(man) Coming up on "Genealogy Roadshow"& (gasping) This man hopes to find the missing pieces of his family's puzzle.
All of that stuff was destroyed in Katrina.
Was a dying man's memory of a long-lost sister real or imagined?
And could the voodoo legacy of Marie Laveau have been carried down to this man?
Now I know and that's good.
Now I know.
(man) These stories and more on "Genealogy Roadshow".
♪ We're criss-crossing the country, helping everyday Americans unlock family secrets and discover the truths of their pasts.
Helping uncover these fascinating stories is our expert team of genealogists.
My name's Kenyatta Berry.
My name is Joshua Taylor.
My name is Mary Tedesco.
(man) Join us as we take everyday people on an emotional journey of self-discovery.
Today, we're in the Big Easy-- New Orleans, Louisiana.
♪ Known for its jubilant jazz, oversized celebrations and proud cultural identity, New Orleans is one of the oldest and most unique cities in America.
Founded in 1718, this port city is where French, Spanish, Caribbean and African cultures collided.
This eclectic mix gave birth to new local languages-- Creole and Cajun-- and offered a wide array of religions, from Christianity to voodoo.
It's here where African drums combined with European horns, creating a distinct and vibrant sound.
It's no wonder New Orleans is known as the birthplace of jazz.
So we've come to New Orleans' historic Board of Trade, established in 1880.
Once the busy center of trade and commerce, today it's the home for "Genealogy Roadshow" and for hundreds who have come to explore their family histories.
I'm trying to find more information on my great-grandfather that had a pet alligator in the French Quarter.
My father started our family tree and I kind of just want to pick up where he left off.
So I'm here to see if I can find more information.
Hurricane Katrina changed the life of every New Orleans citizen forever.
For our first story, this man is hoping to recover a cherished piece of family history that was lost in the midst of Katrina's disastrous aftermath.
My name is Andrew Sentilles.
I'm 35 years old and I'm from New Orleans, Louisiana.
So many people lost family members and friends in Katrina.
I do feel lucky that what we lost were material things.
It's a relief to know that your family is safe and everybody's all right.
When Katrina hit, there were a lot of family documents and pictures lost that had been passed down from generations and a lot of times, that was the only record or photo you might have had of someone, and it's gone.
You can't get it back.
Losing that information sparked an interest in me to find out more.
I'm hoping that the "Genealogy Roadshow" will fill in some of the gaps from a lot of the stuff that we lost and I think it's a great opportunity to be able to give this back to my family.
Andrew, welcome to "Genealogy Roadshow".
You've brought some family members with you.
This is my cousin Laurie and this is my aunt Phyllis.
I have to say, New Orleans has such an amazing character.
What does the city mean to you?
It's always felt sort of like a family member, an old relative.
I'm very comfortable here.
It's the only place I've had that feeling.
Your example with your family photos and your family records really is something that, you know, you can't replace.
But let's learn more about what you can do to replace them.
When disaster strikes, like it did in New Orleans and other areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, thousands of priceless documents and family artifacts are lost.
The question is, can you recreate items that are lost?
Can you reconstruct a family tree that once was?
Great to see you.
Nice to meet you.
Come on, check out the archives.
Well, you absolutely can.
It's not impossible.
I'm here at the old US Mint, which holds thousands of historical documents.
Here we have a few family Bibles and scrapbooks.
As a genealogist, I come to archives like the Louisiana State Museum, looking for family Bibles.
I look for newspaper collections.
Things that might have been donated to the library that can offer me clues to put the story behind a family.
It actually lists the births, marriages and deaths for the family.
In fact, this one even lists what church someone is married in.
So I could go after a record of the church.
Another fascinating item in the archive is scrapbooks.
And we have a pretty sizable collection.
So if you're missing photographs of someone or other things in the family, this could literally reconstruct or recreate.
This building holds a treasure trove for genealogists.
It has documents dating from the colonial days of Louisiana up until the present day.
I have some of our colonial documents.
I'm looking at original colonial documents from when Louisiana was part of a Spanish and French colony.
And these really are unbeatable records when you try and recreate a family.
This document's from 1747.
I'm literally touching history.
King Louis XIV signed this.
We really are indebted to organizations that preserve documents like this, because in the case of disasters, when original family records disappear, you can always come to a repository like this that has the full set of the originals for you to take a look at.
So let's see what we were able to find, going through to replace some of the items that your family lost.
So we were able to find some information about both sides of your family.
