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Roots: Our Journeys Home

Aired October 21, 2014 - 21:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: For more than 30 years the reporters and correspondents of CNN have been bringing you stories from around the world.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN HOST: Tonight though they tell you stories you've never heard before, their own. This is ROOTS, OUR JOURNEYS HOME.

COOPER: We all know most American story start at somewhere else, but what do we really know about our own ancestors and the places that they came from.

PEREIRA: Like all journalist we were curious and started digging, started digging hard. What we learned was sometimes surprising, often times emotional but always unforgettable.

COOPER: We'll begin with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Now, you may already know his story. He was born to a family who immigrated to the United States from India. He recently returned there with his parents and his own kids, it was a sacred journey they'll likely never forget.


SUBHASH GUPTA, SANJAY"S FATHER: This place is called Haridwar. This is a very sacred place. And they're sacred as River Ganges (inaudible) it flows (inaudible) to the Indian Ocean.

And you can see that a lot of people they come here to bathe and it's considered very holy.

SANJAY GUPTA: Does the Gupta family feel a connection to this place?

SUBHASH GUPTA: Well, we came here lots of time when I was younger.


SANJAY GUPTA: You see, in the United States we record our lives at the time that we are born. But centuries ago in many places including India, they recorded their lives at the time of death. That's why so many people bring the ashes of their loved ones to scatter here in this holy river.


SUBHASH GUPTA: They keep a lot of records over the years, so you can go back several generations and find out who all came here.


SANJAY GUPTA: So, here it is, perhaps the most important moment of our whole journey, and there's my daughter Soleil fast asleep, passed out in my wife's lap. Now, in her defense it was well over 100 degrees in that room and there was no fan, no breeze.


SANJAY GUPTA: So, back to 1698, we went back. That's how far it was?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that's the lunar year.

SUBHASH GUPTA: That's 1698 is no regular year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's even before that.

SANJAY GUPTA: So it's even before that. So roughly, how many years back are we talking?


SANJAY GUPTA: About 1600.


SANJAY GUPTA: These records go back 40 generations. It's quite incredible. They started off writing on leaves. And when paper was actually created, they started writing on paper. And some of these records here go back hundreds and hundreds of years.

We came here, to find our roots. And today we decided to leave some of our own as well. Perhaps our own family will see this hundreds of years from now.

Do you feel a certain connection to the gods? And what do you feel?

SUBHASH GUPTA: Yes, you do feel closer to the gods over here.

SANJAY GUPTA: Now the last time you were here was when your father (inaudible) passed away.


SANJAY GUPTA: And it was important for you and your brother to come here and place the ashes here.

SUBHASH GUPTA: Right, right.

SANJAY GUPTA: What is the meaning of that? What is the purpose of that?

SUBHASH GUPTA: Well, they just feel that this is getting the salvation.

SANJAY GUPTA: So, you think you want to cleanse your sins in the river?

SUBHASH GUPTA: Well, I'm debating, but tonight I think - I've been forces enough so...

SANJAY GUPTA: Are you debating whether you want to go or debating whether we have sins?

SUBHASH GUPTA: Well, I'm sure I got some sins.

SANJAY GUPTA: We all have sins.

Are you ready?

There's something about searching for your roots that forces you to have experiences like that one with your parents and with your kids.


COOPER: That so incredible. I mean, that's so -- to have those scrolls there, they go back 40 generations is remarkable.

GUPTA: You know, we here for such a short time, you know, on this planet, in our lives, and, you know, I didn't know anything about my ancestors. I'm not sure I would have them at all. If it were not for a project like this.

COOPER: You hadn't look-- I mean, really know anything about this?

GUPTA: Nothing, you know, my father even. I asked him about his grandfather and, you know, it's just -- he was an immigrant. Their lives are so much about the future. The idea of having the luxury as he put it of searching in the past, it was just, it was a luxury. You had time for the sort of thing but what I found fascinating when I'm looking to the scrolls, it wasn't just their names and when they lived but it was about them.

COOPER: Really.

GUPTA: My great, great, great, great, I don't know how many greats there. My grandfather was a very charitable person. He gave all of his land to this people who live in this particular village that we visited, gave money for these temples to be built in. He have a lot of money but he gave whatever he had to that community and I don't know it was something that act but I knew that.

That is somewhere in my genetic lineage, there was a very charitable person, a person who was altruistic. I don't know that affected me and it affected all of us I think in terms of the conversations we have at it.

COOPER: And also to think that -- I mean you and your daughters who were writing notes...


COOPER: ... that could be seen generations from now by people not even, you know, in existent. What did you write in the scrolls?

GUPTA: I basically send this message to my future progeny that's, you know, we had come here on this day and search of our roots and decided to live our own and I talked about my family and some other things that made me happy, that things that brought me joy. I was thinking that's what I wouldn't to know the know about it my ancestors like what made you happy? Like what -- because, you know, joy is one of these things that I think we ultimately all strive for but it changes throughout our lives. And I just thinking that would be what I left.

My daughter is very factual to the point, they wrote their names, their age and that was about it.

COOPER: That was (inaudible).

GUPTA: I filled in a few other details about them.

COOPER: What do your daughters think about bathing in the River Ganges?

GUPTA: They, you know, they had a lot of fun with it. I think for them they're still young and I think some of it will settle in as we show them some of this video later on. For them there was a novelty to it. It was kind of funny, my dad and I were joking about since and, you know, he can't help but have fun with that a little and I was explaining to my daughters as we are driving home.

I said, so part of why I did that was to cleanse my sins. My oldest daughter without missing a beat, you should stayed in longer.

COOPER: Oh really, wow. Just from a health standpoint where you're concern about the health of the -- the cleanliness of the river.

GUPTA: It is one of the more populated....

COOPER: Right.

GUPTA: ... rivers in the world. It (inaudible), people literally put ashes, you know.

COOPER: Right, yes.

GUPTA: And it's -- and part of that it's a little frightening almost. When you're going to that river, you can't see the bottom. I didn't know how deep it was. The current actually kind of fast, you know, so you have to be careful. And so there was all of that sort of pragmatic consideration just going into it.

And as a doctor thinking what you're thinking, I'm taking my kids into this river but I think all of the sudden once you're in it there is, you know, I wouldn't say that I'm a particularly religious person. I I'd say that I'm spiritual but as my dad said you feel something.


GUPTA: And it's something that's far larger than that. You know, and I don't know if this is true for you but it made me have conversations with my family members otherwise would not have had.

COOPER: Yes, absolutely.

GUPTA: It made it OK to ask questions that maybe you just -- where other is to awkward or uncomfortable times to ask but I'm really glad that I did.

COOPER: Yes. It's great. Sanjay, thank you so much.

GUPTA: Yes, thank you.

COOPER: Fascinating for full versions on the pieces that you have seen here plus photo galleries behind the scenes, video and more. Just go to

Coming up, how much do you really know about who your family is, what they did and how they lived. With many of our CNN colleagues are finding out the search for their own roots just leading them to some pretty strange places. That's next.


CHRIS CUOMO: How did I wind up here?

Up, up, OK.

That's what I was thinking clutching a pole slathered in pig fat with men climbing over me.



PEREIRA: Welcome back. Our roots can lead in many directions and our families can come in many forms. My own story which you'll see later definitely is proof that. Right now though, I want to talk about members of my morning family, Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan.

You like we already know that Chris hails from a pretty famous political family but as he now knows tracing ones own roots can always bring surprises.


CUOMO: How did I wind up here?

Up, up, OK.

That's what I was thinking clutching a pole slathered in pig fat with men climbing over me, in a place I'd never heard of in Italy.

But the mystery about my family that led me here was even more surprising, especially since I thought I knew the whole story.

MARIO CUOMO, CHRIS CUOMO'S FATHER: Here we are at this convention to remind ourselves where we come from. CUOMO: For many, my lineage will come as no surprise. That's my pop, Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York.

M. CUOMO: We speak for ethnics who want to add their culture to the magnificent mosaic that is America.

CUOMO: He spoke for years about his Italian heritage and the struggle to make it here that led to not one but two men holding the highest seat in the greatest state.


ANDREW CUOMO, CHRIS CUOMO'S BROTHER: We come into the chamber, we're not Democrats, we're not Republicans, we're New Yorkers and we're working for New York.

CUOMO: That's Andrew, my brother, the governor of New York today. I knew it all cold about who we are and how the Cuomos got here, et cetera, or so I thought. Turns out I was right about my mom's family down in Sicily, Italy. But my father's side had a big fat mystery. It is true that he was a first generation American. He grew up sleeping in the basement of this grocery store in South Jamaica, Queens, and my grandparents did come to this country, working like dogs, suffering bigotry, all to build a better life. A legacy thanks to my great grandparents. Now that's where the mystery begins.

So let's talk about something interesting, like me.


CUOMO: What do we know?

The folks at uncovered that the story of how the Cuomos came here...

ERKENBROCK: In digging more...

CUOMO: ... is very different from what I'd heard.

ERKENBROCK: This is the first document of the Cuomos.

CUOMO: This is very cool.

Looking back at records from a century ago in the U.S. at these tiny Italian villages, we found a trail that no one had ever followed, Donato Cuomo, he came first. For month he dug ditches and saved and borrowed to send for his love and wife, my great grandmother, her name was Germana Castaldo, or was it?

ERKENBROCK: The family is right here and she's listed as Germana Costanza (ph). This is the death of Germana, so she's Germana Costanza, Maria Delia (ph) and Germana Castaldo.

CUOMO: That doesn't sound good, I have to tell you.

Who was she? Where'd she come from? And why did she keep changing her name? The story I'd grown up with about who she was and how she came to be my bisnonna, my great grandmother, was all wrong, furgazi, fake. There'd be only one way to figure out the real deal.

So you believe I need to go to this place and see if I can track the roots further.

ERKENBROCK: Absolutely.

CUOMO: I'm just the man for the task.

ERKENBROCK: I think you can handle it.

CUOMO: My great grandmother's life had to begin in Italy. So did our journey of discovery. When I told my wife I had to go to the Italian countryside on assignment, she wasn't buying it, so I brought her along with my oldest, Bella, to hunt for some answers to where my blood comes from.

I believe this would have been the church.

Kind of cool, too. The latest generation of Cuomos looking for the earliest. The last document we found was key (ph). My great grandmother's birth was in a tiny and unknown place called Cava dei Tirreni, high above the Tyrrhenian Sea. It turns out she was born here in 1869. But the question is, to whom?

The good news is that her name is all over this place, Castaldo. Turns out, back in the day, the Castaldo family ruled here, so maybe we're not peasant stock after all. Royalty, baby.

Word spread that I was here tracking down my roots and a local historian came around to help. But what he had to offer took the story in a very different direction.

Far from the gilded center of the city, he took us down a lonely side street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this street, in one of these doorways, there was an orphanage. There was a woman took in the orphans, the children that were abandoned, and took care of them before someone adopted them.

CUOMO: So, this is the sad part of the story. This is the street, this is where my great grandmother was given up for adoption. We're told that basically babies were just left on the ground, there was a knock on the door, and then people would take off. Why? It was a rich town maybe it was somebody who was very wealthy who would had had an indiscretion. Maybe it was someone who just didn't want a baby.

Either way, she would be given the name Castaldo because that was the ruling family in this area, so it doesn't really mean she came from that family. It just means that it was a common name. But this is where her life began, where some woman she didn't know wound up taking care of her and later on in life, she'd wind up marrying the man who would bring the Cuomos to America.


PEREIRA: Really amazing where the stories are leading us. If you want to see how Chris got up to that pickle at the bottom of the poll, you can check out You can see all of the story's info.

Now, we're going to turn to my other morning friend Kate Bolduan. While she was six months pregnant Kate journeyed to Belgium to explore what drove so many people to seek new lives in the new world, bringing them to places like Columbus Ohio. Take a look.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: I knew my great, great grandfather, Leon, traveled to America in February 1912 but there's more.

ERKENBROCK: In April of that same year, the Titanic sink.

BOLDUAN: April of that same year? That's right of course.

ERKENBROCK: Yes. Just a few months after, one of the most catastrophic, nautical events in our history still to this day, Leon puts his pregnant wife and 2-year-old daughter on the boat.

BOLDUAN: You stop it right now. I'm mad at Leon right now.

I can't imagine.

ERKENBROCK: They are right here.

BOLDUAN: I mean, I can't even imagine if I wasn't pregnant right now what that would be like.

The big -- One of the big questions that I've had as I come here, why did people want to go to America?

LUC VERHEYEN CURATOR, RED STAR LINE MUSEUM: There's not one reason. Everyone went for a certain reason. I think the main reason is that they were all looking for a better future, also trying to build a better life.

BOLDUAN: I think that's what I'm learning is that's what they were kind of trying to do, that American dream, to begin that American dream. And it all began right here.

I had no idea what my family went through just to get on boat even before they started their voyage. It makes me proud. It really is humbling experience and it makes me really, really proud to call them my family.

Having learned more than I ever thought possible, I left Belgium to continue following my family's trip to America, eventually taking me to Ohio and the Toledo Museum of Art to try my hand at the family business of glass blowing, the profession that we believe is what brought my family to America in the first place.

Let's do either like a red mix or pink mix and I'll make it for my baby.

MIKE STEVENS, GLASS TECHNICIAN: Every movement you make has an effect on the glass.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. I cannot believe I'm playing with glass like this.

And just minutes later.

STEVENS: There it is.

BOLDUAN: Oh, my gosh, I could do this all day. This is really fun.

After following their lives from Belgium all the way to Ohio, I finally got to meet my great, great grandparents, laid to rest here at St. Joseph's cemetery outside Columbus.

She should be right over here. There she is, Louise Labhaye, Wife of Leon Rousselle. It's really amazing to finally meet her after this long journey, making all the way over here, with a two year-old and six months pregnant.

It's sounds like my great, great grandfather. Leon E. Rousselle, 1885 to 1947. It is really, really cool to finally meet them. About all you can say.

And since I was in Ohio, there was one last stop I had to make.

Hi, grandma.


BOLDUAN: To tell my mom and grandmother everything that I'd uncovered.

Let me show you this family tree. They put this together for me in Belgium and this blew my mind, just how far back they could reach for us.


BOLDUAN: All the way back to 1625.




And my grandmother knew her grandfather, Leon Rousselle, was a glass blower.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is your grandfather -- your great grandfather blowing glass.


BOLDUAN: It looks like out of a movie set like they stand on these pedestals. And they...

N BOLDUAN: He did, they did. He wore a circle in his teeth

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His real teeth, he wore a circle. He had to have them pulled. So he got false teeth and he takes it out from his pocket. He wouldn't (inaudible).

BOLDUAN: Are you serious?

And it turns out my great grandmother, Felicie, who sailed to the United States when she was two years old was just as strong woman as I had hoped.

What was she like?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every one of them that knew her adored her.

N BOLDUAN: There wasn't anything that she didn't think she could concur?


N BOLDUAN: She was like wonder woman back and worked full time until she retired, I think. . BOLDUAN: I love this photo.

It's a family trait I hope now to pass on to my own daughter.

Gertrudes? That could be on the baby name list.


PEREIRA: At last Kate did not name her baby Gertudes, beautiful Celia Eve was born on September 25th.

Up next while reporting from the form lines Wolf Blitzer finally let history sink in.

WOLF BLITZER: I feel like I've been robbed of having grandparents. Six billion Jews were killed during the Holocaust, and I saw the documentation there, Auschwitz, it really hit me. And I knew that's where I wanted to go.


COOPER: Wolf Blitzer spend 40 years telling stories, this summer though while covering the Israel-Hamas conflict. He also found himself deeply exploring his own family story. What he found was profoundly painful but it was also a tail of great resilience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: My journey to learn about my family's history has been months in the making

Delayed in part because of this.

(inaudible) smoke that is just.

The war between Israel and Hamas.

Here at Tel Aviv potentially...

I'm in Jerusalem reporting for nearly a month.

We got another siren.

But a friend suggests I take some time to visit Israel's National Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem.

Let's go to my father's side first. Last name is Blitzer.

I of course knew my grandparents died during the Holocaust, but I wanted to learn more.

Circumstances of death, it says that (inaudible) concentration camp. Alager, which means camp Auschwitz.

My dad, David Blitzer, wrote a testimony for the museum, detailing what he knew about the fate of his family in Poland during World War II.

You know, I didn't know until I came here to Israel this week that on my father's side, my grandparents died, were killed at Auschwitz.

I see it now. I feel like I've been robbed of an experience of having grandparents. Six billion Jews were killed during the Holocaust, and I saw the documentation there, place of extermination if you will, whatever it was called, Auschwitz, that it really hit me. And I knew that's where I wanted to go.

It says "harbeit macht frei."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Work will set you free." Meaning that it was a place for working, which was not.

BLITZER: It was for slave laborers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. It was this kind of camp, but work was an instrument of extermination for prisoners here.

BLITZER: It's one thing to learn about the Holocaust in school or from books. But to see these places firsthand, some untouched since the war, can be overwhelming. It's pretty much the same story in my mother side. She survives, but her parents died during the Holocaust.

I'm named after my grandfather, Wolf Zilberfuden (ph). People always ask me. The most frequently asked question I get, is Wolf your real name? And I say yes, it's my real name. I was named after my maternal grandfather.

That's my cousin, Peppy Dotan (ph). We grew up together in Buffalo. She's here to help me find my mother's roots.

We're at the Zilberfuden (ph) residence was. What number was it?


BLITZER: Whatever house they had is gone.

DOTAN: Yes, it's closed.

BLITZER: Together, we found what's left of my grandfather's old factory that produced clay pipes. Not far from that factory was the slave labor camp where my mother, her sister Paula, and two brothers, Mike and Urich, worked.

But was the land where the Skarzysko labor camp, Camp A, was.

DOTAN: In this camp, 24,000 Jews came in for labor. Almost 18,000 died here. There was no crematorium here, but they simply burned the bodies, and they we're told that they buried the ashes here in this place. So it's conceivable that our grandparents are -- their ashes are here.

BLITZER: We have no idea.

DOTAN: We have no idea, no.

BLITZER: And when you look at my mom now, she's 92 years old. You wouldn't realize how courageous she was when she was liberated in 1945 from the slave labor camp. They told all the Jewish workers, you're going to be marching on this death march. My mother knew that if they were on this forced death march, they would die.

DOTAN: This remarkable woman took her siblings and hid in the basement of the factory, and they stayed there for a few days until they were finally liberated by the Russians.

BLITZER: Yes. Pretty amazing story.

DOTAN: Pretty amazing, amazing woman.

BLITZER: Before we leave Poland, we visit the only Jewish cemetery still left in the town of Auschwitz, and I see a tombstone that says Blitzer. I don't know if this woman was related to me. But I do what my father would have wanted. I say the special prayer for the dead, the Kaddish.

After the war, after my parents were liberated, my mother by the Russians, the Russian troops; my dad by the French troops, they did what most Holocaust survivors immediately did once they were strong enough. They went and started looking for family members who may have survived. And so, they were on a train, and all of a sudden, they saw each other. Their eyes met, and they fell in love. Within a few months, they were married by an American military chaplain, a rabbi. My dad found work in Augsburg, Germany, where my sister and I were born.

My dad always said, you know, in those days you didn't know what was going to be happening a week from now or two weeks and after the years -- what they went through during the war, they said, you know, you had to grab life when you could.

When my dad was visiting nearby Munich one day, he saw a long line, so he got in it. It turned out it was a line for visas to America, the result of a law signed by President Truman to bring Holocaust survivors and displaced persons to the United States. A few months later, we were moving to upstate New York.

It's amazing, my parents, after all they went through, the losses that they went through, I never sensed a vindictiveness, you know, they wanted to move on.

My dad, when he died in 2002, he was 82 years old. He was always upbeat. Whenever he would see me on television or my mother would see me on television, they would always say the same thing, you know, this is the revenge. This is the revenge to Hitler and the Nazis.


COOPER: The Blitzers are real American success story. Not only did their son Wolf make good, his dad the Holocaust survivor became with a major home developers in Western New York, our true inspiration.

Coming up Erin Burnett says goodbye to her childhood home, finds the connection in Scotland beautiful Isle of Skye. And Jake Tappers surprising discovery, how does someone full of filly patriotic pride do with news and his ancestor wear red coats.

JAKE TAPPER: It was like poison on my lips.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to ROOTS, OUR JOURNEYS HOME. You know the funny thing about starting a family, is while we're embarking on a new future, we also find ourselves yearning to look back.

When Erin Burnett son Nyle was only six months old, her parents move out of the farm house she grow up in, the one place she'd always known as home. But while she was losing one home she set off to explore another among the rolling green hills of Scotland.


ERIN BURNETT: I grew up in a small town called Mardela Spring, Maryland. And when I say small, I mean really small. I believe the last census had population at about 420 people. We used to buy all the rabbit food here. And it felt that way.

My parents were very idealistic. When they were young they had this dream of having this farm. So funny hearing them talk about it now. Their eyes still light up.

I want my son to know what it is look to have grown up here. Talking to my parents, you know, they thought they would live there forever.


BURNETT: How are you feeling?

K BURNETT: Good. Hello Nyle.

BURNETT: Your definition of forever changes as you get older.

ESTHER MARGARET BURNETT, ERIN'S MOTHER: Do you know where you are?

BURNETT: When they finally got to this point that they were ready this was it, the boxes were being moved. I couldn't really believe it.

Want to go see where mommy's room is. Yes, now you get to see the farm one time. Yes, OK. That was uh-huh.

It was hard for me to go through the house and see everything packed up.

This is my dad's den. Nothing changed in here. He may have be moving in two days, but this is the way it looked for our whole life. It is all packed up. That room was -- that was my, my home for so long.

It makes mommy sad.

It's hard to say good-bye.

So, CNN says we are doing this project on our roots. I find out about it right before your last weekend.

E BURNETT: Isn't that amazing?

BURNETT: It is a good omen or something, right?

K BURNETT: Yes, you reminded me to pack up all the papers I have some here about some of the roots.

BURNETT: So you looked into it once, right?

K BURNETT: Well, yes, I looked at a lot of it. But never, you know, really in depth.

BURNETT: So I had a lot of questions, right. There are these pictures and who are they? Where did they come from? So we actually met a genealogist back at CNN who looked into my past.

ERKENBROCK: We are focusing on the Stewart line. It is your mother's family, right?

BURNETT: My mother's family, yes.

ERCANBRACK: Right. So we are going to start with John. He was the first generation in America. This is a passenger's contract ticket.

BURNETT: This is to come from Scotland to Canada.

ERCANBRACK: Yes. This tells us where in Scotland they are from.

BURNETT: That's were it says Skye. I first heard Isle of Skye, I thought, that is a great name. That place is a cool place. When we had this opportunity to go to Skye, I wanted to share it with somebody. My mom has a brother, Uncle Buzz. His real name is Charles. My mom wasn't able to come. And so I thought, for, about 0.2 second. And then I realized Uncle Buzz would want to come. If it's going to be neat, it is going to be adventure. He is there.

Are you ready for this Uncle Buzz.


BURNETT: The beginning.

STEWART: The beginning of the adventure.

BURNETT: It was a beautiful day. It was perfect. It was the way I wanted to arrive. You could see the coast, and then the skyline, the Skye and it just was so glorious.

We are going to see Maggie. And Maggie is the historian who has been tracking family record on Skye for her, for 25 years.

In this castle, actually is an archive where they trace a lot of the genealogy.

MAGGIE MACDONALD, ARCHIVIST: This is a rental. And everybody who paid rent to Lord MacDonald is listed in here. So we have Stewart at number four. And his rent was three pound and four shillings a year. You can see most people were in arrears of rent.

BURNETT: Look, he was among the best.

STEWART: He was doing well.

BURNETT: He only own 1 pound, 12 shillings.

STEWART: So the daughters ...


STEWART: ... do you know anything about -- where they have resulted and ended up?

MACDONALD: Well, their families as far as I've being able to find have stayed in Skye. I think you will meet grandchildren.

BURNETT: Maggie told us there were two relatives that she knew off on Skye right now that we were going to meet.

