The name Valerie Bertinelli doesn’t immediately call to mind connections to English royalty. Nevertheless, the actor, who first sprang to fame as a teenager in 1975 in the sitcom One Day At A Time has both Italian and English roots, as she explores in the latest episode of WDYTYA? USA to receive its UK premiere.
Valerie begins her research with her Italian family, and the engrossing tale of how her great grandmother, Maria Possio, came to emigrate to the United States. However, it’s Valerie’s meeting with Else Churchill at the Society of Genealogists in London that provides the key to the biggest revelations, as the actor learns she’s descended from James Claypoole (1634-87), a leading light in the growth of the Quakers, who emigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Via her 8x removed grandfather’s coat of arms, she e learns that his son, Adam, married one Dorothy Wingfield, who could trace her lineage directly back to medieval warrior king Edward dI (1239-1307), aka Edward Longshanks or the Hammer of the Scots.
In another new episode, Frasier and Cheers star Kelsey Grammer learns how his ancestors in the Dimmick family were pioneers along the Oregon Trail, the wagon route that linked Missouri to Oregon, in the north-western United States. In the middle of the 19th century, prior to the building of the transcontinental railway, thousands braved the trail, drawn by the promise of cheap and plentiful land out west. It’s research that draws on papers now held at the Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Oregon Library, papers in which Joseph Gragg, the nephew of Joseph Dimmick senior, Kelsey’s 3x great grandfather, recalls life on the road as part of an extended family. And death, too: one of Joseph’s sons, Thomas, who had spent a hot day hunting buffalo, died of cholera after drinking bad water.
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