I'm actually going to start with your mother's line.
Okay, your mother's maiden name is Hicks.
We were able to do a lot of work to reconstruct this family tree.
And we actually can go back to a William Russell Hicks, your third great-grandfather.
William Russell Hicks was the first member of your Hicks family in Louisiana.
Turning to an 1850 census, here we see your relative, William Russell Hicks.
He is a carpenter, born in New York.
And we're able to trace William Hicks back to a man named John Hicks, your sixth great-grandfather.
John Hicks lived in the 1750s.
He grew up in Rhode Island and then moved his whole family to Nova Scotia, Canada.
That's a big move.
It's a very big move.
What's interesting about John Hicks is he was a Quaker.
When a Quaker would want to move from one place to another, they would write and get permission.
So they leave these incredible records.
So it's these types of records we were able to use to reconstruct your Hicks family.
Now, we can actually trace the Hicks family all the way back to the first Hicks in America, your 10th great-grandparents, Robert Hicks and Margaret Winslow.
Robert Hicks came from England in 1621 to a town that some of us might know called Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Right, Plymouth Rock.
Most people, when they think of Plymouth, they say, "Oh, the Mayflower," right away.
Well, Robert Hicks actually came on the second boat called the Fortune.
And that was the ship you wanted to be on because the Mayflower had a bit of a disastrous voyage and not a lot of the passengers survived.
The Fortune, however, had some good fortune.
So those are some pretty deep American roots.
This is all new to me.
This is a side that I don't know that much about.
So I mean, this is great information.
Well, there you go.
All the way from the start.
Let's look at your father's side now.
A little bit.
Your surname, Sentilles, has been in the Louisiana area for quite a while.
Your immigrant ancestor was Jean Gregoire Sentilles, your third great-grandfather, who actually was born in France in 1822.
And then in the 1850s, he came to Louisiana.
Now, one thing that we always do as genealogists is ensure that we follow the mother's line, because maiden names can have fascinating stories.
And so one of the names that particularly was sort of pointed out when I looked at this is the Toledano family, your paternal grandmother's side.
That's my line.
This family is an incredibly rich family when it comes to their connection with Louisiana and New Orleans.
Let's start with your third great-grandfather, Benjamin Toledano.
Now Benjamin served in the Civil War in the Jefferson Mounted Guard.
And I have here for you, a document that was written by him.
This is a letter that he writes in 1862.
He's asking to resign from service because of his health.
(Cousin Laurie) But look at the signature.
It looks like Bob's.
My dad's, yeah.
It looks like your dad's signature?
His name was Francis Benjamin.
Now when we go up a generation, we find another military hero in the family.
Benjamin Toledano's father, Christoval Toledano, actually served in the War of 1812.
Here we have a nice oil painting of your fourth great-grandfather.
(Cousin Laurie) It's your face!
Looking at the oil painting of your fourth great-grandfather and your photograph, there's some similarities there.
I see it a little bit.
I saw it immediately!
So let's learn more about the War of 1812 and how your fourth great-grandfather was involved.
And it's known to many as the Second Revolution.
The War of 1812 was such an important conflict because it established America's independence from Britain.
In fact, it was in this war that our nation's capital, Washington D.C., was actually set on fire by British troops.
Now the War of 1812 ends with a treaty signed on Christmas Eve, 1814.
News traveled a bit slower in those days-- Right.
And news hadn't reached the city of New Orleans and so the last battle of the War of 1812 is the Battle of New Orleans on January 8th.
Many of us might recognize the future US President Andrew Jackson.
He led the charge with an all-volunteer battalion against the British.
And that battalion included your fourth great-grandfather.
Your fourth great-grandfather, Christoval Toledano, actually helped to save the city of New Orleans.
No wonder-- That's why I like it so much!
(all laughing) And it really shows to me how tied you are to the city of New Orleans.
More than I had thought.
And it teaches us that while we might lose records, we might lose property, we never lose our family history.
We never lose who we are and the people that are closest to you in your hearts.
Thank you so much for coming by the "Genealogy Roadshow" today.
Thank you for having me.
It's been great.
I would love to share this information with everybody in my family.
This time, we will make sure that there is several copies and it's in everybody's hands.
And we won't be losing it in any storm ever again.
(man) Is it possible that all of these people are actually related?
The key is one woman born nearly 200 years ago.
My name is Penelope Major McCarthy.
I'm from Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana.
I'm here in New Orleans today with my family, the Gremillion families.
