Episode 437 - Goodwin’s Latest Genealogical Murder Thriller Is Out! / Executive Producer Talks About BYUtv’s Hit Genie Show “How I Got Here”

podcast episode Oct 31, 2022

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Fisher talks with David about David’s recent honor, and his bizarre trek across a bridge. David opens Family Histoire News with another tale from our “lost and found” department. Then, who knew that recipes could be found on gravestones? One influencer found out and has been cooking up those recipes! If you think slavery wasn’t that long ago, consider the next story. A SON of a slave who had him late in life has died in his 90s. He remembered his father talking about life on the plantation pre-emancipation. David then has the story of a girl happily raised by kidnappers. She has now reconnected with her birth family. Finally, a gentleman who was the subject of a movie for his role in the theft of an iconic piece of royal history has died. David tells the tale.

Next, Fisher catches up with Nathan Dylan Goodwin, the well known London Based genealogical mystery crime novelist. Nathan’s latest effort, The Sawtooth Slayer is out. (And Fisher actually makes a fictitious appearance in it!) Nathan talks about the book, how he does what he does, and how you can get his latest thriller. Then, Nathan talks about plans he’s made with YourDNAGuide, Diahan Southard, for the night before the opening of RootsTech, on March 1, 2023 in Salt Lake City. They’ll be putting on a Murder Mystery event! Nathan shares where you can sign up.

Then, BYUtv Producer Erik Christensen joins the show to talk about BYUtv’s latest effort, sure to be a hit with family historians. It’s called “How I Got Here,” which features family pairs, father or mother and son or daughter, who travel to the parent’s homeland and learn about life before emigration.

David then returns for two questions on Ask Us Anything.

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


Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 437

Fisher: And welcome America to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree, and watch the nuts fall out. Wow, great guests today. Nathan Dylan Goodwin is back, and you always know that’s good news because it means he’s got another genealogical mystery murder thriller coming out. It just came out on Friday. You’re going to want to hear all about it from Nathan. Plus, he’s part of a murder mystery event that’s going to be coming up the night before RootsTech in early March. So, he’ll fill us in on that. It’s something he’s doing with Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide. So, that’s going to be a lot of fun. And then later in the show, the executive producer of BYUtvs “How I Got Here” and if you haven’t seen this show or heard about it, as a family historian/genealogist you are going to love this and you are going to want to hear how it got started. Erik has got the inside scoop. Hey, if you haven’t signed up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter yet, you are missing out on so much, blogs from me each week, plus links to past and present shows and links to stories you’ll appreciate as a family historian. Right now, it’s off to Boston, Massachusetts, David Allen Lambert is standing by, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello David.

David: Hey Fish, how you’re doing? Hey, listen, you had just mentioned about Nathan’s book, aren’t you mentioned in Nathan’s book, I recall?

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah. Actually, there's a fictitious interview between me and one of the fictitious characters in this fictitious murder mystery, but that's why it’s so fun. I am looking forward to seeing it. I haven't seen it yet.

David: Well, that's excellent news and definitely worthwhile to look forward to.

Fisher: And you, you just got appointed as the Stoughton, Massachusetts town historian. That's kind of an interesting deal. Tell us about that.

David: Yeah, the first time an elected historian for the town. We have our 300th anniversary coming up in a few years. And well, I've been kind of involved in it since I was 11 years old. So, 42 years waiting and I have a new title. [Laughs]

Fisher: Very nice. And then you had this adventure, crossing Niagara Falls this week.

David: Not in a barrel. Not in a barrel.

Fisher: [Laughs] You gave a lecture on the Canadian side, then they dumped you off at this bridge and then hauled your luggage two and a half miles across to the New York side.

David: Basically, I crossed the rainbow bridge which frightened my daughter, because crossing the rainbow bridge for pets means your pet has died. So when my sister said, "Dad's crossing the rainbow bridge today," she thought something had happened to me!

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: But I was retracing the steps of my grandfather, Fish, actually who crossed the rainbow bridge in 1952 to get back to America when he was visiting his father.

Fisher: Interesting. Isn’t that funny how that works out sometimes? Well, let's get into our Family Histoire news, because we've got a lot of it.

