Sunday, May 1, 2016

"Who Do You Think You Are?" - Katey Sagal

I'm still running behind on posting my comments! for Who Do You Think You Are?  Right now it seems no matter what I do, I can't catch up, especially with two episodes coming this Sunday.  But I'm still trying!

The teaser for the Katey Sagal episode says that she will make an unexpected discovery about her mother and then take a deep dive into that side of her family tree.  She will find brave relatives who stood by their beliefs even when their own lives were threatened.

The intro then tells us that Katey Sagal is a charismatic actress who began her performance career as a back-up singer.  It was not long before she was launched into the spotlight due to her role in 1987 as Peg Bundy on Married with Children (which I watched, but oh, those characters were mean).  Since then she has had nonstop success with appearances in more than 30 television shows.  Her most recent series, and where most people watching WDYTYA probably recognize her from nowadays, is the FX program Sons of Anarchy, for which she won a Golden Globe award.  She lives with her husband, writer/director Kurt Sutter, and three children.

Katey tells us that she was born in Hollywood.  Her parents were part of the leftie Hollywood community, against the Vietnam War and that type of thing.  Her father, Boris Sagal, was a TV director.  Her mother was born in Lombard, Illinois but lived most of her life in the South.  Her mother was a singer who started performing at the age of 11 on a radio program.  Her birth name was Sara Zwilling, but she used the stage name Sara Macon.  She was known as the Singing Sweetheart of Cherokee County (South Carolina, to be specific).  (And she appears in the Internet Broadway Database!)

Sara moved to New York for her career.  During World War II she sang in USO shows.  After she married, she gave up her career to be a stay-at-home mother.  She put her creative life on the shelf, and Sagal thinks it's one of the reasons Sara was so supportive of Sagal's own desire to be a singer.  Sara really advocated for her.

Sara died when Sagal was only 19 years old.  Sagal's father, Boris, lost his life five years later.  Sagal has questions about her family but no parents left to ask.  She doesn't want that to happen to her own children; she wants them to know where they came from.  She wants to learn about her mother's singing career and about her years in the USO, but she has no living relatives.  She hopes this journey will change that.  She's decided to start in New York, where her mother lived when she joined the USO (or, more accurately, she was told by the producers that's where she would be starting).

Sagal goes to the New York Public Library, where she meets Kara Dixon Vuic, an Associate Professor of History at Texas Christian University.  (Now there's an uncommon name.  Where does the name Vuic hail from?  Slavic?  Has it been modified from something else?)  Vuic barely opens her mouth before there's a cut to the narrator (this editor actually has an active union card and gets paid for this?).

The narrator tells us a little about the USO (United Service Organizations, Inc.).  It was started by six civilian nonprofit organizations in 1941 and was created to help boost the morale of military servicemen serving during World War II.  As many as 7,000 performers appeared in live shows at home and abroad during the war.

When we return to the talking head . . . ahem, expert whom the producers took the time to hire for the program, she suggests to Sagal that they look for information about Sara in the Billy Rose Theatre Division at the library.  A lot of USO archival material is housed at the library.  Vuic tells Sagal to start with newspapers.  The Palm Springs Desert Sun of November 3, 1944 (available free online at the California Digital Newspaper Collection) appears to have had a section dedicated to the USO.  Across the top of the page is "With the Boys in the Service."  At the bottom of the page, an article titled "USO Camp Show" mentions Sara Macon, Sagal's mother.

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Desert Sun
November 3, 1944,
page 9
"Smooth Sailing", a new USO Camp Show's production bursting with mirth, melody and novelty treats came breezing along to Torney General Hospital yesterday, strictly for GI enjoyment.  The show was given at the Post Theatre at 12:30 p. m.

The cast included Sid Marlo, phonograph pantomimist, Hart and Bynes [sic], comedy jugglers, Mary Beth, vocalist, The Swingtette, four young lovely singers of jivy tunes, Rudy Miller and Nikki Chandler, magic act, Sara Macon, singer, Wayne Sander, pianist and Pat Lane, comedian who M. C.'d the show.

Hart and Dynes, juggling comedians, have been at it ten years now playing New England clubs and theaters over and over.  A super-song salesman, Mary Beth, has numerous nightclub audiences applauding for more of her sweet and smooth tunes.  During the past five years, she has appeared at Club Ball, Philadelphia; Club Charles, Baltimore; Latin Quarter, Hit Hat and 5100 Clubs, all in Chicago, and the El Morocco, Montreal.

Servicemen at the Stage Door Canteen found nothing dull about Sid Marlo's act, whether he was acting as M. C., comedian or pantomimist.  Pantomime with records is his most popular feature.

In her not yet 18 years pretty Sara Macon has crowded more excitement and accomplishment than most women have in a lifetime.  At the age of 12 she was singing on her own radio program in Spartenburtg [sic], giving the entire 14-minute entertainment, three times a week.  She stayed there two years.  Then she came to New York and NBC hired her after her first audition for two of their prorams [sic].

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After reading the article, Vuic shows Sagal a handbook with instructions that the USO performers had to follow.  Sagal reads parts of a section titled "Data for Artists (Cont'd)."

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

1 - Do not mention anything about their wounds, sickness, or condition, nor notice that they have lost a limb.  Talk to them as you would to a friend or a healthy stranger.  If they mention their sickness, listen attentively, and gradually try and get into another subject.

2 - Try to avoid controversial subjects, such as strikes, unions, how much money is being made by civilians from this war, and r—

3 - Try and get into neutral subjects such as:

[Sections a, b, c, and d were not shown on screen at all.]

     e.  The marvelous education programs the U.S. Armed Forces Institute (USAIF) at Madison, Wisconsin, offers them through correspondence, available to all servicemen.

— attempting to arrive at a subject of interest to both of you.

4 - Do not sympathize with him as he does not want sympathy, and his morale is high.

5 - Do not ask about his COMBAT experiences or how he got wounded, because they usually want to forget.

6 - Do not tell him he will get well quickly for he does not like to be kidded.

7 - Do not ask to see the sickest boys, for they are all sick.

In conclusion, you are wanted and needed.  Appreciation will run high.

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

If you want to see the complete information, the two pages are online here and here.

It obviously was an intense experience, and Sara would have grown up fast.  Vuic then reveals that she (really, the producers) found an 87-year-old former USO performer who will be able to talk to Sagal about her mother's experiences.  As Sagal leaves the library and goes to meet the performer, she says she hopes that the person knew her mother.

At P. J. Clarke's (I believe it's the one at Lincoln Square), Hilda "Tinker" Rautenberg is waiting for Sagal.  She has a photo album from her time performing with the USO.  As Sagal pages through it, she comes across a photo with five girls and recognizes her mother as one of them.  She starts crying, because she has never known anyone who knew her mother.  Rautenberg tells her she and the other girls were four green college kids.  Sagal asks if all the girls hung out together, and Rautenberg says they even helped push pianos around in hospital wings.  They were doing their duty for the country during the war.

Rautenberg explains that Sara was already a professional and that the other four girls looked up to her.  She taught them a lot and helped them grow, and they had a good time together.  To be initiated into the club, you had to smoke a cigar, which makes Sagal laugh.  Then Rautenberg says that Sara was half actress and that she used to do one song (which happens to be from Oklahoma!):
I'm just a girl who cain't say no
I'm in a terrible fix
I always say, "Come on, let's go!"
Just when I oughta say nix
Sagal says that her mother taught her to play the guitar and sing, and now Sagal has taught her children; her children all play music.  Sagal sounds concerned when she asks Rautenberg whether Sara was happy.  Rautenberg responds immediately with an emphatic "yes!"  As Sagal gets up to leave, the two women hug and Rautenberg is glad that she brought "a little joy to fulfill your dream a little bit."  Sagal has a new friend, and I suspect that after the filming was done she has stayed in touch with Rautenberg.  (Rautenberg was one of the Swingtettes mentioned in the Desert Sun article.)

Sagal loves hearing that her mother was happy.  She remembers her mother singing the song from Oklahoma!.  Sara had ended up as the rebellious one in her somewhat conservative Southern family.  Now Sagal wants to know more about her mother's family; currently she knows almost nothing beyond the fact that her father's name was Daniel Zwilling.

Still in New York, Sagal next goes to the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society, where she meets professional genealogist Vonnie Zullo (whom we have seen previously with Kelly Clarkson, Chris O'Donnell, and Cynthia Nixon  Zullo explains that there has been an explosion of research online and that Ancestry has made it easy to do (um, what about FamilySearch, Find My Past, and MyHeritage?  better yet, how does Zullo feel about being a shill?).  She suggests that a good place to start is looking in birth, marriage, and death (BMD) records.  (Well, I would probably start with the census.)  She has Sagal go to the BMD page on Ancestry and enter Daniel Zwilling in Illinois, where he lived.  The record they latch onto is Zwilling's entry on FindAGrave (second-hand information, anyone?).  It seems to be the right person, because the transcribed obituary on the page includes Sara Sagal as a surviving child.  The page lists Zwilling's parents as Daniel Zwilling and Alda Miller.  Zullo points out that knowing the mother's maiden name is key to opening research on that side of the family.

Sagal decides, "Now I'm curious.  I want to find more about her."  (So much for the Zwilling side of the family.)  Zullo says they should find her on the census to learn more about her.  Zwilling's page says that she was born in 1866, so now Zullo has Sagal use the Ancestry census search page for Alda B. Miller born in 1866.  No need to look for Daniel as a child with his family, of course, just trust what's online.  And searching with a middle initial is not recommended, because it appears very inconsistently on censuses, but the results are already known, so go ahead and throw it in!  And yes, results come up for the 1870 and 1880 censuses in State Center, Iowa.  They look at both censuses and find Alda with parents Abraham and Elizabeth Miller, and Abraham's parents Jacob and Rebecca Miller, all of them born in Pennsylvania.  Now that she knows their names, Sagal wants to dig deeper and find out who her ancestors were, and whether she might have inherited any of their traits.

United States 1870 Census, State Center, Marshall County, Iowa, July 20, 1870, page 2, lines 9–15
United States 1880 Census, State Centre Township, Marshall County, Iowa, June 1, 1880,
page 11 (written)/206C (printed), lines 35–44
With just this tiny amount of information (who needs a complete census survey?), Zullo now says that as a professional researcher, she looks for anyone who might have been in the military (which is her actual specialization), because military records can have great info.  The 1870 census was the first one after the Civil War; does anyone in the family look to be the right age to have served?  Of course someone is, and that is Alda's father, Abraham Miller.

Sagal searches for Abraham H. Miller born 1842 in Pennsylvania and lived in Ohio in draft records (here we go with the middle initial again).   They know he lived in Ohio at some point because that's where Alda was born.  And Abraham H. Miller shows up in the U.S. Civil War draft registrations in Chester Township, Wayne County, Ohio.  The page shows that he was 21 years old, born in Pennsylvania, and "furnished [a] substitute."  (In the image below, his is the last name on the list.)  Sagal misinterprets this, thinking that Miller took the place of another man, but Zullo explains the notation means that Miller paid someone else to take his place.  This was a legal alternative to serving in the military.  The obvious question, of course, is why would Miller do that?


At this point the program cut to a commercial.  When it returned, the narrator said that Sagal had just learned the "shocking revelation" that her ancestor had paid for a substitute to fight in the Civil War.  I thought that was a little out of line.  It was perfectly legal to do so.  The attempt to make it a huge, dramatic item was overblown, unnecessary, and tasteless.

In a classic WDYTYA non sequitur, Zullo then suggests that to help find the answer to that question Sagal should look on Newspapers.com, where they "might" be able to find an obituary for Miller.  That means, of course, an obituary is available, and indeed the search finds it.

State Center (Iowa) Enterprise, December 4, 1903, page 4
The first item to be jumped on in the obituary is that Miller was buried in the Dunkard cemetery.  Not surprisingly, Sagal has never heard of the Dunkards, and Zullo explains that they were also called the German Baptist Brethren and were an early pacifist church, similar to the Amish and Quakers.  (I know about the Dunkards!  The Sellerses are descendants of Alexander Mack, founder of the religion.)  Sagal says, "I like that.  I'm a peacemonger myself."

Based on this, Zullo tells Sagal that to learn more about her family she should see Zullo's colleague in Pennsylvania, where Miller was born.  All the obituary has is that Miller was born in Somerset County.  Doesn't sound like much to go on, does it?

As she leaves the building, Sagal says it would be awesome if Miller was a peace activist.  She is, and her mother was also.  Maybe it's something in their genes.

The next leg of Sagal's journey takes her to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State ArchivesPhilip Otterness, a professor of 18th-century migration at Warren Wilson College, tells Sagal that by using early censuses, wills, land deeds, and family records he was able to construct a family tree for her.  The one he produces is on an oversize piece of paper, but not the fancy calligraphed scroll we're used to seeing.  Not all of it was shown on screen long enough to see what was written, so I filled in the few gaps with data from other sources.

The tree begins at the bottom with Catherine "Katey" Sagal with no birthday.  Her parents were Boris Sagal, born October 18, 1923 in Ekaterinoslav, Ukrainian SSR, died May 22, 1981 in Portland, Oregon; and Sara Elizabeth Zwilling, born December 15, 1927 in Geneva, Illinois, died September 1, 1975 in Los Angeles, California.  Sara's parents were Daniel F. Zwilling, Jr., born March 27, 1895 in State Center, Iowa, died October 5, 1968 in Lombard, Illinois; and Virginia Lee Thompson, September 7, 1895 in Citronelle, Alabama, died May 10, 1987 in Arlington Heights, Illinois.  Zwilling's parents were Daniel F. Zwilling, Sr., born October 18, 1844 in Ohio, died June 19, 1918 in Citronelle, Alabama; and Alda B. Miller, born December 23, 1866 in Pittsburg Junction, Ohio, died June 11, 1895 in State Center, Iowa.  Alda's parents were Abraham H. Miller, born April 17, 1842 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, died December 18, 1903 in Melbourne, Iowa; and Elizabeth Fleming, born December 21, 1841 in Pennsylvania, died May 11, 1891 in State Center, Iowa.  Abraham's parents were Jacob A. Miller, born October 4, 1812 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, died January 23, 1890 in Melbourne, Iowa; and Rebecca Horner, born March 20, 1815 in Pennsylvania, died April 16, 1891 in State Center, Iowa.  Jacob's parents were Abraham Miller, born June 15, 1780 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, died September 4, 1849 in Somerset County; and Maria Sayler, born December 12, 1780 in Pennsylvania, died November 15, 1846 in Somerset County.  This Abraham's parents were Peter Miller, born 1756 in Berks County, Pennsylvania, died November 1, 1818 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania; and Mary Stutzman, born 1756 in Berks County, died March 13, 1838 in Somerset County.  Mary's parents were Christian Stutzman, born about 1732 in Berks County, Pennsylvania, died before November 17, 1770 in Berks County; and Barbara Hochstetler, born about 1732, died before 1787 in Berks County.  The final generation shown is Barbara's parents, Jacob Hochstetler, born about 1712, died before 1776 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and an unnamed mother.

