Wednesday, February 24, 2021

RootsTech is Here!

It's time for RootsTech Connect! 

Around this time of year I would make the annual trip to RootsTech, one that I have been making the last four years (starting in 2017). RootsTech is where everything changed for me. I connected with so many friends and I really ramped up my genealogy. It was when I made the decision that I wanted to do professional genealogy full time. I was determined to be on stage within the next couple of years. And it happened! I changed jobs and started working at American Ancestors/NEHGS. The next year I gave my first lecture on using Roman Catholic Church Records, a record set that I use regularly to research my Irish ancestors. I was so honored that the RootsTech team gave me two sessions for this talk. I was invited back each year to give more lectures. My favorite was honoring my grandfather last year in Reporting for Duty. It was very emotional for me to share the story of my grandfather's WWII service. You can read about some of my journey at RootsTech on this blog, starting with my first trip there. I refer to RootsTech as the Wrestlemania of genealogy conferences. 

Due to the pandemic, genealogy events are being moved online. This also includes RootsTech. FamilySearch has generously made the decision to make it a free global conference. Registration is over 500,000 people and counting! We are reaching so many people that we have not been able to reach, talking about what we love most: family history. It is this love of family history is why I love I what I do. It's seeing the joy in someone's eyes when you've found their ancestor, taking words off a page and breathing life into that person. They're real, they existed, they are a part of you. I want to hear about these discoveries. 

I will be giving two classes this year:

So what should we expect for RootsTech Connect? 

  • Thousands of hours of genealogy classes, multiple languages, various topics 
    • Build a playlist of what you want to watch next 
    • Classes are available for 1 year! 
  • Chat rooms in each session 
    • Many speakers like myself will be popping into them or putting up notices when we'll be online
  • Main stage events with key note speakers 
  • Virtual exhibit hall 
  • A global relatives tool using the FamilySearch tree
    • I'm truly excited about this. I only have five relatives but that's five more than I ever had in the past. I'm already starting to make connections. 
I'm so excited about the next few days and I hope you are too. If you haven't already, register today at If I can help answer any questions, please feel free to reach out to me in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook. Let's enjoy the next few days and connect! 

Preview from the RootsTech web site


Sunday, February 14, 2021

It's a Nice Day for an Irish Wedding

 This week's prompt for #52Ancestors is Valentine. One of the first things that comes to mind is my 3rd great grandparents, Francis Dougherty and Catherine Clerkin. They married on Valentine's Day in 1828 in the Tydavnet parish, County Monaghan, Ireland. It seems like a romantic day to get married. 

It is more likely a coincidence and that was the date available at their parish church when they married on a Thursday (Saturday and Sunday were not options). The couple was likely following the rules of Shrovetide, where Irish couples married between January 6th and Lent. It must have been a very cold wedding day. I'm fortunate to have found this record as many of my Irish ancestors' parish records were not recorded this early. 

The marriage entry of Francis Dougherty and Catherine Clerkin in the Tydavnet parish register

We don't know much about Catherine. We can estimate her birth around 1810 in County Monaghan. Several of her siblings, identified through DNA matches, were born between 1814 and 1825. They were baptized in the same parish Catherine later married in. Her suspected parents are Michael Clarkin and Ellen Connolly. More research needs to be completed to confirm. 

Francis and Catherine moved to Prince Edward Island (PEI) about 1839, before the Great Famine. They had ten children: 5 sons were born in Ireland and 5 daughters were born in PEI. By 1881 Canada Census, we know that Francis is a widower. He eventually moves to live near his son Peter in Dickinson County, Kansas. As far as we know, he never remarried. I'm hopeful that I will help locate the final resting place for Catherine, possibly near her siblings or parents' plot. 

Tonight I raise a glass of champagne to my 3rd great grandparents on their wedding day and wish them this Irish blessing:

"May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand."