David: Well, I think we're going to go back to the lost and found department for this first story. And this has to do with a purse lost back in the 1950s by a teenager in Texas. Beverly Williams was in Clear Creek Junior High School and her photograph is what identified her purse that had been under the floorboards for a number of years. It also has her hairbrush, pencils, some photographs, some notes. I mean, with the hairbrush, even if they didn't have the identification, Fish, I suppose they could turn to DNA to figure out who it belonged to.

Fisher: Absolutely. What a time capsule! That's kind of fun.

David: Well, the next story really goes to show you, you can find a lot of things in cemeteries, but how about recipes for cookies?

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Well, Rosie Grant in Washington DC has done that. In fact, she's become a bit of a TikTok sensation doing little videos, making recipes up from what's carved on a gravestone. Definitely taking a different turn on gravestone art. This time its culinary art from a gravestone.

Fisher: Interesting. There's not a lot of them out there. She's still trying to find how many there are around there, but she find out about it on the internet or somebody tells her about it. She says her dream is actually to stumble upon a gravestone with a recipe on it at some point. But they're still not very common.

David: Hopefully we can get her as a guest at some point. Enslavement in America is a topic of many, many new stories, but you wouldn't imagine this, but there actually are a handful of children from former enslaved African Americans. And Mr. Daniel Smith who just died at 90 was the son of an enslaved gentleman who was 70 years old when Daniel was born. So his dad was born into slavery.

Fisher: Yeah and his dad told all kinds of stories about what it was like back on the plantation. I mean, it really kind of points out historically how close slavery still is to so many of us today.

David: That's true. And is you figure Mr. Smith was 90 years old, that means that there are probably grandchildren of enslaved that are probably still working. Some of them may not even be at retirement age.

Fisher: Yeah, that's absolutely true.

David: You know, the last story I want to mention is really, really touching and its really, really frightening actually. A girl by the name of Susan Gervaise is 57 years old was actually taken from her West Yorkshire, England home by a couple in 1969. Well, they were taking her to Disneyland then they were going to return her to her mother. But instead, they actually kidnapped her and took her to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. And when Susan was a little older and wanted to get a passport, she asked about why I can't find my birth record and they basically said, “Well, we kidnapped you.” She's now connected with four of her siblings. They're a family of six. Her mother died in 2014. And it’s just amazing!

Fisher: Yeah, and this one is not a DNA connection story by the way. They did it using social media to try to connect and they found each other within 30 minutes.

David: Got to love technology.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Absolutely. Well, Ian Hamilton who you may not know, when he was a young man in 1950, he was one of the people who stole the Stone of Destiny. So they broke into Westminster Abbey and Christmas Eve of 1950 stole the stone from underneath the coronation chair and took off with it. Well, the stone broke in half on the way and they hid it in different places and ultimately it made it back to Scotland. Well, former prime minister, John Major basically gave it back to Scotland with the agreement that at the next coronation, the stone would be brought back. So when Charles III takes the throne next year, the Stone of Destiny will be underneath him as it has been for over 700 years of coronations.

Fisher: Unbelievable story. And they made a movie out of that.

David: They did. That's all I have for this week from Beantown. And remember, if you're not a member of American Ancestors, we'd love you to join. Use the coupon code "EXTREME" and save $20 on a membership.

Fisher: All right, David, thank you so much. We'll catch you at the back end of the show for Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, Nathan Dylan Goodwin is out with a new genealogical mystery thriller book! Plus he's got a murder mystery event happening right before RootsTech. He'll fill you in on that as well when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 437

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Nathan Dylan Goodwin

Fisher: You know, I’m always excited to hear that my good friend Nathan Dylan Goodwin of London has come out with a new genealogical murder thriller! And I’ve got him on the line right now and Nathan, welcome back to Extreme Genes.

Nathan: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Fisher: I understand your latest book has come out on Friday, ‘The Sawtooth Slayer.’ Tell me what you’ve got going with this one.

