Friday, April 6, 2012

WDYTYA - Edie Falco

***SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't yet seen this episode, then you may want to wait until you have the opportunity to view it before reading further. - cbh

This evening's Who Do You Think You Are was no less amazing than any earlier show!

Tonight on NBC we met.....

Actress of film and stage, Edie Falco, who searches for her maternal ancestry.
She is probably best known for her role as Carmello on The Soprano's.

Falco was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Long Island and now lives in New York with her two adopted children.

Because her parents split up when she was young, she never really gave much thought to marriage and if it was, or should be, an integral part of life. She says she had to think twice about whether or not she even wanted to make this journey, and if it was really important to her or not.

Her father is Italian, and she says she spent alot of time with his family on Sunday dinner's and holidays. But she knew very little about her mother's family, and so decided she would take this journey to try to learn more about them.

Falco's mother's parents died early, and she wasn't sure her mother knew alot about them.

Falco's mother, Judy Anderson, had little to go regarding her family, except a family tree drawn out by a cousin.
She showed Falco a picture of her grandfather, George McGrath, in his 70's, and said that he had taken his mother's last name, and that he was born in Wales. He and his mother coming to America. His father's last name was Brown.

George's wife's name was Florence, and Judy had called her grandmother Nanna and her grandfather PaPa.

Falco headed to the New York Public Library to begin her search, and learn more about her great-grandfather. There she met with Maira Liaro who found George in the 1920 Census. In the Census he was listed as being born in 1877 in Wisconsin. His mother born in New York, and his father born in England. A 1946 obituary had him dying in Martha's Vineyard, and stated he was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

So, Falco headed off to Milwaukee. Here she went to All Saint's Cathedral in hopes of locating baptismal records that would unlock the mystery of George McGrath.

Christy Manussier, historian helped Falco to find George McGrath's 21 March 1876 baptismal record. It listed his surname as Brown. His father is listed as Charles Childs Brown and his mother as Mary McGrath Brown. And his father, Charles was present at his baptism.

Falco next headed to the Milwaukee Historical Center and met with the Center's librarian, Amanda Koehler. Koehler pulled the City Directory for Falco to look through, while she searched the Census records in hopes of finding Charles Childs Brown.

Falco located Brown in the 1867 directory as an apprentice in a newspaper. And in 1885 he was located in the Minnesota Census at Little Falls, Minnesota, with his birthplace listed as England.

In Historical Sketch of Royalton [Minn.] they found that he was a newspaper man, and that he had gone to Deluth, and died there.

Falco met with Professor of the Milwaukee Historical Center, Dr. James Mueller and he pulled the Deluth Daily News and found an article written about C.C. Brown's son. The article stated that in 1897 Brown had received word that his son George McGrath Brown had been struck dead by a surface car, near Albany, NY. Mueller explained that often times newspapermen would "jump the gun", and expound on stories to sell copy. "Much like Mark Twain when he stated, 'Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated'." Falco stated she knew he had not died as a 16-year old, having seen his picture when he was an old man.

Mueller then pulled out a second paper, that helped to shed light. In the Albany Evening New York paper of 1905, an heir had been located for Sister Catharine Brown, who had died intestate in 1902. It stated her son Charles had died in 1899. The heir apparent then was Charles' son, George McGrath.

It seemed that Charles had been divorced by Mary, his first wife, and George's mother. He then went on to marry a second, third, and even a fourth time. All ending in divorce. Mueller explained that the life of a newspaper man at that time was hard. they often were never at home, and drank to excess, believing that spirits helped them to cope and function as a newspaper man.

Looking for Catharine in the 1900 Census, they found her listed. Her birth place written as "At Sea". Her mother from England.

So Falco was off to London to try to locate more information on her mysterious ancestors.

Here she went to the Fullem Town Hall,  and met with Family Historian Jo Foster.

Checking for the birth of Charles Brown, she found recorded on 16 Aug 1853, Charles Childs Brown. His mother listed as Catharine Brown, formerly Kindley.

Now to locate more about Catharine. A search through the 1841 Census, in Penzance, Cornwall, and Kate Kindley was found living with a Jane Childs, 69-years of age. Falco presumes this is her grandmother, since Charles' middle name was Childs, and likely a name familiar to Catharine.

Falco now heads off to Penzance to uncover still more information. On board a train speeding toward Penzance she stated, "This is unnerving and exciting to track down family members!"

Once at Penzance, Falco heads to the Morrab Library where she meets with Archivist Chloe Phillips.

Phillips uncoveres the baptism record of Catharine Kindley who was the daughter of Ralph and Dorothy Kindley. Ralph was listed as a Master Mariner. Kindley sailed during the British Empirical Century and as such, a mariner was a lifestyle as well as a career for him.

In the local, and still running, West Brittain & Cornwall Advertiser [the local newspaper] a March 1833 article was written as eulogy for Dorothy Kindley who was the wife of Captain Kindley and daughter of Mr. Childs. She had died at the age of 28.

This then explained why Kate had been living with her grandmother Childs. But what of her father?

Falco met with Historian Sam Willis where she boarded a 3-masted barque, much like Captain Kindley sailed upon. He stated that he thought he could shed light upon the mystery of Kate's birth. For some women, if the captain's code permitted, women were allowed on board ship. And for Kate's mother, Dorothy, to be on board so near term, it was likely she either sailed frequently with her husband, or might even have lived on board with him.

Kate had been baptised in Oct. 1831.

Willis located Floyd's List in which Capt. Kindley had sailed the Lord Cochrane from London to New Orleans, and it was likely it was during this voyage when Kate had been born.

In October 1840, the New York Maritime Administrator - listed Ralph S. Kindley - Mariner - Dead. Stating that he had set sail from the southern coast of Africa headed to New York on the Africanus. He contracted a fever. He died on or about 20 July 1840 and was buried at sea.

Within 2 years, Kate had lost both parents.

"It's very intense!" Falco stated.

Expounding on Kate's living with her grandmother, Falco stated she would have liked to have helped Kate. Then she stated, "It's really all about the people who have loved you and cared for you."

Isn't that the truth of it?

Yes, Edie, it certainly is!

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