Who do you think you are?

I’m not sure if any of you are watching this show or not. Who Do You Think You Are. It’s about a celebrity who traces back their family tree. I’m really enjoying it. But I’ve often been caught up in the whole family tree thing. I’ve dug into it a little bit but nothing like these guys are getting to do. It almost makes me a little sad that the people who produced this program didn’t pick “little people” like us because we don’t have the funds to get to do this to the degree these “stars” are.

These two stars have touched me the most so far. Emmitt Smith. His family came from slaves and that was hard to watch. They were shipped all over like cattle. Seeing his reaction was really sad. Lisa Kudrow’s was also very touching. One of her paternal grandmothers was shot by the Nazi’s and she was at the actual site where she was shot with a mass of others. I did sit here and cry watching that one. It was incredibly sad.

I know we’ve talked about our family history before but we have a lot of new people coming here now so I thought it would be fun to talk about it again. I did join ancestry.com. I have to admit that I’m luckier than most. When I was born, I had 8 grandmothers and 4 grandfathers. I might have had 5 grandpa’s but I don’t remember now. Anyway, a lot of people I know never knew that far back so it’s a little easier for me to go back.

What’s really fun about this ancestry.com is that you can look at actual records. Census forms and marriage or birth certificates. It’s a little spendy though. They give you a 14 day free trial and I only bought one month to start. I want to say it was $24 for a month but I’m not exactly sure now. I think that’s a lot though and if I wasn’t going to use it for more than a few times, I wasn’t going to join for longer than one month. Some things are hard to find though and it’s not as easy as the show makes it look. They also add their little “story” to the show but how do we really know what happened to these people? I feel although it’s fun, there’s a lot of speculation that way.

How far can you go back? I did find something that I never knew and my grandpa was alive until I was in my late 30’s and that he had Sottish heritage. He never told us that. It also has shipping information and you can actually find the ships your ancestors came  over here on and when they landed on Ellis Island and the whole thing. It really has been fun. I got a good feeling when I showed my mom, her grandma’s handwriting on the census form. That was a good feeling.

Find out now if you care to. Once your parents are gone, who are you going to ask?

Have you ever looked into your family’s heritage and how far can you remember back? How many grandparents did you know and remember and where were they from?

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22 Responses to Who do you think you are?

  1. SKL says:

    Hm, I used to be big into my “heritage,” but nowadays, not so much. I figure it’s something that I will just take to the grave with me.

    On my dad’s side, I did try to look up my great-grandfather who came from Hungary “on the boat” in the early 20th century. I know his name, but apparently I can’t spell it, or he just wasn’t in the archives. I have a cousin whose dad had a lot of stuff on the heritage of the ancestors from whom I get my last name. I am sure he still has it, but I am not sure I’ll ask to see it. I guess I don’t know what difference it would make at this point. I know that line included important US judges, British aristocrats (we supposedly have a coat of arms), war heroes, and a cousin of John Paul Jones. So that used to be really interesting to me, but not so much any more.

    On my mom’s side, there are middle-class and working-class folks, who trace back to Germans (including German Jews), Dutch, and Irish. I think my knowledge of this clan will be limited to whatever my mom remembers and has told me.

    Between my mom and dad, I can claim at least the following ancestry: English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, German, Hungarian, and Jewish.

    I suppose if I had blood offspring, it would be fun to pass down some knowledge of my/their family roots. But I can’t see my kids getting excited about my family tree, when they have no biological connection to it. I could be wrong, but that’s how I see it right now.

  2. starlaschat says:

    Good reminder to ask family now. Funny my brother has the answer to a few family questions on my mothers side. I need to ask him. You were lucky Joy to have so many grandparents. We only had one living Grandmother and one living Grandfather. Both are passed now. Navar and I have talked about maybe someday buying one month so that we could do some research. I love the show I think they do a good job. It does inspire a person to look into their own family history.

  3. Ellen says:

    I know my mom’s family are from England. Her ancestors were Royal blood. She was pretty proud of it. To me, it did not say a thing. For some reason they had to leave England without a dime, and they had to sell their title. That was apparently possible these days. They became pretty “poor” but kept their name.
    My dad’s dad was from Germany. His mother I am not sure, I believe she was half German half Dutch. My Dad was born in Amsterdam.

