Episode 363 - RootsTech Connect Is Upon Us! Finding Missing Marriages Through “Gretna Greens”Feb 21, 2021
Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David begins Family Histoire News with new information on the pirate ship Whydah, discovered some years ago in the waters of Massachusetts. Could this story tie you to this ship? Find out. Then, it’s another attic archive discovery that we can all only dream of. Hear what was found and how. Here’s a strange one. Was Stonehenge moved? One researcher says yes! And you won’t believe from where it may have come! The oldest-ever-found brewery has been dug up in Egypt. Hear some of the details. And finally, an indigenous fort in Alaska has been found. Find out about its history.
Next, Carolyn Tolman of Legacy Tree Genealogists joins Fisher to talk about towns known as “Gretna Greens.” Hear the history of the name, what it means, and how knowing about such places near where your ancestors lived might help your research.
Brandon Beckstead of FamilySearch is next up on the show. Brandon fills us in on this year’s edition of RootsTech, called “RootsTech Connect,” an all-virtual version of the world’s largest genealogical conference. And there are some fabulous features!
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 363
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 363
Fisher: And welcome America, 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, it is great to have you back. We have so much so much going on because RootsTech is coming right up so later on, on the show today we’re going to be talking to Brandon Beckstead from FamilySearch about what to expect this year. You know, it’s all virtual and it’s all free, and there is no reason in the world you shouldn’t be part of it coming up at the end of the month. And then later in the show we’re going to talk to Crista Cowan from Ancestry.com about the new things that are happening at Ancestry and what their involvement’s going to be with RootsTech as well. And we’re going to talk to Carolyn Tolman. She is with Legacy Tree Genealogist talking about some interesting places where your people could get married under very unusual circumstances, so we look forward to hearing from Carolyn as well. Hey, if you haven’t signed up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter yet, there is so much to be found there; a blog from me each week, plus links to past and present shows, and links to stories you’ll appreciate as a genealogist. Right now it’s time to head out to Boston, Massachusetts where David Allen Lambert is standing by, the Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David, welcome back! How’re you doing?
David: Hey, I’m doing okay. And I’ll tell you, they’ve been digging in Massachusetts and our first story this week has to do with a pirate ship “Whydah,” and I know that you have a pirate in your family tree so I thought you might like this one first.
David: This story brings you straight down to Davy Jones’s locker. Off of Wellfleet, Massachusetts, a number of years ago a pirate ship Whydah was found, wrecked in 1717 and Barry Clifford has opened a museum in Cape Cod called The Whydah Pirate Museum and they found a lot of artifacts. You know, remains of guns, and cannons, and they found coins, and it’s tremendous! But what they have found recently might be connected to some of our listeners. They found the skeletal remains of six individuals, yeah, the bones of pirates.
David: And they’re hoping that maybe DNA will come forth and you can find out that maybe one of the people who were found at that wreck were actually your relatives. So, stay tuned as that story develops.
Fisher: [Laughs] I like it. Argh!
David: You know, there’s always stuff in the attic, if you have an attic at home. In New England they’re great for finding that or anybody say even Upstate New York. And that’s what happened to the person in our next story. David Whitcomb had bought a house and didn’t realize when he was renovating it that there was an attic storage area, but not just any old one, one that belonged to a former photographer. He found portraits and framed pictures including one of Susan B. Anthony [Laughs] the great suffragette. And this was part of the house that the previous owner didn’t even know existed or the owner before that. A little research turned out, Fish, that this belonged to James Ellery Hale, a photographer who had a thriving business in the town in the early part of the 20th century till about 1920.
David: And after he closed up shop, put the stuff in the attic, and there it sat.
Fisher: Wow. And this is where, what town?
David: Geneva, New York.
Fisher: What a great story. I would always love to find something in some attic in the house I bought. That would be incredible.
David: Yeah. Just don’t want to find any ancestors in the attic.
Fisher: Right. [Laughs]
David: Artifacts belonging to ancestors are fine. Please keep your ancestors in the cemeteries. Thank you so much.
