Who Do You Think You Are? gives celebrities an opportunity to trace their family history. Presented in part by Ancestry.com, this episode finds award-winning actress, Edie Falco tracing her roots to learn about her mother’s side of the family.
Rob Lowe who now stars in Parks & Recreation discussed his childhood and how he always wanted to act. He loves patriotism and American history and so glad he got the chance to act on “West Wing.” Now that his mother has passed away, he is sad that he did not ask enough questions about her side of the family. Now he has a chance to find out, thanks to Who Do You Think You Are?.
He and his brother perused her scrapbook to find clues. On Ancestry.com, they found a hint about her heritage that went back to the Revolutionary War. John Christopher East is a name they found more than once. Now Rob traveled to Washington, D.C. to the Daughters of the American Revolution Headquarters archives. To belong to the DAR, one must be a documented descendant of a Revolutionary patriot. The archivist helping him found that J.C. East was his five times great-grandfather. Tax records from the town of Newton in Pennsylvania showed that he may not have been involved in the Revolutionary War. At the Library of Congress, Rob found that J.C. East (Oest) was in an assault regiment of the Revolution listed as a prisoner who fought as a Hessian mercenary for the British, not the Americans. At the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton, New Jersey, Rob met with a Hessian prisoner expert. These Hessian soldiers aided the British, who were gaining ground awaiting the freezing of the Delaware River to go across. George Washington’s troops surprised the British and overtook their troops by crossing the Delaware, as the famous painting depicts.
Prisoners, ridiculed by Americans were marched through the streets of Trenton to Newtown, Pennsylvania, across the river. Prisoners were offered freedom in America or return to their homeland. Oest chose to stay.
On a trip to Marburg, Germany, Rob Lowe checked the records to see why Oest never returned to his homeland. In Germany, he could not find much about Oeste (new spelling), but in a church in 1754, John Christopher Oeste was christened. In 1728, Johannes Oeste married Lora Noll, giving Rob the name of his sixth times great-grandfather, and finding out that he was the youngest of eight children. Johannes died at 62, when Christopher was 12 years old and his mother died at 61 in 1770. Being the last of 8 children, he had no inheritance or money, he enlisted. Back at the hotel, Rob received news from the DAR, that the taxes East paid on his property went to the American cause and because he stayed in America, is considered a patriot. Rob will be forever grateful that he found the answers to Who Do You Think You Are?.
Photo of Rob Lowe: Wikimedia