Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Big Haired Ladies

I just had to post this picture of some Texas Big Haired Ladies! Did the 80's rock, or what?!

This was sent to me by my high school classmate Lisa (Johnson) Troupe. She's the glamorous blonde in red.

Boy, those were the days, huh?!

The Alachua County Library System Rules!

I got a library card from them in the mail today, and am having an absolute field day with their online genealogy stuff. (Incl. online census records!) More later, I'm sure. But, I want to get back to the digging!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Basking in the Glow

You know, at the start of the football season, I knew the Gators faced something of an uphill battle with their new coach Urban Meyer. He's a great coach, don't get me wrong. But, he's still "the new guy." And, even the "Evil Genius" had a rocky road his first couple of seasons back in Gainesville.

So, I ran around telling everybody who'd listen to me back in August that I'd be "happy if we beat Tennessee, Georgia, and FSU."

Well, yesterday, that happened!


Own it, you 'Noles!

So, what if we're "only" 8-3 and MAY end up in some 2nd or 3rd-tier bowl this year. Coach Meyer kept us undefeated in the Swamp this year, and that's pretty good for a new guy.

I see bigger and brighter things for the Orange and Blue.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Another DNA match

I received an email this morning from Bill Morgan of DeLeon Springs. He found another researcher named John Morgan whose DNA markers are an exact match. I'm anxiously awaiting more details from John to find out how far he's been able to trace his line, and hopefully pinpoint where all of our lines converge!

Holiday Re-cap

OK, here's a run-down on Turkey Day 2005.

We did ham instead of turkey at the house while we waited on the Bright House Networks guy to come fix the cable. (The line was cut on Wednesday while a worker was setting form boards for a new gate track in the back yard.) Anyway, I for one was impressed that they actually worked on a holiday, giving me something else to be thankful for!

My sister called from Charleston to let us know that they have picked a name for her baby boy, due December 10th: Charley Keith Simmons. I'm not too wild about it, as it conjures up bad memories of that hurricane from last year. But, it doesn't really matter, because I've already nicknamed him "Tater!"

After the cable guy left, we went over to visit with the Jenks family and had some great desserts. I also felt obliged to sample their TWO turkeys.

We got up this morning to drive up to Gainesville to meet Cousin Joanna and her three boys. She has been battling cancer and needed help making it all the way down to Orlando. So, of course we were glad to oblige. And, we had a mini family reunion of sorts at her mom's house. A good time was had by all!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Gobble Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone, and Happy Birthday to Mom!

I have known for years that my family was descended (in a couple of lines!) from Mayflower passenger Degory Priest. But, I only recently discovered a descent from another (more famous) passenger: John Howland. Following are some notes I've been collecting on him. Thought they would be appropriate.

From Saints and Strangers by George Findlay Willison, Reynal & Hitchcock, Publishers, New York, 1945:

John Howland came to America aboard the famous Mayflower as a servant in the household of Governor John Carver. He was described by his contemporaries as a "lustie young man." (Page 134.) During the voyage, the ship encountered a fierce storm. John grew restless in the stuffy hold, so went up on deck and was immediately swept overboard. Fortunately, the ship was trailing some of the topsail halyards and he was able to get a hold of these until he could be pulled out of the water with a hook. (Page 136.)

Upon arriving along the coast of Massachusetts, John Howland was one of eighteen volunteers who left the Mayflower to explore the mainland. They disembarked at Wellfleet Bay, camping on the beach that first night. In the morning, they roamed the nearby woods and discovered a large native burial ground. (Page 153.) And, that night they constructed a barricade at Eastham, where they spent their second restless night on American soil. The next day, their breakfast was interrupted by an Indian attack, which was repelled under the leadership of Capt. Miles Standish. (Page 154.)

Howland and his comrades persued the retreating Indians for a quarter mile before returning to their campsite. Remarkably, none were injured in the skirmish, although they found their coats hanging on the barricade shot through and through with arrows. They broke camp, and set to sea in search of Plymouth Harbor. But, a blustery winter gale soon descended upon them, breaking their rudder and snapping their mast in three pieces. They barely managed to keep their small vessel from capsizing before a flood tide swept them into an unfamiliar harbor. Rather than going ashore, they chose to spend the night in their storm-tossed boat. (Page 155.)