Fisher: Yes. [Laughs]
David: Ugh, I have always heard the mythical story of Stonehenge. Geoffrey of Monmouth who wrote a history of the Kings of Britain back in the 12th century talked about that these are spirited from Ireland by the Wizard Merlin and stole them away from a place called the Giant’s Dance. Well, of course, it’s a myth. Well, they did apparently get moved from Wales. According to Mike Parker Pearson, a professor of archaeology at the University College of London, they have found a site called Waun Mawn that dates back to 3000BC. And they’re finding the holes where these giant stones were set up.
David: It’s almost like it was where Stonehenge originally was. And you know, we think about it in history and archaeology, we found so many things that were stolen from the Egyptians by the Romans and brought and setup some place else. Trophies of war could also be from thousands of years ago. So, as this story develops, I’m sure we’re going to learn more, but Stonehenge, part two. [Laughs]
Fisher: Wow! But this is so weird to think that maybe they grabbed these stones from wherever, set it up in Wales, and then moved it all the way over to where it is now. That’s incredible. That’s bizarre.
David: It really is. But the evidence is pointing towards that, that Stonehenge maybe have been in Wales originally.
Fisher: [Laughs] Insane.
David: You know, this next story you might be able to raise a glass to. The oldest brewery in the world may have been found. An ancient beer factory has been unearthed in Egypt near the city of Sohag. I thought to myself, “What is going to survive from that?” You know?
David: They have like a brewery set up? What was it? Well, they’ve actually found eight huge units that were about 65-feet long and 8-feet wide. Each of these things are made out of pottery and there are two rows of them, and they have been used to heat up a mixture of grain and water to actually produce beer. And I’m sure some smart guy is whipping up a home brewery called Sohag Beer right now.
Fisher: Right. Yeah.
David: Hey, if they can do it with Sam Adams, why not. I am so amazed by technology, and as we move forward there are so many different things that are found. Ground penetrating radar has now been responsible for locating a lost fort. This is actually one in Alaska. Back in 1799 the Tlingit Indians had build fortifications because they were a little worried about the Russians, they had done trading but they didn’t exactly feel that they were safe from them. Well, this forte in 1804 proved worthy because the cannon balls bounced off of it, according to the Russians. And this is a fort that was burned to the ground and been buried under snow. But ground penetrating radar has been able to detect the anomalies that show that’s where it is.
Fisher: Wow! David I’m telling you, you had a bunch of great stories this week. A little pat on the back and a tummy rub. That was good.
David: [Laughs] Thanks. Well, that’s all I’ve got from Beantown this week. But don’t forget, if you’re not familiar with American Ancestors, I’d like to make you more familiar with it. Go to AmericanAncestors.org and you can sign up as a free guest member, and if you really like it, you can use our coupon code EXTREME and save $20 on membership.
Fisher: All right Dave, great job. We’ll talk to you again next week because we’re really loaded up today. We can’t even get to Ask Us Anything. We have so many things going on today. But on the way, of course, a lot of talk about RootsTech Connect and what’s going on with that this year, and in just a few moments in three minutes we’re going to be back with Carolyn Tolman from Legacy Tree Genealogist talking about unusual places your ancestors may have been married.
Segment 2 Episode 363
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Carolyn Tolman
Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and this past week of course was Valentine’s Day and love is in the air, and that’s why we figured we got to get Carolyn Tolman on the line. She has recently written a blog for Legacy Tree Genealogists. She’s a Project Manager there. Talking about marriage records and some of the unusual places that you can find them, or is it that actually they’re more usual to find, they’re just kind of hidden there, Carolyn?
Carolyn: That’s right. Yes. Thanks for having me on Scott.
Fisher: Well, it’s great to have you, and of course it’s nice to know that places like Ancestry.com have been really featuring the marriage records within say, Newspapers.com, their baby company, and linking them into Ancestry. But there are a lot of places that you might want to look if you’re having trouble finding those marriage records. And what did you call them in the article?
