Tag: ancestors

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.






Clan Campbell-isms – Early Arms, History & Branches

Gracing the top of the page today are renditions I made of three of the oldest arms from some men of the early history and branches of 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.)

OLDEST CAMPBELLS FAMILY TREE, earliest campbells, gillespic cambeul, cam-beul, cambel, colin mor campbell, Cailean Mór Caimbeul, cailean mor, sir neil campbell, sir arthur campbell, strachur, loudoun, inverawe, duntroon, craignish, campbell of lochow, campbell of loch awe, campbell of strachur, campbell of craignish, campbell of loudoun, mary bruce, dougal cambel, o'duibne, first campbells, clan campbell origins family tree

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…”










arms of colin mor cambel, cailean mor, clan campbell loch awe lord


Earliest arms for Loch Awe

Sir Colin’s arms








Early arms for Strachur

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







Early arms for Craignish


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

Brothers Pt. 3 – Y-DNA Haplogroup Trees

AFRICA L2R copy 2

Welcome to the third part of this little spree of posts on Y-DNA and the worldwide lines of descent, wherein you’ll find haplogroup trees of the world’s men. Those men have been the agents and embodiments of its (Y-DNA’s) 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.

Y-DNA African haplogroup tree, Y DNA, Y chromosome, african y-dna, y-dna haplogroup A, y-dna haplogroup B, y-dna haplogroup A00, chris rock y-dna, y-chromosomal adam, spencer wells, genographic, human migration, human family tree

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.

YDNA tree haplogroup CT, Y-DNA haplogroup CT chart, Y-DNA haplogroup CT, Y-DNA haplogroup DE, Y-DNA halpogroup E, Y-DNA haplogroup F, y chromosome haplogroup CT, out of africa migration, y haplogroup d, y haplogroup e, genghis khan dna, richard iii y dna

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).

Y-DNA haplogroup tree, Y-DNA haplogroup IJ, Y-DNA haplogroup R, Y-DNA haplogroup O, Y chromosome r, china y-dna, europe y-dna, viking y-dna,

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


Thanks for visiting! And as always, if you share any of these Y-DNA haplogroup trees, just link back here or attribute them otherwise.

Brothers Pt.2

ydna basx.png

I made this chart to just show the basics of what’s up with Y-DNA to give context for anyone who wants or needs it to yesterday’s post.

And the map below puts it in a geographic context. Always click on images like this map or charts so you can see them larger, more easily and in detail. Cuz it turns out that the degree to which we humans are just such a mix is truly astounding. This migration route maps only begins to hint at that.

More later today! Watch this National Geographic documentary if you haven’t seen it.


Roots, now!


Obviously I’ve been excited since I heard that Alex Haley’s Roots had been re-adapted for TV and would be airing starting this coming Monday May 30th.

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 9.16.22 PMIt ties in with everything I care about as it pertains to collectively educating ourselves and using what learning and education (and learning about history) offer to unravel things like prejudice so we can–collectively–get on with the hard work of making this world a better place.


Roots the TV series circa January 1977 framed my worldview; I watched it then at all of 6 years old as I began 1st grade at an integrated school in Denver.


Roots the book had a greater impact on me than anything I’ve ever read.


720x405-121715-celebs-underground-tv-show-still-macon-7And have you been checking out that new series “Underground” on the WGN Network about slaves in Georgia and the Underground Railroad? Excellent, really excellent stuff. The show’s produced by the recent pop music phenom John Legend. And one of the executive producers is Akiva Goldsmith. Is the name not immediately familiat to you? He won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for “A Beautiful Mind”, but of greater relevance in many ways to the topic at hand and of this as well as my past two posts, is that he was also a producer of the much-overlooked historical period piece I wrote about previously: Jonah Hex. And indeed, the same  production elements that I cited as groudbreaking in Jonah Hex are absolutely being deployed in this show “Underground”: contemporary, fast cutting (editing) style of visual pacing and contemporary music tending towards the more dissonant and dark side of the tune; these things help the productions feel immediate, rather than  historical, which to me, is the goal. Screen shot 2016-05-28 at 3.00.37 PM

And then Roots! Comin’ back. Crazy! And awesome. The production team, acting team, everything seems top notch and I can’t wait.

