25 March 2012

My Connection To WDYTYA and Helen Hunt

Actress Helen Hunt was the latest guest to discover some of her ancestry on Who Do You Think You Are. Lorine McGinnis Schultze over at the Olive Tree Genealogy Blog wrote about her thoughts on the show.  Over at Geneabloggers, several people left comments with their thoughts and Cyndi Beane Henry from Mountain Genealogists weighed in with her review.

In searching for her roots, Hunt discovered she was a descendant of William Scholle, a German Jew who came to San Francisco around the time of the Gold Rush and who became a successful insurance broker and investor.

I was pleasantly surprised when who of all people appeared on my TV screen - Frances Dinkelspiel, who revealed to Ms. Hunt that her 2nd great grandfather Isaias Hellman and Hunt's 2nd great grandfather William Scholle were running buddies  not only the in very elite San Francisco social circles but also conducted business together namely the Nevada  Bank in San Francisco.  Hellman had come from Los Angeles to San Francisco to rescue the failing bank and scores of millionaires lined up to buy in.
The Nevada Bank at the corner of Pine & Montgomery , San Francisco

Frances wrote a book called "Towers of Gold" which is a biography of her 2nd great grandfather Isaias Hellman based on years of research that included over 50,000 archival documents.  Frances is related to my SIL through marriage a couple of times removed.  I had the pleasure of meeting Frances when she spoke at the California Genealogical Society awhile back.

Now here is the very cool part.  As you may remember, I have done quite a bit of research on my sister-in-law's family.  They are Jews from Bavaria who came to San Francisco in the 1850's and to this day still live there.  My SIL's 2nd great grandfather, David Nathan Walter, became a director for the Nevada Bank when he purchased $100,000 worth of stock in the bank.   Today, that bank is Wells Fargo.  D. N. Walter was boyhood friends with Isaias Hellman.  They are both from the village of Reckendorf in Bavaria.