We all share a common great-great-great-great- grandfather and we have a wonderful story.
Last year, five of us took a DNA test and we got matches as cousins.
We're a racially diverse family.
We'd like to understand and kind of solving the mystery of how all this came about and we'd like to know more about Henriette, the slave woman.
She was the mother of this whole line of my beautiful cousins of color.
And even though we don't all look alike, we are family.
Thank you so much for coming and for bringing your wonderful family.
Now, I have to ask you, how are you all related?
We're either brothers, sisters, grandchildren or cousins.
At the very least, we are all cousins.
Who do you all descend from?
Charles Gremillion is our common ancestor.
Now what is really your most pressing question?
We want to know about Henriette.
She's the mother of all the cousins of color.
She had two children with Gustav Gremillion, but we don't know about her life.
We want to find out what the story is, whether good or bad, but we're hoping it's a good story.
She's the, basically, the matriarch of this family.
She's the one that brought us all together.
So let's take a look at Henriette.
Could be "On-ri-et" in French.
We know that Henriette had at least two children that we're aware of by Gustav Gremillion, a slave owner.
One Joseph, born in 1857 and the next, Aristide, born in 1864, is that right?
My great-great- great-grandfather.
So on the 1850 census, we find that Gustav Gremillion was married to somebody named Maria Malvina Guerit.
So, like a large number of female slaves during this time period, it appeared that Henriette may have had two sets of children.
One with Gustav Gremillion, and the other with her husband, Pierre Walker.
Did you know Henriette was married?
Let's take a look at the 1870 US Census.
This was the first census she would have been enumerated as a free woman.
How does that make you feel?
The hair is standing up on my arms.
She moved on with her life and apparently found happiness.
So this is the 1870 US Census.
Now, this particular census does not detail the exact family relationships.
It doesn't say, like, mother, brother, wife, etc.
So we can assume that the children listed as black were Henriette's and her husband's, Pierre Walker.
Two sets of twins?
Oh my gosh!
So that's why I have twins.
She has twins.
Thank you, Grandmother.
But it is interesting because according to the census, close by are the two boys.
Joseph and Aristide, her sons with Gustav Gremillion.
And Keva, Aristide is your third great-grandfather.
They really were not that far away.
Just within the same post office district.
Now, by this time, Gustav is a widower.
His wife, Marie, has died, and in 1897, Gustav dies.
And by 1900, Henriette is living in Point Coupee.
She's 60 years old.
Her husband Pierre Walker is 70 years old.
She's still tending to her family and her husband is a farmer.
And Joseph and Aristide, Henriette's two sons from Gustav Gremillion, were also farmers.
So let's recap the children.
From the records, we were able to find out that Henriette had two children with Gustav Gremillion, Joseph and Aristide.
And with her husband Pierre, we were able to discover that she had at least another 13, for a total of 15 children.
Oh, my word.
We have so many more cousins to find!
You might want to get more people in Point Coupee to take a DNA test.
That's so awesome.
And then we see by this 1925 record from Point Coupee-- Wow.
Her death record!
That Henriette Walker-- Oh my gosh.
I've been trying to track that down for years.
So on May 1st, 1925, your Henriette passes away at the age of almost 90.
So she definitely lived more of her life as a free woman than a slave.
It's heartwarming to know that she lived as a free woman for quite a few years and she was able to, I'm assuming, find happiness.
And her kids were close by.
Even though they weren't living with her, they were close by.
What a strong person.
She's an amazing woman.
And that she survived slavery and lived more years as a free woman.
Way more years.
I want to thank each of you for coming on "Genealogy Roadshow".
And thank you so much for bringing the whole family because you guys are really fantastic.
We love each other so much.
(applause) (man) It's action-packed here at the Board of Trade.
People are here looking for clues to their family's past, like Marieanne Arata and her family, who receive a surprise from centuries ago.
This is actually a page from a diary of your third great-grand-uncle.
(man) People have come to the "Roadshow" to get answers, like Lauren Anderson who learns her ancestor, Bishop Weyman, has a connection to famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
We see that they're in the same community as Frederick Douglass.
We know the Weyman family were interconnected because Bishop Weyman gave the eulogy at Fre funeral.ck Douglass' It sounds like they were two very prominent families if he gave the eulogy.
The families were very close.
(man) Not many people can say they have a connection to an iconic voodoo queen.
Does this man?
He's here to find out.
My name is Brian Joseph Bigard, Sr.
I'm an eighth grade middle school social studies teacher.