Nathan: Yeah that’s right. So, this book is a follow-up to the Chester Creek Murders, which is the first book in what will hopefully be a long running series, and it’s set roughly about two weeks after the end of the Chester Creek Murders and basically it’s a new case for Maddie and her team to solve using genetic genealogy. And right at the end of the Chester Creek Murders, for people who have read it, a detective appears from Idaho and she says, “Can you help with this case? We’ve got basically a live serial killer on the run, and can you help with it?” So, basically The Sawtooth Slayer is this book. So, they’re actually working on a live case, but obviously two weeks after the end of Chester Creek Murders, right in the middle of the pandemic.

Fisher: This is basically your second book taking place in the United States, right?

Nathan: Yes that’s right. Yes.

Fisher: So, did you have to learn different techniques because I know you’ve been researching your genealogy since what, you were like a kid?

Nathan: Yes. I started when I was about 12 and have done it ever since as a hobby. Yeah, the genealogy is quite different since about 2014 I’ve really tried to keep on top of DNA as well. Purely for my own interest you know.

Fisher: Sure.

Nathan: That’s when I took my first Ancestry test in 2014. They weren’t available in the UK but I still managed to do it. And so I’ve tested with all the major companies and I’ve got my family tested, and I’ve helped a few adoptees find birth parents.

Fisher: Yeah.

Nathan: So yes, these two books the Chester Creek Murders and The Sawtooth Slayers, they’re very much genetic genealogy so they’re very different to the series set in England with Morton Farrier where he’s getting into DNA a bit more now but it’s much more. With him it’s using traditional genealogy records.

Fisher: Sure.

Nathan: Whereas this is very much they’ve got the series killer’s DNA, and that’s basically all they’ve got and they need to use that to solve the case. But yeah, so I needed to do quite a lot of very different research to what I have been doing with the Morton books, yeah.  

Fisher: So, for people who are not familiar with Nathan, the thing about his books is that he goes through and explains all the processes by which these detectives come to these conclusions. And if you are just getting into family history, just getting into genetic genealogy, or trying to understand the process of research, Nathan actually uses actual records in his books to create the resolution to whatever the case may be. And that’s really quite unique. I’ve never seen anything like it before, and that’s kind of why you own the niche, Nathan.

Nathan: [Laughs] Yeah. It’s really important to me. I think I’ve said before that my main readership are genealogists and so I don’t want to annoy them or put things in basically that aren’t true. However, whichever books I’m writing, the Morton ones or the ones in America, wherever they get their records from or what those records look like, and what they contain, that’s all real. It’s just the content that I fictionalize for the books. So, it’s the same with The Sawtooth Slayer, the processes are real how you would do that. Since the first book came out, I’ve had lots of people say, who work in the industry where they are actually solving cold cases using genetic genealogy, they say that the book is very accurate for that and the methodology is all how it is done.

Fisher: Oh, yeah.

Nathan: So, that’s a relief to hear. [Laughs]

Fisher: Have you actually spent some time with law enforcement people on both sides of the pond?

Nathan: I have. Yes. I’ve spent time with some cold case homicide detectives in America, and I’ve spent time with retired detectives over here. Again, it’s just an increasing amount I’ve needed to contact those sorts of people just to make sure that’s right. Particularly in The Sawtooth Slayer, you see quite a bit of the detective who’s overseeing the case. And I thought you know, that’s not my area of expertise at all. So, I have reached out to several detectives over there and done things by email but also I was out in Florida over the summer and I actually met with one over there to just make sure I’m getting these things right, you know?

Fisher: Um hmm.

Nathan: I’m not saying things if a detective were to read it they’d go, “Well, that’s a load of nonsense. You wouldn’t do it like that”.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Nathan: So, yeah I make sure again that that’s as accurate as I can. But obviously there’s things that I fictionalize and you know, have a bit of an author’s license there, but certainly I’ve had a lot of help from those agencies, yeah.  

Fisher: Have you ever been actually called out by a reader over something that you wrote, you know, early on?

Nathan: [Laughs] I think a couple of things. I think in The Orange Lilies, which is the third Morton book, someone said, “You’ve got a tank appearing six months before they appeared on the battlefield” something like that.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Nathan: And that’s fine. But I think as well I had someone in Lost Ancestor, the second Morton book, they said, “Actually, the 1921 Canadian census isn’t available” and it actually was. So, I said, “Actually, he could look at it. It is available.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Nathan: So yeah, there are little things that happen. I try my best not to make mistakes.

