Episode 343 - Free RootsTech Connect Takes Conference Virtual and Global / To Run 24 Hours For Three Days / FamilySearch In The PandemicSep 20, 2020
Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys open the show talking with Fisher’s latest communications with high school friends of his much older brother, who died when Fisher was eight. In Family Histoire News, the guys talk about two people, in two stories, one Australian, one Canadian, who recent learned some shocking things about themselves with the help of DNA. (The DNA stories keep on coming!) David also talks about the huge increase in prices that will soon be in effect for obtaining citizenship records of ancestors. And finally, what a discovery in Israel! It dates back to 700 B.C. Hear what archaeologists have discovered.
Next, Fisher begins his two part interview with Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International. In the first segment, Steve explains the opportunity he sees in the pandemic for taking RootsTech global, virtual, and continuous for three days. Plus, this presentation feast will be free! RootsTech Connect in February of 2021 will be like none other! Hear Steve explain this pioneering effort.
Then, Steve talks about how the pandemic has impacted FamilySearch. To hear Steve tell it, many things learned during this challenging time will become permanent features of the website.
Then, David Lambert returns for Ask Us Anything.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 343
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 343
Fisher: And welcome to 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. Well, great to have you along genies. Big news broke this past week of course about RootsTech this year. Now, because of the pandemic, RootsTech is not going to be happening live as we had hoped maybe it would be by February. It’s going to be virtual, but it’s going to be three days of good stuff. And I’m going to have Steve Rockwood on the show here in just a little bit. He is the CEO of FamilySearch International and he’ll talk about what’s happening with the conference, what you can expect. By the way, it is free. And we’ll find out more of the things FamilySearch is doing through the period. It’s amazing how much things they’re getting on the site for us through this period. Hey, if you haven’t signed up yet for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter” please do so at ExtremeGenes.com. You’re going to be missing so much stuff if you don’t. You’re going to miss out on past and present shows, links to stories that you’ll be interested in as a genealogist and a blog each week from me. Right now, it’s time to head out to Stoughton, Massachusetts and David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello David.
David: Hey, what’s going on in your part of the world these days?
Fisher: Well, I’m kind of trapped indoors because there’s a windstorm going on as we put the show together today.
Fisher: But I’ve been making contact with more friends of my late half-brother who died in 1963. They were in a hot rod club with him, and I’ve been getting pictures and stories and it’s been really interesting because I was just a little guy when he passed away at 21 years old, so it’s been really fun to get to know him a little bit.
David: Yeah, especially with photographs. That’s tremendous. It’s almost like you having a peek into the life that you didn’t really know.
Fisher: That’s right.
David: That’s really great.
Fisher: A long time ago.
David: These peeks into our past are always exciting. DNA will occasionally do that. There was a shocker for a gentleman by the name of Peter Moore, who at 61 thought his ancestry was Irish. And he got his DNA results and it turned out he was Italian and Aboriginal.
David: So that didn’t fit. What did he find out? His whole life he never knew he was adopted. No one ever told him.
Fisher: You know, this really reminds me of the Bill Griffeth story, the news anchor, because this guy is a genealogist. He has put together all the history of his family and suddenly he does the DNA thing and finds out none of the history he knew was correct. So, now he’s figured out that he was part of a secret family basically. What a story.
David: Another story with DNA and it’s not so much of an adoption but abandonment. This is the story of a young lady who’s now 34 years old and was abandoned in a ditch on the side of the road as an infant right after she was born. And through DNA she now knows who her dad is, and now she knows who her mother is through her birth father. If she wasn’t found by two teenage boys walking home from school this may have had a completely different outcome. And now she’s a mother with three children and her mother wants the story to still be a secret. So, her mother’s identity is not public, but her father is very much embracing and regretting that he had 34 years he didn’t get a chance to know his daughter because he didn’t know that the mother was pregnant.
Fisher: Yeah, he’s pretty upset about the whole thing. He said, “I know that maybe I wasn’t ready to have a child at that time in my life,” because he was just a teenager. He said, “But I’ll tell you one thing, she wouldn’t have wound up in a ditch.” And so, he’s really angry that his girlfriend never told him that she was pregnant and never told him what she did.
