Tag Archives: Celebrities

First 1/2 of Season 2 WDYTYA? – My thoughts

We are half way through with Season 2 of Who Do You Think You Are?, and it has already been reported that there will be a season 3. The genealogy community has been abuzz with the news all week. Currently, we are half way through the season, having watched the journeys of Vanessa Williams, Tim McGraw, Rosie O’Donnell and Kim Catrall. I have not written any posts on the shows so far, because I was busy just really enjoying them. I have all of them saved on my DVR and plan to sit and rewatch every one of them.

Each celebrity had a compelling story to tell and it makes my week to be able to sit down and share each of their journeys.

  • As Vanessa Williams went on her journey she learned that her grandfather was born a free man. One of the records that she looked at had asked the question if the individual was a slave, his answer, NEVER! How amazing for her and her family to be able to see that document.
  • Tim McGraw’s journey was heartfelt, he researched his fathers line. He did not meet his father until he was a teenager. His journey took him to Washington DC where he got to look at a journal that was kept by a 16-year-old boy who had spent the evening at his ancestors home. The boy was George Washington! Very cool, even though commercials made it look like they were going to be related.
  • Rosie O’Donnell’s journey was very hard for me to watch because I am researching my Irish line and it is difficult. Here I learned that the life of the Irish during the Potato Famine was worse than what I ever could have imagined. Some families went to live in work houses and their whole family was separated. Conditions were poor, Rosie said had the feel of a concentration camp. I shudder at the thought of how they had to live (not just the Irish, anyhow who lived in these types of conditions). Rosie also stated that this is a side of Irish history that has not been told, and that it needs to be told. I cannot agree more. I have spent a bit of time reading about the work houses and I know I will need to spend a lot more time on this side of my family.
  • Kim Catrall’s story was a heartbreaking journey for her family. The emotion at the end between Kim’s mom and her sisters was raw and I almost felt like someone listening in on something so private. Kim’s grandfather left the family over 70 years ago and no one ever heard from him again. Not even his siblings or parents. Kim’s journey took her to meeting many lovely women who pieced this story together bit by bit. What she ended up finding out is that her grandfather remarried 1 year after leaving his wife and 3 girls, penniless. He had 4 more children with his then wife Bella. George never divorced his first wife. Turns out that George and Bella emigrated to Australia, because he wanted to. Bella never saw her family again. Kim decided that she had learned enough and was not interested in going to Australia to meet the extended family she had there. I was happy to read at the end that her mom and sisters have been in contact with their half siblings after the show completed taping. My family has a similar story, except there was a divorce, none the less I have an aunt who found a sister on the ancestry message boards. These two sisters have met and I for one am glad that happened. I have not met this “new” aunt so far. But I hope that one day I can make it happen.

To finish off the season we have Lionel Richie, Steve Buscemi, Gwenth Paltrow and Ashley Judd. I am anxious to watch each episode.

Hopefully they will release a list of season 3’s celebrities soon.

If you are like me and cannot wait to see more of this great show, you can watch the episodes of the BBC version on You Tube.


Matthew Broderick and Episode 4 of Who Do You Think You Are

In the beginning of  March, NBC premiered Who Do You Think You Are?, and we had been waiting ever so patiently for it. With 4 episodes behind us already, we are more than half way through this season. What a season it has been. So far, they have traced Sarah Jessica Parker to the California Gold Rush and Salem Witch trials. Emmitt Smith follow his ancestors into slavery and found the coast in Africa where is slave ancestors most likely came from. Producer, Lisa Kudrow followed her family into the Holocaust. All of the stories were compelling and brought tears to the eyes of many.

This past friday, we followed the family trails of  actor Matthew Broderick. What a story he would have. We knew from the trailers it had to do with a civil war mystery. But what would it be? I have been waiting for his story just to see! The first ancestor he wants to learn about, his dad’s father. He never met him and wanted to know more, (I can relate to that, as I am sure most of my genea blogging friends can). What he found, a highly decorated WWII veteran. The man he had always referred to as “Joe the postman” now came to life as historians and researchers pieced together Joe’s story from WWII. This information helped Matthew understand the reason that his Grandfather was a quiet man and why his father followed in those exact footsteps of keeping things to himself.

The next line Matthew wanted to know about was his Martindale line, which was his paternal grandmother’s family. What he learned her was truly an amazing story. Matthew’s Great Great Grandfather, Robert Martindale was a soldier in the civil war. Having survived the Battle of Gettysburg, Robert and the 20th infantry moved on to Atlanta, Ga where Robert had been killed by a musket “through the head.” How horrible that must have been to read. A local historian showed Matthew where the bodies of the soldiers that had died during this battle had been temporarily buried and then took him to where the remains have been moved to for a proper burial, the Marietta National Cemetery.

I would love to tell you about the mystery that they solved, but feel it would be better if you watched the show. You can watch this episode of Who Do You Think You Are? here

In this episode, it was nice to see Matthew actually pouring through the census books looking for the information himself. Not just relying on someone to do it for him. It also showed those interested in genealogy how important it is to follow the military records. The muster rolls, followed the infantry and can give the researcher information for each location they were in. Personally, I have not done any research into military records so this was a valuable lesson for me.  I believe Matthew clarified the feeling that most genealogists have when they find information on their family, “something was filled that I didn’t know was empty.”

I look forward to watching next week’s episode with actress Brooke Shields, this appears to be another great episode.

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