Featuring stories from St. Louis, Missouri this week, Genealogy Roadshow produced another fantastic blend of local and national history, told only as family history can be told: one person at a time. Our hosts, D. Joshua Taylor, Director of Family History at Findmypast, and professional genealogists Mary Tedesco and Kenyatta Barry, took us through a variety of stories as they put together the pieces, one by one, for each of their guests.
With St. Louis as their backdrop, the mysteries came one after another. Including the infamous pirate, Blackbeard, and tracing the Davis family back to their African roots through DNA, once again, our community was on hand to provide their own commentary via Twitter.
"More stories showing that there is no clear black and white - there is just human!" @kmjoradn73
"Genealogy truly does feel like being in a time machine!" @JenBookChick
"I really liked that last story. She discovered a missing piece of her heritage." @LittletonBooks
Twice in tonight's show, the question revolved around a scoundrel from history. Blackbeard and Ivan the Terrible were both examined for their possible descendants, and though no connection was found, the process of putting the circumstantial evidence together was highlighted well, especially in the segment revolving around Blackbeard. Some family historians spend years working to find that one specific record to definitively put a theory into place. It's an important reminder that a combination of elements can, in some cases, but just as convincing. In both stories, they were asked, "are you sure you want this person to be your ancestor?" In both cases, the response was simply, I just want to know the truth. It is a desire that many of us share; to know the truth of our history.
Rorey Cathcart, professional genealogist and part of the research team for the series, had this to say about the Blackbeard research:
"Tracing the descendants of a historical figure like Blackbeard whose offspring are unaccounted for presented significant challenges. To build the best circumstantial case we could, the research team followed both the geographic and occupational history of the Moore family."
The question of whether you have enough information has always been at the forefront of genealogical research. The standard of a "reasonably exhaustive search" gives us all a basic guideline to work from, though many interpret the idea, or the definition, of that process in different ways. It can be important to try to expand your search, by looking at the rest of the community your ancestor lived in, collateral relatives, or even political changes, such as in tonight's show, describing the change of the county boundaries. It can be those changes over time that can lead you to potential new clues, new resources, and potentially new answers, in your family history journey.
Join us again next week as Genealogy Roadshow travels to Philadelphia, and our community gathers once again on Twitter for fantastic family history discussion.