I have been a resident of the city of New Orleans since birth.
The city of New Orleans always will be the core of my existence.
I have heard that I'm possibly related to the voodoo queen, Marie Laveau.
Marie Laveau is a New Orleans legend.
People come from all over the world to visit Marie Laveau's museum.
They buy objects that were believed to be used by Marie Laveau in her voodoo practice.
And even though I don't understand what voodoo is about, I just want to know, am I related to Marie Laveau?
Louis Armstrong was a very pivotal and a very dominant person in the city of New Orleans.
(clarinet playing) Barney Bigard was a clarinetist with Louis Armstrong.
He also played with Duke Ellington and he was very successful and had many recordings.
With the Bigard last name, I do believe there's a connection there because I love music and I have always been a part of the gospel choirs of the churches that I've attended.
Being related to these New Orleans legends is just like a good pot of gumbo.
You have so many different mixes and spices and so many different things and it's all bubbled inside of me.
Hi, Brian Bigard.
Welcome to "Genealogy Roadshow".
We're so glad to have you here.
Thank you very much.
Appreciate being here.
So let's start with the voodoo queen Marie Laveau.
She was one of the most well-known figures in Louisiana voodoo, but in order to understand Marie Laveau, first you've got to understand voodoo.
(man) When most people hear the word "voodoo", it conjures thoughts of mysterious and sinister island magic.
In reality, voodoo was a legal religion born in the West African country of Benin with over four million believers.
Today, voodoo is divided into several distinct sects, including New Orleans voodoo, which combines elements of Catholicism with traditional African practices.
Introduced to the United States by African slaves in 1719, voodoo made its way into Louisiana by way of Haiti during the Haitian Revolution.
Slaves brought with them their languages, cultural practices and religious beliefs, rooted in ancestor worship.
During the 19th century, voodoo queens became prominent figures in New Orleans, presiding over ceremonial meetings and ritual dances.
The most famous voodoo queen is Marie Laveau, renowned in New Orleans for her healing work and charms.
A devout Catholic, Marie was born in 1801 as a free person of color to biracial parents, one of whom was Creole.
According to folklore, Laveau was so influential that world leaders came to her for spiritual advice.
To this day, followers continue to ask her for guidance and leave offerings at her grave.
(Keyatta) Now, Marie Laveau has a life that's really surrounded by mystery and by the mid-1820s, Marie's reported to have entered into a "placage" arrangement with a Christof Glapion.
Have you ever heard of that?
No, that's interesting.
Okay, so the placage arrangement was because of couples of mixed race and African-Americans.
It was illegal for them to marry someone white.
So the women were not legally recognized as wives, okay?
They were known as "placees".
So a man could have actually had a wife-- Right.
and then had a placage.
So it's sort of like having an affair, Okay.
but it's a system people know about.
Yeah, in Louisiana at that time, it's a very common arrangement.
And the arrangement is with a guy called Christof Glapion.
That's a popular name here in the city.
So Marie Laveau lived with him until he died actually in 1885.
So this was her mate for a number of years.
Now we have to look and say is there some connection between your family and the last names of Laveau and Glapion.
And we found a connection with Glapion by the way of your great-grandmother, Naomi and her husband, Ferdinand Bigard.
Now Ferdinand Jr. was married to a woman named Lydia Glapion.
So it's the same last name as Marie Laveau's husband, Christof Glapion.
But there was no direct link between this Glapion family, which we believe is Lydia's, and Marie Laveau's husband, Christof Glapion.
We never could connect the two Glapion families back together and so without those connections, I can't say to you as a genealogist that they're definitely, they're definitely related.
Right, right, right.
So Brian, we have one more famous New Orleans citizen to go.
And that's the famous jazz musician Barney Bigard.
He was actually born Albany, like Albany, New York.
So Albany Leon Bigard.
Born and raised here in New Orleans.
He was known as a clarinetist and he played with Louis Armstrong, but there's also Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington.
And his connection to Duke Ellington is that he even co-composed Ellington's classic hit "Mood Indigo".
So let's try to explore if you have a connection to him.
1910 is the year that your grandfather Joseph Bigard was born.
And that's only four months after Barney Bigard was born.
And then we uncover this document.
Your grandfather, Joseph Bigard's marriage records, which shows Joseph Bigard's father to be Alex J. Bigard, your great-grandfather.
Great, great, great.
So we look at the 1910 census for New Orleans Parish.
You see the name "Bigard, Emile"?
