Born Champions

Full Episode

Three of America’s greatest athletes, whose determination and love of sports were deeply shaped by their families, were all cut off from their true origins. Billie Jean King learns the story of her grandmother. Derek Jeter confronts his ancestors’ lives as slaves. Rebecca Lobo finds out that her Spanish ancestor fought side by side with a famous revolutionary.

Stream this exciting full episode, premiering September 30th at 8PM EST (check local listings).

Episode Credits Print

A Film by Kunhardt McGee Productions
and Inkwell Films
In Association with Ark Media

Senior Producer
John Maggio

Director/Producer
Josh Gleason

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Peter W. Kunhardt
Dyllan McGee

SERIES PRODUCERS
Sabin Streeter
Leslie Asako Gladsjo

Written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

EDITORS
Jim Isler
Emir Lewis

CO-PRODUCERS
Nicole Bozorgmir
Hannah Olson

CONTRIBUTING PRODUCERS
Phil Bertelsen
Hazel Gurland-Pooler
Jesse Sweet

ASSOCIATE PRODUCERS
Brittany Clemons
Jessica Xanthe Cran
Samantha Gowda
Stephen Robinson

RESEARCHERS
Megg Farrell
Joey Fishman

ADDITIONAL RESEARCH
Elena Granda Álvarez
José Antonio Matos Arévalos
Natalie Baur
Kristina Bedford
Linda Blankenship
Brigitte Burkett
Laura H. Congleton
Farley Crawford
Alan Drust
Glynnis G. Gilbert
Matthew Hovious
Roseann Kebles
Tiffany Lukashefski
Aaron McWilliams
Tania Moriera
Doug Nicol
Simeon Stachera
Julia Winters

GENEALOGICAL RESEARCHER
Johni Cerny

DNA CONSULTANT
CeCe Moore

PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Elyse Hughes

SUPERVISING PRODUCER
Deborah Clancy Porfido

POST PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR
Stephen Altobello

DIRECTORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Stephen McCarthy
Samuel Russell

ADDITIONAL CAMERA
Gregory Brutus
Stan Wilkins
Trevor Winsett

GAFFERS
David Cambria
Ned Hallick
Larry Hevesy

GRIPS
Edie Burns
Roger Marbury
Julio Yurnet

LIGHTING AND ELECTRIC
Liberty Lighting Ltd.
Production Services & Systems Inc.
Red Herring Motion Picture Lighting Inc.

GRAPHIC DESIGN
Andy Cahill
Brian Oakes

ANIMATION
Andy Cahill
Will Rahilly

ONLINE EDITOR
Chris Connolly

ASSISTANT EDITORS
Todd Goings
Julian Cornwell
Mike Pickett
Edward Wardrip

ADDITIONAL EDITING
Bruce Shaw
Jessica Reynolds

Original Score by Michael Bacon

SOUND RECORDISTS
Josh Harris
Andy Turrett

SOUND RE-RECORDING
Richard Fairbanks

SOUND EDITING
Kevin Peters

FOLEY ARTIST
Brian Vancho

FIELD PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS
Joe Davison
Jon Fisher

MEDIA MANAGERS
Gregory Brutus
Trevor Winsett

BUSINESS MANAGER
Stef Gordon

IT SUPPORT
Ben Meadors

INTERNS
Anna Blum
Anne-Sophie Bouygues
Zhifang “Zephyr” Guan
Cat Harris
Tianyuan He
Pan Hsuan-Yu
Ethel Mendez
Joseph Neighbor
Stephen Rathier
Antoine Rouet
Clare Shin
Daniel Sznajderman

ARCHIVES
ABC Sports
Allsport / Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Allsport UK / Allsport / Getty Images
American Textile History Museum, Lowell, MA
Archival Film and/or Video Materials from the Collections of The Library of Congress
Associated Press
The Bridgeman Art Library
Corbis Images
Culver Pictures
CPTV
David Rumsey Map Collection
F. Scott Jeter
The Family of Derek Jeter
The Family of Billie Jean King
The Family of Rebecca Lobo

ARCHIVES
Fisk University
The Franco-American Collection, Lewiston, Maine
Getty Images
The Granger Collection, New York
Joe Lobo
Lance Lobo
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
Linda Kimball
Major League Baseball Footage Used with Permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc.
MLB Photos via Getty Images
NBAE / Getty Images
Photofest
Rodney Brazee
Sports Illustrated / Getty Images
SuperStock
The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Knoxville, Tennesse

LOCATIONS
ESPN Headquarters, Bristol, CT
George M. Steinbrenner Field
The Pavilion at Villanova University
Private Residence of Sheri Mathieu
USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

TRANSCRIPTION
CLK Transcription, Inc.

TELEPROMPTER
Kelly Cronin

GENETIC TESTING PROVIDED BY
23andMe
African Ancestry
Family Tree DNA

SPECIAL THANKS
Janet Alcala
Joyce Alden
Dr. David Altshuler
Bennett Ashley
Professor Lawrence Bobo
Kasia Bryc
Angie Bush
Dr. Carlos Bustamante
Janine Cloud
Dr. Lauren Dickerman
Edriss Elghannaz
Julie Eugley
Ann Gay
Amy Gosdanian
Bennett Greenspan
Sheila Ford Hamp
Steven K. Hamp
Happy Limo
Morgan Hawthorne
Ainsley Henriques
Bernard Hicks
Theresa Houck
Glenn and Debbie Hutchins

SPECIAL THANKS
Richard and Lynn Jones
Chris Kennedy
Elise Kordis
David Lambert
Sam Lau
Rodney Laughton
Earl Lewis
James Lick
Milton Loyer
Paul Lucas
Dr. Doug McDonald
Barbara McIntyre
Marcyliena Morgan
Chuck Morrison
Joanna Mountain
Monique Nelson
Tip Nunn
Nu-Image Barbershop
Marc Perry
Brian Siberell
Steve Simmons
Janice Stucky
Thayne Tessenholtz
Marial Iglesias Utset
Paul Woodbury

HENRY LOUIS GATES’S WARDROBE
Maurice Sedwell
Bespoke Tailors
Savile Row, London

HENRY LOUIS GATES’S WARDROBE
The Andover Shop
Charles Davidson
Andrew Ramroop

FOR KUNHARDT MCGEE

CO-PRODUCERS
George T. Kunhardt
Teddy Kunhardt

SENIOR RESEARCHER
Jill Cowan

BUSINESS AFFAIRS
Mary Farley

GENERAL COUNSEL
Drew Patrick

PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
William Ventura

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
Matthew Goldman

FOR THIRTEEN

COORDINATING PRODUCER
Stephanie Carter

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
Benjamin Phelps

EDITOR
Michael Weingrad

ADDITIONAL AUDIO
Jon Berman
Josh Broome

BUDGET CONTROLLERS
Susan Bartelt
Joy Sims

LEGAL
Odell Nails

PUBLICITY
Lindsey Bernstein
Harry Forbes
Kellie Specter-Castruita
Donna Williams
Sunshine Sachs

FOR WNET

DIRECTOR, PROGRAMMING OPERATIONS
Jane Buckwalter

EXECUTIVE IN CHARGE
Stephen Segaller

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Julie Anderson

This program is a production of Kunhardt McGee Productions, Inkwell Films and THIRTEEN Productions LLC in association with Ark Media and WNET which are solely responsible for its content.

© 2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC, Kunhardt McGee Productions, Inc. and Inkwell Films, Inc. All rights reserved.

Episode Transcript Print

Finding Your Roots
Ep 202 “Born Champions”
Derek Jeter/Billie Jean King/ Rebecca Lobo

GATES: I’M HENRY LOUIS GATES JR. WELCOME TO FINDING YOUR ROOTS.