Fisher: You know, I keep a little sticker on my computer screen that says, “Recovering perfectionist” because nothing is ever going to be 100% correct, and in everybody’s minds.

Nathan: No, exactly.

Fisher: Otherwise none of us would ever do anything, right?

Nathan: No, absolutely. Absolutely, all learning.

Fisher: Yeah. So, I’m really looking forward to the book. I haven’t seen it yet, but I know it came out on Friday. Where can people get it?

Nathan: Okay. So, various locations. Right now it’s out in Kindle and in paperback. Audio book is in production and will be coming soon. I don’t have a date on that yet. But you can get it on Amazon, Kindle, and paperback. You can get it on Google Play, iTunes, Barnes and Nobel, or you can go to my website, which is NathanDylanGoodwin.com. And the links are all there as well so if that was all too quick, just go to NathanDylanGoodwin.com and you can see all the purchase options.

Fisher: Wow! So, how many books is this now for you in total?

Nathan: Oh goodness me, so I’ve done nine in the Morton series, plus two short ones.

Fisher: Yeah.

Nathan: Four local history books, and two of these genetic genealogy books. So yeah, they’re racking up.

Fisher: Yeah. They really are. Do you have a schedule where you go, “I’ve got to do one a year, or two a year?” How’s that work?

Nathan: Not really, because it kind of depends on the length of the book and the amount of research that’s needed. For example, Morton Book 8, The Sterling Affair that was the longest book I’ve ever written. It was like 140,000 words and so that was 14 months from beginning the research to release so that was quite a long one. The other ones tend to be kind of around the 100,000 mark and those I can generally get through about one a year, roughly, yeah.

Fisher: Wow, that’s amazing. Well, who better qualified then to put on a murder mystery show just the night before RootsTech in 2023? 

Nathan: [Laughs]

Fisher: You and Diahan Southard but of course.

Nathan: Yes. We are very excited. Diahan marked down a couple of webinars based around my books and they’ve been very successful. Lots of people have really enjoyed them. She does the DNA side of the webinar and I do the book side of things. We basically tie the two together. We talk about what I’ve done in the book and she will then say how that’s relatable for other people with their own DNA situations in genealogy.  

Fisher: Yep.

Nathan: We kind of came up with this idea, I can’t remember who first mentioned it but we talked about it may be over a year ago and said it would be really fun, you know, when things start to open back up again and in-person events are happening to do something based around one of the books. So, people come along and get to work in small teams to basically solve the murder in the book. And we talked about it and both really loved the idea and yeah, we’ve been working on it. And so yeah, we’ve got a date and a location in Salt Lake City, the home of the Venator team who solved the case. And it’s the night before RootsTech begins so hopefully there’ll be lots of people in the city already. It’s Wednesday March the 1st and its 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. So, basically people will come along at 5 o’clock and there’ll be a reception where there’ll be drinks and some food, and you’ll be given a stripe bag, which contains Your DNA Guidebook, Sawtooth Slayer book, which you can have us sign. We’ll both be there for the whole evening. And there’ll be various other things in the goodie bag. Get to mingle with like-minded genealogists, have some fun. And then from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. we will be helping you and guiding you through with a workbook to basically solve the murder and you’ll be kind of going around the room trying to look for clues and find different things in documents, looking at DNA, and hopefully by the end solving the murder.

Fisher: Oh that is so much fun.

Nathan: Yeah.

Fisher: Now, is it based on one of your books, or did you make a whole different story up just for this?

Nathan: So, it’s going to be based on The Sawtooth Slayer, this one that’s just come out on Friday. It doesn’t matter though if people have read it or haven’t read it, it doesn’t matter also if people had experience so people think oh, I’m not very good at genetic genealogy or whatever. It doesn’t matter. You’ll be working in teams and we’ll be there the whole evening to help you. The real thing is have a bit of fun and to kind of look at some of these records and hopefully people will get ideas for their own genetic genealogy and think oh, how can I apply this to my own DNA questions?  

Fisher: Yeah.

