Chicago news anchor Dawn Hasbrouck investigates her own past.
Fox 32 News co-anchor Dawn Hasbrouck thought she’d known her grandfather, Ellsworth Hasbrouck, Sr. “I grew up with him watching me after school,” she says. “I knew him as Grandpa.” But with some help from Ancestry.com, Dawn learned there was more to her grandpa than she had ever seen with her little-girl eyes.
As a young black man in Syracuse, New York, Ellsworth graduated high school at age 16, received a college degree at 19, and went on to medical school at Howard University in Washington, D.C. At age 23 he was already an M.D. working in Chicago as a resident at the historic Provident Hospital, the first hospital in the United States with an interracial staff. And Ellsworth was just getting started. He would eventually serve as chair of the Department of Surgery at Provident and, according to his obituary, was a sports medicine pioneer, examiner of the American Board of Surgery, vice regent of the International College of Surgeons, and vice president of the Chicago Surgical Society.
Ironically, Ellsworth’s own father died “as the result of an operation” in 1914.
Dawn even found a career connection between herself and her grandfather: Ellsworth had helped pay for college by working as a sports writer.
And there was plenty more to be proud of in her Hasbrouck history. Her great-great-grandfather, Dewitt, was born free in New York but enlisted in the Union Army at age 21 to fight for others’ freedom in the Civil War. And while the paper trail on the Hasbrouck family ended at DeWitt, DNA testing provided some surprising results that not only trace the reporter’s roots back to West Africa but also might confirm a family story about Dutch ancestry in the distant past.
Coming face to face with her family’s past turned out to be an emotional journey for Dawn. She loved the grandpa she knew. Now she admires and appreciates the man she didn’t know even more.