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 second 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

Finding Your Roots on PBS – Season 1 Episodes





Graphology – Deciphering Old Timey Handwriting

The Marriage Certificate of Garner Mayes and Judith Morris in Amelia County, Virginia, 1789.

Translating Handwriting

There comes a time in every genealogy case in which a researcher will  need to translate, or decipher some unrecognizable handwriting on a document.  The first time is a shock – you go through all the trouble and the time it takes to track down that marriage certificate, or that death certificate that you desperately need.  When it shows up in the mail after a long wait, you open the envelope and when you finally lay eyes on the document, it appears to be written in hieroglyphics.

Closing in on 10,000 followers to our @BklynAncestry twitter account gives us a lot of help when we have a problem like this.  10,000 sets of eyes are better than 1.  This document needs some of those eyes to decipher it.  I am going to fill in the words I believe the document says.  Garner Mayes and Judith Morris are definitely the names of those involved. unfortunately the right side of the document is not part of the photo.


  1. Know all men by these presents that — Garner Mayes
  2. John Gill Craddock______– — ————
  3. —– —– Beverly ——- Governor of Virginia
  4. the sum of fifty pounds —– money of Virginia
  5. the which payment will and   —- to be ———
  6. our ————————————————–
  7. then ——— sealed with our seal and dated this 5 day
  8. July_____1789
  9. Whereas a marriage is shortly intended to be  ——–
  10. —– between Garner Mayes and Judith
  11. Morris
  12. The condition of the above obligation is such that if
  13. —- ——- —- to obstruct the —- Marriage then
  14. the above obligation to be void otherwise to remain in —
  15. — and —-
  16. Sealed and Delivered__________________Garner Mayes
  17. In Presence of _______________________ John Craddock

At this time the mystery has been solved in the comments.



1917 Marriage Certificate from NY

In the next document is an example of the exact opposite.  In this certificate I know everything except for the names or the grooms Parents.  I know the groom is a Toy Maker from Cadiz, Spain.  The name of his father and mother are not so clear cut.  What do you all think?


1917 New York Marriage Certificate
Graphology expert needed

Hand Painted Family Trees – From Root to Branch With Love!

Are you one of those people who have spent hours on end looking for your ancestors? Or are you just close to your family?

Swedish artist and illustrator Anna Murgia
Swedish artist and illustrator Anna Murgia

Swedish artist and illustrator Anna Murgia at Genea Murgia can help you put together your family information into a beautiful family tree to hang on your wall. Imagine a gorgeous, hand-painted tree, printed on high quality canvas or artist paper, with illustrations and photographs from your family’s history. Preserve your history and turn your family saga into a beautiful tree! The painting will become a lovely complement to your family saga, and is made uniquely for your family. It’s a magnificent gift, a family heirloom for yourself and/or someone you hold dear – you can order more than one copy of your family tree. It will also be a living tree, as it is easily updated when your family grows, or you find new ancestors.

Hand Painted Family Tree
Hand Painted Family Tree

There are also smaller, standarized trees that you can fill out yourself. Please take a closer look at examples of trees already made under the following links: Unique large Family Tree, Medium-sized Tree, Small Tree, or take a peak in the Gallery to see more.

Anna Murgias Hand Painted Family Tree
Anna Murgias Hand Painted Family Tree

If you want to know more, please don’t hesitate to contact Anna on You are also welcome to follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube.

Italian Genealogy

We are working to provide more Italian and Sicilian genealogy records to the site as time goes on.  We Hope you find the lists and links useful.

Hire an Italian Genealogist

Palermo City Marriage Records 1820-1895

A & B – Palermo Marriages

C Palermo – Marriages

D & E – Palermo Marriages

F & G – Palermo Marriages

H,I,J,K,L – Palermo Marriages

M – Palermo Marriages

N,O,P – Palermo Marriages

Q, R & S – Palermo Marriages

T,U,V,W,X,Y & Z Palermo Marriages

Palermo City Birth Records 1896-1905

A & B – Palermo Births

C – Palermo Births

D & E – Palermo Births

F & G – Palermo Births

H,I,J,K,L – Palermo Births 

M – Palermo Births 

N,O,P,Q – Palermo Births

R,S – Palermo Births

T,U,V,W,Z – Palermo Births

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