Deen’s parents died when she was a young woman, so not much family information had made its way to her. The show focused on her third-great-grandfather John Batts, a slaveowning planter and member of the Georgia legislature from 1857 to 1860.
Batts’ son William (brother to Deen’s great-great-grandmother Eliza Batts) fought for the confederates in the 12th Georgia regiment during the Civil War. The Georgia Archives actually had letters he’d written home, as well as letters from his commanding officer. These missives gave Deen an intimate view into William’s experiences and his family’s reaction after he was killed in action.
At Fold3—the first time I can remember this subscription site being shown on WDYTYA?—Deen finds John Batts’ application for a pardon from the US government. Most of the South was covered by President Andrew Johnson’s blanket pardon, but wealthy planters like Batts had to swear loyalty and provide documentation they’d freed their slaves.
Tax records at Emory University show John Batts’ fate. Things went downhill for the family after an economic depression in 1873. Deen and a researcher note declining values of John’s personal and real estate until 1879, when the records show all zeros. A newspaper article reveals that John, sadly, had committed suicide.
Although “Who Do You Think You Are?” won’t be returning next season, GeneaBloggers reports that for the first time this season, the episode came in first for viewership in its time slot and was the third-most-watched show for the evening.
These two short videos show research not included in Friday’s episode, about Deen’s fifth-great-grandfather Joel Walker, an early Georgia settler in the Savannah area.