Episode 174 - California Genie Identifies “Jane Doe” From 1968

podcast episode Jan 16, 2017

Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David shares big news for people whose ancestors were New England Catholics as NEHGS and the Boston Catholic Diocese are working together to digitize and index Catholic records from 1789 to 1900, which includes over 100 parishes. The boys then talk about the significance of Illumina announcing they have developed a technique by which each individual can map their own personal genome which has great significance for matching with cousins… and it will be at a comparable price to today’s DNA tests! Also, a historic figure from World War II has passed at 105. Hear who this person was and what she was known for. David then shares a very basic search tip that could help many beginners enormously.

Next, Fisher begins his two part visit with Rita Hood. Rita is an amateur genealogist who ran across information on a woman found dead in California in 1968. The woman was listed as a “Jane Doe,” but Rita spotted a clue to help identify her in the public record and went to work. Rita will take you through each clue and each step she took to final identify the woman after 49 years! In the process Rita found the woman’s next of kin. Hear how her efforts have changed his life, and hers.

Then Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority, drops in to talk about new products introduced at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. What’s out there to help genies discover, preserve, and share? Tom will tell you!

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 174

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 174

Fisher: Hey, so glad you found us! It’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And this segment of our show today is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. And very excited about my guests today, somebody who’s gone through an experience similar to what I went through a couple of years ago. She’s a genealogist in California, and took on a Jane Doe case that police were never able to solve. Who was the woman whose body was found back in 1968? She went to work on it and solved the case! We’re going to talk to Rita Hood about this amazing story, coming up a little bit later on in the show in two segments, plus Tom Perry later in the show, talking preservation, talking about the Consumer Electronics Show that recently took place in Las Vegas, Nevada. He’s going to talk about new technology that can apply to family history, and you know Tom, he gets pretty geeked out [Laughs] so it’s going to be a lot of fun coming up later on in the show. In fact, we’re looking forward to RootsTech which is happening February 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th in Salt Lake City, Utah. We’re going to do a meet and greet with Tom Perry, with David Allen Lambert from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and myself. How are you David, by the way?

David: I’m doing great and Beantown is warming up, not very winter like today.

Fisher: That’s nice to hear. Looking forward to our meet and greets, we’re going to do a couple of them. It’s going to be one hour at my booth on Thursday from 2:30 to 3:30 and that is booth 1325, in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the Salt Palace Convention Center and then on Saturday from 10:15 to 11:15. So, you can pretty much meet all the regulars at those times. So we’re very much looking forward to that. But right now it’s time to find out what’s happening with your family histoire news, and David, what do you have today?

David: Our biggest news is right here in Boston where NEHGS and American Ancestors has partnered with the Archdiocese of Boston, and Fisher we’re really excited about this. We’re going to have over ten million names searchable and a database that’s covering over 150 parishes in Massachusetts from 1789 right on through the 1900s, never before online.

Fisher: Wow! So anybody with New England ancestry is going to benefit from this.

David: They really are. And a lot of times people start over here on the East Coast and then move elsewhere, and the nice about it, it’s all for free.

Fisher: Yes. [Laughs]

David: So normal at the end of the show I talk about our free guest member database on AmericanAncestors.org. So this time I’m just going to tell you, it’s a benefit of course to have that, but you can simply search these and there are already three churches on there on CatholicRecords.AmericanAncestors.org and you can start to search full color images. They’re browsable right now but like any project they’ll also be searchable, down the road.

Fisher: Wow!

David: And this also includes a Mission Church that was in Providence, Rhode Island, which I don’t think we expected would be in Boston records. My next story is DNA related. Illumina, a company which is well known for helping sequence out the human genome, right now it cost about a thousand dollars to sequence out the entire human genome for a person. They’re saying, in a short amount of time it will be as cheap as a hundred dollars.

Fisher: Wow! Now this is for any individual, right?

David: That’s true. Competition arises in the field, it makes prices go down. That’s what we’ve noticed throughout the DNA companies.

Fisher: Of course.

David: So it’s a win/ win situation for all of us.

