Episode 1 – The Birth of Extreme GenesJul 15, 2013
On the first show of Extreme Genes, Fisher talks about his passion for family history. He discusses how all of European descent come through Charlemagne. Guest Sue Richards talks about Fort Douglas Cemetery in Utah and military cemeteries as a whole. Tom Perry debuts as the Preservation Authority.
Transcript of Episode 1
Host: Scott Fisher
Segment 1 Episode 1
Fisher: And welcome to the maiden voyage of Extreme Genes. It’s Family History Radio. I am Fisher, so excited to be doing this show. And you might be wondering what? Fisher’s doing talk. I’ve been listening to him doing morning radio forever. Well, the reality of the matter is I’ve also been doing family history research for about as long as I’ve been doing morning radio. And you know, the thing is your job is over at eleven in the morning and the kids aren’t home from school till about 3 o’clock. And so, I had the opportunity to do something every day throughout the midday. And in my case I’d go down to the family history library and hang out with the octogenarians. Now, I was 25/29. It was one of those things you didn’t share with a lot of people at that point you know, going through old microfilms and smelly old musty books and you know, talking about dead people. You know, a lot of my friends, they were still dating, you know, trying out hot cars and so this is something you kind of just kept to yourself. But, things are different now. We have DNA. We have digitized newspaper, Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, all these things that are there to help us research our families and learn so much about who came before us and why we became the way we did. And so, on the show each week we’re going to share a lot of the latest news, a lot of stories you may not have heard about and maybe some that you have. And of course, we’ll share those as well on our website which is ExtremeGenes.com. You’re going to want to check that place out regularly because we’re going to be updating it all the time, filling you in on what’s happening there. We’re going to have blogs. We’re going to have podcasts from this show of course. We’re going to have places for people to ask questions and of course we want you to ask questions on this show as well. So, we’re going to have a phone line set up for you. Today, we’re not going to take calls but we will throughout the weeks. We’ll pre-record those, and try to get answers for you on the show each Sunday at six right here on Talk Radio 105.7 FM and 570 AM KNRS. Love this story. I’m going to give you my first gift, your first ancestor that you may not have even known that you had. His name is Charlemagne. You know that he was an emperor and he was considered the founder of Europe, born in the 700s. I guess the strange thing about him is thinking about an emperor born to a king named Pepin the Short. Who would name their child Pepin the Short? All right, so here’s the story. It was written by a man named Carl Zimmer who referenced the work of a guy named Joseph Chang back in 1999. And Chang did a little math and he was figuring this out that if we each have four grandparents and eight great grandparents and sixteen second greats and all that, you get back to the time of Charlemagne and you would have had one trillion ancestors. [Music] Yes! There were not a trillion people in the world at that time. So, as a result they figured, wait a minute, then our ancestor or our family tree then has to collapse back in on itself at some point. And that means basically, we all descend from the same people. And the conclusion of this article is really amazing. It says that people who lived in England about the year 1000 are all ancestors of everybody living in Europe today. And so, anybody of European descent has that common ancestry and that of course would include Charlemagne. Yes, we are all descendants of Charlemagne. I’ve actually traced him. I have one link back anyway and I’m sure we all have many because you’d have to otherwise you’d have to kill your ancestors. [Laughs] But, he’s my 40th great grandfather and I would imagine it would be about the same for you. So, we’re all royal cousins of great descent. England seems to have a lot of fascinating stories especially this year. This was the year they finally put the flesh on the bones of the king who was under the parking lot. You heard about that back in the spring. They actually found him last year, King Richard III. Shakespeare kind of skewered him in his assessment of his performance as king. He had a problem with his back, a hunched back kind of thing and he was killed in battle in his thirties and they found him under a parking lot. So, can you imagine having to park there on a regular basis and sometime later realizing you were parking over a king all this time! It’s just the most bizarre story that you would ever hear. So ultimately, they were able to get some DNA from this corpse and match it up, strangely enough, with a lady in Canada who is a descendent of King Richard’s sister. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up. Unbelievable! So, now the strangest thing about it all is that the descendants of King Richard III are now all angry about where he’s ultimately going to be buried. They’re gathering together. It’s really like I don’t understand how they still have that emotional connection to this guy who lived, well almost, 600 years ago now. So, that’s an amazing story. Tie that in with what happened this week in British Columbia. They had recently found a 5 500-year old Aboriginal woman on a British Columbian Island and they were somehow able to extract some DNA from her and then they went around looking for folks who had lived on that island for many, many generations back basically to the dawn of time. And there were actually several people that said, Yeah, I don’t know if there was ever a time when our people didn’t live on this island.” And they said, “Okay, would you mind if we borrowed some DNA from you?” And they found several people who descended directly from this 5 500-year old ancestor who they dug up and they’d found more female bones of another one 2 500 years old. So, we’re talking about 500 years BC. I mean, we’re talking unbelievable numbers here. So, there’s a lot of excitement going on in British Columbia.