Nathan: So, yeah, the idea is just to have a bit of fun.

Fisher: Now, typically these murder mystery events involve people playing certain characters. Is this going to happen in this?

Nathan: [Laughs] Not that I’m aware of so far. Unless you are volunteering to come along and play the killer, maybe.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Nathan: Not at the moment.

Fisher: Can we eliminate you as a suspect right away?

Nathan: We can. We can eliminate Diahan and I. We’re not the killers. We’re just going to be there to help.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, that sounds like so much. And what a great way to kick off RootsTech too, right? 

Nathan: Yeah, absolutely.

Fisher: By the way, if people aren’t aware, you can sign up right now for RootsTech. It’s already open for 2023 and it’s going to start on March 2nd so you want to check that out at RootsTech.org. And where can they sign up for the murder mystery Nathan?

Nathan: So, they can sign up on Diahan’s website, which is YourDNAGuide.com, but you can also find on my website there’s links and on both of our social channels, so Facebook, Instagram, Twitter if you just go and find us. We’ve been posting links to it. They’re on there as well. So you can just hit a direct ink there. So yes it’s very exciting. We’re really looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and like I say, it’s a very lovely introduction to RootsTech. And I’ll be at RootsTech as well by the way. I’ve got a booth in the expo hall so if anyone wants any books signed, I will be there. 

Fisher: Oh that’s going to be so much fun. The Sawtooth Slayer is out and you can catch it on all the usual places. He’s Nathan Dylan Goodwin, the author of another genealogical murder mystery thriller. And of course they’ve got the murder mystery coming up the day before RootsTech coming up in 2023 so sign up for that. Thanks so much Nathan. It’s great to talk to you as always and we look forward to seeing you in just a few months.

Nathan: Thank you. Yes. Great to talk to you! Thank you for having me.

Fisher: And coming up next, we’re going to talk to the executive producer of the BYUtv show called How I Got Here. And if you haven’t seen this show, you’re going to want to hear all about it. It’s coming up next in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 437

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Erik Christensen

Fisher: All right, back on Extreme Genes. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and I’m so excited about this show that’s on our sponsors over at BYUtv, it’s called “How I Got Here.” And you’ve probably been hearing me talk about this the last few weeks. I’ve got Erik Christensen on the line right now. He is the executive producer of the show. Erik, welcome to Extreme Genes! It’s great to have you.

Erik: Yes. Thank you for having me. I love what you do and I love this show! I’m so excited to talk about it. [Laughs]

Fisher: Well, thank you. I love yours! [Laughs]

Erik: Thank you.

Fisher: Let’s get into this, for people who haven’t seen it, it’s brand new. It’s available everywhere. You can watch it by just Googling “How I Got Here, BYUtv.” It will take you right to the place where you can see all the episodes. There are several of them up already. And basically go through the concept with us Erik, you can tell it better than I can.

Erik: Yeah. You know, basically, How I Got Here, takes all of the hearts and the warmth, and the transformational power of family history stories and combines it with all of the excitement and adventure and color of a travel series.

Fisher: Yeah.

Erik: We’re always very careful to say it’s not a travel series. Although, it’s sort of wrapped around those trappings, but I think it’s really a relationship series. It’s sort of building those relationships, whether those are sort of the immediate relationships closest to us or kind of looking back a little bit at the relationships that have gone before us and may not be here with us but strengthening those as well. So, it’s the combination of all that.

Fisher: Yeah.

Erik: It’s the excitement and the heart coming together.

Fisher: Absolutely. And what it does is, it takes somebody from a younger generation combines them with somebody from the previous generation back where they came from, and they go there. And the older member of the family takes the younger person around and shows them what they missed basically, and why they should be grateful for what they have. It’s astonishing. How many of these shoots have you been on yourself, Erik?

Erik: So, I haven’t been on any of them. You know, we had 10 episodes in the first season and we shot it right in the middle of Covid. Part of my job as an executive producer at the network is to sort of shepherd and oversee, and give top level insight and feedback, but we had just an amazing crew working with the production company out of Toronto actually, called Forte Entertainment. And they were really the boots on the ground for me. And sort of dealing with all of the travel and Covid restrictions and trial that brought and they were out there. And I, from the comfort of my desk in Provo, Utah, got to oversee via phone and through my computer which was luxurious for me.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Erik: But, some of these locations were just spectacular and I wished I would have been there. And on season 2, I can remedy that.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. Well, let’s talk about some of the places these twosomes have been going and some of the experiences.

Erik: Yeah. We were really all over the globe in season 1, from Zimbabwe, to Zambia, to Chile, to Israel, to Mexico, Serbia, and Slovakia. And the whole idea was just to create a transformational experience for these children. I mean, we love this idea of our family stories giving us something, changing us in positive ways. And we thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could do that in a really experiential way where these kids go with their parents to these amazing countries and see, like, this was the little apartment in Serbia where I grew up. In the Serbia episode, there’s this beautiful moment where they go back to this apartment and it’s just a time capsule. It had been kept in the family, the father had long since left it as a boy. It had remained in the family. And like jackets were still in closets and the same pictures on the walls, and they tour it together. The dad sits down at one point on this little stool that he sat on as a child and said, “This is where I found out my father, your grandfather has passed away.” And tells that story in the place where it happened. And that’s what like going to all these countries and going to these family sites allowed us to do. The motto, sharing these stories in a way that was so experiential and real for these kids and you just saw their hearts changing.

Fisher: Sure.

Erik: You just saw them transforming through this process.

Fisher: Did you find some of the kids were hesitant to take this trip and didn’t really necessarily care about what they were going to see, and then found it was a whole different experience than they anticipated?

Erik: Yeah, definitely. I think every story is so unique, but a couple of trends you saw, one was that either children never wanted to learn about their family story because they were always a little bit embarrassed by it. It was my parents’ accent, or the food, either here or in America, I always felt different and I wanted nothing to do with it. Or, you sometimes saw that the children actually longing for that thing to know more, but parents would say, now you are an American or now you are Canadian. We don’t talk about Serbia anymore.

Fisher: Ah!

Erik: But, you did see some of these kids a little hesitant or reluctant about what embracing this part of their life meant, because for many of them it had been boxed up and sort of like tightly put away and not talked about a lot. So, there was a lot of uncertainty about what these stories were, and what it meant, and what this place would be like. But you know, in all ten episodes, by the end you saw that complete arc or transformation of a complete embrace of this identity in their lives.

Fisher: Hmmm.

Erik: One of my favorites, just short example, was a girl named Fikile, who went back to Zimbabwe with her father. And she talked about her name Fikile, it was her birth name and she never used it. She gave herself a new name growing up. She called herself Sue, because she just wanted to fit in.

Fisher: Right.

Erik: And by the end of that episode in Zimbabwe, she finally sort of embraces her name Fikile and understands what it means and talks about you know, I had always just wanted to be another version of myself and now I just love who I am.

Fisher: Wow!

Erik: And those were the kinds of things that you saw happening.

Fisher: That is so powerful. I was going to ask you how these things manifested themselves among the kids, and that’s a great example, any others?

Erik: Oh, so many beautiful stories. Another one I’m remembering from the Slovakia episode where we thought we were just going to have a fun little scene in a dress shop where the mother and daughter would try on these traditional Slovakian dresses called Kroj, but at the end of that scene the mom surprised the daughter and said, “I’d like to buy this for you. I want you to have this traditional dress.” And just in the moment, they sort of started like weeping and laughing and hugging and crying all at once, and couldn’t quite figure out why. And the daughter talked about that moment and just said, “When I saw myself wearing this dress” she said, “This is me. I am Slovak.” And I think that was the first time in her life that she had felt that, I am Slovak.

Fisher: You know, I’ve always thought that as a family historian that before you become a family historian there’s this concrete floor beneath you and you think you know that’s where you come from. That’s just kind of the basis when you were born. But, over time as you start to learn more about your parents and your grandparents, and your great grandparents, that route literally goes down into the ground and it changes who you are just by what you know about those people who came before you, because they are all a part of you and it’s just fascinating to see when they go over there and they see, oh, I have this culture that’s part of me, and all these things that my people overcame that brought them to America. And also, I would imagine the sense of privilege to be in this country.