Carolyn: A town where couples would often run away to get married was called a Gretna Green.
Carolyn: Because it’s based on a town in Scotland that was just over the border from England where the marriage laws were very lax. The grooms had to be at least 14, the brides at least 12.
Carolyn: Anyone could perform the marriage.
Fisher: Oh wow.
Carolyn: Including the local blacksmith.
Fisher: The blacksmith! [Laughs]
Carolyn: Yes. And as long as the couple declared that there were no impediments, and as long as there were at least two witnesses from off the street, then the marriage was considered legal.
Carolyn: So, lots of people would run away to get married in Gretna Green. If you remember in Pride and Prejudice, the family was worried that16 year old Lydia Bennet and George Wickham had run off to Gretna Green.
Carolyn: So, because of the fame of that town than any other town especially in the United States are called Gretna Green. So, places where people would run off to get married, maybe if they didn’t want their families to know, or they didn’t want to wait for the church to announce bands to find out if there were any impediments to the marriage, they would run to these towns.
Carolyn: And they were often along the borders of states with lax marriage laws, or along the frontier or river towns along the Ohio, the Mississippi, the Missouri, or the Hudson. Those are places where your ancestors may have run off to get married. If you can’t find their marriage record where you thought it would be.
Fisher: Now, as I think through this, I know that a lot of these places probably correspond with lax divorce laws as well, yes?
Carolyn: Probably so, yes.
Fisher: [Laughs] Like Indiana, Utah was another one of them especially in the 19th century. But you know, when you talk about Gretna Greens in the United States I think of Reno Nevada where my parents got married back in 1952.
Fisher: Indiana I think has another place like that. Utah also had some places that were really lax in the marriage laws. Are you familiar with those?
Carolyn: Yes, I know Farmington was a place in Utah, a Gretna Green in Utah, anywhere kind of along the frontier, along the borders, away from big cities where they could marry away from the notice of their family.
Fisher: [Laughs] I’m still taken back by the idea of a 14 year old and a 12 year old getting married in Gretna Green in Scotland by the blacksmith. And then they’re the ones declaring whether or not there’s any impediment. “How about your age kid?!” Oh my gosh.
Fisher: That is absolutely incredible.
Fisher: So, is there an actual methodology to trying to unlock some of these places, or are you just thinking that hey, if they’re not in the state we’re expecting you look for one of these Gretna Greens in a nearby state and then see if you can locate the records there?
Carolyn: Right. Yeah. Look at the geography of where they were living and where the nearest towns were, and the nearest borders, and rivers, and it’s definitely worth checking the records of those towns. Of course, if they didn’t want their families to know, there may not have been announcements in the newspaper or maybe even in the church records. You might find a line in an account book of a Justice of the Peace. That might be the only record you can find.
Carolyn: You kind of have to dig for it.
Fisher: It’s funny you say that because one marriage that I was looking for, the only place that I found a record of it was in a book of a Justice of the Peace. It didn’t wind up in any city or county record anywhere. Probably it just didn’t get transferred. The record of it didn’t get moved over. So, is there a list of places that people can find that talks about where they might have gotten married so that if you knew that your ancestor lived in a certain border town in a certain place, then you could figure out the proximity of this Gretna Green to that town and see if they’re on the records there?
Carolyn: Yes. I compiled a list in my blog article in the Legacy Tree Genealogists blog.
Carolyn: If you look up marriages, the keyword, you’ll find the article called “Tying the Knot: Ancestral Marriage Records and Where You Might Find Them” and I compiled a list of all the known Gretna Green towns in the United States.
Carolyn: It’s quite long. I was kind of surprised.
Fisher: You know, I’d be happy to go through some of this with you. Where were the places, and which ones surprised you the most?
Carolyn: Well, it was fun to see the one in Utah, towns along the Canadian and Mexican borders, I hadn’t thought of that. Even lower Massachusetts that was one. And Last Vegas Nevada, that’s famous but as you said, also Elko and Reno.