So there we have Albany Leon "Barney" Bigard.
He's the grandson at age four and Albany's father is living there.
And his father is Alexander J., as widowed.
So this matches the information we've seen on your grandfather, Joseph Bigard's marriage records, right?
Great, great, great.
So Alex J. Bigard, your great-grandfather, who's also the father of Barney Bigard.
So for you, we took it a step further.
You did DNA for us.
And the DNA confirms that you share DNA with Barney Bigard's known descendants.
That indicates that you are the great-nephew of Barney Bigard.
Wow, that's awesome.
You're related to a great jazz legend, yes, of New Orleans.
I'm very excited about that.
Very excited about that.
Thank you so much for coming to "Genealogy Roadshow".
To be related to the music legend Barney Bigard is really, really awesome.
So from now on, when I'm performing gospel music, it's good to know that I come from an excellent legendary performer like Barney Bigard.
(man) Now let's take a moment to step outside and share some very important news with this lifelong local.
She's come to the Roadshow hoping for answers to a family mystery left unsolved for over a century.
Angel, tell me, what brings you to "Genealogy Roadshow"?
Well, I have a great-grandfather who had almost no past at all.
My great-grandfather, Marcel Larroque, his mother died not long after he was born and he had no memory of her.
His father remarried and there was a new wife whom he referred to as New Mother.
He'd say, "Well, all I know is when my father died, New Mother took me to school and said "When school is over, I will come back for you."
But he never saw her again.
Marcel was put in an orphanage.
I don't know what orphanage he was in or anything.
And he had this vague memory that he might have a sister named Alice.
He'd stare off into space, you know?
And then he'd just get lost in this moment.
And I'd watch him and he was so intent and I'd say, "Penny for your thoughts, Grandpa."
Because that was a phrase he used with me.
And he'd say, "Well, I think her name was Alice."
And I'd say, "Well, whose name was Alice?"
And he'd say, "I think she was my sister."
But I really hope Alice...
I really hope Alice was real because he loved her his entire life, whether or not she was real.
I was with him when he died.
I spent his last moments with him.
And I was holding his hand and I saw him slip away.
And it was a very profound moment for a little kid because I thought he just went out of my hands.
I hope he went into hers.
And so, the search for Alice never ended and I've never had any luck.
Well, this is obviously an incredible story.
The first piece of it that we want to address is New Mother.
So we delved into that research and we were able to find her name.
Now we found her name on a marriage license and she was marrying her next husband.
And on the certificate, it says that she was the widow of Albert Larroque, Marcel's father.
And that's how you found her.
We were not able to determine the name of the boys' home or the orphanage that Marcel, your great-grandfather, would have been in.
But the next thing we looked at was the records of Marcel's parents and we found a couple of documents that we'd love to share with you.
This is the death record of Albert Larroque, your great-great-grandfather, from 1895.
And he was young.
He was only in his early 30s when he died.
32 years old.
And he died in July of 1895.
So Marcel would have been eight or nine or 10 years old.
Right around there.
Just a boy.
A little boy.
So that's not the only document we were able to find, Angel.
This is your great-great- grandmother Catherine.
Oh, my God-- This is Catherine's?
Now, remember, she died five years before, so Marcel was even younger.
So this would explain exactly what you were telling us, that he didn't have a memory of his mother.
Now let's talk about the circumstances of her death.
It appears that Catherine, your great-great-grandmother, passed away from acute lobar pneumonia in 1890.
The next document we were able to find may shed some light on your family mystery.
Now you had asked us if there were any other children.
A few months earlier, we were able to find the death record of an infant Larroque.
Now, this baby unfortunately passes away just a few months before-- She does?
Is it a girl baby?
It's a girl baby.
Does she have a name?
On this record, she doesn't have a name.
But it is entirely possible that that could have been Alice.
He spent his whole life wondering if she was out there.
Marcel would have been three or four years old by the time this baby was born, because just a few months following this, his mother Catherine also passes away.
That's why his memories were so cloudy.
He would sit in that same chair and he would be so far away and he would be studying that memory that he just churned over and churned over, trying to struggle to put the pieces of a mystery that was 80 years into a fog behind him.
Today, um, you know, we were able to shed some light on New Mother, which-- On New Mother.
Haha, she has a name.
You had a lot of questions about.
And also to fill in some of the details surrounding your great-great- grandparents' deaths.
What I was searching for was the truth and that's what I got.
Well, thank you.
This is a special story.
