Actress Edie Falco straightened out some family stories on Friday’s “Who Do You Think You Are?”
Her mom’s cousin had made a family tree with Falco’s great-grandfather George Megrath born in Wales; it said George’s mother left his father there and took her son to America. Megrath was his mother’s surname; his father’s surname was Brown.
But at the New York Public Library, censuses show George was born in Wisconsin, with his father from England and mother from New York. Falco compares family stories being passed down to a game of telephone, in which the details get altered with every retelling.
Charles Brown was the “shadowy figure” referred to in episode promos. When an archivist at the Milwaukee County Historical Society helps Falco find “CC Brown” in an 1875 Minnesota census, Falco wisely asks “We don’t know for sure this is him?” Brown is a common name.
But the archivist had done additional research in local histories to confirm it was the right man. Turned out he was a newspaper man who married and divorced several times.
Charles mother was a “Sister Katherine Brown,” born “at sea” to a sea captain father based in Penzance in Cornwall, England. Unless I missed it, the show never did explain whether she became a nun or how the “sister” became part of her name.
My favorite part about this episode was Falco’s search to figure out the truth about family stories. Here telephone game analogy is so true. You can watch it online at the “Who DO You Think You Are?” website.
This deleted scene shows more about another ancestral divorce in Falco’s family: