All posts by Don Stone

About Don Stone

Don Stone is a retired computer science professor. His interest in genealogy began at the age of 13 when his mother told him that he was descended from the artist John Trumbull. Some library research quickly revealed that he was descended from the artist’s brother, but he was hooked on the subject. Don enjoys researching modern, medieval, and ancient genealogy and making large-format illustrated genealogical charts. He received a Bachelor of Engineering Physics from Cornell University and an M.S. (Computer and Information Science) and a Ph.D. (Instructional Systems) from the University of Pennsylvania.

Keeping up with the Joneses

Hannah Maria (Salisbury) Olmsted

My earlier discussion of genealogical uncertainty focused on uncertain genealogical connections. This discussion will explore uncertainty in biographical information about ancestors or relatives.

Years ago, when I started exploring the ancestry of my father’s great-grandmother, Hannah Maria (Salisbury) Olmsted (1829–1887), I fairly soon found an abundance of information in Richard LeBaron Bowen’s four-volume Early Rehoboth: Documented Historical Studies.[1] In particular, I learned the gruesome details of the death of my Salisbury immigrant ancestor William and his oldest son, John, brother of my ancestor Samuel Salisbury, in the contentious time at the beginning of King Philip’s War. Because of tense relations with the natives, most English colonists had left their homes and gathered in fortified garrisons. Continue reading Keeping up with the Joneses

Academic genealogy

Photos of Norbert Wiener courtesy of the MIT Museum (

Shortly before my retirement as a computer science professor, one of my master’s degree students asked me for my academic genealogy, intending to attach himself at the end of it. I had not heard of the concept of an academic genealogy before then, but I was immediately intrigued and started tracing mine.

An academic genealogy is a sequence of advisor-advisee relationships, usually (in modern times) a sequence of PhD dissertation advisor-advisee relationships. A person with a PhD may have only one advisor (analogous to a parent in a biological genealogy) or two co-advisors. It is even possible that a PhD holder would have three “parents”; perhaps, for example, there were initially two co-advisors, but one of them died and was replaced by a third faculty member. Continue reading Academic genealogy

Genealogical uncertainty

Many of us are avid genealogists who want to trace our ancestry as far back as is reasonable in all lines. When filling out our family trees, we come to some dead ends where lack of information blocks us from going back further. We may also come to situations where there is some information relating to the parentage of a known ancestor but not enough to claim certainty. Continue reading Genealogical uncertainty