In the winter of 2016, I sat down to watch an episode of Finding Your Roots. I did not expect to find a connection that night to Neil Patrick Harris. The show went on to tell how Neil was connected to Germanna Colonies in Virginia. I thought wow, several ancestors of mine were part of that settlement. The episode went on to tell about Neil’s 12th great grandmother, Gertrude “Trude” Stuell. She was convicted of witchcraft in 1590 Germany and burnt at the stake! Here is the clip where he finds this out.
After the Show
Once the show was over, I then pulled up his genealogy, I recognized so many surnames! After comparing trees, the connection was clear. We share the same 8th great grandparents Herman Otterbach (1663-1724) and Elizabeth Heimbach (1662-1698), making Neil Patrick Harris my 9th cousin! Further down the line, I see that Gertrude is my 12th great grandmother as well! I never knew about her or her story. This brings my genealogical research to a new high – finding clues on television!
The German Foundation in Virginia did much of the research on this line. They wrote this up and have several links for Neil Patrick Harris’ genealogy. https://germanna.org/2016/02/23/neil-patrick-harris-learns-of-his-germanna-roots/
While researching the Gertrude for this post, I discovered more famous people tied to her lineage. Janis Joplin and Brad Pitt are also 12th great-grandchildren of Gertrude Stuell. https://famouskin.com/famous-kin-menu.php?name=158741+gertrude+stuell
I added their genealogies and discovered Janis Joplin is my 7th cousin twice removed. Brad Pitt is a closer relationship because we share a set of 6x great-grandparents, John Frederick Fishback and Ann Elizabeth Holtzclaw making us 6th cousins once removed. John Frederick Fishback is one of my proven revolutionary war patriots.
Sometimes the best genealogical research is reviewing what you already have but have not looked at in some time. You never know where a hint will pop up! Happy Hunting!