Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Thoughts on "Who Do You Think You Are?" episodes: Trisha Yearwood and Jim Parsons

Can't believe the season is over already! It flies by so! :( Anyhoo, onto my thoughts:

  • Quick two things about the Cindy Crawford episode that I thought of after I wrote my, that I've met Chris Child, the genealogist who presented Cindy with her New England ancestry at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. I thought I had, but Cousin April over at Digging Up the Dirt on My Dead People confirmed it. Nice guy, good genealogist! And two, that some of the information on her Thomas Trowbridge ancestor was found in another man's military records (I believe...correct me if I'm wrong, please! It's been awhile since I saw the episode and my brain is wonky from sleep deprivation!) Anyway, whether it was this ep or not, the point is, that sometimes you can find mention of your ancestors in the records of neighbors, friends, colleagues, etc. It basically means you should look everywhere, ha ha...but seriously, obviously you can't. But when you hit a dead end or brick wall, remembering this little factoid could be the key to getting to finding out more and getting to that next step!
  • Okay, now on to Trisha! I really don't know her...not much of a country music fan. But she seemed down-to-earth and nice, although again, we had somebody who seemed, jokingly or for real, disappointed that her immigrant ancestor was not going to lead her to a royal relative. Hey, I'm not royalty, but I hope one day, 200 years from now, one of my descendants will be interested in finding out more about my life!
  • I learned quite a bit from this episode, which I always enjoy - did not know about the black act in England that made poaching a capital offense. It seems like a sad piece of history, as the poor struggled to survive. I also was not familiar with the fact that England sent convicts to the Americas. Everybody knows they sent criminals to Australia - in fact, there are quite a few Gorrys Down Under, which leads me to believe there were some colorful, not quite law abiding characters in that Irish branch. But I didn't know that in the 1700s they were sent to America as well.
  • I liked when Trisha referred to 1700s Georgia as the "wild west" of its day, because back then, with the land stakes and not-quite-friendly Indians and being on the fringe of civilization, it WAS the "wild west." I often think of my Raynor ancestors, who never made it off the East Coast but who arrived at a time when it was nothing but woods and not-quite-friendly Indians and was on the fringe of civilization, as having lived in the "wild west."
  • I was quite curious about what happened to Samuel Winslett's brothers, at least two of whom were arrested with him. Were they also shipped to the colonies? Were they hanged? I wish they had addressed that at least a bit.
  • Samuel sounds like quite a tough character, someone who knows how to survive, from poaching the noble's deer to apparently escaping his servitude in Georgia. He might not be nobility or royalty, but these are the interesting stories we all hope to find!
  • It reminded me of my own criminal cousins...or uncles, actually. Well, I guess the only commonality is the criminality. Samuel gave me the impression he committed that crime in order to survive - sort of like Jean Valjean, y'know? Ha relatives, John Ricklefs and Charles Ricklefs, were just career criminals. But boy, are they some of my most interesting relatives and two of my favorite to research.
  • Okay, last night's Jim Parsons episode, which I watched this morning - maybe it's the fact that today is 9/11 and already an emotional day for me, but I started crying when Parsons was talking about his father, and how much his father had loved him and supported his dream of becoming an actor.
  • I think we all look for things in ourselves in our relatives, and when we don't see it in anybody else - like in Jim's case, nobody else in his family is artistic - we wonder where it comes from, so it was nice that he was able to find someone on his line who was a different kind of artist, but an artist nonetheless.
  • It's always nice to have family rumors substantiated - glad Jim was able to document the New Orleans and the French connection (get it? The French Connection? Ha ha ha...) - his surprise that he had entrenched New Orleans roots, when everyone he had known about in his family came from Texas, reminded me of my discovery that my Haase/Reinhardt family lived in New Jersey for at least two generations - until then, everyone in my family who wasn't a Raynor or Raynor line connection had lived in New York (and even the Raynors hadn't lived in a place other than New York since the 1600s...) - and even though it was just the next state over, that was an amazing discovery for me, that my 4th great grandfather Charles Haase fought for a New Jersey regiment in the Civil War, that my 3rd great grandfather Edward Haase was born in New Jersey, and that my 5th great grandfather John Reinhardt is buried in New Jersey (John's daughter Barbara was Charles' wife).
  • I think part of the reason we all want to find royalty in our lines, besides the obvious name-dropping rights, is that when all we have are the ordinary, every day folk, eventually the paper trail dies, and usually sooner rather than later. History does not remember the names of the little people. I can't trace any of my Irish roots past my immigrant ancestor because in many cases, there just aren't any records. This is a huge problem that I face in tracing my fiance's Latin American roots as well. So part of what I loved about Jim's discovery about the Trouards is that, for the most part, they were everyday folk, but because they worked in influential circles, there is a paper trail for them at least a little further back than if they had just been run-of-the-mill architects.
  • How cool would it be to stand in a building your ancestor designed almost 300 years ago?
  • I think the next coolest thing to being related to John Adams, Ben Franklin, or King Louis XV is to be related to someone who hung out with them!
  • I don't watch The Big Bang Theory so I'm not really all too familiar with Jim Parsons, but he just seemed so down-to-earth and nice and I totally want to hang out with him! His awe at every discovery, even the mundane, was refreshing - he wanted to know more about the people, not necessarily see how far back he could go - and he seemed so sincere in his thanks to everybody who worked to help him on his journey.
  • It was a nice change to see someone trace their French roots, instead of the go-to English ancestry...and I say that as somebody with a loooot of boring English ancestry. I joke. I love it. But damn, after awhile, it gets boring! On my tree, on the show - throw in some variety! I feel like the first season, and maybe the second, I don't really remember, featured a greater variety of backgrounds, and I miss that. When I'm doing my family tree research, I always pray that maybe this time I'll find somebody who wasn't English, Irish, or German! 
  • I do have Danish ancestry, but that's been next to impossible for me to trace at this point because I don't read Danish - so thank God for all that English and Irish ancestry! Lol - Jim needed a translation for all the records he looked at in France, and whenever I do German family research, I have to bring a million notes on German words, German lettering, etc. The grass is always greener, right? 
  • His Hacker great-grandparent's involvement in the yellow fever epidemic of 1853 made me think of my 3rd great-grandmother, Mathilda Rau Stutzmann. She died in Brooklyn in 1880 at the age of 35 from bilious fever - more commonly called yellow fever. I know very little about her or about the disease - reading the description Hacker wrote of the illness was a little disturbing, to think that's how poor Mathilda died. But I wonder if she was an isolated case or if yellow fever always occurs as some kind of epidemic...I really don't know. But I'd love to find out - if anyone knows anything about this, please leave me a comment!
  • One last thought - once again, as with the Chris O'Donnell episode, I love that what stood out for Jim Parsons was not the great achievements, but the little things, so to speak, that were passed down from generation to generation - the love of education he saw over and over, the love of a father for a son, and helping that son achieve his dreams...things he could relate back to qualities he remembered about his own father, whom he obviously loved very much, and qualities he saw in himself.

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