We’re an evolving project of discovery.

Our ideas, our music, our web pages, all in motion.

We’re history lovers, mostly storytellers.


Sharing and discovering history through our philosophical family tree.

Old Bones Odyssey The Project Interviews With Ellen C Kaye


We’re creating a different kind of family tree: a philosophical one, made of ideas, thoughts and beliefs; of love found, simmering hatreds, adoration, ancient feuds, hidden desires, religious wars, long buried resentments, deep seated enmities, loyalty, transcendence, harsh disappointment, disillusionment and hope.

“We’re all made up of philosophical family trees with ideas dangling off the branches. Call it a Thought Tree, an Idea Tree, a Dreams Lost And Found Tree. The beliefs of my ancestors are intriguing to me. The good ideas. The bad ideas. How they lived and what traces are left in the family I knew growing up. What vestiges of these ideas are still running through the laws and minds of our country creating the context of our current version of America.”

– Ellen C Kaye

Ellen’s philosophical ancestors and her family have been witness to both sides of the roots of the partisan divide which afflicts America today. Old Bones Odyssey, the show, is the musical telling of this American story. The historical, cultural, and social issues which preceded our current struggles as a nation, and now have collided and engulfed us, are woven throughout our project.

We all come from fascinating jumbles of people. Each life is a map that leads us to the world in which we live today. We’re avid map lovers. It’s a passion. With this project we’re creating a way back in time. Our aim is to discover, to find a deeper understanding of our world and our country right now.

