Ancestry.com

Who Do You Think You Are? Episode 7 – Spike Lee

Posted by Heather Erickson on April 30, 2010 in Who Do You Think You Are?

It might seem ironic that a filmmaker – a professional story teller – didn’t get his own family’s story on film before it was too late, but that’s what happened to Spike Lee on Who Do You Think You Are?, whose grandmother died in 2006 at age 100, taking with her whatever she knew about the family’s history. With Spike determined to learn more about his mother’s family so he can pass the information on to his own children, too, he sets out to retrace his slave ancestors’ lives. Here’s where he goes:

  • Laurens County Library, Dublin, GA - Spike’s first stop is Dublin, Georgia, where he searches for information about his great-great-grandmother, Lucinda. Looking through Georgia Death, 1919-1998 at Ancestry.com, he discovers she died on May 13, 1934. Her obituary gives him more details – including the names of her three sons and parents. But who was Lucinda’s spouse? Spike moves forward in time to discover that answer: Lucinda’s son’s death certificate lists his father as Mars Jackson.
  • Georgia State Archives, Morrow, GA – Spike looks to the 1880 census to find more about Mars. In it is a farmer named Mars who’s married to a woman named Lucy and living with three sons, whose names match those of Lucinda’s children. But the family’s surname isn’t Jackson – it’s Woodall. Was this the name of Mars’s slaveholder?  The 1860 census indicates James Woodall owned slaves and lived in the same county where Mars and Lucy lived in 1880. Reviewing the details of the slaves owned by James Woodall in 1860 slave schedule shows Spike he’s on the right track. The 1880 agricultural schedule, which, like slave schedules, was a supplement to the federal census, indicates that Mars owned more than 80 acres of land.
  • Mars’s property, Twiggs County, GA – Spike walks through the land once owned by his ancestor Mars, realizing that Mars was indeed a successful farmer. Spike digs into the red Georgia clay, taking some home for his children. He decides that he needs to learn more, this time about Mars’s wife, Lucinda. Where does her trail lead?
  • Macon, GA – Former slaves freed during the Civil War appear by name for the first time in the 1870 census, which is where Spike turns to learn more about Lucinda’s parents, Wilson and Matilda Griswold. Matilda Griswold, race mulatto, is living in Griswoldville in the Grier family household, working as their cook. But where is Wilson? The surname Griswold and the town Griswoldville both point to a man named Samuel Griswold, who owned a very large number of slaves. In a signed Agreement that contracted slaves to work in Samuel’s cotton gin business, the slave Wilson is one of a handful listed by name.
  • Historical Marker, Griswoldville, GA – Spike soon learns from a historical marker that this cotton gin in which Wilson worked had a double life: it was a pistol factory during the Civil War. But Wilson’s trail seems to end when General Sherman destroys the factory. Spike holds a pistol made in the factory and sees photos of both Samuel Griswold and Louisa Griswold. Wanting to know more about Matilda’s mulatto designation and why she was living in the Grier household, Spike is told that Samuel Griswold’s daughter, Eliza, married Ebenezer Grier. Matilda was likely gifted to Eliza. Why? Because slaves who were fathered by their slaveholder were often passed to other family members. If this is what happened with Matilda, odds are very good that Samuel Griswold was her father – and Spike’s great-great-great-great-grandfather.
  • Cousin’s home, TX - Spike connects with a descendant of Samuel Griswold. In her home, he sits down with her, telling her that he believes they’re 3rd cousins, twice removed. The pair discusses family connections and slavery, and ponders how one person could ever own another human being.

Spike Lee’s journey proves that you can find details about a slave ancestor’s life. And to do so, Spike turns to some very specific census schedules: slave schedules and agricultural schedules. Neither of these focus on names or family details (in fact, in slave schedules, the only names listed tend to be those of the slave owner). Still, details about a person can be extracted from each. In the agriculture schedule from 1880, the freed Mars is shown to own a large, successful farm.  In the slave schedules, Spike is able to match information about unnamed slaves to the details he discovered about his ancestors on later census schedules.

This was the final episode of Season 1 of Who Do You Think You Are? If you missed this episode or a previous one, visit NBC.com to catch each online (you’ll also find bonus scenes there). Remember, you can always keep up to date on everything happening at Ancestry.com and keep the conversation going via our Facebook page.