David: Yeah, at least there’s a positive outcome, and maybe some healing can be done down the road.
Fisher: Half-siblings too.
David: Oh yeah. Well you know, DNA is one thing, but of course, we rely on documents as well in genealogy. And for the most part you can get a lot of things for free online, and then you have to turn to the United States government occasionally to get records and you have to pay certain fees. Well, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Bureau now is raising the prices dramatically. So, for instance, if you were going to get a record right now, before October 2nd the price was normally $60. They’re raising it by $190 to put in a G-1041 request.
David: And the filing cost itself is going up a whopping $200, let alone to get the actual record itself. It’s crazy that there is a justification that would have to make people have to pay that much more for the record. I could see a small increase, but it’s not like you’re going to get a document delivery the second that you pay that credit card.
Fisher: That’s crazy. I mean, you know these are government records. They belong to us. So, really, all we should be charged is a processing fee. And now they’re talking some two hundred and some odd dollars for a document?
David: It’s almost like they’re putting up a roadblock with a fee that would make it deterrent to actually want to get the records. I don’t know about you but I would want to fight to get them anyways. But, that much of an increase might be a little bit much for most genealogists to pay.
Fisher: Yeah, I think so. I think so. I know there are tons of people who can’t afford multiple subscriptions yet alone pay for something like that which should be like a couple of years on Ancestry.
David: Yeah, for one document versus thousands upon thousands of documents.
David: And that leads me to the next story that I want to talk about on Family Histoire News. And that goes out to a Biblical era palace discovered in Israel. Two columns or the capitals from the columns that date back to around 701 B.C, have been found and a variety of other artifacts. Essentially, this is during the time of King Hezekiah following an Assyrian siege of Jerusalem that occurred in 701 B.C. and these are the leftover parts of the buildings that were once there.
Fisher: Oh wow.
David: It’s amazing to think that we’re still uncovering history from the 6th and 7th century B.C in the 21st century. So, keep digging because you never know what you’re going to find genealogically.
Fisher: [Laughs] Exactly.
David: Well, that’s about all I have this week from Beantown. Wishing everyone a nice transition from summer to fall. Get out there and visit some cemeteries. Have some virtual genealogical conferences or research. What a novel concept! Sit at home.
Fisher: All right David thanks so much and we’ll talk to you again at the back end of the show as we do Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, I’m going to talk to the CEO of FamilySearch International, Steve Rockwood about this year’s RootsTech, RootsTech Connect online when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 343
Host Scott Fisher with guest Steve Rockwood
Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. Thrilled once again to have my good friend Steve Rockwood the CEO of FamilySearch International on the line with me because Steve, you guys have been making some big announcements here lately.
Steve: We have, and we hope its welcome news to many people in and outside of the industry.
Fisher: Well, we had RootsTech kind of altered a little bit. The name’s been changed a bit to make sure people understand that RootsTech this year is going to be virtual. It’s now called “RootsTech Connect” and I’m really looking forward to seeing exactly how this comes together. It’s going to be very different.
Steve: It will be. And I’m just so proud of the team who’s taken this opportunity quite seriously and they’ve done a lot of studying and a lot of investigations as to what is it that the industry really needs right now, what is it that all of the different players in the industry need and are looking for at this very, very unique time, unprecedented time, and is there an opportunity or even a responsibility for us to go outside of the industry and involve people that have never known of RootsTech or never have had the ability to attend RootsTech, that maybe we could touch. And I’ll even use the word “bless” because as you know, there’s nothing like the spirit and the happenings of RootsTech that we feel we have the opportunity to now share with others.
Fisher: Well, it’s amazing when you go to RootsTech and you attend it and it’s been around now what, 11 years?
Steve: Uh huh.
Fisher: The connections that people make and the things that they learn and the community that is built, I don’t think that there’s any place in the industry that brings people together in such a way that helps build that sense of community. That was something that really didn’t exist 20-25 years ago.
Steve: Well, that was the genesis of RootsTech, how can we originally bring genealogists and technologists together. And as you know, not only has that brought some tremendous innovations and connections, but we’ve even expanded it and have really tried to involve everything from the paid professionals to the curious “lookie-loos” and everyone in between. And thanks to our wonderful sponsors, attendees, the instructors, and the vendors, the societies, they’ve proven that concept the past 10 years and now because of the unique nature of the pandemic we’re wondering is there any way we could actually globalize the experience by primarily localizing the content to the many, many homelands around the world.
