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In Friday’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” actor Rob Lowe learned about his Revolutionary
FindMyPast.com‘s Josh Taylor helped Lowe find
him in the Daughters
of the American Revolution Genealogical Research System, which lets you search
online for a Revolutionary-era ancestor on which a DAR member’s application is based,
or for people named in the lineages in DAR applications.
But something was wrong: The application had been “closed” because it was discovered
that Lowe’s ancestor John Christopher East had been mixed up with a similarly named
Previews hinted at a twist in this episode. It came when a historian showed Lowe his
ancestor on a list of prisoners who’d been part of Rohl’s Regiment. A sparkle in the
historian’s eye hinted that he knew something, but only when he showed Lowe George
Washington’s personal papers did Lowe realize Rohl was a commander of German
East (listed under his German name, Oeste Cristophe) was among the troops Gen. Washington
defeated in the Battle
of Trenton, when his soldiers crossed the Delaware River to surprise the Hessians
I remember learning in grade school about these 30,000 men the British hired to fight
the Americans, and we kids thought that was pretty bad.
But Lowe’s research revealed Cristophe as a sympathetic figure: Among the youngest
of eight children, he wouldn’t have inherited land or even had the means to marry
in Germany. He took a risk in leaving for America at age 22—then staying (as about
15 percent of the Hessians did) after his release from prison.
This story has a happy ending. Taylor’s researchers found Christophe on a list of
Americans who paid a tax levied to raise money for the war. Lowe is descended from
a Patriot after all and he was invited to apply for the Sons
of the American Revolution lineage society.
Family Tree Magazine Podcast host Lisa Louise Cooke discussed
the bounty of the DAR library in the July 2009 episode—listen
free on FamilyTreeMagazine.com or in iTunes.