Who Do You Think You Are?

Have you ever seen Who Do You Think You Are? It's a genealogy docu-series that aired for two seasons on NBC then moved over to TLC. It's such a great show! Each episode follows a celebrity uncovering branches of their family tree. There is quite a bit of cheese, a lot of recap of previous scenes, and way too many plugs for ancestory.com, but I think each celebrity has shown genuine interest in their past and some authentic emotion. I cry every time, whether it's a happy or sad story. The new starts next week and will feature episodes about Cynthia Nixon, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Rachel McAdams, Lauren Graham, Valerie Bertinelli, and Kelsey Grammer.

This show always has me thinking about my own family tree and my middle school cultural fair project. My mom and aunt helped uncover the history of my great-great-great uncle, Thomas S. Lippy. He came to Seattle in 1891 to work as the first physical education director for the YMCA. Some say he was responsible for bringing basketball to Seattle. He saw the game demonstrated at the Y’s training college in Massachusetts in 1891 and began teaching the game to members of the YMCA in February of 1893. Four months later, his athletic career ended at an exhibition in North Dakota, when he broke his kneecap into four pieces. He then served as the secretary of the Seattle YMCA for a year before quitting in 1896 to search for gold in the Klondike.

Reports say he made a fortune (about $85,000) and when he returned he used some of his funds to help build downtown Seattle’s YMCA. He served as the Y's board president from 1901 to 1930 and helped establish branches in Queen Anne, University District, Green Lake, West Seattle, and Fauntleroy. He donated land for Seattle General hospital and started the fund-raising effort for Seattle’s first swimming pool. He also provided Klondike miners a place to stay in his building (the Lippy Building) still located on First Avenue in Pioneer Square, which is now home to a Jimmy John's and a tattoo parlor. Fancy.

Pretty cool little piece of Seattle history!
Do you have any cool stories about your ancestors?


Kristine said...

That's so cool! I love learning about my family history. I think I did a family tree project in like 8th grade for my dad's side of the family but apparently on my mom's side, we've got a castle somewhere in Europe... family vacation!?

SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph said...

Pretty cool! I don't have any famous type stories like that.

Leeann @ Join the Gossip said...

So awesome! I loved seeing your family history when I was up there!! This is specifically what I love about history. My second degree is in American Studies.

I am obsessed with the show and so glad it got picked up on a different network last year.

My grandma recently traced just a tiny portion of our family tree back and found that we've been here since before the Mayflower and are related to the first governor of Connecticut. I've never even been!

Misty, Handbags + Handguns said...

I signed up for Ancestry.com for a short period, got overwhelmed and haven't messed with it again. I really want to go back further. I just need to find the time.

Tony's apparently related to Edgar Allen Poe. I want proof though. Ha!

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

I think this is cool and I am glad I came and read this post today

Karen M. Peterson said...

This is awesome!

The coolest thing I know is that one of my ancestors was a sculptor who had a piece on display in the Smithsonian.