Monthly Archives: July 2013

Who Do You Think You Are? – My Review

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For months I have anticipated the return of one of my favorite shows, “Who Do You Think You Are”.  Even if I don’t know much about the featured celebrity, I hopefully will discover a new source for searching or find a hint that will lead me in a new direction.  Last night “Who Do You Think You Are?” made its 2013 season debut and left me with mixed reviews. 

For starters, searching for ancestors just doesn’t fall into place as it is portrayed on the show.  As someone who has done research in libraries, cemeteries and personal interviews over a period of more than thirty years, I can tell you that you may search months, years or decades to locate one document much less the entire life story of your ancestor. Sometimes you come up totally empty handed.

Personally I love Ancestry, the sponsor of the show.  In fact I have three family trees on their site and praise it as my “go to sight” for research.  However, I believe the illusion of how easy it is to discover your past, who you are, and your family’s place in history on “Who Do You Think You Are?” is just that…… an illusion.  The average beginning genealogist, I’m afraid, will get a false sense of tracing one’s tree.  And when disappointment sets in, some will lose interest and their tree will never branch with limbs and twigs.

Sure, if you are a celebrity and have money to travel, it would make the process easier.  If you are one of the fortunate ones that can hire a professional genealogist to do the research for you, oh well, you have just missed the personal satisfaction of a history lesson in places, events and your heritage.  To me, documents from a professional would merely become a piece of paper with names on it.  I wouldn’t have the pleasure of that “ah ha” moment!  There is no greater reward in genealogy than to discover a document or photo and have the feeling of accomplishment in your pursuit.

Kelly and Rachel  Brown, Kookie Stanley Hemperley and Mamie Stanley-4 generations

Kelly and Rachel Brown, Kookie Stanley Hemperley and Mamie Stanley                     4 generations

Through the generations: Mother, Mamie Martin Stanley and I located cemeteries, interviewed family members, gathered photos and old documents.  My daughter Kelly Hemperley Brown and her husband Scott and I enjoy locating cemeteries off the beaten path documenting headstones as we go.  Rachel, who is about a year old in this photo, is all grown up now and currently is a Deputy Clerk in Caddo Parish Clerk’s Office. She has researched local court records for me and often accompanies me to different libraries searching old newspapers, microfilms and military histories.  In short, my research has included four generations sharing our family’s history and having that “ah ha” moment together.

While I find the celebrities heritage enjoyable at times, if I had my druthers, every once in a while I would prefer Ancestry send in a John Doe…… you know; ordinary researchers like you and me; the people who have brick walls and do not have the luxury of hiring the pros to do the work for us or to travel extensively.  Every person who has walked the face of this earth is deserving of having their story told regardless of their social status.

Another suggestion I would make to the producers of the show is that they allow the person with the most gathered information on the ancestor be allowed to travel on the discovery journey regardless of whether the featured person is a celebrity or a descendant of John Doe. Had it not been for the encouragement of and the companionship of my mother pointing me in the right direction when I began we would have not had the benefit of sharing what we discovered.  She didn’t have to wait until I arrived home with new information; she experienced it right along with me.

In conclusion when the celebrity located the grave-site of her relative of generations past and greeted it with “what’s up”, I thought how irreverent!  The first words from her mouth should have been that she would have loved to have known him and thank him for his contribution to the war, politics and her family.

Kookie

Military Monday- Saving Lives Rather Than Take Them

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Judson M Hemperley, Sr

Judson Manuel Hemperley was born on October 14, 1919 in Ida, Louisiana to Luther London and Sybil Cain Hemperley. Luther went to work for Cities Service and his wife and children moved to Haynesville, Louisiana where she owned a dress shop. Judson had one sister, Iris Bliss, who was killed in her senior year of high school from an accidental gun discharge.

Judson, in the 1940 census for Haynesville, Louisiana, was residing with his parents and wife, Helen Burge Hemperley, whom he had married on October 18, 1939 in Magnolia, Arkansas. It also says he had completed one year of college and had been out of work for 58 weeks even though his occupation was listed as an oilfield laborer.

On November 30, 1942 he enlisted in the U. S. Army and served until January 4, 1946 as a medic attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant. His first child, Judson Manuel, Jr., was born November 1, 1943 while he was in service in Germany.

For a time after he got out of the Army, Judson worked in the oilfield business in the boom of East Texas. In 1960 Judson relocated his family to Grants, New Mexico to the Uranium boom. His hobbies included gardening, fishing and cooking. He resided in Grants until his death at age 90 on February 10, 2010.

For many years, Judson would not speak of the war or his efforts to save lives rather than take them. It was only at the urging of one of his grandchildren and working with Doug Bocaz-Larson and his wife, Kim, a documentary film was made of his war experiences. Mr. Bocaz-Larson is the Program Manager for computer science and creative media instructor for New Mexico State University in Grants, New Mexico. In the fall of 2009 that documentary, “Saving Lives in World War II”, won an Emmy for the Southwest Rocky Mountain region.

Saving Lives in World War II, Judson M Hemperley

This video of Saving Lives in World War II can be seen here.

Judson, along with another WW II vet, was interviewed by CNN regarding their service in the war. The video for this is located here, if you want to be a member of the site, you can sign up and search for Judson Manuel Hemperley.

Another Video about his saving lives can be seen here:

In these videos he recalls treating soldiers, saving lives at the Nazi Prison Camp, the stench of cremation’s, treating a little girl with a severed arm and walking through land mines to rescue fallen soldiers. Such atrocities you and I can’t even begin to imagine! He ate on the run, slept little and went from a 42” waist to a 35” waist during the same time period.

Look deeply into his compassionate blue eyes and listen as his gentle voice recants his life during service as a medic and you will see why it took him so many years to tell his war stories. Be thankful for your wounded relatives in World War II who returned home due to the dedication, training and American pride of medics like Judson Manuel Hemperley. A man committed to saving lives rather than take them.

Judson M Hemperley

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