TONIGHT, WE REVEAL THE ANCESTRY OF THREE OF AMERICA’S GREATEST ATHLETES: TENNIS LEGEND BILLIE JEAN KING, YANKEES ALL-STAR DEREK JETER, AND WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PIONEER REBECCA LOBO… ATHLETES WHOSE PURPOSE AND DRIVE WERE PROFOUNDLY SHAPED BY THEIR FAMILIES.

TO DISCOVER THEIR ANCESTORS, WE’VE USED EVERY TOOL AVAILABLE…

GENEALOGISTS HELPED STITCH TOGETHER THE PAST USING THE PAPER TRAIL THEIR FAMILIES LEFT BEHIND, WHILE GENETICISTS UTILIZED THE LATEST ADVANCES IN DNA ANALYSIS TO REVEAL SECRETS HUNDREDS OF YEARS OLD.

GATES: The answers are in this book…

GATES VO: AND WE’VE COMPILED EVERYTHING INTO A BOOK OF LIFE, A RECORD OF ALL OF OUR DISCOVERIES…

LOBO: I mean it’s just amazing to see her handwriting!

JETER: That’s unbelievable… all the way back to 1605!

BILLIE JEAN KING: This is from a bible?  Family…we have a family bible?  

GATES: Mhm.

BILLIE JEAN KING: This (audio cuts off 1:01:04:12) is fantastic!

GATES: AS WE TRACE BILLIE JEAN, DEREK, AND REBECCA’S ROOTS, WE’LL EXPLORE HOW THEY BECAME CHAMPIONS, DID THEY COME TO GREATNESS THROUGH HARD WORK AND INDIVIDUAL EFFORT? IS THEIR TALENT SIMPLY ENCODED IN THEIR GENES? COULD IT BE, THESE THREE ATHLETES WERE MODELED IN WAYS THEY NEVER COULD HAVE IMAGINED? BY THE LIVES OF THEIR ANCESTORS.

ROOTS TITLE SEQUENCE

GATES VO: BILLIE JEAN KING IS ONE OF AMERICA’S MOST ICONIC SPORTS FIGURES – SHE’S WON COUNTLESS GRAND SLAM TITLES, INCLUDING A RECORD 20 WIMBLEDON CHAMPIONSHIPS – MAKING HER ONE OF THE MOST DOMINANT PLAYERS IN THE HISTORY OF PROFESSIONAL TENNIS.
BUT ONE VICTORY STANDS OUT ABOVE ALL THE REST.

IT WAS A CIRCUS-LIKE ATMOSPHERE ON SEPTEMBER 20TH, 1973, WHEN THE ENTIRE NATION TUNED IN TO WATCH BILLIE JEAN FACE OFF AGAINST BOBBY RIGGS. THE MATCH WAS A WATERSHED MOMENT IN THE FIGHT FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS, KNOWN AS THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES.

SOT: She is at match point! It is over! Bobby wins!

SOT: Equality for women!

BILLIE JEAN KING: I knew this match was about social change. But what it did for women, it helped their self-esteem.

GATES: Mhm.

BILLIE JEAN KING:  and men have come up to me with tears in their eyes, and they’ll say to me, that match changed my life. I was 15, I was 18, I was 12 and now I have a daughter, and I want my daughters to have equal opportunity.

GATES: Mhm.

BILLIE JEAN KING: Tennis became a platform.

GATES: Mhm.

BILLIE JEAN KING: for me to try to change things.

GATES VO: BILLIE JEAN GREW UP IN SUNNY LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA. SPORTS WERE THE LIFEBLOOD OF HER FAMILY. HER MOTHER, BETTY JERMAN, WAS A SWIMMER. HER FATHER, BILL MOFFIT, WAS A COLLEGE BASKETBALL STAR. AND HER FATHER MADE SURE THAT BILLIE JEAN LEARNED THE IMPORTANCE OF DETERMINATION.

BILLIE JEAN KING: You know Like I go: Dad, Mom, you know I want to play tennis, you know, I really wanna do this and he goes, well, what does it take? And I said, well, it takes a racquet, Daddy. Let’s go get a racquet, and he goes no. He says do you really want to play, and I go yes, and he goes, okay, find a way to get your first racquet. I’m like what? So I’d go around the neighbors and they’d give me all these jobs, and they’d help me out with quarters, and finally, [I] had eight or nine dollars in a Mason jar, and I just went out and got my first racquet. I used to sleep with my racquet. Oh, I mean, I was totally, totally into it.

GATES VO: WHILE HER PARENTS DID EVERYTHING THEY COULD TO SUPPORT BILLIE JEAN’S PASSION–THEY WERE LESS HELPFUL SATISFYING HER CURIOUSITY ABOUT HER FAMILY’S PAST.

BILLIE JEAN KING: I always felt like I had to drag things out of my…both sides.

GATES: Um hmm.

BILLIE JEAN KING: Just drag any little, itsy, bitsy piece of information.

GATES: Were there stories people didn’t want to talk about?

BILLIE JEAN KING: I think so.

GATES: Mhm.

BILLIE JEAN KING: That’s what I felt.

GATES VO: THE NAME DEREK JETER IS SYNONYMOUS WITH WINNING. HE’S LED THE NEW YORK YANKEES TO FIVE WORLD SERIES TITLES–ASSURING HIS PLACE AS ONE OF THE GREATEST PLAYERS IN BASEBALL HISTORY.

FOR DEREK, BEING A SHORTSTOP FOR THE YANKEES IS A CHILDHOOD DREAM COME TRUE.

JETER: Baseball was something that I chose to do because I saw my dad do it. I wanted to play shortstop because my dad was a shortstop. My grandmother was a big Yankee fan, and every night, she’d be watching the Yankee game so I’d sit there next to her and watch and that was it. I was just going to be shortstop for the New York Yankees, and it was just a matter of fact for me.

GATES VO: WHEN DEREK WAS GROWING UP IN KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN, HIS CONVICTION THAT HE WAS DESTINED TO BECOME A YANKEE OFTEN DREW RIDICULE FROM FRIENDS AND TEACHERS.

BUT HIS PARENTS NEVER WAVERED IN THEIR SUPPORT.

JETER: My parents were always there. I always had at least one of my parents at all of my sporting events. Even today, you know, when they come to the games, I always know where they are.

GATES:  Ah that’s sweet, man.

JETER:  I don’t know if it’s a comfort thing but I always know where my parents are.

GATES VO: DEREK’S FATHER, CHARLES JETER, IS AFRICAN-AMERICAN AND HIS MOTHER, DOROTHY CONNORS, IS OF IRISH DESCENT. IT WASN’T EASY BEING THE CHILD OF A MIXED MARRIAGE. WHEN DEREK WAS YOUNG, HE OFTEN HAD TO FACE UNWANTED ATTENTION.

JETER: You know back in the day, yeah you’d get some second glances, people trying to figure out what the dynamic is there. And if you go somewhere with both of them, obviously you get some stares.

GATES: Mhm.

JETER: My parents tried to explain to us that it’s just people’s ignorance they’re not used to seeing it.

GATES: Did your parents take any flack?

JETER: I think when you’re a young child, I think your parents don’t necessarily tell you how difficult it was…

GATES: Yeah.

JETER: …on them. So, you know, a lot of their troubles that they went through, I’m sure they sheltered us from it.

GATES:  So when people come up to you and say, you know, “What are you?” what do you say?

JETER:  Black and Irish…

GATES: Black and Irish, that’s what you say?

JETER: Yeah, that’s, that’s what I believe I am but I don’t know much about my history.

SOT: You can’t defend that!

GATES VO: REBECCA LOBO IS ONE OF THE GREATEST PLAYERS IN THE HISTORY OF WOMEN’S BASKETBALL.

IN 1995, SHE LED AN UNDEFEATED UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT TEAM TO A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP… AND IN 1996 SHE HELPED BRING HOME THE GOLD AT THE SUMMER OLYMPICS.

