Thursday, August 7, 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?: Rachel and Kayleen McAdams

This week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featured actress Rachel McAdams and her sister Kayleen McAdams. The two learned about their maternal lineage, their mother's side of their family tree.

First the sisters traced their ancestry back to England to a couple who met while employed as servants in a manor near Plymouth, England; a manor house which is still standing and which the sisters got to visit. Their great-great grandfather was a footman at the house. I believe it was Rachel who commented that until she had watched Downton Abbey that position in a household would not have meant much to her.

The sisters' also remarked that the path they walked from the house could very well have been a path their ancestors walked as well, maybe even while the couple was courting. That sense of stepping on the same path your forefathers would have walked can be very overwhelming, even palpable at times. It is a sensation I often experience when visiting family gravesites. I wonder which relative or friend of the family stood right where I am now the day this ancestor was buried here. But I digress...

The episode then shifted to the sisters' ancestors in Canada. Like many of the early settlers of Canada, the McAdams sisters' Gray ancestors had once lived a region that is now the United States; specifically the Lake Champlain area on the border of Vermont and New York. The Grays were loyal to the King of England during the American Revolution. Like many Loyalists, the Grays thus fled to Canada when the war turned in favor of the Patriots. The Grays lived in a refugee camp in Quebec under very rough conditions. After the war, Mr. Gray, who had served in the war on the side of the British, was granted land in Canada near the St. Lawrence River. I too have ancestors who settled along the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence but they were actually from my Patriot line.

All in all I thought it was a good episode; not my favorite though. The one thing I did really like is that it showed relatives researching together. I don't think WDYTYA has done that before. And in a way, it reminded me very much of my research adventures with Cousin Mary over at Threading Needles in a Haystack. She and I are 6th cousins once removed - very distant by most peoples' standards but not as far apart as it seems. It is always nice to research with her, to have someone with which to share the excitement of a discovery, the shock and awe, and sometimes the frustration and murderous plots. I kid, we're not planning to kill our common ancestor, Jacob Raynor. He's long dead. We're just gonna kick his ass when we get to the other side for leaving no records behind. Grrrr, Jacob, grrrr.

Next week’s episode will feature actress Valerie Bertinelli.

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