Erik: Yeah, it reminds me of something the son said in our Serbia story. I think there was some wisdom in these words. The father has said, my life in Serbia, I put it in a box and closed the lid. For the father there was a lot of these hard memories and the son never asked about any of them. Finally going on this trip gave them an excuse to take the lid off the box, but the son said, I just want to understand who my father is. He paused for a minute and said, and then I think that will help me understand who I am.

Fisher: It’s an amazing show. It’s on BYUtv. You can find it on BYUtv.org, and of course on the BYUtv app and it’s all over the place. It’s called, “How I Got Here” and I guarantee you watch one episode and you’re going to be hooked. You’ve got to watch this show with a box of Kleenex at your side.

Erik: That is true. I mean, even as the executive producer for the show. I watch every cut and every time I watch an episode I just have to wipe a tear more than once during these episodes. There’s something that just gets right to your heart.

Fisher: Great stuff. He’s the executive producer of the show Erik Christensen. Thanks so much for coming on!

Erik: Thank you. My pleasure! I loved being here.

Fisher: And coming up next, David Allen Lambert with another round of Ask Us Anything, as we continue on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in three minutes.

Segment 4 Episode 437

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 and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here. David Allen Lambert is back from NEHGS. And David, our first question is pretty straightforward here. It's from Diana in Kaysville, Utah. And it says, "Guys, I'm trying to find school photos of my family from the 1940s. Where can I look for these?" You know, I guess the most straightforward thing here, David is of course on Ancestry, they have a huge database of high school yearbook pictures. So that area would be covered pretty easily.

David: Even in some cases middle school and maybe even grade school pictures might be identified. Another place is Archive.org. My own hometown actually took all of our yearbooks long before Ancestry put them online and put them there as well. So, you can try a couple of different places, because you never know what's all complete. But school pictures in general, I mean kindergarten, first grade, second grade, all of that all the way up to high school. Those pictures could be divided in a variety of different places. And I can speak from my own experience, when I contacted the school department in Boston for my parents’ school records. A couple of my uncles actually had stapled on the upper corner of their card for attendance, a school photo, like the little pocket sized ones that you would have in your wallet.

Fisher: Huh!

David: I'd never seen the picture before and it was great, because here's this one of a kind item, because I'd never seen one in the family's possession. The other thing is those school records. The guidance office at the school, depending on how long they keep records, some of them may have been transferred to the school department for your town or your city, so you could try that. The other one is sometimes historical societies if you're lucky enough that they salvaged records before they had to destroy them. In my own hometown, I was very sad that all of the high school records and all of that from 1869 down to 1990 were destroyed.

Fisher: Ohh.

David: Because they said they couldn't give it out, because it had medical records and that's dealing with the school records.  But I'm thinking to myself, over 100 years old, shouldn't really matter.

Fisher: Right, yeah. [Laughs]

David: Nothing I can do now. Those are gone, but maybe in your community, they'll turn up. Historical societies are also great, because you never knew if maybe besides that little individual picture, there may have been a group picture. I don't know, Fish, when I was a kid, there was always a group photo of all my grade schools. And maybe one of the students wrote down the names of all the classmates on the back of the photograph and it's in a historical society now. But I'd also try one other real important clue that we always use now, social media.

Fisher: Yes.

David: There may be a Facebook page for that school. There could be a historical society website where you can make an inquiry on a contact page. You'd say, "Looking for people that went to school at the Redwood Elementary School in 1942 to 1947." And see what comes up.

Fisher: Yeah. You know, this is really good stuff and I've actually been doing this a little bit this summer, because we had s high school reunion in Connecticut in August. So I was digging out old pictures, including elementary school pictures. And I found for instance that I've got everyone from kindergarten through 6th grade, but missing my 4th grade picture. And so, now I'm thinking, okay, we've got a terrific Facebook page for our high school class and of course some of them came out of that same elementary school, so I'm going to see if I can find a classmate who has a copy of it who would scan the picture for me, so I can pick that up and fill in the collection. As far as high school and junior high, most of those are in yearbooks. I have those. Sometimes elementary schools themselves will have yearbooks as ours did with lots of little articles that the children write and pictures in there. I found a picture of me playing in the school band that I'd never seen before, like from 1965. So, you know, you never know what you're going to find in these things, but it is a journey and I think finding old classmates is a great way to do it if you can remember who was in your class in a particular year and kind of fill in that hole. Great question! Thank you, Diana. We've got another one coming up next concerning wills. We'll find out what that's about coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 437