AS ONE OF THE ORIGINAL STARS OF THE WNBA, HER TALENT WAS ESSENTIAL TO ESTABLISHING THE LEAGUE. THERE WAS NEVER ANY DOUBT THAT SHE WOULD BE INDUCTED INTO THE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME.

BUT THE FAMILY GENES THAT HELPED MAKE HER A DOMINATING PRESENCE ON THE COURT AT TIMES MADE FOR A DIFFICULT CHILDHOOD.

LOBO: In eighth grade, I was already 6’2”. I was taller than all the boys…You know, it was hard going to school dances, and no boy’s going to ask the really tall girl to dance.

GATES: Yeah.

LOBO: But on the basketball court, being tall gave me an advantage, and it made me better. So I think that was one of the reasons that I loved it so much.

GATES VO: REBECCA INHERITED HER HEIGHT FROM BOTH HER MOTHER AND FATHER – RUTHANN MCLAUGHLIN AND DENNIS LOBO.

BUT HER PARENTS GAVE HER AN EVEN MORE IMPORTANT GIFT: FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, THEY LOVED AND ACCEPTED REBECCA FOR WHO SHE WAS–AND THEY DID EVERYTHING THEY COULD TO HELP HER PURSUE HER DREAM.

LOBO: When I was in fourth…third or fourth grade, only two girls signed up to play, you know, it wasn’t that popular at that time. You know they called and said we’re sorry. There’s not a girls’ team. My mom said, well, you just have to let Rebecca play on the boys’ team then.

GATES: Wow. That’s great.

LOBO: And we go down for the first practice, and she said you treat her exactly the same way you treat all the boys, except when you go shirts and skins, she’s on the shirts team. (laughs)

GATES: That’s great.

LOBO: You know, my mom was never the person who said, uh, why don’t you wear more dresses? Why don’t you do more girl things? She was all about supporting me in what I loved to do, which was play sports.

GATES VO: REBECCA’S FAMILY IS TRULY A EUROPEAN MELTING POT. HER FATHER TRACES HIS ROOTS BACK TO SPAIN AND POLAND, WHILE HER MOTHER COMES FROM IRISH AND GERMAN STOCK.

GATES: Do you ever wonder if you inherited your basketball skills or your determination from your ancestors?

LOBO: Yeah, of course. You know, part of it is, you know, where did our height come from?

GATES: Mhm.

LOBO: Um, but some of it would be, you know…especially when I watched my mom try to play basketball with us. I’m like, oh, I did not inherit my athletic ability from her.(laughs)

GATES: (laughs) Yeah.

LOBO: But her mother was a great athlete. Um, so yeah, how much of that, um, does get passed down is an interesting question.

GATES VO: BILLIE JEAN, DEREK, AND REBECCA OWE MUCH OF THEIR SUCCESS TO THEIR PARENTS – BUT BEYOND THEIR CLOSEST RELATIVES, THEY KNOW VERY LITTLE ABOUT THEIR ANCESTORS. I WANTED TO SEE IF THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF THEIR FAMILIES MIGHT OFFER AN EVEN DEEPER EXPLANATION AS TO HOW THEY ACHIEVED SUCH PHENOMENAL ATHLETIC SUCCESS.

I BEGAN WITH BILLIE JEAN KING.

HER FATHER HELPED NURTURE THE SKILLS THAT MADE BILLIE JEAN A SUPERSTAR. BUT SHE TOLD ME SHE KNEW ALMOST NOTHING ABOUT HIS FAMILY. SHE WAS ESPECIALLY EAGER TO LEARN ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF HIS MOTHER: BILLIE JEAN’S GRANDMOTHER, BLANCHE LEIGHTON–WHO SHE HAD GROWN UP CALLING “GAMMIE.”
             
GAMMIE ORIGINALLY CAME FROM BOSTON. BUT SHE NEVER ANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT HER PAST. GAMMIE WAS ADOPTED AT A YOUNG AGE. AND IT WAS CLEAR TO BILLIE JEAN THAT HER GRANDMOTHER WAS GUARDING A PAINFUL SECRET.

GATES: Did she ever talk about her birth parents? Or what she knew about them?

BILLIE JEAN KING: No. She didn’t want to tell me, I think she felt ashamed of her birth or something. I’m not, I couldn’t – you know what, I’m guessing.

GATES: Uh huh.

BILLIE JEAN KING: I don’t know.

GATES VO: UNCOVERING GAMMIE’S BIOLOGICAL PARENTS WAS GOING TO BE A CHALLENGE. THE NAME THAT GAMMIE HAD GONE BY–BLANCHE LEIGHTON–WAS NOT HER BIRTH NAME, IT WAS HER ADOPTED NAME.

ADOPTIONS AREN’T PART OF THE PUBLIC RECORD. SO OUR SEARCH QUICKLY HIT A WALL.

THEN WE GOT LUCKY.

WE REACHED OUT TO BILLIE JEAN’S EXTENDED FAMILY–AND LEARNED FROM HER AUNT THAT THERE WAS AN OLD FAMILY BIBLE.

INSIDE WAS A CAREFULLY RECORDED GENEALOGY—AND IT TURNED OUT TO BE ONE OF THE KEYS TO SOLVING OUR MYSTERY.

ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE GAMMIE’S BIRTH NAME WAS HAZEL CAMPBELL…

BILLIE JEAN KING: Gammie’s birth name was Hazel Campbell. This is fantastic.

GATES: Gammie was born Hazel Campbell.

BILLIE JEAN KING: I had no idea about any of this… This is from a Bible? We have a family Bible?

GATES: Um hmm.

BILLIE JEAN KING: That I didn’t even know.

GATES VO: NOW THAT WE KNEW GAMMIE WAS BORN HAZEL CAMPBELL, WE COULD SEARCH FOR HER BIRTH RECORD AND THE SECRET THAT HAD ALWAYS HAUNTED HER.

WE POURED OVER BIRTH RECORDS FOR 1897–THE YEAR THAT GAMMIE WAS BORN — AND WE FOUND SOMETHING UNUSUAL: A BABY BORN IN BOSTON WITH NO FIRST NAME BUT TWO LAST NAMES: CAMPBELL AND LEIGHTON.

CAMPBELL WAS GAMMIE’S BIRTH NAME AND LEIGHTON WAS GAMMIE’S ADOPTED NAME.

BILLIE JEAN KING: Surname, Leighton/Campbell. Name, nothing. What?

GATES: Everything…everything here lines up with what we know about Gammie. 1897 is the year she was born. Leighton is the name of her adoptive parents and Campbell is her birth name.

BILLIE JEAN KING: Right.

GATES: So even though no first name is given here for the newborn child, we know that you are looking at your grandmother Gammie’s birth record.

BILLIE JEAN KING: That’s amazing.

GATES VO: THIS BIRTH REGISTRY HELD A KEY PIECE OF INFORMATION: THE NAME OF GAMMIE’S BIRTH MOTHER: ELIZABETH.

WHICH WOULD MEAN THAT ELIZABETH WAS BILLIE JEAN’S GREAT-GRANDMOTHER.

BUT THE COLUMN WHERE THE NAME OF GAMMIE’S FATHER SHOULD HAVE BEEN WAS EMPTY.

AND AS WE LOOKED CLOSER, WE NOTICED SOMETHING ODD ABOUT THE ADDRESS WHERE GAMMIE WAS BORN.

BILLIE JEAN KING: Place of birth, 206 West Brookline Street, Boston.

GATES: …do you see just how many babies were born at that address in 1897?

BILLIE JEAN KING: All these, you mean?

GATES: Yeah.

BILLIE JEAN KING: All these?

GATES: How many of those babies have a father? Look it…name of father. See that column? It’s…

BILLIE JEAN KING: Whoa.

GATES: Almost no fathers’ names are listed there.

BILLIE JEAN KING: What’s going on?

GATES VO: IT WAS A PUZZLING DOCUMENT—IT LISTED DOZENS OF FATHERLESS CHILDREN, ALL BORN AT A SINGLE BOSTON ADDRESS: 206 WEST BROOKLINE STREET… WE NEEDED TO FIND OUT WHAT WAS HAPPENING THERE.

SO WE COMBED THROUGH ARCHIVE AFTER ARCHIVE… UNTIL WE FINALLY CAME UPON AN AD IN A NEWSPAPER THAT TOLD US EXACTLY WHY SO MANY BABIES WERE BORN AT THIS ADDRESS.

GATES: This is an advertisement that was placed in the Boston Evening Transcript in 1912…

BILLIE JEAN KING: Talitha Cumi Maternity Home. It’s a home and hospital with a message of compassion and hope for girls who are facing unmarried motherhood.

GATES: Your grandmother, Gammie, was born in a home for unwed girls, the Talitha Cumi Maternity Home.

BILLIE JEAN KING: That makes sense. No wonder she didn’t want to talk. I can feel my grandmother not wanting to say, well, I was born out of wedlock. She couldn’t say it.

GATES: Gammie’s mother, Elizabeth was 18 years old at the time.

BILLIE JEAN KING: I would think she’s still wondering what happened to her child.

GATES: Oh, yeah.

BILLIE JEAN KING: I mean, if I… that’s what I would be thinking. What happened to my baby?

GATES: …and I’m sure the baby, Gammie, was thinking about her.

BILLIE JEAN KING: Probably. I could tell she was like…had a lot of unanswered questions.

GATES VO: WE WANTED TO SEE, IF WE COULD FINALLY ANSWER SOME OF THOSE QUESTIONS – SO WE CONTINUED TO TRACE THE STORY OF GAMMIE’S MOTHER: ELIZABETH.

CENSUS RECORDS TOLD US THAT AFTER GIVING UP HER DAUGHTER ELIZABETH LIVED WITH HER PARENTS UNTIL SHE WAS IN HER THIRTIES. PERHAPS BECAUSE SHE HAD GIVEN BIRTH TO A CHILD OUT OF WEDLOCK, SHE FELT ASHAMED.

THEN WE FOUND A MARRIAGE RECORD WHICH SHOWED THAT IN 1914 – SEVENTEEN YEARS AFTER GAMMIE WAS BORN–ELIZABETH FINALLY MARRIED. SHE NEVER HAD ANOTHER CHILD, BUT SHE SETTLED INTO A LIFE AS A HOMEMAKER OUTSIDE OF BOSTON.

AND WE DISCOVERED SOMETHING THAT I KNEW BILLIE JEAN WOULD WANT TO SEE…

GATES: Take a look at this lady. Guess who that is?

BILLIE JEAN KING: Is that my…Gammie’s mother?

GATES: That is Elizabeth Campbell.

BILLIE JEAN KING: How’d you find that? Wow. That’s excellent. This is great. This is wonderful.

GATES: What’s it like to see the face of your grandmother’s mother? The mystery person on your family tree?

BILLIE JEAN KING: It’s great to see her face, her expression.  It feels good.  It feels connective.   

GATES VO: LIKE BILLIE JEAN, DEREK JETER HAD QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS FATHER’S SIDE OF THE FAMILY. THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN SIDE.

ONE ANCESTOR ON THE JETER LINE HAD ALWAYS REMAINED AN ENIGMA: DEREK’S GREAT-GREAT GRANDFATHER GREEN JETER.  

ACCORDING TO FAMILY LEGEND, GREEN WAS A PROMINENT FIGURE IN HIS HOMETOWN IN ALABAMA.

BUT DEREK HAD NO IDEA WHO GREEN REALLY WAS.

JETER:  Wow. This is Green?

GATES: That’s Green.

JETER:  Green was smooth, man.

GATES:  He was smooth.

JETER:  Look at Green.

GATES: That’s your great-great-grandfather, Green W. Jeter.  Born in Coosa County, Alabama in May of 1844.  

JETER: Wow.

GATES: That’s 17 years before the Civil War started.

JETER: Man.

GATES: He’s a bad looking brother.

JETER: Green’s doing all right.

GATES: I wouldn’t mind having a coat like that myself.

JETER: Yeah, I was just thinking about the same thing, told you, he’s smooth.

GATES: Now Derek, this is a photograph of a plaque on a church in Wetumpka, Alabama. Can you please read what we transcribed for you?

JETER:  Mount Zion Baptist Church, organized 1872, Reverend Green Jeter.

GATES:  That church, was founded by your great-great-grandfather, Green W. Jeter, founded in 1872, and Derek, it’s still there today.

JETER:  Is that right?

GATES: Yeah.

JETER: Wow.

GATES:  Did you have any idea that one of your ancestors was a minister?

JETER:  No. No, no, no. Wow.

GATES VO: GREEN’S CHURCH WAS ONE OF THE FIRST BLACK HOUSES OF WORSHIP IN WETUMPKA, AND IT WAS A GATHERING PLACE FOR AFRICAN-AMERICANS WHO WERE RECENTLY RELEASED FROM SLAVERY FOLLOWING THE CIVIL WAR, AND NOW STRUGGLING TO BUILD NEW LIVES AS FREE WOMEN AND MEN.

WE WONDERED HOW GREEN ROSE TO SUCH A HIGH SOCIAL STANDING IN THE FEW SHORT YEARS AFTER THE CIVIL WAR. BUT UNCOVERING GREEN’S ORIGINS WOULDN’T BE EASY. WHEN GREEN WAS BORN, AFRICAN-AMERICANS WERE NAMELESS BEFORE THE LAW. THEY WERE RECORDED AS PROPERTY, NOT AS PEOPLE.

OUR ONLY CHANCE TO FIND GREEN WAS TO IDENTIFY THE MAN WHO OWNED HIM. MANY SLAVES TOOK THE LAST NAME OF THEIR SLAVE OWNERS SO WE STARTED OUR SEARCH WITH THE JETER SURNAME.

AND WHEN WE DELVED INTO COUNTY RECORDS WE MADE A VERY EXCITING DISCOVERY.

GATES: Now, Derek, brace yourself. This is Last Will and Testament of an Alabama slave owner named James W. Jeter. Would you mind reading the transcribed section?

JETER:  “It is my will and desire that the following named negro slaves…Charity, a woman and her six children, Green, Lewis, Laura, Hilliard, Maria and Francis and Phoebe be equally divided between my children by my first wife.”

GATES: Do you recognize any of those names?

JETER: Green.

GATES:  Derek, that is your great-great-grandfather Green, and he was owned by James W. Jeter. We have found the slave master who owned the slaves in your family line.

JETER:  Wow. So that’s how he got the name.

GATES: That is the point of origin of the Jeter identity on your family tree.

JETER:  That’s unbelievable, to think that Jeter name just came from a slave owner.

GATES: That means Charity, being Green’s mother is your third great grandmother.

JETER:  Wow.

GATES: So already we’ve found two generations of slaves by name on your family tree and the white man who owned them.

JETER: … and their original Jeter.

GATES:  The source of your name.

JETER: The source of the name, James W. Jeter.

GATES VO: SINCE WE NOW KNEW THE NAME OF THE MAN WHO OWNED GREEN, WE COULD BEGIN TO DIG EVEN DEEPER – AND TRY TO LEARN MORE ABOUT GREEN AND HIS FAMILY.

WE EXAMINED THE LIST OF SLAVES JAMES JETER OWNED IN 1850. AT THE TIME GREEN WAS JUST SIX YEARS OLD. THE 21 YEAR OLD FEMALE LISTED RIGHT ABOVE GREEN WAS CLEARLY HIS MOTHER CHARITY.  BUT THERE WAS NO WAY THAT WE COULD DETERMINE FROM THIS DOCUMENT THE IDENTITY OF HIS FATHER.