Sagal starts near the bottom and works her way up.  When she hits Jacob Miller, Otterness points out that he and his father were born in Somerset County, Pennsylvania (so was Abraham H. Miller, by the way), a center of Amish settlements.  From the family records he has seen, the family appears to have been Amish.  Sagal is amused and says, "I'm gonna get a buggy."  Then she admits she doesn't know anything about the Amish and asks Otterness to tell her about them.  He says they are similar to the German Baptist Brethren.

The narrator steps in to say that the Amish religion was founded in Switzerland in 1693.  Three primary tenets were adult baptism, pacifism, and strict separation of church and state.  These ideas were considered radical at the time, and the Amish refusal to join the military challenged the established authorities in Europe.  The Amish were persecuted because they wouldn't fight.

Returning to the family tree, Otterness points out that the name Stutzman, as in Sagal's 5x-great-grandmother, is definitely an Amish name, as is Hochstetler, the name of Sagal's 7x-great-grandfather, Jacob Hochstetler.  Otterness then says that at the archives there is a relevant record.  Sagal reads the top of the page:  "List of Men's Names Imported in the Charming Nancy November 9, 1738."  She asks what a "Charming Nancy" is and is told it was the name of a ship.  She looks down the list of names and finds Jacob Hostedler but apparently has no trouble recognizing that spelling as an alternative for Hochstetler (after an appropriate cue, I'm sure).  Otterness explains that Hochstetler was her first ancestor to immigrate to America.  This particular ship went to Philadelphia and was during the first couple of years that the Amish came to North America.

Sagal wonders why they came to Pennsylvania.  Otterness says that European records show that there was lots of propaganda about Pennsylvania and that is was promoted a land of milk and honey.  It gave the Amith an opportunity to live in an environment where they could practice their religion openly, without persecution.

Sagal says she wants to learn more about her Hochstetler ancestor, including how to pronounce his name correctly, as she stumbles over it a couple of times.  Otterness tells her she should go to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, where Tim Shannon will be happy to tell her more.

Leaving the archives, Sagal is still amused about learning she might be Amish, which she never thought about previously.  She says she'll buy a buggy and a bonnet.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is in Philadelphia.  Inside, Tim Shannon, a professor of history at Gettysburg College, is ready for Sagal.  He starts out by telling Sagal that people who study Pennsylvania history know the name Hochstetler well; he is not an obscure person.  He then brings out a bound volume of the Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser newspaper.  He has Sagal page through the Thursday, October 6, 1757 issue (I can find only 1757 one issue of the newspaper online, that from May) and then instructs her to read a small item in the left column of one page:

From Reading we have Advice, that last Wednesday the Enemy burnt the House of one Hochsteller, and killed Hochstelle's Wife and a Young Man, and Himself, and three of his Children are missing.

Sagal pronounces the name as Hochsteller both times, even though the name is spelled two different ways.  She seems to have no problem understanding that it's referring to Hochstetler.  In addition to being horrified at what the story says, she asks Shannon who the enemy was and is surprised to learn it was Indians.

The narrator elaborates that Jacob and his fellow Amish were considered British subjects after settling in the North American colonies.  There had been relative peace with the Indians until 1754, when tensions between Great Britain and France erupted into the Seven Years War, or French and Indian War.  Many Indian tribes sided with the French because they hoped to recover land that had been taken by the British.  Indians began making attacks against settlements on the British frontier, which included where the Hochstetler family was living.

Focusing on the fact that Hochstetler and three of his children were missing, Sagal asks if they escaped.  Shannon says it was possible, or they might have been taken captive.  The good news is that the British Army in the 1750's keep good records, and he has a military document for Sagal to look at.  The document is "Intelligence given by John Hochstetler."  Sagal asks if that's still Jacob, and Shannon says that John could be an English translation of Jacob.  (No, not really.  They're two different names.  But I have found references online that indicate Hochstetler's name was Johann Jakob Hochstetler, and they might have been using the English-language equivalent of Johann.)  Sagal does not read the entire deposition on screen; you can read a massaged transcription here.

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Intelligence given by John Hochstetler [a Swiss by] Nation wich was settled in Bergs County [Berner] Town Ship, near Kauffmans Cr was taken by the Enemy Indians the 12th October 1757 and arriving at Shamokin 5th May 1758.

Question:  By What and how many Indians was you taken?

Answer:  By the Delaware and Shawanese, 15 in the whole

Question:  What became of you affter that?

Answer:  [After 3 days travel Est south Est,] I was brought to Buxotons Creek where it emptys in the Ohio [the Allegheny River] and we came to an Indian castle [which lys] upon the corner of it, there I was kept Prisoner all that time.

Question:  How do you escapd from there[, how long and in what maner do you was coming, and where did you arrive?]

Answer:  I got the liberty for hunting, one morning Wery soon I took my Gun finding  Bark Canoe on the River wherein I Crossd it, traveling Est for 6 Days from there I arrivd at the source of the west Branch, there I march for 4 Days further till I was sure of it there I took several blok's tying them together till I got a flott, there I flotted myself Down the River for five Days where I did arrive at Shamokin, living all the time upon Grass, I passd in the Whole for 15 Days.

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So Jacob was abducted October 12, 1757 and arrived at Shamokin, a British fort, on May 5, 1758, a total of seven months.  His deposition was taken by Colonel Henry Bouquet.  Jacob's children are not mentioned at all.

The narrator tells us that more than 1,600 white captives were taken by the Indians during the war.  The French did not require them to be turned over.  Captives were often given to Indian families which had lost family members themselves.  The family had the choice of killing a captive or adopting him.  Young captives were often adopted because they could assimilate more easily to Indian culture.

Jacob's children would have been valuable captives.  Going by the deposition, he probably didn't know whether they were dead or alive.

Sagal says she really wants to find out more about her ancestors.  Shannon says she needs to go to Berks County and talk to people who might have more information from oral tradition (i.e., there are no actual documents).

As she leaves the archives, Sagal is impressed by the amazing story of Amish resilience.

Driving through Reading, Pennsylvania, in Berks County, Sagal says she is going to learn more about the Hochstetlers in the place where they settled.  At the Reading Public Library she meets Dr. Ervin Stutzman, the Executive Director of the Mennonite Church USA.  Sagal remembers the name Stutzman from the family tree she saw and tells him, "I think we're related."  He confirms this and says, "We're seventh cousins."  Sagal is amazed because she doesn't know many relatives and gets a little teary.

Stutzman has some passages marked in a book that he brings out for Sagal to read.  It is Descendants of Jacob Hochstetler by the Rev. Harvey Hostetler, D.D. (originally published in 1912, but apparently it's had some revisions and updates since then).  The passages read come from pages 29, 30, 34, 36, and 37 in the scanned book to which I've linked.  Sagal reads parts here and there.

Sagal starts by reading from "The Massacre" (pages 29–30).


Dr. Stutzman emphasizes how important nonviolence is in the Amish faith.    You can give your life, but it is never permissible to take another's, even to save your own.  He adds that it was unusual for Indians to attack settlers, but this was during the war.