Many people are having astonishing breakthroughs right now as a result of DNA research. Now, this one in British Columbia had everything to do with Mitochondria research where they go back female to female, the mother to the mother to the mother line. Similarly there’s the Y chromosome of course you’re probably familiar with. It goes back down the male line and it’s often the name line unless there were some break in that at some point, so you can tie in a lot. So, a lot of people are doing this today. I’ve in fact, had an amazing experience with my son-in-law. His story isn’t quite complete yet, but an amazing tale where he ties in through the birth family of his grandfather who his grandfather never knew. So, they’re all coming together. We’ll have that story for you in the coming weeks because there’s going to be a reunion of these two families who have never met, so that’s going to be a lot of fun. DNA, this is the big new area in family history research and I’m hoping in the next three or four weeks we’re going to have some guests in and talk about where this is all going, what’s the privacy issue involved when you share your DNA with these different labs that are helping you tie together with these various families, not only here in the country, but around the world. Exciting stuff happening there!
Digitized newspapers, another great source of information. In fact, when we have Sue Richards coming up here in a few minutes, she’s from the Fort Douglas Museum and Cemetery, she’s going to be talking about an amazing breakthrough she had with newspapers, finding somebody buried there whose burial record did not exist. It ended a search of somewhere over twelve years. A newspaper man, a descendent of this man’s brother wanting to know all about where he was and they couldn’t find him. But after a dozen years it all came true because things are changing fast and everybody can do this. So, I’m hoping you’ll be with us every week as we continue to explore what’s going on. You can share your stories. You can call in. You can ask your questions. We’ll have experts on, on a regular basis and look forward to helping you with that and talk to Tom Perry. He’s our title sponsor with the MultiMedia Center. This is the guy who I first met when I brought in my home movies from back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, some as early as the ‘40s, I should say. And he was able to take those and digitize these films. Unbelievable stuff. So, movies I couldn’t watch anymore, I now have on DVD and was able to watch and actually extract still photographs. We’ll talk about that coming up in the fourth segment of the show. So, we’ve got a lot ahead, not only today but in the weeks to come. So glad to have you along. Check out ExtremeGenes.com. Be right back with Sue Richards from the Fort Douglas Museum and Cemetery on Extreme Genes.
Segment 2 Episode 1
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Sue Richards
Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio. I am Fisher, and first guest here Sue Richards today from the Fort Douglas Museum. And Sue, I am so excited to have you here. Because there’s so many things to talk about that go on not only in cemeteries and museums but in terms of military history that people can research. And you have been doing this for a long time.
Sue: For a long time.
Fisher: Yeah. Now tell us, what kinds of records are available at Fort Douglas and of course in cemeteries in general, what can people find there?
Sue: Well, at the Fort Douglas Military Museum we archive the records for the Fort Douglas host cemetery, a cemetery that opened in December of 1862.
Sue: With the first burial being somebody’s wife who still remains anonymous.
Fisher: They don’t know who she is?
Sue: We do not know who the first burial was although it was recorded as the end of December 1862.
Fisher: And some female that’s all you know?
Fisher: It was a female and it was a wife of an officer? It must have been an officer.
Sue: Not necessarily an officer. Some of them enlisted men had their wives with them. And in the army at that time there were a number of laundresses who were civilians who were paid by the military to go with the troops to do their laundry.
Fisher: Wow. Well you know the thing about Extreme Genes that I like is putting the meat on the bones. Not just getting dates and places and all that. I mean that’s obviously essential to knowing who your people are but it’s the stories and it’s the actual effort to find them that makes it so much fun. Now, Fort Douglas kind of combines the military records, cemetery records, obviously Utah history, and I would imagine you have a good helping of all of that where you are.
