Jill Becker Learns of Love Story Deep in Family Tree

10:35 AM, Mar 1, 2011   |    comments
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Jill Becker

11Alive morning anchor Jill Becker has a family history that extends from Atlanta through Illinois and all the way to Germany -- with one charming love story more than a century ago.

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While most of the information came from the web site www.ancestry.com, Jill provided the first bit of information herself.

"Our real family name is Becherer," she told genealogist Anastasia Harmon at their first meeting. "When I went to Little Rock to work, my news director said, 'Why don't we go with Becker?'"

For more than two decades, the name "Becker" has become synonymous with morning news in Atlanta. Jill has won an Emmy; she is a wife and mother of two boys.

But this journey was about finding out a story from 150 years ago -- in a place called Baden.

A historical state in the southwest of Germany, Baden is the birthplace of tennis legends Steffi Graff and Boris Becker (no relation). It was also the birthplace of Joseph Becherer and Barbara Hertzog, Jill's great-great-grandparents.

But when they lived in Baden, Joseph and Barbara didn't know each other; in fact, they got married to other people. When they lost their spouses, they each emigrated from Baden and took a boat all the way to New Orleans, the second-most popular immigration port in the mid-19th century.

Joseph and Barbara each arrived in 1847, then likely took another boat up the Mississippi River to the then-German settlement of St. Clair. They made these travels separately.

But in St. Clair, they found each other.

The two got married in 1848; they owned a homestead in St. Clair with 12 kids.

"It comes as a surprise to me that they did well," Jill said upon hearing all this news. "I think my Dad had a really strong work ethic, and his dad did, et cetera.

"I'm much more interested in finding out even more now."

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