Fisher: Oh wow! So, explain how this is going to work.
Steve: Well, if you think of any event, and RootsTech is like any other event, you’re always trying to attract people to come to RootsTech, come to a conference, enjoy all of the inherent benefits of gathering together, but you’re always tied to a place and time. And so, the experience of the pandemic is the same. Of course we want to do RootsTech and we will continue to do RootsTech, and in the future I’m certain there’ll be RootsTechs where we do come to a specific place at specific times. But for this year in this unique situation, what could we do differently? And that is, well, what if we weren’t inhibited by a place like Salt Lake City or London and by time, meaning, nine o’clock Mountain Time or four in the afternoon London time. And that’s when we started thinking, “Oh my heavens, if we’re not tied down to place and time, we really could globalize this. And that was the impetus that brought us to the path to what we introduced last week.
Fisher: So, what we’re talking about then is streaming and then making it available whenever anybody wants to access it?
Steve: That’s right. If you think of family history in general, it’s a matter of connecting you to your family and to your heritage and your homelands. So, it’s really the homelands here where we could actually follow the sun. The world actually starts in the Pacific right?
Steve: And at FamilySearch we always think of our business day really starts 3:00 p.m. Mountain Standard or Daylight Time because that’s when our offices and our people open up in the Pacific, and then you follow the sun. Imagine if RootsTech was developed that way. What if it was a very convenient time for people in the pacific to log on and enjoy some live events as well as recorded events in their local language at their local times live, and then they could do on demand. And then what if RootsTech followed the sun through Asia, through Africa, Europe, and then actually ends in South America and North America. All with opportunities to join live as well as recorded on-demand and still have the opportunity to learn, to connect, to interact, but now it’s all very relevant to each individual entity because we can address their homeland in their language at their time.
Fisher: Oh wow!
Steve: It’s pretty audacious and ambitious.
Steve: But let’s all give this a try and let’s see how it works, and if we fall on our face we know. But I have a feeling there will be some stops and starts, some places we trip up, but at the end of the day, I think we’re about to bless exponentially many more people than RootsTech could ever touch in our traditional way.
Fisher: Wow! So, how many hours would you say RootsTech is going to run in a typical day or is it around the clock?
Steve: Well, it is going to be a three day event. It will be around the clock. It will be at different convenient times for different people. Imagine for example, when we talk about is this truly attendee and partner centric, our partners love the fact that now they can hone in on specific homelands and specific markets and specific people that they’ve never been in touch with before. I will tell you, people can’t believe that we’re actually doing it free. And we’re doing it free for a number of reasons. But the main reason is that there are more people we need to touch. This is a benevolent thing that we think the whole industry can give to those in the industry and especially those outside the industry. Let me just give you an example of that. So, last year we had as many as 40,000 people at RootsTech and that was incredible to have that many people there. We already have almost that many registered and we only announced one week ago.
Fisher: Yeah. Wow. [Laughs] That’s incredible. And from where, how many countries?
Steve: So, we typically had to come to Salt Lake and/or join us online because we’ve always had some online versions of RootsTech. We think they had representations of about 40, 42, 43 countries. We are already over 90 countries.
Fisher: Oh wow!
Steve: People from 90 countries in one week’s time have registered for RootsTech. So, the initial aspiration, the initial thought, is already proving true just in one week’s time.
Fisher: So, do you perceive that this is going to start with these presentations in people’s own languages are you going to have multiple courses online at the same time that different people can go to in their own language?