Sue: Not only the cemetery records, the military records, Utah history, national history, and international history, because Fort Douglas Military Museum is the Utah military museum to tell the story of Utahans in the military and the military in Utah, including everyone who deploys from here or comes back from here to places far and beyond.
Fisher: Okay. So, you opened up, at least the cemetery did, in 1862?
Sue: Fort Douglas, originally Camp Douglas, Steven A. Douglas named after...
Fisher: Him. Yeah. [Laughs]
Sue: Named after him.
Fisher: After Lincoln’s opponent.
Sue: After Lincoln’s opponent, is a Civil War Post.
Sue: October 1862 to put back all the telegraph, the travellers, and all over the communications from the East Coast to the West Coast and the West Coast to the East Coast for the union.
Fisher: But there were not a lot of Utahans obviously involved in at the time?
Sue: There were no Utahans involved.
Fisher: Okay. So they’re all out of stators, up to what point because there are Utahans there now.
Sue: The initial post was opened by a troop of California volunteers called up by Lincoln to fight the Civil War. And instead of going to Virginia, they came to the territory of Utah and found themselves on the East bench overlooking the city of the Great Salt Lake. They were not pleased. They did not like the Mormons.
Fisher: [Laughs] Did not like them, right.
Sue: The Mormons did not like the military. But it was a wonderful combination because there was no cash economy here, and the military brought that. And the economy here could support a fairly large military post. And it became a permanent post that remained a permanent post until 1991.
Fisher: Wow! ‘91. I don’t even remember when it shut down.
Sue: It shut down piece by piece with the university using the property, starting with the president’s circle in 1882.
Fisher: Wow, way back then.
Sue: Way back then.
Fisher: So when did the Utahans get into the cemetery here?
Sue: The Utahans that are in the cemetery here are ones who joined the military at about the time of the Spanish American War. They would have been Utah National Guard.
Fisher: About 1898?
Sue: 1890 to ‘92. ‘92 was when the National Guard was officially commissioned by Congress.
Sue: And in the Spanish American War they were mobilized, sent off to the Philippines.
Sue: And that’s about the time we started burying Utahans other than none Mormon Utahans who did not want to be buried in a Mormon cemetery prior to that.
Fisher: Wow! [Laughs]
Sue: And there are a group of those up there also.
Fisher: Okay. So do you get a lot of Utahans now who come up looking for their dead at your cemetery?
Sue: Yes. I have reached two or three requests a week for either information on someone buried in the cemetery, “My relative is there, what can you tell me?” Or, “Is my relative there? Can you help me find them?”
Fisher: And this is kind of common basically for any cemetery.
Sue: This is common for any cemetery.
Fisher: A lot of people really wonder, how do you operate there? What records do cemeteries as a whole, have?
Sue: Cemeteries as a whole have a record of every burial.
Sue: There are times when the records are incomplete due to fires, floods, and so on especially...
Fisher: Mice in the records.
Sue: Mice in the records. Yes, of course, as with any other official records.
Fisher: Sure, anything that’s written.
Sue: But we have in the folder for a person buried in the cemetery, we try to have a partial military record that shows why they can be buried there. If we can complete that folder, we may have a death certificate, we may have an obituary, we may have a newspaper article about something that they did somewhere. As we find things at the Fort Douglas Cemetery Records, we’re working to fill these folders out so that these are people, not headstones we’re working with.
Fisher: Right, because a headstone is pretty fundamental.
Sue: Yeah. So if a family comes in and says, “My father, Sergeant Jones, is buried in your cemetery.” The first thing I say is, “Isn’t that wonderful?”
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Sue: “He’s in one of the nicest cemeteries in the valley.” Then I say, “What do you know about him?” and they say, “We don’t know anything. Why was he in the military?” And that’s where my job begins.
Fisher: Now, you’ve been researching, I would assume, the earliest ones first because you can’t do them all.
Sue: Not necessarily.
Fisher: Jump around through time?
Sue: We jump around through time as we get requests.
Sue: And then we work on ones that we don’t have requests on. We’ve got about thirteen hundred burials in the cemetery.
Sue: Officially the cemetery was closed in 1989 when the post was scheduled for decommission in 1991. We still are burying people there, friends of friends who have reservations.