You'll never know what this means to me.
You'll never know.
The questions keep coming for our genealogists.
I believe this to be my great-great-grandma, Emma Simpson.
Maybe they can help me find out where she came from.
(man) And for Air Force veteran Jolene Garcia, her questions about the importance of her great uncle's military service are answered.
So this has a deeper personal connection to you.
It really does.
He's the other veteran that I knew when he was alive.
So one of the tidbits that we found tells us your great-uncle was deployed with the First Infantry division in Normandy.
Yeah, that's huge.
I can't believe you, you verified that.
I can't believe that.
(man) Now let's meet a Louisiana local who's looking to discover the truth about her great-grandfather's fascinating journey that brought him to America.
My name is Rebecca Bustamento.
I'm 28 years old.
I live in downtown New Orleans in the French Quarter.
My mom was a single mom and so my grandparents had a huge part in raising me.
I heard a lot of stories growing up about my great-grandfather.
His story goes back to the days when he was raised and born in Honduras.
He was brought up and lived on a banana plantation.
He would be walking through the jungle, he had monkeys as pets.
One day, he was returning back home to the plantation.
Everyone was gone.
And he couldn't figure out why.
He stumbled upon his parents.
They told him he had to go with this family to America, that he had no choice.
That story is kind of the only piece of the puzzle that we have as far as who my family is.
To be able to validate that story and to be able to share it with other generations from here, it's kind of like the starting point of actually having some facts as opposed to the many years and generations that have gone by that just let it be some sort of, you know, myth.
Rebecca, welcome to "Genealogy Roadshow".
It's wonderful to have you here in the amazing city of New Orleans.
And who has joined you today?
I have my mom, Cheryl, my stepdad Greg and my boyfriend, James.
Wonderful to meet you all.
You came to us with a question about your great-grandfather.
So that's your grandfather, correct?
What do you know about him?
Not much, actually.
He supposedly was born in Honduras and he came to America and that's about it.
Now I'm actually going to do something a bit unique on the show and that is we're going to start with the end.
So the ending actually takes us to the 1920 census.
This is your great-grandfather and your grandfather, Theodore Graham, and it notes that he is an adopted son of a man named John Riplinger.
I know you had mentioned that your great-grandfather grew up on a banana plantation.
If you look at the man who is his adopted father, John Riplinger, he mentions that he employs people in the banana planting industry.
And it's actually through this adoptive father that we're going to reveal a very interesting story about the life of your great-grandfather Theodore Graham.
Let's look at a picture of this John Riplinger, the man who adopted your great-grandfather.
John Riplinger is actually a fascinating character.
He's born in Minnesota and in 1890, he moved to Seattle, Washington.
Now, we know that based upon some of the city directories and other collections as we look to track his life.
Now we also know from several newspaper accounts that he worked for the King County auditor in Seattle, Washington.
And he actually ran for city comptroller as a Republican and served two terms.
And then in February of 1906, Riplinger announced that he would run for mayor of Seattle.
He lost by 15 votes.
And the interesting thing is, had he won that election, you might not be here today.
Because it was his life that set a course of different events that allowed him to eventually adopt your great-grandfather, Theodore Graham.
So it's amazing.
Little things like that that change your lives today that 15 people have that much of an impact.
Now, looking through other documents, we tried to look, what's the connection between Honduras and John Riplinger?
We have here a 1914 certificate of registration of an American citizen.
This would have been someone who's moving back and forth.
He's registered with the consulate here.
They're certifying that John Riplinger is born 1864 in Minnesota.
So that verifies that this is the man we're after.
And it notes that he left the United States March 21, 1906 and arrived in Honduras on April 25, 1906.
And interesting enough, he finished his role as comptroller on March 19.
And so literally, two days later, he heads for Honduras.
Now, why Honduras?
The term "Banana Republic"-- We know it now as something very different.
Back then, what it meant was an unstable government that relied upon a single export for their economy.
And in this case, we know that the banana plantations were very active.
And British and American businessmen would actually go to Honduras and begin to cultivate land and build a business.
That's what brought John to Honduras in the first place.
Meanwhile, back in Seattle-- and this is where the story gets really, really interesting.
In May 1907, so about a year after the election, Seattle's city auditor discovers that there's something wrong in the books.
This city is missing more than $68,000.
(laughing) Guess who they think stole the money?
Have you ever heard of the Pinkerton Detective Agency?
So, at one time, they were the largest private law enforcement agency in the world.
