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Who Do You Think You Are?: Tim McGraw

February 11, 2011 08:03 PM by Shayla Perry

On an all new episode of NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?…. He’s traveled the world as a country music singer and star of films like The Blind Side and Country Strong, but tonight, Tim McGraw will embark on a different journey; one that will teach him more about himself than he ever knew.

Tim McGraw lives on a farm outside of Nashville with his wife, Faith Hill, and their three daughters. There, McGraw takes refuge far away from the glitz and glamor of the Hollywood, where he’s recently found success as an actor in such acclaimed films as The Blind Side and Country Strong.

Tim McGraw has always had a curiosity about who he is. Something that was sparked at the age of 11, when he discovered his birth certificate with the name “Smith” (the last name of the man he thought was his father) written over the name “McGraw,” which had been crossed out.

Tim then learned that his biological father was in fact Major League Baseball player Tug McGraw, whose baseball card young Tim happened to have taped to his bedroom wall.

Tim tried to reach out to Tug McGraw at the time, but for most of his teen years, Tug did not acknowledge that he was his son. When Tim turned 18, Tug McGraw invited him to Florida to meet him. At that time, Tim asked Tug if he thought of him as his son. To his surprise, Tug said yes.

For Tim, knowing who he was changed who he thought that he could be, which inspired him to learn more about the other men and women on his father’s side of the family.

With his father, Tug McGraw, having passed away in 2004, Tim’s uncle, Hank McGraw, is the next closest relative, and where he begins his search.

Hank shows Tim several photos of his grandfather, “Big Mac,” who he had met at 19, and his great grandparents. Tim’s great grandmother, Ella May Nave, often spoke to Hank about family picnics in the Kansas City area, so Tim travels there to meet with a genealogist to see if he can find more clues.

There, Tim is presented with Ella May’s death certificate, where he learns the names of her parents. He then searches for the “Chrisman” name on Ancestry.com, and finds several other generations of Chrisman’s. The last of them is an Isaac Chrisman, who lived in Virginia in 1772–before the Revolutionary War.

In Virginia, McGraw meets with an historian and is presented with a survey on Isaac Chrisman’s property, which at the time, was very close to land that many Native Americans still considered their own.

McGraw decides to travel to Chrisman’s property in Rye Cove, VA. He learns that because the land had already been cleared and tended to by Native Americans, it was likely that Chrisman’s use and ownership of the property angered them, and by living there, Chrisman was taking quite the risk.

In August 26, 1777, three years after the survey of Chrisman’s land was taken, he was dead. But to find out how he died, Tim McGraw must go to Richmond, VA.

In Richmond, Tim heads to the Virginia Historical Society and is shown a document created by militia men around the same time that Chrisman died. The document reveals that in the summer of 1776, an alarm went off in Rye Cove to alert the settlers that Native Americans were in the territory.

The men in the families, including Isaac Chrisman, were ordered to evacuate and head east to Black Mour Fort for safety.

Roughly seventy years later, another militia report was written. According to that report, Isaac Chrisman and two of his sons left Black Mour to check on their crops and were killed by the Native Americans on his own property.

Eager to learn more about Chrisman’s past, McGraw checks out his family tree and finds the name of Issac’s grandfather, Jost Hite, a prominent landholder in the Shenandoah Valley.

There, McGraw learns that Hite acquired the right to distribute tens of thousands of acres of land to settlers, and is struck by the fact that his ancestor was so instrumental in settling the country.

At the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., Tim tries to find out more about Jost Hite.

In the Main Reading Room, the journal of a 16 year old boy traveling with a surveying party in the Shenandoah Valley in 1748 is presented to McGraw. One of the journal entries tells of the boy lodging with the Hite family.

That 16 year old boy was George Washington!

Not only did the Hite family provide young George Washington with a place to stay, but it turns out that Washington, who had lost his father at 11 (the same age Tim was when he discovered his biological father), was changed by this particular trip in many ways.

June 24, 1767, in a letter from George Washington written to his neighbor John Posey, Washington referenced the Hite family as an example of how others should handle their finances.

But money didn’t always flow so freely for the Hite family. McGraw is directed to New York to find out why Jost’s name appears on a list of people getting support from the British government.

At the New York Public Library, Tim is presented with yet another document. Again, Jost’s name is listed as a debtor, but this time, the document reveals that the debt is owed to the Queen of England, and for the first time, McGraw learns that Hite is German.

McGraw is told that Jost Hite and approximately 13,000 other Palatines traveled to London, believing that the British government would pay for them to settle in the Carolinas by “The Golden Book.” When they arrived, the British government, having no knowledge of the piece of propaganda, decided to make use of some of the Palatines, sending them to New York.

When they arrived, they were once again betrayed, and instead of receiving free land, like they were promised, they were put to work.