Fisher: Oh. [Laughs]
Sue: From previous times.
Fisher: Sure. Do they own a slot in the military? Can you own a grave?
Sue: You have a reservation for a grave. A military grave is not one that you pay for.
Sue: You get it by virtue of having been in the military, or being related to someone who was in the military, or working for what is now known as the Department of Defence and being allowed military honors for burial.
Fisher: I had no idea could have a reservation for a cemetery. [Laughs] That is amazing.
Sue: Yeah. You don’t own the plot.
Fisher: So, let’s fast forward now several years and you’re good friends with a friend of mine, Robert Kerby.
Sue: That’s correct.
Fisher: He’s a great writer in town, has been for decades on end. But he’s also an impassioned historian. And that’s what I love about Robert.
Fisher: And he had a problem.
Sue: He had a problem. He’s a member of the Peace Officers Association. And they tried to memorialize every fallen peace officer in the state.
Fisher: Right. It’s a great thing to do.
Sue: Yeah, great thing, wonderful thing, wonderful project. We need to memorialize our peace officers. We need to show that respect. He had been looking for ten years for a peace officer for whom he could not find any information, other than who the man was, the fact that he had died as warden of the Territorial Prison in 1876, and was buried somewhere.
Fisher: Wow! Now why did he die in ‘76?
Sue: There was a prison break.
Fisher: Oh boy!
Sue: And he was killed in the prison break by one of the prisoners who filled a sock full of rocks and beat him to death. It was a very ugly situation, very well described in the newspapers of the time. And then they went on to describe chasing the prisoners who had broken out and that was the end of finding Mathew Berger.
Fisher: That was the end of the story until Robert came along and took an interest in this.
Sue: That was the end of the story until Robert came along. He actually has him in his book but he did not have a burial place and he had been looking for one for ten years.
Fisher: And so he came to you at the museum?
Sue: He came to me at the museum. Actually we were talking casually one day about something else. Among other things Robert’s father was military. And Robert’s first job was catching rats in the Post Exchange at Fort Douglas.
Fisher: Oh. [Laughs]
Sue: His very first paid job.
Fisher: [Laughs] Well, you’ve got to start somewhere.
Sue: You got to start somewhere. [Laughs] And for Kerbs, that seems to be an appropriate job.
Sue: But anyhow, he came to me and I said, “No problem. No problem at all. I’ll find him. I’ve got access to all these records.” He says, “I’ve looked in those records.” I said, “If you looked in the military records over in Colorado? Because at that time that’s where our records were archived, he said, “No, I haven’t done that.”
Fisher: And off you went. And we’re going to hold it right here, we’re going to take a break, and we’re going to come back.
Fisher: Because you did find this after all those years. We want to hear the story about how you went about solving that mystery.
Sue: The rest of the story.
Fisher: Yes, coming up on Extreme Genes next.
Segment 3 Episode 1
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Sue Richards
Fisher: We are back, Extreme Genes Family History Radio. It is Fisher here back with Sue Richards from the Fort Douglas Museum and we’ve been talking about Robert Kirby, the famous writer here in Utah who was going about solving the, I wouldn’t call it the mysteries, but basically collecting information on the Fallen Peace Officers of our state and was having trouble with one particular gentleman who ran the territorial prison and was killed in a prison break in 1877. Wow!
Fisher: ’76. So, the question is he comes to you after how many years had he been looking?
Sue: He had been looking for over nine years, almost ten years.
Fisher: Nine years. And you said, “Give me that problem. We’ll solve it.”
Fisher: But there was no record. There was no burial record even among your records.
Sue: Even amongst the military records.
Fisher: So what did you do?
Sue: Well, I went back to the dusty, musty archives
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Sue: I could find the newspaper accounts for the prison break. I could find coroners records, not his. I went through burial and disinterment records at different Salt Lake Valley cemeteries, nothing. I went through the records again at Fort Carson, Colorado, nothing.
Sue: I went to the National Archives to the day records to find out if soldiers had dug a grave for Matthew Berger. No records.
Fisher: Sue, in the short time I’ve gotten to know you, I can tell that doesn’t not throw you off at all.
Sue: Oh no.