TO TRY TO FIND GREEN’S FATHER WE TURNED TO THE 1870 CENSUS, THE FIRST CENSUS IN WHICH ALL AFRICAN AMERICANS WERE RECORDED BY NAME. THAT’S WHEN WE FOUND A VERY IMPORTANT CLUE… IT TURNS OUT THAT DEREK AND GREEN HAD MORE IN COMMON THAN JUST THEIR LAST NAMES …

GATES: Now look at the center column designating sex and race, what does it say at the bottom?

JETER:  M, M.

GATES: The first M means male, and the second, a mulatto so Green Jeter, your ancestor was a mixed. So Derek, that means you’re not the only mixed person on your family tree. Your second great-grandfather was a mixed too.

JETER:  Got it, wow.

GATES VO: THE FACT THAT GREEN WAS LISTED AS A MULATTO SUGGESTED THAT HIS MYSTERIOUS FATHER MAY ACTUALLY HAVE BEEN A WHITE MAN.

AND WHEN WE EXAMINED THIS RECORD MORE CLOSELY, WE NOTICED THAT GREEN HAD OVER $200 IN PERSONAL PROPERTY JUST FIVE YEARS AFTER HIS ENSLAVEMENT ENDED.

IT MAY NOT SOUND LIKE MUCH–BUT THAT’S ABOUT $4,000 TODAY. AND FOR AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN WHO HAD ONLY RECENTLY GAINED HIS FREEDOM, IT WAS AN EXTRAORDINARY AMOUNT OF MONEY.

THAT SUGGESTED ONLY ONE THING.

GATES: The records suggest that Green’s father, your real 3rd great-grandfather, could have been a white man, possibly his master, James W. Jeter.

JETER: Man, so actually the name who I thought was just coming from the slave owner and really had no ties, but now, you’re saying James and… James and Charity.

GATES: There’s something else that’s even more conclusive. Green built his church on Jeter family land.

JETER:  That’s unbelievable.

GATES:  He was given the land that used to be part of the plantation.

JETER: Wow, by his father.

GATES VO: MANY SLAVE MASTERS FATHERED CHILDREN WITH THEIR SLAVES. IN FACT, EVERY ONE OF MY AFRICAN AMERICAN GUESTS HAS HAD SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF EUROPEAN ANCESTRY. IT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW FOR SURE THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THESE CHILDREN WERE CONCEIVED, BUT RAPE WAS COMMON.

GATES:  What do you think the relationship between your 3rd great-grandparents was, the slave owner and the slave, Charity?

JETER: it was not consensual, I would guess.

GATES: … but on the other hand, he obviously, he took care of his son.

JETER:  Very true, very true so I’d like to think it was a good relationship, how about that?

GATES:  Yeah, I hope so too.

JETER: … or as good as it could be.

GATES:  As good as it could be.

GATES VO: WE HAD UNVEILED DEREK’S LONG LOST PAST– BRIDGING A DIVIDE THAT SEPARATES ALL TOO MANY AFRICAN-AMERICANS FROM THEIR ENSLAVED ANCESTORS. TRACING REBECCA LOBO’S FAMILY POSED A DIFFERENT KIND OF CHALLENGE. HER ANCESTOR’S HISTORY HAD BEEN OBSCURED BY A VAST OCEAN.

REBECCA HAS ALWAYS IDENTIFIED FIRST AND FOREMOST WITH HER HISPANIC ROOTS ON HER FATHER’S SIDE OF THE FAMILY. SHE KNEW THEY HER PATERNAL ANCESTORYS TRACED BACK TO SPAIN, BUT SHE KNEW VERY LITTLE ABOUT THEM. SHE WANTED TO LEARN AS MUCH AS SHE COULD ABOUT HER GREAT-GRANDMOTHER, A WOMAN NAMED EMILIA GUTIERREZ.

EMILIA DIED BEFORE REBECCA WAS BORN. BUT REBECCA GREW UP HEARING STORIES ABOUT HER GREAT-GRANDMOTHER–AN IMPOSING WOMAN WHO LOVED HER FAMILY DEEPLY.

GATES: What did you hear about your great-grandmother’s origins?

LOBO: I did not hear a lot. I remember being told she was tall.

GATES: (laughs) There you go.

LOBO: But in terms of her origins, I don’t remember hearing very, very much.

GATES VO: EMILIA AND HER PARENTS WERE SPANISH. BUT ACCORDING TO FAMILY LORE, EMILIA HAD BEEN BORN IN TANGIER, MOROCCO. HOW EMILIA AND HER FAMILY ENDED UP THERE WAS A MYSTERY.

IT TURNS OUT THAT IN THE LATE 19TH CENTURY, TANGIER WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN AN UNUSUAL PLACE FOR A SPANISH FAMILY TO SETTLE. IT WAS AN INTERNATIONAL CROSSROADS WHERE OPEN AIR MARKETS OVERFLOWED WITH ARABS, THE FRENCH, AND WITH SPANIARDS.  

THE SPANISH EVEN HAD THEIR OWN CHURCH IN TANGIER WHEN EMILIA WAS BORN.

FOR CENTURIES, SPANISH PRIESTS HAVE METICULOUSLY RECORDED THE NAMES OF FAMILIES ON BAPTISM RECORDS.

WE WONDERED IF THIS CHURCH COULD HELP SOLVE THE MYSTERY SURROUNDING EMILIA’S FAMILY. WHEN WE PEERED INTO THE CHURCH’S ARCHIVES, WE FOUND A KEY DOCUMENT.

GATES: This is the actual baptismal record of your great-grandmother dated February 6, 1891 from the Catholic Church of the First Conception in Tangier, Morocco.

LOBO: Amazing.

GATES: Would you please read the transcribed section?

LOBO: Born on this day of the 27th of January at six in the morning, she was given the name of Maria Emilia. She is the daughter of Antonio Gutierrez of Cadiz and of Catalina Roca of Gibraltar. 01:28:35:18

GATES: Now for a genealogist, this document is a gold mine of information.

LOBO: Oh my gosh.

GATES: …because it tells us the names of your great-great-grandparents, Antonio Gutierrez from Cadiz and of Catalina Roca from Gibraltar.

LOBO: Good thing these Catholics cared so much about writing down the lineage.

GATES: Yeah, it’s a good thing your people went to church.

LOBO: You know? Good for them. (laughs)

GATES: Good for them.

GATES VO: THANKS TO EMILIA’S BAPTISM RECORD, WE NOW KNEW EMILIA’S FATHER ANTONIO CAME FROM THE PROVINCE OF CADIZ IN SOUTHERN SPAIN… UNFORTUNATELY, THE ARCHIVES KEPT BACK IN CADIZ HAD BEEN DESTROYED–WIPING OUT ANY TRACE OF REBECCA’S GREAT-GREAT GRANDFATHER.

IT SEEMED LIKE WE’D HIT A DEAD END.

BUT THEN ONE OF REBECCA’S COUSINS SHOWED US A FAMILY HEIRLOOM–A DIARY THAT EMILIA HERSELF HAD KEPT OVER HALF A CENTURY AGO.

IT WAS A GOLDMINE OF INFORMATION.  

GATES: Did you know your great-grandmother kept a diary?

LOBO: No, I didn’t know that, and I didn’t know that somebody had access to that diary.

GATES: Yeah.

LOBO: I mean, it’s just amazing to see her handwriting.

GATES VO: IN THIS DIARY, EMILIA WROTE PAGES AND PAGES ABOUT HER FATHER ANTONIO’S LIFE BACK IN SPAIN. WE POURED THROUGH IT – LOOKING FOR ANYTHING THAT MIGHT HELP US UNDERSTAND HOW EMILIA’S FATHER ENDED UP IN MOROCCO. BURIED INSIDE, WE FOUND A TANTALIZING CLUE.

