Episode 29 – Lost and Found: Two “New” Sisters! Plus An 1880s Love Letter and Gathering Records in Africa!

podcast episode Feb 17, 2014

In this episode, Fisher reveals the bold new move by the major players in the world of family history.  The result will be an incredible increase in the records you can access from your home and phone!  Get the details in the opening segment.  Plus, an Extreme Genes listener reads her ancestor’s love letter from the 1880s. Then, meet the FamilySearch man who is collecting family information on the ground in Africa!

Transcript of Episode 29

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Sherry Westmoreland

Segment 1 Episode 29

Fisher: Hey, welcome back genies! It is Extreme Genes Family History, ExtremeGenes.com. I am your Radio Roots Sleuth Fisher and do we have a Roots Tech kind of show for you today! If you don’t know what RootsTech is, it is the largest family history convention in North America, and if you count everybody watching online, in the world! It just happened a couple of weeks ago in Salt Lake City, Utah and it was a party, lots of classes, displays, news stuff to help us connect past, present and future. Go to RootsTech.org to catch the key videos of great keynote speakers and demonstrations. And while at the Extreme Genes headquarters at RootsTech a lady named Amy came by to say hello. We had a great chat and then she said, “Oh and by the way I just found my sister a few months ago.” What? So she gave the skinny on how she connected with her sister who was adopted out before her parents got together. Later in the show you will meet Amy and her sister Carol who are having way too much fun catching up on all the years they missed knowing each other. It’s one of those “find your birth family with the happy ending with stories.” And you’ll hear it first hand in about nine minutes. Later in the show as part of African American History month I’ll play for you my visit with the man from Ghana whose job it is to track down the family records of Africa that eventually become available to you on Familysearch.org. His name is Osei Bonsu. And if you think it’s tough tracking down your ancestors here, wait till you hear how the records are and have been kept in most all of Africa for centuries. What a difficult task he has to deal with. You won’t want to miss it. It’s also Valentine’s Day weekend and I hope you are having a great one. One Extreme Genes listener was lucky enough to be the recipient of some old letters of her ancestors including a love letter from the early 1880s. Wait till you hear how they were written back then. [Laughs] You’ll have that chance in about three minutes. Here is this week’s Family Histoire News from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com.

Familysearch.org has made two major announcements. The first is that they will be spearheading an effort for volunteers to make a major focus on indexing obituaries.  The goal for the coming year, 100 million obituaries that you’ll soon see appearing on their website it’s an insane number but that has never stopped Family Search before. Of course obituaries are a goldmine of family history information with stories, biographical info and typically many names of family members to go along with dates and places. This is where all those digitized newspapers come into play. Their new mascot shows him to promote the campaign as Captain Jack’s Starling, a play on Johnny Depp’s famous Pirate of the Caribbean. He was all over Roots Tech and his message is this, “Dead men tell no tales but their obituaries do.” The second big announcement concerns the growing partnership with Ancestry.com, Findmypast.com, MyHeritage.com and Familysearch.org. That will accelerate the digitizing of the billions of family records collected and held by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. At the present time it would take some 300 years [Laughs] or roughly eleven generations to get it all digitized. But these organizations from all over the world have a plan that will reduce that to 20 to 30 years. A single generation, your eighth grade grandchildren will be relieved to hear that. We’re also excited to announce the creation of our Extreme Genes YouTube Channel. You’ll be able to find our podcast there as well as videos with several of the keynote speakers from RootsTech. We’ve just started, so look for that to happen a little at a time. And if you have a story you’d like to share or a question or comment we’d love to hear from you on our toll free “Find Line.” The number is 1-234-56-GENES. That’s 1-234-56-GENES. It’s open 24/7 and if you record what’s on your mind we’ll be happy to get back with you and maybe even bring you on the show to share your story. And by the way, if you have a kid who’s into digging up their dead we’d especially like to hear from them. The number again is 1-234-56-GENES, G-E-N-E-S toll free.