The next paragraph Sagal reads from is "The House Set Afire" and "Murder" (page 30).  She does not read the list of people who were in the house, which includes Barbara Stutzman, who is likely Sagal's 6x-great-grandmother.



Jacob Junior and an unnamed daughter (none of the women seem to be named in this) were killed and scalped.  Jacob Senior's (unnamed) wife was stabbed with a butcher knife and scalped.  Joseph, Christian, and another (unnamed) daughter were thre three children mentioned in the newspaper article who were taken by the Indians.  Joseph was adopted by the Indians (page 34):


Christian wad adopted by an older Indian and treated as a son (page 36):


Stutzman and Sagal don't discuss the fact that the Indian who adopted Christian died soon afterward.  Stutzman does talk about how it was common for many of the captives to develop loving relationships with their captors.

The war ended in February 1763.  The two boys had been with the Indians all that time.  (And along with not remembering names for the daughters, we apparently lost track of the one who was taken captive.  I haven't read through the complete Hochstetler descendants book, so I don't know if she's mentioned in there.)  In the fall of 1764, Colonel Bouquet signed a treaty with the Indians that required the release of all British subjects, about 200 people by that point.  Joseph and Christian were probably in that group.  They had no choice but to return to their prior home.  Sagal reads from the section about Christian's return (page 37).


Christian and many more of the former captives were reluctant to go back.  Some had to be handcuffed and forced to stay with their white families.  Sagal does not read from "His Conversion", but I included it here because it mentions that Christian converted to the Tunker Church.  Tunker is a variation of Dunkard; Christian converted to the German Baptist Brethren.  It's possible other members of the family did also, which might explain why Abraham H. Miller was buried in the Dunkard cemetery.

Stutzman tells Sagal to imagine Jacob's situation — he's a father who had lost his son; the son returns but wants to go back.  What would she way in that situation?  Sagal says that as a mother, you don't have control after a certain point.  She wonders, however, whether Jacob remarried and had more children.  She is happy to hear that he did, as she wanted him to be happy.  In fact, Stutzman says that Jacob has hundreds of thousands of descendants alive today.  Sagal looks overwhelmed to think that she has so many relatives.

Stutzman says that the Amish particularly value stories of people who were nonviolent in difficult situations.  Jacob's old homestead is an important site now.  The original buildings are gone, but a memorial plaque has been placed there.  It isn't far, and Sagal says she would like to go.

The belief in nonviolence is what strikes Sagal the most.  Jacob absolutely would not kill another person.  She can understand his faith, but it's far easier said than done.  She doesn't know if she wouldn't defend her children to the death.

The plaque is on a brick structure.  At first I thought it might have been a chimney that survived from the house, but after reading more of the book than was done in the program, I'm inclined toward the bake oven mentioned in "The Massacre."  The plaque reads, "ERECTED BY THE HOCHSTETLER DESCENDANTS IN MEMORY OF OUR FOREFATHERS WHO PERISHED HERE BY INDIAN MASSACRE SEPT. 19, 1757."

Sagal is very emotional at the end and is obviously holding back tears.  She is glad she comes from a family with strong convictions.  Learning all of this has made her miss her mother, who has been gone a long time.  Being a mother has been her most amazing experience, and she understands her own mother better now.  Her mother grew up quickly but gave her power to stand up for what she wanted.

Sagal ends by saying that she comes from resilient people, from survivors, and from people who stood up for what they believed in.  She feels that describes her also.

Of all things, I had a couple of fashion questions with this episode.  I could not figure out why Sagal was wearing a glove on only her left hand for about the first half of the show.  And I noticed that when she visited Dr. Stutzman she was wearing a plain black dress.  I wonder if that was in deference to his faith.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Lifespans of My Great-Great-Grandparents

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver sounds interesting:

1)  We each have 16 great-great-grandparents.  How did their birth and death years vary?  How long were their lifespans?  

2)  For this week, please list your 16 great-great-grandparents, their birth years, their death years, and their lifespans in years.  You can do it in plain text, in a table or spreadsheet, or in a graph of some sort.

3)  Share your information about your 16 great-great-grandparents with us in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or on Facebook or Google+.  If you write your own blog post, please leave a link as a comment to this post.


Even before I started working on this, I was wondering how the statistics would look.  I suspected my great-great-grandfather who lived to be 90 might skew the average.  I also thought about how many of my great-great-grandparents I don't have birth and death information for.  So let's see how it played out:

Here are the 14 great-great-grandparents whose names I know, in alphabetical order (because that's how I keep my my family lines straight in my head):

• Beila ——, ??–before 1924
• Joel Armstrong, 1849–about 1921
• Mendel Hertz Brainin, about 1861–1930
• Frederick Cleworth Dunstan, 1840–1873
• James Gauntt, 1831–1889
• Amelia Gibson, 1831–1908
• Victor Gorodetsky/Gordon, about 1866–1925
• Ruchel Dwojre Jaffe, about 1868–1934
• Sarah Deacon Lippincott, 1860–1927
• Simcha Meckler, ??–before 1904
• Gershon Itzhak Nowicki, about 1858–1948
• Esther Leah Schneiderman, about 1874–1908
• Martha Winn, 1837–1884
• Dobe Yelsky, about 1858–1936

So I ran into problems.  First, I don't know the father of my paternal grandfather, so I definitely don't know his parents' names.  Second, I have no concrete information about my Meckler great-great-grandparents.  I decided to do my list with the 12 great-great-grandparents I have dates for, even if several of them are approximate:

• Joel Armstrong, 1849–about 1921, 82 years
• Mendel Hertz Brainin, about 1861–1930, 69 yeras
• Frederick Cleworth Dunstan, 1840–1873, 33 years
• James Gauntt, 1831–1889, 58 years
• Amelia Gibson, 1831–1908, 77 years
• Victor Gorodetsky/Gordon, about 1866–1925, 59 years
• Ruchel Dwojre Jaffe, about 1868–1934, 66 years
• Sarah Deacon Lippincott, 1860–about 1927, 67 years
• Gershon Itzhak Nowicki, about 1858–1948, 90 years
• Esther Leah Schneiderman, about 1874–1908, 34 years
• Martha Winn, 1837–1884, 47 years
• Dobe Yelsky, about 1858–1936, 78 years

The average birth year for these 12 ancestors is 1853, with a range from 1831 (two of them) to 1874.

The average death year is 1915, with a range from 1873 to 1948.

The average lifespan is 63 years, ranging from 33 to 90.  The average male lifespan is 65, and the average female lifespan is 62.

It looks like I was right about my 90-year-old 2x-great-grandfather skewing things, at least a little.  If it weren't for him being such an outlier, the average male and female lifespans would be even closer.

I hadn't realized that two of these ancestors had died quite so young, at 33 and 34 years.  I know that Esther Leah Schneiderman (Gorodetsky) died a month after the birth of her eighth surviving child and blood was mentioned in the cause of death.  I don't know what caused the death of Frederick Cleworth Dunstan.  He was a file grinder, but I don't know if that was a particularly hazardous job.

Of these ancestors, only two lived to be older than 80.  I believe several of my great-grandparents lived past 80, so my family members appeared to be living longer, at least for a while.

Monday, April 25, 2016

It's Preservation Week!

This week, April 24–30, is Preservation Week for 2016.  While the primary focus is for libraries, archives, and other formal repositories to think about the conditions and preservation needs of their collections, it is a good time for everyone to consider what they have that they would like to have last a long time.  For modern genealogists, this can easily encompass original documents, books, photographs and slides, recorded interviews, family movies, and digital media, whether converted from the previous formats or natively digital.  You might also have clothing and other physical heirlooms that can't really be digitized.