Then, to boot, I found out the other day that a cousin of mine is appearing in it! (He’s a fine actor and a guy of depth. He was also in Dallas Buyer’s Club.) How cool is that?! Very. It’s very cool.

Screen shot 2016-05-28 at 2.58.13 PM

I mean, this production: Laurence Fishburne as Alex Haley, Forrest Whittaker as Fiddler. And annointing this iteration, in the role this time as a producer is LeVar Burton–who of course catapulted into his career as Kunta Kinte, Haley’s African ancestor back in the 70s…only to go on to enlighten millions of kids’ minds with Reading Rainbow and then to go …where no one Screen shot 2016-05-28 at 2.57.49 PMhas gone before in Star Trek the Next Generation. The Point is, it’s top brass on this deal, and I’m stoked for my cousin to get to be part of such a high-profile project.

LeVar Burton

And here’s another very cool thing:

My best and oldest friend’s grandfather–a man who was also the closest thing I ever knew or had to a grandpa since I didn’t know either of mine–I discovered a few years ago is related to Roots author Alex Haley. Check it out:

TO HALEY 2 copy

Giving Thanks 1: for TV/Movie History Best Practices


Ye Olde Mayflower

And thanks be to God for the deployment by the production team hired byScreen shot 2015-12-01 at 8.38.33 PM the National Geographic TV channel of everything that is right, just and good in potraying history in a dramatized, semi-fictionalized way in their recent, 2-part miniseries, Saints and Strangers.

If you didn’t catch it when it aired last Sunday and Monday (Nov 22 & 23rd), the Nat’l Geographic channel is apparently re-broadcasting it on occasion and it’s available online at their site.

Screen shot 2015-12-01 at 8.38.49 PM

It’s amazing.

As you might already know, what’s immediately so impressive about this production of the Grande Olde Tale of the Mayflower’s Atlantic crossing and the Pilgrims’ first, horrific and death-filled winter and that first, lucious, much-ballyhoo’d giving of thanks in Nov 1621 is that it is in-your-face gritty; unflinching in its insistence on keeping it real. So real, in fact, that the big take-away after watching it is a genuine feeling of being grateful that we weren’t actually THERE, because my dt.common.streams.StreamServergawd: it sucked.

BUT! Another part of that reality was the clear and present fact of the folks who already lived there: the Indians, the native Americans, the Wampanoag, the Narragansett, Massachusett and other peoples native to the land. And everything about their presence and reaction and involvement is so much more, well, present! than ever has ever been depicted in any presentation about the situation

My family (my kids, mom, aunt and six 1st cousins on that side & their kids) had four people in attendance at that first thanksgiving. Six had been on the voyage on the Mayflower, but Priscilla Mullins’ parents didn’t make it through Tribal_Territories_Southern_New_Englandthat first winter.

And–my stars!–that very event, ie, their death aboard the harbor-bound J ALDEN TV 1AMayflower, is actually depicted in this awesome miniseries: young John Alden, who was not a pilgrim as such, but a 19-year-old hired hand, is standing on the shore near Plymouth receiving a boat of more dead from the ship, told that two of the bodies are the Mullins; he looks sad but stolid, then worried and asks after Priscilla (the Mullins daughter, just a few years younger than he & thus of his age-group) and is assured that she’s fine.

They get more screen time and Autograph_JohnAldenthe blooming of their affection is straightforwardly (w/ nothing but taste and class) depicted, too. Yes, we are descended from them.

