Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Website, Who Do You Think You Are?

“It’s just cool to know your story – not your own, but your family’s.” – Kelly Clarkson

Do strong opinions and commitments to causes run in the family? That’s what pop superstar Kelly Clarkson wonders as her mother begins researching their shared family story.

Clarkson_Isaiah Rose

Kelly’s mother has already built a family tree on and has researched back to her great-great-great-grandfather, Isaiah Rose. In 1870, they find Isaiah in the U.S. Census, a 28-year-old coal digger in Ohio. That would make him 18 when the Civil War begin.


Research Notes from our ProGenealogists team: Because he lived in Ohio, we thought he probably would have served in the Union Army, so that’s where we started looking.


We located Isaiah on the 1890 Veterans Schedule of the 1890 U.S. Federal Census, which enumerated Union veterans. There we found that he had served for almost 3 ½ years.

Isaiah is also listed twice in U.S. Civil War Soldiers records, which include millions of soldiers from both sides of the conflict. There we learned that he re-enlisted in December 1861 after his initial three-month commitment when it became apparent the war would not be ending soon.


When researching Civil War soldiers, it’s a good idea to check to see if the soldier or his dependents applied for a pension.


We found Isaiah listed in the Civil War Pension Index, so we ordered his Civil War pension file, which would tell us more about the story of his service.

Throughout our research, the information we found on the Veterans Schedule helped us confirm that we had the right Isaiah Rose in other records.


As Kelly explores Isaiah’s military service records she uncovers a devastating fact — he was a taken prisoner and held at Andersonville Prison, one of most brutal places in the Civil War. Kelly travels to Georgia, where she learns about the horrific conditions in the camp. His situation seems dire but Kelly keeps digging in his Civil War pension application, and that’s when she learns how strong her 3rd-great-grandfather truly was. Isaiah Rose escaped his captors while en route to Savannah during a prison transfer.

She follows his trail to Marietta, Georgia, where Isaiah was the sheriff in the 1880s and was later elected to the state senate. Her journey ends with a visit to the cemetery where Isaiah Rose and several generations of the family are buried.

Along the way, Kelly realizes that something more than blood connects her to this Union soldier. They share one of the high points of her life, the chance she had to sing at President Obama’s inauguration, “a moment that would not have been possible without the service of my great-great-grandfather and others.”

Kelly discovered the strength that was passed through generations of her story by starting with Civil War military records on Will you find similar strength in your own family story?

If you would like to see the episode, you can find it on


  1. Cynthia Beggs

    The Marietta you refer to is Marietta, Ohio, not Marietta Ga. He was the sheriff in Marietta, Ohio. There is a Marietta Ga ( that’s where I am originally from). He was held prisoner in Ga, but after he escaped, he ended up back in Ohio.

  2. I noticed the mixup between Marietta, Ga. and Marietta, Ohio too. I enjoyed watching this episode, as I have every episode. Thanks TLC for choosing to air this program.

  3. Samantha

    The only thing that bothered me about this episode was that the Civil War was not mainly fought on the issue of slavery. She kept saying things like, “Oh, he was such an abolitionist, so strong.” Uh, no. Sorry. The Civil War was fought to preserve the Union. In addition, “strength runs deep?” There were millions of soldiers who fought in the Civil War. Many more than half survived those prisons. Many endured worse. So, “strength runs deep” in virtually all of us.

  4. James W Cummings

    Many of the Men who signed up weren`t of voting age ( 21) at tne time though many more were.
    Isaiah Rose became a state senator, not as heroic an act to be sure yet for his term in office he could as any of anyone could made great changes to the quality of life, etc.

  5. S. H. Richey

    Kelly Clarkson seemed so enthusiastic and genuine. I knew little about her other than maybe she was on American Idol? Her knowledge of Civil War history may have been lacking, but her eagerness to learn and gratitude to those helping her was refreshing. I’ll be a fan of hers from now on. She’s the best celebrity yet!!

  6. Margaret Heinrichs

    I am so happy Kelly Clarkson was able to experience this journey to learn her Rose ancestry.

    I am a Clarkson family descendant and have often wondered whether Kelly and I are related. Perhaps I can discover that someday.

    Thanks for the wonderful stories in all the episodes Ancestry has aired.

  7. I’m sorry. I realize some people did not pay much attention in school and are apparently incredibly naïve, but Kelly Clarkson is as dumb as a stump. Her ancestor was surely smarter than she is. Please pick people that can say something besides how they “inherited” a strong character. It’s a good thing she can sing.

  8. Marilyn Jacobs

    I have noticed patterns in my family. My dads side were mostly teachers or ministers back to the time in UK. They left for religious freedom and came to American to start Baptist Church in Philadelphia. Another thing I have noticed on both sides of my family is that they would be in same county, then 100 years later in same county in different state and end up marrying. I know the families did not know each other when it came to recent times. There is often a family story how they met and knew this was the person they would marry. After growing up in IN my brother went to Ohio for graduate school. He met his wife who was from Ohio. Years later we learned that her great great grandfather and our great great grandfather bought and sold land to each other. We did not even know the name of this ancestor when they met. Also have pattern that the families moved about every generation. My husbands family came from Germany and our 7 generations in the same town.

  9. Bernard McBride

    I was very disappointed with the negative portrayal of the South in this episode. I agree with some of the other responders. It is a good thing that this young lady can sing and does not count on her education in American history for a livelihood. It seems as though the producers would have noticed the very anti-southern tone of the whole affair and rescued Miss Clarkson from her naiveté. I do hold the producers accountable, not the Miss Clarkson. I am not saying to make the show pro-southern. That would be just as bad. People that are interested in genealogy expect a television show on this subject to have much higher standards and not seek political correctness. People that are involved in genealogy encounter just about everything as we do research and we know that our ancestors lived in a much different world that we should not be so quick to judge. I truly hope that the focus of “Who Do You Think You Are?” will rise above a never-ending commentary on the ills of slavery and the civil rights movement.

  10. Terry Mullens

    I am so glad I finally looked at these comments. I was turned off to Kelly Clarkson just about immediately when she said she was soooo relieved that her ancestor fought for the north. I am so tired of the South being portrayed as full of dirty slave owners and the North full of righteous crusaders for equality. As other posters have stated, the Civil War was fought for many different reasons. Not all who were from the south were slave owners or supported slavery. Robert E Lee fought for his state, not for slavery. At least hundreds of thousands of citizens are either from the south or have ancestors from the south. I was also disappointed that she didn’t know much about the war and expected to go to Andersonville, which she had never heard of, to “really get a feel” for what her ancestor experienced. Really?!! It looked pretty nice there to me; pretty and green. Then her ancestor “overcame” such hardship all his life? He applied for a pension for being permanently disabled but then went on the be a Sheriff and then a Senator. Sounds tough. He did endure hardship during the war, which all soldiers did, and after he was wounded but seems to have done well for himself. I also got tired of her constant squealing every time she found out something good about her ancestor. I was almost turned off the to show from this premier but luckily Christina Applegate’s show was great!

  11. Margaret McCleskey

    How about a program where someone discovers that their ancestor fought for the South in the Civil War, was captured and spent a winter as a POW at Camp Douglas near Chicago. No one ever talks about the brutality of Camp Douglas.

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