Carolyn: Port Orchard, Washington. So, from one coast to the other we’ve got these little towns.
Fisher: Exactly. How many did you say you came up with?
Carolyn: I would say it’s about 50 on this list.
Fisher: Oh, wow! So, at least it averages one per state, but [Laughs] probably several more in the west, like you mentioned, or in the Midwest as people were spreading out back in the 19th century in particular.
Carolyn: Yes. Anywhere you were living, there had to be a town you could run off to, to get married I guess.
Fisher: Did you find one or two that were particularly unusual in how lax their rules were?
Carolyn: I did not get into the details of each town.
Fisher: But you did not run into any American towns with blacksmiths marrying tweens?
Carolyn: [Laughs] No. No, I didn’t run into any crazy lax laws like that. I think Gretna Green Scotland gets the medal for being the laxedest.
Fisher: Yeah, the craziest thing. Well, the other aspect too is, a lot of times for people to get married, the laxness of the law really had to do with how long they had to live there in order to establish residency, right? Even beyond ages.
Carolyn: I guess you kind of got to get into the different localities. And I’m sure those laws are always changing and adjusting over time, so maybe a town would be famous for a certain period of time until the laws caught up with them and people would have to find a new town to run to.
Fisher: New town to run to. Well, and the idea too that they would establish residency there. They maybe just take a little job to get them through this. I know in Reno for instance, for years and years and maybe it still is today, six weeks, that’s all you have to live there to establish your residency and then you can go forward with whatever it is that you have to do.
Carolyn: There must be a lot of rental places for people who come there to do that.
Fisher: Yeah. It’s interesting too when you consider in the 19th century how hard it was for anybody to get a divorce. There would be places like Indiana, like Utah, that were very lax when it came to the divorces. So, it doesn’t surprise me that maybe some of these places, like you mentioned, Farmington, Utah would have laxed marriage laws as well to go in correspondence with the divorce laws.
Carolyn: That does make sense.
Fisher: Well, and I would imagine sometimes you’d get a rouge minister along the way too who didn’t really care what the law was. He felt it was just fine and went ahead with it. What’s the earliest that you found some of these Gretna Green locations were in business?
Carolyn: I think the earliest as the founding of this country. I think there’s always been a need for places for people to go to get married. I was thinking in terms of anyone performing the marriage, we see that today where you can go online and get a license to perform a marriage just by filling out a form and paying a fee.
Carolyn: I have a friend who just got married a couple of weeks ago in the home of his parents, and his dad went online and got himself a license to perform the marriage. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] So, dad could legally do it.
Carolyn: It’s not that hard.
Fisher: That’s absolutely true. Did you find that some of these places became Gretna Greens as a means to enhance their economic activity in that town?
Carolyn: Yes, I believe so. I think it’s an advantage to them to draw people there, to get more population, to pay taxes. There were marriage fees. There was a fee to pay to whoever performed the marriage. Perhaps the couple stayed there for a while and kind of hid out until enough time had passed for them to go back home.
Fisher: [Laughs] Till they turn 17 and went back and told mom we’ve been married for three years, yeah. [Laughs]
Fisher: Crazy. Well, you know, it’s Valentine’s Day these are the things we talk about at this time, and historically it is interesting. I found on my wife’s side, she had a couple back there in the 18th century that got married as teens and they wound up having 21 children until she could have no more.
Carolyn: Wow! Oh my.
Fisher: I know. It’s amazing.
Carolyn: Those were the days.
Fisher: [Laughs] Those were the days I guess for some people. You know, when you consider how many people needed more farm hands, they would just produce them themselves you know.
Carolyn: That’s right. Yeah, to help the economy of the family, for sure.
Fisher: She’s Carolyn Tolman. She is a project manager for our friends over at Legacy Tree Genealogists talking about the Gretna Greens locations where people could get married under very lax laws and they’ve been around a long, long time Carolyn. I don’t think I did it that way. You probably didn’t do it that way.
