Thursday, February 5, 2015

Genealogy Roadshow: New Orleans - Board of Trade (S2E4)

So Genealogy Roadshow is back in NOLA (New Orleans, LA) for this episode. Hmm, I guess they didn't want to do too much traveling around on this season of Roadshow because there are so many other cities out there to visit; they have already been to New Orleans this season. Anyway...

In this episode, the team of genealogists revealed:
  1. A reestablished family history to a man who lost his family records during Hurricane Katrina
  2. A mufti-racial family with a common slave ancestor
  3. A man with link to the famous New Orleans residents Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and jazz clarinetist Barney Bigard
  4. A woman seeking to determine if her grandfather really did have a sister who died as a child
  5. Another woman curious about her great-grandfather's adoption from Honduras
  6. And a woman who had ancestors on both sides of the Civil War.

The two stories that stood out the most to me were that of the family history lost in Hurricane Katrina and the woman with a grandfather that had a vague recollection a sister.

Although I do not think of my community as "coastal" it is. I live on Long Island which although it's considered suburban, let's face it, it is urban. I feel like I live in a city. BUT it is an island. It is surrounded by the sea. So it is coastal, April.

Being coastal means that Hurricanes hit and in recent years Long Island has been hit hard by several hurricanes. In October 2012 we suffered a great blow from Hurricane Sandy which is often called Superstorm Sandy but let us not forget that just the year before in August 2011 Hurricane Irene ripped through my area as well.

In these impactful storms, many people lose everything they own; irreplaceable things. And although it is true that you can't get back everything you can rebuild. You can even rebuilt your family tree. This episodes shows how sometimes - **sometimes** - you can find books, documents and photos from and about your family in a library or archives. Cousin Mary over at Threading Needles in a Haystack wrote a great review of this episode in which she talks about how she found a family photo though an archive.

The other story about a woman who's great-grandfather had vague memories of a sister he might have had a sister who died when she was a child was very touching. I thought it also showed how sometimes, I would say more often than not, fragile memories and hard-to-believe family lore are true.

The woman told of how her great-grandfather would often stare off into space and when asked, would say he thought he might have had a sister named "Alice" who died when she was little. Sure enough, this man who wound up in an orphanage after the death of his parents and abandonment by his step-mother, did indeed have a sister. Mary Tedesco presented this woman with the death certificate for an unnamed female infant that dies shortly before this man's biological mother died.

Often death certificate state the place of burial and so I pray that the genealogist encouraged this woman to see if the cemeteries held more information - perhaps the baby sister's name would be listed there, maybe there is even a family plot with a headstone. Even if there is not, it was evident that this reveal meant an awful lot to this woman, to know that her great-grandfather's memories were real.

You can view this episode online at PBS until March 4, 2015:


  1. I didn't write in my review, and possibly because I blocked it out, that my grandmother had tons of old family photographs. When her apartment filled with at least a foot of water during Hurricane Sandy, my brother and sister were able to rescue her photo albums and other family items from her bookshelves but they had no idea that she also kept loose family photos under her bed. All those photos were lost. And even though I know we were very lucky compared to how hard some families were hit, it still hurts my heart to think about it...

    Great post as always, Cousin April! :)

  2. A lot can actually be done to salvage photos but sometimes they are just too far gone to recover. :( That hurts my heart too.