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.