Parson's ancestor, Dr. Jean Baptiste Hacker, faced down the scourge of Yellow Fever in his practice, and published an article on the topic in 1854 in the New Orleans Medical and Surgery Journal. Then he died, at age 44, in a steamboat fire.
In his pursuit of his family tree, Parsons visited Tulane University’s Louisiana Research Collection to view period newspapers and records. He soon discovered a path all the way to Paris.
“You start with what you know, and then you build from there,” said Jennifer Utley, head of research for Ancestry.com, a sponsor of the series that provides its online genealogy research tool for each weekly search. “We always sit down with the celebrity and we interview them, and we actually talk to members of their family to find out what you can find out to start the tree. The first step is we build what we can with the online records. There’s quite a bit you can do online these days with census records and vital records and military and passenger lists.
“After it moves out of that first phase, then we move into a second phase where we’re really looking for what we can find on the ground in the different locations. Who Do You Think You Are? is as much about the family history as it is about going to the locations where family is from, and walk in the places where their ancestors walked.”
It seems that Jim Parsons became so excited with the family tree discoveries that he has since started his own family tree on Ancestry.com.
You can view Jim Parson's episode on Who Do You Think You Are? on Tuesday, September 10 at 8 PM eastern time, 7 PM Central. Check your local listings for the channel and time near you as some cable services do broadcast shows at a later date or time than originally scheduled. The episode should also become available some time on Wednesday at http://www.tlc.com for anyone who missed the original broadcast or cannot view TLC broadcasts on cable or satellite services.