Wednesday, February 28, 2018

RootsTech Recap Day 1

I'm just wrapping up Day 1 of RootsTech. I've been here since Monday evening as I was completing my annual trip to the Family History Library and the Media dinner for RootsTech ambassadors last night.

It's been a day of DNA lectures all day, which comes in handy as more and more people are buying DNA kits looking for their elusive ancestors and finding out more about who they are.

Here's a list of the lectures I attended:

Real World Examples of the Frustrations of Endogamy - Lara Diamond

How Close Are We Really? Evaluating Shared DNA - Paul Woodbury

Introduction to Autosomal DNA Chromosome Mapping by Tim Janzen

AncestryDNA got in on the fun and were giving out buttons. You had to find your match to win a prize. So far I have not found my exact match.

At the end of the day we wrapped up with the opening session with an address by Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch (who I had the pleasure of meeting with last night). It was a nice heart warming message that everyone deserves to be remembered. Everyone has a story to tell. There was also a panel discussion about the innovations that experts in the field would like to/expect to see around records access and DNA.

Finally the Exhibit Hall opened to review the vendor booths. I took a quick walk through to survey the different businesses. I will be back later this week to check out in further detail when it's not as crowded.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Final Countdown to RootsTech!

A week from today I will be travelling from New York to Salt Lake City for my annual trip to RootsTech. This is my second trip but I consider it an annual trip as I plan on attending as much as I can. I'm going through my final checklist of things to order and bring.

1. Updated business cards - check (Make sure you list your email address, web site, Social media handles. For bonus points, list surnames or areas you're researching on the back. I opted for areas of research).

2. Ribbons to pass out - check (This is the first year I'm passing out some stack a ribbons to highlight my blog. Come find me to get a ribbon! I'm also passing out NextGen Genealogy Network ribbons).

3. Research plan for the Family History Library - need to update (I highly recommend having a plan to make sure of the library as it's going to be crowded).

4. Outfits for various dinners and events - check (I go business casual, esp for the photo ops I want to do with speakers, etc.)

5. Comfortable shoes - check (bring sneakers if you can - it will be a lot of walking)

6. Cash - check. (Most vendors take credit cards but it's good to have cash on hand for food vendors)

7. Room in my suitcase for goodies - tight but I can squeeze a book or two in. I take advantage of the shipping center at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Depending on what you're shipping it's cheaper than checking extra luggage and your exhibit hall goodies will show up safe at home. This will come in handy if you're buying multiple DNA kits and books.

Here are some of my past blog posts about RootsTech to help you make your final preparations:

1. My First Trip to the Family History Library (A Genealogist's Disneyland)

2. RootsTech: The Wrestlemania of Genealogy Conventions

3. Prepping for RootsTech

4. It's the most wonderful time of year...for genealogists!

5. RootsTech is Almost Here

There's still time to register!

If you can't attend RootsTech, follow #NotAtRootsTech on Twitter to follow along. There are also sessions being live streamed so you can experience a lot of the same sessions from home! I did this two years ago and it was a great way to feel involved.

How are you planning for the trip?

Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for RootsTech 2018. I provide blog posts (in my own words), and social media coverage from now until after the conference. In return, I have free admission to RootsTech. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Love Story Emerges From a Connection with a DNA Match

Today is Saint Valentine's Day, a day where sweethearts exchange offerings like candy and flowers and go out for romantic dinners. It's a day where I start to think about our ancestors' love lives. Stories of couples living together for 50 plus years until their last breath was taken, couples who fell in love but sadly did not end up staying together and married others, ancestors who had several marriages for reasons unknown to us.

I learned one love story after getting in touch with a DNA match, who we will call "A". She was researching her grandfather Thomas Corcoran and we started to share information
Apparently, her grandfather married my great grandmother Bridget Connolly. However, I could not find any info on her in the family tree I built out. We continued to keep in touch and we exchanged details that she had. She was very curious about the family in the U.S and made a note that she was happy that he found happiness in America. I didn't really understand at the time what she meant.  Then after "A" started communicating with other members of the family, we started to realize that there was more to the story. My uncle had asked about the dates mentioned for Thomas and asked if Thomas had another wife before he married Bridget. The dates lined up so we knew we had the right Thomas Corcoran. Then we learned more of the story from "A". 

My great grandfather Thomas Corcoran had a child with a woman. They were unmarried. The story we heard from "A" is that Thomas' family were successful farmers in Dillonstown, County Louth, Ireland and the woman was a domestic that worked in the household. They were not allowed to marry each other, and Thomas was sent away to America two years after the baby was born, a son. The son's name was named Thomas and here's where it gets interesting, the baby was given the surname of Corcoran. He was raised by his mother's sister and her family, the Harmons, in County Louth, Ireland. Thomas Jr. left for England at about 18 years old and lived in County Lancashire, England His mother would later join him. I found it amazing to think of what had transpired. If my great grandfather didn't get sent to America, he wouldn't have married my great grandmother. This would mean my father's line wouldn't exist and I would not be here.

I wanted to find out more about this woman my great grandfather loved. I started to review the birth records for Ireland and was able to match up based on birth date and location a baby boy Thomas with no surname listed born to an unmarred woman, Margaret Mathews Shortly after I discovered this name, I asked "A" to verify with her siblings her grandmother's name (without providing the name I researched). She also told me Margaret Mathews. I knew I had found the right woman. She is now in the family tree as the mother of Thomas Jr. I wish that I could give her a relationship with Thomas like "first love" but sadly I don't have that option. I'm just happy that I was able to share this story with my family, including my father. Our research is a timeless reminder that our ancestors were human and fell in love multiple times.

Here are some of the records I found to help confirm the story:

Thomas Jr's Birth Register Record in Ardee, Ireland. Note that no surname is listed for the son and the father's name is left blank. Annagassan is a neighboring town next to Dillonstown. (Source: - Group Registration ID 454599).

Thomas Jr's Civil Death Registration in Preston, County Lancashire, England. Note that his birth date matches and his surname is Corcoran (Source: - England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007, year 1982).

Great grandfather Thomas Corcoran on passenger list arrived in America 3/25/1907, who was going to reside with cousin James Brannigan in New York. He was born in Dillonstown, Ireland (Source: - New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957)

1911 Census Record:

Thomas Jr in the Harmon household (his mother's sister's family). Note: His surname is listed as Corcoran and he's noted as a relative. 

What love stories have you found in your family tree?