Pictures from our stories below

The Russian Tea Room. Sidney Kaye, Faith Stewart-Gordon, Sidney Poitier, Faith with the RTR team, Ellen Kaye, Dudley Moore, Armand Assante, Natasha Kinski.
Kaye, Peerce, Williams, Oldin, Halpern, Goldberg
Family gathering 1970s.
Hart Island Map
A map detail off the Bronx coast.
Sidney Kaye at The RTR
My father having a photo taken for a Russian Tea Room ad campaign.
George Frederick Tuttle
Author of The Descendants Of William And Elizabeth Tuttle, published 1883. Family genealogist on the Courtney line.
Faith Stewart-Gordon In Front Of The RTR
My mother outside the Russan Tea Room.
Phoenix House
Phoenix House buildings on in decay on Hart Island.
The Descendants Of William And Elizabeth Tuttle
Title page. The Descendants Of William And Elizabeth Tuttle by George Frederick Tuttle. Published 1883. A History of Ellen’s maternal ancestors who emigrated from England to America in 1635 on a ship called the Planter.
Sidney Kaye with Sidney Poitier
My Dad with his good friend, talking, relaxing for a moment in the RTR dining room. Circa 1960s.
The Thermopylae
By Montague Dawson - 1868.
Kim Tsang with John Tsang
Kim being held by his father John. Long Island, NY. Circa 1960.
Potters Field Headstone
Hart Island, New York
Lloyd Williams
b. 1932. d. 2020. Fashion designer.
Sidney Kalmanowitz Kaye
Ellen Kaye - Missing Persons Poster
I always loved the way it looked like it's own odd little foreign embassy. The Russian Tea Room.
Faith Burwell Kaye Stewart-Gordon
The 1950s.
Jan Peerce
Signed photo by Jan Peerce- 1958. b. Jacob Pincus Perelmuth in 1904 in the Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York. d.1984, New Rochelle, New York. Jan was a famous cantor and opera singer, known as Toscanini’s favorite tenor. He starred in “Fiddler on the Roof” on Broadway as Tevye. His recording of “The Bluebird of Happiness”, which was written for him, became his signature tune and became a worldwide hit. He was the first American Jew to sing behind the Iron Curtain in the Soviet Union. He is credited with inspiring the launching of the Soviet Jewry Movement. Ellen's paternal uncle, married to her aunt Alice Kalmanowitz, her father Sidney's sister.
Record Of The Burwell Family
Title page. Published 1908.
Andrew Willet
b.1562 d.1621. He was an English clergyman and controversialist. A prolific writer, he is known for his anti-papal works. His views were Calvinist, conforming and non-separatist, and he appeared as a witness against Edward Dering before the Star-chamber. Ellen’s maternal ancestor.
Sidney Kaye
Phoenix House Building.
Decaying Phoenix House buildong. Hart Island, New York.
A Ruble
1898 Czarist currency from the Russian empire. Passed down on the Kalmanovitch-Kalmanowitz-Kaye line.
Thomas Willett
b. 1604 d. 1674 First and third Mayor of New York City. Ellen’s maternal ancestor.
Kim Tsang
Wedding day -1992. Bell Cafe, Spring Street, NYC.
Hart Island
Civil War. 1865.
Cruz Alejandrina Defanti
Cruz Defanti emigrated from Chile to New York City. She raised Ellen till she was seven.
Hart Island
Prisoners burying the dead. Hart Island, New York.
Lloyd Williams Fashion Sketch
Greenwich Village fashion sketches by Lloyd Williams.
Marinus Willett
b. 1740 Jamaica, Queens. d. 1830 Buried in Trinity Church, New York City. Revolutionary Soldier. British America. New York Militia. Continental Army. 1st, 3rd and 5th New York Regiment. 48th Mayor of New York City. Ellen’s maternal ancestor.
One Potato, Two Potato
"One Potato, Two Potato" was a ground breaking film directed by my cousin Larry Peerce. Barbara Barrie and Bernie Hamilton starred in it. My mother had a part in it. She was a talented actor who had been discovered a few years before in "New Faces Of 1952".
Isaak Chertok-Chertoff
A Russian who emigrated via Tokyo to Istanbul to Israel until the beginning of WWII and finally to New York City. He was a Russian intellectual, Japanese scholar, an engineer who helped design the Trans-Siberian Railway, diplomat, artist, taught Russian at the US Naval College during WWII and a translator of Chekhov stories. After designing the Soviet Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, he fled Stalin’s purge, having been warned secretly by a visiting Soviet official not to leave the ship he had just boarded, thus leaving his young Japanese love, and his life in Japan, forever and beginning his circuitous emigration to America. Ellen’s cousin on the paternal line.
Andrew Hull Courtney & Mary "Polly" Bowman Courtney
Andrew: b.1837 and d.1909. Mary: b.1836. d.1926. North Carolina. They married in 1860. Andrew fought for the Confederacy and was wounded at Gettysburg. Before his capture by Union soldiers his leg was amputated. Ellen’s maternal ancestors.
"Tuttle Gathering" By Joseph F. Tuttle
1635 William Tuttle Of New Haven, An Address Delivered At The Tuttle Gathering, New Haven, Conn, Sept. 3rd, 1873, By Joseph Tuttle, President of Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Ind. Title page.
Annie Horowitz Kalmanowitz & Jake Kalmanowitz
Believed to be their wedding photo taken on the Lower East Side, New York City. Married 1906. Ellen’s paternal grandparents.
Map Of Hart Island
City Island Harbor, Long Island Sound, New York. 1884. Hart Island nautical map.
Chertok-Chertoff Family
A mystery photograph. Russia. Ellen's paternal cousins.
Sketch By Lloyd Williams
Male attire by Lloyd Williams. Fashion designer. b.1932 d.2020.
Marinus Willet
b. 1740 Jamaica, Queens. d. 1830 Buried in Trinity Church, New York City. Revolutionary Soldier. British America. New York Militia. Continental Army. 1st, 3rd and 5th New York Regiment. 48th Mayor of New York City. Ellen’s maternal ancestor.
Isaak Chertok-Chertoff
Isaak Chertok-Chertoff building the Soviet Embassy in Tokyo in the 1930's under Stalin's rule. Isaak was the architect. Soon he would be purged and have to flee, starting on a long exodus that eventually brought him to New York City.
Jan Peerce
Jan Peerce photographed by Sidney or Faith Kaye on the terrace of their apartment on top of the Osborne, 57th Street, circa 1960. Ellen's paternal uncle, married to her aunt Alice Kalmanowitz, her father Sidney's sister.
George "Buster" Ernest Burwell III
b.1925, South Carolina, d. 1996. Ellen’s naternal uncle.
Maye Kalmanowitz Oldin
Circa 1960s. Ellen's paternal aunt.
View Of Central Park West
View from the Osborne rooftop. Circa 1950s.
Faith & Sidney Kaye
Circa 1950s. Osborne rooftop.
Marshall Marcus Courtney
b.1852 d.1921. Ellen’s great grandfather.
Susan Peerce
Circa 1961.
First Saturday
July 1st, 1899. Burwell family photograph, North Carolina.
Alice Earnhardt Courtney
b.2 April 1859. d.15 Sep 1930. North Carolina.
Burwell Family - WWII
George Ernest Burwell Jr., Faith Burwell Jr., Faith Burwell Sr., George "Buster" Ernest Burwell III.
Lloyd Williams Coming To New York Sketch
Mystery Woman
Photograph from the Burwell family line.
Sketch By Lloyd Williams
Central Park South Construction
Circa 1950s. View from the Osborne rooftop.
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