Norah O’Donnell Discovers Her Great-Grandmother Was Widowed at 19, Grandmother Began Working at 12

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Norah O’Donnell has discovered a piece of her family history that had been lost for generations as the “CBS Evening News” anchor learned that her great-grandmother was widowed at 19.

O’Donnell learned of her family history thanks to the help of famed professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., on his acclaimed PBS series, “Finding Your Roots.”

Through archival research they found that her great-grandfather on her mother’s side, Dennis McCaully, a miner, was accidentally killed by a shale fracturing skull and brains, in 1898. He left behind a 19-year-old wife. The oldest of his children was O’Donnell’s grandmother, Mary.

When Mary was 12, she worked in a linen factory, O’Donnell learned. Eventually, Mary left Ireland and settled in America alone.

“In her 20s, she had to leave Belfast, Ireland, all by herself to come to America because her family needed money,” O’Donnell told Inside Edition. “Every time I am down in the dumps, I think of my courageous grandmother and how hard she worked every single day.”

The research looking into O’Donnell’s family tree took almost two years to complete.

“They are from Ireland, salt of the Earth people -- farmers and miners, I am so proud of them,” she told Inside Edition.

O’Donnell called the experience “eye opening to be apart of ‘Finding Your Roots.’”

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