Fisher: And on the line with us from Elk Grove, California is Sherry Westmoreland. How’re you doing Sherry?

Sherry: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me.

Fisher: We’re glad to have you on the show and very interested in this because this is Valentine’s Day weekend. We look for a little romance from the ancestral past and you actually have some love letters that were shared by your ancestors. Tell us about how you came about obtaining them and who they are from and where they fit into your lines. 

Sherry: Sure. So, my father actually received these letters from a distant cousin. He had copies of them and had transcribed them for us and gave us photocopies. And I was going through all of our family history documents and I found them. And as I was reading them I was really interested in their love story.

Fisher:  And there are not many people who wind up with love letters from as far back. What time period are we talking about here?

Sherry: So they were born in the 1860s and they were writing to each other in the 1880s and they had met each other in New York and they are my second great grandparents. And they were falling in love. We have about eighteen pages of letters they wrote to each other and to other relatives. It was a great window into who they were and their personalities.

Fisher: They were quite formal, weren’t they, some of these letters?

Sherry: They were. They were very formal. You would expect that from the time period, but it’s really fun to hear how they say things and what they write to each other.

Fisher: You want to share some of that with us?

Sherry: Sure. So, John wrote to Emma about something that she had told him previously. He says, “You advised me to wait several years before I get married but at the same time paint a very pretty picture of married life. Now that is quite aggravating, very much like holding an orange to a child and say how nice it is, but at the same time forbid them to touch it. Well, I shall wait some little time yet before I do get married but when I do I shall marry for love and expect to marry a good true woman. What more could a man wish than the true love of a noble girl. And should he not by all possible means prove himself worthy of same.”

Fisher: Isn’t that beautiful? Why can’t we write like that today you know?

Sherry: I know. I wish I could. [Laughs]

Fisher: I mean, how many people get married now by saying, “Hey, you want to get married or what?” [Laughs]

Sherry: Exactly. [Laughs]

Fisher: Hey Sherry, thanks so much for sharing your ancestor’s story. Appreciate you coming on Extreme Genes.

Sherry: Well thank you for having me.

Fisher: And coming up next, you’ll meet two sisters who until September of last year had never even heard of each other. But now what was lost had been found and they are the closest of family members. They’ll tell you the concerns they had to overcome, how they finally connected and what the experience was like, next on Extreme Genes Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 2 Episode 29

Host: Scott Fisher with guests Amy Woorick and Carol Moss 

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio. It is Fisher here, and I’m very excited. We’re still on the afterglow of all things Roots Tech and a couple of people that I met as a result of that are here with me in the studio right now, Amy Woodrick from Atlanta, Georgia. How are you Amy?

Amy: Doing great Fisher. Thanks for having us.

Fisher: And Carol Moss here from Salt Lake City, Utah. And you guys had an interesting experience as a result of your dive into family history research in the recent past. Carol, let’s start with you and give us the background of why you got started and we’ll go into what happened here.

Carol: Okay. Well, I’ve been doing family history research for about thirty five/thirty seven years. Just love it. Just learned that that’s what you do when you live in Salt Lake City and got into it and really love it. I’m an adopted child and so I’m from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, grew up there. Had a wonderful family and was raised very well, but I’ve never known anything about my birth family at all. And you know, as an adopted child you really have a hankering to know.

Fisher: Yes.

Carol: There’s just always a little hole that that needs to be filled. And so, I’m a grandmother of fifteen children. I mean I’m not young.

Fisher: Wow! [Laughs]

Carol: I mean I’m not young. [Laughs] I’m not as young as I used to be. But finally I spent about eight to ten years working the Pennsylvania system trying to get a little bit of information from them. Well, I wanted specifics. So about two years ago they finally were able to send me my birth certificate, the death certificates of both my birth mother and birth father. And when I immediately went to Ancestry.com and did the research to see if I could find out anything, and there was a picture of both of them. And I was just immediately drawn to my mother and I read her obituary and found out I had four siblings. 

