Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are? Episode 1 - Sarah Jessica Parker

In a house where others control the television, I had not the opportunity to watch the NBC miniseries that was produced by - "Who Do You Think You Are?" Yesterday, I found out that the series is available on Hulu and was able to watch the first episode dealing with Sarah Jessica Parker’s quest.

In order not to disclose what was specifically discovered, I will state that before researching her family, Sarah Jessica Parker thought she knew her ancestry. She had specific knowledge that her father’s family were Ashkenazic Jews that settled in New York City. Her mother’s family, as she thought, consisted of German immigrants to Cincinnati. Largely true, she was able to discover one line of English descent that could be traced back to colonial New England. That is all I am going to divulge and will allow you to watch the show. I have posted the video here.

The name of the show indicates the reasoning of why some of us get hooked on seeking out our genealogical past. My particular reasoning was based on not knowing my father’s family. I was nearly seven when my father’s passed away, and unlike my older brothers, I was born after the death of his mother - so I never knew her. I had no sense of connection to him nor did I have any direct knowledge of his ancestry. Growing up, I never met anyone that was born with my last name until I was 22 and that was only because I began a journey into my past. It has been quite an endeavor for me.

Sarah Jessica Parker learned of certain specific events concerning her ancestors – and very interesting history at that. In my journey, I have learned specific information concerning my ancestors that make their story even more interesting. While I have concluded the ancestral potion of my quest into my father’s direct paternal line, there is more specific knowledge about individuals that I am learning even yet today.

The most colorful character in my ancestry was my third great-grandfather who was Royal Navy Warrant Officer. He served in the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812. He was decorated for his service with the Naval General Service Medal with a clasp for San Sebastian, Spain.

He also had the pleasure, with other ward room officers aboard the HMS Superb, to be presented to Napoleon when he surrendered to the fleet in 1815. Granted land in Canada, William Owston came to North America in 1820. There are so many interesting things about this ancestor that it would take much more space to elaborate on his life.

When I began my quest in 1968 as part of an eighth grade assignment, I could only take my paternal lineage to my grandfather. Now, I can take my father’s line back to my tenth great-grandfather – where the records stop. Beyond that, Y-DNA testing indicates that this paternal line is of Scandinavian origin, which corresponds with the Viking settlements of Northern England and the Norse influenced spelling of my last name.

If you haven’t started your genealogical journey, you may want to do so soon. Good luck in your search for who you actually are.

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