So it turns out that our family has been in hotel business about for 50 years. This is the Tongadale (ph) hotel and a man who runs it, named Malcolm who we are related to. And his brother, Donald, owns a hotel just around the corner came over and had beers with us.

I was here to see him. And I -- he looked very quintessentially Scottish to me. Donald was, at first, a little bit shy. He is a little reticent.

You have done the family tree?

MATHESON: It is not...

BURNETT: And then he was going through all the genealogy. And he had all sorts of papers. Most of them were not related to us. But then he told us where our land actually was.

A toast to cousin. A toast to cousin.

It was very quiet. And there were clouds. And that was an appropriate time to see the land. Look at the view down there.

STEWART: You know, the one that sticks out for me is out in there. It is very emotional to be on the actual ground that ancestors came from.

BURNETT: When you are here and realize they are here. It is pretty incredible. They loved, they had children. All of that happened right here. And as, the potato farm, really took control of things. All of a sudden they couldn't afford to pay their rent. And so, they were actively told to leave. And it was bigger than just my family. It was bigger than just Skye. It was Scotland and Ireland.

We went back to the Tongadale (ph) and Uncle Buzz and I were talking about the past few days that we spent together. That was a moment where it all really came together for me.

Thank you for coming. This was really, really special for me to do this with you.

STEWART: Thank you for having me. But suddenly I just thought of something your grandfather would have loved to have seen your success and to see us both in Scotland. I'm starting to get weepy when I think about it because he just would have thought this was so wonderful.

BURNETT: I didn't think I would feel that way. But you know who is going to like (inaudible). But my mom is going to love it. My God.

STEWART: I would never make it in (inaudible).


PEREIRA: And now we're weeping too because this was such a beautiful moment. You share that with you uncle. You can how special it was.


PEREIRA: A voyage for both of you.

BURNETT: It was so special to share with him. He is quintessential uncle. The guy you can always laugh and have with.

And how many people can you call and say, hey what are you doing next weekend. Nothing, you want to go to Scotland. He doesn't even ask me why, he just says, yes.

PEREIRA: Sure I'll go.

BURNETT: And we had this moment that's going to, you know, all remember for the rest of my life.

PEREIRA: What I think is so profound though Erin though is we're watching, many of us can relate to. Your parents leaving the family home. You're getting a chance to say goodbye at the same time as you were doing this voyage. I mean, did it help -- did the visit to Scotland help maybe feel that void in your heart a little bit?

BURNETT: It did because, you know, my parents have lived in the farm almost 50 years. I was born there, grew up there. I mean, it's just a part and it's special place to all of us.

So, you know, they've been ready. It's been a long journey to be ready but I think having this connection to the past did make it easier. Because when we got that call, "Hey we're doing this roots project." And literally the next day I was going to be going to home.

So, I said all right (inaudible). I mean, but it's just -- it happened and it became part of it. And it is in the sense sort of like a goodbye present. I think this whole project is a good bye project.

PEREIRA: Now your parents too are so proud of you. Your family's so proud of you. And that moment when your uncle talks about how your grandfather would be proud of you.

It's beautiful.

BURNETT: You know, there's a picture I have of my grandfather holding me when I was only a year and half, and he did live much longer than that but I've always look at that picture and thought, you know, he loved me and known that. And I never -- but I never knew him. I didn't remember him and this brought that home, because it brings you so much more -- brings you closer to who you are and to your path in a way.

PEREIRA: What a voyage. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

BURNETT: Alright, thank you Michaela Pereira.

PEREIRA: Up next for Don Lemon, his story is quintessentially American from this country's shameful path, a path that moved from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and that turns to the point of no return in Africa.

DON LEMON: I kept looking for places to escape, and there was no escape.


COOPER: For many African-Americans, the pain of their history in America is compounded by lack of reliable historical records of their families that didn't stop Don Lemon who setout with his mom to open a window into his past and walk in the footsteps of his ancestors. Take a look.


ERCANBRACK: This cabin was taken from the Allendale Plantation and was built by slaves. So we're in a building that was -- that's very contemporary to the time of when your ancestors lived here, as well.

I want to shift back over to Catherine Woods, your third great - grandmother. And we don't know who her father was, but there's a candidate. His name was Clemens Woods.

DON LEMON: Black male, 68.

ERCANBRACK: He was born in Louisiana, and his father was born...

LEMON: Africa.

ERCANBRACK: ... Africa.

So Clemens represents that first generation that was born in the states. And his father represents one of the last generations to come directly from Africa. The next question is where in Africa do you think he might have been from?

LEMON: I'm confronted with a question, who do I think I am? It's something only my ancestral DNA can show.

ERCANBRACK: So these are your results, 76 percent African and 22 percent European. And then you've got 25 percent Nigeria and 22 percent Cameroon and Congo. Fifty percent of your genetic makeup comes from that specific region in Africa.


My ancestry is deeply rooted in what is now known as the Slave Coast. My mom and I traveled to Ghana's Cape Coast Castle, the main exit point for slaves coming to the United States.



LEMON: Nice to meet you.

BLANKSON: Nice meeting you.

LEMON: This is my mother Katherine.

BLANKSON: Hi, mom.

You're warm to welcome.

LEMON: Why are we here?

BLANKSON: So we're going to take a tour and we're going to take you back in time.

This was the main slave dungeon. This was constructed in 1792. It was designed for 1,000 people.

CLARK: In here?


LEMON: Can you imagine being (inaudible)?

BLANKSON: They stayed here for three months on average. In this darkness, yes.

LEMON: It felt like a descent into hell. I felt like this must be what it's like to enter hell.

I couldn't believe that people walked down that path and then walked through here and then spent months in here, if you survived.

BLANKSON: This was a dungeon for the trouble (inaudible) case, those who incite on rebellions and instigate in violence.

LEMON: But it was dark in here.

BLANKSON: It was dark in here. They were held hear in chains. You see the hole in the wall? Holes in the wall. They were held in chains. And this channel set on the drainage for their feces and urine. The floor which we have found in there has been excavated, (inaudible) with feces, blood, decomposed bodies, clothes, food, vomit, sweats and (inaudible) dungeon.

LEMON: I kept looking for places to escape, and there was no escape. The only escape was either become a slave, go to a new world or you escape through death.

BLANKSON: What we are standing before, now is a shrine. And behind this wall there was a tunnel. (Inaudible) the captives were led to the exits.

LEMON: Is that where the ships left?

BLANKSON: Yes. To the boats and into the ships. Now the walls are dedicated to the souls of our ancestors.

LEMON: I don't know how many thousands or millions of people ended up in places like this.

BLANKSON: I actually requested for a candle for you to light in memory of ancestors who passed through this facility. LEMON: That one little candle was a fire of inspiration.

We're survivors.


LEMON: Survivor spirit. Survivors.


COOPER: In 1860, the U.S. Census Bureau counted 3.9 million in slave to black people living enumerable descendants to unravel their family stories.

Up ahead, while one and a half of my family tree is firmly planted in New York City, the other half has equally strong roots hundreds of miles away.

COOPER: My dad was born here in Quitman, Mississippi in 1927. The journey to my dad's American South.

And later John Berman search for his long lost great Dutch philosopher.


PEREIRA: This is ROOTS, OUR JOURNEYS HOME. I'm Michaela Pereira.

At the University of Colorado in Boulder, there is a quote above the door of the library, "Who knows only his own generation remains only a child." Certainly, this not applied in my friend Anderson here.

Anderson, it's so great to be able to talk to you about a story that I've wanted to know about for sometime. I think so many of us have known about your story but there's parts of it that are not as explored.

COOPER: Yes, that's certainly true.

I grew up knowing a lot obviously about my mom's side of the family. My mom was Gloria Vanderbilt. And, obviously, the Vanderbilts in New York have a long and storied history, to say the least.

But I was really interested in my dad's history. And my dad is from Mississippi. And I grew up knowing a lot about his family because he wrote a book about growing up in Mississippi. But there was a lot I really didn't know.

And it's that side of the family that I have really always kind of felt more connected to.

PEREIRA: Well, let's explore it, shall we?


