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Season 5: All Episodes Talk

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Starts July 23, 2014, on TLC. Featuring the stories of Cynthia Nixon, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Rachel and Kayleen McAdams, Valerie Bertinelli, Kelsey Grammer, and Minnie Driver's ancestors.

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I just edited the thread title to make this the all episodes thread. 

 

If we get a volume of posts that justifies creating individual episode threads, we'll do that later.

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I'm going to need a reminder. Going to be a wild TV night, WDYTYA and Big Brother in the same night. 

Edited by millk
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So we get Cynthia Nixon first, followed by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Rachel McAdams, Kelsey Grammer, Valerie Bertinelli, and Lauren Graham. Shorter season than that first four. 

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Yeah Toronto getting in the credits of familiar places. I assume for the McAdams sisters.

Edited by millk

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Regarding Cynthia Nixon's episode - wow, her great-great-great grandmother had a rough life.  :(  A violent marriage, being basically driven to murder, and then enduring some awful treatment in prison, possibly even a rape.  It was really touching to find out how many prominent people signed her pardon.  Aside from her son dying in the Civil War, I hope the rest of her life was relatively peaceful.

 

I know the focus was on her GGG grandmother, but I would have loved to hear more about what happened to the little girl she had in prison.  

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I would like to have heard about her g.g.g. grandfather, Noah Casto, who was supposedly going to kill his wife.  What is his story?

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There probably isn't much to find regarding Noah Casto, other than his murder.  

 

I thought it was interesting that there were three experts she met with in Missouri libraries, archives, etc. who were from California and Indiana.  

 

This episode wasn't as interesting to me than other have been, mainly because they spent so much time looking stuff up on line and there weren't exotic places to look at.  

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This episode was very interesting! I wish there was more info on the daughter she had in prison as well, Sarah.  I would have liked to see how she fared especially since her beginnings were so rough. The judges wife Mrs. Brown was a real piece of work, keeping a pregnant woman in a freezing cold cell with no food, and having her give birth basically alone, and then leaving her there for a week, hoping she would die! The sheer inhumanity of what she did is unbelievable! I thought that maybe the father of her baby was the judge, that's why the wife treated her so badly.

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The judges wife Mrs. Brown was a real piece of work, keeping a pregnant woman in a freezing cold cell with no food, and having her give birth basically alone, and then leaving her there for a week, hoping she would die! The sheer inhumanity of what she did is unbelievable! I thought that maybe the father of her baby was the judge, that's why the wife treated her so badly.

That was our suspicion as well.

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As a Mormon I had an involuntary shudder when they pointed out Lilburn Boggs name on that pardon. I did enjoy the rest of the episode but agree that I would have liked to know more about Sarah. I assume the older two children went to Martha's family while she was locked up and had been young enough not to remember their father, and probably never spoke about him again. Especially since Mary's DC didn't have him listed. I also wondered about Noah JR's death in the. Civil War and wish they'd gone into that more too.

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I realize they had a specific story line they wanted to follow, but it was frustrating to see the Civil War Pension Application and only get to see one item on it.  Those applications go on for pages and pages of details;  this one would have described her relationship to the son, what her circumstances were, and much more.    If Ms Nixon wanted to know more about Mary's life, that would have told a great deal instead of jumping from the release from prison to the cemetery.  Also the Censuses in 1860, 1870 and so on ..  I wonder if the network web site has more details about the story?  Have to check.  Anyway, it's great to have this show back. 

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I also thought that Mrs. Brown's husband was the father of the baby and thus treated Martha badly because of it. What a horrible life to have lived. I hope things straightened out for her, but then I remembered Noah Jr. dying during the Civil War. I want to know more about what happened to Sarah as well. What a rough start to life!

It was cool seeing Jefferson City and Mizzou buildings on this episode.

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The judges wife Mrs. Brown was a real piece of work, keeping a pregnant woman in a freezing cold cell with no food, and having her give birth basically alone, and then leaving her there for a week, hoping she would die! The sheer inhumanity of what she did is unbelievable! I thought that maybe the father of her baby was the judge, that's why the wife treated her so badly.

 

Same thought here.  I figured perhaps Martha exchanged sex with the judge for better (initial) treatment in prison and Mrs. Brown found out. 

Edited by eejm

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Got into this show late, but am totally hooked.  I usually end up tearing up during one point or another during an episode.

 

Loved Cynthia's episode last night.  So sad what happened to her ancestor, but it shows what strength she had to persevere as she did.   