And it was the Pinkerton Detective Agency that the city of Seattle headed to to try and find John Riplinger.
Now the Pinkertons sent agents out because they had heard that John was sort of sitting somewhere in Honduras.
And so here we have a report from one of their agents to New York dated Thursday, October 10, 1907.
"I have located the man in Honduras under the assumed name of J.R.
(chuckling) So John Riplinger is in Honduras.
He returns on his own accord to Seattle in July of 1909, in an effort to clear his own name.
He gets back to Seattle.
What do you think they do?
I would assume arrest him, interrogate him.
They indict him.
Nine counts of embezzlement.
Now the case is sent to the jury.
Any guesses on the verdict?
You think not guilty?
You were right.
We learned from this newspaper-- and this is October 10 of 1910-- charges are dropped and Riplinger returns to Honduras and he stays there until 1915 when his family and your great-grandfather, Theodore Graham, come back to the United States.
Now, when anyone enters the US at this period, there are passenger lists.
And these passenger lists will document their arrival into a specific port.
So this is November 15 of 1915.
It's coming from Honduras into New Orleans.
So this is part of the Riplingers' arrival into this great city of New Orleans.
Here we have Mrs. A.L.
That's his wife Ada.
And also on the passenger lists, we come across an eight-year-old Master Theodore Graham.
That's a name you recognize.
This says that he's a student.
He is of Hondurean nationality and it also tells us that his nearest relative or friend is Mr. John Riplinger.
So here we have the link between this politician/swindler/ businessman/opportunist (all laugh) and your great-grandfather, Theodore Graham.
And even handwritten on top of it is "guardian."
Now, there's one more incredible piece of information on this document.
Attached to the passenger list is a note.
Now the note is actually written by a Gertrude Graham who says that she is the mother of Theodore Graham.
And she's giving him over to John Riplinger.
All right then.
Now it's written in Spanish, but translated, it says, "I have handed my son, Theodore Graham, "over to Mrs. John Riplinger so that he will be in her care, treating him as if he were her own child."
Now why would Gertrude Graham give her son Theodore, your great-grandfather, to the Riplingers?
One interesting thing is we know that Theodore and his mother could read and write, which tells us even at age eight, he's had some education.
There's some privilege there in his life.
It's very likely Theodore's biological father had something to do with business.
Now is Theodore the son of John Riplinger's business partner?
We don't know.
There's a lot of possibilities.
Right now, it's an open case.
It's things like this that you never know what you're going to find in the documents.
I mean, this is all about your great-grandfather.
And this is the one clue we have to his parentage.
So the hunt always continues.
Thank you so much for stopping by today.
I have to tell you, it's a fun mystery.
Thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much.
(man) Being connected to America's history is extremely important for this newlywed, who's hoping she can pass down stories to her future children.
My name's Mary McCullough and I'm a lifelong New Orleanean and also a newlywed.
I just got married to Lee McCullough this summer.
My mom's side of the family have been in New Orleans since the very early 1800s.
My dad passed away when I was a teenager, so his side of the family is much more a mystery to me.
I would love to find out what my background is.
I suspect that I would be of all kinds of different nationalities and I'm interested in finding out what, if any involvement, my family had in the Civil War, slavery.
You know, I think of my family tree and all of these men and women that met and from them, generations of people were born and so as I've just gotten married, I would love to be able to bring into that my history as a gift to those future generations.
Welcome to "Genealogy Roadshow".
So who do you have here with you today?
I have my new husband, Lee.
Oh, very nice to meet you.
Hi, how are you?
Now we did do some research.
I've looked through a number of documents.
So let's start with your father's side, okay?
You thought your father Donald was from Mississippi?
My dad died when I was a teenager-- Okay.
And I understood that he was born in Mississippi, but I don't know if that's accurate information or not.
Well, what we do know is that Donald's parents were Joseph and Alvira, your grandparents.
And they were married in 1924.
And four years prior to the wedding, Joseph was listed as living in Mississippi, actually, on the 1920 census.
Now, Joseph, your grandfather, moved to New Orleans between 1920 and 1924.
Your grandparents were married and then 10 years later, they had your father Donald.
So Donald was not born in Mississippi, but in New Orleans instead.
Now let's take a look at the 1940 census here.
Alvira, your grandmother, is living with her children.
So that's Donald, Ronald and Thione.
But in this household, Joseph is not listed.
Now we took a look at the 1940 city directory.
We find Joseph living in a household with a woman named Irene who's a maid, and he's a chauffeur.
So in 1940, your grandparents, definitely not living in the same household, okay?
Now, moving backwards in time with your grandmother Alvira, we're going to take a look at a 1920 census and we can see here that Alvira is listed as a cigar maker for her brother.
She worked as a cigar maker for much of her life.
Yes, she's 15 at this time.
So even in 1920, at that tender young age, she's a cigar maker.
Now when tracing Elvira, your grandmother's line back, we looked at Raymond Trevignie, Elvira's grandfather who is your second great-grandfather, okay?
In the 1850 census records.
And do you see next to Raymond Trevignie, the letter M?
Do you know what that stands for?
So we know that your paternal grandmother comes from African-American descent.
Now following Raymond Trevignie, your second great-grandfather, forward, by 1860, he is married and living in a household with three small children.
And their six-month-old little girl is Laura, your great-grandmother.
You know, it's 1860.
Civil War is starting up, and three years later, we have what's known as a company muster roll.
So, if you see, Raymond Trevignie, your second great-grandfather, was enrolled in the Colored Infantry for Louisiana in the Civil War.
Had you ever heard of the Trevignie surname?
Never heard of that.
There's a really cool monument in Washington, DC and it's called the African-American Civil War Monument.
You see that Raymond Trevignie is on this monument.
(Lee) That's great.
You know, I never did know a lot about my dad's side of the family.
And then to find out that his name is immortalized on a monument in Washington, DC is so exciting because that's my family.
Right, yeah, that's your family.
You can go there and you can share that story with your mom and your son and everyone in your family.
This is, honestly, information that I don't think that I could have uncovered alone.
I'm excited to hear it.
Now, switching to your mother's side of the family, one of the other things that was mentioned was that you had an ancestor from Spain?
I think his last name is Ripoll.
We actually did find a record for a Joseph-- Joseph, yeah.
Ripoll, your third great-grandfather.
Or, as he's listed here-- Jose!
From Spain, yeah.
It shows that his date of arrival was in 1820.
Now we know he was naturalized in 1838.
So let's track him forward.
I looked at the 1850 census.
We have Joseph Ripoll and he's living with Marie Lebeau, your third great-grandmother.
And we know that Marie Lebeau and her kids are all listed as mulatto.
So this means you have African-American descent on your mother's side as well.
Since we are in the 1850 census, slavery is still legal in Louisiana.
We know from this that she is a free person of color because she is listed in the census.
Because before 1870, a slave was seen as property and would not have been enumerated as a person on census records.
So you see, your third great-grandparents.
Joseph Ripoll and then Marie Lebeau, but if you look right above, there is a "Widow" Jean Pierre Lebeau who's listed as black.
So looking at this family unit, this might be Joseph Ripoll, your third great-grandfather and then Marie Lebeau, your third great-grandmother living next door to her mother "Widow" Jean Pierre Lebeau.
Now we've already identified the Widow Lebeau as your fourth great-grandmother, who's identified as black as we just saw on the 1850 census.
So I want you guys to take a look at this document called a slave schedule.
Now a slave schedule is a list of slave owners and the number of slaves working for them.
Looking at that, you can see that the Widow Lebeau owned six slaves.
And then we have here Joseph Ripoll also living next door and owning six slaves.
In doing African-American research, especially slave genealogy, one of the things most people do not know is that free people of color also owned slaves.
It wasn't very common, but blacks who owned slaves usually did so for benevolent or financial reasons.
They granted them their freedom for a nominal sum or bought and sold them to elevate their social status.
And it's one of those pieces of history that we really don't talk about that much.
So here we show a piece of history where Jose was Spanish, right?
But in his household, he had a free person of color.
Yet he had six slaves and his mother-in-law had the same.
You have your second great-grandfather, Raymond Trevignie, who fought in the Civil War for the US Colored Troops.
At the same time, you have your fourth great-grandmother owning slaves and your third great-grandfather owning slaves.
And they were all in the same area.
All in the same area.
So, Mary, your family was on both sides of the war.
For me as a researcher, it was extremely interesting to come across that complex society and community-- Exactly.
within New Orleans.
I thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share this with you and to discover your family history.
It's been a blast.
Finding out that I had family members that fought on the side of the Union and then family members that also were owners of slaves was so interesting.
It just shows how deep family history, genealogy and American history truly is.
(man) America is full of these stories of heroism, romance and self-discovery.
Join us next time for more amazing accounts on "Genealogy Roadshow".
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