A. COOPER (voice-over): My dad, Wyatt Cooper, died when I was 10. When you're kid and you lose a parent, it's like the world as you know it comes to an end, clocks are reset. The calendar goes back to zero. After my dad died in 1978, it was just me, my mom and my brother Carter.

My mom and dad met at a dinner party in 1962. They couldn't have been from more different backgrounds. That's the thing that interest me the most about heritage, that the different branches my family three mapped out by ancestry. com started off so apart and have come together in me.

(on camera): My dad was born here in Quitman, Mississippi, in 1927. Though, growing up as a kid, I never felt all that connected to the Vanderbilt side of my family. I was always really interested on my dad's Southern roots.

(voice-over): My dad and I look a lot a like. This was him as a kid. And this was me. My dad's dad, Emmett Cooper was a former. I like of this photo of him a lot, his heavy-lidded eyes, the air of sadness about him. He married my grandmother Jenny Anderson when she was a teenager. My dad was born in this house at Quitman in 1927.

(on camera): The house my dad was born in, it's long since been torn down. There's no sign of it anymore. The land is mostly forest, though it's still owned by Coopers.

My dad wrote a book few years before he died called "Families." It's a memoir about growing up in Mississippi and it's also celebration of the importance of family. I reread it every year and I think of it as a letter from my dad to me.

(voice-over): My dad's memoir is full of family stories, tales of people whose names will never appear on history books or newspapers but who raised families, worked hard, and struggled to make a living of the land.

My dad and his family left Quitman During World War II and move to New Orleans. His mother, my grandmother Jenny Anderson worked in the Higgins huge factory and making landing craft for the war. She also sold ladies hats at Maison Blanche department store.

(on camera): Back in 2005, when I was in New Orleans, reporting in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, completely by coincidence, I stumbled across my dad's old high school had flooded during the storm. This is the school now. Back then, it was called Francis T. Nicholls Public High School. Francis T. Nicholls was a confederate general, governor of Louisiana.

One of the things I love about New Orleans is that it's the city that embraced its past even if that past is painful. They don't try to erase their history no matter what that history may be. In fact, Francis T. Nicholls' name is still on my dad's old high school, it's still etched in stone. His likeness is still etched above the front door.

Francis that Nicholls was most likely racist, definitely segregationist but they haven't removed his name from the school, even though the school itself has been renamed. It's now the Frederick A. Douglass High School, named after the famous abolitionist.

(voice-over): We were invited to take a look around. People who work at this school said they had old files but I couldn't imagine they've had any of my dads.

(on camera): Wow, that's nice.

(voice-over): They showed me closets full of all records and posters dating all the way back to the 1940s.

(on camera): They move back after war.

(voice-over): I couldn't find anything that belongs to my dad. As I was leaving, the school nurse came outside with a surprise for me. My God, that's my dad.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A report card, but not only did they keep stuff.

A. COOPER (on camera): This is crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have the file cabinets back down then. They have been...


A. COOPER: This is his photo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's him. Yes, there you go.

A. COOPER: Oh, my gosh. That's so sweet of you.


A. COOPER: Oh, that's so nice.

My dad's report card. It's crazy. Do you believe that they had my dad report card all the way going back to 1944? They just had it in the file somewhere in the back. That's awesome.

So, this is what I'm talking, New Orleans and history. Like, they don't throw away the history. They, you know, it's all here. It's all -- -- the past is very much alive in New Orleans.

(voice-over): My dad worked as an actor for years, appearing on stage and TV. He even had a tiny bit part in a movie called "The Seven Hills of Rome."

We stayed up late one night when it was on TV when I was a kid.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good luck tonight. I complete sellout. I will be out front leading the cheering section.



A. COOPER: He then became a screenwriter and wrote for magazines as well.

My dad is buried in Staten Island, next to my brother, who died in 1988. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about them both and wonder what they would think of me, the person I have become.

The thing about death is that, after a while, you can't remember what a person sounded like. You forget all the little things that you once knew, the sound they made when they opened up for front door, the way they walk, the way they laughed.

WYATT EMORY COOPER, ANDERSON COOPER'S FATHER: My feelings about what I want my sons to be...

A. COOPER: A couple of months ago, Clock Tower Radio restored an interview that my father did back in 1975.

E. COOPER: My relationships with my sons which are both quite extraordinary. I mean, my relationship with the son is quite extraordinary.

A. COOPER: I listened to it in my office at work. It was the first time I had heard my father's voice since I was 10 years old.

E. COOPER: They asked me questions. Like, Anderson begins to ask, how much does a stock man make, because that's what we would like to be now.

A. COOPER: The thing about the past is, one can't help what zip code one was born in, what country or family you're descended from. All you can do is learn the lessons of those who came before you, their stories, their mistakes and their successes.

You can't choose what family you're born into.

E. COOPER: My sons are very aware that I have certain expectations.

A. COOPER: All you can really do is choose how you want to live your own life.

E. COOPER: Behave with honor and with dignity.


PEREIRA: Anderson, what a story.

A. COOPER: Yes, it was cool.

PEREIRA: That was so moving.

A. COOPER: Yes. It was really...

PEREIRA: Just to hear you listen to your father's voice.

A. COOPER: Yes, that was amazing, because that is the thing about, when you lose someone, is, after a while, you do forget what they sound like.

And to suddenly have this radio station just out of nowhere restore this old recording that he did was really...


PEREIRA: What a beautiful gift.

A. COOPER: Yes, it was incredible.

PEREIRA: It's really interesting, the pictures.

I am always fascinated to see the familial look. You look so much like your dad. You look so much like your grandfather. That picture of yours that is your favorite of his...


PEREIRA: ... you really -- you feel this really strong connection to your father's side of the family.

A. COOPER: I do, yes.

I think it's because I lost my dad early on. And I was so close to him. And he told me so many stories about growing up in the South. And because he wrote a book about it, it really keeps it very much alive.

And it seems much more real to me and much more kind of close to who I am than the Vanderbilt side, which, you know, most people kind of always reference when they think about my family history. But it doesn't seem real to me. That's like about reading about strangers in a history book.

But the Coopers feel very real to me.

PEREIRA: It is also interesting how that connection through your dad and the South and New Orleans and how much New Orleans has played in your own professional career too.

A. COOPER: Oh, without a doubt, yes.

Yes, without a doubt, going back to during Katrina be there. My dad brought me to New Orleans when I was kid. He loved the city. But to be back in that city, to have been there as a kid a lot, and then to be back during there Hurricane Katrina and to go back there repeatedly, it is -- it is really kind of -- it's very personal for me.

PEREIRA: Aren't you glad you got to do this? A. COOPER: I am, yes. It's been really kind of an amazing experience.

PEREIRA: I'm so glad you did too. I have learned so much about you watching it.

A. COOPER: Yes. And I got my -- my dad's report card.

PEREIRA: I know. How did he do?

A. COOPER: He was -- he was all right. It's about as I expected. He wasn't very good in math and science, but like me, so...

PEREIRA: Well, you are doing OK, kid. You're doing OK.

A. COOPER: I'm doing all right.

PEREIRA: All right.

Still ahead: the risks Fareed Zakaria's took in search of a better life.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: And so he gets on the boat. And the guy who is checking his ticket says to him, why are you going to London right now? The Germans are bombing London every day, every night.


PEREIRA: And, later, the surprising revolutionary side of Jake Tapper's family.


A. COOPER: It is ironic that someone who is so curious about how the world works admittedly is not that curious where he personally came from.

Maybe that's because Fareed Zakaria's late father, who was orphaned as a boy and later served in the Indian Parliament, was equally as ambivalent about his past.

Nevertheless, Fareed agreed to start digging around his own family tree, with a little help from forensic science. His mother picks up the story from there.


FATIMA ZAKARIA, MOTHER OF FAREED ZAKARIA: Fareed was only six months old when his father fought the elections in Maharashtra and won and became a minister.

FAREED ZAKARIA: My father, by the way, occasionally claimed, you know, Turkish ancestry or Central Asian ancestry, but I always thought he did that in just as a way of suggesting that he had some kind of, you know, warrior past that we didn't know about.

Since I didn't know much about my roots, I took a DNA test.


FAREED ZAKARIA: Michelle Ercanbrack, a family historian with, delivered the results to me.