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, time for our final question on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. It's Ask Us Anything with Fisher and David. And Dave, here's our question from Rance in Milwaukie and Rance says, "In an old will of an ancestor, I found the usual mentions of relationships. But they talked about a known stepbrother as a brother in law and a known half sister as a sister in law. What is this about?" This is a question that a lot of people run into, I think, especially early in their research journey, David.

David: Well, and I think that's really how we have to take into consideration that our ancestors used different terms of family relationships that we use now. I mean, just look at the term, brother.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: You know, I mean it could be a term of an immediate family member or it could just be a term of endearment. So that's something where you have to kind of look a little deeper into the genealogy and see if you can’t correct what the probate’s saying.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s a thought. You know, maybe transcribe what the will says and then put in brackets what he real meaning is based on your own research there. You know, sometimes we’ll see a son in law referred to as a son, because in many cases, that's how the father in law would view that person.

David: That's very true. One of the books that comes to mind is one that Barbara Jean Evans did years ago called A to Zax, which has all sorts of old archaic genealogical related terms and that book may shed some lights on some family relationships as well. Using this book for instance, it says brother in law. It says, a half brother, brother of a person’s spouse, in old documents this term sometimes was used to mean a step brother.

Fisher: [Laughs] There you go. It’s almost like the DNA matches, right, I mean, you have this many centimorgans, it could mean this, it could mean that, it could mean that and it could mean this, right?

David: Um hmm. Well, my nephew who is my half nephew also shows up as my half grand nephew. I’m like, wait a sec! So you get different levels of connection with just DNA, let alone 17th or 18th century court documents.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: But here in genealogy, if there’s a will, there’s a way to figure it out.

Fisher: Ohh dear!

David: So sorry. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah.

David: How about the term cousin?

Fisher: Yes. Yeah, that comes up a lot.

David: Yeah. I mean, because it could be your forth cousin three times removed.

Fisher: And it could be your spouse’s cousin.

David: That’s right, that’s right. I mean, family associations are kind of strange. I’ve sat down at family reunions before where my wife’s aunt will say, “Well, you know, my cousin is also your cousin.” I’m like, “No, you’re my aunt by marriage, so therefore your cousin is no relationship to me.” But in the 17th century, someone may have thought all associated levels of family counts. It’s the degrees of law, I suppose.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: I mean, again, each probate you examine may give you a little more misleading information.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: And that would include perhaps the wife’s probate’s going to be different than the husband’s probate. Naming the same people, but giving a different relationship.

Fisher: Yeah, interesting. And you know, the thing about wills is, I mean, you could do a whole class just on wills, right? We talked about the terminology and relationships here, but you can get into all kinds of explanations about legal terms that are involved there and land. I mean, when they talk about all tenements, outbuildings, you know, what do these things mean? I mean, you could do a whole study on it. I’m sure there’s some great books on it as well.

David: The outbuildings in a probate could refer to buildings that don’t even exist! Because you could have a lot of land and just covering all the bases doesn’t mean there’s a structure on that. That comes up all the time.

Fisher: Yeah, interesting stuff. Great question! Challenging question, too. Thank you, Rance and thank you, David. It’s always great to have you on and we’ll see you again next week.

David: All right, catch you later.

Fisher: All right, David. And thank you to Nathan Dylan Goodwin for coming on and talking about his brand new genealogical murder mystery thriller. And to Erik Christensen from BYUtv, the executive producer of their TV show, “How I Got Here.” It’s a fabulous program you’re going to want to check out. If you missed any of it, of course catch the podcast on AppleMedia, iTunes, TuneIn Radio, iHeart Radio and ExtremeGenes.com and Spotify. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family!

Subscribe now to find out why hundreds of thousands of family researchers listen to Extreme Genes every week!

Email me new episodes