pending lawsuit combined with a shocking medical revelation, celebrity chef Paula Deen is having a busy year. That's not surprising, given the family history that she uncovers on the Season 3 finale of "Who Do You Think You Are?"With a
On this episode of the NBC celebrity genealogy show, Deen delves deep into her past, discovering details that shed light on her family tree. Her family's connection to the Civil War gives the chef cause to pause and reflect, however.
Deen struggled with diabetes, agoraphobia.
The Georgia celebrity rocked the food world by revealing that she has type 2 diabetes. Viewers of the genealogy show wouldn't have guessed that, though, given the number of fried and salty dishes she served in the opening scenes.
As "Who Do You Think You Are?" reveals, Deen also fought a battle with agoraphobia, a condition marked by panic attacks and fear of crowded places. Afraid to leave her house, the cook said that she found her kitchen to be the most therapeutic place that she could escape to.
"In the end, [the kitchen] would be my salvation," Deen said.
Shaking the family tree for the cameras.
The years lost to agoraphobia have made Deen determined to learn all she can, hence her investigation of her roots. The journey begins in Albany, Georgia, with Peggy Ort, Deen's aunt on her mother's side. The death certificate of John Liddle Paul, her great-grandfather, serves as the starting point.
Ancestry.com, one of the sponsors, gets high-profile coverage on this series, especially at the state archives in Morrow, Georgia. Deen uses the genealogy website to verify facts and figures on a very conspicuous Apple computer. The celebrity also gets exclusive access to Nathan Matthews, a research genealogist, to help trace her family history.
Matthews is the first of a series of experts that appear in this episode. Deen's celebrity status obviously helped secure the time of these specialists, but one has to wonder how difficult it would be for the average person to get one-on-one time with top-notch researchers. In some ways, Deen does the audience a disservice by making the search look too easy.
A Civil War controversy.
Upon learning that her three time great-grandfather John Batts had been a politician, Deen headed to the old state capitol at Milledgeville. Dr. Bob Wilson, Professor of History at Georgia College, invited her into the old legislative chamber where her ancestor served and introduced legislation.
"150 years later, my heine could be in his chair," a deadpan Deen said to an amused Dr. Wilson.
The history professor used census records to point out the ancestor's position on the Civil War. The records indicate that Batts was well-off, having personal wealth that could be as much as one million dollars in today's currency.
"The main source of wealth for a Southern planter, when you see a figure like that, is going to be in people," Wilson said. Subsequent documentation, include a list of "slave inhabitants," showed that Batts did indeed own slaves.
Despite these shocking revelations, this episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" was fairly tame. The real excitement in Deen's life appears to be in the modern world, not the past.
Watch the full episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" featuring Paula Deen: