Saturday, August 2, 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?: Jesse Tyler Ferguson

So I'm finally getting around to writing about the WDYTYA episode from Wednesday; again, I don't have cable, just Apple TV, and thus no access to the Lobotomy Learning Channel. TLC is not showing the full episodes on their site as they did last season, either, so I'm having to download it via iTunes on Thursdays.

This past Wednesday the program featured actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who should be familiar if you watch the show Modern Family.

Jesse researches the father of his beloved paternal grandmother Jessie Uppercu Ferguson. Her father's name was Jesse, thus this name has apparently been passed down. I'll henceforth refer to the actor as JTF so there's no confusion.

The rest of this entry contains spoilers, so if you haven't seen the episode yet and don't want to know what happens, you might want to stop here....

I have to say that this was one of my favorite episodes of WDYTYA to date. JTF discovers that his great-grandfather Jesse Uppercu (pronounced "Upper-cue") was something of a con man, with scandal following him wherever he went: charges of murder and embezzlement, and then an expedition to the Klondike gone horribly wrong.

Hey, who doesn't have a bad apple-- or two-- in his/her family tree?

JTF tries to give his ancestor the benefit of the doubt, but the more that is discovered about Jesse Uppercu, the more difficult it becomes for him to do that.

One scene that made me laugh enough that I had to back it up and watch it again was when JTF learns that Jesse Uppercu sued for divorce from his first wife: Jesse's given reason was that she complained too much about the condition of the streets and the water in St. Louis. JTF just sort of rolls his eyes like, "Really?" And then right after this he finds that Jesse Uppercu is, yet again, arrested.

JTF, now exasperated with his great-grandfather, exclaims, "Pull it together, Jesse!"

Then, during the gold rush in the Klondike region of Alaska in the 1890's, Jesse Uppercu led an expedition of about 60 men there... only to find that his planned route was not going to work because the terrain was unexpectedly rough. He, along with about 25 others, abandoned the plan and left.

It seems that Jesse turned over a new leaf after his failed expedition to the Klondike, settled down with his third wife, who was JTF's great-grandmother, and let a quiet life from then on... much to the actor's relief.

From a research perspective, this episode focuses on using old newspapers to discover details and stories about one's ancestors; such articles and blurbs can fill in the blanks when vital records are not available.

Many old newspapers are archived online at sites such as and

So far this season, WDYTYA can't be accused of featuring boring stories...