Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Packing for RootsTech 2014

In just a week I will be flying to Salt Lake City for RootsTech 2014. Needless to say I am very excited for the conference. I attended in 2012, but had to miss last year. For that conference I created a nice Excel spreadsheet of things I needed to pack. It is interesting that in just two years that many of items are no longer needed on the 2014 list. The first is my once treasured hand scanner. That is being replaced by CamScanner on my android phone. That means one less device and one less charger. The second item to not make this year’s list is my digital camera. Again, the smart phone camera is replacing the need to take the camera. The third item to not make the list is my Nook. At the time I used it as a tablet and device to store my documents. This list is getting longer; I will also not need to bring my digital audio recorder, no extra batteries for the camera and audio recorder, and no charger for the Nook. It will be nice not have to pack or to worry about losing these.

That leaves what still made it on the list. I will bring refrigerator magnets for marking cabinets where I have pulled microfilm at the Family History Center. If you haven’t tried it, it saves a lot of time and helps ensure the microfilm gets back into the right place. I still like to take notes on paper. A neat idea I picked up from another blogger was to print the FamilySearch catalog records for the books and film I will be using. Those sheets will make a great place for taking research notes, plus the citation is already listed. I will still need to bring a charger for the phone and a flash drive to pick up extra files.  I carry a file folder with all of my hotel, air, and conference registrations with me, just in case. I almost forgot, I still need to bring pens and a notebook. Did I forget anything else?

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Journey to RootsTech 2012

Day 2 - 2February 2012

The day started off with an excellent breakfast at eh Radisson. The other good news was that I didn't have to change rooms. I headed over to hear the RootsTech keynote speaker for the morning, Jay Verkler, the past head of Family Search. I was very impressed and excited with what he told us. There are great collaboration plans in the near future. He also talked about developing the community framework timeline. That opens up some excellent research possibilities. Another momentous announcement was that they now estimate that it will only take ten years to digitize the current microfilm holdings for the Family History Library. I can can hardly wait! And it's wonderful to hear there are 4,200 genealogists here. That rocks. Google had an intriguing announcement about Google Chrome. Using,, and an extension they will now be able to deeper search sites that were ignored in earlier Google searches. Family Search, Ancestry, and others will be included. BrightSolid is evidently going to become part of the American genealogist's vocabulary. They are a UK company that is well-known there that is coming across the pond. That could open up some interesting competition.

After the keynote thousands of genealogists headed to the Exhibitors Hall. I was aiming to get a free tee shirt by getting my card stamped from various vendors. I succeeded and am now the proud owner of a RootsTech tee. It was rather crowded to actually visit with vendors, but I decided to do more in-depth chats with them later.

My first session was Steve Morse. He has some great free helps that I would call widgets but probably aren't. They help you find things like the birth date from a gravestone that gives the death date and the age in year, month, and day. He also has some great aides for the 1940 census! He's at, not com. More to come.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Journey to RootsTech 2012

1 February 2012

Planning paid off! I made a list of everything I needed to pack days before I was to leave. It would be too easy to forget a charger or some other vital tech piece. Last night I checked that list twice just like Santa-- I don't think I forgot anything.

I deliberately took the mid-day flight and am really glad I did. It was an easy morning getting out of the house. My flight wasn't until 12:45, but I wanted to get tot he airport an hour and a half early just in case there were any problems. It was an easy drive to Omaha and the easiest airport check-in I have had. There was no one waiting to check baggage, the security check was barely busy, and I was to my gate by 11:15-- wow.

One of the things besides the kitchen sink I didn't bring was a lunch or snack. I brought a small package of Lay's potato chips and a cup of coffee. I could refill it and take it on the plane. That worked well, but next time I will take along a sandwich or something. It was great having the new Delta card, as it got me zone 2 seating which is pretty sweet. The flight was on time leaving and arriving at Salt Lake. The last time I was st the SLC airport I was stranded with my daughter for a day. This time it went well. Their shuttle system takes getting used to but was only $8.00.

My hotel reservation was in two parts. They couldn't guarantee I would have the same room the second night. They did upgrade my room though. I hurriedly set up in my room and then headed towards the Family History Library. On the way I realized I was very hungry and stopped at the J B's across from the Salt Palace. It was great getting that 55+ lunch price. I had looked before I got toe SLC to figure out how to get to the FHL. Of course I got the distance off a bit and had to call Mike to get better directions. The FHL ended up being just a hundred feet away.

My friend Marcia and I had planned to meet for dinner tonight, and I knew she was going to the FHL when she got to SLC. I looked around the FHL a bit and found her checking out the US book shelves. I had forgotten just how impressive the FHL is. I was mesmerized walking down any bookshelf-- it was incredible what they have. I checked out a few books I had printed out the records for before I left.

