More than a year ago WTHR anchor Andrea Morehead was contacted by producers of national show, “Who Do You Think You Are?”
They asked if she would participate in a local version of the show for a segment on Channel 13 news.
“I loved the show and wanted to find out more about my family’s history,” the former Anderson resident said. “I said, ‘I’ll do it.’”
Morehead went to Louisiana, where she is originally from, in early 2011 with researchers from Ancestry.com. They helped her walk through her family’s history. At the end of her time there, the historians presented her with some information about her great-great-grandparents that she had never seen and they produced marriage documents from the 1800s.
“It was a really significant moment for me and really affected my life,” Morehead said. “I shared it with my family at a family reunion and it was an amazing experience. And in that moment a light bulb went off for me — this would make for a great television show.”
That’s how “It’s a Family Reunion” was born.
The documentary-reality show will celebrate the “past, present and future of real families across America as they gather for their annual family reunions” with the climax of the show featuring a genealogical presentation and a “reveal” by the show’s sponsor Ancestry.com, said Morehead who is the show’s creator and producer.
The show is premiering on WFYI at 6 p.m. Sunday and will be replayed four times throughout the month. Only the first episode has been shot but Morehead is hopeful it will be picked up nationally.
“It will show what happens at a reunion — people having fun, hanging out, playing games and reconnecting,” she said. “We’ll see their reaction when they learn more about their families.”
The show’s producers contacted a family by the beginning of the year and within four months they’d planned a reunion and shot the pilot.
The pilot episode features the Glenn, Glover and White families with rich Hoosier heritage spanning centuries. They were the first African-American families who settled in Sheridan in the 1800s. Since 1976 they’ve maintained close ties and continue to gather every three years for a reunion.
The oldest living relative, Wayne Glover, 82, was surrounded by nearly 200 family members for a three-day celebration of sack races, board games, historical storytelling, a talent show and a very special church service, followed by a dramatic genealogical reveal by Ancestry.com.
“They were able to present them with information and documents typically not available for African American families,” Morehead said. “To be able to retrace your roots and histories to the 1800s and learn of the significant contributions of their ancestors is pretty amazing. We stunned the entire room.”
The family provided Ancestry.com with what information they had about their roots and then historians and genealogists research for several months before making the big reveal at the reunion.
“Knowing your family history is about celebrating life and those who have come before us,” Morehead said. “It is about staying connected, rooted and continuing to love up on each other as much as possible. Family sustains you and keeps you together through challenging times of life. That’s why this show is important.”
Morehead is a four-time Emmy Award-winning news anchor at WTHR-TV Channel 13 and is also the station’s consumer advocate investigative reporter.
Find Abbey Doyle on Facebook and @heraldbulletin on Twitter, or call 640-4805.
What: Premiere of “It’s A Family Reunion: What’s Your Story?” — a documentary-reality show
When: 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: On WFYI