In the morning, Howland and his companions discovered they had landed on an island in Plymouth harbor. They spent the day resting and recovering from their exhaustion, then spent the next day keeping Sabbath. Finally, on Monday morning, December 11th, they crossed the harbor to land at Plymouth. There they found cornfields and running water, and decided it was the best place they were likely to find for settlement. And, by the following day, they had made it back to the "Mayflower" to report their findings to the rest of the passengers. (Page 156.)

In Plymouth, John Howland was granted a plot of land on a slope along the Highway to the beach, on the edge of Cole's Hill and overlooking the famous Plymouth Rock. (Page 162.) After his master John Carver died of sunstroke while toiling in the colony's cornfields in 1621, his estate was given to Howland. (Pages 439 and 443.) And, in 1632, he received a large tract along the Jones River in what is now Kingston--some five miles away from Plymouth. This encouraged him, like so many other fellow colonists, to move away from the original settlement. (Page 313.)

John Howland is best remembered for operating the colonial trading post on the Kennebec River at the site of modern Augusta, Maine, where he carried on a brisk exchange with the Abnaki Indians. (Page 263.) The trade was briefly interrupted in 1634, when a Dutch ship lay anchor and threatened the English outpost. But, John Howland sent two men in a canoe to cut the ship's anchor cables. (Page 297.) Unfortunately, a melee ensued and the Dutch ship's captain was shot dead. Many of the pilgrims back in Plymouth feared the King of England would use the incident as a pretext for sending over a royal governor to rule over them. (Page 298.)

Howland is also remembered for presiding as magistrate at the witchcraft trial of Mrs. William Holmes of Scituate after Dinah Sylvester accused her of appearing to her in the shape of a bear. He found Sylvester's testimony to be nonsense, fined her five pounds, and sentenced her to a public whipping. (Page 320.)

Following notes were taken from The Time of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony by James and Patricia Scott Deetz, W.H. Freeman and Company, New York, 2000:

In 1937, architect Sidney Strickland undertook excavation of John Howland's home site. Howland had purchased the old home of John Jenney on 2 February 1638, and there was still an obvious depression in the soil and a quantity of protruding rocks that indicated its location. Unfortunately, Strickland was not a provessional archaeologist, and his sketches of the site were amateurish. He published only a short account of his work in 1939, but the artifacts he recovered were never cataloged and instead wound up on the porch of a summer home in Plymouth--stored on paper plates! By the 1970s, other assorted pieces of ceramic from different eras had been mixed up with the originals, making it nearly impossible to ascertain whether or not they actually came from the Howland household. (Pages 217-218.)

The Howland property straddles the modern Howland's Lane in the Rocky Nook section of Kingston, Massachusetts. Recently, the University of Virginia re-investigated the supposed foundations of the Howland home, which was occupied by descendants until 1735. The Virginians determined that Howland had lived in the old Jenney home only until he completed a more elaborate structure on the property. This second house survived until at least the time of King Philip's War in 1676, when his son claimed the Indians burned it to the ground. (Pages 240-243.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Alice Middleton More

I'm reading an excellent biography from Anchor Books, The Life of Thomas More, by Peter Ackroyd. (ISBN 0-385-49693-1) The best part for me is the sketch it gives on Thomas' wife Dame Alice, as she is my ancestor by a previous marriage (thru the Jernigans). Anyway, she was quite a character, and the rest of the books is very well-written, too. I can highly recommend it to anyone with interest in Tudor England.

New High Score

OMG, I can't believe I stayed up this late on a "work night!" But, I played the best game of Bejeweled EVER. It just kept going and going, way past my usual bedtime, til I racked up over 80,000 points . . . almost double my previous high score posted here earlier this month. I am such a pathetic geek to let crap like this keep me up so late!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Test for a stroke

Three easy ways to test someone suspected of having a stroke:

1. Ask them to smile.

2. Ask them to raise both their hands over their heads.

3. Ask them to repeat a simple sentence like, "The sun is shining brightly today."

If they fail any of these, seek medical attention ASAP!

Sunday, November 20, 2005


The latest sock in the dryer is actually a repeat performance.

I had gone off on a tangent in my genealogical pursuits several months ago when I received the results of a DNA test. It identified 37 unique markers that are carried only by male members of my Morgan line. If you want to see my 37 markers and compare them to yours, check out sample VTKK1 at Ybase.org.

The exciting thing was that those markers put me in contact with a couple other Morgan researchers (Brett in Baltimore and Colby in Memphis) who had an exact DNA match. Unfortunately, we have not been able to pinpoint exactly where our lines converge.

Well, today, we added another Morgan to the group (Bill in DeLeon Springs, Florida).

These markers are too unusual. There has to be a connection somewhere. The challenge is just to find where!!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Work on a Saturday?!

Yep, that's me and my boring life story, again!

But, I know that next week is going to be a short one. And, I wanted to make it as easy as possible. Cramming five days' of work into three is never any fun . . . I'm such a good little worker bee. Wonder what the boss was doing today?!

Ghost Whisperer

I have to admit that Jennifer Love Hewitt's new show "Ghost Whisperer" is my latest guilty pleasure. Tonight's episode was particularly enthralling. Have you ever thought you heard voices in the staticky "white noise" between stations on your radio or tv?

BTW, is "staticky" even a word?!

Anyway, I think I will go play with my radio now and see if I pick up any secret messages . . . or, better yet, maybe I'll just go to bed at a decent hour!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Festival of Trees

Okay, I'm starting to get into the holiday season. But, I will never understand why the retail chains insist up on putting Christmas trees up before Halloween . . .

Anyway, my mom and I kept up with our tradition of visiting the Orlando Museum of Art's annual "Festival of Trees." We went on a weekday this year to avoid the crowds, and what a great idea that was!

The displays weren't as impressive as past years, and there were no carolers. But, Mom got a few new ideas for decking the halls.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Well, I had to pay the guy who's doing all the work downstairs. I thought I'd have til Friday, but he needed the money today. Left me broke, and I had to cancel a planned trip to Sam's . . . but, he's doing a great job and should be done tomorrow.

Until my checking account has some time to recover from this, I will have to eat PB&J for lunch.

No one said being a homeowner would be easy, and they were right!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Ok, I made it to the meeting with my publisher, and inked a deal. We're looking at a late February to early March release date. So, that's exciting. But, I'm absolutely exhausted. I don't even think I'll be able to make it til the CMA's come on tv.

It doesn't help that I'm having some work done at the house, and have no use of the first floor for awhile. Not as comfortable to watch tv in my little upstairs office as it is to flop on the couch in the living room. Oh, well, I think I'll call it a night.

Sleep will not be a problem.

Monday, November 14, 2005


Well, I'm supposed to meet with my publisher's representative tomorrow afternoon, and I still don't have the last two chapters of my book completed. I had every good intention of finishing tonight, but got sidetracked on that stupid Bejeweled game I mentioned in my last post. And, now I'm messing around with this blog.

OK, gotta force myself to focus now . . .

Bucs, Bejeweled, and Boo-hoos

Let's start with the boo-hoos: The Gators lost yesterday to South Carolina. First time in over 60 years that's happened. At least the defeat came at the hands of the Evil Genius, and it was tempered by the fact that FSU went down in flames to Clemson in the "Bowden Bowl." The dead rabbit on the front porch yesterday must've been a harbinger of doom . . . but, that's another story.

Ok, continuing in the reverse chronological order, let's talk Bejeweled. After much nerdiness, I am proud to post the following high scores:

3,020 - 1,578 - 7 - 2,520 - 42,240

I defy anyone out there to top those numbers. Do I have skills, or what?!

Finally, the day ended on a high note when the Bucs went for a last-minute two-point conversion to beat the Redskins down in Tampa. I hope Urban Meyer was watching . . .

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Cousin Uma

In perusing an article by celebrity genealogist Gary Boyd Roberts, I discovered a distant relationship with the actress Uma Thurman.

We both descend from Col. Thomas Ligon of Walsgrave-on-Sowe in Warwickshire, England. He was a cousin of Gov. William Berkeley of Virginia, and eventually settled in that colony himself.

According to my calculations, our common descent makes Ms. Thurman my 10th cousin (3 generations removed). The Genealogue blog has an interesting kinship calculator, for those of you interested in that sort of thing.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day

Uggghh! I can't believe I had to go to work today. I got absolutely nothing accomplished. Ok, I got a little accomplished. But, it seemed like I was getting constant interruptions either on the phone or drop-ins at the office. What's the deal with people not wanting to work on a holiday?!?

I think I'll have to go in to the office tomorrow when no one else is there to bug me and try to play some catch up.

Oh, yeah, thanks to all the veterans out there!!

Congressional biographies . . .

I found this great site while trying to find more information on John Wingate Weeks, the first chief of the Orlando Fire Department:


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bumby bumblings

Today, I traded emails with a Bumby descendant in Missouri named Christine Bumby Allen. The recent death of her grandfather down in Wauchula had sparked her interest in the family history. I tried to send her what information I could find from local resources in my personal library, but think I only muddied the waters for her!

The Bumby that everyone in Orlando knows about was Joe Bumby (1843-1911), who operated a famous hardware store downtown at Church Street Station. But, Christine descends from a Jesse Bumby (1823-1915), who is buried near Joe in the city's old Greenwood Cemetery. Unfortunately, I could not tell her how the two were related.

This is one of those sock in the dryer situations that may come back on my radar screen later!

The Baker Act is a Band-Aid

Well, we had to Baker Act my father AGAIN!

Our family has been dealing with his Early-onset Alzheimer's Disease for several years now, and it seems the Baker Act is the favorite solution when the health care professionals throw their hands in the air from frustration. It's kind of like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound, in my opinion.

Anyway, I stumbled across a 24-hour Alzheimer's Crisis Response Center that I'm hoping will be able to take a big picture approach to this problem. If you're dealing with this in your own life, you may want to visit their website by clicking here, or call their hotline at 1-800-394-1771.

Monday, November 07, 2005

OBJ Reader's Choice Awards

The Orlando Business Journal is now accepting nominations for their annual "best of" list. You can enter your top choices at:


I have been asked to plug United Heritage Bank for nominations in the following categories:

(1) best community bank
(2) best business bank
(3) best bank for personal banking

And, of course, I would personally encourage everyone to nominate CECIL'S for the best barbecue place!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Is it ever okay not to forgive someone?

This is the question posed in the November edition of the His Way Newsletter, published by my great-uncle B.G. Brown. He has always thought (and taught) that unforgiveness is a sin, but seems to think 2nd Corinthians 2:7 may give an exception to this "rule."

In 1st Corinthians 5:1-5, the apostle Paul instructed the church at Corinth to turn over an adulterer to Satan for the destruction of his flesh.

Then, in his second letter to the Corinthians a year later, Paul told the church to welcome the same man back into fellowship because he had repented.

After pondering this, I humbly submit that Uncle B.G. has confused forgiveness with communion. I can cite examples in my own life where I have forgiven people in my heart, but left them to the consequences of their actions. And, to admit an unrepetant person to communion--even after he or she had been forgiven individually by the communicants--would be impossible. At, least that's my take on the Corinthian verses. It's a non-issue in my mind. But, then, what do I know?!

B.G. and His Way Teaching Ministry invite all thoughts and insights on this and other spiritual questions, and will add you to their newsletter mailing list if you send them an email request.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Uh-oh, my rant is going to be published

I just got the following email in response to yesterday's Letter to the Editor:

Mr. Morgan,

Just a note to let you know that your letter about the gushing will be in Sunday's paper!

Thanks for writing!

