The opening monologue from Judd was a little disingenuous. She talked about the important role that faith plays in her life and how it would be gratifying to learn if she had an ancestor for whom religion was important. She also talked about her role as an activist and wondered if anyone in her family had agitated for reform. Considering that we know all the research is done beforehand, these statements were obvious foreshadowing of what was to come in the episode.
Judd began her search with a trip to visit her father, Michael Ciminella. The two of them paged through a photo album and talked about Judd's grandmother and great-grandmother. They discussed how family information said that they had one line that went back to New England, and that Judd's great-great-grandfather Elijah Hensley had fought in the Civil War, been a prisoner, and lost his leg to a war injury. Then we had another disingenuous comment: "Would you imagine some of that information is online?" Cue the Ancestry.com screen, though I will admit that it was a little more downplayed than in other episodes. (And it looked like a laptop with a WDYTYA logo, but I wasn't sure.)
Unsurprisingly, they got a hit for an Elijah Hensley, who was in the 39th Kentucky Infantry, Company I. Judd decided to go to the Kentucky State Archives in Frankfort to look for Hensley's service record. She scrolled through microfilm and found his muster roll pages. She said she wanted not just the records but also the stories behind them, so talked to Prof. Brian McKnight, a Civil War historian (and an assistant professor of history at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas). They looked at the muster roll pages and discussed the fact that Hensley was captured about a month after he enlisted and had probably been held in Virginia, then returned back to the Union in a prisoner exchange. Hensley was captured again later in the war, at Saltville, and was discharged due to disability. His discharge showed his age as 18, which was also his stated age when he enlisted. He had lied about his age when he joined up, but by the time he was being discharged apparently felt he could tell the truth.
I found it amusing that the archives segment (and the segment after it) showed microfilm and paper copies, considering that Hensley's service file is available online -- but at Footnote.com. Taking into account average production schedules, this episode was probably filmed before Ancestry bought Footnote's parent company, and they certainly weren't going to advertise another company's online holdings, were they? I looked through the 26 pages available on Footnote. Hensley's file does not give specifics on his first capture, which explains why McKnight couldn't state exactly how long he had been a prisoner. I was disappointed they didn't talk about the Certificate of Disability, which I found interesting. Perhaps it was edited out of the final cut.
Judd next visited Saltville, Virginia, where she met George Wunderlich, the director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. They met at the Madam Russell cabin, which appeared to be merely window dressing, because it wasn't mentioned at all in the segment. The main topic of discussion was the amputation of Hensley's leg, in a fair amount of detail. Apparently Dick Eastman missed it when Wunderlich answered Judd's question and confirmed that no anesthesia would have been used during the operation, but I heard it.
Judd returned to her hotel, where an envelope from McKnight was waiting for her. He had sent a copy of Hensley's pension file, which included a photograph and what seemed to be a testimonial about the man. It said that Hensley was doing the Master's work in the Methodist church and that he was a farmer in Inez, Kentucky. She then talked about how she has deep roots in eastern Kentucky, but her people had to have come from somewhere before that, and since there was this family story about New England roots, she was going to go there and "poke around" to see what she could find. Yeah, that's a great way to approach research; goes right along with the Ancestry ads that say you don't need to know what you're looking for.
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One thing that bothered me in this segment was when Taylor brought out the book from the 1700's and told Judd to page through it to get to the passage he had marked. If they're going to the trouble of wearing conservator's gloves to protect the items (the use of which for handling paper is generally a deprecated practice nowadays), why page through the book and subject more of the pages to stress?
After the revelation of Mayflower ancestry and mentioning that Brewster had been the bailiff for the Archibishop of York, Taylor recommended that Judd go to York, England, to continue her research. As I've mentioned before, this is great if you have an unlimited budget, but most people would probably settle for writing a letter. Judd's first visit was with Prof. Bill Shiels of the University of York. He told her background information on the religious turmoil of the time and why Brewster would have wanted to leave England. He had court records showing that Brewster was ordered to appear but did not do so. Judd called Brewster a religious refugee, which Shiels agreed with. He told her she should go next to Boston, Lincolnshire, to see what she could find.
In Boston Judd went to the Guild Hall and found the jail cells in which Brewster and William Bradford were imprisoned in 1607. She spoke with author Nick Bunker, an expert on the Pilgrims, who explained more about the conditions of the time, including the facts that one needed a license to leave England and that Bradford and Brewster had been trying to leave without that permission. The captain of the ship they had hired betrayed them, which is how they ended up in jail. Bunker had a copy of Bradford's History of the Plimoth Plantation, and Judd read a short passage. (History of the Plimoth Plantation is available as a free download from the Internet Archive, by the way.) Bunker said that Brewster had spent many years in exile in Holland (I think he actually meant The Netherlands) but that Judd didn't have to go to Holland to find more information; instead he recommended she go to Cambridge University.
At the end of this segment Judd returned to the cell in which Brewster had been held and talked about how religious tolerance had been so important to the Pilgrims. Unfortunately, history shows that Pilgrims considered that tolerance important only for themselves; they were remarkably intolerant and unaccepting of anyone not following their dictates when they set up the Plymouth Colony. This of course was not addressed in the program.
In Cambridge Judd met with Anthony Milton, a professor of early English history at the University of Sheffield. He showed Judd letters that referred to Brewster during the time he was in The Netherlands. While in Leyden he printed and distributed the Perth Assembly in 1619, and then was being pursued by the English government. Somehow he made it back to England without being caught, and he sailed on the Mayflower in 1620. During this segment Judd was seen writing in a notebook. She and Milton talked about the lack of freedom of speech and religion, and separation of church and state, which existed at the time.
For the last segment Judd went to Plymouth, England, where she reunited with her father and told him about her discoveries, including that his ninth great-grandfater was on the Mayflower. I was thrilled to hear Ciminella tell her that he was "excited to pursue [the research] further with" her. This is the first time I recall a mention on the program of continued research. (Paltrow's episode even ended with a comment about the "final leg of her journey.") Maybe Judd and Ciminella were the only ones who actually had an interest in learning more.