Steve: Exactly. So, here for those of your listeners who are familiar with RootsTech, we’re not just trying to replicate RootsTech that you have in Salt Lake at the Salt Palace or in London online. But it will feel a lot like that. So, there still will be an exhibition hall. There still will be keynote speakers. There still will be several hundred classes. The difference is that once class that might be universal to many different homelands or many different languages. We’re trying to get away from translating but more of native speaking presentations. So, if I have one class that people might enjoy in five different languages, then that class will be given in five different languages by five different instructors at five different times. That’s just an extreme example. But the majority of it will be if I need something about Thailand, well, it’s okay, we’ll teach that in Thai for those that speak Thai in Thailand but it’s all the diaspora. That’s the beauty of RootsTech and that’s the beauty of not being tied to time or place. So, what other languages? Where are the diaspora of Thailand? Where do they live? And what other language do we try to find wonderful instructors who can contribute to this cause? And we’ll do that homeland by homeland by homeland. And we’re not just trying to slaw the whole world of 200 country homelands. We are looking specifically at where is there a demand, where is there a need. And for this first batch of pancakes, if you will, [Laughs] we’ll hone in on those that we think we can deliver a very inspiring and instructive experience.
Fisher: Wow! I’m almost left speechless. And you know me well enough Steve to know that that’s quite an accomplishment. [Laughs]
Fisher: It’s going to be an amazing thing. So, you mentioned that you’re actually going to have the exhibition hall going on this. How is that going to work?
Steve: Well, we are going to have a platform because keep in mind, RootsTech is a place where 40,000 people come, in this case many more than that. But this is not a one-to-many experience. It still is how many one-to-one experiences can we facilitate where 40 or 50 or 60 or 70,000 or in this case we anticipate hundreds of thousands of people will come. It’s still connecting that one-on-one experience. So, imagine you’re coming into a virtual expo hall if you will, and you do want to talk to that specific provider, so you go and what do you end up having, a one-to-one conversation with them in their booth or over their desk. That’s exactly what we’ll be replicating here. But now there’ll be able to get even more intimate and spend probably even more time with you as they now have even their virtual booth with the one-on-one contact that they need. And also do their classes. They can do their demos all of that like they do at RootsTech.
Fisher: Wow! And from people all over the world?
Steve: From people all over the world.
Fisher: That’s just an amazing vendor experience coming up. All right, where do people sign up? It’s absolutely free.
Steve: Yes. As always, come to RootsTech.org and you’ll see the introduction to this and explained in much more detail than I have. But right there you just register and because it’s free we just want to have that opportunity to then keep you informed as we go. And we invite everyone. And here’s the wonderful thing, all those family and friends that you wish could come you think that might be blessed by this sort of experience, now please don’t hesitate to have them come on. And if they can’t come during live of those sessions, we will also keep it on-demand on RootsTech.org for them to enjoy. And let’s see what happens right?
Steve: I think this can be a real game changer just as RootsTech was a game changer over 10 years ago, imagine what this will do. And the reason why we call it RootsTech Connect is because we will have an online experience attached to our traditional RootsTechs in the future I’m sure, and see how we can then enjoy the benefits of both approaches.
Fisher: He’s Steve Rockwood. He’s the CEO of FamilySearch International, and when we return in five minutes Steve let’s talk about what’s going on FamilySearch during the pandemic.
Steve: You bet. Thank you.
Segment 3 Episode 343
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Steve Rockwood
Fisher: All right, back at it on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, talking to Steve Rockwood. He is the CEO of FamilySearch International. And we were just talking about the brand new RootsTech Connect, and I want to pivot here, Steve, and talk about FamilySearch during a pandemic and the lengthy history. What are we at, almost 130 years of history with FamilySearch and its predecessors now? We’ve never run into anything quite like this. What’s happening at FamilySearch during this downtime?
Steve: Well, I just want to let you know that we are not just looking at what’s happening at FamilySearch but we immediately have been looking at the industry and all the participants in the industry. We realize that this is something very different for everyone. So, we’ve been asking ourselves, okay, what can we do for each participant? What can we do for the societies during this time and what’s happening with them personally as well as organizations? What can we do for the service providers, the record managers, anything from the size of Ancestry to the latest garage innovated company and everyone in between? And that’s what’s driven a lot of what we’ve done during the pandemic. And we were kind of in the position to be able to do that because literally for the last several years we’ve been positioning ourselves to be global and in order to be global we had to be distributed. Now we’ve always been a global organization but to go from international to global means that you want to make sure that you have common processes, common experiences for all of those involved no matter where they live or where they’re from around the world. So, we’ve already done a number of things where we have a platform, for over 15 years our help organization was hundred percent distributed with 1200 volunteers working from home or wherever.