Fisher: But they’re still out there so maybe we’re doing some advertising for some people. If you want to see the list by the way of the towns there on Carolyn’s blog, where can they see it again Carolyn?
Carolyn: In the blog at LegacyTree.com/blog and the title is “Tying the Knot: Ancestral Marriage Records and Where You Might Find Them.”
Fisher: Carolyn, thank you so much for coming on. Interesting stuff. Always enjoy learning about these strange places and practices.
Carolyn: Yes. Always fascinating the stories we find when doing genealogy. I love it.
Fisher: And coming up next, Brandon Beckstead from FamilySearch.org they’re getting ready for RootsTech Connect and you’re going to want to hear how it’s going to go this year, you’re going to love it. It’s coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 363
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Brandon Beckstead
Fisher: All right, back at it on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And what a time is coming up here in just a few days, RootsTech Connect! And this is answer of FamilySearch.org to the pandemic situation and it’s turning into something much bigger than RootsTech has ever been in the past. And I have the Event Manager Brandon Beckstead on the line with me right now. Hey Brandon, how’re you holding up?
Brandon: You know, we’re doing well. We’re getting there.
Fisher: You are so close. It’s coming up now, what are the three days? Just so we get the calendar right.
Brandon: February 25th through the 27th.
Fisher: 25th through the 27th. And what’s so amazing about this is, in the past we’ve had how many people actually show up at the even center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Brandon: Yeah. You know, we get around 30,000 that come to RootsTech and then we get 30,000 more that come to the Family discovery Day and different parts of RootsTech. So, the most we’ve had is 50 or 60,000.
Fisher: Yeah. And now, you’re already on 262,000 registered for RootsTech Connect and this is such a different event because it’s going on 24 hours a day over these three days.
Brandon: I know. I’m actually buying cots to sleep on so that I get a little bit of rest in between those 24 hours a day for three days.
Fisher: Now, you are not obviously in a physical location for this event this year. Where is this cot going to be?
Brandon: Well, there are a couple of us that have to be with our team just when problems happen. So, every three or four of us socially distanced, we’re doing it all right you know masks and all. But a couple of us have to be together to take care of any issues or problems that come up.
Fisher: So, as I understand, this whole thing s designed around following the sun. So, wherever you are at a given point and time they’re going to cover your country, your languages, your culture, and records and information that will be of use to you for those places.
Brandon: Yeah. You know, it’s really a different concept and sometimes it’s hard to explain what we’re doing. So, whenever you wake up on the 25th, wherever you’re at in the world you can come onto RootsTech.org and there is something going on for you. It really doesn’t matter where you’re at. And it goes like you said Scott, 24 hours a day, you just jump on and you watch. So, we have a live stream that will be happening and besides the live stream we have hundreds and thousands of classes that you can go and learn at your own time and leisure. It’s a different animal. It’s a different beast this year, but there’s a lot of content and a lot of things coming your way.
Fisher: Well, I think you were telling me like 1800 classes this year. [Laughs] That’s insane.
Brandon: That was the last count. I think we’re actually up a little higher than that.
Fisher: Oh dear.
Brandon: I think it’s closer to two thousand.
Brandon: So, anyone that has skills with video editing is working around the clock right now.
Fisher: Yeah. And these classes are not your grandmother’s classes in genealogy.
Brandon: No. You know, especially online, the more we look into learning and the more we study it. We’re finding that people don’t want the typical one hour class. They want to get the information and learn it quickly. So, the majority of our classes are 20 minutes or less at RootsTech this year.
Brandon: We even have some great classes we call them, “Tips and Tricks” where it’s three to five minutes. You can sit down and learn something new that you can do in your genealogy in your family history and they’re fun. It’s the exciting fun things that you can do and we have hundreds of these tips and tricks classes. There’s just a ton to learn whether you want to get deep into extreme DNA or you just want to go learn something new and fun there is a class there for you.
Fisher: And the thing is, these classes remain available to everybody who signs up, for what, a year or so?