About Heather Erickson
Heather Erickson is Head of Global Communications for Ancestry.com and has been with the company since 2009.

50 comments

Comments
1 PatMay 1, 2010 at 6:23 am

The episodes featuring Susan Sarandon and Spike Lee were undoubtedly the best of the series. They went into great depth, both with the individual research methods, and with the historical explanation of the times. I certainly hope the next season of the series will be of equal excellence. I was pleased to learn some new research tricks and even share some of the same emotions these “stars” felt in making their discoveries. Genealogy a very humbling experience in many ways.

2 liannallamaMay 1, 2010 at 6:57 am

Loved this episode! It even got my hubby sucked in to watch the drama unfold! What a fascinating series. I hope they re-run the older segments because after a long day of working on the computer the last thing I want to do is tune into my computer to watch a video! I’d much rather see it in our comfy living room.

3 BarbarkaMay 1, 2010 at 7:14 am

Unfortunately I didn’t get to see all the episodes. My favorites were Emmett Smith, Sarah Saradon, and Spike Lee. The background information on the slavery process was the best of the series. Those of us who didn’t have that experience in our life can be thankful. What a heartbreak for our fellow citizens who do! You could see the pain in the faces of Emmett and Spike.
Bring on more programs!

4 EveMay 1, 2010 at 7:24 am

I am astounded that they did not go to the deed records for Twiggs Co. while they were at the GA Archives to find out when Spike’s ancestor purchased the land! There was so much MORE info at the Archives that doesn’t seem to have been accessed!

I do hope Spike will CONFIRM any relationship to the Griswolds with DNA results, instead of mere conjecture. Very misleading.

5 Leonard J. McCownMay 1, 2010 at 8:23 am

Sadly this episode was the weakest of the series. “Researchers” were too anxious to point their fingers at the slave owner w/o any DNA evidence. Why were estate records not searched? Love the rest of the series though.

6 Michael AcetoMay 1, 2010 at 8:42 am

The episode encouraged racist attitudes and has me considering canceling my subscription to Ancestry. Spike Lee asking “Who owned me?” was totally inappropriate. Nobody ever owned him. Asking about the white lady, “Do you think she knows she owned slaves” was likewise needlessly divisive. She never owned anyone. Making her weep over something done by her ancestors was absolutely disgusting. Genealogy is not about reliving the past and projecting it into our present lives. It should be about making sure our future isn’t as difficult as our history! Lee has placed HIMSELF in bondage by refusing to see that.

7 Jill Clark PageMay 1, 2010 at 8:59 am

I wish that they would replace the ‘reality’ shows with these…..I could watch nightly.
I became involved in our family history after my father wrote his. He passed away in 2/09 and I am left to finish the second volume.

8 SusanMay 1, 2010 at 11:18 am

Is this how our family trees are to be used? To judge a living person for the deeds of those passed away. Do we need to now hide our pasts or stop researching the past, so that we are not held accountable for someone else. And this was not even proven. I have been trying to “prove” one my lines and these types of generalizations don’t qualify. I hope this is not the trend. It first concerned me when they were discussing the Salem Witch trials and Sarah Jessica Parker was concerned about guilt issues.
I just met a new “cousin” of mine and his family. We met through ancestry. This man was orphaned as a young man and grew up on a reservation. He never knew he was a descendant of Gov. Bradford or that he had such a large existing family until we met. I hope there will be more positive encounters and less finger pointing.

9 Myrlene WilsonMay 1, 2010 at 11:47 am

I loved each and every one of the Series..
Each one had historical events..I cried on each
story as I have also learned good,bad and sadness
doing my own family history.
I understand some peoples veiws but you got to
remember its only 1 hour and lots has to be
forgotten to make the show. I think if you could
make it 2 hours you could give us and your star
more information and help. One question i have
we never got to see them able to take home any
information copied for their keepsakes. You have
a winner of a show but try to up time. Sure you
would get the people drawn in. Thanks so much
it was good work and real..Myrlene

10 StephanieMay 1, 2010 at 1:33 pm

First let me say, I love the show. That being said, I was left very frustrated after the Spike Lee episode. Spike Lee’s “little rant” while he was digging up dirt on his ancestor’s farm…”yes massa, no massa, just traveling through massa,” etc. in my opinion was offensive and degrading to the African American race. Also, his assumption that his ancestor was raped by the plantation owner, with absolutely no proof was ridiculous, not to mention irresponsible. I have always be taught in genealogy, one must prove not assume! Spike Lee’s words last night perpetuates the myth that there could never have been any caring feelings between blacks and whites in the antebellum south. The human race is more complicated than that. People being enslaved has been an issue since the beginning of time and continues to be one. It is not just a southern issue. I have been a member of ancestry for many, many years, but I am disappointed that this episode was allowed to air with these overtones.

11 LyricMay 1, 2010 at 2:20 pm

As an African American woman, I was not at all offended by Spike Lee’s “little rant” but immediately recognized it for what it was—a reference to “sundown” towns, a harsh reality that most African Americans are aware of and an all too common experience that is an indelible part of our historic memory. Neither is the assumption that Spike’s ancestor was raped by her master a ridiculous assumption, considering the historical record typified in articles like the following:
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/04/one-drop/38952/#disqus_thread
Slaveowners commonly sold off their own “mixed-race” children—an act of extreme callousness that suggests that “caring feelings between blacks and whites in the antebellum south” were the exception rather than the rule.

12 R. GillisMay 1, 2010 at 2:32 pm

I have to agree with several people on the airing of the last in the series of “Who Do You Think You Are?”
The show was suppose to be about genenalogy and finding one’s roots. What are we presented with? An entire show of Mr. Lee’s inability to forgive thereby impressing guilt on the generations of today. The show last night was a disgusting display of self importance and self righteousness. He is a little man in my eyes.
I would like to see a change for “Who Do You Think You Are?” How about ordinary everyday people instead of TV and/or movie stars? There are enough programs featuring them. How about a truck driver, book author, taxi driver, miner, or insurance agent? How about an American Indian? There are so many to choose from. It would also help to see how the documents and other leads were found in order to help people seek members of their own family. I don’t think you’re going to listen to what I would like but let’s get rid of the rich and famous of TV and movieland.

13 BarbaraMay 1, 2010 at 4:03 pm

I look at the show each week i love it looking at it i wish them the best of finding their family. The frsit thing you will say when you find them is wow because i did the same thing.

14 SusanMay 1, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I had no problem with Emmitt Smith’s family using these generalizations to say the slaveowner raped his ancestor. A lot of these shows have unproven information that is probably true, but to carry it to the point of judging a living person by this was too far. Emmitt’s story was inspiring where this was not. Spike Lee even seemed to be angry at his ancestor who made weapons. I would hate to see this show become another stalker reality show where people have surprise paternity tests etc. How about descendants of murderers, the insane, Nazi’s? The guilt and fingerpointing could go on and on. I have a relative that doesn’t want to hear any of the bad stuff and doesn’t want the family researched. This type of show will make people like her even more relunctant to share information. Even a divorce is enough for her to start burning records. Spike Lee’s ancestory could have been raped by a white employee, relative or previous owner. While it is probable it was the owner, we really don’t know. I’m not saying everything has to be light and fluffy but this went too far.
In my dinner with my new found ancestry “cousin”, I felt he was proud of his native American heritage and proud to share it and I loved hearing this as much as he seemed to enjoy learning about his Mayflower heritage. I admired him very much and we had a great time. My experience meeting an ancestry cousin was very, very different.

15 HeatherMay 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I really enjoy the show and I understand wanting to use stars but I think it would be just as enjoyable for us “regular” people. I kept thinking, this is great but these people have the money and the resources to do this but what about the rest of us? I have had a hard time tracing back because my ancestors are Native American and records aren’t nearly so easy to find. From there it’s Canadian, English and French but I’m at a standstill. The Dutch side has been much easier except for the Rotterdam piece because so many records were lost. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve found and have been awestruck by finding copies of the original manifests of when my Dutch ancestors came over but I’d like to finish it up both sides. :]

16 AllenMay 1, 2010 at 5:42 pm

I really enjoyed last night’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? I, personally, felt it was the best of the season, though I’m probably biased being from Georgia (I also enjoyed Matthew Broderick’s episode due to his coming to Georgia, though the rest wasn’t nearly as good as other episodes).

Letting the general public learn that there were Blacks who, after the war, became owners of large tracts of land was the greatest part of the show, in my opinion. And Spike digging up some of that land to take home to his family really touched me.