Fisher: Wow!

Carol: And I thought, I’d love us to know each other but how do I call up and say, “Hi?”

Fisher: Yeah, this is the awkward thing.

Carol: Yeah.

Fisher: And I’ve worked with people who have been in the situation before who’s asked for my help because I’ve done a lot of this too. And the one thing I always say is just remember once you open that door you can never close it again.   

Carol: That’s so true.

Fisher: And you really have to make that decision. Can you handle the potential things through maybe a rejection, or maybe somebody that you find out you really don’t want to know. [Laughs]

Carol: Exactly. Are they going to lean on you too much?

Fisher: Sure.

Carol: Are they going to need you more than you want to be needed? 

Fisher: Yes. 

Carol: You know all kinds of scenarios. 

Fisher: So where did it go from here?

Carol: So I thought, it would be best if they found me. So what I did was, I was very familiar with using the Ancestry.com products and they have trees and you put several trees out if you want. So I put out a tree, this was my strategy. I put myself and just my mother and her parents and her grandparents. I created a tree with just that line.

Fisher: So just four generations?

Carol: Yes. But it was me connected to my mother, my birth mother. And of course online I saw other trees with her picture and I put those pictures on my tree and kept borrowing whenever I saw it I put it on my tree.

Fisher: [Laughs] So it’s like waving your hands going, “Hey look over here!” 

Carol: I’m here! Exactly! That’s exactly, and I thought I want them to discover me. And lo and behold that’s exactly what happened about two years later. And Amy, she’ll tell you her story but she saw that I was taking her stuff and putting it on my tree and that was how we connected. 

Fisher: All right now, Amy let’s go to your end of this thing now.

Amy: Okay.

Fisher: You discover this tree that Carol has posted and there’s your mother’s picture f her side. Obviously there was a moment you looked at this and went, “Hmm” Talk about this. Your mom’s passed I assume?

Amy: Yes. Mom passed in 2000, my dad passed in 2002.

Fisher: Okay.

Amy: Going back a little bit about five years ago, I had a relative on my side say that we were never supposed to tell us kids, but your mom had a baby girl and gave her up for adoption before she met my dad. And we kind of took it with a grain of salt because I didn’t have any information to go by and I just had to have faith that we’d find each other. Well, I’ve been in genealogy, like my sister, for about fourteen years, not as long as Carol.

Carol: You’re not as old as I am. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Amy: [Laughs] And what we did was, my husband was like, “You’ve done all this work for the family.” I keep in touch with my dad’s side, “Go publish your tree.” So September 1st I published the tree and I was on it on September 12th and I was looking around, noticing someone was borrowing my pictures and so I went to her tree because I have my maiden name Starin is so well documented for the last 300 years but my Irvine, my mom’s side wasn’t.  And so I looked, and I’m looking and I saw this tree called Carol’s Family Tree and I looked at it and I was dumbfounded. I saw Carol and I saw her mom and her mom was my mom. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

Amy: It really took about twenty minutes to comprehend it. 

Carol: And she’s a smart girl.

Fisher: Yes. [Laughs]

Amy: It was funny that we didn’t find each other through DNA but we do match 99.9 but it was fun to find the way we found each other. So I looked at it and it took me a while because I was like, “Well, I’m the genealogist of the family I thought somebody hired Carol because of course I looked into Carol right away and found out she was a genealogist and everything and I was like wait a minute, wow, she’s our half sister! 

Fisher: [Laughs] It took a while for it to click but you already had that information in your head that there was somebody else out there and all of a sudden there she is.

Amy: Yes. It was just amazing. 

Fisher: All right. So who picked up the phone here?

Amy: Well, I ended up telling my sisters and brothers and my brother I love, he just was so, “Wow, really? Amy, really?” I was like, “Yes Mark.” And he just was ecstatic. And Susan and Gretchen, we all embraced Carol right away. It was just very natural.

