We were excited to watch the Germanna Foundation’s nation-wide television debut of the “The Pioneers” episode of the PBS series Finding Your Roots.
In “The Pioneers” episode, five-time Emmy Award winner Neil Patrick Harris was surprised to learn that one of his ancestors – Gertrud Stuell, an ancestor many Germanna descendants have in common with him – was tried and executed as a witch in Germany after her trial starting in October 1588. Neil is a descendant of Gertrud through Ellsbeth Otterbach, wife of Germanna colonist Peter Hitt.
If you missed it, check your local listings for additional air dates or watch it here (the German ancestry story of Neil starts at 44:45 in the episode):
The Germanna Foundation worked with the producers to research and document information for this episode of Finding Your Roots, summarized in a Book of Life presentation to Neil Patrick Harris by host Henry Louis Gates, Jr., from 2014 until the first broadcast date of February 23, 2016.
In gratitude for working with the producers of this program since 2014, the producers gave on-air credits for the research team assembled by the Germanna Foundation from five U.S. states and Germany: Cathi Clore Frost, Barbara Gregory Price, Katharine Brown, Elke Hall, John Blankenbaker, Gerhard Moisel, Horst Schneider, and Russell Hitt.
Germanna Foundation Trustee, Board Secretary, and Genealogist Cathi Clore Frost told the Culpeper Star-Exponent, “Although I was the main contact with producers, gathering the documentation was definitely a group effort. It made me fully appreciate my Germanna friends here in the U.S. and in Germany. The producers needed the documentation in a very short time frame and we were able to get it for them, including records from the church archives in Siegen, Germany,” shared Frost. “We also shared with them the story of Gertrud who was executed for being a witch and was ultimately featured in the episode.”
More information on Gertrud Stuell’s family can be found in the Germanna Foundation’s Ancestry and Descendants of the Nassau-Siegen Immigrants to Virginia 1714-1750.
Are you related to Neil Patrick Harris? Check out his Germanna family tree (pdf)! Germanna Foundation membership includes access to the extensive Germanna descendant database maintained at GermannaFamily.org (learn more about membership) to see how you may be related, create genealogical charts, and learn more about Neil’s roots. Come to our annual conference and reunion in July to learn about how Germanna Foundation membership may be able to find your own roots.
You can help support Germanna’s 2016 archaeology field season through our “Sponsor an Explorer Grid” program in honor of a famiy member, colleague, or association.
Find out how Germanna Foundation Genealogist Cathi Clore Frost compiled the research for the TV show with the assistance of many Germanna friends and highlights about what she found:
Germanna Family Tree of Neil Patrick Harris (pdf)
The Germanna Ancestry of Neil Patrick Harris (pdf)
Finding Your Roots, Episode 8: The Pioneers
Database of Germanna Descendants
Inter-relatedness of 1714 Germanna colonists
Germanna Foundation helps actor trace his German roots (Culpeper Star-Exponent)