location

  1. Swedish origin spot of my great-grandmother and 3 generations of her people


South-central Sweden, Vastragotaland.


2. Recent Dukes of Argyll at their seat, Inverary Castle, Scotland

DUKE 11 1


Now to Then

  1. View from the Mayflower

2. Castle Hornby

On the left, as seen around 1900 (& today); on the right, as it was when my ancestor lived there (incidentally, just about the last–my most recent–ancestor to reside in a castle…500 years ago!)


Obsolete professions

Two variations


SketchUp 4 Teaching History

  1. Construction of the White House (the Executive’s Mansion) in the 1790s in Washington, D.C.

These are views of a multi-layered SketchUp model I’ve built of various stages of the White House’s construction. Here we see the foundation as it was originally laid down in 1791-2. The layers reflect the actual materials, orientation and configuration learned from researching primary source material (such as reports of the crew who laid the new foundations in the 1950s as to what they found as well as reports of Thomas jeffereson, architect Benjamin Latrobe and others involved in the early days of the building). The close-up is the northwest corner, seen from just a few feet south and west of it.


Here’s the southern facade, seen from the southeast, depicted as the Limestone facing began to be mounted on the brick walls.

And the same face seen from the southwest, a little further along in the process:












And here’s the north (properly, the front) as it neared completion. (The portico that we know today  was not added until the 1820s).


Now to Then 2 (showing elements)

Here you can see various elements that went in to the image at the very top of the page (the black & white 1800s looking street).

That’s Liverpool, England. Specifically, Vauxhall Road, looking across it from near where my gr-gr-grandad, a guy named Edward Dunn, had a business in the 1870s, to the intersection with Blacklock Street, toward the site of Vauxhall Gardens, a housing project that was destroyed in WWII during the Blitz just before Xmas 1940.




Composite of contemporary shot (made B&W) with old shot.






Composite of two images; the corner building has been added to the street shot. I then added this with the B&W version of the current corner seen in the shot above this to get the image seen at the very top of the page.

This is the current shot, unaltered.




And the combo with the building destroyed by Nazi bombs in WWII is below again for easy comparison.





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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Gracing the top of the page today are renditions I made of three of the oldest armorial bearings from some men of the early Clan Campbell.

Top left are the arms of none other than Cailean Mór Cambel himself–Colin, as it’s rendered in English–the man considered the projenitor of the majority of Campbells, including the line that came to be senior, thus the line which gives the clan its chief. In 1280 CE King of Scots Alexander III knighted Cailean, and the next reigning king appointed him chief (Baile) of Loch Awe, the highland area Cailean’s dad or grandad had first established themselves in around 1220. And as every good pupil of Campbell-ania knows, in the First War for Scottish Independence he sided with the Bruce (Robert, Earl of Carrick) in Robert’s ultimately successful push to be King of Scots. And though he died 10 or so years before it all worked out for Robert, Cailean’s son Nial (Neil)  maintained the support his father had spearheaded, and these combined efforts certainly helped secure this branch of the family’s fortunes. Neil was the first to bear the patronymic, “Son of Great Colin”, or Mac Cailean Mór, the title borne down to the present day by the eldest male line descendant, Chief of Clan Campbell, the 13th Duke of Argyll. It was these original arms of Colin’s that later got “differenced” into the form most Campbells & those who love us recognize, and which is seen as part of the arms that appear above, top right.CRAIGNISH LINE1

These are the arms of one of the Lords of Craignish, and strictly speaking–as it’s seen there–it wasn’t contemporaneous with the other two. More on that later, but the reason it’s up there is because it’s the oldest branch of the clan, or “cadet”. A certain Dougal was the younger son of an early Gillespic; Dougal’s older brother was Duncan, father of the man who gained the nickname which named the family. On this page further below you’ll find a map putting Craignish in context (hint: it’s west of Loch Awe, sort of nestled in the ragged western coast of Argyll).

The middle shield up top holds particular intrigue and unknowns. The man who bore these arms was Sir Arthur Cambel, Captain of Dunstaffnage Castleminic. He was 1st cousin to Sir Colin who bore–at the same time–the arms up top left. The 1st cousin from Colin’s older uncle. Sir Arthur and his line enjoyed the seniority accorded these days to Colin’s male-line descendants, the House of Argyll. Arthur’s line does survive today, though. How the junior line came to be in the position of dominance doesn’t seem to be known too well, or discernble from the extant documents or other evidence. But from what can be gathered from the fantastic, exhaustive and very well-written, witty and enjoyable History of the Clan Campbell, by Alistair Campbell of Airds, it seems like it could have been more situational and emergent than the result of devious acts, or ruthless glory hunting and ambition.


