Friday, February 10, 2017

My Day at RootsTech - Friday

Today was another outstanding day at RootsTech, from the opening sessions to the breakout sessions, I've had a wonderful experience.

The opening session today was focused on the African-American experience and their struggles. The Friday morning panel featured Nkoyo Lyamba, Kenyetta Berry, Sherri Camp, and Melvin Collier.

As the celebrity speaker, LeVar Burton, of Star Trek and Roots fame, told the stories of his family, including the stories of the help that his mother had provided to make sure his dreams were possible.  As he spoke about the vision Gene Roddenberry had for the future and how seeing Nichelle Nichols on the screen affected his life, he gave a though provoking speech about our human journey.  As he stated, we all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before.  

In an emotionally moment, Thom King from FamilySearch presented LeVar with a copy of the marriage certificate of his grandparents and information about his great-grandparents, which he hadn't known previously.  He became so emotional and asked the crowd "So this is what you'all do all day?"  He was obviously touched by the gesture.

The crowd was treated to a spiritually uplifting performance by the Calvary Baptist Church choir as well before the session ended.

As the session ended, I reached out via text to my distant cousin from Canada, Yvonne Demoskoff, who I'd previously been in touch with through genealogy blogging.  Our ancestors haven't been together since 1704, when her 8th-great grandmother was captured in an Indiana raid in Deerfield, Masasschusetts.  It was so nice to meet Yvonne and her husband, Mike.  It's nice that a genealogy conference was able to bring us together.

I spent some time in the early morning hours in the Expo Hall, checking out all of the various booths and signing up for more information.  

I purchased at DNA test from LivingDNA and can't wait to see the results - that will be another blog post, I'm sure.  I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to take another test, and the fact that this test can pinpoint where in the U.K. my British ancestry might come from really sounded interesting to me.  Will let you know what I find out.

I was able to visit with Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, and have her give her expert opinion on an old photograph.  Thanks to Dropbox, I was able to pull up a copy of the photo on my phone.  The person who had given it to me thought it was my 2nd-great grandmother.  Utilizing the hairstyle and dress, Maureen theorized that it was likely taken in the mid-1870s, which would make it too old to be my 2nd-great grandmother, but could likely be my 3rd-great grandmother.  Though I don't have a positive identification, I at least know a likely time period, and will pursue other evidence to make sure it was my 3rd-great grandmother. I also picked up one of her books on identifying photos.

I stopped by FamilySearch's Discovery Center and pulled up these interesting infographics on my maternal and paternal grandfathers:

It was interesting to see that there are only 256 individuals with the name Ord in the United States, though it didn't look like they had Indiana marked.

According to FamilySearch, there are 20,328 people in the United States with the last name of LeMaster:

For my first break-out session, I attended Preparing For Research Trips to Your Ancestral Homes by Dirk Weissleder.  He gave an excellent talk on how to plan a visit to Germany by first preparing here at home. 

One of the interesting things he mentioned was that the smaller the town in Germany, the deeper the ancestry will go as there was little immigration from Germany prior to the 1800-1850 time period.  So if your ancestors were from a smaller town, as opposed to say Berlin, they likely were living there for several generations and would have many decades of records.  He stated you should never underestimate the importance of small archives and museums in helping you discover more about your ancestral home.  You should find out as much as you can before going overseas and take time for the trip - in both an emotional as well as detailed preparation.  Time will be the most valuable thing during your trip.

My next session was entitled The Ethical Genealogist with Judy Russell.  Judy gave an outstanding lecture on some of the ethical debates and dilemmas that genealogists face.  She suggested we all check out and abide by the standards set out on the National Genealogical Society's website. DNA testing has also given rise to a whole new set of issues, but ethical dilemmas are nothing new to the genealogy world.  To be an ethical genealogist you have to tell the truth; you don't want to hurt someone unnecessarily, and you don't want to take something that isn't yours.  After hearing her speak, I can see why her lectures are always so popular, just as her blog is.

The final session I attended was Discovering Your Ancestor's War Story by Anne Mitchell.  She gave an overview of the various types of records that were created during America's wars and suggested methods and sources for finding the records.  I did like her method of creating a spreadsheet timeline of an ancestors life to chart out all the facts.  She also suggested that when you find a source to be sure to check out the other facts that it might lead to - for example, people aren't buried in a family cemetery by accident.  While I was pretty familiar with the sources she mentioned, I felt that the talk was informative and encouraged researchers to cite their sources and explore everything found before just attaching the record to a family tree.

Overall, this was another good day of discovery and I'm fired up to do more research with some of the tools and methods I've learned so far here at RootsTech.

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