Lionel Richie on Who Do You Think You Are?

Singer-songwriter Lionel Richie appeared last night on NBC’s genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are? In the show, Richie traced his grandmother Adeliade Towson’s ancestry and the mystery surrounding the identity of her father. He set out on a journey that took him from his childhood home of Tuskegee, Alabama to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Along the way Richie uncovered the identity of his great grandfather John Louis Brown, an “editor” of Knights of the Wise Men, a national organization created to assist African-Americans in their local communities.

Later in the show, Richie learned that John L. Brown fought in the Civil War (see United States Colored Troops in the Civil War) and was previously a slave to a Dr. Morgan Brown. This doctor happened to record in his diary in 1839 that Mariah, one of his slaves, gave birth to a boy named “Louis” though it is not clear if the doctor or his son, Morgan W. Brown, was the father. However, Dr. Brown’s will, which was written during Mariah’s pregnancy, states that Mariah should be freed from slavery along with the as-yet unborn child. The will also states that Mariah would be given a house on Dr. Brown’s land and that the child would receive two years of schooling, which was illegal at that time.

What are your thoughts about this latest episode in which Lionel Richie searched for his ancestors?

See Who Do You Think You Are? for additional information about this and other family history television programs.

Comments (10)

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  1. Learning your ancestors is the best way to making your future a brighter light that illumines every path of the way. We would really know who we really are by knowing our ancestors.

    geopoet 17 March 2011
    3:36 pm
  2. Dude, you wont find anything on people that are still alive. Start with the oldest dead person you have a name for and work backwards o)

    Lori 14 March 2011
    2:25 am
  3. Dude, try searching for your most recent deceased family member, such as a grandmother or grandfather that has passed on. That should help you get started. These websites are prohibited from sharing information about alive persons.

    Nate 12 March 2011
    10:59 pm
  4. Hey Dude Find a family history center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and they can show you how to start your research. For a start you might want to search and there is a lot of information to show you how to get started and forms for recording your information pedigree chart and family group sheets

    Linda 12 March 2011
    3:47 pm
  5. hey dude you can go to several sites that will help you search for living relitives

    12 March 2011
    3:45 pm
  6. Never give up on researching your family. It is history in the making. So much can be learned and appreciated from our research.Seeing possibly their grave sites, pictures or dates, can excite the least interested person. Family is so important and always will be for eternity.

    Michael Clapper 12 March 2011
    9:04 am
  7. For "Dude" you are not able to trace most living relatives. I'm not sure of who you're searching for, but the latest available census is 1930. Try searching for someone who was born before that year using their birth year and if possible, death year. It's actually a little easier to identify deceased relatives (their social security death index will provide residence, spouse, and parents). And then you just moved back another generation. Good luck!

    Erin 11 March 2011
    5:26 pm
  8. I would like to know how they traced their families because I tried to on a lot of these websites and I am not finding anything. And i know i have the right information because I am looking for people that are still alive.

    Dude 09 March 2011
    2:48 pm
  9. I would certainly hope that Mr. Richie would contact the boy scouts of america to get a group of (potential) eagles to work together to clean up the neglected cemetery that his grandfather was buried in. Someone in the Tennessee area needs to reclaim it before any more if it is gone. With Mr. Richies means he might be willing/able to assist them w/any supplies they may need.

    Kirsten Jan Outzen 08 March 2011
    5:37 pm
  10. I like to see them do more then just one side, everyone has more then just one greatgrand father & mother

    peter 07 March 2011
    1:19 pm

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