Sue: No. Once of these ghost sits on my shoulder, actually Matthew Berger became “the ghost in the attic,” and “the monster under the bed.”
Fisher: Oh really?
Sue: And I would be doing other things and all of a sudden his name would come up again in a newspaper article, or I’d pick something up off the floor that fell off the desk and there it was.
Fisher: There was his name again.
Sue: He’s going, “Find me.”
Fisher: This happens all the time.
Sue: And I would finally had reached the point where I was going to say, “Sorry Matthew, rest in peace.” And a very elderly relative of his in Virginia telephoned me to ask if I knew where Matthew was buried. She had been to Salt Lake as a young woman and was told that her uncle was here for she hadn’t ever had a chance to see if she could find his grave. And she was now in her eighties and wanted to know if there really was a grave for Matthew Berger.
Fisher: So this is just after Robert had come to you. You had gone through all this effort.
Sue: I had spent another 18 months working on it.
Fisher: Wow! And then she comes up out of the blue.
Sue: And then she comes, I mean, a cold call from Virginia to the museum.
Fisher: Isn’t it strange how those things happen?
Sue: So I started over again. [Laughs]
Sue: I went through the Masonic records. He definitely wasn’t a Mason.
Fisher: He was not a Mason, but why did you go through the Masonic records?
Sue: Because when he initially died they thought he was a Mason because so many military officers had been Masons.
Fisher: Oh, I see. Okay, it’s an assumption.
Sue: And so they gave his body to the Masons. The Masons looked in their records and they gave the body back to the coroner.
Sue: They refused to keep him. [Laughs]
Fisher: And you found that information where?
Sue: In the Salt Lake Tribune of March of 1876.
Fisher: Okay. So it was mostly newspaper records that helped you start to crack this.
Sue: Yes. Aha. So I decided okay, if there was that much information, I would go back and I spent two days reading microfilm from the time of his death until the end of the month going through all of the little articles in the Tribune and in the Deseret news of March of 1876.
Fisher: Wow. Were your eyes bleeding?
Sue: They always do.
Fisher: Yes. [Laughs]
Sue: You get sick to your stomach.
Fisher: Yes, I do that too.
Sue: This is one of the hazards of being a genealogist or a researcher.
Sue: And then in the middle of a column of advertising I found the following. “Notice of interment.” The daily Salt Lake Tribune March 21st 1876, burial of Captain Berger.
Fisher: Oh, that must have given you a little tingle.
Sue: Hey, I was jumping up and down and yelling and Doug down in State History was coming in to see if I was okay, you know.
Fisher: [Laughs] Yes
Sue: I found him! I found him! I finally found Matthew Berger. And that particular article in the middle of a page of ads gave the entire ceremony of his burial at the Fort Douglas Post Cemetery.
Sue: Okay, fast forward to Kirby again and in May 2007 we placed a memorial stone in the Post Cemetery after 18 months of trying to cut Red tape to get a memorial stone put in through graves registration of the army.
Fisher: Wow. Now help me understand though. Were you able to find exactly what grave he was in?
Sue: But there is an area for unknowns in the Post Cemetery.
Sue: And a lot of these unknowns were buried at about the time that Berger died. So, we marked off an area of about six or seven graves marked unknown. There was a space in between two of these unknown gravestones where there was nothing, and that’s where we placed the memorial stone. So he is somewhere within about five graves.
Fisher: Either way.
Sue: Of where the memorial stone is.
Fisher: Wow! And so you had a ceremony for him.
Sue: We had a ceremony for him that involved the Fallen Peace Officer Association, the Civil War re-enactors who dedicated the grave and put a flag and wreath on it.
Fisher: Because he had served the Union.
Sue: Because he had served the Union.
Sue: And the flag when it was folded was given to the warden of the state prison and his contemporary officers who are there now.
Sue: It was an amazing event.
Fisher: Is that like one of the highlights of your career?
Sue: It is one of them, yes. I mean this is fun.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Sue: I love my cemetery.
Sue: It is my quiet place. It is my happy place at the Post.
Fisher: Tell me about the niece who called though. Now, is she still with us or was she to that point?
Sue: She was still with us to that point. She was not able to come. We taped it. We sent her a copy of the tape.
Sue: By then she had moved to Texas and she since has passed away, because as I say she was nearly 90 when she contacted me and that was back in 2005.
Sue: So, anyway but this is one of the…
Fisher: This is what you do there.
Sue: This is what I do.
Fisher: And you know in my experience.
Sue: This is what I do for fun. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, me too.
Sue: I talk to dead people for fun. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Yes! Yes! You know, I’ve been to many cemeteries over the years and some folks are just you know, “Hey, let’s dig in right there.” Like you are, and then there are others like, “Do not step around to the side of my desk. I’m here alone. I’m very uncomfortable with a stranger in the building.” But you know, everybody’s different so u have to kind of get a feel for how they work. Some people want an appointment. Some people are just you know, walk right in and we’ll get you going. And then some cemeteries thank goodness now have a lot of material that’s online from all over the world that you can just go on there. And of course, there’s FindAGrave too.
Sue: Yeah, and our cemetery is on FindAGrave, and it’s reasonably complete. I have a FindAGrave volunteer who also separately, volunteers for me at the cemetery. And she’s the one that’s helping me find the records to flesh out our friends who are buried there.
Fisher: Now, you have photos then of the graves obviously.
Fisher: And many FindAGrave pieces with the information on them will give the biographical material.
Sue: Yes, they will give an obituary if one is available.
Fisher: Right. And so you post those as well. Do you write them then as you go along?
Sue: As we go along. As I find material I send it to FindAGrave, and if they deem it as appropriate, they add it to their posting online.
Fisher: What’s not appropriate? Are they just concerned more about that something might not be genuine, or something along those lines?
Sue: Yes. Yeah, it’s a case of being sure that it’s accurate. And if we find something on a cemetery headstone notice on the Internet that is not accurate, we notify FindAGrave and they take it off.
Fisher: Really? Now, does that happen very often? What have you found? I’ve never heard of that.
Sue: There have been a couple of times where families have posted something that was a family legend.
Fisher: Perhaps yes or an exaggeration?
Sue: An exaggeration or perhaps a wrong death date because sometimes in family records things are not as accurate as they might be.
Fisher: Sure. Yeah, I’ve got a family bible from the 1800s where great, great grandpa died on December 26th. The official record says 27th at 12.30 in the morning. Which is most accurate? Well…
Sue: It doesn’t matter.
Fisher: It doesn’t matter but you have to go with the official one.
Sue: You go with the official one.
Sue: But you know, it’s just exciting when people want to know about their family and their friends and I can help. And all it takes is a phone call or you’re welcome to walk into my office at the Fort Douglas Military Museum. And if I’m really, really busy I’ll give you my business card and say, “Please come back tomorrow at such and such a time.” I do make appointments because I try to work with the family while they’re in my office.
Sue: If it’s over the phone I say, “Give me all the information you have. I make notes. I will get back to you within a week if I can help you or if I can’t.”
Fisher: And you love it.
Sue: And I love it.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Sue: I love every bit of it. Working with the cemetery is my very favorite video game.
Fisher: See, what I like about Sue is she’s like some of the best people I’ve ever run into on the trail because there’s never enough they can do for you. And there are people like you out there all over the place, and thank goodness for it. The website by the way is FortDouglas.org.
Sue: That’s correct.
Fisher: They give you all kinds of great ideas by the way about searching not only military records there but military records anywhere, including the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), how to research Utah military records militia, things along those lines. So, if you want to put together information about your family, you can get a lot of good ideas right from that website, once again, FortDouglas.org. Sue, thank you so much for taking the time to come up today. This has been fascinating. A lot of fun and you get me excited about getting back to cemeteries.
Sue: Well, thank you for featuring the Fort Douglas Military Museum and the Post Cemetery and come on up and I’ll find you a grandfather.
Fisher: [Laughs] I’d be surprised because I know where they all are, but somebody’s we will. Final segment of Extreme Genes, Family History Radio coming up next with Tom Perry from the MultiMedia Center. He’s going to tell you how to save your family memories because he’s been doing it for a long time. Good stuff coming up next.
Segment 4 Episode 1
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: I first met Tom Perry from the MultiMedia Center about two years ago. I was called out on a client call, and he does everything that I'm interested in. What the earliest thing you've ever preserved, Tom?
Tom: I'd probably say either some real old film from the late 1800s. We also do wire recordings. We do the old cylinder, the old wax Edison cylinders.