The American Library Association has a page full of resources for Preservation Week (and the whole year!).  You can find information on how to preserve your items and on disaster recovery (which I hope you never need to use).  Two free Webinars are offered this year, "Reformatting Audiotape" on April 26 and "Preserving Your Digital Life" on April 28  Also available are links to previous years' presentations, such as ""Preservation of Family Photographs", "Family Textiles", and "Disaster Preparedness", all free.

If you would like to host a Preservation Week event, there's a link to information for that.  There's even a link for preservation geared to military families!

Don't you feel motivated to go out and buy a bunch of archival boxes for your documents now?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The "Good Maharajah" Is Honored Again

A few years ago I wrote about Prince Jam Sri Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja, called the Good Maharajah, who generously offered to host Polish children, many of them orphans, who were suffering due to changing national alliances during World War II.  He brought the children to his summer palace, and they stayed there through the end of the war.  A school was even set up for them by delegates from the Polish government-in-exile.

In 2012, the Warsaw (Poland) City Council passed a resolution to name a city square after the Good Maharajah.  The square was dedicated in 2013.

An Indian journalist wrote about the Maharajah and the children, first in a Ph.D. dissertation in 2006, and then in a book published in 2013.

Now a new exhibition at the United Nations is honoring this man.  The exhibition, which began on April 22, was created by Robert Kostro, Polish historian and director of the Museum of Polish History, for India's Mission in New York.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Share Your Childhood Memories

Randy Seaver's challenge for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is interesting and not as easy as it might seem:

1)  Judy Russell asked six questions in her keynote address at RootsTech 2014 to determine if audience members knew certain family stories about their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.  She demonstrated very well that family stories are lost within three generations if they are not recorded and passed on to later generations.

2)  This week, I want you to answer Judy's six questions, but about YOUR own life story, not your ancestors'.  Here are the questions:

a)  What was your first illness as a child?

b)  What was the first funeral you attended?

c)  What was your favorite book as a child?

d)  What was your favorite class in elementary school?

e)  What was your favorite toy as a child?

f)  Did you learn how to swim, and where did you learn?

3)  Tell us in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.


As usual, I am impressed with Randy's recall of events in his youth, because I don't remember those events in my own life that well, and I'm 20 years younger than he is!  But here are my stories:

a.  I don't remember any illnesses.  My mother made sure her children had all the vaccinations available, and we didn't get measles, chicken pox, or any of those other childhood standards.  The first thing I can remember is a visit to the hospital because I had an intense abdominal pain, and they thought I had a gallstone or something.  I think I passed it while I was there.  I have no idea how old I was when that happened.  I can't even remember if it was in California or Australia.

b.  I was quite fortunate while I was growing up in that I had no close relatives die.  The first funeral I attended was while I was in college.  I was in the Naval Auxiliary (girlfriends and fiancées of midshipmen) to the Navy ROTC unit.  One of the midshipmen died unexpectedly during the school year.  I attended as a representative of the NavAux.  After the funeral, the CO thanked me for being there.

c.  My favorite book as a child was Last of the Mochicans by James Fenimore Cooper.  It was part of a "great classics of English literature" set my mother bought for the three of us kids to read.

d.  My favorite class in elementary school was the 5th grade sewing/embroidery class at Woollahra Demonstration School in Woollahra (Sydney suburb), New South Wales, Australia.  I don't remember the teacher's name, but I still have the items I embroidered.

e.  My favorite toy as a child was my Barbie dolls.  I probably got the first one when I was around 6 years old.  I used to dress them up in store-bought outfits, and later I learned to sew new clothes for them myself.

f.  I learned to swim, but damned if I can remember where or when.  I already knew how to swim when my family lived in Pomona, because we'd visit the Lameys across the street and swim in their pool.  So I learned by the time I was 7 or 8.

I think I'd better take the opportunity to ask my father these questions while I can.  My mother and all four of my grandparents have already passed away, so I'm a little late for them.

Friday, April 22, 2016

"Who Do You Think You Are?" - Scott Foley

So far it looks as though I'll probably stay behind on my Who Do You Think You Are? posts.  I think I'll set a goal of posting about an episode before the second one after it airs.  Maybe I can stick to that.  This one took extra time because I worked hard at tracking down online links to some of the information presented in the episode.

The Scott Foley episode of Who Do You Think You Are? introduced me to another celebrity I hadn't heard of previously.  The teaser told us that Foley would discover his family had an impact on critical events in U.S. history and that a relative put his life on the line for one of America's founding fathers.  He would also learn about an ancestor who suffered unspeakably during one of America's darkest times.

Scott Foley is an actor whose first breakthrough role came on the Felicity series (never seen it).  According to the hyped-up intro, he has become one of television's most sought-after stars.  Other series on which he has appeared are Scrubs (I actually used to watch that in syndication), The Unit (nope), True Blood (nope), and Scandal (and nope).  Foley lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actress Marike Domińczyk, and their three children.  In one of the family shots, the Foleys' younger son takes his first steps, and Foley calls out to the cameraman, "Tell me you got that!"  The camerman confirms, "Got it!"  Nice to know that this program can serve a greater good.

Foley opens by telling us that the older he gets, the more important family is to him.  His wife is from Poland; they know and see her family regularly, and she speaks in Polish to the children.  He is proud of being American, but his wife knows her background and he doesn't.  It's important for him to learn what he brings to the relationship and where he comes from.

Foley says his father "was" Hugh Henry Foley (which made me think he had passed away, but he shows up later, so it was just a poor choice of wording) and his mother was Constance Jean Foley (whoops!  look at that disappearing maiden name).  Foley is the oldest of three brothers.  Hugh Foley worked in banking, and the family moved a lot.  They didn't really know any cousins, aunts, or uncles; life was just the immediate family.

When Foley was 15 his mother passed away from ovarian cancer, from which she had suffred for three to four years.  This of course affected the whole family.  They didn't talk much about family history.  Foley only knew one of his grandparents, his paternal grandfather, Earl Hugh Foley.  He knows his paternal grandmother was Evelyn Fogg, and his father has said that they can trace their family back to the American Revolution through her.  Foley himself, however, doesn't know anything.

To embark on this genealogical journey, Foley gets together with his father to talk, probably at Foley's home, because it looks as though his father is the one arriving.  He starts out asking about Evelyn Fogg and the story that her family could go back to the American Revolution.  His father confirms that and says maybe it could go further.  He was told that if he had any daughters, they would be eligible for DAR, the Daughters of the American Revolution (I guess no one was enthusiastic about having the sons join Sons of the American Revolution?; maybe they need better marketing).  Foley asks what DAR does, and his father says they trace families back to the Revolution (isn't that enough?).  Throughout this segment Hugh tends to mumble and keep his eyes looking down; he obviously was not comfortable with the camera around.

Then Hugh shows Foley a photo of his grandfather Harry Fogg — Evelyn's father and Foley's great-grandfather — and says it was through his wife that the Revolution lineage came.  He doesn't know her name, however.  (The back of the photo has "Harry Fogg Grandfather on mother's side @ 1910-1915" in pencil.)  He has a vague recollection that her maiden name might have been something like Wadworth.

Foley comes up with a brilliant idea:  Maybe DAR has a Web site they can search?  His father says he doesn't know anything about computers, so he can't help.  Foley quickly finds the site and searches for Wadworth, with no results.  He asks his father whether it could have been Wadsworth and searches for that.  Whoops, that gives 50 results, too many to figure out.  After commenting how little they know about their family, Foley decides that maybe he should go to DAR to start his research.  He looks on the site and learns that it's in Washington, D.C., so that's where he's headed.  (He's never heard of a research plan, has he?)  He tells his father, "I will do all the research I can" (which must be the opposite of the royal we).

With the 50 Wadsworths on the DAR site, Foley didn't know what to look for.  He's excited about learning his family's ties to history and thinks that maybe he'll find something.

In Washington Foley is being driven around (maybe even celebrities and big-budget television shows have trouble finding parking there).  At the DAR library he meets professional genealogist Kyle Betit (who posted recently in one of my Facebook groups), whom he has previously told everything he knows about his family (which couldn't have taken long).  And of course, Betit immediately points Foley to Ancestry.com, where Betit has magically created a family tree.  When asked how he found the information, Betit says he primarily used vital records (which doesn't sound entirely plausible, considering the tree goes back to 1752).

The tree zooms by the three Foley brothers (one I can't read, Scott, and Sean; but didn't Scott say he was the oldest?, so why is he in the middle here?), the children of Hugh Henry Foley, Living, and Constance Kellerman (who regained her maiden name but lost her middle one).  Hugh is the son of Earl Hugh Foley, born 1907, and Evelyn Miskle Fogg, born 1902 (ooh, an older woman!).  Harrington (there's Harry!) B. Fogg, born 1866, was married to Mary Bliss Wardwell (I can easily see that mutating to Wadworth in people's memories over the years), born February 10, 1868 in Marblehead, Essex County, Massachusetts.  Foley comments that he has never heard the name Wardwell before, not even being introduced to someone at a party.  The camera pans quickly up the tree, but we catch a glimpse of Thomas G. Wardwell, born 1814, married to Mary Hannah Goodwin, born 1819; we appear to have skipped a generation, as they are more likely to be Mary Wardwell's grandparents.  Thomas' parents are Simon Wardwell, born 1783, and Margaret Barker, born 1794.  We stop at Foley's 5x-great-grandfather Simon Wardwell, born May 17, 1752 in Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts.  He was married to Ruth Church, born 1756.  (The Foley Family Tree, by the way, appears to be private.)

Betit points out that the Revolutionary War began in April 1775, and Foley says that Simon would have been 23 years old then, adding, "Look at that!  That's an actor who can do math, people."  He has a great sense of humor.  Foley searches on the DAR Web site for Simon, including his birth place and year from the Ancestry tree.  Of course he finds something:


He notices that Simon was a private.  Betit explains Simon is an approved patriot, meaning that his service during the war has been confirmed.  Foley then sees that Simon served from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and that there's a pension number.  He wonders if DAR has copies of the pension.  Conveniently (since I don't think these are housed at DAR), Betit has one page of Simon's pension, his deposition about his service.  The first thing Foley fixes on is the signature, which is large compared to the rest of the writing.  He then does a very credible job of reading the early 19th-century handwriting.  (This is available on Fold3.com, owned by Ancestry, so I was surprised it wasn't shown on the computer.  More pages from the file are also there.)  Only bits and pieces of this were shown on screen, and Foley did not read the entire text.  I've transcribed the top part, through Simon's signature.

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --


I, Simon Wardwell of the age of 65 years declare and say that I am a resident Citizen of the United States; that I now reside in & belong to the town of Andover in the County of Essex in the Middle Circuit, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; — That at the latter part of April 1775 I inlisted [sic] as a private soldier, for the term of 8 months, into the army of the Revolutionary War; & then entered the service accordingly in the Company under Capt. B. Farnham, in Col. James Frye's Regt of Massachusetts troops, & served therein accordingly till the 8 months was out: — Also the 1st of January 1776 I inlisted again, & entered the service in the Company under Capt. Joshua Reed, in Col. Jos James M. Varnum's Regt of the Rhode Island troops; & served in said company about two months, & was then transferred to General Washington's life guard under Capt. Caleb Gibbs, & continued in service in said life guard untill [sic] as late as November 1776 when I had a fit of sickness & on that account obtained a discharge signed by Col: Webb, Aid to General Washington, & so left the service.  That discharge is lost & not in my power or knowledge.  I also say that I am, by reason of my reduced circumstance in life, in need of assistance from my country for support; and I never had any Pension allowed me by the laws of the United States.
Simon Wardwell [signature]

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

The deposition was notarized on April 8, 1818, so Simon appears to have known his age pretty accurately.

Foley reads about Simon's two enlistment dates and then focuses on the statement that he was transferred to Washington's "life guard" about March or April of 1776, asking if that was like the Secret Service.  Betit says it was an elite unit whose mission was to protect Washington.  Foley is absolutely blown away and wants to know more, such as what kind of relationship Simon had with Washington.  Betit tells him that in March 1776 Washington was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, not far from where the two of them are at that moment (gee, only about 450 miles), and that he can set up an appointment with a Revlutionary War historian at the site of Washington's Cambridge headquarters.

Foley leaves the building and flags down a car.  He is amazed that his 5x-great-grandfather was in the Revolutionary War with Washington.  He's learned only a little and already thinks he's entered a world of wonder.  Now he wants to know more about Simon's service and what exactly he did.

In Cambridge Foley walks up to the Longfellow House—Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site.  Walking down from the house to meet him is R. Scott Stephenson, Ph.D., Director of Collections and Interpretation at the Museum of the American Revolution.  (We've seen him previously on the Valerie Bertinelli and Angie Harmon episodes.)  They introduce themselves and get some amusement out of the fact that they're both named Scott.  Foley says that his 5x-great-grandfather Simon Wardwell was a member of Washington's life guard, and Stephenson responds that there's a project to document all of the men who were in the life guard, so he knows Simon's name.

The life guard was partly a security detail to protect Washington himself, but it was also intended to proect Washington's papers, which had military secrets that the British would have liked to know.  The Longfellow House was Washington's headquarters from July 1775 to April 1776.  Simon probably stood guard in the area in front of the house where the two men are now standing.  Foley finds himself surprisingly emotional about that.

Inside the house, the Scotts are in a room used as Washington's reception room.  Foley comments that Washington was the general in charge of the Revolutionary Army, but Stephenson corrects him, pointing out that when it began, it was not a revolution.  At first Washington and the others were fighting to restore the rights they believed they were entitled to as British citizens.

Washington was appointed as the commander of the army in June 1775.  He knew at that point that fighting would go on for at least another year.  He decided to form the life guard.  Foley asks how Simon was chosen.  Was there a vetting process?  Some sort of boot camp?

Stephenson brings out a document he says is an extract from Washington's orderly book, which contained orders from Washington to be distributed to the entire army.  The top of the page is dated Cambridge, 10th March 1776, and we're led to believe it's all about the birth of the life guard.  The commanding officer of each regiment had to give four men.  There were twenty-seven regiments in the main army, so the first selection produced a little more than 100 men.  Washington chose a little less than half of them.

The date shown at the top of the document, 10th March 1776, does not appear to be the date of the orders for the creation of the life guard.  March 10 had a couple of other items.  The life guard seems to date from March 11, 1776, based on the wealth of transcriptions available online.  (The document itself does not appear to be digitized and online, however.)  I can't tell for sure if that is accurate, however, because all of the transcriptions differ slightly from the images shown on the program.  It's possible the exact wording varied between the different commanding officers.  What I have reconstructed below is based on my reading of what was shown (the best images I could capture are below), augmented by text in brackets from the earliest transcription I could find online, from 1836.