And I’ll be honest, I totally loved seeing them depicted up there on P MULLINS TV 1Athe big old TV screen. In anime and other fandom circles, this kind of thing is known as “fan service”*. And though in certain sectors of that phenom it can imply more openly romantic, or even (gasp!) sexually charged or erotic nods to what fans want to see, that certainly wasn’t the case here. In fact, fan service, whether teen-aimed and perhaps risque, or geek-aimed and bristling with gear-head details actually evinces an aspect of media inter-engagement that’s quite interesting.

front_house1Be that as it may, however, there was good reason for them to semi-gratuitously focus on these two: among the show’s viewers you can bet were lots of us who could be labeled the “genealogy” fandom (family history enthusiasts), specifically who have traced a line or more of our ancestors to these particular two. Indeed, they have the most descendants of the Mayflower passengers. These kinds of things are hard to ALDEN HOUSE WRKRMestimate, but it’s reckoned that perhaps somewhere around as many as 30 million Americans alive today are descended from one of the folks who rode the Mayflower (and was at that first thanksgiving). How many of those can trace a line or 2 or more to Alden & Mullins? I have no idea, but millions. Millions of Americans can. You betchyer ass they were gonna give a little nod to good ole Gramma and Grampa Alden. (more like: 10th-great-gramma & gramps!)


Part 2 will include my line-item suggestions for “best practices” in movie and TV dramatic depictions of history.

But here’s one other good example (and it’s total jonah-hex-movie-image-josh-brolin-31-600x400fiction, but) replete with the good and best practices I’m thinking of). The movie “Jonah Hex”, based on the DC Comics character who’s a deeply wounded (ha ha) Confederate vet from the US Civil War who can get the scoop on how the dead died…from the dead. And he (played by Josh Brolin) is on a righteous vendetta against, in the movie version, deliciously evil John Malkovitch.


*fan service: “scenes that exist only to gratify the wishes of fans”, from Robin E. Brenner’s Understanding Manga and Anime, Connecticut, Libraries Unlimited, 2007, p. 88
“Other forms of fanservice include gratuitous amounts of detailed mecha transformation scenes, mascot placings and so-on.” from Anime News Network’s Lexicon, http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/lexicon.php?id=54



Jefferson and Hemings, The Shadow Part 2

     George_Wythe_Randolph_1      john wayles jefferson2
OR: More on America’s Shadow, The Civil War

Monticello, 1818-1826

The fellows pictured were both grandsons of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and 3rd President of the USA (among other things).

The elder, sporting the full beard was George Wythe Randolph, born in 1818 at Monticello (Jefferson’s well-known home and plantation near Charlottesville, Virginia; the Great Man himself died there July 4, 1826). He was the last of 12 kids had by Jefferson’s daughter Martha and her husband, the Governor of Virginia Thomas M. Randolph, Jr. They were among the aknowledged elite of Virginia.

At the time George was born, his half-uncle Eston Hemings–Jefferson’s son by his slave Sally Hemings and father to the one to the right wearing the long goatee–was just 10 years old. He lived at Monticello and would surely have known and probably taken care of his baby nephew. After Jefferson’s death in 1826 Sally and her sons were freed and moved to Charlottesville. Eston’s first-born son whom you see in the painting to the right, John Wayles Hemings was born there in 1835. He was the first of two direct male-line grandsons of Jefferson, and later his father and family took the last name Jefferson.

It’s possible, even likely, that George (above left) and his uncle Eston (father of the one on the right) shared some pleasant enough times playing as children at Monticello in the early 1820s. Four decades later the score would be rather different as they embodied like many other families in America the opposing sides of the Civil War.mountain

George Randolph’s life was in Virginia as a lawyer. He served in the U.S. Navy briefly and later founded a militia unit which guarded John Brown during his trial. During the war he served the Confederacy–as artillery chief of the Confederate Army of the Peninsula, and also as Secretary of War.

John W. Jefferson’s father moved the family first to Ohio, then to Madison, Wisconsin, and there in 1861 when the war broke out, John joined the 8th Wisconsin Infanty, fighting as a Lt. Colonel for the Army of the United States of America.

Virginia was of course home to Thomas Jefferson, and he famously loved it dearly. It’s also known to breed fierce loyalty. But c’mon, ya gotta admit, it’s a little odd that his grandson decided to break away from the country he helped found and help lead a rebellion against it.