The third season of Who Do You Think You Are? has just started on NBC. Their first guest this season was Martin Sheen and followed political rebels on both sides of his family. If you missed it, NBC has full episodes available for viewing. Seems they’ve doubled their episodes. This year they are profiling 12 people. That’s almost double the previous 2 years. Check out the WDYTYA page on the NBC website HERE. For full episodes, look at the “Video” category.

Celebrities whose ancestors will be researched this season:

  • Martin Sheen
  • Marisa Tomei
  • Helen Hunt
  • Rob Lowe
  • Rita Wilson
  • Blair Underwood
  • Edie Falco
  • Jerome Betts
  • Paula Deen
  • Rashida Jones
  • Reba McIntyre
  • Jason Sudeikis

This is a great story. A slave master in Tennessee writes one of his runaway slaves asking him to return. The letter, written in 1865, has been declared authentic by historians who were able to find both slave and master in the census.

To My Old Master…Shove It!

Dayton, Ohio,

August 7, 1865

To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee

Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy,—the folks call her Mrs. Anderson,—and the children—Milly, Jane, and Grundy—go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, “Them colored people were slaves” down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.

As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor’s visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams’s Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.

In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die, if it come to that—than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.

Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.

From your old servant,

Jourdon Anderson.

Orphan Train

Posted by: adminin Genealogy News

I just read this story on CNN and wonder if anyone here has heard of this gentleman:
It tells the story of Stanley & Victor Cornell, sons of Floyd & Lottie Cornell of Elmira, Chemung county, who became orphans after their mother died and their father was unable to care for them. They rode the “Orphan Train” across the country. I heard all about the “Orphan Train” in a genealogy conference a while back. Orphaned children were placed on these trains that left from the east coast in the 1850’s to the 1920’s and shuttled west. The children were adopted along the way.

E. Ferris Banner married Gladys Florence Cornell, daughter of Vernor Cornell & Florence Brainard. I have the residences of Vernor & Florence in Schoharie county in the 1910-30’s. That’s a ways from Chemung and I have no Floyd Cornell in my database but people do travel.

Anyway, I found the article interesting. I know when I first heard of the orphan trains, I thought of my father. He discovered late in life that he had been adopted when he read a letter written during the last world war by a sister he never knew he had. I pondered whether he might have ridden one of those “orphan trains”. I have since learned enough to know that that wasn’t the case which was probably a good thing. I can’t even imagine trying to hunt down the ancestry of a train orphan.

The Trains have an interesting website:



Posted by: adminin Uncategorized

Well, I’ve finally figured out how to add the blog to the website. This will keep you up-to-date on what I’ve been doing.

Don’t forget to sign the guest book when you visit.

I’ve been slowly adding stuff. It’ll take awhile to upload all that I have. I also get ideas about what new categories I could create, I create them and then I have to set those up. So many ideas… so few hours of the day! And work is always a big detour. Oh well, I’ll keep pluggin’