“Who Do You Think You Are?” is helping celebrities to trace their origins. Presented in part by ancestry.com, this episode finds actress and singer Reba McEntire tracing her ancestry back to find out just who he really is.
Reba started her journey in Nashville, Tennessee, to find her roots. She knew about her father’s family and now she wants to find out who she is through her mother and her ancestors. She was named after her grandmother and not too much more. She went on ancestry.com with her mother and started her hunt in Monroe County, Mississippi. In 1910, she was ten years old searching for B.W. Brassfield, her great-great grandfather. She went to the library to find archives of old obituaries, but found a dead end. The historian in Mississippi gave her more info. The spelling of the name changed from Brassfield to Brasfield and the historian found her history back to the 1700s.
She then went to North Carolina to find George Brasfield, her four-times great-grandfather, before Raleigh was even the capital. George Brasfield owned a bar, so they checked the tax records and found he owned 1,615 acres and had 10 slaves that shocked Reba. She went 40 miles north and checked records of the slaves and another historian. They have computerized many records and written archives. The bills of sale show that George Brasfield was a slave trader. He sold a Negro girl of fourteen months of age and several other children. Reba was heartbroken to know that this was done when children were taken away from their parents; never to see them again.
Going back to her six-times great-grandfather was also George Brasfield in 1721 bought land for a large amount of tobacco, but at nine years old, he was an indentured servant to a rich man who paid for his trip to Virginia. Back then indentured servants, mostly children had to work until they were 21 and then received their independence. The work was very hard and more than half never lived to 21 to reach their independence. He left England with eleven years of indenture to work. Reba’s heart was broken to see how many children took the passage on that boat. Then Reba went to England to see if there were records of him leaving England and why he would take a three-month journey to come to America and work for someone who would pay for his passage.
In Chester, England, she met with a historian who found George’s baptism record in 1688. His father was Thomas and his mother was Abigail. His father died after he left for England, but his mother died two years before he came to America. His father sent him to America to give him a better opportunity for life, and Reba saw that his parents were buried in the poorer part of the cemetery in their town.
Reba’s family is now proud that she wondered, “Who Do You Think You Are?”