Fisher: Let’s talk about the moment of contact here though. I mean you shared the word with your siblings.

Amy: Right.

Fisher: And now what was the discussion about how do you proceed?

Amy: Well, we all kind of got together. My niece is an interpreter and we trying to figure how we’d word it to do it?

Fisher: [Laughs]

Amy: We took about twenty four hours and I emailed Carol saying that my mom gave up a daughter before she met my dad. Would you happen to be her? My husband said, Ed said, “Just keep it simple.”

Fisher: Sure.

Amy: [Laughs] And then through Ancestry.com, there’s an emailing system. So I emailed Carol and then Carol got the email and said, “Yoohoo it worked!”[Laughs]

Carol: [Laughs] So I wrote back right away and said,Yes! I am that daughter.”

Fisher: Well, did it please you that they knew they had a half sister? Did it help a little bit? 

Carol: Yes, yes it did because it helped me know that they wanted to find me probably as much as I wanted to find them.

Fisher: But how would they reach out? I mean, you at least had something to work with. They didn’t have anything to work with. 

Carol: The funny thing is we then got on to personal emails and started emailing and Amy would write me these nice long emails and I would write her nice long emails and I’m like, “Oh my goodness, this family has the gift of gab.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Carol: That’s where I get it from! I could not believe it. My kids have it, my grandchildren have it, but it’s definitely from our mother. [Laughs]

Fisher: So this is now going back to September, so it’s been four/ five months now.

Carol: Four months today.

Fisher: Four months today?

Carol: Today. [Laughs]

Fisher: October, November, December, January, no five months.

Carol: Oh we’re up to five months already?

Fisher: And you got on the phone how soon after the email exchanges?

Amy: Probably a couple of weeks later. 

Carol: A couple of weeks she called and that was an hour’s conversation right there. [Laughs]

Fisher: Of course. And listening to each other’s voice and you exchange photographs and all this. Now Carol, you didn’t know a whole lot about mom.

Carol: No.

Fisher: And this obviously filled in some big holes. What did you learn from Amy and her siblings that was a benefit to you? 

Carol: Well you know, one of the first things you do worry about is, you’re concerned about is health issues. And I think I get my strength and figure from my birth mother because she sounded like a strong woman although she passed away from cancer. It was probably one I won’t have but nevertheless, I felt that was strong and I learned that they are people, people.

Fisher: Yes.

Carol: It’s just what I am. And I was like, “This felt so comfortable.” It still does. It’s like putting on a glove. And I’ve never felt that comfortable with my cousins or my own family. I mean, I love them dearly but it’s not the same kind of comfort level. Something very special is there and that’s a great gift.

Fisher: I bet it is. What about for you Amy? What have you found out about your mom now? Did this impact you in any way or any of your siblings in a way that hurt them that this had happened prior to their lives?

Amy: Yeah, everyone really took it pretty well because we didn’t know anything.  Five years ago when we heard we could have had a half sister we didn’t have any information to go so we just had to kind of let it go and have faith find. But everybody’s has been pretty well. We raised Facebook in everybody. And it’s just been really, really wonderful and just being with Carol and my brother-in-law Brian for the week has just been wonderful. We’ve just really enjoyed it and it’s just, I mean you look so much like mom. 

Carol: [Laughs] I love it when she says that.

Fisher: Have you gotten to see videos of your mom by the way

Carol: I haven’t seen any videos.

Fisher: Have you heard her voice yet?

Carol: No, and I haven’t. But I want to say that I was a little nervous about contacting them. And part of it was I didn’t want to change what I was. I mean, here I am.

Fisher: Sure.

Carol: You know, a grandmother and I have a lot of life history, but it didn’t change anything. What it did was expand myself identity and that’s been really great. And the other thing, finding out at this stage of my life it is really, I have nothing but sympathy and compassion for my mother. I can’t imagine how hard it was, what she went through to have a child that she had alone and then to place it as an adoption. What was a great comfort to me was to learn that she met her husband two months after I was born. They got married the year after I was born and she was married for fifty years and had four children. I mean, that sounds an ideal family.