ERCANBRACK: What we have are some documents about the life of your father.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a passenger list from the 7th of July, 1944. And because this is Rafiq Zakaria. What this is saying is that he had left Bombay and was headed to the U.K.

FAREED ZAKARIA: He would tell one story about this voyage. He had the highest rank in the University of Bombay.

And if you had the number one rank, you got a full-paid scholarship with a first-class ticket to go to London. Now, he gets it in the middle of World War II. And so he gets on the boat, and the guy who is checking his ticket says to him, why are you going to London right now? The Germans are bombing London every day, every night.

And he says to him, but I'm going to get an education, and the guy who is looking at the ticket tells him, you're crazy, but come on board.

ERCANBRACK: We had you take a DNA test and both of your parents are from India, so the 85 percent South Asia or Indian region shouldn't come as a surprise, but you have got other things here as well.

When we look specifically at Asia Central combined with the Italy, Greece, Iberian Peninsula, we believe there's definitely some Middle Eastern influence there as well.

FAREED ZAKARIA: This is all the old lands of the Ottoman Empire, and there would have been Muslim migration probably from there into India.

ERCANBRACK: This European Jewish and the Polynesia ...

FAREED ZAKARIA: Now, the Polynesia is definitely a bit of a twist I would not have expected. The European Jewish is again probably part of that old Ottoman Empire. Places like Iraq, you know, Baghdad was a third Jewish for most of the 19th century so it wouldn't be surprising.

ERCANBRACK: Given what you know now, we're having your mother tested and her DNA results are coming.

FATIMA ZAKARIA: My son Fareed asked me to try my luck. I cannot tell how much we will get out of the little knowledge that I am able to put before you, but let us see.

FAREED ZAKARIA: All right. I'm getting ready to tape the show, but my mom's DNA results have just come in. Guess what? I'm Indian.


FAREED ZAKARIA: My mother is 97 percent Asian, with 96 percent being from South Asia. My European DNA and my Polynesian traces, are, therefore, from my father and the majority of my Caucasian roots also come from my dad.

My children are consummate Americans, by which I mean that they are not that interested in where we come from. They're more interested I think in where they're going.

They are very proud of the fact that I come from India. They've been to India many, many times.



UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Wait. Your glasses.

FAREED ZAKARIA: But they don't have a deep curiosity, certainly not one derived out of a sense of crisis of identity.


FAREED ZAKARIA: They have no crisis of identity. They're Americans.


A. COOPER: When we come back, in search of Spinoza. John Berman travels to the Netherlands to see if really he is a philosopher prince.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This is Baruch Spinoza. I am John Spinoza Berman.




The particular journey for another work husband of mine, John Berman who decided to ask, like Shakespeare, what's in a name? The answer, he found out, reads quite like a mystery novel.


J. BERMAN: Why am I sitting here in front of this statue in this city no less, Amsterdam, a city of canals and bridges and a country of windmills and tulips? Well, I'm here because the two of us, we share a name. This is Baruch Spinoza. I am John Spinoza Berman.


J. BERMAN (voice-over): Baruch Spinoza was a 17th century Dutch Jewish philosopher, a very big deal. Statues, portrait, even streets bear his name.

MICHIEL LEEZENBERG, UNIVERSITY OF AMSTERDAM: He has become an icon of the reason of a solitary thinker who braved not only his own community and religious leaders there, but also, more generally, religious intolerance.

J. BERMAN: Spinoza's petty ideas about God being inseparable from nature and his, at the time, haughty notions about freedom of thought were so radical, they got him excommunicated in 1556, expelled from the Jewish community in Amsterdam in 1656, scandalous then, now revered.

LEEZENBERG: So he's a proper symbol for all kinds of things that we'd like to associate with.

J. BERMAN: I like to associate with that. It's a good name to have, right?

LEEZENBERG: Absolutely.

J. BERMAN: Good name, great lineage, if it's mine, which is what I grew up being told.

GERALD SPINOZA BERMAN, FATHER OF JOHN BERMAN: When you have driven by friends, do you point up there and say...


J. BERMAN: I always point up. I always point up.

(voice-over): For years, my father, Gerald Spinoza Berman, would point proudly at the Spinoza name carved in the Boston Public Library.

(on camera): And when you would see it, what would you think?

G. BERMAN: I would think, that's me, my family. That's my heritage. My grandfather's name was Spinoza. My mother's name, maiden name, was Spinoza. And we thought that we were descendants from Baruch Spinoza.

J. BERMAN: You thought you were a philosopher prince?

G. BERMAN: Absolutely.

J. BERMAN: Which would make me the son of a philosopher prince.

G. BERMAN: Or something.

J. BERMAN (voice-over): There's just one problem, according to Dutch philosophy professor Michiel Leezenberg.

(on camera): What do you know about Spinoza, the man in terms of his family life? LEEZENBERG: Well, it's fairly simple to say he simply did have -- did

not have any family life at all. He was never married.

J. BERMAN: No marriage, no known children. So how did my family and would-be philosopher prince father account for this?

G. BERMAN: We were brought up that we came from a long line of bastards.

J. BERMAN: A long line of, yes, bastards. Remember that line. But, seriously, what is the truth? Am I loaded with radical philosopher DNA? After a lifetime of expectations, at last, Michael Ercanbrack from helped begin the search for an answer, an answer that intriguingly begins in Amsterdam, the birthplace of the philosopher.

ERCANBRACK: So, the first generation of Spinozas in the United States was Benjamin Spinoza. And Benjamin is your second great-grandfather. And He was born in Amsterdam.

J. BERMAN (on camera): Yes, I don't speak really good Dutch.

(voice-over): But you don't have to speak Dutch to go to Amsterdam. Nearly everyone there speaks perfect English, including Hetty Berg.


J. BERMAN: The chief curator and manager of museum affairs for the city's Jewish Historical Museum. She walked me through the historic Jewish quarter.

BERG: The girl's orphanage was here. There were all kinds of Jewish institutions also on the same street.

J. BERMAN: So Benjamin Spinoza was born here in 1850 in 121 Rashrhberger (ph) -- I can't say it.

BERG: Rappenbergerstrass (ph).

J. BERMAN: Just like you said. Rappenbergerstrass.

BERG: Yes, but not burger, but bur-her.

J. BERMAN: Rappenbergerstrass.


J. BERMAN: Your language is a pain.

BERG: I know.


J. BERMAN (voice-over): The neighborhood revolved around gorgeous building. (SINGING)

J. BERMAN: The 339-year-old Portuguese synagogue, filled with grandeur, not to mention treasure.

BERG: It's all lines with gold letter of the 17th century.

J. BERMAN: It was built by the tight-knit community of Jews who, like Baruch Spinoza's family, which emigrated from the Iberian Peninsula.

(on camera): How many people were members?

BERG: There were about 4,500 Portuguese Jews part of his community.

J. BERMAN: This synagogue, this community was everything?

BERG: Yes.

J. BERMAN: And to live outside this community would have been next to impossible?

BERG: Yes, it was really -- not really an option. I mean, Baruch Spinoza was really the first Jew at that time to live outside of community.

J. BERMAN: And he got tossed? I mean, he...

BERG: He got tossed. So it was not out of free choice.

J. BERMAN (voice-over): Remember, he was excommunicated in 1656, a problem for him, and, it turns out, a problem for me in my long-held belief that I might be his great, great, great, et cetera, grandson.

So, if his story is not my story, what is my story?


PEREIRA: You are going to definitely going to want to see how John's mystery unfolds. You can check it out at

Now, when we come back: the shocking discovery in Jake Tapper's family tree that has him seeing red.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joined the British Army in 1777.

TAPPER: So, he was -- he fought in the American Revolution, but he fought on the wrong side?




COOPER: Welcome back to ROOTS. You know, if you're a Philadelphia sports fan, rivalries are everything. You don't want to be caught rooting for the Boston Celtics at a Sixers home game or, heaven forbid, the Dallas Cowboys on Eagles' turf. So you can imagine the surprise when our own Jake Tapper, a true blue son of Philly, learned that his roots led him deep into one of the most storied rivalries in American history and on the wrong side, to boot.


