Posts Tagged ‘RootsTech’

Salt Lake City RootsTech Day 3 & 4

Everything is a blur…. following are a few highlights in no particular order.

Day #3 Keynote speaker Judy Russell was amazing.  She is one of my favorite bloggers ( and an entertaining and animated storyteller.  She explains how most of our family stories are lost (or mangled) in just 3 generations!

Dr. Spencer Wells, the director of the National Geographic’s Genographic Project, gave a fascinating talk about how the study came to be and shared some results.

The session was recorded and is free online, both are worth watching – (

MyHeritage ( was Friday’s sponsor and during the keynote they announced that the first 500 folks to stop by their booth would get a free all access 6-month package.   I have seen lots of positive reviews in various blogs and have been meaning to give it a try…so I joined the stampede of folks and got my free pass. The site took my free pass, but unfortunately won’t take my GEDCOM.  I get a message that reads, “Your GEDCOM file was successfully uploaded and is currently being processed. You will receive an email once processing is complete.” No email, no family tree, I tried 3 times, even trying two different GEDCOMs – one from and another from Family Tree Maker.  Saturday morning I spoke to one of the programmers at the booth; he tried to rectify the situation unsuccessfully – he kept my GEDCOM on his thumb drive and asked me to email on Monday if things weren’t resolved.

Next stop was  They were offering a conference special: A very large fan chart FREE in black and white or $5.00 in color; $5.00 extra if you wanted it laminated.


A very helpful guy, Bryant Larsen, gave me instructions on creating the chart using ( since I don’t have a FamilySearch tree (but if you have one, they can be automatically uploaded). I used the FamilySearch/RootTech computers, downloaded a GEDCOM from and uploaded it to the site and in a few seconds I had a colored .pdf.  Bryant submitted it to his printer queue and told me to come back in a few hours.  I paid my $40.00 for four laminated copies and then completely forgot to go back!  I returned Saturday morning to chaos.  There were hundreds of charts on tables everywhere.  I spent about an hour looking, but mine were nowhere to be found.  Frustrated, I requested a refund.  The owner of the company, Doug Butts, asked for my mailing address and promised to locate them and ship them at no charge….

So far Mocavo broken (see day 1 & 2 post), MyHeritage broken and wall chart lost 😦  – They say everything comes in “three’s”.

I visited the GenealogyBank booth ( and for $99 they extended my current subscription for two years!  Gotta love conference specials.  I LOVE Genealogy Bank and have found lots of family mentions in their newspaper collection over the past two years.  Especially handy is their recent obituary collection that dates back to 1977.  I tend to look for living cousins to see what photos. stories and artifacts they may have inherited.  Recent obituaries typically give me their names and location – I can then track down living relatives on Linkedin, Facebook or other social media sites.

I chatted with Steve Miller from EclipseIR (, the CEO of a facial recognition company for genealogists.  My husband works in the facial recognition industry and it turns out Steve is well acquainted with my husband’s former boss, who is also our neighbor.  The service is free.  If you have a photo that you know is “grandma” and you have another that you think is “grandma”.  Just email them both in and the software will give you a probability of the likelihood that it is grandma.   Interesting stuff!

I emailed them a photo of my g-g-grandfather Ephraim Augustus Hall (left) and another photo that I believe to be Ephraim (right).  I will update this post when I get some results.

combined Ephraim Augustus Hall

I attended the hour long presentation by Michael J. Leclerc  of Mocavo.  I was impressed. They are adding lots of new information daily and seem to very interested in incorporating suggestions from their customers. One great thing they offer is “Genealogy Karma to empower the Mocavo community and connect researchers around the country (free). It is modeled after the defunct Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) – (

I spent a good part of Saturday at the Backblaze Demo theater.  Comfy couches, a woman walking around with a basket of free candy and a raffle prize for each presentation (I came close, but didn’t win).  Each presentation was about 20 minutes.

I watched D. Josh Taylor, another of my favorite presenters, talk about findmypast.  They have an impressive collection of UK records (I have used them in the past and was able to piece together both of my Welch lines with parish registers).

I sat through Cece Moore’s basic DNA presentation again because I love listening to her. She is an organizer of the first annual “Institute for Genetic Genealogy” being held in Washington, DC August 16-17, 2014.  Registration is only $85 ( – sounds like a great event!

I watched Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems speak about using Google Earth for time travel.  Turns out that many of David Rumsey’s free historic maps ( can be overlaid onto today’s map in google earth. In Google Earth go to layers/gallery and you will see the Rumsey Historical Maps.


Another great tool is the ability to look back at Historical County Boundaries (since boundaries changed frequently).  For example, when my ancestors moved to Bangor, Maine they were in Hancock County until 1816 when the area became part of Penobscot County.  This is important when looking for certain records, like land deeds, which are held at the county level.  I would need to know to look in Hancock County for pre-1816 deeds. Go to, and select a state. At the bottom of the page, click “Download the KMZ File for use with Google Earth”. Unzip the file. Open Google Earth and click File > Open and select the KMZ file. The historical county boundary lines are in satellite view. Use the time slider to select a specific year.  Cool stuff!

Overall a great conference!  I did get to spend a few more hours at the library where I uncovered some Oneida, New York land ownership maps and city directories to use in a future #52 Ancestors post.

During the conference, I got an “alert” from Ebay; a painting by my grandmother’s uncle Walter Lansil was listed. I bid. One guy is bidding against me. I text my cousin Ed, excited. Turns out he is also bidding against me! We bid against each other up to $1,525.01 before we figured it out! The good news is that you can retract bids if the auction hasn’t closed. So we were able to do that this morning and are now negotiating for a reasonable price & custody arrangement 🙂


It was a long journey home, through snowy Chicago (where miraculously I didn’t get stuck!).  I arrived back  to hubby and 4 kitties at 1:30AM – hubby sound asleep, 4 kitties awaiting anxiously at the door and very happy to see me!


Salt Lake City and RootsTech Days 1 & 2

My flight was a bit delayed due to blizzard conditions in Boston and I missed my connection in Dallas, but someone was looking out for me as I was able to get the very last seat on the next flight to Salt Lake (17 minutes after I arrived at the gate). It did take me 45 minutes to find the gate because in travelling from Gate A to C (a two minute journey) I took the tram in the wrong direction and of course we ran into mechanical difficulty…. The red arrows below depict my very long tram ride!


The last time I visited Salt Lake, I arrived and departed in the dark.  The drive in from the airport was breathtaking!


I checked in to Hotel Monaco, A Kimpton Hotel (as the conference hotel was booked).  I LOVE Kimpton Hotels.  The staff is friendly and accommodating, bed comfy and the room always spotless: – turns out I am diagonally across the street from the conference center and a few blocks from the Family History Library.

I missed the Wednesday sessions, since it was 4:00 by the time I was settled, so I registered and then headed over to the library.


I focused on probate and land deeds in Oneida County, hoping to get a break on my 3rd g-grandfather George Perry (abt 1828-28 Jan 1862).  George was my paternal g-grandmother Georgianna (Hughes/Clough) Hall’s grandfather.  He likely came from Wales, married Ann Jones daughter of Catherine Owen and Robert Jones with whom he had four children.  His son William drafted his own obituary in which he writes:

“His grandfather and grandmother the late Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jones, emigrated to this country from North Wales in 1837. They settled and resided on Floyd Hill, or Camroden.  Mr. Perry had two sisters, Delia Spoor of Galeton Pa., and Kate [Kitty] Shipman of Lynn Mass., and one brother, George Perry of Galeton. They are all dead.

Father Ran Milk Route – George Perry lived on the Lynch farm and conducted a milk route from 1855 to 1862, the time of his death Mrs. Perry then left the farm and purchased the house at 507 E. Dominick St., and with her four children lived there until 1886, when she moved to Frankfort, where she died. She was twice married, her second husband being James Evans, who died in Frankfort In 1902.” 

I was able to find a land deed, about two years after George’s death in which a number of people sell a tract of land in Factory Village, on Dominick Street to Ann Parry for $1.00. In another deed, Ann is listed as Ann Evans, formerly Ann Parry.   So while I haven’t broken through any brick walls, I have some more FAN names to look at and some evidence that George was perhaps born Parry vs. Perry.

cf7342df-1c39-46e3-a7c2-e8c24e9b0064 cf01ce90-aee6-42b0-86b1-0d2f13c5e517

FHL film 371857 book 334 pg 136 – 19 Nov 1863

Back at the hotel, I had a glass of wine and yummy potato chips smothered with blue cheese at the nightly complimentary “happy hour”, I ordered the ahi tuna appetizer and pear salad from room service (both fabulous) and called it a night!

Opening session was wonderful.  I believe you will be able to watch the session (and others) soon at:

Dennis Brimhall, the CEO of spoke of their need for indexers.  They intend digitize 70 million records, hopefully in the next 30 years, instead of the 300 hundred years it will take at the rate things are currently being done!  Their latest indexing initiative is to make millions of obituary images searchable.  On occasion I index, but not as often as I should, I vow to do better. Click here to learn how you can help:

I especially enjoyed The Pioneer Woman (, Ree Drummond, blogger and author; she too includes pets in her family tree!


She began blogging to capture and preserve her families story – something we should all be doing!  You don’t have to blog online, but jot down some memories for your grandchildren and their grandchildren so they can know more of you than simply your birth and death date.

My first session was with Tom Jones.  If you are at a conference and Tom is speaking, see him.  He is a wonderful speaker and an amazing researcher.  His session was entitled “Can a Research Problem be Solved Solely Online?”.  He presented a complex research problem and step by step demonstrated how he solved the mystery.  If you haven’t seen Tom present, view his free course “Inferential Genealogy”, on FamilySearch: http://

One thing I did learn was to look for your ancestor’s family in the census prior to their birth.  Say your ancestor was born in 1873 in Malden, Massachusetts.  You find someone who might be the right person in North Andover, Massachusetts in the 1880 census.  Go look for those parents in Malden in 1870, check dad’s occupation – does it match? How about the names of siblings, do they match?  If yes, you have essentially “proven” that the North Andover family is yours.