Yet, as others have said, I did find some of his remarks (and the notion that it HAD to be rape that brought Matilda into the world) irritating. I think that it was divisive and merely perpetuated a stereotype concerning the Antebellum South. But, I have learned through many years of watching shows that in any way touch the South that you’re going to find that bias. People in general seem to want to see things as always black and white without realizing that there are always going to be varying shades of gray.

There are two things which I think would make further seasons of Who Do great. First, as someone said above, focus on “regular” people and not just celebrities. Secondly, if the person the show is about is from the South (or has ancestors from the South) and an ancestor happens to be Black and slaveholder, then talk about it. As with Black landowners after the War (and free Blacks prior to and during), it’s a subject that is not talked about enough.

17 IanMay 1, 2010 at 6:38 pm

A massive number of US citizens have roots in England, Scotland, Ireland & Wales yet these countries were totally ignored in the entire series. Two of the programs featured people whose ancestors were black slaves. This is racism, pure and simple. What about the many people who came to the USA from Canada and those who migrated from the States to Canada ? If the series is to continue to be successful it must be more inclusive in the persons featured, and must be more careful about which lines of ancestors is followed. Each individual has many lines of ancestors and many interesting stories.

18 TinaMay 1, 2010 at 9:20 pm

I appreciate any raw emotions any of the celebrities evoked upon learning of their histories. These emotions are representative of a possible wide array of responses. Yes, Spike’s ancestor could have be raped, or she could have been a love interest, or truly loved and adored by her owner, or whoever it was. The fact is, it happened, and these were Spike’s feelings. And, as for the ‘unsuspecting’ ancestor of the slave-owner, she undoubtedly had to agree to this meeting. How do you NOT know Spike lee is coming to visit?!

I too would like to see some of us regular-folks given the opportunity to find out “Who do (we) think we are”.

Anyway, well done.

19 Martha Sorth HeiserMay 1, 2010 at 11:39 pm

This is a wonderful and informative show. Please continue with other people and perhaps you could use some regular nonfamous people as the one person suggested. I am sorry to learn that some people were upset by Spile Lee’s episode.I loved him digging in the dirt to take it home for his children. This is what we live for, to make a bit of joy in our lives. We do not all find kings or princess in our lives but just to find a name is so rewarding.Sincerely- Martha

20 AmyMay 1, 2010 at 11:52 pm

I live outside the U.S. and am not able to see complete episodes on the Internet, but I have watched some excepts. Reading summaries of the episodes here on this blog is wonderful – thank you!

Regarding the Brooke Shields episode: the NJ State Archives are in Trenton, not Newark.

21 Pat AdamsMay 2, 2010 at 12:11 am

Well said, Susan & Stephanie. I did not know who Spike Lee was before the show, and now I am certain I do not want to know him. He really had an attitude throughout the whole show.

One thing we must remember concerning this whole slave situation, it was a different time. It was what was happening then. It wasn’t right, but it was just the norm then. This country was being settled, and they needed help to do it. For Mr. Lee and Mr. Smith to assume their white ancestors were bad people is very presumptuous. Even the Bible gives instructions on how to treat your slaves.

As far as doing a show on “regular folks” instead of stars, didn’t they first have to get the public’s attention? How else to do that but by showing more well known people. Perhaps in the future they will if the show continues to be a success.

22 Andy HatchettMay 2, 2010 at 2:33 am

Only a fool judges past actions by today’s standards.

Just imagine how horrified our descendants will be when they learn we discriminated based on sexuality, or physical or mental handicaps, sex, age, and a host of other things!

And if your ancestor was raped by my ancestor or vice versa- tough; neither of us did it so we shouldn’t be trying to throw a guilt trip on each other about it.

23 weeknightingaleMay 2, 2010 at 4:53 am

I agree we are not here to judge our ancestors actions. We only have parts of the story and facts. I wonder how my future ancestors will view my actions with only birth/marriage/death census records and other miscellaneous documents. Do not assume you know all the story when a chapter is missing. Pieces of paper with dates and names do not give you the feelings and or temperament of the person.

I also did not agree with the attitude of guilt. I have learned a great deal about my past family. I do not judge them for their life style and or digressions.

Genealogy should not be judgemental or for finger pointing or for transferring quilt.

