Tina Fey’s, David Sedaris’ and George Stephanopoulos’ Greek Ancestry

Tiny Fey Learns about her Greek ancestors.
Tiny Fey Learns about her Greek ancestors.

In this episode of “Finding Your Roots”, Genealogist Henry Louis Gates teaches 3 Greek Americans about their ancestors heroic and tragic stories. This episode is a great source to learn about the Greek War for Independence, and the Nazi Occupation of Greece. Featuring Tina Fey, David Sedaris and George Stephanopoulos.

Finding Your Roots – Carole King, Alan Dershowitz and Tony Kushner

Season 2, Episode 7 “Our People Our Traditions”

Carole King on PBS
Carole King on PBS

Henry Gates Jr. teaches three Americans about their Jewish heritage.
Alan Dershowitz finds a connection to the first Hassidic synagogue in Brooklyn, Tony Kushner’s ancestor is found in the history of the Holocaust, and Carole King learns of the discrimination her American ancestors faced.

Finding Your Roots – Tom Colicchio, Ming Tsai & Aaron Sanchez

Season 2, Episode 5, “The Melting Pot”

Tom Colicchio on PBS
Tom Colicchio on PBS

This episode first aired on October 21st, 2014

These three celebrity chefs have their Family tree explored by Henry Gates Jr.

Italian Tom Colicchio of “Top Chef”, Chinese Ming Tsai of “Simply Ming”, and Mexican Aaron Sanchez of Food Networks “Heat Seekers” all learn about their diverse roots.

Finding Your Roots – Anderson Cooper, Ken Burns & Anna Deavere Smith

Season 2, Episode 3 “Our American Storytellers”

Anderson Cooper Finding Your Roots on PBS


This episode, which originally aired on October 7th, 2014, shows genealogist Henry Gates Jr. teaching 3 of our legendary storytellers about their family history. Ken Burns and Anderson Cooper feel awful that their ancestors owned slaves, and Anna Deavere Smith learns she descends from at least one line of free black folks, one of which played a big part in the history of Gettysburg.

If you decide you would like to find out if you have a similar story in your family history, contact us now to have us build your family tree.

See the rest of Season 2’s episodes here.

Old Family Photo’s

The Coney Island Express
A photo from an unknown year on the “Coney Island Express”


The “Coney Island Express” Family Photo Mystery

A few year’s ago I was able to locate surviving family members of a recently discovered branch of my grandfathers side of the family. From that came the above photo, with names written on the back, passed down to a distant cousin from a cousin of my grandfather to her daughter.

Attempting To Date An Old Photo

First off, this photo is a goldmine for me as it is the one and only photo I have ever seen of my great grandfather William “Billy Murray”, the shorter man on the left side of this photo. When trying to place a date on this photo I had several clues, mostly surrounding the apparent age of the people in the photo.

First we have William Murray born 1883. Next, his brothers widow Margaret, born 1884, Margaret’s sister, Pauline, born 1882 and Pauline’s husband, John, born 1878.

Next, I need to know the years this subway car would be in service and available to have a photo taken on it. That is when I found this incredible photography blog, from which I learned that this train was subway car #983, built by The American Car & Foundry Co in 1935.

Clue #3 in this case is that fact that my great grandfather passed away in September of 1937. Assuming the car was not in service during a summer until 1936, that gives me the window of 1936 or 1937.  This make the approximate ages of these folks to be 53, 52, 54 and 58.  They somehow all look younger then that to me.

Coney Island History

Although I do not believe the photo is taken upon the actual train car, I do imagine that the new car to Coney Island would have been a big deal, and I have to assume this canvas backdrop behind a railing would have been the type of thing that families would get a photo on the same way families might have a photo taken at a staged setting in a modern amusement park. This type of thing would probably be staged by some local photo studio, so if anybody happens to have any info on that, I would be interested in hearing it.


Cone Island History
Walter Arnold Photography

Finding Your Roots – Derek Jeter, Billie Jean King & Rebecca Lobo

Derek Jeter learns about his slave roots and the Jeter name.

Season 2, Episode 2 – “Born Champions”

This episode of “Finding Your Roots” originally aired on September 30th, 2014. Watch as genealogist Henry Gates Jr. uncovers the secrets of Derek Jeter’s, Rebecca Lobo’s & Billie Jean King’s Family tree.

Unlike the personal stories of most athletes & celebrities, Derek Jeters family structure is well known to every Yankee fan.  The son of Dr Charles Jeter, a black man, and Dorthy, a white woman, Derek was born and lived in New Jersey watching Yankee games until moving to Kalamazoo Michigan, as a child.

Most people want to know about Jeters girlfriends or stats, but today we learn about Derek Jeters ethnicity.

Derek’s Great Great Grandfather, Greene Jeter, was born in 1844 in Alabama and became a reverend who founded the first black church in Alabama after the civil war. He was listed as mulatto during his slave days, and knowing his mother, Charity, was also a slave on the plantation of James W Jeter,  it was assumed, and then verified through DNA testing that Green Jeter was the son of his white owner.

View the rest of Season 2 here

You can learn about your family history too.  Contact us to get started on your family tree now.


Finding Your Roots on PBS – Season 2 Episodes

PBS is airing the 2nd Season of the genealogical documentary series “Finding Your Roots” hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr.


Finding Your Roots – Steven King, Gloria Reuben & Courtney B. Vance

Season 2, Episode 1 – “In Search of Our Fathers”

Stephen King on PBS's "Finding Your Roots"
Stephen King learns about his father side of the family


In this long awaited first episode of Season 2, originally aired September 23rd, 2014, genealogist Henry Gates Jr. teaches Novelist Steven King, Actress Gloria Reuben, and Actor Courtney B. Vance’s about their mysterious paternal sides of their Family tree.

Stephen King’s father, Born Donald Pollack, reportedly went out for a pack of cigarettes when Stephen was 2 years old, and never came back.

Gloria Reuben’s father was a 78 year old man when she was born, and died soon after.  On her Mothers side she winds up hitting the “Genealogical slave lottery”

Courtney B. Vance’s father was a foster child and nothing is known about his real parents until this time.

Genealogist Henry Gates Jr. attempts to solves the mysteries for these 3 subjects.

View the rest of Season 2 here

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