Jost somehow managed to find his way out of servitude and eventually became a successful landholder.

McGraw also discovered that there was another famous family that migrated to America with the Hites; a family whose name was eventually changed to Presley–as in Elvis Presley.

At the end of his journey, Tim McGraw returns to tell Uncle Hank everything he’s learned about their family’s past, and the spirit and drive that’s been passed down over the years.

Tell us… So far, what do you think of season 2 of Who Do You Think You Are?

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Photo Source: NBC

Topics: NBC Reality TV Shows, Who Do You Think You Are? |

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12 Responses to “Who Do You Think You Are?: Tim McGraw”

  1. Jane Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    “Who Do You Think You ARE?” should have an encore presentation because I always miss it because i work late, or make it available on you tube after the initial airing to us who miss the first airing. I love this show! Keep up the great work!


  2. Melodee Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Well I just found out tonight that Tim McGraw and I are 4th cousins. This has been confirmed by two other cousins that were watching the show on NBC tonight (2-11-2011). Boy ya just never know. I may have to write him and get a picture for the family album LOL

  3. Sandy Ott Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 5:03 am

    It is such a small world! I just learned that Tim is related to me down the line…my grandmother was a Hite…they were in Sullivan Gardens, Tennessee. I remember my grandma saying that we were decendents of Josh Hite….thank you for such a wonderful show…Sandy Ott..Norfolk, Va.

  4. John Gray Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Very refreshing – love it!Especially in today’s world, it is so very enjoyable to read these stories.
    Please send more!
    Sincerely, John

  5. John Gray Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Very refreshing – love it!
    Please send more!
    Sincerely, John

  6. Ann Marie Banks Says:
    February 13th, 2011 at 11:20 am

    In watching the episode with Tim McGraw,Who Do You Think You Are, my sister and I were in disbelief that our ancesters were being mentioned all the way to Jost Hite. My grandfather is Robert Chrisman, born in Missouri and now living in San Antonio, TX. I have printed material on my family history from Jost Hite down and thought Tim McGraw would find this information interesting. I am trying to find a way to get this material to him and if you know of any way to help I would appreciate it.
    Thank you,
    Ann Marie Banks

  7. Kathy Says:
    February 18th, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Tim McGraw just researched my family tree too! I’m also related to the Chrismans and Hites. That was really cool. I never thought I’d get to do “Who Do You Think You Are?”

  8. Ann Hooff Kline Says:
    February 20th, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    I, too, am a descendant of Joist Hite (the way our family spells the first name.) Joist Hite is my 7-great grandfather, through the line of his firstborn child, daughter Elizabeth,born in 1711 in Kingston, NT after his parents emigrated to America. Elizabeth Hite married Paul Froman. Their daughter, Maria Christine, married John Overall,Jr., etc., etc., and the line continues down through the Hooff line,Overall, VA.

    Joist (Jost) Hite, from Alsace,Germany, married Anna Marie du Bois, a French Hugenot,in Holland. They came to America in 1710, to Kingston, NY, then to PA, and finally to the Shenandoah Valley,Va.

    Lots more, but had to share this much. Very exciting!!

  9. Dana Pasker Says:
    May 18th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    I as well am a ancestor of Jost Hite. His son married my g-g-g-grandmother Eleanor Williams. Is there any way I can get the informatiohn given to Tim for myself?

  10. Web Williams Says:
    June 22nd, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Looks like there are quite a few of us (descendants of Jost Hite). In the reading I’ve done on the subject, he Anglicized his name to Justin. As many branches as there are, we should hold a family reunion somewhere in the Shenandoah Valley!

  11. Noretta Justice Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 7:16 am

    I watch who do you think you are whenever it is on.
    I am so glad Tim researched his family. I had heard in the mid 2000′s that Tim was the son of Tug McGraw and how he was able to get to know his father better.
    I was also happy to see the name Joist Hite (not the way all the paper material Tim found spelled Hite. My husband Bob is a direct of this Joist so I guess that makes him a distace cousing.
    I would have loved to purchase a copy of that show to show his siblings but since I cannot I will print out these pages.
    Thanks again

  12. Milton A. Stephens Says:
    August 8th, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I’m also a descendant of Jost Hite, through his son-in-law George Bowman. Bowman’s dau married Lawrence Stephens, my 5th great grandfather. Stephens City, Va. is named for this family. There is a Hite family reunion every other year at the Belle Grove plantation home that Isaac Hite, Jr. built in the late 1700′s at Kernstown, Va., just south of Stephens City. Peter Stephens, my 6th great grandfather, was a member of Jost Hite’s party that first migrated to Virginia in 1731-32. Tim McGraw would be my 7th cousin, twice removed. Must be thousands of Hite descendants that are related to the McGraw family.


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