The new season of Who Do You Think You Are is off to a good start. I did play the Bingo game and filled many of the squares, but not 5 in a row. There are squares that you can absolutely count on - "researcher uses ancestry.com", "celebrities says they are traveling to ....", and my personal favorite "there is an open parking space in front of the archive". If you have never played this, you need to get your WDYTYA bingo card. http://www.geneabloggers.com/bingo-card-tonights-premiere/
Before I watched the new season premiere, I watched a couple of former episodes, Bryan Cranston and JK Rowlings. They were similar in the sense that they illustrated how families seem to follow patterns. In Bryan's case the men deserted their families. In JK's family the women were single mothers. As Bryan Cranston put it, the men in his family "were born with suitcases in their hands." In Rowlings case, her 2X great grandmother successfully overcame many obstacles in her life, as did Rowlings herself. Think Harry Potter!
Is there something in the family DNA or do they just pass habits from branch to branch on the family tree. Probably a little bit of both. When you really start looking into the "dash" of a person's life you can get a feeling for the family values that are passed from generation to generation. Or not!
I found that I related to JK Rowlings more because her family, as well as a branch of mine, was from the Alsace Lorraine area. I also picked up an important bit of information that applied to my own research and might help me understand why my grandmother's family left Prussia. This is a perk of this show - getting a hint, or as Ancestry likes to call it - a leaf.
In the first episode of the new season, Aisha Tyler, discovered the dash of her 2X great grandfather. When she first found him in the census records he was a 5 year old living in a boarding house. He came to Oberlin, Ohio, with his mother and brother, who eventually died, leaving him alone. He was more than likely born a slave. Records indicate that his father, John Hancock, a Congressman and white supremacist watched over him and his family to a certain extent.
This was finally a life story of someone who overcame his beginnings and his father's lack of values. Hugh Berry Hancock eventually became a Republican delegate to the convention that nominated McKinley for President. And his home is now a historical landmark in Texas. Aisha must be very proud.
These three episodes of WDYTYA illustrate how good and bad is passed along the family tree. The mysteries, the folk lore, the traditions, the habits. Have you ever looked at a picture of an ancestor and seen yourself? And then, wondered - am I like that person or do I just look like her?