Episode 452 - RootsTech Live 2023 Recap: Sean Astin, Judy Russell, and More

podcast episode Mar 13, 2023

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys first talk about the joy of being back at a live RootsTech conference. Fisher describes the horror of something American Idol legend, Jordin Sparks, said to him at the conference. In Family Histoire News, David describes the strange tale of a man who suspected his wife of cheating because the baby didn’t look like him. That was not the case! David explains. Then, an Arizona Goodwill store recently sold a piece of furniture that contained a hidden compartment that stored genealogical gold. Catch the result of that discovery. Next, who knew that in the 17th century Germans punished gossips and drunks by forcing them to wear what amounts to “shaming” masks. Finally, a new archaeological find reveals that humans have been riding horses for some 5,000 years. David reveals how they figured this out.

Next, Lord of the Rings actor Sean Astin held a press conference at RootsTech, talking about his family stories and his daughter’s very active research efforts. (Note: Audio was difficult at this event and had to be captured through a speaker!)

In segment number three, from RootsTech, Legal Genealogist Judy Russell joins the show talking about copyright changes, 19th century divorce laws, and an action item for all of us right now!

Next, from RootsTech, genealogical blogger Amy Archibald describes how she miraculously obtained a photo album of her ancestors. How could this be?!

Finally One Name Project manager, Paul Howes, describes how his research turned up a man who loved love, and marriage! Catch his remarkable discovery.

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


Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 452

Fisher: And welcome America to America's Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Root Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out! And boy do we have a lot to talk about today! Hey, welcome in. It's great to have you back. It was great to be back at RootsTech, America's largest, in fact, the world's largest family history conference. And it's our chance to give a little recap of that. And David Allen Lambert is with us, of course, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David, what a show! It was great to see everybody. I hadn't seen you in three years.

David: I know. It was amazing to see you. We talk every week, but to give you a big hug and say hi was amazing. And to see so many people that we haven't seen since the last RootsTech or any conferences for that matter.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. It was a hug-a-thon. It really was, except I had one kind of negative thing happen to me. I got to meet Jordin Sparks, you know. Of course, she was the youngest American Idol winner. She sang four incredible songs at the conference and then did a little meet-&-greet, did a picture with her. And we chatted just for a moment. And then she said, “It's nice to meet you, sir.” [Laughs]

David: Oh, wow!

Fisher: And it's like, you know what that means. It means you're getting up there. I don't think I liked that too much. But she was really, really nice. And we got to meet Sean Astin! So I thought we would play back some of the highlights of the press conference that he did with all of the bloggers there, and the reporters. And of course, you and I, we each got to ask him a question. Unfortunately, there was so much noise in the place we had to put a microphone near a speaker so that we could pick it up. So I don't think the audio is of the best quality that we've ever had in the past. But nonetheless, you know, he's from Lord of the Rings! You're going to want to hear what he had to say, not only about himself and his family journey, but also about his daughter who's been researching the family for the last six years. So that's going to be a lot of fun. We not only have Sean Astin on, we've got Judy Russell, the legal genealogist coming on, haven't talked to her in a long time. And she's got something really important that you need to know about today, coming up in our third segment. And then at the back end of the show today, we're going to have Amy Archibald on she's a blogger with an amazingly fun find. And Paul Howes also, he's with the One Name Project. We'll explain that later on. And he had an amazing find too about somebody with the same name as he has. So, lots of things going on as we do our recap show for RootsTech 2023 today. So David, let's get on with our Family Histoire news. What do you have?

David: Well, these stories, you wouldn't have heard at RootsTech if you were there. There's a story now that's out in the news about a gentleman who suspected his wife had cheated, and that the baby wasn’t his. Well, sure enough, it wasn't his. Well, his wife heard this, and was so annoyed that she actually went and got her own DNA test. Guess what Fish? Wasn't her baby either.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: So, another switched at Birth.

Fisher: Oh boy!

David: So they did figure out what happened to their own child that was being raised by an unfit mother, ended up in foster care. The happy ending here is that they adopted their natural child that they never had to begin with. And they did keep the baby that they had that wasn't theirs at all.