 

I'm sad that this season is so short.  The only other episode I'm looking forward to is really Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

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Sad, horrible story. I did appreciate that Cynthia refrained from endowing herself with any of her much-removed ancestor's traits ("That's where my own courage and resilience come from!").

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This is the kind of episode I really enjoy. I'm not especially interested in seeing Civil War battles rehashed and stuff, I'm much more engaged by the ones where there's some kind of underlying mystery to solve.

 

Not for nothing, but we have only the word of Nixon's ancestor that she murdered her husband in self defense! She could have gone all Lizzie Borden on his ass for all we know and the show tried to paint her as a victim. It's really only her own version of the story, as told in the newspaper article, that suggests she acted in self defense.

Edited by iMonrey

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I'm sad that this season is so short.  The only other episode I'm looking forward to is really Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

Just keep in mind that the interesting stories can happen anywhere, with any celebrity.  In fact, I wish they'd have some non-celeb people because you never know what is in anyone's past (but I realize people probably wouldn't watch then).  But they've shown stories from celebrities I barely know or am otherwise uninterested in, but the stories of their ancestors kept me riveted.

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Just keep in mind that the interesting stories can happen anywhere, with any celebrity. In fact, I wish they'd have some non-celeb people because you never know what is in anyone's past (but I realize people probably wouldn't watch then). But they've shown stories from celebrities I barely know or am otherwise uninterested in, but the stories of their ancestors kept me riveted.

 

Good advice, Book Thief.

I wasn't interested in Cynthia Nixon's because I never watched SITC, and really don't know anything about her.

But reading these comments makes me realize it's the STORY that counts.

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I figured perhaps Martha exchanged sex with the judge for better (initial) treatment in prison and Mrs. Brown found out.

 

 

I assumed rape.

 

I found Nixon's character on SITC, Miranda, to be very annoying and it turns out I found Nixon annoying as well.  It was interesting to learn her history but the way she finished everyone's sentences was irritating.  

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Not for nothing, but we have only the word of Nixon's ancestor that she murdered her husband in self defense!

 

The newspaper account quoted an anonymous source, not Martha C, that said she'd feared for her life. We didn't see any trial transcript where self-defense was claimed.  But historically, there was no tradition of women being able to claim self-defense in the killing of abusive husbands -- abuse was well within the rights of men at the time. She was convicted of Man 1, after all, and by a jury of all men. I myself agree with the historian that the charge was probably reduced to avoid having to execute a woman/mother.

 

I liked that shearling coat quite a lot.

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Do you suppose they tell these people all about their ancestry or just the story they want to tell on the show?  I was curious about Cynthia Nixon's ancestry and have been fooling around with it on Ancestry.com.  I found out that Martha Curnutt was actually the third wife of Noah Casto.  That makes me wonder how the first two Mrs. Castos met their untimely demise.  Since Martha and Noah didn't marry until 1939 some of those children Martha was raising were actually the children of the first wife.  I also learned that the first American Casto was William Azariah Casto, born in Wales in 1655.  The story goes that he came to America as a stowaway on the Captain Kidd's ship The Adventure Galley.  Well, she'll have to do the rest of the research herself, that's as far as I go! 

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I remember reading sometime in the last year an interview with somebody (don't remember who, sorry), who said he'd been contacted by the producers about wanting to do his tree. Apparently, they cast a pretty wide net, and set researchers on about their way, but unsurprisingly, not everybody's tree turns up something compelling enough to build 40 minutes of tv around. I guess there are a lot of blind alleys and such.

 

We remember that NY Historical Society guy from other eps, right? He looked familiar. He must be on the payroll.

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I've been admiring the penmanship on many of the old documents. Sadly, cursive handwriting is becoming a lost art.

 

It's nice, but as my mom and I learned, it's not always legible. I recently had a guided tour of the New England Genealogical Society facility in Boston (in an absolutely lovely old building) and saw quite a bit of pretty but unclear writing. It was so sad.

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I participated in a 'teacher as historian' symposium a little while ago and learned that there are apps now available to translate the cursive on old documents into typeface. Not only are schoolkids not learning to write cursive, they're increasingly unable to read it. So technology comes to the rescue! Again!

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I don't think there is any reason to doubt that the woman was being seriously abused. At that time, those days, women were chattel and owned by husbands. Beatings were accepted. However the newspaper article mentioned that it was reported that he did things to her so bad as to be unmentionable in the article. For a newspaper article (assumed written by a man) to report such a thing about another man tells me that most must have known it was true and that the abuse was despicable. I think that was why they went with manslaughter and why she was pardoned. I think the whole community knew he was worthless.  