Brandon: At least a year. There is one or two classes where we contractually may not be able to keep it that long but 99% of them will be there for at least a year if not longer. You know, I do a lot of German research and German church records are going to be the same this year and next year.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Brandon: So, we’ll keep it there as long as it is a viable class where you can learn something.
Fisher: So, let’s talk about languages a little bit because obviously you’re dealing with countries all around the globe. How many languages are we working with? Is there translation involved, how is that going to work?
Brandon: Yeah, absolutely. So, we have 11 languages that our website is going to be in which has been a nightmare, but we’re getting there.
Brandon: We actually have classes in up to 40 languages. And the idea this year was not having translation. Now, let me explain that. Our live stream does have translation because we have some amazing speakers from all over the world and we wanted them to be able to speak in their language and then we translate that into those 11 languages. But again, I’m going to go back to German research, someone in Germany that speaks German is going to understand much better how to do their research and how to teach it in a way that Germans are going to understand, much better maybe than someone speaking English and then translating into that language. We really want to localize the classes. So, a lot of these classes are done in language by someone living there so that it is a class where you can truly learn what works for that area of the world. So, we have classes in 40 plus languages from all over the world. We’d never believed we’d get some of these classes that we’ve received. We’re just super excited about the learning that’s going to happen this year.
Fisher: And you’ve got a virtual Expo Hall this year. So, all the booths that we’ve seen at RootsTech in the past are going to be represented there with people actually manning the booths. Like a Zoom meeting for everybody, right?
Brandon: Yeah, yeah absolutely. So, we don’t have video chat this year. We do have like texting chat. One of their representatives will be there to answer any questions that you have and they’ll also have all their deals. They have classes. In the Expo Hall one of the best things is going to the booths and learning about that company and what they have to offer.
Brandon: And how it can benefit your genealogy work. Well, we have the same thing it’s just virtually. So again, you can go in and watch it at anytime because you can click on those classes inside those booths and put it on a playlist, so that you can come back anytime in the next year and watch that playlist. And guess what, it’s all free. All of this is free this year.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] This is the amazing thing. And you can sign up at RootsTech.org, and when you do that by the way, that feature about relatives at RootsTech that’s available again, except now we’re dealing with 260,000 or more by the time we get to it that you might be related.
Brandon: I know and I’m super excited about this. I love the relative at RootsTech.
Fisher: I have seen so many people in the past though who have connected this way and wound up with records and information, and photographs from people who have actually lived in the area of Salt Lake City, Utah, and came in and delivered this material to people who came in from out of town and found out that they were related to folks. It was amazing.
Brandon: Yeah. And there’s going to be some fun new additions to that relative at RootTech. So, I highly suggest when you come to RootsTech you’ve got to jump on and this is something that you have to give permission to use because it’s got your personal information. So, you have to give it permission but it gives you some fun, fun activities to do with it. So, I highly suggest jumping in the relative at RootsTech.
Fisher: It’s an opt-in.
Fisher: So, who are the keynotes this year?
Brandon: You know, we typically had four keynotes and this year we have thirteen.
Fisher: Oh, wow.
Brandon: Again, they’re from all over the world. So, some of them that I’m excited for Diego Lugano, he’s a soccer or football player from Uruguay and I think he’s played in Brazil and in Europe. He was the team captain for Uruguay. We have Tita. We have Bruno Fernandes, they’re both from Brazil. Lorena Ochoa, she is from Mexico. She’s a professional golfer. We have a group Bless4, from Japan. We have people from all over the world and they’re speaking in their language, but you will be able to hear it in your language as we translate it into the eleven languages.
Fisher: And then the last thing is what about next year? Are we going to go back to a physical setting? Is it going to be kind of combined with this? How is this going to work?
Brandon: [Laughs] Oh, I hope so. If I don’t start seeing people I think I’m going to go crazy.
Fisher: [Laughs] Yes.
Brandon: I’m an event guy. I love to be with people. So, right now we are looking at doing a combined. This virtual has been so successful and we’re able to reach so many people around the world and so many people who just maybe can’t travel to come into Salt Lake City, but we still are hoping to continue doing the on-site as well. It’s kind of the party and the fun in the genealogy world.
