Saturday, February 4, 2012

"Who Do You Think You Are?" with Martin Sheen

I watched the third season premiere of NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" featuring the family of actor Martin Sheen.

I have Irish roots, but mine are of the early 1800's.  I do not know nearly enough of my Irish ancestry to know if any cousins may have participated in the Irish Civil War.  One of my great-great-grandfathers, Thomas Riley, came to America in the 1850's and lived until 1915.  On the 1930 census, his son John P. Riley listed Thomas's birthplace as "Irish Free State": 1930 census, Illinois, Will County, Lockport City, ED 99-65, sheet 17B, lines 85-94

I was more fascinated by the exploration into Sheen's Spanish heritage.  He was so fortunate to have records created regarding his family and their exploits, regardless of the results.  One of my most favorite parts of researching my own family is finding those amazing coincidences.  I have ancestors who lived one or two miles apart in one state whose progeny married generations later in another state, a long-lost sister buried near her brother, and two individuals from opposite sides of my Michigan roots whose obituaries appeared together on the same California.

Records created in other parts of the world are often far more complete than many of us can find in the United States.  I have worked with records in West Prussia and Denmark and have had great success.

Martin found he had ancestors that had social and moral convictions they fought for, as does Sheen.  I think a big part of researching your family is finding where you fit on your tree.  It's hard to say if it is nature or nurture that created our non-physical traits.  But it is nice to find family like you.

Good start, NBC!  Can't wait until next week!

Did you watch the show?  What did you like?