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Trisha Yearwood

Trisha Yearwood's 5th great-grandfather, Samuel Winslett, died in 1829 in Georgia, the patriarch of a large family. Our research showed that over the years he received multiple land grants in Georgia, including in 1769 before the Revolutionary War. But as we searched for Samuel Winslett in Georgia records before 1769, we did not find him there.

So where did Samuel come from?

One thing that helped our research was the uncommon name “Winslett.” We searched 4.8 million names in early American immigration lists before the mid-1800s for every instance of the name Winslett and found only two listed: John and Samuel, who were both deported from England to the colonies in 1766.

Since the Winslett surname did not show up in America until 1766, we also checked records in England, looking for all men named Samuel Winslett who fell into the right age range. It turns out the Winslett surname is also relatively rare in England and we did not find any likely candidates other than the Samuel who was deported.

Our expansive searches of other broad colonial databases and indexes failed to uncover any other Winsletts living in North America at the time. Knowing that three years after he arrived, Samuel was granted land in 1769, and that a John Winslett in Maryland in the 1770s was the only other person in the colonies with this surname lent further support to these two men being the deported brothers. There simply was nobody else who fit the bill.

Sometimes, gathering every single mention of a surname is the only way to narrow down your list of possible ancestors.

And if you’re really lucky, the list is short.

Learn more about Trisha’s journey or watch the full episode on TLC.com. Watch more celebrities discover their family history on all new episodes of Who Do You Think You Are? Tuesdays 9|8c on TLC. 

Research Manager on Project:

Kory L. Meyerink

Project Hours:

460 Hours

Kory, a master genealogist, began his career in genealogy as a record searcher while attending Brigham Young University and has since been involved in nearly all aspects of the field for 40 years. Kory served on the staff of the Family History Library as a reference consultant and later as the editor of the library’s publications. He taught genealogy for 20 years as adjunct faculty for BYU and has spoken at national, state, and local conferences since 1990. As past president of the Utah Genealogical Association and founder of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, he developed one of the leading genealogical educational venues. His written contributions include the ALA award-winning Printed Sources, as well as chapters in all editions of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, and dozens of articles and book reviews for major genealogical journals and magazines. An original founder of AncestryProGenealogists, he helped assemble and lead the premier staff of the company. Having served thousands of clients over the years, and solved their genealogical cases, he is ready to take on your most challenging research!