Fisher: Well, and the nice thing is eventually we’ll be able to compare these genomes and find out which specific piece of each of us comes from which specific ancestors.

David: You mean eventually we’ll find out we’re cousins, Fisher?

Fisher: [Laughs] We will find that eventually. We haven’t got it yet but we will.

David: Yeah [Laughs] excellent. Well, my next story is a little sad. We talked back in October about Clare Hollingworth who lived out in Hong Kong. As you may remember Clare was a centenarian, 105 years old. She recently turned and she was the first person to report World War II.

Fisher: Yeah! She was a rookie reporter from England, and called in and said “Well, the German tanks are rolling into Poland.” And they’re going, “Are you sure?” And she says, “Am I sure? Listen!” [Laughs] She held the phone out and you could hear the mob rumbling by, and there it was the first report of the start of the war from Clare Hollingworth who has now passed, unbelievable.

David: 105 that’s quite the life.

Fisher: Yes!

David: And the stories and things she experienced. And I know that BBC did a story on her, so it’s nice to know that they captured her story. Well you know one of the things in genealogy is I like to offer tips and this one is a generic tip and I think that everybody gets excited by a new website, may it be the one that American Ancestors has launched with Catholic records or another commercial site that you maybe have a subscription to. “Less is more.”  So when you go in there and you’re plugging in your ancestor don’t put every factoid on them. Like my great grandfather is Alexander Livingstone Poor. I won’t put his full name, I’ll put Alexander and Poor and I might not even put the exact town that I know his from and his parents, because they’ll give you those things to narrow it down, unless you’re looking for a John Smith.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

David: Be very vague. Because then you can narrow it down by adding in date ranges. I mean this is true with the census as well. So my tip to you is if you get frustrated and you can’t find your ancestor, look back and see how much information you tried to force through that search engine, before you give up. Again, first name, last name and a state or a country, and then add more facts if you need to narrow it down if you get like a hundred matches or so.

Fisher: Unless it’s a common name you’re absolutely right.

David: I am really excited about Roots Tech. I’m giving three lectures and I’m very excited as you mentioned about meeting our listeners and I really think it’s wonderful that we get a lot of feedback if it’s not through Twitter or Facebook, but to actually meet our listeners is tremendous, to put a face behind a name.

Fisher: It’s going to be a lot of fun. And by the way David, what are you classes, what are you going to be teaching there?

David: I’m giving three classes, one on World War I and World War II research which is the 100th anniversary coming up for World War I. I’m giving a lecture on using social media to have family reunions like you can use things like Facebook and video cameras.

Fisher: Sure.

David: And the last lecture is called, “Beyond the online gravestone” Using stories to tell the last days of your ancestors.

Fisher: Boy, that sounds terrific, and of course all this is going to be at RootsTech in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 8th through 11th. You can find out more about the classes, the schedules, everyone online at RootsTech.org. Thanks so much David! And we’re going to be seeing you soon.

David: See you soon!

Fisher: All right and coming up next we’re going to talk to Rita Hood, she’s a genealogist in California. She does it like most of us do for fun. And she broke a Jane Doe case for local authorities there. What a story! You’re going to want to hear it in two parts starting in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 174

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Rita Hood

Fisher: And we are back, Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and you may recall last year I had that unique experience of helping find the family of a murder victim who had been lost as a missing person over thirty someodd years ago, and it’s a totally unique experience that in many ways changes your life. Now we have found another individual who has had kind of a similar experience and I’m very excited about talking to Rita Hood from Santa Clarita, California. Rita welcome to the show. How are you?

Rita: I’m doing well. Thank you.

Fisher: Looking at your story here and imagining some of the things you went through, there are a lot of similarities but you had a very unique case because this was very old, 1968, and this wasn’t a murder case but this was a Jane Doe situation. First of all, tell us how you found out about it and what made you want to get involved?

Rita: I was on my lunch break and I was on Facebook just reading you know, the timelines, and one of my old colleagues had written a story about a Jane Doe who was found in Griffiths Park in 1968. And she was wearing a wedding ring and the wedding ring had initials, CB to EJ 9/4/1920. Well, my wedding ring has my initials and my husband’s initials and our wedding date so I knew what those initials meant.