24 DianeMay 2, 2010 at 5:00 am

Why does Ancestry have to do celebrity genealogy? I would much rather see a show about the average American and their genealogy. Everyones family tree tells a story not just Hollywood celebrities.

25 katMay 2, 2010 at 5:06 am

I love the series ‘Who Do You Think You Are. I have been tracing my family tree on and off of years and just recently received my gg grandfathers Civil War papers which listed my gg grandmother’s maiden name that I have been searching for a long time. This is my ? to WDUTUA. Why not check Gen Shermans and other Civil War officers papers who were present when Pike’s relative, Wilson, was taken. These officers documented everything.

26 George E. Wolf Jr.May 2, 2010 at 8:05 am

Loved the show!!!! But 24 is right.
When do we find out who won the contest!!!!!!!

27 Andy HatchettMay 2, 2010 at 9:00 am

Diane,

Genealogists may well like to see shows featuring everyday beople but…

That kind of show doesn’t play too well to those not interested in genealogy, there has to be a hook of some kind and celebrityhood is the hook.

Remember- to non-genealogists, hearing about someone else’s genealogy is akin to watching some other family’s vacation home movies. :)

28 Tom HMay 2, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I thought the genealogy process was displayed on this episode as well as any and somewhat better than a couple of others. That being said…

The Emmit Smith episode addressed the issue quite differently than Spike Lee did but I guess everyone looks at things differently.

29 Sharon MadaraMay 2, 2010 at 1:30 pm

The episode featuring Spike Lee was disappointing as was Spike Lee’s behavior. Spike Lee made inappropriate assumptions and comments. When Spike visited the descendant of Samual Griswold (in her home); while he sat on her sofa he was offensive and rude to his hostess. We do not choose our ancestors. Mr. Lee made his hostess feel guilty for something she had no part of. He caused his gracious hostess to cry and gave the appearance of gloating at his own pathetic behavior.

The Native American Indian Experience, the Slavery Experience and the Immigration Experiences are all stains upon our national history. Stains of greed and inhumanity inflicted upon the people living in our nation. Federal, State, Local politicians and American businesses were the architects and launched this shameful history. The majority of Americans are descendants of these less than admirable historic experiences. Today, our American people share a current common goal. The goal of restoring America to the best in all America can be for all our people. Unfortunately, the paradigms of Federal, State, Local politicians and big American Business have not changed much over the past several hundred years. The American people continue to strive for meaningful change for all people in our society.

Slavery is a global ancient and modern day occurrence. Perhaps Spike Lee should consider researching and telling the story of the history of slavery in Africa.

Ancestry.Com could have presented more facts to the Who Do You Think You Are Spike Lee Episode. The limited information presented served only to highlight Ancestry.Com’s limited research capability. Whoever decided to air the Spike Lee Episode of Who Do You Think You Are clearly was in error.

30 EmilyMay 2, 2010 at 8:45 pm

I liked the Spike Lee episode. As a non-actor his reactions were more muted at times, but as the program progressed, his story became more intriguing. I, too, flinched at some of the things he said. But most of Spike’s film work wrestles with race issues, and at the end of the show he recognized the complexities of the slave/owner relationship. Spike’s attempt to diffuse his discomfort through humor didn’t always work, but it was honest. The best way to work through the pain, confusion and questions would be to make a movie!

31 GeneMay 3, 2010 at 3:10 am

You’ve succeeded in selling more subscriptions. However the influx of newcomers is loading up the works with junk “hints” caused by folks that will click onto anything without checking sources or documentation.

32 judy cronanMay 3, 2010 at 8:30 am

Mr. Lee was rude, racist and ignorant. To be expected– that is the way he is. Am I not mistaken–aren’t his wife and daughter white? If he came to my house with that attitude, I would have had to ask him to leave. Not out of character for Mr. Lee to behave this way but now I guess he has a better reason to be so hateful toward anyone not of his race. A poor representative for his race and he really is a bitter man.

33 ElizabethMay 3, 2010 at 9:01 am

I’m white, and I wasn’t at all offended by the Spike Lee episode. Slavery took away (or tried to take away) a lot of people’s dignity; we’re still in the process of recognizing each other as human beings. I certainly think the burden of apology lies with people who are still benefiting from slavery (let’s be honest). I don’t think it’s rude for a descendant of slaves to express the real pain he is feeling.

