March 23, 2012 06:04 PM by Candace Young
Previously on NBC‘s Who Do You Think You Are? football star Jerome Bettis traced his ancestry back to the time of slavery in the American south, and Reba McEntire traveled to England to find her roots. Tonight, actress Helen Hunt, who has worked in over 80 films and TV shows, will delve into her paternal family tree. Keep reading for highlights…
Tonight on Who Do You Think You Are? Helen Hunt will delve into her father’s ancestry. She notes that her paternal grandmother died when her father was only five years-old because of a drunk driver. She meets with her dad, Gordon, to begin the journey.
Gordon shows Helen some photos and tells her as much as he knows about his family’s immigration to the United States from Germany. Helen heads to California to find out more about her great-grandmother, Florence Roberts, who lived in a hotel there.
With help from a historian, she is able to trace her great-grandparents to New York, and learns that they had servants and were well-off. Her great-grandfather died of typhoid in New York in 1910, and Florence took her four children and moved to Pasadena, California at that point. The historian explains that many in the Jewish population did likewise at that time. Florence also changed their last name from Rothenberg to Roberts in 1921.
From Florence’s death certificate, she learns that her great-great grandfather was William Scholle. They find him on a ship docket coming to the United States from Germany as Wolf Sholey. Once established as William, it appears he was a merchant who may have taken part in the California Gold Rush. Helen heads to San Francisco to find out more.
Helen meets with a professor in San Francisco who tells her that merchants like William made fortunes from the increase in wealth and population boom that resulted from the Gold Rush. They look at records and business directories from 1855 that show William doing a great deal of trade as a clothing importer. The census shows that he and his wife Rosa have several children and numerous servants. Helen gets to see a photo of William Scholle as well. A newspaper report shows that William was worth over one million dollars – extremely wealthy for the times!
Helen meets with a writer who has also traced her roots back to the same time period – their great-great grandfathers were business partners and friends who helped bail out the failing Nevada Bank! They later became Wells-Fargo. Helen is stunned and thrilled to have such a great story to pass on to her daughter.
She turns her attention to her father’s father’s side of the family – the Hunts. Helen travels to Portland, Maine to begin. She knows her great-great-grandfather, George Hunt, was a businessman, and meets a historian in a pub near where he lived. The historian tells her he made his money in sugar. They learn his wife was Augusta was involved with the temperance league. Helen laughs that she was anti-rum. Prohibition was enacted there in 1851 due to rampant drinking.
A professor tells Helen that the temperance movement came about as a response to an increase in domestic abuse because of alcoholism. Helen is shown photos of her great-great grandmother, Augusta Hunt, and reflects on the issues she was dealing with.
At her next stop, Helen is able to read a biography of Augusta, and discovers she helped start daycare, getting women elected to school boards, and putting female guards in women’s prisons, in addition to being a big wig in the temperance organization. Augusta was part of the group who gathered hundreds of signatures on petitions when the women’s movement first tried to get women the vote. It didn’t happen right away, but she was alive when in finally passed in Maine. Helen wonders if she lived to vote. She finds Augusta’s name in a voter registration. A newspaper article about Augusta’s 90th birthday indicates that she did, in fact, vote and even got to pass the first ballot. Augusta died ten days after the article was published. Helen gets choked up.
Helen visits Augusta and George’s burial sites and talks about how she will tell her daughter the stories of her ancestors.
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Photo credit: FayesVision/Wenn.com, Wenn.com
Topics: NBC Reality TV Shows, Who Do You Think You Are? |
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