TAPPER (voice-over): This is where I'm from, Philly. And it's not just cheesesteaks and Rocky Balboa. Philadelphia is to me very much about America.

My Mom and Dad put down roots just around the corner from here, Independence Hall, where the Founding Fathers signed the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. And the truth is, I never really cared that much about my ancestry. Where was I from? The answer was always Philly.

(on camera): My childhood neighborhood still looks as though George Washington slept there. I mean, everything about growing up during that time was Americana, even the names of the sports teams. The 1776ers, the Eagles. American to its core.

(voice-over): My dad's side of the family is Jewish, immigrants from Eastern Europe.

(on camera): Why did Grandmother Tapper and Grandfather Tapper's families leave the old country?

DR. THEODORE S. TAPPER, JAKE TAPPER'S DAD: For a variety of reasons. I think a lot of it was economics.

J. TAPPER (voice-over): My mom's Scotch-Irish, via Canada.

ANNE TAPPER, JAKE TAPPER'S MOM: My parents brought me here when I was 3.

J. TAPPER (on camera): There also was this family myth our side -- your side of the family came to North America and objected to slavery, and so they went to Canada, because there was slavery in the United States.

A. TAPPER: I would like to believe that, but I don't.

J. TAPPER: It's a great -- it's great family lore, though.

A. TAPPER: I think they left for other reasons.

J. TAPPER: So looking into those other reasons with, I found out I have colonial roots. Though it's not exactly what I might have hoped for.

It all starts with my seventh great-grandfather, Englebert Huff, a Norwegian navy man who jumped ship in the U.S. and ended up in Fishkill, New York. So that's where I went to find out more.

He was born sometime in the 1600s, either 1637 or 1687. In Norway, apparently he made quite an impression. He was described later in his life as having been something of a local celebrity for his scholarship and dashing horsemanship.


TAPPER (voice-over): Willa Skinner here in Fishkill is the local historian, the keeper of the secrets.

(on camera): My seventh great-grandfather, Englebert Huff, was here at some point.


J. TAPPER: What can you tell me about him?

SKINNER: All I know is that he farmed and he lived to be the age of 128. Years.

J. TAPPER: One hundred twenty eight?

SKINNER: One hundred and twenty-eight.

J. TAPPER: You believe -- you believe that?

SKINNER: I don't know. I don't know. There's some question about that.

When he was about 120 years old, there is a story that he courted a young lady who was 21 years old. I don't know how true that is.

This is a special communion tankard.

TAPPER (voice-over): Huff made such an impression his story is inscribed in this priceless communion tankard that the church still uses.

We searched in vain for Englebert Huff's grave. But we did make another discovery.

SKINNER: The Fishkill church has this record of the family of Englebert Huff.

J. TAPPER: Willa has this record, showing Englebert's grandsons, Paul and Solomon Huff, were involved in the American Revolutionary War, where America's founders were fighting for independence from the British.

(on camera): So Paul Huff...

SKINNER: Joined the British army in 1777.

J. TAPPER: So he was -- he fought in the American Revolution, but...


J. TAPPER: ... he fought on the wrong side?


J. TAPPER: I could not believe it. My ancestors, my colonial ancestors, were on the side of the British. Let me repeat that: the British. The wrong side. My fifth great-grandfather, Solomon Huff, and his brother, Paul, on the wrong side in the American Revolutionary War. It was like poison on my lips.

(reading from book): "When the American Revolutionary War broke out, Solomon continued to work his 200-acre farm without engaging in the conflict. But it became unbearable at the end of the war, resulting in Solomon following the lead of his older brother, Paul, and joining British forces." And then they went to Canada.

So no wonder there aren't that many Huffs in here. They fled to Canada.

SKINNER: They fled.

TAPPER (voice-over): And so we chased Solomon Huff, my great-great- great-great-great-grandfather, seven generations before me, to the Bay of Quinte, where the royalists landed, a three-hour drive from Toronto.

(on camera): I can't relate to it at all. It's so antithetical to who I am. I mean, I admire Solomon staying true to who he is. To side with King George III over -- over Thomas Jefferson and James Madison is crazy to me.


COOPER: It may not seem like it there, but Jake does eventually come to peace with his family revelation. You can go to to watch the full story.

Still ahead, the search for Christine Romans' roots reveals a great dame in Denmark.


CHARLOTTE JENSEN: Now you are ready to go back.


JENSEN: 1880.



PEREIRA: Welcome back to ROOTS. You know, these journeys home are taking us centuries backs in time. Along the way, though, there's always someone, someplace making a monumental decision that ultimately defines who we are.

Christine Romans went back, and she learned about a poor young girl in Denmark who, with one ticket and one bag, came to America and launched generations.


ROMANS (voice-over): This is Iowa. This is where I'm from. Corn fields and family, and every few years, we all get together. All of the grandkids and great-grandkids. And my grandma.

This is the picture you gave me.


ROMANS: How old do you think you were?

PETERSON: Probably 17.

ROMANS: My grandmother's name is Shirley Jean Peterson. And she remembers her grandma, Anna Jacobina Pederson very, very well. Someone they called Bedstemor. That's the Danish word for grandmother.

I know how much you loved your grandma. And I love my grandma. Tell me what your Bedstemor meant to you?

PETERSON: She was a second mother. She was just a great grandma. I just love her dearly.

ROMANS: I've grown up with a lot of stories about Anna Jacobina Pederson. Ordinary young woman, very simple means, who took a chance and basically built my family. I would have nothing. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for a chance that a poor girl in Denmark took, 150 years ago.

We followed in the footsteps of your grandmother. And I wanted to show you the book we made.

(voice-over): It's here in Iowa with my grandmother where I reveal what I learned about Bedstemor. Something I could only find out by going back to her homeland.

(on camera): Bye, New York. We're going to Bedstemor's town. Denmark, here we come.

This is the kind of house she would have lived in.

PETERSON: Yes. Yes, it is.

ROMANS: They would have rented a little room there. This is a laborer's home.

JENSEN: A laborer, yes.

ROMANS: All right. Let's go inside.


ROMANS: So this is -- this would be typical. This would be the kitchen over here. And everyone would eat and sleep and dress all in one -- all in one room?

JENSEN: Yes, yes.

Something like a table. An oven. A bed. A cupboard. Stuff like that. Very basic things. But they didn't have much.

ROMANS: She would have had a Bible and candlestick, probably for sure.

It's like going back in time.

JENSEN: Yes, if you want to do time travel and go back to the 1800s, I think we need some accessories.

ROMANS: All right. Let's do it.

JENSEN: Put that on first. Don't want you to get cold out. Now you are ready to go back.

ROMANS: 1880.


You have a wonderful dish of cold porridge. Here you go. And you might have had a little milk. Warm milk on it. If you had milk.

ROMANS: There's not any variety.

I could use a hot beer. Uh-huh.

PETERSON: Honestly.

ROMANS: They had fresh vegetables in the summer, but they didn't have much.

PETERSON: No, they didn't.

she was 5, she lived with the neighbor people. She would take care of the geese, to keep the geese out of the garden. Can you imagine that? And she told me the geese would get her down and slap her with their wings. And she'd cry for her mother. But it was a tough life then, you know?

ROMANS: Here is her immigration paper.

(voice-over): Anna arrived at the port of New York on October 14, 1886, when she was just 20 years old, two weeks before the dedication of the Statue of Liberty.

(on camera): She was a single female. She had one bag with her. PETERSON: Oh. Can you imagine coming -- with one bag. To a new

world. I can't.

ROMAN (voice-over): My great, great grandmother eventually settled in western Iowa and married Hans Olsen, this guy with the handlebar mustache.

(on camera): Hi, so nice to meet you.


ROMANS (voice-over): Back in New York, Michelle Ercanbrack, an historian, found for me the most moving document of all.

ERCANBRACK: You talk about how there is still today, after all these years, this identity of her buying a ticket?

ROMANS: Yes. They call it the Bedstemor's traveling ticket. She saved her money, and she would buy a ticket every few years. And send it back to somebody in Denmark.

PETERSON: They had to come way to Council Bluffs and stay at her house, and learn English, and learn a trade. And then, they returned the money for the ticket. And another ticket went to Denmark.