Best regards,
Dixie Tate
Letters editor
The Orlando Sentinel

Friday, November 04, 2005

Gushing over Glenda

I was reading the online version of the local daily newspaper, the Orlando Sentinel. I don't subscribe anymore for various reasons: (1) I moved to a small neighboring town to get away from all the nonsense, and that town has its own (superior) newspaper, (2) the editorial board of the Sentinel takes increasingly ridiculous positions and makes equally ridiculous political endorsements, and (3) I'm such a cheapskate that I found I can get the same material for free online.

Anyway, while checking things out during my lunch break, I came across the following "editorial." I almost gagged on my Chipotle chicken soft taco:

A mayor returns

Our position: Glenda Hood's move back to Orlando can benefit the community greatly.

Welcome home.

Nearly three years after she stepped down as mayor of Orlando to serve as Gov. Jeb Bush's secretary of state, Glenda Hood announced this week that she was stepping down to return to her roots.

For now, Mrs. Hood says she has no firm plans, other than to spend time with family and stay involved in public service. And in that regard, Central Florida will be the beneficiary.

In her decade at the helm of Orlando, Mrs. Hood was a tireless visionary, championing everything from badly needed transportation alternatives to neighborhood improvements to more cultural offerings in the city center. Only in her latter years as mayor did she seem to tire of the political infighting and daily grind of local government operations. The move to Tallahassee was the right thing to do then, just as her move home should be a boon to our community now.

In the mold of former Orlando Mayor Bill Frederick and former Orange County Chairman Linda Chapin, Mrs. Hood's leadership skills could be put to good use.

As secretary of state, for example, she was responsible for marketing Florida to the global business community. Those contacts could significantly boost regional initiatives to diversify the local tourist economy.

Mrs. Hood's marketing savvy and community ties also could jumpstart fundraising efforts for local charities, which have suffered post 9-11. Really, the opportunities are boundless.

Because of her vision, tenacity and experience, Mrs. Hood's return couldn't come at a better time.

I couldn't believe this editorial board position, especially considering the headlines they put forward after Hood's departure. I couldn't help but to fire off the following "Letter to the Editor":

It was almost embarassing to read your recent gushing over Glenda Hood's pending return to Orlando. The editorial board needs to take off their rose-colored glasses and go back to the Sentinel archives to refresh their memories. It was only three years ago that the former mayor skipped town to accept Jeb Bush's appointment and left the local taxpayers holding the bag. Don't you remember the "fuzzy math" and the surprise deficit she left behind? I don't think the city can afford anymore of that sort of "leadership."

The Cats of Kilkenny

I found a reference to "the cats of Kilkenny" in my great-uncle's account of the first Battle of Manassas. I'm thinking of using it in some analogous way in the book I'm writing about the Civil War, perhaps in the title itself:

There once were two cats of Kilkenny.
Each thought there was one cat too many.
So, they fought and they fit,
And, they scratched, and they bit,
Till, excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails,
Instead of two cats, there weren't any!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Feisty Uncle Owen

Truro Cathedral

Cornwall, England

I came across the following transcription of a monument to my great-great-uncle Owen FitzPen, which was placed in Truro Cathedral by his brother George. It makes for a pretty cool family story:

To the pious and well-deserved memory of Owen Fitzpen, alias Phippen, who travelled over many parts of the world and, on March 24, 1620, was taken by the Turks and made captive in Algiers. He projected sundry plots for his liberty and, on June 17, 1627, with 20 other Christian captives, Dutch and French, persuaded by his counsel and courage, began a cruel fight with 65 Turks in their own ship--which lasted three hours, in which five of his company were slain. Yet, God made him conquer, and so he brought the ship in to Cartagena, being of 400 tons and having 22 ordinance. The king [presumably of Spain?] sent for him to come to Madrid, where he was offered a captain's place and a King's favor if he would turn Papist. He refused. He sold all for 6,000 pounds, returned to England, and died at Lamorran.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A good quote

Those who do not look upon themselves as a link connecting the past with the future do not perform their duty to the world.

~ Daniel Webster