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --


The General being desirous of selecting a particular Number of men for a guard to himself & Baggage the Cols or Commanding Officers of each of the established Regts, the Artillery & Rifle men excepted, will furnish him with four.  That the number wanted may be chosen out of them:  His Excellency depends upon the Cols for good men such as they can recommend for their sobriety, honesty & good Behavior.  He wishes them to be from 5 foot 8 Inches to 5 foot 10 Inches high handsome & well made, & as there is nothing in his eyes more desirable than cleanliness in a Soldier [he desires that] particular Attention will be [had in the choice of] such as are spruce & neat.  They [are all to be] at headquarters tomorrow precisely at 12P [at] Noon when the Number will be [fixed upon.  The] Genl. neither wants men with [uniforms nor arms; nor] does he desire any men to be [sent to him who] are not perfectly willing to be [— of the Guard.]  They should be drill'd men.

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Foley thinks that several of the requirements sound superficial, relying on looks, etc.  Stephenson explains that in the 18th century, physical characteristics were seen as reflecting someone's character.  The fact that this was to be an elite unit meant that the men would be seen as a reflection of their commander.  Foley also commented on the height requirements, which Stephenson did not address.  (As Washington was known to be at least 6' tall, I wonder if he wanted to ensure that no member of his detail was taller than he was.  Maybe it was an ego thing?)

As Foley also had asked what sort of relationship Simon would have had with Washington, Stephenson explains that Washington had a somewhat aloof command style, suggesting that he was not particularly close to his men.  The life guards' job was to protect Washington specifically, but Martha and the children were in Cambridge also, so keeping an eye on them was probably part of the responsibilities.  Each of the men had to have a real commitment to the position.  Overall, Simon is a great person to be descended from.

Foley decides he really likes Simon, who was a respectable man.  Then he wonders about the "drill'd men" requirement.  That probably meant that they had some experience, which Stephenson confirms.  Foley then asks whether Simon saw any action in the life guard.  Stephenson says, "You bet!"  The guard had a busy summer and fall in 1776.  An assassination attempt was made on Washington, and on July 9 the Declaration of Independence was read to the army for the first time.  This was when they learned what they were fighting for.  Prior to this the battle had been to restore their rights as Englishmen; now they were fighting for independence, and it had become a revolution.

On the personal side, in March 1777 Simon married Ruth Church.  They were married 42 years and had thirteen children.  Foley is amazed at the number but says that as a father, he respects Simon the most for that.  He's impressed and proud.

Ah, but now Foley wants more.  Simon was born in Massachusetts, which means his parents were here.  How far back can he go?  Stephenson tells him that he's near Boston, the home of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS).  (And this time it really is close, less than 5 miles!)  That's the place to go for answers about New England ancestors.

As he walks away from the Longfellow House, Foley is amazed that he didn't know anything about his family and now has learned this fantastic story about Simon.  That would be enough, but maybe he can go further back and learn even more.  He's a little overwhelmed.  His 5x-great-grandfather believed in the new nation and served with Washington, our country's first president.  He will be proud to share with his children that someone in their lineage helped found America.

The next day Foley is in Boston.  He's still giddy about the story that ended yesterday but is looking forward to learning a whole new story today.  He anticipates being excited, whatever comes his way.

At NEHGS Mary Beth Norton, a professor of American history at Cornell (and later credited on screen as the author of In the Devil's Snare), is waiting to greet Foley.  She has one of those lovely calligraphed family trees that leap gaily from one generation to the next without benefit of showing any documentation.  She tells him it was prepared for him "by genealogists" (which must mean everything is accurate, I guess).  When Foley asks how she did this (um, she didn't do it, sorry, dude, she's not a genealogist), she blithely answers, "With vital records."  (Sure, she did.)

This tree begns with Foley's father and then goes to his grandparents Earl Hugh Foley, born March 9, 1907 in Bon Homme County, South Dakota, and Evelyn Miskle Fogg, born December 13, 1902 in Holland, Michigan.  Next come Harrington Dingley (Dingley?!  I guess that wasn't a B after all) Fogg, born February 5, 1866 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Mary Bliss Wardwell, born in Marblehead.  The 2x-great-grandparents are Horace Ware Wardwell, born May 16, 1842 in Andover, and Sarah Jane Carmodie, born about 1847 in Salem, Massachusetts.  Horace's parents were Thomas Gage Wardwell, born October 13, 1814 in Andover, and Mary Hannah Goodwin, born November 3, 1819 in Saco, Maine.  Thomas' parents were Simon Wardwell, Jr., born August 24, 1788 in Andover, and Margaret Barker, born February 3, 1794 in Methuen, Massachusetts.  Simon's father was Simon Wardwell, Sr., born May 17, 1752 in Andover (we know a lot about him now), and his mother was Ruth Church, born September 1756 in Haverhill, Massachusetts.  Simon Sr.'s parents were Eliakim Wardwell, born January 22, 1723 in Andover, and Mary Peavey, born March 22, 1724 in Andover.  Next come William Wardwell, born November 9, 1679 in Andover, and Dorothy Wright, born July 23, 1688 in Andover.  William's parents were Samuel Wardwell, born May 16, 1643 in Exeter, Massachusetts, and Sarah Hooper, born December 7, 1650 in Reading, Massachusetts.  The final generation shown is Foley's 9x-great-grandparents Thomas Wardwell, born January 31, 1603 in Alford, England, and Elizabeth (no maiden name), born in England (without even an approximate year of birth).

Foley zeroes in on Thomas Wardwell, realizing that is his immigrant ancestor.  Norton confirms that and adds he was among the first settlers of Massachusetts.  She goes on to say that Wardwell is a name well known in New England.  In particular, Samuel Wardwell, Foley's 8x-great-grandfather, was very important.  Foley is surprised and asks if Norton has heard of him before.  Norton says he is well known and hands him a copy of a document.


Foley asks what it is and begans reading it.  I give him credit, he didn't do that bad of a job, but he stumbles over some of the words and asks Norton, "How do you read this?"  She admits 17th-century handwriting is difficult and offers Foley a transcription, which he gratefully accepts.  (You can read the transcription of this and other documents relating to Samuel's trial on the Salem Witch Trials site at the University of Virginia.)  Foley reads "in the snare of the devil" and exclaims, "What is happening here?  What is this?"  The document turns out to be Samuel's confession of witchcraft, dated September 10, 1692.  Foley's ancestor had been caught up in the infamous Salem witch trials.  Foley admits he doesn't know details about the trials.  Norton says that Samuel's confession came late in the trial period.

The narrator steps in to tell us that the Salem witch crisis (I'm used to the events being called the Salem witch trials; is this new phrase, which was used several times in the episode, some sort of redefining of history?) began in February 1692, seven months before Samuel's confession.  Everything started with two girls who made bizarre accusations of witchcraft against several people.  They went into contortions and had screaming fits.  A doctor said they were under the influence of evil, and events exploded into an atmosphere of fear and hysteria.  The Puritan community believed God was punishing them and attempted to reaffirm their religious beliefs by going after those they believed were in league with the devil.  They aggressively pursued anyone who was accused.