Fisher: Wow! Wait a minute, wait a minute! You found film from the 1800s?!
Tom: Oh yeah! The very, like not too far after the old train wreck. I think they came out of Russia. We did a lot of transfers for people over in Russia down before the wall went down. It was like illegal for to have that, so they hid it. And generations later, they found this film that, you know, grandfather had hidden away. And now it’s legal for them to have it, so they sent it over. We transferred it and sent it back.
Fisher: [Laughs] To Russia!
Fisher: Unbelievable! So you've been in business now about forty years.
Tom: Forty years on June 10th, last June 10th.
Fisher: And my first experience with you was to bring my old home movies that my parents took back in the '40s, '50s and '60s. Because over time, these things, they fade away, do they not?
Tom: Oh absolutely. It depends how they were developed, how they were stored. A lot of different things can all contribute to the fading and becoming brittle and stuff like that on them.
Fisher: Does it matter here in Utah that it's so particularly dry? Does that make it even harder than, say, back east?
Tom: That's actually better. Because we've had film that has gone through fires and floods and usually we can restore it better when its gone through a fire than a flood because the material that they used to use back then was pretty durable. It could take a lot of heat going through, you know, a 3600 watt light bulb, so it had to be pretty strong.
Fisher: [Laughs] Wow!
Tom: When it gets wet, the actual image gets soft and it can get scratched off. But we've had film that has gone through fires that we've been able to restore.
Fisher: That is unbelievable. And then you can take these things. Now you have a new system. I mean, when we first did this two years ago, you called me about a year later, sometime last year and said, "Bring them back. We've got a new process." Now tell them about that.
Tom: It’s amazing. Technology used to change every three to five years, now it’s every three to five months. A year ago, Christmas, which would have been '11, we just started doing high def, then we got a new high def system, which we just started doing this last Christmas, which we actually scan the film. It’s not projected. It’s actually scanned frame by frame by frame.
Tom: So if you want jpegs of every image of your film, we can give that to you also. So if you have an old picture of Aunt Margaret and she has no photos of her, we can make a jpeg, you can print it out. Do it on a canvas. Do whatever you want.
Fisher: Now this actually worked for me that way too, because there was a film back from when I was like a year old. And my grandfather passed away when I was a year and nine months. So there was one photo of him holding me over a shoulder. But the Fall before he passed, there's baby me with my father who died when I was seventeen, my brother who died when I was eight and my grandfather who died when I was a year and a half old, all sitting at this picnic table. So we had this film. It was what, a ten or twelve second clip, something like that, very brief. And by going through that process, we went through frame by frame. How many frames per second?
Tom: It depends on the film. It can be anywhere generally from 14 to 21.
Fisher: So you get a lot of pictures basically.
Tom: Oh absolutely.
Fisher: If you think about it in terms of photographs, you can find the one that's perfect for you, as I did. Because in this one particular area of the film that I was trying to get the snapshot from, I'm looking down and my grandfather's looking up, and then I look up and then he looks down. There is one frame in between that where all four of us are looking up at the camera. We took a jpeg from your system and made a photograph of this, which to me is absolutely priceless.
Tom: Oh it is. It’s amazing what you can do. In fact, I remember kind of scrubbing through those different parts of the film. And that's how it is. Because film is usually blurry, because it’s not shot at a high shutter speed, but you don't see that. Your brain interprets it as motion. But going through several frames, whether its 24 frames or whatever to find that one where everybody's the most still or everybody's looking in the right direction.
Tom: And take that one. It’s just priceless.
Fisher: Yeah, I was amazed at, it’s all blurry, and yet when you see it as a film, it doesn't look that way. It just looks like motion. Everybody looks fine.
Fisher: That's an interesting thing to start to understand what it is that you have. What about old photographs, say, on slides? Can you do this kind of work with that?
Tom: It’s amazing! In fact, we've only been able to do it for about four or five months. We've kind of been the guinea pig for Nikon. We have a new scanning system where we scan the slides. And right now we're at 14.2 megapixels!
Tom: Basically, a slide when we scan it, it’s the same thing as if somebody would have brought us in an 8x 10 photographs to scan. It’s just pulls out color. Its mind boggling! It’s incredible.
Fisher: Well, and then you add to that, you mentioned the color. The same thing is going on with the film that you digitized now.