LOBO: Father was a free-loving one. He had done his share of giving Spain its first republic, which lasted but six months. He had to leave his native country because of his way of thinking.

GATES: Now do you know about this? The First Republic of Spain?

LOBO: No, I do not know. Anything about that.

GATES VO: THE STORY OF THE FIRST SPANISH REPUBLIC IS NOT VERY WELL KNOWN. BUT IT WAS A DRAMATIC MOMENT IN SPANISH HISTORY.

IN 1873, WHEN REBECCA’S GREAT-GREAT GRANDFATHER ANTONIO WAS 24 YEARS OLD, DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTIONARIES BRIEFLY OVERTHREW THE SPANISH MONARCHY. ACCORDING TO EMELIA’S DIARY ANTONIO FOUGHT WITH THE REBELS.

WE LEARNED THAT IN ANTONIO’S HOME PROVINCE OF CADIZ THE REVOLT WAS LED BY A BRASH, CHARISMATIC FIGURE NAMED FERMIN SALVOCHEA. AFTER THE REVOLUTION FAILED, SALVOCHEA FLED TO MOROCCO, AND ENDED UP IN THE SAME CITY IN WHICH EMELIA WAS BORN. COULD THERE BE A CONNECTION? MIGHT EMELIA’S FATHER ANTONIO HAVE ESCAPED TO MOROCCO WITH THIS FAMOUS REVOLUTIONARY?  

IN SEARCH OF ANSWERS, WE DUG DEEPER INTO EMELIA’S WRITINGS.

GATES: Now, Rebecca, this is an undated letter that your great-grandmother, Emilia, wrote to your grandfather.

LOBO: Your grandfather, Antonio, and his friend had to leave in a little sailboat dressed as priests. This man, Mr. Salvochea, put me to sleep in his arms many times when I was a baby. Remember, you are a seed of that republic.

GATES: You are a seed of that republic.      

LOBO: That’s amazing.

GATES: Isn’t that amazing? Sounds like Emilia was a revolutionary, you know?

LOBO: Yeah, and a bit of a writer, too. I mean, how about that?

GATES: I mean, she wrote this letter to her son to tell him about…

LOBO: Don’t forget where you’re from.

GATES VO: WE HAD MADE GREAT STRIDES IN HELPING BILLIE JEAN, DEREK, AND REBECCA DISCOVER WHERE THEY COME FROM.

BUT EACH OF THEM WAS EAGER TO LEARN MORE–AND THEY WERE ESPECIALLY CURIOUS ABOUT WHEN THEIR FAMILIES FIRST ARRIVED IN AMERICA… SO WE KEPT FOLLOWING THE PAPER TRAIL.

WE HAD UNCOVERED THE IDENTITY OF ELIZABETH CAMPBELL, BILLIE JEAN’S GREAT-GRANDMOTHER ON HER FATHER’S SIDE. NOW, WE TRIED TO TRACE THE CAMPBELL LINE ALL THE WAY BACK TO BILLIE JEAN’S ORIGINAL IMMIGRANT ANCESTORS.

BILLIE JEAN KING: I don’t know how many generations I’ve been here. I have no idea. I want to know when they…how they got here.

GATES VO: ACCORDING TO CENSUS RECORDS, BILLIE JEAN’S GREAT-GRANDMOTHER ELIZABETH HAD ACTUALLY BEEN BORN IN MAINE. SO THAT’S WHERE WE STARTED OUR SEARCHED FOR HER FAMILY.

GATES: This is the 1860 Census for Lewiston, Maine, a year before the Civil War breaks out.

BILLIE JEAN KING: (laughs) Ahhh! This is Duncan Campbell, age 46, um, and then Duncan Campbell, Jr., age 18,

GATES: That is your great-great-grandfather, Duncan Campbell, Jr., and that is his father, Duncan Campbell, Sr.

BILLIE JEAN KING: That’s fantastic. It’s just amazing.

GATES VO: IN THE 1860S BILLIE JEAN’S ANCESTORS WERE HARD AT WORK IN LEWISTON’S TEXTILE MILLS, SPENDING TWELVE HOURS A DAY CHURNING OUT THE WOOL COATS NEEDED TO CLOTHE AMERICA’S EXPANDING POPULATION. AT THE TIME, LEWISTON WAS A BOOM TOWN. THOUSANDS OF IMMIGRANTS WERE DRAWN TO THE ABUNDANT JOBS IN THE CITY’S FACTORIES.

WE WONDERED IF DUNCAN CAMPBELL JR. AND SR. WERE AMONG THOSE IMMIGRANTS WHO CROSSED THE ATLANTIC TO FIND WORK IN THE MILLS. THAT’S WHEN WE DISCOVERED AN APPLICATION FOR AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP THAT FINALLY TOLD US WHAT BILLIE JEAN HAD LONG BEEN DYING TO KNOW.  

BILLIE JEAN KING: Oh here we go! Country of birth or allegiance: Killbride… Scotland.

GATES: Scotland.

BILLIE JEAN KING: Wow.

GATES: Yeah.

BILLIE JEAN KING: The real deal.

GATES: The real deal. Duncan Campbell, Jr. and Senior are your original immigrant ancestors on your grandmother’s line.

BILLIE JEAN KING: I just…I think it’s fantastic. It’s like coming back to where everything started in some ways. That’s why I’m an American because of these beauties, coming over here and making the effort and…They must have been, I wonder how scared they must have been.

BILLIE JEAN KING: There’s got to be reasons that life wasn’t right at home, and…or they thought it would be better someplace else. What motivates somebody to make that change, to have the courage or stupidity…whatever way it works out… (laughs) to go for it.

GATES VO: I WONDER HOW BILLIE JEAN’S ANCESTOR HAD THE COURAGE TO -TO UPROOT HIMSELF FROM EVERYTHING HE KNEW, AND TRUST THAT HE WOULD FIND HIS WAY SOMEHOW IN A STRANGE LAND.

AT ITS CORE, THE STORY OF AMERICA IS A PATCHWORK OF STORIES LIKE THESE, STORIES OF ANCESTORS WHO HAD THE COURAGE TO STRIKE OUT INTO THE UNKNOWN.

REBECCA LOBO’S ANCESTORS HAD THAT SAME COURAGE.

WE HAD ALREADY UNEARTHED HER GREAT-GRANDMOTHER EMILIA’S SURPRISING REVOLUTIONARY PAST, TRACING TO HER TO MORROCO IN 1891.

NOW WE DISCOVERED THAT BY OCTOBER 12TH, 1896 EMILIA AND HER FAMILY WERE PEEKING THROUGH THE RAILS FROM THE TOP DECK OF A STEAMER AS IT SAILED PAST THE STATUE OF LIBERTY TOWARD ELLIS ISLAND.

GATES: This is a passenger record, listing all the people who entered the Port of New York on October 12, 1896.

LOBO: Arriving from Gibraltar, Antonio Gutierrez, 47 years, married. Catalina, 37 years, his wife. Gironoma, 14 years, daughter. Antonio, 10 years, son. Emilia, five years, daughter. So they came in through New York.

GATES: That’s the moment that this part of your family entered the United States. October 12th 1896. And your great-grandmother Amelia was just years old.

LOBO: That’s unbelievable.  The day [she] stepped foot in [America]. When you talk about sometimes your ancestors, you might have a picture of them in your brain, but you don’t think about their journey and how they got here.

GATES VO: AROUND THE TURN OF THE CENTURY, THE UNITED STATES WAS FLOODED BY A WAVE OF IMMIGRANTS IN NUMBERS ALMOST UNPARALLELED IN RECENT HUMAN HISTORY.

SOME 10 MILLION PEOPLE FOUND SAFE HAVEN AND HOPE ON AMERICAN SHORES. JEWISH PEOPLE FROM EASTERN EUROPE, ITALIANS, AUSTRIANS, HUNGARIANS, POLES, ALL OF THEM DRAWN IN SPITE OF THEIR FEARS BY THE PROMISE OF AMERICA: FREEDOM AND OPPORTUNITY.

BUT IT TURNS OUT THAT REBECCA’S FAMILY DIDN’T ORIGINALLY INTEND TO COME TO THIS COUNTRY.

BURROWING THROUGH THE PAGES OF EMILIA’S HANDWRITTEN DIARY, WE DISCOVERED THAT REBECCA’S ANCESTORS ARRIVED IN AMERICA QUITE BY ACCIDENT.

LOBO: After 20 years in Tangier, my parents made a decision to leave for South America, but when we arrived at Gibraltar, the steamer we were supposed to leave on had left, so right then, they decided to take the steamer that was going to leave in a few hours for North America. (laughs)

GATES: (laughs)

LOBO: Father said to Mother, “Kitty, we are going to the country we do not know, but I have heard it is the land of opportunity.” That is unbelievable.

GATES: (laughs) The boat was…that they missed was going to Argentina.

LOBO: That’s unbelievable.

GATES: (laughs) And her father said I don’t know about you, I’m out of here. (laughs)

LOBO: They’re not staying any longer.

GATES: New York’s fine.

LOBO: The land of opportunity, all right, right?

GATES: I think it’s a remarkable story.

LOBO: It’s amazing. It’s amazing. Any little misstep along the way, and I wouldn’t be here.

GATES VO: IT’S ALWAYS HUMBLING TO DISCOVER HOW OUR ANCESTOR’S CHOICES LAID THE GROUNDWORK FOR THE LIVES WE TAKE FOR GRANTED.

ACTIONS BOTH LARGE AND SMALL CAN HAVE A TREMENDOUS RIPPLE EFFECT ON FAMILY HISTORY–SHAPING THE LIVES OF GENERATIONS TO COME.

DEREK JETER’S FAMILY TREE WAS SHAPED BY TWO VERY DIFFERENT EVENTS. HIS AFRICAN ANCESTORS, OF COURSE, DIDN’T COME TO THIS COUNTRY BY CHOICE. THEY WERE BROUGHT AS CARGO, SHACKLED IN THE HALLS OF SLAVESHIPS – A JOURNEY THAT ERASED ALL NAMES, FAMILY TREES LOST TO HISTORY.

EVEN ON HIS MOTHER’S SIDE, DEREK HAD NO IDEA WHEN HIS EUROPEAN ANCESTORS ARRIVED IN AMERICA, AND HE HAD ALWAYS BELIEVED THAT HE WAS IRISH. BUT WHEN WE TRACED HIS MOTHER’S FATHER’S LINE, WE UNCOVERED THE IMMIGRATION STORY OF DEREK’S THIRD GREAT-GRANDFATHER: A MAN NAMED WILLIAM PIERCE. AND ALTHOUGH HE WOULD MARRY AN IRISH WOMAN, IT TURNS OUT THAT HE DIDN’T COME FROM IRELAND.

GATES:  This is an application for US Citizenship, dated October 7th, 1876. Can you please read the name of the applicant?

JETER:  William Charles Pierce.

GATES: You know who that is?

JETER: No.

GATES:  That is your 3rd great-grandfather.

JETER:  Really?

GATES:  William Charles Pierce.

JETER: Wow…

GATES:  He was born about 1840 in Manchester, England.

JETER:  England?

GATES:  England.

JETER: Alright.

GATES:  That is his application to become an American citizen.

JETER:  Wow.

GATES: That’s how your English family line became Americans.

JETER: That is unbelievable.

GATES VO: LIKE MANY POOR IMMIGRANTS WHO CAME TO AMERICA IN THE MIDDLE OF 19TH CENTURY, WILLIAM PIERCE WAS FORCED TO SETTLE IN THE NOTORIOUS SLUMS OF LOWER MANHATTAN. WHERE IMMIGRANTS CRAMMED INTO DILAPIDATED TENEMENTS. PIERCE KNEW STRUGGLE, AND HE DID WHAT HE COULD TO SURVIVE.

GATES: Derek, this is an article from one of New York’s major newspapers from 1868, three years after the Civil War ended.

JETER:  “William C. Pierce, an oyster saloon keeper was tried before the Court of Special Session on a charge of keeping of a disorderly house.”

GATES:  Derek, your great-great-great-grandfather, William ran a tough and rowdy bar. We did special research to see if it was also a brothel, but it was not. It was just, it was just a rowdy bar.

JETER: (Laughs)

GATES: William would eventually abandon his saloon, and ever the entrepreneur, went on to run a furniture store in Jersey City.

JETER:  From a bar to a furniture store. So one extreme to the next, right?

GATES: (Laughs) Yeah.

GATES VO: ALTHOUGH HE HAD STARTED OUT UNDER OF CLOUD OF DISREPUTE, WILLIAM PIERCE BECAME A CLASSIC IMMIGRANT SUCCESS STORY. HIS EARNINGS ALLOWED HIM TO SET UP A HOME ON A QUIET STREET IN JERSEY CITY. HERE, HE MARRIED, AND HAD CHILDREN, LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR DEREK’S MOTHER’S SIDE OF THE FAMILY TREE.

GATES: I want to give you something. This is your whole family tree. I want you to unfurl it.

JETER:  Wow.

GATES:  That’s your family tree, brother.

JETER:  Wow, that’s a lot to digest.

GATES:  Yeah.

JETER:  This is awesome.

GATES: Now as you could see look at that we were able to trace your maternal lines all the way back to 17-century Europe to the 1600s.

JETER: That is unbelievable. You know, for years, we had a little family tree that my parents tried to put together. You really don’t know how accurate it is, but this answers a lot of questions. I’m going to frame this.

GATES VO: I HAD NOW CONNECTED ALL THREE OF MY GUESTS TO FAMILY STORIES THAT HAD BEEN LOST — AND SHOWED THEM HOW THE LIVES OF THESE UNKNOWN ANCESTORS PAVED THE WAY FOR THEIR ATHLETIC SUCCESS.

BUT THERE WERE MYSTERIES THAT COULD NOT BE UNLOCKED USING THE PAPER TRAIL ALONE.

THE LATEST ADVANCES IN DNA ANALYSIS NOW ALLOW US TO PEER INTO THE ANCESTRY HIDDEN IN OUR CHROMOSOMES. WE TURNED TO THIS POWERFUL TOOL TO HELP REBECCA LOBO TRY TO FIND HER GREAT-GRANDFATHER ON THE OTHER SIDE OF HER FATHER’S FAMILY – HIS MATERNAL SIDE.

REBECCA’S GRANDMOTHER, CATHERINE WADE, HAD BEEN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCK. AND CATHERINE’S FATHER HAD REMAINED NAMELESS FOR GENERATIONS.  

GATES:  Did your grandmother or anyone else in the family talk about Catherine’s father?

LOBO: I was led to believe that she had no idea who her biological father was.

GATES VO: TO FIND CATHERINE’S FATHER, WE BEGAN BY EXAMINING THE LIFE OF HER MOTHER, REBECCA’S GREAT-GRANDMOTHER MARY OLECH. OUR RESEARCH REVEALED THAT MARY WAS AN IMMIGRANT FROM AUSTRIA. SHE ARRIVED AT ELLIS ISLAND AT THE AGE OF 19 WITH ONLY 25 DOLLARS IN HER POCKET.

GATES: Do you know who that is?

LOBO: I don’t.

GATES: This is a photo of your great-grandmother, Mary, taken in New York City a year after Catherine was born.

LOBO: She looks like she was 15-years-old. She looks so young.

GATES: Mmm. Do you notice anything else about her garb?

LOBO: It does not look like peasant garb.

