Local 10 News' Laurie Jennings learns about her family's past

Jennings' family history dates back to early days of America

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – When it comes to family history, Local 10 News anchor Laurie Jennings felt she was fairly well educated.

"My sister was a history major. I was a (political science) major, but my sister did do a whole family tree," Jennings said. 

Thanks to her sister's efforts, Jennings'  paper trail was fairly vast and traced back almost 200 years.

 "I've grown up always teasingly calling myself a European mutt," Jennings said. "I think I'm a little French, a little English and a little Irish." 

Genealogy experts Marlis Humphrey and Diahan Southard teamed up to peel away the layers of Jennings' past.

"It would be fun for me to know what I primarily am and to feel some belonging, that's kind of neat," she said. 

While Jennings thought she was primarily Irish and French, her DNA results revealed a strong British link dating all the way back to the 1300s.

In fact, her ninth great-grandfather on her father's side, John Balch, was part of the second successful colony in America.

"I really didn't know about that side of the family," Jennings said. 

Balch built one of the first wooden structures in this country, a house that still stands today as an historic site.

"I love that. I mean, that's so cool," Jennings said, looking at a photo of the house. 

The house stayed in the family for a long time, and in 1923 there was a family reunion there. 

Humphrey also uncovered records showing Jennings' fifth great-grandfather, Vernon Balch, served in the Revolutionary War.

"So she is legitimately a daughter of the American Revolution," Humphrey said. 

"It's amazing that these documents exist. I mean, they're so old," Jennings said. 

Southard also found links to relatives Jennings never knew existed.

"We actually found several close matches," Southard said. "In fact, we found exact matches who also shared the Jennings surname." 

Jennings is 60 percent British, 16 percent Scandinavian and only 13 percent Irish.

"I would never guess Scandinavian ever. I just would have no idea," Jennings said. 

The results have Jennings planning trips with her husband and twin boys.

"They're 10 years old ... so I'll target some places that I have history and we'll learn it," she said. "I have a lot of research to do now." 

About the Author:

Five-time Emmy Award-winning newscaster Calvin Hughes anchors WPLG-Local 10's 4, 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts.