Genealogy Roadshow, Season 2, Episode 4

This week’s episode of Genealogy Roadshow was a good one. I had a chance to watch it as it was first broadcast. Last week I wrote that I would have to watch the February 3 episode on the DVR (Digital Video Recorder) as I was supposed to be on an airplane at that time. However, the blizzards in the northeastern U.S. forced me to cancel the entire trip. I never left home. Therefore, I was fortunate enough to watch the show immediately as it was first aired.

As always, the show was hosted by three expert genealogists, Kenyatta D. Berry, Joshua Taylor and Mary Tedesco, backed up by a team of unnamed expert genealogists who did much of the research. The format of this week’s episode was the same as the previous shows of this season so I won’t repeat all that. However, the guests were as varied as always.

Click on the above image to view a larger version.

The first guest recounted a perfect example of why a family needs to have multiple copies of the family’s history. His family’s documents, pictures, and genealogy records were all destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. There were no copies. Joshua Taylor then used family Bibles, scrapbooks and original colonial documents from the 1700s that were still available at the Louisiana State Museum, also known as “the Old Mint.” Josh traced the guest’s mother’s family back to Nova Scotia, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and eventually back to England. The father’s family was traced back to France with ancestors who moved to Louisiana. Later generations fought in the War of 1812 and in the Civil War. A copy of all the research done was given to the man and he promised to make multiple copies and to distribute them to many of his relatives, minimizing the odds of destruction by a future hurricane or other natural disaster.

The second guest turned out to be a large number of guests, as shown in the picture above with all of them, along with host Mary Tedesco. They all knew they were related as proven by earlier DNA tests they had taken. This racially diverse family had already discovered the name of their most recent common ancestor but wanted to know more about her life. The show’s researchers found out she had been a slave who had two sets of twins. They also discovered the ancestor had a total of 15 children. One of the guests exclaimed, “We have so many more cousins to find!”

One guest was told as a child he was related to the very well-known Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. She was a devout Catholic who was also influenced by the voodoo religion from Africa. The show’s researchers found the man had ancestors of the correct last name but were unable to prove a direct connection to the voodoo queen. However, the researchers did find that the man is a relative (not a descendant) of jazz legend Barney Bigard who played with ‘King’ Oliver, Duke Ellington (as the featured clarinet soloist), and with Louis Armstrong. Barney Bigard is also credited as composer or co-composer on several numbers, notably the Ellington standard “Mood Indigo”.

Another guest had a great-grandfather who was raised in an orphanage in the 1880s and 1890s and had very little knowledge of his own family. He did have vague memories of a sister. The show’s researchers found records of his parents and records of a sister who died very young, apparently the sister the man vaguely remembered.

Perhaps the most interesting family was that of New Orleans native whose ancestry turned out to be not only multi-racial, but even included black ancestors who owned black slaves. This practice apparently was not unusual in Louisiana.

These are only a few of the highlights of this week’s show. To learn all the other stories revealed on this week’s episode, you should be able to watch it soon on the various video web sites as well as on http://www.pbs.org/genealogy-roadshow/.

In the meantime, mark your calendar for next week’s episode of Genealogy Roadshow, to be broadcast on February 10. Check your local listings for the time and channel near you.

8 Comments

New Orleans has such a rich history, that it rates two episodes in one season there. I like watching stories with local history and flavor. Unfortunately, the show taped in St. Louis was about everywhere in the country except where they were filming it. I hope in the future the producers will try to keep a focus on where they are, otherwise they could tape all of them from New Orleans and nobody would know the difference.

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The one thing that bothered me was the way Joshua Taylor spoke in absolutes during the first segment. His choice of words conveyed the message that archives and museums will always have the materials and documents in their collections that will allow people to rebuild their family histories if they are lost.

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I would hope that the genealogists would be a bit more careful when discussing historical events. One made a comment during this show that a lot of the Mayflower passengers did not survive the voyage. Not true. Only two people died on the voyage, a crewman and a boy named William Button. That the voyage was difficult is indisputable.

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    I agree with that, too. My wife gets somewhat annoyed when I comment on some of the inaccuracies or oversimplification of some of the history that’s presented, probably because I do it too often. 🙂

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Darn I missed this one.. Is there re runs some where? some time??

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It was an OK program I suppose. I have no interest in the area and I’m sure many have no interest in areas that interest me. Still no details of the secrets as to how they access some of these records.

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