34 Gail LongMay 3, 2010 at 10:54 am

I watched Spike Lees episode with amazement. When he traced his roots to the Woodall family, specifically James W. Woodall, I got chilled. My mother is Alice Woodall. She was married for 32 years to Samuel W. Woodall. Samuel’s father was James W. Woodall. Sam was born in 1910 in Macon Georgia. This was his family they were talking about. I even heard stories of Mathilda growing up. After my stepdad’s mother passed away, Mathilda raised him and his 3 brothers. I would love to pass this along to Spike Lee as I understand he is making a movie. He may be most interested in some additional information.

35 LyricMay 3, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Thank you, Elizabeth, for your compassionate and measured response to Spike Lee’s reaction. I was beginning to think I’d observed a different show, judging from the majority of the responses here.
Judy Cronan, Spike Lee’s wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, is black. Both his wife and their two children were shown briefly during the program.

36 SusanMay 3, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Ir is odd that the raw emotion and compassion seem to only go one way. Spike Lee wasn’t the one crying. He was the one angry. He has a right to be angry and have his raw emotion but we don’t have the right to put that off onto someone else. But again, the concern I have is about all the guilt and fingerpointing for past deeds. Sarah Jessica Parker was worrying about what her ancestors might have done in the Salem Witch Trials. Where is this headed? I know controversery makes higher ratings but I wonder if guilt will really be beneficial to ancestry. I doubt it.Let’s have our conflicts like a healthy family and do it without the personal attacks. Here’s my raw emotion. I feel incredibly sad for Spike Lee. When he asked “Who owned me?” It showed as much about how he perceives himself as how he perceive others. I hope he will not always feel this way about himself. My daughter has worked with young women who have experienced slavery in our generation. I hope that Spike will experience the healing some of these young women are finding.

37 Margaret RabidouxMay 5, 2010 at 3:40 pm

All the celebrities who found their ancestors were so interesting and I hope you do another series next year.I think it is wonderful that they kept the records of the slaves so their people can find the connection. Great series they all were very interesting

38 CathyMay 5, 2010 at 4:26 pm

I Loved the episode with Spike Lee,I would have loved to see more on his search and when he told his family and their reaction. I believe the feelings of the people who watched depend on where their mind set is and their thinking.
Mr. Lee was thinking out loud his 3rd cousin was emotional over the sadness that she felt,over the fact that another human being could own another and her family did. Spike Lee was just hit with reality with the actual documentation that his family were slaves and owned by another human being.How would WE all deal with something so unthinkable if it were done to or by someone in our families?

39 raeMay 5, 2010 at 5:16 pm

The thing that really bothered me about Mr. Lee was his comment, when about to meet Ms. Griswold, that he would TRY to have an open mind. Seems clear that to him, all whites are guilty of hatred and murder toward blacks — his mind is very closed. But you who criticize him are showing a poor understanding of our not so distant history–as recently as my childhood!! He is showing a narrow understanding of history, for sure, as my white ancestors fled to the US to escape similar hatred, murder and slavery perpetrated by another nation; and race-based slavery is an ongoing overt practice on the African and Asian continents (slavery currently covertly practiced in the USA and Europe, too, of a different nature). But there are many black Americans in our country who have experienced racial hatred–it hasn’t gone away.

40 Mary EllenMay 5, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I greatly enjoyed the series. Overall, it was well done. I do agree that a huge segment of the population was ignored, but hopefully that simply means additional shows that include Irish, Scottish, Asians etc will be in the works.

I have the same question s # 26… who won the contest!

41 Annika4May 7, 2010 at 1:12 am

I agree the show should focus on non-celebrities, like my husband, an amerasian child left behind (or maybe he got killed)by his GI father during the Vietnam war. (Thankfully another GI who was stationed in Vietnam married his mother knowing full well she wasn’t carrying his child, and claimed him as his son and brought them to the US.) That’s all he knows about him. Nothing else. I hope there is someway (and that he is living)we can find out about his ancestry, and that of his mother’s side who’s family is unknown because she was “adopted” by another family who escaped from what was once North Vietnam before all hell broke loose.

42 Annika4May 7, 2010 at 1:21 am

I would like to know about my (Puerto Rican)maternal ancestry. It has been so hard to find anything, and what I have found is that their names are always misspelled because the forms were written for them due to the fact that they were mostly illiterate. I all ready know from my father’s (Puerto Rican) side so far that they came from Venezuela, Galicia, St. Croix, and the Netherlands…

43 doloresMay 7, 2010 at 8:14 am

I would love to see a show about how to research native ancestry. So many of us are of the Scotch-Irish heritage mixed with Native American. In my family someone got us struck off the rolls of two tribes. That plus the fact that Oklahoma, Indian Territory, has such sketchy records, it is nearly impossible to find anything. Add to that the shame that many had for being Indian.
Also I would like to add, that regardless of our lineage, the real shame of the past is when we focus only on the misdeeds of our ancestors(some of mine were criminal and incestuous)and not on the rest of our family. We are the sum of more than a few individuals. The damage has already been done-lets shed light on the dark secrets, dispel their power and move forward to honor the others that are worthy of our efforts and attention.
Who won the contest, please let it be me!!!!

44 Rebecca CardenMay 9, 2010 at 7:26 pm

I have to comment on the last episode about Spike Lee.

I have watched every episode, and adore this show!

When, I saw the name Woodall, come up, I got goose bumps.

I descend from Woodalls, and they were all over Ga.

I just had a feeling, there might be some connection going on.

It listed the owner of Mars as James W. Woodall. I looked through all my Woodall, info, and couldn’t find anything, but still felt there was a connection.

A friend, just sent me info, and I have a James M. Woodall, so the initials could have been mixed up.

The info, states, he was married to a Mary Kitchens, and I did see on the census, that James Woodall’s wife was named Mary.

Anyway, it appears, that James W. or M. Woodall, was my GGGGrandfather’s brother!

I also found info, that James Woodall, sold land to the Samuel Griswold, that was Spike Lee’s ancestor.

I feel so terrible about this. It breaks my heart.

The James W.or M. Woodall, was the son of James B. Woodall, and Rebecca Watson, who I directly descend from!

The James W. or M. Woodall, was born in Jones Co. Ga., where a lot of my Woodall’s were, and he died in Terrell Co. Ga.

I’m still in shock!

45 Rebecca CardenMay 9, 2010 at 7:29 pm

A little more info. I saw info that the James Woodall, and Mary Kitchens, were married I believe in 1843 in Jones Co. Ga.

Becky Carden

46 Rebecca CardenMay 9, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Gail Long,
I read your email about your Woodall’s.

Could you get in touch with me.

Maybe there is a connection.

Becky Carden, rebeccacarden@att.net

47 DaisyMay 9, 2010 at 8:29 pm

So many seems to be so angry at Spike Lee, has times changed?? Slavery did happen, Black women were raped by their owners, maybe not all, but enough to keep some of us upset. Should we forget what happened or is it possible to forget?? I enjoyed all the series, but like Spike I’ll never forget. Times haven’t changed much…..ask Pres. Obama! The COLOR of ones skin still matters, not the content of their character.

48 Andy HatchettMay 10, 2010 at 12:53 am

Not forgetting is one thing.

Continuing to be angry about something that happened over 100 years ago to someone one you never knew is quite another. It accomplishes little and is a huge waste of energy.

49 Rebecca CardenMay 10, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Gail,
I would also love to get in touch with you. I have a lot of info on the Woodall’s.

You didn’t give an email address, so I don’t know how to contact you.

Like I said, mine is, rebeccacarden@att.net

Please let me know how I can get in touch with you or, you get in touch with me!

I’m very interested in all this.

Do you know who James W. Woodall’s father was?

Please get in touch, or let me know how I can get in touch with you.

Thank you,

Becky Carden, rebeccacarden@att.net

50 HistoryProfMay 12, 2010 at 12:12 pm

This was my favorite episode without a doubt. Susan’s comes in a close second. For those who seem unaware of the harsh realities of slavery – I teach this everyday and while I found Spike Lee’s responses painfully raw, I also found his assumptions to be fairly accurate. Further to number #21 (Pat Adams), I’d urge you to read books on Southern history as well as general books on the slave trade – any slave trade from any era, really. When an owner of any color has a sexual relationship with an entity they own as property – that relationship cannot be viewed through any sort of lens of normalcy.

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