Fisher: Sure.

Rita: And then, as a genealogist I you know, “Hmm, I wonder if I could find this wedding date and marriage.” And not knowing what marriage records were out there on Ancestry, I just started going through records, you know.

Fisher: Sure.     

Rita: Just each state. I had initially thought of, “Okay, if the person was married in 1920, she was born around 1900.” So I looked at the most common E names in 1900.

Fisher: Wow.

Rita: It came up with Elizabeth, and Ethel, and Edna, all the names we really don’t use today.

Fisher: Good thinking. Good thinking.

Rita: And I started just ploughing through each state’s records that were available for the year 1920. California is not one of them actually.

Fisher: Okay.

Rita: Which kind of, I thought, hmm it probably is a California resident, but maybe not. You just don’t know, right?

Fisher: Sure.

Rita: And after going through many of the states and really not finding any other than one in Detroit, I thought, well maybe it’s not as common as I had originally thought. You know, I believed it was thirty six states I went through the marriage records, and I thought well, you know, let’s look at this one in Detroit, Michigan. And the wedding couple was Charles Bush who married Edna Jay on September 4th 1920 in Detroit, Michigan.

Fisher: Okay.

Rita: And then I looking at this I thought, hmm, I wonder where they are in 1930. Did they move to California? Well, they were in Detroit again on the 1930 census and they had two daughters, Jaclyn and Geraldine, and my initial thought was, I wonder how accurate the Jane Doe information is on her age, could the age be off? You know, because maybe it might one of these two daughters.

Fisher: Sure.

Rita: And for some reason I kept being drawn to this family. Like, it’s got to be in here somewhere. I went to the 1940s census and Charles was living with his two daughters and his wife and he was listed as a widow till his wife had passed away.

Fisher: Okay.

Rita: And then starting in 1946, one of the daughters, Geraldine Bush, she got married to a Joseph Thomas Bradford in Detroit. And that was in ‘46 and ‘47 then she divorced him. And then in ’49 she married again to a Douglas McMillan. And I was looking... you know the Jane Doe was between ages 20 and 30... Detroit, Michigan does not have, Michigan itself does not have birth records online, so I didn’t know if she had had a daughter.

Fisher: Sure.

Rita: I was stuck in 1949 with her marriage to Douglas McMillan. I couldn’t find her after that. And I was searching and searching and finally in Florida I found her dad living in Florida. And sure enough, Geraldine had gotten a divorce from Douglas McMillan in Florida, and the next month had married a gentleman named John Paul Manzo. And so just as a fluke, I went to California just to see if there was a Manzo with a child born with the mother’s maiden name as Bush, which helps if your birth records are online.

Fisher: That’s right.

Rita: And there was a John Paul Manzo, Junior born. And so I thought, well, I now know she’s in California, Geraldine Bush. I now know that she probably isn’t my Jane Doe. I found her living in Fresno like in the 80s or 90s. I kind of knew that she wasn’t Jane Doe but I thought maybe that this family might know who Jane Doe was.

Fisher: Sure.

Rita: So I started looking for John Paul Manzo, Junior and I found him on Facebook, again with Facebook. [Laughs]

Fisher: Isn’t that a great tool? [Laughs]

Rita: Yes, it is. I just reached out to him and I said I am doing research on the Bush family and I was wondering, was your mom Geraldine Bush? And were her parents Charles Bush who married Edna J. on September 4th 1920? And he said, “Oh yeah, that’s my mom, Gerry Bush, and those are my grandparents. And I’ve all this family information that I’d love to share.” Because he thought initially that I was a cousin.

Fisher: Sure. Right.

Rita: And I said, “Well, is your mom still alive?” And he said, “No, she passed away two years ago.” And then you get to that point in the whole story that you’re wondering, well, do I say the next line?

Fisher: Right.

Rita: I mean, how do you tell somebody this information?

Fisher: I had a similar situation too because nobody would take my phone calls, so do you want to leave that message with them that there’s a loved one that’s been found that’s deceased. What do you do with that?

Rita: Exactly, exactly. So I just said, “I’m wondering if you know what happened to Edna’s ring?” I said I’m working on a Jane Doe case and it appears that the Jane Doe is wearing your grandmother’s ring. And do you know who might have it? And he said, “Call me.” And at that point I thought, hmm, he might know something, right?

Fisher: Sure.

Rita: And so, not knowing John Manzo or he was so nervous that I guess he had given me the wrong phone number. So I sent him my number and we connected, and really, the first words out of his mouth were, “My sister’s been missing since 1968. When was your Jane Doe found?” 

Fisher: Wow!

Rita: And it just put a knot in my stomach.

Fisher: You knew immediately of course.

Rita: Yeah. And I said you know, June 8th 1968. And he said, “Do you know anything about her case? You know, how was she found or anything?” So I read, you know, the identifier about her name, her height, her weight, you know all that familiar stuff. And then they had said that she was going under the name Cheryl Miller. And he said, “That’s my sister. She was dating a guy by the name of Miller, last name Miller, and her name is Cheryl McMillan.” And so, this is on 9/11 a day that really is a day of remembering loved ones.

Fisher: Right.

Rita: It was a moment that forever will be a turning point in my life, you know? I changed someone’s life in that way, and not intentionally. I really thought, “Oh well, we pawned the ring” or “I have no idea what happened to the ring and I don’t know anybody missing.” I really expected that to be the response of John.

Fisher: Sure.

Rita: And to be told that you know, he’s been looking for his sister. He always wondered, he’s fifteen years younger than his sister, he always wondered what had happened to her. His mother works for Geraldine Bush, had worked for, in a Social Security office, in Social Security fraud. And so, on a regular basis she would run her daughter Cheryl’s Social Security number just to see if there was any activity. And she knew that there was no activity.

Fisher: Right.

Rita: In her heart of hearts she knew that she was gone and I want to say, about two or three years prior to her daughter’s death she had planted trees in her daughter’s memory. She didn’t know what had happened to her but she knew that she was no longer alive. She just knew in her heart. And I told John at one point, I said, “You know, I know that you wish your mom was here on earth to hear this news.” I said, “But I believe your mom kind of sent me to help you heal through this.” That there were angels guiding me through this, and I truly believe that you know? Why was I so stuck on this family that I continued to work on it? Initially I was looking for the marriage certificate, well why did I go to the 1930 and ’40 census? What kept drawing me back to this family?  When I was stuck with her second marriage and I couldn’t find her afterwards, I actually put the family in Ancestry’s tree that gives you hints.

Fisher: Sure.

Rita: And they’re the ones that hinted me to look in Florida, you know, that there was a force in Florida. And I kept being drawn back to this family and if you look at my family tree on Ancestry, I have probably thirty different trees because I work on people’s families for fun.

Fisher: Yes.

Rita: I enjoy genealogy in that way. After talking with John Paul Manzo, Junior and finding out it was his sister, you know, what do you do with that information at this point?

Fisher: Sure.

Rita: Like, call the local sheriff? There wasn’t a nemus on that website that tracks missing people, it tracks unidentified people. It’s n-e-m-u-s. There isn’t a number really to call. So I am friends with Deputy Chief for LAPD and I called him, I called Bob and I said, “Bob, you’re not going to believe this but, I think I might have just solved a Jane Doe missing person case.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Rita: And we know each other because our kids ride busses together. He doesn’t know me in this way, right.

Fisher: Sure.

Rita: And he said, “Excuse me, what?” [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Rita: So he said, “I’ll have some detectives give you a call this week.” And the next morning two detectives were here at my office.

Fisher: All right. We’re going to hold it right there, and we’re going to return here in five minutes. Detectives at your office, that doesn’t always go over so well. We’ll find out more about this from Rita. This segment of the show is brought to you by RootsMagic.com and just a reminder by the way, any parts of the show that you miss or you want to catch again, you can always listen to the podcast. Just go to iTunes, iHeart Radio, or to ExtremeGenes.com. And you can also download the free Extreme Genes podcast app through your phone’s store, so we got you covered. Back in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 174

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Rita Hood

Fisher: And we are back! It’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here talking to Rita Hood from Santa Clarita, California, and she had a similar experience to my thing last year where she actually was able to identify a Jane Doe through her incredible sleuthing as a genealogist. Rita you were just telling us now you had talked to the authorities and they were sending somebody to your office. How did your office take to this?

Rita: Well, I had some explaining to do to say the least. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] I bet you did.

Rita: So, yes they came in and they met with me and they wanted to see what information I had and I had printed all of the marriage records and the census records, all of the details that led from the ring down to John Paul Manzo Jr. because I wanted them to talk to John Paul Manzo Jr. to identify her.

Fisher: Right. 

Rita: They were talking to the correct person as they were talking to him and I wanted to prove that. And I couldn’t identify Cheryl. Cheryl had walked through a plate glass window when she was about ten and living in Florida, and she had several scars on her body. And they were identifiers that were never written up in the reporting that I could see online.

Fisher: Isn’t that a technique that police use to make sure that somebody comes forward with information that they know what they’re talking about?

Rita: Yes, prior to DNA, that is exactly how they would have people identify their loved ones. And so the detectives went to John’s home shortly after that. And then probably about two weeks later they had given her a positive identification that she in fact was Cheryl. They had said that they had reached out to two other family members, one in Florida, a cousin in Florida that identified those same scars and then one in Hawaii, another cousin that would talk about the same scars. And so they said they had three separate people in three different States with similar identifiers for Cheryl. When I had met with John, we started talking about Miller, the gentleman who she was hanging with.  He could not remember, nor could the cousins remember his name. And John said you know, all he really remembers was that he had two sons my age. I think one was older, one was younger than me, but about my age.

Fisher: So they were trying to track down Cheryl’s boyfriend, right? Is that what you’re saying?

Rita: Exactly, right. Right, and so I thought you know, let me see if I can find that. All I have is the last name Miller living in Los Angeles with two kids. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Impossible.

Rita: Exactly, right? So I went through the divorce records. I figured she was found in ’68, they started dating in the summer of ’67. Who got divorced in ’67? So I went to California’s divorce records of ’67 and’66 and ’68 and I’m just by the last name Miller and I had two screens open, the divorce records and the birth records index. And so anytime they got a divorce I would look up to see if there were any children born of that marriage.

Fisher: Wow!

Rita: Because on that divorce records it is stated the mother’s maiden name. And so I sure enough found this gentleman with two kids. And so I reached out to John on the Sunday afternoon. I said, “Ask your cousin Ellen if this Bernhard Miller is the guy.” I said, “He had two kids Robert and Michael,” and I said, “Don’t tell her the kids’ names.” Just tell her Bernhard Miller and see if that rings a bell with her. And he calls back and he says, “No, it didn’t.” And I said, ”Okay just let it sit for a couple of days and see if anything comes back later, you know.”

Fisher: Yes, percolate. Sure.

Rita: So sure enough the next morning he calls me. He says, “She said his name is Bernie Miller and he had two kids, Bobby and Mikey.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Rita: Well, this is your guy.

Fisher: Wow!

Rita: I reached out to the detectives again and I said I found Mr. Miller. You may want to go knock on his door.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Rita: I found his address and it actually was nine tenths of a mile from where Cheryl was living when she was found, not where she was found, but when she was found dead. They had her address staying at a hotel.

Fisher: Wow!

Rita: They thought her name was Cheryl Miller, right? So they thought she might be married. She was wearing a wedding ring as if she was married. But in my genealogy I didn’t find any marriage record. But anyway, they went to this gentleman’s house and you know, he’s remarried and has other children, and knocked on his door and the guy says, “I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

Fisher:  [Laughs]

Rita: The wife answers the door and says, “What is this?” you know and the Detective said, you know, “We’re looking for Bernhard Miller and we’re asking your husband if he knows a Cheryl McMillan or a Cheryl Miller.” And she slaps her husband’s shoulder and says, “Come on Bernie, remember Cheryl?”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Rita: And he says, “I don’t remember anything.” I mean and they had to leave it at that. And then they went and talked to the older son who was about seven or eight at the time.

Fisher: Sure.

Rita: And his first words out of his mouth were, “I don’t know who you’re talking about. I don’t know her.” And they said, “Well we haven’t even asked you if you do know her and how do you know what we’re here for? Did you talk to your dad? He says, “No, I haven’t talked to my dad.” So they kind of just had to leave it alone. They asked me whether or not I knew his ex-wife’s information. So of course, I sent that to them, sent her high school picture with her maiden name, and then you know, her Facebook page and she was an Attorney.

Fisher: Look at you go! You’re amazing!

Rita: [Laughs] They went to talk to her. They actually said, “This would have taken us months to actually come up with, you know.”

Fisher: Sure! Yes of course.

Rita: And I’m literally texting...

Fisher: I think that’s being kind. I think it would have taken a lot more than months.

Rita: [Laughs] Yeah. They said there’s nothing really they can do. They would have to re-open an investigation and change the cause of death from you know, an overdose to murder.

Fisher: Sure, just to investigate further, no.

Rita: They’re definitely not going to do that.

Fisher: No, that makes sense.

Rita: Right.

Fisher: Have you met John yet? Have you met the brother?

Rita: I did. It was emotional to say the least. It was interesting. We were sitting down talking to a reporter at the time when we met and we were finishing each other’s sentences. It’s almost like we were already siblings, you know.

Fisher: Yeah.

Rita: And he says, “She’s part of my family forever you know.”  On Thanksgiving he sent me a text saying, “I’m so thankful for you for what you’ve done for me. There’s so much peace in my life now. The day after one of the detectives had showed up to my work, I had reached out to him and said, “By the way, I gave them your information. They’re probably going to call you.” And he said, “This morning was the first morning I woke up and I had just this inner peace, and I knew where my sister was.” He says, “I can’t even begin to thank you for doing what you’ve done.”

Fisher: That’s a great gift.

Rita: I was taken aback by it you know. Here I am, just a genealogist, seeing if I could find something, not really with the goal of helping the family finding closure. I was just, “No, let’s see if we can find anything.” And then to stumble upon this bigger case, bigger event that I just didn’t know I was going to be a part of. And I feel blessed to be part of the family’s road to healing, that I’m a part of that but it is kind of overwhelming in a way as well.

Fisher: Well, you know you think about how many are out there, many of them listening to this show right now, who are great genealogists, who can do these things you know. When they see the opportunity they jump in and be of service to somebody and bring some healing to them and you have certainly done that. I know it’s got to be a great feeling for you.

Rita: It is.

Fisher: So what’s left with this case? Is it wrapped up? Is it done?

Rita: This case is wrapped up. They’ve asked me to look at a couple of other ones, just trying to find family members of individuals that are at the LA Coroner’s office. They will start putting together the remains of those individuals two years ago. They’re asking me to look at and try to find family members of those who have been unclaimed. And so I’ve been working on that for them just through genealogy. I told them I can really look at the people that are older. I’ll probably won’t be good at those who are born after 1950, 1960.

Fisher: Well, sure. That would be the case for any of us. It looks like if you’re not careful you’re going to have a whole new career.

Rita: Well, that is funny because that is what the CEO here said!

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, I’m sure they’re tickled with the publicity you’ve have brought to Princes Cruisers as well as a result of this!

Rita: [Laughs] Yes. They are!

Fisher: Hey Rita, thank you so much for your time. It’s been just a delight chatting with you and good luck with all your future genealogical endeavors.

Rita: Thank you so much! It was great talking to you.

Fisher: And this segment of Extreme Genes has been brought to you by MyHeritage.com. And coming up next, we talk preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPace.com, all geeked out about the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. He’ll tell you what might be new for Family History next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 174

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back to America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And it is Preservation Time with my good friend, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. Hello, Tom.

Tom: Hello!

Fisher: And this segment is brought to you by FamilySearch.org, of course the people who bring you RootsTech, coming up February 8th through 11th in Salt Lake City, Utah. You've got to find out all about it RootsTech.org. Tom, I'm excited because I know you have been following the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that opened the year, and there’s always something in there that applies to family history, new technology, let's get started on what you found for this year.

Tom: It is so fun. Consumer Electronic Show is one of the funniest places to go to. There just so many cool things and a lot of them don't have prices on them because they're in the embryo stage.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: But it’s so much cooler, because like ten years ago, you look at CES and a lot of things are what we called "vaporware", it means they were just vapor and they disappeared, they never actually made it to market.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: You know, you'd wait years for certain things to come out, but these things that we saw at CES at the first of the year, these things will be out by summer. I mean, the turn time is so much faster with technology, with being able to use 3D printers to actually make prototypes. It has so shortened the pipe length from concept to actually on the shelves or on Amazon where you can order them.

Fisher: It just gets faster and faster. This is so much fun! So what have you found?

Tom: Okay, now this first thing, I mean, it’s crazy! We always talk about terabytes and megabytes and always recommend what portable hard drives are easier to backup. Well, I just about fell over, they have a thumb drive that holds two terabytes!

Fisher: Wow! No!

Tom: Oh yeah!

Fisher: [Laughs] And will these things last, they're not made like the old ones that fall apart in just a couple of weeks?

Tom: Well, it’s just like any kind of thumb drive, you know. These ones are higher quality, but you always want to remember, you know, the old backup. Any time you have anything on a thumb drive, it’s volatile memory, even if it’s the best circuitry in the world, you're going to have situations where it actually go through the washing machine or you sit on it in your back pocket or slam it in a drawer, there's so many things that can happen to these. They're great to be able to store the stuff on if you need to take something. If you're like a school teacher and want to work on a movie at home and don't want to email it to the school and have something happen somewhere on the network and you can't pull it up.

Fisher: It’s more like transport, right?

Tom: Exactly! That's the perfect thing to do is call it a transport system. I've got wristbands, I've got ones that hang on my key ring, I've got all different kinds of uses, and it’s just great to be able to it to someplace and not worry about, "Oh, I hope the web doesn't go down. I hope their wifi doesn't go down. I've got this program I've got to show to my class." or whatever, and with a two terabyte thumb drive.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: You can put, you know, a hundred movies on it.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: And there's no problem. As long as you haven't slammed it in your car door on the way out, you're fine. But like I always say, back things up. Just always have backups. I cannot emphasize how important it is to backup. We have clients, they go home, they have a fire or, you know, their little kid get a hold of one of their disks and chews on it, you want to make sure you backup everything. And a two terabyte thumb drive, I mean, like I say, it’s about the size of a normal thumb, same length, same width and everything.

Fisher: Oh, really? So it’s large, it’s a large physical piece.

Tom: Oh yeah! Oh yeah, it’s larger than the little wristband. It’s a good description to call it a thumb drive. It’s about the size of your thumb. But to have two terabytes of memory accessible like that just changes everything. I mean, if you have USB devices in the newer cars, you don't have to take all your DVDs anymore. You can take your DVDs, your stuff on your home network download it to this flash drive, plug it in your suburban and your kids can pick whatever movies they want to, because it’s got all the ones from home.

Fisher: Right, right, and it all yours legally.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: And everything else, perfect!

Tom: I mean, it’s just absolutely incredible the technology that we have right now. And as things get better, they're more stable too, so they're not the same old thumb drives like "Ewe!" you know. Like you mentioned, a couple of months, this thing's not going to be good. And I've had people write in and ask us, "Okay, I've got all my stuff backed off my thumb drive, should I nuke it?" And I say, It’s always a good idea once you're done with it to go and erase everything, reformat it and start all over again, because you have less chance of artifacts causing it to crash.

Fisher: Boy, all great advice, Tom. All right, we're going to hear more about what happened at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, coming up when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 174

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And we are back. It is our final segment of Extreme Genes for this week, America's Family History Show. Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, he's Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. And we're talking about things from this year's Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show Tom that you found out that applies of course to family history. What else do you have?

Tom: Exactly. And this is one thing we've talked about in the past that technology just keeps evolving is drones. And I have people write to me that say, "What's drones got to do with family history?" Let's take a little journey back. It used to be that we only had Nikons and Canons and high end cameras, and then we had those garbage cameras, okay?

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: Photos are the best way to do anything. Videos are great, too, but photos are so unique and so special. When camera phones came out, they go, "What do I need a camera phone for family history?" It gives you all these opportunities to shoot it, to record it, to do so many different things, and then the same people are saying things about drones, "How's a drone going to help me with family history?" These drones are so totally cool! [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Look at you, you're totally nerding up over here! [Laughs]

Tom: Oh, it’s like walking into a Chevy dealership and looking at the brand new Corvettes.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Tom: You know, it’s just so cool these drones, the things you can use them for, family reunions. You go to the cemetery and some people, even though you take pictures, some people want to take an imprint of a headstone. So they lay the paper down, they get out their pencil and they do an engraving.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: To get pictures from a drone from that perspective, you know, whether you're shooting video or some of them even have audio now, the different things you can do. It makes it so easy, so convenient and non obtrusive, with grandma and grandpa with a drone flying over, they're probably deaf, just like me so they can't hear the drone.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: And you shoot things. And these drones aren't these great, big, huge things anymore. They had one there that was about the size of a shoebox, you go and program it on your iPhone or your Android or whatever kind of Smartphone you have, you can tell it to what they call "leash" and it will follow.

Fisher: No!

Tom: It will totally follow you!

Fisher: Like a pet?

Tom: Just like a puppy dog with wings!

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: Like if you had dragon for instance, Pete's Dragon.

Fisher: [Laughing] “Puppy dog with wings!”

Tom: Exactly! It follows you anywhere. And it’s so cool! They so small, it follows you around, goes through the graveyard. One thing that's cool, too. is if you're going to a very large graveyard, like we were back in Chicago, looking for some of our relatives, you take the drone and it can circle over some places, you can look at the video on your phone, "Oh, there's the last name we're looking for! That's the part we're looking for." So it can actually help you in your search.

Fisher: Scout it out.

Tom: Exactly, it’s a great scout. It makes it really, really great, so you can do things like that. The cameras in these things are so amazing! They're getting better and better and better. And typing in geo coordinates, it makes it too easy. You can go right to an exact place, because a lot of people when they're taking pictures now, they publish the pictures with the geo coordinates. And so, you can type that into your drone and it will go right to the gravesites, so you know where it is. It’s not like "It’s sixteen down this way, fourteen down that way." Type in the geo coordinates; the drone will go there and wait for you.

Fisher: Right. And they can take it from BillionGraves, for instance.

Tom: Exactly! That's a great example.

Fisher: Because they provide that, yeah. And another thing that would be really fun is your old house where you grew up. You know, you don't have to bother people about taking a tour, knock on the door. You just send your drone in, because it’s totally legal.

Tom: Right. As long as you're not looking in people's windows or doing anything obtrusive.

Fisher: [Laughs] Right.

Tom: Just fly over. I've wanted the same thing. I've driven by my old house I grew up in, several times, and I just never had the guts to pull over and go knock on their door. And the neat thing which we talked about earlier that follows you around, so when it’s hovering over the grave that you're looking for, you go over there, you call it down and it lands in your hands, you fold it up and put it in your pocket.

Fisher: Shut up! [Laughs]

Tom: They are so amazing! I don't even know what to call it. So it’s just absolutely crazy. I'm just so excited about them.

Fisher: We're going to have to calm you down and get more, because I can see you've got a long list there of stuff from Las Vegas.

Tom: I do. And we're probably not going to get to all of it, but it is just so exciting! Go on Google and type in "Consumer Electronics Show 2017" and see some cool stuff.

Fisher: All right, we'll get to more of it next week. Thanks for coming in, Tom.

Tom: Good to have been here.

Fisher: Hey, this segment of the show's been brought to you by 23AndMe.com DNA. Thanks for joining us! Thanks once again to Rita Hood for coming on and talking about how she solved a 49 year old Jane Doe case in California, unbelievable! If you missed any of part of it, you want to catch it again, listen to the podcast at iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com or iTunes. And of course you can get the free podcast app as well, and also signup for our Weekly Genie newsletter at ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!







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