Fisher: A great story.

Carol: Great family life.

Fisher: Great story.

Carol: Yes, and I thought that was a comfort to me to know that she was able to move on and have a wonderful life despite this really probably traumatic experience for her.

Fisher: It has been so great visiting with you both. Congratulations. 

Carol: Thank you.

Fisher: You know a very happy ending here clearly.

Carol: Yes. [Laughs]

Fisher: And I hope it continues on for many, many years.

Carol: Oh I’m sure it will.

Amy: A lot of memories to come. 

Fisher: Thanks for visiting with us.

Amy: Thank you.

Carol: Thank you Fisher. 

Fisher: And on the way next, his job is to collect the family records of all of Africa, a daunting task? Count on it. But Osei Bonsu of Ghana is up to it. Hear my Roots Tech visit with him next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 3 Episode 29

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Osei Bonsu

Fisher: Welcome back genies, it’s Extreme Genes Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here and at RootsTech I had a chance to talk to one man who has a job that on the one hand you’d never wish on anybody because it’s so difficult. On the other hand you can only be jealous of the experiences he’s had  travelling throughout the Continent of Africa gathering information that could be lost at any time. His name is Osei Bonsu of Ghana, and his job is to gather these records wherever they may be found in Africa for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. These records ultimately wind up available free to the public on FamilySearch.org. You have to listen carefully due to the background noise at the conference, and his accent may mean you’ll have to pay special attention. Here’s my visit with the amazing Osei Bonsu.

Osei: Well, everybody knows that in Africa written records are not available, and indeed it is true. We started having records that is civil registration, census records in 1949. The town Sub-Saharan Africa started having written records.

Fisher: 1949. [Laughs] Wow!

Osei: And even that, it was only for the urban centers. The rural areas, nothing has been done. And even though we don’t have written records we have a lot of knowledgeable people that have their family history in their heads.

Fisher: In their heads.

Osei: Yes. There are some people that can give you from their heads up to nine, ten generations. 

Fisher: So what we are talking, 300 years in their heads?

Osei: Yes.

Fisher: Or even more?

Osei: Yes. Yes because some can think back as far as the 1600s, 1500s. In fact, for people telling you up to 1800s is very busy.

Fisher: So how do they get this in their head? [Laughs] How are they chosen to be the ones to do this?

Osei: Well, I must be frank that most of them do that with the help of aids. Some people do that by reading notches, a stick with notches. And each notch represents a generation. And so by looking at the notch they’ll be able to tell you this is the person who was head of the family. So that helps them. Some people do that by skills, some people do that by schools, if there is some occasion or inheritance they do that. Some areas they do it by graves.

Fisher: Oh.

Osei: Some people bury their people in compounds. So it has been there for long and they can tell you that, this grave belongs to our great, great, great grandfather whose name was that and that and that. So those written device if I should call it, helped them to do that. Others, like six generations and others are easy for them to talk from their mind. But those that go beyond six generations, seven generations, normally have some sort of written device. 

Fisher: Is this a job that’s passed father to son? 

Osei: Yes. 

Fisher: Or is it a group of people that have the same job?

Osei: It is the family that normally have one person or one particular lineage that learns that. So they pass this one from one generation to the other. Unfortunately now that is no more there, it is dying and dying very fast because the young ones are all migrating to the cities.

Fisher: Ha!

Osei: So because of rural poverty everybody wants to come to the city for greener pastures. They want to come and find a better life.

Fisher: Sure.

Osei: And so, the old men are left alone, those who know are left alone and so they don’t have that opportunity to pass it on and that is why we get old. People like me that is why we get old. And these people are dying and dying very fast. And if we are not quick enough to capture it, it’s gone. 

Fisher: It’s gone. 

Osei: I’ll give you one simple example that happened just last year, we interviewed one man, an 83 year old man, he gave us very good stories that the family themselves didn’t have a clue about. He talked to us about nine generations of his family. We finished the interview on Thursday, Saturday the friend’s officer went to say bye to him, and the man was dead. 

Fisher: Ugh.

Osei: So if we had waited for three more days all that information would have been gone. 

Fisher: Isn’t that something.

Osei: And there are a lot of people that are dying and going.

Fisher: You know, I was told many years ago by my mother that when somebody dies, a library is burned. 

Osei: Exactly. When an old man dies, a library burns down. It is a saying in Africa. And there is a saying in Africa that says that, “When an old man smozos, atrophy, in other words, decreases or shrinks that of the young man increases or develops.” That was the olden days. And, if you want to translate it, what that means is that, as the old man’s memory, you know, fades.

Fisher: Fades, right.

Osei: That of the young man gets richer. And they say that with the intention that the old man is passing all the knowledge onto the young man. 

Fisher: Yes.

Osei: So as his is fading, that of the young man is getting stronger.

Fisher: Is growing.

Osei: But now it’s no more like that. What I’m saying...

Fisher: Right. They want to leave to the cities to. Now, you’re talking about Ghana, but you must be talking about other countries.

Osei: I’m talking about all of Africa.

Fisher: All of Africa.

Osei: Yes. 

Fisher: Are you having some areas where you can’t get any records at all?

Osei: As of now?

Fisher: Yes. 

Osei: Apart from the recent ones I’m talking about, there are no records. 1949, the registration of civil registration took place in almost all the countries. Census, the first census I think started around 1916. Every country in Sub Saharan Africa started organizing census. So, these modern ones, unfortunately most of them are lost. Either bent intentionally bent, or destroyed. You know, now if you’re looking for those ones you are getting around 1980-1990. That’s what you are getting. And those ones are too new or too recent to even be used for any family history work, because most of the people are alive.

Fisher: Right. Or, they know who those were so it doesn’t, it’s just duplicating.

Osei: Exactly. 

Fisher: You’re not getting any further. Well, this is absolutely fascinating. How long have you been doing it?

Osei: We started in 2005.

Fisher: Okay.

Osei: So it’s about 13 years. No-

Fisher: Nine years.

Osei: Nine years. About nine years.

Fisher: And how many names have you extracted then, indexed in Africa?

Osei: So far, so far we have done 4.5 million and we’ve done about 10,000 interviews, and collected about 4.5 million names.

Fisher: From the interviews alone?

Osei: Yes.

Fisher: From these people?

Osei: Yes.

Fisher: How many of those people have died since you’ve started?

Osei: I can’t tell, but maybe half of them.

Fisher: Wow. Isn’t that something? It’s been a delight. Wow. See the video of my visit with Osei Bonsu on our Extreme Genes YouTube channel. And coming up next, Preservation Authority Tom Perry on the latest family history use of QR codes, and just how those memory medallions you see at the cemeteries actually work, on Extreme Genes Family History Radio, and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 4 Episode 29

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, and what a show it has been already! Some amazing guests, and yet we have another one, our Preservation Authority, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. Welcome back, Tom.

Tom: It’s good to be back.

Fisher: And we spent a lot of time together at Roots Tech in Salt Lake city, Utah for the big convention and learned so much, and how about you?

Tom: Oh, it was incredible. There were people from all over the globe. It was absolutely amazing, especially in the US. We have people from back east and North East, North West, every place. It was neat to talk to some old friends, too.

Fisher: Well, what do you have for us today about preservation? We're going to pick up where we left off last week.

Tom: Right. Last week right after Roots Tech, we're talking about BluRay players, people ask and send in a letter saying, you know, "When should I buy a BluRay player? Do I need to really buy one now?" And we told you, yes, go ahead and buy one. In fact, we're doing a special at Shop.TMCPlace.com where you can get a free BluRay player. At Roots Tech, we were taking orders there. If you had a thousand feet of film being transferred, we gave you a free BluRay player. And so, we've extended this to those people that weren't able to be at Roots Tech. When you go to the coupon code, just type in "valentines" and we'll send you a free BluRay player with your transfers. It’s pretty cool.

Fisher: Wow! That is exciting stuff.

Tom: Another thing that's really great, like we talked a little bit last week with Rick and Chris about Easy Photo Scan renting their machinery, and you can also purchase stuff from them too. If you want to buy a real good, high end photo scanner, they've got the one to buy. It’s by Kodak, it’s what we use in our store, it’s an awesome machine.

Fisher: Well, let's talk a little about that for those who may have missed it. This means you can go to a reunion or a gathering and you can all chip in to either lease or rent or whatever you want to call it, one of these machines and do hundreds of photographs from people from wherever they come in from. It’s a great idea.

Tom: Oh, it is. In fact, if you're there for like a three day weekend, we're talking about thousands or photos. This machine is so fast, it does such a great job of separating the prints, it’s absolutely unbelievable. It’s great what it can do.

Fisher: And the beauty of it is, it doesn't harm the prints.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: So you feed them through, it gives you a lovely digital copy for everybody to share and then it goes back to the original owners.

Tom: Exactly. And the neat thing about this also is, if you have pictures that have no notes written on the back of them, you can actually set the scanner to scan both sides at the same time.

Fisher: Wow! I did not know that. [Laughs]

Tom: Yeah, it’s cool, or like a journal, if you have a journal that the pages are individual and they're written on both sides, set the scanner to scan both sides, send it through and it will scan both sides.

Fisher: Where are we going with this!? I mean, it just keeps getting more and more imaginative as to what we could do with it. It makes it faster. It’s great.

Tom: Oh, it is. In fact, I'm really looking at getting one of those 3D printers, so I can start making my own scanners

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] Exactly, or make your own 3D printer from a 3D printer.

Tom: Exactly. But I wonder if it will deteriorate like jpegs over time.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: Another thing that's really neat that Easy Photo Scan is doing, they're coming out with QR codes, which are the hottest things right now where you can purchase QR codes, put them on the back of your photo, and you can narrate what the photo is, you can put video tied to it, you can have somebody wishing somebody happy birthday when they scan it with their Smartphone. It’s incredible.

Fisher: Well, for people to understand, the QR code is basically a link back to, what, a website?

Tom: It could be a website. In fact, the majority of them, that's what they are, they actually go to a website. Like we'll get into memory medallions in a minute, but the same thing, it goes to a website, so it goes to a server, and then on that server is where you put, you know, music, audio, video, film, anything that you want. And you don't have to maintain the server. You don't have to be computer literate. It’s very, very simple to do.

Fisher: So it’s a tie in just with the company that does the QR code.

Tom: Correct. Now a QR code is actually not owned by anybody, its public domain, just like radio waves.

Fisher: Right, but the link in the site is all maintained by an individual company.

Tom: Correct. Whoever you purchase that from. Like in this part, it would be Easy Photo Scan. We do QR codes for a lot of our customers who want it from varied things, so then we host them. There's also, we'll get into memory medallions and a few others and we'll talk about how they're hosted.

Fisher: Wow, there's just so much to know, and that's why you're here to help us out. And by the way, if you have questions for Tom, he's happy to answer them at [email protected], that's [email protected], and if we use your question on the air and give you the answer.

Tom: You get a free $50 credit on any online purchase.

Fisher: Awesome! All right, and coming up next, Tom will talk memory medallions, what they mean to you in terms of marking your ancestor's gravesites, its good stuff, coming up next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 5 Episode 29

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: You found us, Extreme Genes Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here with Tom Perry our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com, talking about memory medallions. Now, this kind of ties in with the whole thing with the QR code, because they're similar in a lot of ways, yes Tom?

Tom: Exactly. In fact, it totally is based on a QR code.

Fisher: All right, so if you go to a cemetery and you find an ancestor's grave, let's just take it from the point of view of somebody who stumbles upon one that somebody has left.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: I go there and I find my great, great grandfather's grave and there's the memory medallion on it, what do I do with that?

Tom: Okay, first off, if you don't already have one installed on your phone, any kind of Smartphone, whether it’s an Android or an iPod, you download a free app. They're available on the iTunes store. They're available wherever Android gets their things. And once you download it, basically what it is, it’s a photo. It’s you taking a photo. So you find one of these, and I have done that. I've gone to my cemetery to visit my father's grave and was, you know, walking through and saw one on a grave and I thought, "Oh!" And it says, "World War II veteran" so I thought, Oh, this is interesting. So I take out my phone, open up the QR app, I would set it over just like you're taking a photo of it.

Fisher: It’s a QR app or is it a memory medallion app?

Tom: No, it’s a QR app.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: Yeah. So you can read any kind of QR codes. Like for instance, our brochures we hand out at things like RootsTech, they have QR codes where they can go to our main website. They can go to our film website, different things.

Fisher: So the memory medallion contains a QR.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: So it’s just that it’s protected because its out in the elements, it’s made in a different way.

Tom: Right.

Fisher: It’s not printed.

Tom: Its actually laser etched right into the material that it’s in, so you know, it will last forever and ever and ever.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: Now the neat thing about memory medallion, they're not just some company. They actually have a site that's set up into perpetuity, just like when you buy a cemetery plot, if the company that owns that, if it’s not city owned, goes out of business, they have money set aside so they will be kept forever, so you never have to worry about that. That's how the memory medallions also setup. So once you purchase one of these, you have it forever. And they start out at about $50 and go up.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: And so, now what you do is, you scan this. Once you've scanned it on your phone, it will hook into the internet, it will go and find where this is placed on their server and it will bring up audio, video, film, links to other websites, whatever you choose to be on yours.

Fisher: While you're standing there in front of that grave.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: That's exciting.

Tom: Oh, it is. It’s amazing. And that things, you know, you learn about these people. In fact, memory medallion was hired by the 9/11 people, the new monuments that they built down there. There's one at the fire department and one at the police department and by the name of everybody that perished there is a memory medallion, so you can go up and scan it and you will find out what the story is. It will say, "This is a twenty two year old right out of the police academy, left a wife and three kids behind, here's some information, there might be some photos, there might be video and all this kind of stuff. So it adds some action to who these people are, they're not just a name on a piece of rock anymore, these are individuals. And it’s absolutely incredible technology.

Fisher: So, we only have about a minute left to go, Tom. Where can people get these? I would imagine they're available in outlets throughout the country.

Tom: Oh, yeah, all over. And if you can't find it, you can either go to our website, which is TMCPlace.com, and there's actually a dropdown that says "memory medallion" you can click on that and that will tell you places where you can buy it online or you can go and search on Google and find other people that are selling them.

Fisher: So, what price range do these go in and is there a varying price?

Tom: Oh yeah. They start out at $50 and go up. Like some of them are just a little flat one that you just mount on the headstone, some of them is almost like a locket where you can print the picture of the deceased person right on the cover, it can be etched right into it. We just did somebody, some for a person that lives in Texas and they had the state of Texas flag put on the top of it. So it can be totally customized.

Fisher: I love that.

Tom: Right.  And one of the neatest things to remember is, if you're someplace that there's no WiFi or there's no internet, you can take a photo of that with your QR app, then when you get back home, you can actually hit the button again and it will go to the site.

Fisher: All right, Tom. Always great stuff! Thanks for coming on the show. And thanks to our guest coming off of RootsTech especially the newfound sisters Carol and Amy. What a delight to have them on the show. We'll have more from Roots Tech coming up next week. And don't forget, we've got a brand new YouTube channel in action, so you can check out our podcasts. Take care. We'll talk again next week. And don't forget, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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