Next I headed to two DNA sessions one with Tom Janzen and the other with Cece Moore.  Both were amazing and made me realize that I have quite a bit to learn about DNA.  I discovered a few things.  My mom is 50% Acadian and we have an unusual number of close Acadian matches. Because there were so many intermarriages within that group, the results are likely off, a predicted 3rd cousin may be a 5th, 6th  or 7th cousin.

I am more interested in using DNA on my dad’s side (since reconstructing my Acadian family was fairly easy) to break through a few brick walls.  Since dad is deceased, they suggest that I have any/all relatives on his side tested, even my siblings, since each of us have inherited different DNA from the paternal line.

As far as I know, there are no adoptions in my family.  But if you are adopted, there are “Adoption Angels” (http:// who will assist in your quest to locate your birth parents.  They suggest that you test at all 3 companies – 23andme, and FTDNA.  If you get a true second cousin match, they will solve your case (Cece did mention times when they could solve your case without DNA; your non-identifying adoption information can point to a specific set of parents, and depending on your state of birth, you may be able to obtain a copy of your original birth certificate) .

I next headed to the Expo Hall to explore. First stop was Mocavo.  I used their free computers and immediately found a document for my 5th g-grandparents Brian Hall and Abiah Crossman.

Acts and Resolves Passed by the General Court, 1783

Mocavo (http:// is free to search, but sorting through and narrowing the results requires a Gold subscription. It’s regularly $80 a year but they are offering a $40 conference special.  They supposedly launch 1,000 new databases daily and if I upload my family tree, they will alert me of new matches. Sign me up!

Another exhibitor “Butterfly Kisses” had some really great genealogy canvases using your surnames, they are going to email order information, but I guess you just give them a GEDCOM – a perfect customized gift and only $42!


I skipped the opening “dessert” social, figuring I would eat 15 brownies.  Instead I stopped at the Olive Bistro (across from the conference center) and had a fabulous veggie panini.


I had big plans to head back to the library from 6-10PM but I was mentally exhausted and headed for bed (after my free chair massage and playing on a bit).  A choice I will likely regret later, how many chances do you get to explore the Family History Library!

“I’m Going to Disney World!”

Next week, the winner of the Super Bowl heads to Disney World!…..

Two Hall immigrants settled in Bristol County, Massachusetts in the 1600’s; George Hall of Taunton and Edward Hall of Rehoboth.  My 5th g-grandfather, Brian Hall, b. 1727, in an area now known as Raynham, Massachusetts, was thought to descend from one of these men.

Paperwork is sparse, so my brother kindly agreed to join the Hall DNA study in an effort to identify our ancestors.  He took a Y-DNA67 test (for males only, which follows the paternal line); we matched neither George or Edward.  Five years passed.  Bristol County historians, with whom I consulted, insisted there were no other Hall families in the area.  They recommended that I seek other Hall descendants of Brian, outside of my direct line line, and convince them to test.  They suspected that one of my grandmothers may have passed the “milkman’s child” off as a Hall. We are kit #115426 –

About a year ago I tracked down two 5th cousins and blogged about it here –  –  The Update?  We are Halls!  We matched 35 of 37 markers.  There was a 3rd Hall family in Bristol County! To date I have found no evidence of this family but interestingly we have a 3rd DNA match – Joseph Hall, who immigrated from England in 1745, married Ann Hitt Martin Strange and settled in Harrison and Lewis Counties, West Virginia –

Hopefully, future Hall testers will help connect our dots.

DNA resultsFirst 30 Hall DNA markers (double click to view larger)

When I discovered that my mother was Acadian, Lucie LeBlanc Consentino ( suggested an mtDNA test (which follows the maternal line), to help break through my brick wall and prove Stephen White’s (Genealogist at Moncton University’s Centre d’Études Acadiennes) theory of our heritage..  Stephen was correct! We matched Genevieve Lefranc one of the “Mothers of Acadia”

Next I tried the family finder test, hoping to break through a few brick walls; my mother, husband and a few cousins tested.  My results are on 23andme,, FamilytreeDNA and GEDMATCH.  Hundreds of matches…  Confusing matches.  I need to learn more about DNA and how it works.  So I start Googling.  I come across a blog and began reading about DNA –

I notice that Kitty’s blog is running a contest – winner gets an entrance pass to RootsTech.  A bell goes off in my head.  Last summer, when I ran into Michael Hall (no known relation), Deputy Chief Genealogical Officer at FamilySearch, I asked him which conference he would choose if he could attend only one.  He immediately responded RootsTech. So….I entered the contest. “Submit a question for author Stephen Wells”, a geneticist  – –  My question,  “What is the future of DNA in genealogy? – say 25 years from now….” won the contest!

So…. while the Super Bowl winner heads to Disney World, thanks to Kitty Cooper & DNA “I’m Going to RootsTech!!!!”   Flight and hotel booked, cat sitter in place and I am off to study the class schedule!

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