  4. Laura says:

    My brother has done more of the family tree research than I have, and has gone as far back – with my mom’s dad – to a statue in Germany that was so important to the town that they took it down during the War and sunk it in the river to protect it, then raised it again after. My great x 4 (?) grandfather was the sculptor of that statue, so that’s pretty cool.

    He’s also traced my dad’s family, but not as far.

    I did a post on this subject when I first started contributing here, and I can’t find them. I’ll keep looking, if I find it, I’ll post it here. I think it’s worth it.

    It was about talking to your family, relatives, etc., and recording those stories. It’s fascinating, really, to talk with them and see how they lived. All of the stories I have are from my parent’s generation – they grew up in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago, back when it wasn’t the “bad” part of town, there were 13 children, and they were the very definition of “Free Range Kids” – often leaving the house early in the morning “to avoid chores” and coming home either for dinner, or scamming dinner elsewhere, and coming home after. The stories are fascinating.

    I really encourage folks to do that. We’ve lost the art of passing down stories from generation to generation, and I really believe that it’s part of the reason that the entire world is in the state that it’s in. We’re so busy worrying over the “difficulties” that we have in our lives – like not having fast enough internet – that we forget how good we have it. Looking back as recently as our parent’s childhood shows us that.

  5. Karen Joy says:

    Oh I LOVE that new show!!Those were my two fav episodes too.Ive wanted to join ancestry.com too but dont want to pay,maybe I should,I do love learning about family history.

    • Joy says:

      It is fun Karen. So far on the Froom’s side, it’s been neat. Did you know that grandpa’s real name wasn’t Melville? That was his middle name. Clarence was his real first name. He only found that out when he retired and needed his birth certificate and he thought it was wrong. Here they’d been using his middle name as his first all those years and he didn’t even know.

      Also, two of grandpa’s brother added an e to the end of Froom. I once thought Uncle Doug had it added as an airport mistake and they never fixed it but I don’t know why Uncle Jim added one so maybe I’m remembering something wrong. But it was really cool seeing the census form filled out by great grandma Froom when grandpa was 4.

      • Karen Joy says:

        Now that you mention it I have heard that but I didnt know HOW he discovered it was his middle name being used.Didnt his parents tell him,they obviously knew they were using his middle name.Strange.
        I never knew they added an E to Froom!!!Well,I learnt something new today!
        Hey,did you keep all that info that you found?Print the census?That would be neat.Im tempted to join for a month now…worth connecting with our past,even in that little way.I would LOVE to be on that show and have them do our family history the way they do it so completely.

        • Joy says:

          I can send you the info I’ve gathered so far. Grandma’s family came from Englad and so did grandpa’s but I think grandma’s came to Canada later. I think great grandma and grandpa Froom were born in Canada somewhere but I think grandma and grandpa Moore were born in England. I don’t have that much info yet. It’s VERY time consuming and quickly turns your head to mush. Let me tell you, there were a LOT of Alice Froom’s. Hard to believe huh? That’s when I switched to Alice Moore. I think it’s worth it to join if you’re going to use it. I may end up keeping it longer since both of my parents would like to see me take it further. Once you get back though where you don’t the people anymore, it can become a guessing game.

  6. Lucy says:

    I haven’t watched the new show, but did see some previews that looked interesting. My mother is pretty obsessed with the whole ancestry thing. A couple years go she spent months piecing together the life of our ancestors and if I recall correctly has traced my dad’s side of the family back to around the 18th century. She has told me snippets of what she’s found but I dont seem to remember much. Next time I’m my parents house I’ll have to sit down with her and have her show me everything

  7. Nikki says:

    I would LOVE to find where I actually come from. I really have no idea. I’ve been told I am mostly Dutch and German, but that is my dads side and I don’t know how true that is. McKowen is my grandfathers name on my mom side, does anyone know what that sounds like. I’m horrible at that. I don’t know what name comes from what part of your world. As soon as it’s late enough in CA, I’ll call my mom and talk to her about all this stuff. I am going to sign up for one month. There is so much I want to know, but I need to find out names and dates first.

    My dads side of the family is going to be hard! My maiden name is an adoptive one. My step grandfather adopted my dad. My real grandfather who is deceased is a Bush. I don’t know what my grandmothers maiden name was though! I don’t really care to research my maiden name because it has no blood line there for me. Bailey should know all this, and his kids!

    Hey Joy, are putting everything you find out in print so we have it to pass down???

    • Laura says:

      Several years ago, I had a gift card to some big store, and I found Family Tree software. I think it’s produced by Ancestry.com – they’re associated somehow. Back when I bought it, it came with a complimentary membership to Ancestry.com, but I had dial-up, and it would have been fruitless for me to use it. It also came with two boxes full of CD’s with census info going back a ridiculous number of years, Ellis Island stuff, and a couple other resources.

      But the software came in SO handy! It was very much a fill-in-the-blank deal, and you could go into as much detail as you wanted. They provided space for photographs, copies of documents (birth, death, wedding certificates, etc), and lots more.

      If you’re really serious about doing a family tree, I would suggest getting the software. My brother also found a similar program through a share-ware site, and it was free, but it didn’t come with the resources that my Family Tree stuff came with.

      And a place where you might start that’s free is http://www.ellisisland.org. They have most of their records online. Also check with the LDS Church (Latter-Day Saints). The Mormons are crazy for genealogy, and are an awesome resource. Their site is http://www.familysearch.org.

      I also recommend keeping a notebook or other system for paper trails. If you get into it, you’ll likely be taking a lot of notes or printing a lot of stuff out, and it’ll pile up quickly.

      Yeah, I’m kinda into this stuff, but not NEARLY as much as some people.

      • Laura says:

        OH!!! (see? I’m nuts for this stuff)

        Look also, through rootsweb (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/). I think that’s the free side of Ancestry.com. Search the names in your background, you may find that someone has already done some research.

        My brother discovered that my cousin’s son, who we don’t see very often at all, had already done quite a lot of research on HIS family tree, and some of his stuff overlapped ours. He’d put his research online so others could see and benefit from what he’d done. We also found a young lady who was related to us through our grandmother’s sister – we were… um…. second cousins.

        We also discovered that we are second cousins, once removed, of Angelina Jolie.

        And Margaret Mitchell (author, “Gone with the Wind”) is in our relations somehow – I don’t think we’re related, but she dated my grandmother’s brother for a time.

  8. Laura says:

    Ok, so I went and found the old post that I wrote.

    This is about doing the stories that we discussed. It’s kind of an off-shoot of the Family Tree research that can be done – and it’s a nice supplement. It’s fascinating to hear the stories that people tell.

    And, as you’ll read, don’t let people off the hook with the excuse, “oh, nobody cares about MY life. There’s no story there.” Bull. EVERYBODY has a story, and everybody’s story is worth telling, especially to those who come after.

    Here’s the link, if you’re interested:


    Maybe I’ll shut up now. Not likely, though.

  9. Laura says:

    Told you I wasn’t going away.

    Free genealogy software:


    And what appears to be a clearinghouse of free genealogy resources:


    • Nikki says:

      Thank you!!! Just got off the phone with my mom. All these years I thought my grandpas name was Wally, or Wallace. That was his middle name. His first name was George!!! I had no idea! I have more names to work with now so this is going to get fun! I do know that my Great great great grandfather was Pat garret, who supposedly killed Billy the Kid.

      • Laura says:

        Oh, my goodness!!! How COOL is that???

        Doing your family genealogy is like opening one of those layered presents – you know there’s going to be *something* in the next box down, the question is, will it be really cool, something rather shameful, another layer, or a dead end?

        Just remember, you’re going to run into dead ends. You just have to decide if you want to keep pushing on past them – which means finding a way around them – or let them lie.

        It makes it easier if you have a couple of people working on it, because they’ll have other ideas when you get to those walls, and it’s also a lot more fun when you make discoveries.

        Good luck, and have fun!

        • Joy says:

          There sure are roadblocks and you have to use your head and sometimes look outside the box. I have found a lot by looking for marriage or death certificates. Also, names were frequently spelled different or spelling changes have occurred and if you’re not aware of it, it can be difficult.

  10. LVISS says:


  11. Just a Mom says:

    My Dad did his family tree all the way back to 1670! They were French.
    My mom was half Irish & Danish. Her mom was the 1st one born here in America. They came from Utland, Denmark. I am not sure where the Irish side came from but I know my great-grandfather was the 1st one to be born here as well.

  12. LVISS says:


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