I think a lot of people would enjoy seeing just random people featured if the back story is interesting. Have a lottery and let some people submit their info and make a show about the results. Gee whiz! The celebrities can afford to travel to exotic locales to chase this stuff down. The ordinary guy can't and many of them may have just as compelling stories. Maybe one episode a season could be about a few nobodies.

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I found an ancestor who regularly went after his wife with an axe, and when he started to go after their daughter, she filed for divorce. After he missed three court appearances, the divorce was granted.  It happened in Illinois, five miles from Missouri.

 

So after watching the Cynthia Nixon eppie, I have to wonder just how many rural people died by axe.

 

For a jury to find her guilty of only manslaughter... I think they knew more about the particular circumstances than were put forth in court.  I'm very curious to know what the news clippings were referencing about his "unnatural" proclivities.

 

hjmugillecuty, I'd never heard of Lilburn Boggs before.  Thank you for commenting about him and expanding my knowledge base. I had family in Carthage and toured the jail many times on spring break when I was a kid.  

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Wow. Holy rationalization, batman! Jesse Tyler Fergeson's attempts to find anything good in his great grandfather were painful. "He must've been so devastated" by the gold rush failure? Did he read the same comments from the mission secretary that I heard him read?

Turning over a new leaf in the Republican Party with Teddy Roosevelt? Please, he just managed to grasp on to a career where all he had to do was be able to talk well and manipulate people.

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Yeah, this is the first time the researchers had to create multiple flowcharts, books and letters documenting the various misdeeds, crimes and marriages of someone they were documenting! Poor JTF, at first he was showing his complete horror at his g-grandfather, then he tried in vain to phrase things in a somewhat complimentary way. But no, Jesse O was just an old-fashioned con-artist. I do wonder what happened to his last wife and why he ended up raising all the kids at such an old age.

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Wow! What a huge mess. That must suck when you can't find a single redeeming quality about your great-grandfather. He was a total con-artist, but I bet he was a smooth talker. Tried to divorce a woman because she complained about the water in St. Louis. Nice guy! I would love to find out what happened to the 2 former wives and 4 kids he left behind without a backward glance. Did anyone else notice that there was another daughter named Irene after his grandmother?  Where did she come from? The maid? maybe another wife? What a crazy episode, I would really like some more info about this one.

Edited by Arynm

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As Baltimoreans, my 11-year-old daughter and I were glued to JTF's episode last night since the first thing they found out about his great-grandpa was that he was accused of murdering his aunt here in Baltimore (on Lombard Street).  We gasped and were horrified throughout.  After it was over, my daughter looked at me and said, "There aren't too many nice things we could say about his ancestor, huh?  At least he was a Marylander.  We're a good bunch.  Jesse can be proud of that."  Yep.  That's it. 

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I felt so bad for JTF at the end, especially when he said how much he wished he could talk to his grandmother about her father.  I wonder how much she actually knew about him, as it sounds like he was pretty old when she was born and probably died when she was rather young. 

 

I felt like this could have been an extended length episode.  The letter JTF got at the end seemed to sort of gloss over the rest of his great-grandfather's life.  I seriously doubt his "adventures" ended after the failed Alaska trip, but the letter made it sound as though he settled into a fairly boring life after that.  It's certainly possible that researchers couldn't find out more about his more questionable activities after that point, but it just seemed sort of rushed. 

 

I really liked when JTF's father reminded him that everyone does some really stupid stuff at 22, to which JTF replied, "You don't shoot your aunt!!!" 

Edited by eejm
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I, too, would love to know what happened to the last wife, who was Jesse's great grandmother after all. I was so surprised he didn't question that more that I thought maybe I missed something.

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JTF tweeted that one thing cut from the show was that his g-grandfather named his first two children after his own lawyer! I agree @eejm this could have been an extended episode, and maybe even the season finale if they could have dug up more interesting stuff on Jesse the First. As horrifying as the old guy was, he led quite a life and JTF now has an interesting story to tell.

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Interesting episode indeed. Considering the facts that she saved the photo, made no efforts to change her own name and raised no objections to naming her grandson after Great-Grandpa Jesse, I think either Grandma Jessie was completely naive to how her father had been beforehand or believed that him raising her somehow made up for whatever he did to other folks. I wonder if Mr. Ferguson will seek out half-cousins by Great-Grandpa's first two marriages [and try to find out what became of Great-Grandma and why her much older ex raised her kids after the divorce- even those by her own first union]? Also, I don't think Great-Grandpa was terribly contrite re the Alaska Disaster besides whatever discomfort he himself may have had to endure in getting out of there as long as he got paid -regardless of the 59 other men including one known to have died. Interesting how Mr. Ferguson at first reacted in horror at the aunt's murder with Great-Grandpa as a suspect but then started coming up with excuses -like many folks who are shocked at a fave politician/celeb/acquaintance's actions but then, not wanting to have to admit they were wrong  in judgment, start getting defensive.

 

 A small sidenote- one of my own great-grandfathers wanted to relocate to the Klondike to sell the miners supplies [having had some previous experience himself] but my great-grandmother said NO and, luckily for that branch of the family, that was that.

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I was wondering how much influence the show's producers had on JTF and his reactions. He started out fairly horrified and his reactions seemed like they were real and in the moment. Later, they seemed a little rehearsed and forced, like he was trying not to be so negative or let his gut reactions show. I've noticed the show wants to always end on a positive note with every subject, even when they discover something really bad like Holocost victims (Lisa Kudrow) or ancestors who fought on the "wrong" side of wars. It seemed like JTF was more restrained towards the end and the show was rushed concerning his g-grandfather. The nicest thing they had to say was he raised the remaining kids after his divorce but gave no reason. I personally like the warts-and-all type of stories; that is what makes us all so interesting and gives us all great stories to pass on!

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Yes, the episode seemed to end rather abruptly, didn't it? I was kind of gobsmacked by the desperate attempt to put some kind of positive spin on a man so obviously odious. 

 

JTF's husband is cute.

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I am SO happy this show is back!

 

I too believe that JTF's granny knew nothing about her dad's other marriages.  My guess is Mr. Conartist never visited kids 1 - 4 and never sent child support;  therefore, he never talked about them with the youngest kids.  I too would like to know why he got custody of the 2 girls he adopted.

 

Jesse's house is darling!

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Did they say what happened to the third wife (JTF's ancestor)?  I thought they just said she was not in other records.  So maybe she died.  I hope they at least looked for a death record.

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So I guess murdering Jesse didn't get his aunt's inheritance after all? It seems like he wouldn't have had to embezzle otherwise. Didn't he have three wives before JTF's great-grandmother? I lost track.

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It seems like he wouldn't have had to embezzle otherwise.

 

Maybe, maybe not. People who get windfalls often spend foolishly and blow the whole nut way sooner than they ought. Or maybe he just liked to embezzle!

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Did they say what happened to the third wife (JTF's ancestor)?  I thought they just said she was not in other records.  So maybe she died.  I hope they at least looked for a death record.

 

 

 Perhaps Great-Grandma may have remarried and used her [3rd?] husband's surname in the records from the divorce onwards or just lived with someone, claimed they were married and used the name anyway for stuff. If Mr. Ferguson's interested, perhaps he could see if any of Grandma Jessie's sisters or half-sisters on that side may have left offspring and if so maybe one of them could clue him on on Great-Grandma's fate.

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Did they say what happened to the third wife (JTF's ancestor)?  I thought they just said she was not in other records.  So maybe she died.  I hope they at least looked for a death record.

 

 

I'm sure they did, if only in hopes/dread that she might have been shot by an "intruder."

 

Jesse's father either already knew or was bemused by the filming process.  Maybe they had to do multiple takes or something, because he was looking away and kind of smiling when he made the comment about "well, everybody does stuff when they're young" which gave Jesse the great "you don't shoot your Aunt!!" comeback.

 

Loved the station wagon rental car in Alaska.  Gorgeous scenery.  Can't begin to comprehend arriving and needing to walk hundreds of miles in the wilderness from there. In winter.

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Did they say what happened to the third wife (JTF's ancestor)?  I thought they just said she was not in other records.

 

I thought they said there was a divorce, but the husband kept custody of the daughters, both the adopted ones and the ones he fathered. I felt kind of bad for JTF because the guy was such a scoundrel and the stories just kept getting worse and worse!

Edited by vera charles

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I wish they had said more about what happened to Jesse's great-grandmother.  It was so odd that he had all of the children.  My own great-grandmother, back in the late 1800s, was put in a mental institution by my great-grandfather.  He never divorced her, but lived with another woman (who my mother thought was her grandmother throughout her childhood).  The story is that there was nothing wrong with great-grandma; great-grandpa just wanted to be rid of her without getting a divorce.  Men had all the power back then and women really had little or no control over their own lives.

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