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Friday, September 20, 2013

PBS Travels to San Francisco to Uncover the Personal Side of the City's History

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 8:00 AM

What's this woman's connection to the Gold Rush? - PBS
  • PBS
  • What's this woman's connection to the Gold Rush?

It's easy for family history to be lost to time, stories become warped by numerous retellings, the myths grow, and the heirlooms left behind provide the few clues to where you come from.

The Genealogy Roadshow is the latest in a line of family lineage shows aimed connecting the genealogical dots (others include the celebrity driven Finding You Roots and Who Do You Think You Are?), and will act as magnifier -- connecting a family story to the larger course of history.

Traveling across the country, the roadshow makes its way to the Bay Area to trace a person's relationship to the first Chinese gangster in San Francisco, and another individual's lineage to James Marshall (you'll remember him as the first person to discover gold), among other stories.

Lisa Gates of Mill Valley, who appears on the Bay Area episode, heard rumors tracing her back to Marshall. Passed down through her eight generations of California lineage, she was ready to let go of the mystery and learn the truth once and for all.

"I had started the search on the internet, but kept hitting roadblocks. I could only get so far back in my family's history," she says. "The genealogists were able to find what I couldn't."

But with learning the truth comes the loss of the mystery, and not all the family members were sure they were ready to know, according to Gates. The emergence of new facts changes the future of family stories.

"It's a debatable point," she says of whether uncovering a family's past is always best. "I'm glad I found out, now I can spend my time researching something new."

"The Genealogy Roadshow" debuts on September 21, the Bay Area episode airs October 7.

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF, Mollie at @MollieM10, and like us on Facebook.

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About The Author

Mollie McWilliams

Mollie McWilliams

Mollie is the Web Editor and has been with SF Weekly since 2010.


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