ERCANBRACK: They ask, "Who paid your passage?"

PETERSON: She recovered a 1930 passenger list for Anna's nephew, Karl Peterson's ticket to America, paid for in full by his aunt, Anna. Proof of her generosity for years to come.

ROMANS: Wow, that's so -- I always heard about the ticket for all those years. Then to see it.

Do you think Bedstemor, do you think Anna would be proud of the family that has grown up behind her?

PETERSON: Oh, she would be very proud. I often wish she could see my kids.

ROMANS (voice-over): Anna lived to be 92 years old.


PEREIRA: When we come back, my own journey and the unexpected embrace from a country that I never knew.


PEREIRA: It was the most generous gift somebody could give me. Every person that heard my story and understood that I was a child looking for connection, every single person said welcome home. And it was amazing and unforgettable.



COOPER: Welcome back to ROOTS: OUR JOURNEYS HOME. We've seen a lot of really amazing stories tonight. And now, it's finally my co-host, Michaela Pereira's turn.

Michaela, some of our viewers may know some of your background. You were adopted at a very young age. I know you've done some research on your biological mom. But for this project, Michaela decided to take a different approach to exploring her roots. Talk a little bit about how you went about that.

PEREIRA: It was a tough choice. I can find out about my birth mother's side of the family, because I have a birth sister who can give me all the information. My adoptive parents are very forthcoming about our family history. But I realize, while I am connected to those people, that's not my biological or ancestral history. So we decided to explore the part that I think presents to most people when you see me. You think what is she? I wanted to discover a little bit more about that.

COOPER: All right. Let's take a look.


PEREIRA: So my adoption journey began when I was young. I was 3 months old when I was adopted by Doug and Ainsley, Mom and Dad.

You took one look at my family, and you knew there was something here that was a little different. I was the only black kid I knew or part black kid or brown kid anywhere.

In Canada, I had to go through the government if I wanted to search for my birth family. They connected with my birth mother's family.

She was a wonderful woman that I didn't get to meet. I missed her by about a year. She lost a very brave battle with cancer. And if I had found her when I started looking, she would have been in the throes of that period in her life. And it would have been very difficult for her.

But the fact is, all of what you see in front of you -- the color of my skin, the curl of my hair -- comes from my father's side, my birth father's side. And I don't know anything about him.

A door has already been shut to me that way. And I'm not going to force it open. Beyond the fact of what it said on this piece of paper, that my birth father's family was from Jamaica. That's all I know.

(voice-over): So now I'm starting the search again to find out more about my heritage.

(on camera): Do I need to be scrubbed?

(voice-over): This time it all starts with a DNA test.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you gave us a saliva sample.

PEREIRA (on camera): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have found a second cousin, two-third cousins and multiple fourth cousins of yours. Is that sinking in? I can tell you now that is on your father's side. And it does go back to Jamaica.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got the name of the town. We have some pictures of some of your ancestors. It's a settlement in Jamaica, located in the parish of St. James.

PEREIRA: In the mountains southeast of Montego.

(voice-over): Because the doors to my birth father closed to me, I chose instead to investigate the place my ancestors were from instead of contacting these cousins.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to Jamaica!

PEREIRA: My DNA results pointing to Montego Bay and Cambridge. I came here to take it all in. The scenery, the food.

(on camera): The whole fish in my soup, and I could not be happier. I really cannot be happier.

(voice-over): And most importantly, the people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt that there was no way that you could come to Jamaica and not get one of these Jamaican scarves.

PEREIRA: You're worried about me being in New York and freezing?


PEREIRA: And so I'll remember my roots.

Oh, my gosh.

(voice-over): I wanted to soak up as much as I could to learn what it truly means to be Jamaican.

It seemed no matter where we were on the island, for every moment, there's a song.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Wherever I go, Jamaica is my home. I love to pour (ph) coconut water.

PEREIRA: With the pulse of Jamaica now in my soul, I'm headed to the heart of my journey.

(on camera): Today we're on the way to Cambridge. We believe that some of my ancestors come from this area of Cambridge.

(voice-over): This little church on the hill, my ancestors' place of worship. And for some, their final resting place.

(on camera): There's the potential that ancestors of mine are buried here. That's startling, and amazing and wonderful.

Are you from Cambridge?


PEREIRA (voice-over): Mr. Griffiths lives across the street from the church.

(on camera): You remember walking up these stairs.

GRIFFITHS: I was a choirboy up there.

PEREIRA: You were a choirboy at this church? Do you feel a sense of pride coming back here?


PEREIRA: Oh, my goodness. Look at the view.

(voice-over): We walked around the remains of St. Stevens Anglican Church, staring at the very spot where my ancestors used to pray every Sunday.

(on camera): Man, if these walls could talk.

(voice-over): After Mr. Griffiths left...

(on camera): I'm really grateful I got to come here.

(voice-over): ... I took a moment in the church by myself.

(on camera): I remember saying that I would love to find some context for that other side of me that I don't know anything about. And this feels, if this is it, this is great.

I look at faces a little longer. And try and imagine if they see something in me that's familiar.

To think that maybe somebody that was connected to me stood in this very church, that's really powerful. Kind of magical, really.

(voice-over): Well, it has been four wonderful, warm, enlightening days. But it feels like I'm not done yet.

(on camera): I experienced firsthand what people feel it is to be Jamaican. There's a great sense of pride in the people here. There's a great sense of joy in the people here. They love music. They love to dance. I can't tell you how many times people spontaneously broke out in song.

It was the most generous gift somebody could give me. Every person that heard my story and understood that I was a child looking for, for connection, every single person said welcome home. And it was amazing. And unforgettable. It was like -- it was like coming home.


COOPER: Wow. That -- that desire for connection, is that something you had always felt?

PEREIRA: It has been. It's interesting. Adoption in our family was always such a topic of conversation. All five of us.

COOPER: It was discussed early on?

PEREIRA: All right time. You looked at us and you're like, OK, clearly, you know, there's something here. And we talked about it. It was never a secret.

But the thing was that I think I -- I tried to push down to the bottom of my tummy and not every discuss was I was curious. It's natural. Any adopted kid is going to feel naturally inquisitive about their history and their roots. But I felt it would be betraying my parents and what they'd given us and what they'd given me. So I put it aside probably until I was, I don't know, 25 or 26 before I even sort of voiced a curiosity about it.

COOPER: It's amazing that, through the DNA testing, that they can determine...

PEREIRA: Isn't it remarkable?

COOPER: ... not just Jamaica, but the area in Jamaica, the town.

PEREIRA: Incredible., and we found, if I chose to, there are various people that have some sort of DNA connection to me. And if I chose to, I could reach out. That's something I'm not -- This was a big step for me. This was a huge step. You understand this. It's a huge step. And I have to process this. And it's going to take some time. But it was really, truly one of the most remarkable voyages of my life.

COOPER: You said in the piece, though, this is the beginning.

PEREIRA: Absolutely.

COOPER: You plan to look further at some point?

PEREIRA: I'm -- I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Right now I feel as though, you know, I struck at gold with my birth sister. We have a great relationship. I don't know what holds for my birth father's side of the family. But I can tell you one thing for certain: I am going back to Jamaica, baby.

COOPER: Had you known Jamaica was...?


COOPER: You did? You'd already known? PEREIRA: I did. And it was interesting, because I think for a long time, I dreamt of going. And you know how it is. Either the job gets in the way, the finances or the lack thereof get in the way. And then it always seemed like just going and lying on a beach there wasn't what I needed to do. And it just worked out perfectly that this opportunity allowed me to get there.

COOPER: I'm happy for you.

PEREIRA: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Thanks for sharing that, too.

PEREIRA: I feel good (ph).

COOPER: Not an easy thing to do.

Well, that's it for ROOTS: OUR JOURNEYS HOME. Remember, for full versions of the pieces you've seen here, plus photo galleries, behind- the-scenes video and more, just go to

PEREIRA: And our pasts not only tell us how we got here, but they also give us a sense of who we are and what we'll become. We certainly hope you've enjoyed learning about our stories as much as we did.


PEREIRA: I'm Michaela Pereira.

COOPER: I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching.