Rashida Jones remembers her grandmother fondly, but until she began her journey into her family history, she didn’t know a lot about her grandmother’s past. A little crafty research changed all of that – including the origins of a surname, Benson. Her grandmother’s arrival record through the Port of New York revealed that an uncle with the surname Benson, too. Jones traced her roots to Ireland, and eventually to Latvia, she learned that “Benson” was actually the first surname the family ever held. A seemingly random name change was actually a link to her family’s deep roots.
Although her great-great-grandfather left Latvia, branches of the family stayed put and Jones learned the tragic fate of relatives who remained. It’s such a poignant reminder of how profoundly decisions made generations before impact each of us today. Links to the past are strong and so are the stories of the people who paved the way. Miss the episode? Watch it on NBC.com
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