Fisher: Isn't that crazy? And of course, the husband now has to make it up to his wife, because he was really accusing her of having cheated, and you know, he's going be dealing with that for the rest of his days. [Laughs]

David: Oh, yeah, exactly. I'm happy for both babies. It sounds like they've got a nice set of parents. You know, I love our stories from eBay. But I'll tell you, sometimes it's a Goodwill purchase that uncovers some really interesting family history. And this is what happened to an Arizona woman who found a secretarial desk that had a hidden compartment. And in it, they found papers, letters, things that trace the family back over a century. The nice thing is, she tracked down who they should have belonged to and gave them to the descendants.

Fisher: Yes. And the fun thing about this is, the woman who received the information that came out of that furniture obtained at Goodwill, she found her own birth announcement in there among the papers,

David: I’ll tell you, you just never know when you're going to find a good bargain that could be a genealogical mystery buster. That's excellent.

Fisher: Yep.

David: And it only costs them $20.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Well, one thing you won't find probably on eBay, but you might find it in a museum in Germany, these masks, metal masks that people had to wear for a variety of reasons. How about if you drank too much? Well, there's one mask that is for people who were too sloppy, as they say, at a tavern, they were unkempt, well, they were wearing a mask that had a pig snout to it. And it's not something I’d want to wear probably.

Fisher: No. This is really punishment, because they had laws back then about bad behavior.

David: Um hmm. Well, you know, gossips, men or women passing on a story that wasn't true, they were punished by wearing a mask with a long tongue, large ears that suggested they had been eavesdropping and speaking out of turn. And it's amazing that these things have lasted for so long.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: But I can tell you, it's definitely a deterrent, not to gossip or to get drunk at the tavern.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Well, you know, I love stories that involve animals. And of course, one of the things that has been a constant part to our ancestors lives are horses. Recent archaeological work has actually unearthed that the Bronze Aged European ancestors of ours were riding horses 5,000 years ago! They did research from Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, and they found that these Bronze Age skeletons showed that the person had horse rider’s syndrome. It is a telltale marker, that the person was probably riding an animal on a regular basis.

Fisher: That's nuts! That's crazy! 5,000 years? I would never have imagined.

David: Well, that's all I have from Beantown for you this week. And it was so great to see you at RootsTech. And of course, we'll give a more in depth recap of what we did with Sean Astin.

Fisher: Yeah. Coming up next, we're going to share some of the highlights of the press conference that he did. And this is really fun, Dave, because you got to ask him a question, I got to ask him a question. And this was I think, the highlight of RootsTech, at least for us. So that's going be fun stuff coming up next when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 452

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Sean Astin

Fisher: All right, welcome back. It's America's Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It's our recap of RootsTech for 2023. David, it was a great time there, especially this press conference with Sean Astin.

David: Well, I thought it was a lot of fun. I’ve watched him for years and to meet him in person was great and have conversation with him and get an answer to my question.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. I'm afraid the audio isn't all we'd want it to be because it was a crowd thing. We actually had to record off a little handheld speaker he had, but that's the way it goes sometimes. But let's listen to how it went. So the interview started out with a question from a TV reporter about Sean's reaction to his daughter's response to a question he texted to her.

Sean: It was so emotional. You know, right before I walked onto the stage to talk about genealogy and family and connections and stuff, I texted my daughter in Italy. And she loves genealogy. She's done a whole workup of our family for six years. And I just texted her “What does it mean to you?” And she gave this answer about, basically eternal life about immortality, and about letting her ancestors live through her and then how she will live on through her kids, so, very emotional. I never talked to her about that. I didn't know what her idea was.

Fisher: So the thing is, Sean Astin is not a family historian, but obviously a storyteller through his many talents. And he was asked about any family stories he'd heard growing up. 

Sean: I feel so embarrassed and sort of shamed that, with all the stories that my mother would tell when we were kids, I didn't listen, I don't know whether it was the sound of her voice or all the names she would mention, I remember basic stories, like, I don't know which character goes with which story. And even when my daughter discovered genealogy, six, seven years ago, whatever, and spent tons of time travelling to visit cousins, and second cousins, and aunts, and uncles and, and visiting with them all over the country, and, and she's got friends now in Ireland that she's made online, and she says, Dad, I can trace you back to Charlemagne. It's really been the last month, as I've known that, I'm coming here. And I've been in Alabama, and Atlanta, and Texas, I was in Vancouver, all within the last month, I travel all over the place. And people always want to know what you're doing. And I said, I'm going to Salt Lake City to do this genealogy discussion about that. And everyone says, oh, RootsTech Oh, RootsTech, you're going to RootsTech, oh, you're going to RootsTech, I saw you’re going to RootsTech. And I'm like, this is great brand management. They seem to have really spread out and gotten the word out there. So because I think so many people know about it and care about it. It got my wheels going.

Fisher: So then that whole thing was followed up with how do you feel about knowing a little more about your ancestry now?

Sean: I was presented today by RootsTech with my genealogy. And I was able to take what I learned from Ali and her work, and the sensitivity and storytelling prowess of Tamara who gave me the genealogy today. And really, the emotion of it hit me today. I don't think it's ever hit me before. So, shame on me. This idea that history is alive, it's alive in us. And what your great, great, great, great grandparent did actually might have meaning for you. If you spend a moment and think about it and you realize what exists of them. Birth and death records, embarkation, disembarkation records from vessels they might have travelled on, military records. That's where we're all going to end up. We're all going to be a collection of birth and death records. And, you know, maybe 1,000 years from now people will want to trace it all the way back. So that idea is pretty - I didn't have the imagination. I hadn't activated my imagination with regard to my own ancestors.

Fisher: So this is where I had a chance to ask him for advice for one of our listeners who was there that we've had on the show before who has struggled emotionally since learning that her dad wasn't her birth father. So Sean had had a similar situation happened to him when he found out that actor John Astin was not his bio dad. And here's the advice he gave her.

Sean: I mean, just a human being to human being, don't worry about it. Life is too short. You know what, I can't believe I'm 52 years old. How did that happen? Blink. I got to 52 this fast. How fast and time is speeding up, I'm going be 62 in ten minutes, and then I'm gone. So the idea of not needing to hold on to it is, that's a gift that you can give yourself. And the mind is powerful. If you deploy your mind and service of that, it requires no one else's assistance. No parents, no adoptive parents, no step parents, no biological parents, you are fully capable of owning yourself.

Fisher: And then he talked about his own experience.

Sean: My experience was, there was a moment where my mom and dad were doing the Charlie Rose show, and I must have been four or five years old. This man came up to me while my parents were on stage and he said, “Isn't it true that Desi Arnaz, Jr. Is your biological father” to like a four year old kid! I mean, I was like huh, I don’t know. But that went in. That went into the brain that rattled around for years and years and years. And then my mom was 40… on her 40th birthday. She got drunk. She didn't really drink my mom. She had episodes in the late 60s and late 70s. She had other issues, bipolar issues, which factor into the storytelling. So the more forgiving I am an understanding I am of her journey, the less painful it is on me. So she said it through this drunken thing, “Sean, John Astin is not your biological father.” And I said, I know it's Sammy Davis Jr.! And then there were a number of kind of seminal moments, two of which had my mom behave in a way that was not, I want to be careful how I say this, wasn't right. She did something that wasn’t right. She might have had reasons for why she did what she did with her own emotional life or her idea of how to protect me. But it cost a couple of years that didn't necessarily need to be and played on my sense of duty and honor to her. So, I controlled what I could control at each step. I met a person who says this person is interested in DNA testing, let me follow that to its conclusion, oh, my mom wants me not to do that, I'll stop because I honor my mom, then it's becomes clear that that was the wrong thing to do. So I go back. And so if something's in your control, then you can, if you're prepared to live with the consequences, you can take action. If it's outside of your control, it's outside of your control. So for me, my big accomplishment was, as a philosophical approach to life that my father John instilled in me, I didn't judge anyone. I knew that I could go in, understand their human frailty and make friends. And so at any moment, I could call any of them. That was my triumph. And everyone sort of appreciated that in me. And my mom grudgingly had to appreciate that in me. So, not everybody can have such an outcome. But I was blessed to have a man raise me as his own. You know, I was blessed. So, I wish you Godspeed on your journey. If I could adopt you, I would adopt you!