A New Chart of Early Campbells

Immediately below this paragraph is a chart I’ve done of these earliest attested fellows who came to be called Cambels…and later Campbells. (That first link in the last sentence, by the way, goes to a page that has a hi-res image and transcription of the actual first record of a Campbell: father of the above-mentioned Colin, it is Gillascoppe Cambell in 1263). On the chart below I’ve put maps I made in Google Earth for some of the people showing their stomping grounds, and some of these are highlighted separately below the charts. And as always, remember to click the chart and then click it again in the new tab so as to see it large in all its glory.

(If you’d like this one or any of them printed, please contact me for info; you’ll get free shipping on most.)


2. A more typical or traditionally style chart, with boxes around each person.


2a. What the above chart would look like in a fancy old frame, printed on parchment colored paper. (Available, btw, as any of the charts here can be; frame not inlcuded; if you’re interested in getting one the charts, contact me.)


“Out of the mists…”













Sir Colin’s arms










Arms of Sir Arthur, whose line became known as “of Strachur”; the senior line, acknowledged as such in ~1290, but whose fortunes …changed.







And the arms of the Campbell Lords of Craignish, the 1st cadet branch to sprout, back in the 1200s.

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Posted by on March 3, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Tree of the Roses


This post serves up a long overdue updated version of a tree showing the kings and queens of England who sprang from the many uncrowned sons of King Edward III (seen above with his wife and 2nd cousin Philippa of Hainault). It’s as tidy as can be, leaves out very little, actually, and conveys a lot without being totally overwhelming.

Firstly, though, here’s a chart as a frame of reference showing Edward & Philippa and their sons, not one of whom was ever King of England. (Always click on it, and then once you go to the tab it opens in, click it again so it assumes its full and I hope enjoyable capacity.)

E3WAROROSES16 copy.png

The king immediately following Edward’s death in 1377 was the son of Edward, the oldest son and was named Richard II. The next king was picked by Richard to be one of the grandkids of the 2nd oldest son Lionel, but instead the oldest son of the 3rd son, John, Duke of Lancaster, decided to be king and simply took the crown, telling his younger (half) brother that neither he nor any of his descendants ever got to be king, and then passed it on down to his son and then he to his son. But then it went to a great-grandson of the 4th son, Edmund, Duke of York named Edward (again, this time the 4th, or: IV), then very briefly to his teenage son before going to his (Edward IV’s) younger brother who happened to nicely bookend this hot-potato-like game of the throne that had commenced with Edward III’s death by being named Richard also, and thus the 3rd, or: III.

But then he went and got killed by someone who was a great-great-grandson of the 3rd son (John of Lancaster) who happened to be married to a lady who was both a 4x-great-granddaughter of the 2nd oldest son (Lionel, Duke of Clarence), a 2x-great-granddaugher of the 3rd son (John, Lancaster again) as well as a 2x-great-grandaughter of the 3rd son Edmund (of York). This guy was named Henry and when he took that crown became the 7th one, or Henry VII. The son of his and wife Elizabeth was of course, good ole Henry VIII, he was, and all three of this Henry’s kids would rule England when their time came, but since none of them had any kiddies, the crown passed, as is well known, to a man who was the great-grandson of Henry VIII’s big sister Margaret, one James, who was already by right of birth James VI, King of Scots, and on the death of his grandma’s and grandpa’s 1st cousin Elizabeth I in 1609, became King James I of England.

Click on this chart below, download it so you can zoom way in.

There will be a follow-up post that offers something in the way of an explanation of chart-making choices and highlighting some of the use-values of the chart.

If you repost, borrow, or in any way use it, please attribute. Thanks. Enjoy!








Posted by on November 6, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Brothers Pt. 3

AFRICA L2R copy 2

Welcome to the third part of this little spree of posts on Y-DNA and the worldwide lines of descent of the men who’ve been the agents and embodiments of its dispersal. Here are links to Part 1 & Part 2.

In this post I’m sharing more detailed charts I’ve made showing these descents, first of which is a slight revision of the first one I posted showing the African “trunk” of what I’m calling the world’s brothers. The main difference is simply that it’s oriented left to right instead of top down; I’ve also added some brief explanatory notes on it. Again, all the charts I post should be clicked on and then opened again at their max size.


And next is the branch that came from “CT Little Brother” in the chart above. CT is the working designation of the Y-DNA haplogroup of the men who first left the garden-like cradle of Africa about 72,000 years ago, and from whom 90% of the world’s men descend.

ASIAN1 copy

Next we have “The Rest” of us, the Brothers. It’s worth noting that almost all of the migrations demonstrated in these charts were back in the Old Stone Age (Paleolithic period).


And last for today is this amazingly elegant & simplified version of the big picture from a great site called The Genetic Atlas:



Posted by on September 3, 2016 in Uncategorized


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