Fisher: And they’re fantastic, by the way, for people who haven’t taken advantage of that.
Steve: Well, thank you very much and they’re tremendous and here they’re volunteers. And so we’ve had this model and we’ve been able to globalize it and localize it throughout the years. So, when the pandemic hit it really wasn’t that big of an interruption for us. In fact, instead what we were able to do was to help a number of our partner organizations and individuals to learn how to become distributed on their own. So, we’ve been extremely busy but not to adjust to the pandemic. It’s primarily to adjust to the incredible spike of activity on FamilySearch.
Steve: And we know others in the industry are seeing the same, and able to leverage the fact that we already knew how to work the distance. We already know how to help people and educate people with adult education with distance learning in mind. As a result, I can just maybe give you a couple of examples of what we’ve tried to do.
Steve: Whenever you have constraints, they’re inconvenient, they’re even tragic at times but there’s always an opportunity to learn. And we’ve received tremendous counsel from our board and from our leaders, find out what you can learn here and seek after those opportunities of innovation and inspiration that would actually lead to transformation. So, immediately we found ways of how we would innovate and change how we provide our patrons on the front-end and how we do a lot of the data and technology and the records in the back-office. And as you can imagine, as the archives closed around the world, our camera operators closed.
Steve: And we really had a constriction of how many records we could acquire images from with over 300 camera operators, but because of the beauty of our distributed and global organization, the indexing of the records that we already had and the treating of those records, and taking those records and actually starting to build trees just grew exponentially and even exploded.
Steve: And we are now just doing all that we can just to support the incredible influx of new entrants who are contributing.
Fisher: Sure. That had to be the biggest loss, right? As the camera people couldn’t go into these places and you’re just moving the workforce basically and saying, okay then, we’re going to go and index what we’ve got because you’ve still got a huge amount in the vault. And our conversations over the last few years, Steve, have been about getting everything in the vault digitized and indexed as well. How’s that project coming?
Steve: So, that one’s going very, very well and has been able to adjust to the pandemic as well and we’re beginning to see cameras coming up and running again. So, our book scanning, camera acquisition work, as well as the work in the vault is now ramping back up. And in some of those areas we anticipate we’ll get pretty close to what we originally forecasted with the work. So we still anticipate that we’ll have the vault digitized by the end of 2021, but as always, we’ll know it when we see it. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Steve: And I’ll tell you it’s because you mentioned the workforce and you’re exactly right but I’ll tell you one of the secrets to this, is that we’ve been going away from a managed workforce to much more of a community contributor base.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Steve: So, we don’t manage the workforce, we simply want to support the community and it’s the community that’s really taken off during this pandemic and we’re just trying to keep up with them.
Fisher: So, you’re seeing a big explosion then of volunteers who need something to occupy them during the pandemic?
Steve: That’s exactly right. And that’s everything from individual new entrants during this time of uncertainty and time they’re looking for certainty, they’re looking for healing, they’re looking for connections. So, they come to family history for the first time. So, just our first time people coming onboard opening accounts, beginning to discover their family story. Looking for those photos, looking for those memories, looking for any information we have about their family. That has grown exponentially. But then, those who are already enjoying that but now want to give back or want to contribute by treating records, or helping clean up trees or build trees, that have grown exponentially as well. So, we can believe it but we stand all amazed by it because it really has been something.
Steve: And we hope we’re keeping up with it. So, that’s just an example of people contributing to the tree. The other key thing that we always wanted to do because this is another thing that happens when you have constraints, you know that wish list? Someday we’re going to get to that.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Steve: Well, this time we’ll be able to get to that on a number of things. One thing we’ve seen is that there’s always been an opportunity to help people learn how to engage in family discovery, in story compilation, in family history, and even in genetic genealogy and all of that but there has to be a better way for them to learn. And being a science in our origin we have a very traditional way to teach family history but now we’re looking for innovative ways for people to learn and especially new demographics, people from other homelands outside of the traditional Europe and North America, South America, markets. How do the people in Asia want to learn this? How do the younger people want to learn this?