Fisher: I brought in some old stuff. And now it looks like I'm looking at the Younts Stadium. I mean, the grass is green, the sky is blue. I don't understand exactly how it works but. [Laughs] It’s amazing!
Tom: Oh it is. The color fidelity is just absolutely incredible. And it’s just going to get better. I mean, it’s so mind boggling right now, I just can't imagine what it’s going to be a year from now. But it just keeps getting better and better and better. And like you say, the colors are brilliant. People look at it and say, "Wow!" Like we had some film I did of my father's that I found out. He's been gone for about ten years. And found some old film. We looked at it on the projector and there's some people on the stage, and all you could make out was silhouettes. When we did it in high def, you could actually make out faces and go, "Oh, that's my neighbor, Tammy."
Tom: You know, it’s very grainy because it was so dark, but there's an image there.
Fisher: Well, this is why Tom, you are the ideal title host, its title sponsor for Extreme Genes. And we're so proud to have you on the show, because you're doing more in Utah right now to preserve memories than anybody I know. And the cost of this is really quite reasonable.
Tom: Oh it is. It’s amazing. And you know, if you go clear to our high def, I mean, you're only looking at about 22c a foot! So it’s not that bad. And the nice thing is, we tailor it like a menu in a restaurant to what people want. We don't have a package you have to buy all this. If you want it in high def just to a DVD, that's fine. You can add a BluRay or do only a BluRay. You can add a hard drive or only do a hard drive. You can add the new millennial disk that they've developed down at BYU that's a thousand year disk or you can do all of them or one of them or any combination.
Fisher: Wow! And of course you're open Monday through Friday 10 to 6. And you can find out more by the way at TransferDuplication.com. Now, you have other areas that we're going to get into in future shows. You cover audio, right? Old records and recordings. In fact, I brought you in a big pancake. I had an interview of somebody I had done years ago. She was one of the last survivors on the Titanic. And you're able to retrieve these things and save them as well, because I’ve played them on some of my old machines, and you can't. You either get one side, you get the other, and yet, you're able to restore the whole thing.
Tom: Right. We have both standard stereo, plus we also have quadraphonic because a lot of times there's usually four tracks on a quarter inch tape. And sometimes people use all four tracks for totally different. So if you only have a two head machine, you're going to get somebody talking forward and somebody talking backwards at the same time. So this allows us to play one channel at a time. We've even had people bring in cassettes that they used in the old days for the deck, where all four tracks were separate things. And a normal cassette player, you have no idea what's going on. And they were at a different speed. And we could go and transfer each track separately and then change the speed so it sounded normal.
Fisher: [Laughs] Unbelievable! What's the greatest save you've ever had? I mean the one you're proudest of.
Tom: We had some people come in several years ago, came in and said, "Hey, our wedding tape got put into the oven by our two year old, and mom didn't know it was in there, turned it on to preheat it and didn't know until she could smell it. And they had saved this for I guess about five or six years. They could not bring themselves to throw it away, and stopped by, brought it in. We recovered the entire tape for them.
Fisher: Ohh! They probably were throwing kisses at you.
Tom: Oh yeah!
Tom: Oh, we've had people bawling when they looked at their old stuff. It’s amazing. The one thing we couldn't do, and to kind of tell all the people out there, don't call us for this please. We had somebody that says, "I recorded the Super Bowl over our wedding video. Can you restore it?" And I go, "Well, no, you can't do that." And he says, "Oh, I've seen it on CSI."
Tom: I gave him the phone number for the FBI and told him to give them a call!
Fisher: [Laughs] Tom Perry from The MultiMedia Center. We're going to be hearing a lot from him over the coming weeks. And we're so excited to have you on board. Thanks Tom.
Tom: Glad to be here.
Fisher: Well, there it is! First hour of the maiden voyage of Extreme Genes. I am Fisher. Thanks for joining us for our first episode of Extreme Genes. Thanks to Sue Richards from the Fort Douglas Cemetery Museum. Great stories! Next week, we're going to be talking to Andria Cranney of the Mayflower Society, Sarah Hermans of the DAR. It will be a little battle of the hereditary associations. We'll find out what they do, how you join them, is it right for you. Interesting stuff next week right here. Its Extreme Genes!