MyHeritage DNA Featured on the Steve Harvey Show

MyHeritage DNA Featured on the Steve Harvey Show


We just helped Steve Harvey’s personal stylist, Will Phoenix, discover his roots on air using MyHeritage DNA. Will had always wanted to know more about his heritage, in particular the origins of his unusual last name, Phoenix. He’s always loved his last name, which in Greek mythology is a long-lived bird that rises from the ashes and is born again. But where did it come from?

Watch Will’s exciting DNA reveal in this video:

Ethnicity Estimate

Will’s Ethnicity Estimate showed strong West African origins of 62.7%.

Will’s family is from Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia, United States. The city of Savannah became the British colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. The largest slave auction in the USA during slavery took place in Savannah, Georgia in 1859.

As rice and cotton plantations were established in the Georgia Lowcountry, the demand for slave labor increased. Rice became an increasingly profitable export crop in coastal Georgia, leading merchants in Savannah to import Africans from the rice and grain coast of West Africa, from the Senegambian region to Sierra Leone. Between 1784 and 1798, West African slaves accounted for 78% of slaves imported to Savannah.

Historical Records

Will’s paternal great-grandfather, Nero Phoenix, was born circa 1860 and died in 1912. He was married to Martha Roberts.

Nero and his family appear in the 1910 U.S. Census. Nero’s occupation is listed as a laborer for the Guano Mill company. Guanos are the excrement of seabirds and bats that are used as fertilizer, and this company imported guanos from the Phoenix Islands in the South Pacific Ocean.

1910 United States Federal Census on MyHeritage SuperSearch™

Perhaps when he was emancipated, Nero chose Phoenix as his last name because of its mythical origins, which symbolize rising from the ashes and rebirth. Emancipation gave Nero and his family the chance to have a new beginning and build a full of life outside the bonds of slavery. It is possible that Nero was acquainted with the name and its symbolism from his workplace.

We located Will’s paternal grandfather Edward Phoenix’s WWI draft registration:

MyHeritage SuperSearch™ record from United States World War I Draft Registrations, 1917–1918

On July 15, 1918, he was ordered to report to the local board for military duty in Camp Gordon.

Camp Gordon Atlanta, circa 1917

On his maternal side, Will’s great-grandfather, George William can be found in the 1920 census. His occupation is listed as a laborer in a cemetery. He was married at the time to Bertha and had two children, Will’s grandfather William, and his sister, Catheline, who was 10 months old.

1920 United States Federal Census on MyHeritage SuperSearch™

In the 1930 U.S. Census, George and Bertha have more children, with an 8-year gap between William and Joseph. Catheline no longer appears and has probably passed away.

Here’s a copy of Will’s grandfather, David Williams’, WWII draft card:

World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1940–1942 in MyHeritage SuperSearch™

Will was amazed to learn more about his family history, and he was deeply moved to learn that he comes from a line of strong and proud ancestors. Seeing documents from his ancestors’ lives for the very first time has made a profound impact on him.

Learn more about your own family history through MyHeritage DNA.

Leave a comment

The email address is kept private and will not be shown

  • Deanna bell

    December 6, 2018

    I watch the show in that’s amazing I would like to know where my hair genes is and where my last name came from Bell

  • Deanna bell

    December 6, 2018

    Amazing watch the show I would like to know about mine now

  • Brigitte Daniels

    December 14, 2018

    I would like to find out about my Mothers heritage and my family!!!

  • Marlene Farrell

    April 9, 2019

    I would like to know more about my mother’s heritage