NBC10 Philadelphia - Dawn Timmeney
NBC10's Dawn Timmeney got the chance to learn some surprising facts about her great-great-grandfather when Ancestry.com helped her trace her family history.
Have you ever wondered about your family history? Where your ancestors came from? What they did?
More and more people are intrigued by learning about how they came to be.
The NBC show "Who Do You Think You Are?" follows celebrities as ancestry.com uncovers surprising details about their past.
Ancestry.com reached out to NBC10, and Dawn Timmeney got to see how they were able to uncover information about her great-great-grandfather.
The search began with old government records, where Ancestry.com historian Joseph Shumway learned her great-great- maternal grandfather was a German immigrant named Vincent Hess who settled in Cincinnati.
"He left in November 1857 and arrived in New York on his 17th birthday in 1858," Shumway said.
He traced him to a little town called Vags-Hurst on the German-French border. Vincent Hess likely came to America to escape revolution and unrest, only to fight in the Civil War here several years later.
"He was a Sergeant in Company A and he served with the 5th Ohio Infantry."
That information led Shumway to "The Fredericksburg and Spotsvania Military Park" in Virginia, to the spot where Hess fought in the notorious battle of Chancellorsville in May of 1863. As depicted in the movie "Gods and Generals," Chancellorsville is considered the bloodiest morning in American history.
"For five hours of fighting on May 3rd, we have one man killed, wounded or captured every second for those five hours and so casualty numbers are very high," according to Beth, a National Park Ranger.
Vincent Hess was among the wounded. "He received a gunshot wound in his left arm and shoulder."
That injury left him hospitalized for over a year.
An 1880 federal census shows he returned to Cincinnati after the war, married, became a citizen, had children and operated a family business.
"If we look at Vince, we can see he is 39 years old and he works as a baker," Shumway discovered.
"Did you ever know that?" he asks Dawn. "No."