“Who Do You Think You Are?”: Reba McEntire

“Who Do You Think You Are?”: Reba McEntire

Friday’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” was pre-empted around here due to coverage of the severe weather Friday. Our immediate area was lucky to come through unscathed. Not so for many of our neighboring communities, and our hearts go out to those people. I watched the show online...

Friday’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” was pre-empted around here due to coverage of the severe weather Friday. Our immediate area was lucky to come through unscathed. Not so for many of our neighboring communities, and our hearts go out to those people.

I watched the show online, which is a bit of a problem for me because I want to sit there and do research, so then I had to watch it again. The ratings are already out and apparently this episode did the best of any so far. Who doesn’t love Reba McEntire?

Here’s the full episode if you still need to watch it:

She started the show at her family ranch in Oklahoma and traveled to Aberdeen, Miss.; Raleigh, NC; Oxford, NC; Tappahannock, Va.; and England in pursuit of her mom’s family tree.

I was surprised to see Josh Taylor (formerly of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), now of FindMyPast.com) walk into the library in Aberdeen. This scene was in the clip I posted Friday, but I had assumed they were at the NEHGS library in Boston.

One theme is McEntire’s discovery of her family’s slave-owning past. When she’s confronted with her fourth-great-grandfather’s life as a slave trader, I like what the archivist says, that slavery is part of all of our histories.

Later, she learns the same ancestor’s grandfather (McEntire’s sixth-great-grandfather) came to the country as a 9-year-old indentured servant. He was one of the fewer than half of all indentured servants who lived long enough to become free citizens—and became successful enough to purchase land.

When she learned the boy’s father put him on the ship, McEntire cautions herself against drawing early conclusions. Good for her: Before making judgments about an ancestor’s actions, it’s a good idea to learn the context of their lives.

I like the variety of records used in this episode (though we didn’t see where Josh found his information). Censuses, obituaries, land records, tax records, newspapers (she used GenealogyBank at the Granville County courthouse, but they didn’t show the name of the site), slave bills of sale, deeds, baptismal registers and more.

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  1. Dear Diane,
    Your information about indentured servants surprised me. Our English ancestor, John Lloyd, finished TWO indentures in Virginia to be able to marry his master’s daughter; become a landowner; and, later, a church deacon!
    I think that this year’s shows have all been good. The past two seasons have improved greatly from the inaugural season re: having the "celebrities" do more of their own research and leg work (although that might be staged).

  2. I thought that was GenealogyBank, but I wasn’t sure, and I was disappointed we weren’t told. I believe there was another database site that was used but not mentioned. Does Ancestry.com prohibit them from mentioning other websites as part of their sponsorship agreement? I wonder.