Friday, March 23, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are - March 23rd 2012


Spoiler Alert: If you have not seen this episode of WDYTYA then you may want to forego reading this post until after you have seen it.

Tonight's epsiode of WDYTYA featured actress Helen Hunt.

Hunt began her journey meeting Prof. Marc Dollinger, from the Center for Jewish Studies and to whom she hoped would assist her in finding out more about her Bavarian Jewish immigrant Gr-Gr-Grandfather, Gustave Rothenberg, who died in 1900 from typhoid. She traveled to Pasadena after finding out that her Gr-Gr-Grandmother, Florence moved to Pasadena, California with four children after the death of Gustav. She wanted to know why, and how she fared.

At the turn of the century there was great growth in Jewish immigration, especially in California. But eventually, because of the huge population growth, Jews became ostracized and people became prejudiced. Florence married a man by the name of Roberts before 1920, when she is found on the Census with him.

Florence died at the age of 86, and her death certificate gave Helen her next clue. Florence's father was listed as William Scholle.

And so Dollinger presented Hunt with a passenger list showing Wolf Scholle arriving in New York. He was listed as a farmer.

By 1853, the New York Business Directory listed Abraham Scholle as a clothier on Bowery St. with his brother/ partner as running the family business in San Francisco.

William had gone to San Francisco in the midst of the heyday known as the Gold Rush.

So Hunt headed to San Francisco to learn more about William. Here she met with Prof. Stephen Aaron - Professor of American West Studies.

William was found in the first California Census in 1852. He was listed as a clothier.
His business was listed in an 1855 newspaper. Shortly afterward, his brother Jacob joined him in San Francisco.

In the 1870 Census, William is shown with his family and three domestic servants, proof of his growing financial well-being.

Aaron shows Hunt portraits of the family. Here she sees not only her gr-gr-grandfather, but also her gr-grandmother as a child.

In an 1874 newspaper, an article lists the men of the city with a purported wealth of more than $1 million. William and Jacob Scholle are listed.

Aaron sends Hunt to visit with Frances Dinglespiel who has a similarity of ancestors she wants to share with Hunt. An 1890 newspaper showed both Dinglespiel and Hunt's gr-gr-grandfather's joined in an effort to bail out the failing Nevada Bank. This bank later became Wells Fargo Bank.

Helen is now moving on to find out more about her Hunt ancestors.

So she is on to Portland, Maine where she knew her gr-gr-grandfather, George Hunt, had come from. Here she met with local historian Herb Adams.

George Hunt was a major importer/ exporter. He traded fine Maine lumber for West Indies sugar. His wife, Florence, was a leader in the Temperance movement, which actually started in Portland, Maine.

Hunt went to meet with Prof. Carol Mattingly. She stated that the WCTU [Women's Christian Temperance Union] began because alcohol use was becoming rampant, and with it the rise in domestic abuse and violence. Not just against the women, but also against the innocent children. Women rallied arount the Temperance call to fight the domestic abuse.

Augusta Hunt was so involved that she actually gave the opening address at the 11th WCTU Convention.

Mattingly showed Hunt portraits of Augusta. She stated the woman was extremely active in the movement in the 1880's and 1890's. Mattingly sent Hunt to see Prof. Shannon N. Risk - Progressive Women's Studies.

Risk stated that Augusta was very involved in the WCTU. A biography of Augusta in a Women's Rights book from the early 20th Century states that she was instrumental in starting day care, free kindergarten and establishing female guards for female inmates in prison.

As the Temperance movement gained momentum, the Women's Rights Movement was born.

In her 70's in 1917, Augusta helps to push a vote for the Women's Vote privilege in Maine. It was voted down by the public. However, the movement was already afoot, and 12 states had accepted the women's vote by this time. In 1920 the 19th Ammendment was ratified, giving women the right to vote, when Augusta was 77 years of age.

Risk shows Hunt the 1920 voter's registration, showing Augusta Hunt as registered to vote in District 6 that year. Augusta's lifetime of working toward and for her goal was coming to life.

But did she actually get to vote?

In a 1932 newspaper, Augusta is honored with an article celebrating her 90th birthday. Here she is touted as being the FIRST woman to cast a ballot. Sadly, Augusta passed away just 10-days after the newspaper article was printed.

In the closing, Helen Hunt is seen doing a rubbing of her gr-gr-grandparents monument in the cemetery.

"To be first is something that can never be undone," Hunt says.

Moved to tears, she whispers, "That is amazing."

You can betcha that I'll be tuned in to see next weeks WDYTYA on NBC at 8pm. Will you be there?

1 comment:

Carla Olson Gade said...

I found this show fascinating. I live near Portland, Maine and have ancestors from here as well.