Who Do You Think You Are? Season 1, episode 1 – Sarah Jessica Parker

Turns out history knows a lot about Sarah Jessica Parker’s family tree. She’s a gold miner’s great-great-great-great-granddaughter with links to an accused witch. In case you missed any of the details of where Sarah Jessica went and what she saw, here they are, in a very small nutshell:

Sarah Jessica starts her journey by talking to her mom about the Hodge family – a line of her family that Sarah Jessica never heard of before.

Where did her research move next?

Cincinnati Public Library; Cincinnati Museum Center: Sarah Jessica learns more about the Hodge family’s roots in Cincinnati. But when did gold miner John S. Hodge die? While his son’s obituary says 1849, the 1850 census tells a different story. Which one is right?

El Dorado, California: Sarah Jessica sees firsthand where the miners might have lived and gets a better understanding of the lives and risks of 49ers as well as the motivation and fate of her great-great-great-great-grandfather. A letter from John S. Hodge’s business partner confirms John’s 1850 date of death and location.

New England Historic Genealogical Society: Sarah Jessica discovers that the Hodge family marries into the Elwell family – both of which have very long histories in America. She, herself, directly descends from Esther Dutch Elwell – a woman accused of witchcraft in Salem.

Massachusetts Historical Society: The complaint against Esther Dutch Elwell still exists in paper form from the late 1600s, giving Sarah Jessica the chance to read the handwritten accusation against her ancestor. But further research shows that Esther was never tried let alone convicted: the Court of Oyer and Terminer was dissolved before the warrant for Esther was issued. Esther went free and lived to be 82 years old.


What does history know about your family?

Spend a few minutes at Ancestry searching through census records, gathering the kinds of details that opened up historic connections for Sarah Jessica Parker. (Hint: read all the way across the census page for clues like military service, birthplace, and immigration dates.) Compare dates for your ancestors to historical timelines and then see if you can learn more about how your family’s actions were influenced by key events.

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