GATES: She’s wearing a fur coat. That’s the first thing that struck us, Rebecca, we said, where’d this woman get this fur coat?

LOBO: Yeah.

GATES VO: IT TURNS OUT THAT AFTER REBECCA’S GREAT-GRANDMOTHER, MARY, ARRIVED IN THE UNITED STATES, SHE FOUND A JOB AS A MAID IN THE HOME OF A WEALTHY FAMILY IN NEW YORK CITY. THAT MIGHT EXPLAIN HOW SHE CAME BY HER FANCY CLOTHES. BUT IT DIDN’T HELP US FIND THE MAN WHO FATHERED MARY’S CHILD, REBECCA’S GRANDMOTHER, CATHERINE.

IN ORDER TO DETERMINE HIS IDENTITY, WE WOULD NEED TO EXAMINE REBECCA’S DNA.

REBECCA TOOK A SERIES OF DNA TESTS THAT ALLOWED US SEE WHAT GENETIC TRACES HER MYSTERY GREAT-GRANDFATHER HAD LEFT IN HER DNA.

WE HAD ALREADY PIECED TOGETHER REBECCA’S FAMILY HISTORY USING CATHOLIC CHURCH RECORDS, BUT THE DNA RESULTS REVEALED SOMETHING QUITE UNEXPECTED.

GATES: You have 10.2 percent Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.

LOBO: Really? Wow. I did not know we had any Jewish ancestry.

GATES: I don’t think anybody in your family did.

LOBO: Wow.

GATES VO: WE ALL INHERIT ROUGHLY 12-AND-A-HALF PERCENT OF OUR DNA FROM EACH OF OUR GREAT-GRANDPARENTS. SO REBECCA’S RESULTS STRONGLY SUGGESTED THAT ONE OF HER GREAT-GRANDPARENTS WAS JEWISH. WE WANTED TO SEE IF THIS JEWISH ANCESTOR MIGHT TURN OUT TO BE HER MYSTERY GREAT-GRANDFATHER.

SO WE RAN ANOTHER TEST.

CHROMOSOME ANALYSIS REVEALED THAT REBECCA’S JEWISH DNA CAME FROM HER GRANDMOTHER CATHERINE–MEANING THAT ONE OF CATHERINE’S PARENTS ACTUALLY WAS JEWISH. WHEN WE RESEARCHED THE GENEOLOGY OF CATHERINE’S MOTHER, MARY OLECH, WE FOUND NO EVIDENCE THAT HER FAMILY WAS JEWISH. IT SEEMED THERE WAS ONLY ONE POSSIBLE CONCLUSION.

GATES: Catherine’s mysterious father, beyond a shadow of a doubt, was Jewish.

LOBO: Yeah. Finally, finally know something about him.

GATES: Yep, you finally do.

LOBO: Yep. Fascinating.

GATES: Yeah, so I hope that’s a gift that we’ve given you.

LOBO: Yes, it is. Thank you.

GATES VO: BILLIE JEAN ALSO HAD A QUESTION ABOUT HER ROOTS THAT ONLY DNA ANALYSIS COULD SOLVE.

BILLIE JEAN KING: We keep hearing we have Seminole Indian…

GATES: Seminole Indias…

BILLIE JEAN KING: …in our blood,  And I’m like uh huh, sure!  My mother has always thought she is, so she always, like, she’s even painted Native American Indians. And it’s it’s been very important to my mother’s identity I think.

GATES: Well, definitely we can find out through your DNA.

BILLIE JEAN KING: Excellent. (laughs)

GATES VO: USING THE SAME FORM OF GENETIC ANALYSIS THAT HAD ALLOWED US TO DISCOVER REBECCA LOBO’S JEWISH ANCESTRY, WE WERE ABLE TO DETERMINE, ONCE AND FOR ALL, WHETHER BILLIE JEAN DID, IN FACT, DESCEND FROM SEMINOLE INDIANS.

GATES: The moment you have been waiting for, Billie Jean King. Would you please turn the page?

BILLIE JEAN KING: A hundred percent! That is boring. That is so boring. Oh, no.

GATES: (laughs) Zero…

BILLIE JEAN KING: That sucks.

GATES: …Native American (laughs)…

BILLIE JEAN KING: No, I’m happy, ‘cause I like to know! I just like… wow, I got to adjust here. Champions adjust. (laughs)

GATES VO: FOR DEREK, WE TURNED TO DNA ANALYSIS TO SEE IF WE COULD PROVE THE FAMILY CONNECTION BETWEEN DEREK’S GREAT-GREAT GRANDFATHER GREEN AND HIS WHITE SLAVE MASTER, JAMES JETER.  BASED ON THE PAPER TRAIL WE HAD EVERY REASON TO BELIEVE THAT JAMES JETER WAS GREEN’S FATHER. BUT THE ONLY WAY TO KNOW FOR SURE WAS BY COMPARING DEREK’S DNA TO THE DNA OF A DESCENDANT OF JAMES JETER.

SO WE REACHED OUT TO WHITE DESCENDANTS OF JAMES JETER AND ASKED TO TEST THEIR DNA. IF JAMES JETER WAS IN FACT GREEN’S FATHER, DEREK WOULD HAVE INHERITED SOME OF JAMES JETER’S DNA.

GATES: We approached descendants of James W. Jeter and we ran your DNA against theirs. That was the only way that we can prove that James W. Jeter is your 3rd great-grandfather.

JETER:  What happened?

GATES:  Slam dunk, almost an exact match.

JETER:  Wow.

GATES: We have no doubt that James W. Jeter was Green W. Jeter’s father.

JETER: There you have it

GATES VO: NOW THAT WE HAVE DEFINITIVE DNA EVIDENCE THAT THE SLAVE OWNER JAMES JETER WAS DEREK’S THIRD GREAT-GRANDFATHER, WE COULD OPEN UP YET ANOTHER BRANCH OF DEREK’S FAMILY TREE. SO WE WERE ABLE TO TRACE THE WHITE JETER LINE ALL THE WAY BACK TO 17TH CENTURY ENGLAND.

GATES: You’re looking at your white family tree on the Jeter side of the family.  These are all your ancestors, just like Green and Charity are your ancestors on your black side of the Jeters, these are your white blood ancestors.

JETER: That’s unbelievable. That really is. I didn’t know what to expect when I came here. I really didn’t, but to know where the Jeter name came from, that’s important, important to know.

GATES VO: SOME SCIENTISTS BELIEVE THAT ATHLETIC GREATNESS IS LARGELY GENETIC. THAT ATHLETES INHERIT BIOLOGICAL TRAITS THAT ARE PART OF THE SECRET TO THEIR SUCCESS. BUT WE’D ALREADY DISCOVERED THAT BILLIE JEAN, DEREK, AND REBECCA’S FAMILIES ALL HAD A RICH CULTURE OF STRENGTH UNDER PRESSURE, OF ENDURANCE.

THE SOURCE OF THEIR GREATNESS WAS NOT SIMPLY IN THEIR DNA, BUT ALSO IN THE VALUES THAT THEIR ANCESTORS PASSED DOWN TO THEM– EVEN IN WAYS THEY HAD NEVER KNOWN.

BILLIE JEAN KING: God gives us certain abilities. Our brains are connected a certain way, our bodies…all that. But each generation influences the next generation. So everyone’s…everybody you’ve mentioned influenced my life. Now I understand why I am the way I am.

GATES VO: BY DISCOVERING THE LIVES OF THEIR ANCESTORS, BILLIE JEAN, DEREK, AND REBECCA ALL HAD GAINED NEW INSIGHT INTO THE SOURCES OF THEIR SUCCESS, AND A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF WHO THEY ARE.

GATES: JOIN ME NEXT TIME, WHEN WE UNLOCK THE SECRETS OF THE PAST FOR THREE NEW GUESTS ON ANOTHER EPISODE OF FINDING YOUR ROOTS.

[END]