Monday, February 8, 2021

In the Kitchen


Last week's prompt for #52Ancestors was "In the Kitchen". It seems appropriate that this was my memory shared three years ago. I entered this photograph of me and my grandmother, Rose (Corcoran) Doherty in her kitchen in the RootsTech photography contest. I didn't win but that was ok - I wanted to share this piece of my family history. I adore this picture because my grandmother looks so happy. 

The kitchen was her domain and she was quite a baker. She is known for her chocolate chip cookies and my personal favorite, her yellow cake with the homemade royal icing. She also made homemade bread each day for my grandfather. She did cheat a little with her pies - using store bought crust but made the apple pie filling (a trick I use today). And of course she made Irish soda bread, a recipe passed down from her mother. The recipe has been changed up slightly to allow for a more bite size proportion. Readers may recall my family's famous Irish soda bread recipe being shared each year around St. Patrick's Day. 

My grandmother was one of the main reasons why I got so interested in genealogy. She died when I was a little girl and I didn't really know anything about the family at that time. I eventually would learn more as the family would talk about their stories of visiting Dillonstown, County Louth, Ireland (where her father Thomas James Corcoran was born) as well as Prince Edward Island, Canada (where her mother Bridget Connolly was born). I was hooked as I found out more and more on her and my grandfather. I honor her memory each day as I add a new person on the family tree and enjoy baking the soda bread each St. Patrick's Day. 

Rose Alice Corcoran was born on 18 Jun 1914 in Long Island City, Queens, New York City. She was one of 7 children. She was born in NYC shortly after my great grandparents, Thomas and Bridget, came back to the USA after living in Prince Edward Island for a few years. She was a bus girl in NYC. That is likely how she met my grandfather, who was working at Bickford's in Manhattan. I always wonder if they worked in the same restaurant. My grandmother served as a witness for her future husband's naturalization petition in 1939. She married my grandfather, Michael Joseph Doherty, on August 2, 1941 at St Mary's Church in Long Island City, Queens. She had five children, including my father. She held down the homestead with a young baby while my grandfather served during World War II. She was a homemaker the rest of her life and was a proud Bingo player at her local church.  

What family recipes were passed down in your family? Do you have pictures of any ancestors in the kitchen?

Monday, February 1, 2021

Favorite Photo - My Hero

 This past week's #52Ancestors prompt is "Favorite Photo". This is not an easy decision for anyone, let alone a genealogist who treasures each photograph. A long standing tradition for the last few years is receiving a group of photos and family letters from my aunt for my birthday and Christmas. One of my favorite photos is this one of my grandfather, Michael Doherty, during his service in the U.S. army. 

It has been hung on the basement wall of my parents' former home for over 18 years. Over the last few years I have been digging into more of my grandfather's service during World War II. I even hired a researcher to go to the National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri to request and scan his military personnel record. Sadly his record was destroyed in the 1973 fire like many of the other Army and Air Force records. There wasn't even a "B file" that remained.  His final payment voucher was kept in a separate location. 

This resulted in having to turn to morning reports to fill in the gaps on where he was overseas in Europe. Morning reports detailed where a particular organization was stationed. Think of it like a muster roll. They also note any particular events such as hospitalization, deaths, prisoners taken, etc. 


Morning Report when my grandfather was in Italy

The patch on his uniform is from the 45th Infantry Division. The division was known as the "Thunderbirds". I was fortunate to find an active group on the Thunderbirds on Facebook that helped me find more about my grandfather. One particular discovery was a scan of the general order for Michael being awarded the Silver Star (which I previously blogged about). His unit liberated Dachau on April 29, 1945. 


General Order for Michael J Doherty (from the National Archives)


Flags of liberating divisions at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.


My grandfather is my hero. As I shared at my RootsTech lecture last year "Reporting for Duty", I wondered what he felt holding his granddaughter who was half Irish and half Jewish. This is one of my last photos with my paternal grandfather. He died on September 12, 1986, just after my second birthday. He will always remain my hero and I keep him with me everyday.