Sam Champion Explores His Irish Ancestry

Sam Champion's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather sailed from Bristol, England, to Virginia in 1634 or 1635.

Since then, 11 generations of Champions have been born in what is now the United States.

Sailing From a Storied Irish Port

Sam's ancestry has deep roots in Ireland, and his family tree is part of America's rich Irish immigration story.

Two and a half million Irishmen left Ireland in the 1800s through Queenstown -- today called Cobb -- a sort of Ellis Island of the Emerald Isle.

Queenstown's storied history includes two famous ships.

The Titanic set sail from Queenstown on its infamous journey, and the Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk nearby -- an event that contributed to America's involvement in World War I.

Another story that set sail from this port is Sam's great-grandfather, James Hampston.

He left for America between 1877 and 1880 with his parents, three sisters and two brothers.

The Hampston family settled in the Irish community of Manchester, N.H. found James listed as an 11-year-old resident of that town in the 1880 U.S. Census.

Kentucky Champions

It was James' daughter, Josephine Hampston, who would make the move to Kentucky and marry Burna Champion, Sam's grandfather, and part of a long line of Champion men born in Kentucky.

Burna worked as a riverboat pilot during the Great Depression and as a machinist during WWI.

Their son, James Harry Champion, became Sam's father.

Sam's middle name is the same as his father's first: James.