So, this pandemic has given us the opportunity to innovate on how to do learning in a totally different way when it comes to family history. You’ll see it manifest in two main ways around the gate. Number one is RootsTech Connect. At RootsTech Connect you’re going to see that we are going to find new ways for people to learn family history and with the distance learning you’re going to see much more interactive, shorter courses more learning interventions versus just lecturing. It’s going to be much more participative and we can’t thank enough our traditional as well as the new instructors, and leaders, and teachers that are going to help us do that. The other way you’re going to see it is what we’ve done in the libraries. So, the library has been closed and all five thousand of our Family History Centers were closed and yet we still have this inherent desire to help people. So, in the library we did innovate and finally we wanted to do this for years, started to give scheduled online research consultation from the library, but it’s from the library staff, our volunteers, but they are all working distributed and it has been extremely successful.
Fisher: He’s Steve Rockwood. He’s the CEO of FamilySearch International. Steve, thank you so much. This has been really educational about so much and you’ve got us all excited now about RootsTech Connect coming up. And I know that there are a lot of people listening right now and going, hey, I’ve got to take a look at FamilySearch to see what I can find out there. Thank you so much for your time.
Steve: Well and thank you for all you do. You produce so much light on the airways, we can’t thank you enough.
Fisher: Well, thanks so much Steve. Coming up next, another round of Ask Us Anything with David Allen Lambert when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 343
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, we're back for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with David Allen Lambert back from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Dave, we've got questions. We also have some comments here, so I'm going to go through a bunch of correspondence that we've received. This is from DRC Junior. DRC says, "An extended family member did a 23andMe test. A name was found not associated with any family members. There was a sibling match to my spouse and her siblings and after some investigation the family is convinced there was a switch at birth in a small town hospital 70 years ago. Well, the switched person is still living. My spouse and her siblings say "No way" and said other family members could pursue if they want, but they're not interested in going any further, any advice? Thanks."
David: Steal the person's toothbrush and do the test for them.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Fisher: You know, I don't know, this is a really interesting question and obviously it’s beyond me to answer a question like this on behalf of the family members if they don't want to pursue it. I don't know how you do it, but you would think that this person who was switched out and has no awareness of their connection to the family would want to know about this, wouldn't you?
David: I know that I would. You know, it’s not like you were an abandoned baby on the side of a ditch or you were put up for adoption, it was negligence.
Fisher: Right, it was just negligence from some worker in the hospital, exactly. Dave, I'm going to move on real quick here, because we have limited time. "Is there a direction of removal indicator that can be used when describing the relationship between genetic cousins? So if you have Jane and Sally who were third cousins, when describing the relationship between Jane's daughter and Sally, you would say Sally is Jane's third cousin once removed, denoted by a post fixed dash “u”, in other words, “up.” The converse relationship would be, Jane's daughter is Sally's third cousin once removed, down, denoted by a post fixed D, as in 3c1r-d." So, he said, "I remember seeing something like this in a genealogy Facebook group posting awhile back. I know if it’s on the internet, it has to be true. Thanks, Mike Rife."
Fisher: That's a really interesting. You know, I've never heard of this, Mike, but I think it’s a great idea and certainly it’s something you could do.
David: I haven't either.
Fisher: And it’s certainly something that you could do in your notes section on your DNA matches, right? That would be much easier for you to know where something came from and if we start getting DNA results from, say, heirlooms here, pretty soon you're going to see a lot more of those up from you to a certain person or down from them two or three times removed going down. That would be really interesting, wouldn't it?
David: I think it really would. And again, I've never seen it listed in such a way.
Fisher: All right, here's one from Tamara Burton in Milton, Massachusetts, your neck of the woods, Dave.
David: Oh, yeah.
Fisher: She said, "I did some house genealogy." This is something we talked about recently. "And for the same reason, and discovered that in my town, Milton Massachusetts, the water department kept records of when the water was turned on in a house and that is determined to be the date that the house was built and completed. And they keep the information in those lovely huge old registers with the elegant handwriting of the clerk who entered the information. The electric companies and gas companies are of no use, because they keep their records based on the occupancy of the house. So if you don't know who the first people were to live in it, they can't help you. Also, since you need electricity to build a house, it could be months, even years before a house is complete, so that would distort the real finish date. Hope that is helpful to your listeners." I think it is. Thank you very much, Tamara for that.
David: I think it is very useful. The only thing where it may be a different situation if in your town you have houses from the 1600s, 1700s or the early 1800s that precede when the waterworks was created. So, you obviously were getting water from a well back then and the only work was pulling that bucket up on the rope and you didn't have to worry about pipes and fees and all the digging. So, that's probably more applicable I would think to the late 19th century or early 20th century homes to figure out when they were built.
Fisher: All right, thanks for the questions. And we'll be back with another one coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 343
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, back for more of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with David Allen Lambert. And David, we have an email from Leonard Stites from Atlanta, Georgia. And Leonard asks, "Hey guys. I've got somebody who was living in a small town in the 1730s up in Maine and he was only there for a short time. How do I keep track of where people go when they come and go so quickly?" Great question, Leonard. What do think, Dave?
David: Oh, well there's a checklist in the back of my mind that usually works for every decade. So, if you're there, it was very important to be a member of a church. So, church membership might show when the person arrived and that's one of the things that we do when Robert Charles Anderson did the Great Migration, we try to take into consideration what resources prove you're there. So, church membership might be one. The other thing, they're not going to be escaping taxes, so they're going to probably pay a local town tax. The town tax, the county tax even the tax that support the minister, it’s called a ministerial tax. That timeframe for Maine for newspapers might be a little slim, but if they got in trouble with the law, there might be something in the newspaper, maybe their barn that they had on their property burned down, it could be something, so it’s still worth checking. The earliest consistent paper in New England started in 1704 and that was The Boston News-Letter.
Fisher: Did that cover areas in northern New England at that time?
David: Well, not unless it was something catastrophic or really newsworthy. The idea is that there may be some sort of the paper that occurring nearby in the 1700s. In the case of the 1730s, there may have been something of a local paper. Newspapers are a valuable resource, but you're dealing with Maine in the 1730s. There's not going to be as many as, say, if you were in some place like Boston or New York. Your ancestor got in trouble, maybe he's in court, maybe somebody sued him for not completing the fence that he was contracted to build or maybe his cart ran over the squash field or something. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Horrible things! Terrible stuff!
David: Exactly. And that person may have purchased land, so look at grantor and grantee indexes to see if they're buying and selling land. They may have had a member or family, maybe a parent that was with them that died, maybe it’s a probate, I mean, even though it’s a short amount of time, you can often kind of go to a checklist. Basically, find out what records survive on the town level and that's both town records, church records. Then on the county level, see what survives of probates and deeds.
Fisher: Wow! Now what about other parts of the country, David? Would it be kind of similar?
David: Yeah. I mean it’s kind of educating yourself. You use something like FamilySearch to put in the town and the county that your ancestor was living in. See what resources they have there, because FamilySearch has done a great job pulling together all of these records and making them accessible for us digitally in a lot of cases. And then if it doesn't work that you find anything online, go to the source. Send a letter to the town, like for instance, with New York. Every town in New York has a town historian that’s an elected official. They'll know if there are records, because they may be an account book or a diary or somebody who had compiled some genealogical information and maybe you don't have to reinvent the wheel, because it’s all sitting on index cards in somebody's living room.
Fisher: Oh wow! Isn't that great?
David: You never know what you're going to find.
Fisher: And you know what, I mean, really, in these days, you can phone them, you can email them, you can reach out to them digitally. It’s so much easier than the old days with the letters and the self addressed stamped envelopes, but that still works, too, doesn’t it?
David: It sure does. I'm constantly looking at my mailbox hoping for a genealogical treasure to pop in, or my in-laws.
Fisher: [Laughs] All right, David, thank you so much. Yes or your in-laws. Thanks you so much and to Leonard as well by the way for the great question. And of course if you have a question for us for Ask Us Anything, just email us at [email protected]. Talk to you next week, Dave.
David: Take it easy.
Fisher: And that's our show for this week, genies. Thanks so much for joining us. If you missed any of it or you want to catch it again, it’s easy to do, just listen to the podcast on iTunes, iHeart Radio, TuneIn Radio, Spotify. I mean, wherever fine podcasts are heard. Talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!