Marcia and I headed over to the Salt Palace to get our registrations. The Salt Palace is huge. The registration process went well. From there we went to a very nice Japanese restaurant across from the Palace. We ate light,but each added a glass of wine. After dinner we headed back to the FHL. This time I decided to work on the Saratoga land records. I had ordered the grantee index earlier in Lincoln and had the volumes and page numbers I needed. It was tedious, but I am starting to put a picture together of that family. Thank you to the person who suggested bringing magnets to mark the microfilm cabinets. After a couple of hours or more we headed back to our hotels. After relaxing for a bit and checking out the conference schedule again I decided to go down to the bar to write up my notes while enjoying an excellent glass of Cabernet!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My DNA Surprise

I started the year in my previous blog by telling what I would be doing in 2012. I really didn't go into my end of the year update on my FamilyTreeDNA profile. though. I had a Y-DNA profile done four years ago as part of the Clan MacFarlane project. When FamilyTreeDNA had their recent sale, I thought it would be fun to do the Family Finder profile. I just recently received my results. I wasn't at all surprised to learn that according to the test about 93% of my ancestry is Western European. I have researched most of the immediate lines and figured it would be a high percentage. I thought there might be a small American Indian lineage as, like many families, there is a story if native ancestry. That was not the case, the profile showed instead that about 7% of my ancestry in Middle Eastern. This fascinates me, as it was so unexpected. Now I can't wait to get going on verifying where this comes into my ancestry. Genealogy, it's the hobby of surprises.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Looking at 2012

I think this will be an exciting year for genealogy. I kicked off the year using several new databases on FamilySearch is becoming a great site. They have made great inroads in making state and local sources available. They have become especially strong in New York documents. In addition to the state censuses, they recently added probate records. It is gratifying to see them going this direction with their collections.

This year I will be attending my first RootsTech conference in February. I am very anxious to head to Salt Lake. Not only will there be lots of genealogists to meet at the conference, there will some time to do some research at the Family History Library. This summer I plan to take a road trip through Michigan, Ohio, New York, and Massachusetts. There will be cemeteries, historical societies, libraries, and Niagara Falls to visit along the way. As an added fun trip, I am also considering a trip to Oklahoma and Missouri to fill in some loose ends.

This past Fall I joined the local genealogical society, the Lincoln Lancaster County Genealogical Society, and plan to be active in it. For this coming year I also plan to index the 1940 census for the area where I grew up in South Dakota. As a fan of FindAGrave, I will continue to add records to their database from requests and cemeteries I visit on the trips. Yesterday, I found a newly added record on FAG that helped open up a current line.

2012 will be a very busy year for me, contributing to what is available and extending my own genealogy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Case of the Disappearing Old House

The old house disappeared. My grandparents, George and Mary McFarland, purchased a fine old house in Rapid City, South Dakota in the early 1900's when my grandfather invested in the Security Bank. After the bank closed, the family used the house off-and-on over the years when the children attended high school and for other occasions. The picture shows Alice, Mamie, Clarence, and Ellen McFarland in front of the house in 1937. George died in 1941. He left the house to his daughter, Alice (Sallie) McFarland Miles, as the house had always been a favorite of hers. She lived in it until her death in the house in 1965. I have good memories of visiting my aunt and cousin there. After Sallie’s death the house went to her daughter. She and her family lived there until the early 70’s.

When visiting Rapid City it was easy to spot the old house at the end of Fifth Street. In 2010, I drove by to see the house, but I was dismayed to discover that it was no longer there. I could see the remains of the foundation but nothing else. I figured that a large old house like that was probably too expensive to maintain and heat and that the current owners had likely razed it. I was very disappointed to lose the old icon.

Recently, my cousin Ann moved to Rapid City. She learned that they had not razed the house but moved it. My next step was to find out to where they moved it. The only clue was that it was out in the country somewhere; not an easy search. I tried doing some searches on the Rapid City Journal website, but I was not able to locate anything. On a trip back to the area a couple of weeks ago I stopped at the Rapid City Public Library. The reference librarian!/group.php?gid=60792005629&v=info did some searching and found that the house actually has its own Facebook page. I was delighted to find the web page with a nice picture of the house, a picture of it being moved, and an article about the move. When I next go back to visit, I think I should be able to locate it. Mystery solved.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Looking Back on 2009

It's time to reflect on my genealogy journey in 2009.

I have been doing genealogy so long that I rarely have great surprises, but there were a few this year. For me, the biggest surprise was the very unexpected find of a photo of an oil portrait of my ancestor, Elizabeth Wildey Rosevelt, done in about 1808. I had no idea a portrait existed, but Karen Morris, who also is working on this line, saw the original portrait at the home of another of Elizabeth's descendants. I had no idea a portrait existed and had never pursued looking for one. In 2008 I worked with a friend to add gravestone photos of a local cemetery to Find A Grave. This year I was able to contribute in a different way by taking photos requested by others. I replaced my old digital camera with a new model that is very good at taking gravestone pictures but wasn't expensive. I can also now be more a part of the digital world by using it to take photographs of documents. This was very useful on my genealogy trip to New York City. I was able to photo a large number of documents at the New York Historical Society. It wasn't a surprise to find these documents, but it was a pleasure to actually see them. It was also very fulfilling to visit the graves of so many of the family buried in New York City. Over the year I was able to add a large number of descendants to my Jacob and Lydia Butts Rosevelt line, so all-in-all it was a successful year.

It is also time to give appreciation for the efforts of so many who have added documents and saved them to be shared online. Missouri has a tremendous site with digital copies of vital records. Other state and societies, such as South Dakota, Michigan, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Ohio have added many vital records also. I have been disappointed that Ancestry hasn't added more American records this year, but several other have added records that were difficult to locate before. The Family Search pilot project has added several state censuses with indexes to them. Footnote is making available some great Civil War records. I especially want to thank the Old Fulton New York Post Cards site, Part of his site has copies of many old New York newspapers. This is a great site that should receive more commendations. I also want to give a special thank you to all of you that took gravestone pictures I requested on Find A Grave.

Here to to a great 2010.