Tuesday, August 27, 2013

WDYTYA - Cindy Crawford

Like most of America, or at least those whose interest lies in genealogy, I spend my Tuesday evenings glued to The Learning Channel [TLC] and Lisa Kudrow's wonderful genealogy program, Who Do You Think You Are. Tonight's episode was no exception to the great story lines and research often seen on this show.

Tonight, supermodel Cindy Crawford went in search of her ancestors.

Let me just give you a run down on tonight's episode. SPOILER ALERT: I give you fair warning...if you haven't seen tonight's show and intend to watch it, you might want to wait until later to read this post! [You can watch tonight's episode as early as tomorrow  on The Learning Channel. ]

Cindy Crawford was one of the world's first true supermodels. Her career soared and she was the highest paid model of all time.

Cindy lives in Malibu, California with her husband and two children. But she grew up in DeKalb, Minnesota surrounded by family. She was blessed to have known all four of her great-grandmothers. "Having a sense of connection to history is important," she says.

Cindy's father's mother was Ramona Hemingway, and Cindy often wondered if there was a connection to author Ernest Hemingway.

Ramona's parents were Frank Hemingway and Hazel Brown. Frank was a popcorn farmer. He wanted a family of boys, and instead was blessed with a family of eight daughters.

It is Frank's family that Cindy wants to know more about. And so she turns to our old friend, and standby, Ancestry.com.

It is on Ancestry.com that Cindy finds Frank's father, Louis Hemingway. And she learns he was born in Vernon, Blue Earth, Minnesota. In looking through Census records, she finds that Louis' father was also named Frank, and that he had been born in New Hampshire in the mid-1800's.

So, Cindy is off to the New England Historical Society in Boston, Massachusetts, where she meets with genealogist Christopher Child.

Cindy learns she is, indeed, a distant cousin to Ernest Hemingway. 8th cousin, twice removed to be exact!

Cindy learns that her 5 times great-grandfather, Louis Hemingway was married into the Trowbridge family. Cindy learns that her 10 times gr-grandfather actually came from England. She is shown a book of Trowbridge family genealogy and she finds this gr-grandfather, Thomas Trowbridge among the persons written about.

Thomas was the son of John Trowbridge of Taunton, England.

Thomas married a woman named Elizabeth and had four children, the youngest born in 1633, while in England. Thomas and Elizabeth came to America, and Cindy's 9 times gr-grandfather, James, was born here in 1636 in Dorchester, Massachusetts. This was a period called The Great Migration in our history.

The Trowbridge's were Puritans like the Pilgrims. They came to America for religious freedom and opportunity.

Thomas Trowbridge was among the settlers of the New Haven Colony in Massachusetts. Cindy is shown the book, "The New Haven Colony", and Thomas Trowbridge is shown among those first settlers. He was a "Congregationalist". Cindy states her grandparents remained as Congregationalists and remarked how that had stood the test of time!

To learn more, Cindy is off to the Connecticut State Library at Hartford, Connecticut to learn more. Here she meets with historian Judith Schiff. Ms. Schiff has unearthed a couple of court documents regarding Thomas. On 3 November 1641, Thomas' belongings were to be sold to pay debts he owed. On April 1644, the matter of paying his debts is still unsettled, and his family was to be dissolved and his children placed with another family. There is no record of his wife, and speculation may be that she has died.

It then appears that Thomas has married in 1641 and has gone back to England.

So Cindy is now off to Thomas' hometown of Taunton, Staffordshire, England. Here she meets with historian Susan Hardman Moore.

Ms. Moore states that at that time there was a lot of unrest. King Charles was at war with the Scots, and so there was a surge of people returning from New England to England.

In the Taunton Quarter Session Rolls, in October 1652, Ms. Moore uncovers a document showing Thomas Trowbridge attempting to help a soldier who had served under him obtain pension. It seems that Thomas was a Captain under Colonel Robert Blake in the Parliamentary Army.

In 1642 when Civil War broke out, Thomas chose to fight. Taunton was the center of resistance against King Charles.

So, Cindy is off to the Taunton Castle to learn more. Here she is met by historian Bernard Capp.
In 1645 Taunton Castle was the ultimate stronghold and was targeted by King Charles. A long siege was waged against the Castle and the people of the surrounding area. It is said that the Castle was under siege so long that the thatch roofs of houses were being used as hay for the horses, and they were down to their last 2 barrels of gunpowder before the siege was lifted. An ultimatum was given by the King - "Surrender or die". But the siege was lifted and the community, and castle, were restored.

At this point Cindy was given an eye witness account of the siege to read aloud.

In 1646 the war ends and King Charles is overthrown.

Cyndi finds pride in this many times gr-grandfather "who cared for those who served under him".

Here Cindy is going to London, to see if she can go back even further with her family history. Here she meets with genealogist Charles Mosley who has a very large scroll for her to view. He immediately shows her the next 10 generations back. When Cindy is quite impressed, he then shows her back more than 40-generations, to none other than Charlemagne.

Cindy is off to Aachen, Germany where she meets with Prof. Rosalind McKitterick to learn more about this ancestor.

It is in the illustrious Palace Chapel, where Charlemagne spent most of the latter years of his life, where Cindy learned how he conquered and ruled most of what is now Europe. She learned he fathered 20 children.

Cindy read aloud Einhart's description of Charlemagne, and she learned he was not just a conqueror, but he also promoted culture and learning.

Cindy stated in closing, "I have a connection... to the person Charlemagne...a real tangible link."

Not every one can learn of more than 40 generations of their family, and have them each and every one so well documented. It was fascinating, and fun!, to watch as Cindy Crawford did just that this evening.

Next week, be sure to be watching as singer Trisha Yearwood learns about her ancestors!

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