Fisher: It’s Geniecom, that’s what it is!
Brandon: It’s Geniecom. I don’t think they’ll let me change the name. I think RootsTech’s here to stay.
Fisher: Brandon, this is really exciting stuff. Of course everybody can sign up at RootsTech.org. You can do this at anytime and do an opt-in for relative at RootsTech. I mean, that’s going to be a really fun feature and who knows what you’ll find. And we look forward to talking to you again down the line. Thanks Brandon.
Brandon: Thank you Scott.
Fisher: And coming up next, what does Ancestry.com have in store for us at RootsTech? We’re going to find out Crista Cowan when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 363
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Crista Cowan
Fisher: Welcome back, its America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And we are so excited because RootsTech Connect is coming right up, and I've got my good friend, Crista Cowan on the line from Ancestry.com. Crista, what have you guys got going at RootsTech Connect this year?
Crista: Ancestry has so much going on at RootsTech, let me tell you. [Laughs] Super excited about this year's conference, because it’s going to be all free, all virtual. It’s going to be a little bit like a video on demand available for the next year, so the actual conference itself, what’s going to be running is the kick off and there'll be live streams running around the clock, 24 hours for the three days of the conference. And Ancestry has a presence there, including yours truly on that main stage, but then we also have dozens of videos in the learning library that will be translated into about 11 different languages in some cases. One of the things I love about RootsTech is that whether you're a veteran genealogist or brand new to family history, there is something for everyone at RootsTech. It’s just so much available, new things.
Fisher: The best in the whole thing though, it’s free!
Crista: It is free. [Laughs]
Fisher: All this stuff is free! It’s insane! We've listened to Brandon Beckstead here earlier in the show, talking about how many different courses are available in how many different languages. And it’s running 24/7 for all three days, and then continues on for a year afterwards. You can watch it whenever you want, so why would you not sign up for RootsTech Connect this year?
Crista: There is absolutely no excuse. [Laughs]
Fisher: None. And you guys have a new thing you're launching, a new series at RootsTech Connect and I'm really excited to hear about that.
Crista: Yeah, so one of the things that we hear when we talk to people about family history, especially people who are brand new is that they're afraid it’s going to take up all their time. Now for people like you and me, we want it to take up a lot of our time. [Laughs]
Crista: But for people who are just kind of dipping their toe in the water or who are in a different stage in life when they have a lot of other things going on, we wanted to create short, snackable, not just content for them for them to consume, but also tasks for them to perform. And so, I'm super excited to announce that we have a brand new series. We're launching it at RootsTech. It’s called, Genealogy in a Minute. And it is a video series that we'll show at RootsTech through the main stage and then also in the learning library, also in the exhibit hall. So, there's a virtual exhibit hall at RootsTech and if you go there and find Ancestry, you'll be in our booth and you'll be able to see all those genealogical eminent pieces of content there, and then we'll be releasing them again after RootsTech on our Instagram channel. So if you just go to Instagram if you're a Grammer and follow Ancestry, you'll be able to see those there as well.
Fisher: Well, and this is the thing as well, I think, that a lot of people don't realize, it’s really easy technologically. If you're not somebody who feels really comfortable with it, it just pretty much guides you there once you get there yourself at RootsTech Connect. You want to go RootsTech.org to find out more about how you can sign up for it, and then you go to that Ancestry booth. And give us some examples of Genealogy in a Minute. What will we get from that, Crista?
Crista: Yeah, so for people who are brand new to family history, there's going to be videos like, how to start a tree and what to leaf into, and you'll be able to watch that and in a minute just really pick up on what you need to do. Then there's those videos like, what questions to ask your family members to illicit responses or how to digitize photos and upload them to your tree. So things that are a little bit more intermediate or advanced as well.
Fisher: A little media perhaps. Do you get into DNA much there?
Crista: Not yet. So, our first series of Genealogy in a Minute videos, there are ten of them and we don't touch on DNA, but then there will be another set coming soon.
Fisher: Wow, this is going to be a lot of fun! Well, you know, you've got some top content too that we're going to be talking about here coming up here in just a few minutes when we continue with Extreme Genes to release us for the month, because Ancestry's always coming out with new stuff. And I'm always looking forward I know. And it’s going to be great to hear from you what we've got from Ancestry.com. Coming up next when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 363
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Crista Cowan
Fisher: Welcome back! It is our final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History show for this week, and its Fisher here with Crista Cowan from Ancestry.com. And everybody's all a Twitter, talking about RootsTech Connect that's coming right us. You know, Ancestry is always there throughout the year. And they’ve got great new content releases coming up. And let’s go through some of the things that are out right now, Crista, that people might not have noticed.
Crista: Yeah, Ancestry adds about, well, 2 - 3 million new records to the site every day, and I don't think a lot of people realize that. So, just a couple of my favorites from this past month, one of them is for Canada, Canadian newspapers. So, Ancestry owns a website called Newspapers.com. There's 100s of millions of images of newspapers there, but they've been a little bit tedious to try to search, so Ancestry used artificial intelligence to identify marriage records and then to index those marriage records and we've made that index available on Ancestry. So if you have family members that immigrated through Canada into the United States or from the United States up into Canada, as you're tracing your family tree if you end up there. We've got this marriage index for Newspapers.com. And those newspapers start in the early 1800s and go all the way up through 1999.
Fisher: And you know, I'm a regular user of Newspapers.com and Ancestry and I love the fact that we have the opportunity now to separate out the obituaries and the marriage records, I mean, both of them, huge databases. They really break out who some of the members of the family are, and it is absolutely invaluable and it’s growing all the time. And I don't think Canadian newspapers have to this point been really well represented over a period of time. So now it’s really growing into something substantial.
Crista: Yeah, absolutely. We released the US newspaper indexes back in the fall. And so, this is the first time we've had a dedicated index for the Canadian newspapers marriages.
Fisher: Sweet! All right, what other content releases are out right now?
Crista: Yeah. So, the second database that I want to talk about is something that is a little bit more fun, for me anyway. We all use the same records, right, birth, marriages, deaths, immigration records. But every once in a while, there are record set that comes along that just gives you a little bit different insight into your ancestors. So this one is out of England and it is the prison commission records from 1770 to 1951. And so it has sometimes photographs, it has registers of prisoners, it has people who were habitual criminals, visitor’s books, orders books, and then of course as some of those criminals were shipped to Australia or to the colonies, they're going to have that information as well. So I actually have a four times great grandmother who was imprisoned in Newgate Prison in London for stealing bread. She was 19 and on her own and starving. And she was shipped to the US and that's how my family ended up in Virginia.
Fisher: Isn't that amazing, you know, that there would be that kind of punishment to try to deal with starvation.
Fisher: You know, these are the things that you find in these records, and I actually like the real criminals when I find them back there, because the basic criminals left a lot of records, didn't they, Crista?
Crista: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. And Ancestry has a surprising number of prison records and criminal books, not just for the UK, but for Australia and the United States as well. So, lots of great stuff there, but that's our new database this month. So if you haven't had a chance to look at it, it’s a fun one to dive into.
Fisher: I had one relative who I could never find of him until I found his mug shot.
Fisher: And it was great! It was from the 1920s or '30s, something like that from San Quentin and it’s like, "This is fantastic! Look at this!" You get him head on, you get him to the side and you get his record, what he did, what was going on then and then of course you can follow up what he did with the rest of his life, so it’s always fascinating stuff. Crista, always great to talk to you. We'll talk to you again next month. Have a great RootsTech Connect and we'll check in with you soon.
Crista: Sounds good.
Fisher: Hey, that's it for this week. Thanks so much for joining us. Wow, we covered a lot of ground! Make sure you catch the podcast on iTunes, Spotify, iHeart Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!