Foley asks Norton whether Samuel was on trial.  At the time of the document, he had only been accused, and he was confessing.  At first he had returned "negative answers" to the questioning, that is, he had denied being a witch.  He then admitted it, because up to that point, anyone who had confessed was not actually tried.  The men leading the proceedings wanted confessed witches to accuse more participants.  At some point after his confession, however, Samuel recanted and said he had been coerced.  Unfortunately, between his confession and trial two others who had confessed were indicted and tried, so maybe Samuel decided his original plan was no longer going to be effective.  He was actually tried.

Foley is surprised that not only women were considered witches.  Norton explains that anyone could be accused, and that one quarter of the accused were men.  Foley is then concerned about Samuel's family, which must have been in huge turmoil.  Samuel had seven children; how can Foley find out what happened to them?  Norton tells him that the Salem Witch House is only a few miles north of where they are at the moment, and that he should go there and find out.  He will be able to speak with Margo Burns, an expert on the Andover witch trials.

Walking away from NEHGS, Foley wonders what Samuel's fate was.  He hopes the family was able to stay together, for the sake of the chidren.  Was Samuel one of the victims, or did he make it through?

At the Witch House, Foley tells Margo Burns, credited as a historian of the Salem witch trials, the story of Samuel (which she obviously must have known already).  She hands him a copy of testimony made against Samuel.  (The two documents shown below are linked to Samuel's case on the University of Virginia site, where you can read the transcriptions.)  Foley again does a reasonable job of reading the 17th-century writing, with assistance from Burns on occasion.  On September 14, 1692, a 16-year-old girl named Martha Spriggs accused Samuel of pinching her, sticking pins into her, and striking her down.


Foley is stunned that Martha actually believed Samuel was a wizard.  He can't believe that she testified Samuel had struck her down and stuck her with pins.  Burns tells him that the young girls were very dramatic in their testimony, screeching and contorting themselves.  Amazingly, the court found their testimony credible, which Foley thinks is pretty scary.

Burns brings out another person's testimony.  This was from Ephraim Foster, a 34-year-old man.  He stated that Samuel had told his (Foster's) wife that she would have five girls before she had a son, and that the same had come to pass.  Samuel had told another woman's fortune.  He had a reputation for telling fortunes, reading palms, and predicting what children women would have.  Foster was a more credible witness than Martha Spriggs, and he lent credibility to the charges made against Samuel.  Burns explains that the people at this time believed in an invisible world around them.  Angels and demons were part of their worldview and were very real to them.


Foley asks if a person on trial had an attorney.  Burns tells him the accused could not have an attorney but could try to respond to the accusations made against him.  After seeing all the depositions, Foley then asks what happened to Samuel.  Instead of answering directly, Burns hands him a copy of a book.  More Wonders of the Invisible World was first published in 1700 by a critic of the witch trials.  It has many first-person accounts.  The edition Foley is looking at is a later reprint.  (This reprint is from 1823, quite a bit later.  I think this one is the original 1700 version.)  Foley reads short snippets from the book.

"September 17, nine more received sentence of death, viz. Margaret Scot, of Rowley ; goodwife Reed, of Marblehead ; Samuel Wardwell and Mary Parker, of Andover ; also Abigail Falkner, of Andover, who pleaded pregnancy ; Rebecca Ames, of Boxford, Mary Lacy and Ann Foster, of Andover, and Abigail Hobbs, of Toppsfield." (pages 217–218, 1823 edition)

Foley finds it "amazingly heavy" to learn that Samuel Wardwell was sentenced to death.  The convicted were scheduled to hang.  Burns says that it was the fourth hanging in the series of trials but doesn't specify whether that was in the entire proceedings or in Andover.

The narrator says that on September 22, 1692 seven woman and one man were to be hanged, and that Samuel Wardwell was the man.  They were taken to the outskirts of Salem.  Each was permitted to say some final words.  (The names of the seven women hung on September 22 are included in the short Wikipedia article about Samuel.)

A big crowd was watching as people were protesting their innocence, with the ropes around their necks.  The executioner was smoking:

"[W]hile [Wardwell] was speaking to the people, protesting his innocency, the executioner being at the same time smoking tobacco, the smoke coming in [Wardwell's] face interrupted his discourse ; those accusers said that the devil did hinder him with smoke." (page 218, 1823 edition)

Burns then goees into some detail about hanging.  It could take up to 20 minutes for an individual to die, and the body could still twitch after that.  The crowd would stay to see the death throes.  Everyone came to watch.  (This was public entertainment at the time.)

"After execution, mr. Noyes . . . said, What a sad thing it is to see eight firebrands of hell hanging there!" (page 219, 1823 edition)

Burns tells Foley that a total of nineteen people were executed in Salem.  The hangings in September were the last ones.

Foley asks whether Samuel has any kind of tombstone.  Burns explains that those who were hung did not have graves; their bodies were discarded in a crevice or wherever was convenient.  She adds that Salem has a memorial to the people who were executed.  She recommends that he experience it.

Foley is still somewhat stunned as he leaves.  After all, you don't expect to discover that your ancestor was hanged as a witch.  (This episode is an interesting counterpoint to that with Sarah Jessica Parker, whose ancestor was convicted but did not die, because saner minds were beginning to prevail.)  He laughs and, realizing it must sound like an odd reaction, says he's laughing because what he has learned is so foreign to him.  His daughter had dressed up as a witch for Hallowe'en, and everyone thought it was cute.  Now he has a different perspective but maintains it was still cute, the distance from the actual event allowing for it.

Foley visits the Burying Point in Salem, which was established in 1637.  There's a regular cemetery, but there are also eight benches with the names of the eight people who were hung on September 22.  The first one we see him look at is Samuel Wardwell's.  He also looks at phrases incised in the stones on the ground:  I AM INNOCENT; I AM WRONGED; GOD KNOWS I AM INNOCENT; I CAN DENY IT TO MY DYING DAY; OH LORD HELP ME.  The words put a horror to the event for him; seeing the words etched in stone makes it so severe.

Eventually Foley sits on Samuel's bench:  "Just me and Sam on a bench."  He muses over the fact that in Salem the memorial is a tourist attraction.  People see the names, but they don't really mean anything unless you're related to them.  Five days ago he didn't know anything about Samuel or Simon, and now his mind is blown.  He had no idea he had such a connection to the history of our country.  He plans to take the story with him from now on:  "This is my story.  And it's a damned good story."

When I found the University of Virginia site about the witch trials, I discovered that Samuel's wife, Sarah, and his daughter Mercy also confessed to being witches, which makes Foley's comment about the family being in turmoil much more poignant.  This is one of those times when I wonder (more than usual) about what the celebrity is told that doesn't make it into the edited version of the episode.  He probably didn't know about Sarah and Mercy when he asked the question, but did Norton or Burns let him know about their confessions?  Sarah is even mentioned, though not by given name, in More Wonders of the Invisible World:

". . . the wife of Wardwell, who was one of the twenty executed, and it seems they had both confessed themselves guilty . . . .  It is supposed that this woman, fearing her husband's fate, was not so stiff in her denials of her former confession, such as it was." (page 279, 1823 edition)

I mentioned in my post about Aisha Tyler that the Ancestry.com DNA commercials are better than the annoying one about the wrong draft registration card.  I think I've decided that one of the DNA spots is becoming that annoying.  It's the one with the woman who was so excited to find that she is one quarter American Indian and now wants to learn all about her heritage.  Since there's no specific tribal information, just the overall "Native American" label, I found myself wondering whether the Indian pots and other items that are used as set dressing are actually related to the tribe or tribes for which she has roots.  I also found it interesting that the "most shocking result" from her DNA test was the Indian ancestry, and not one comment about the 8% African.