Fisher: So hey, if you're just joining us, you're listening to the press conference at RootsTech for keynote speaker and beloved actor Sean Astin, and he was next asked if he could meet one of his ancestors, who would it be?

Sean: I don't know, all of them. Maybe, I think actually, my grandfather, my mom's dad, John. I think I would want to talk to him. He was the closest to me that I didn't know. At some point I'm going to go to Ireland, County Longford, and apparently Ali's friends now with distant cousins there, so I'll sit down with their great, great grandparents through them at some point.

Fisher: So David, this is where you got into the press conference. And you got to ask Sean Astin a question.

David: Yeah, it was really special. I told him about my autistic daughter's love for him, and also my other daughter, who admires him as well.

Sean: What's your daughter's name, the first daughter?

David: Hannah.

Sean: Are you recording this?

David: I am recording.

Sean: Hannah, thank you so much for watching. Oso. I loved being the voice of Oso. For those of you who don't know, Oso teaches us how to break every action or activity we do into three special steps. For example, speaking to the press; step one, show up. Step two, hear a question. Step three, provide an answer. So I'm so glad Hannah. And your other daughter?

David: Brenda.

Sean: Brenda, thank you for what you're doing as a school teacher.

Fisher: So David, how did that go over when you got home?

David: It went really well.

Fisher: And then you got to finally ask your real question, which was?

David: I asked him if he could pick any ancestor to portray on the screen, who would it be?

Sean: Well, you know, it's funny because you look at James Cameron, who does Titanic, and the most important character in the Titanic is fictional. You look at Gangs of New York, and there's all of this rich history that Martin Scorsese has embedded in that movie, but a lot of it is fictional. So, I wonder, maybe if there was like, pre industrial times, you know, maybe in the 1300s, or 1400s, to see what their life was like to learn what we can know of them now, and then maybe to try and invent something that would be credible within the four corners of what we learned. That would be pretty fun.

Fisher: So there you go. That's what you don't get online from RootsTech. And after Sean Astin did this with the reporters and bloggers, he went over and posed for pictures with the attendees for something like 45 minutes. I mean, it's incredible. So he goes down now on a long list of amazing celebrities who've been part of the conference over the years including Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, former First Lady Laura Bush, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, the Property Brothers, Olympian Scott Hamilton. I mean, it's a long list. Well, coming up next legal genealogist Judy Russell on some important legal stuff you need to know about today when we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 452

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Judy Russell

Fisher: All right, welcome back to RootsTech! It is Fisher here on Extreme Genes, America's Family History show, sitting with my good friend, Judy Russell, who I haven't seen in years. She is the Legal Genealogist. Of course, we haven't seen anybody, Judy, in years.

Judy: That's the absolute truth. It almost seems like we saw everybody yesterday.

Fisher: Yeah.

Judy: What happened to the last three years?

Fisher: That's a really good question. Well, as the Legal Genealogist, Judy is kind of the person in the space that everybody goes to, to try to understand things, from copyright law to divorces, to what's happening in government. So let's talk first of all about copyright, because that really affects everybody in terms of posting newspaper stories and photographs. And another year has gone by actually another three have gone by, what are we up to now, Judy, that's legal and within public domain.

Judy: That's the best part of copyright law. And of course, it's just recent, that we got back one year of new material every year. So, as of now, first of January 2023, anything legally published in the United States before 1928 is within the public domain so, newspapers and books, and movies.

Fisher: Yes.

Judy: So first talkies were coming out at that time, those are all now public domain.

Fisher: So is this a problem for Steamboat Willie?

Judy: It isn't yet. But it's coming up fast. The copyright, I think is going to run on Steamboat Willie.

Fisher: Wow, that's unbelievable. But this is good news for all of us who are working on histories and want to include some things and do it the right way. And so it's up through 1928. Yes?

Judy: To 1928.

Fisher: To 1928. Good to know. So through 1927?

Judy: Correct. So, on the first of January 2024, we will get everything that was published in 1920.

Fisher: Okay.

Judy: And on the first of January 2025, then it will be everything published in 1929. Unless in their infinite wisdom, our Congress critters screw it up again because they've done that in the past.

Fisher: Yes, they certainly have. You know, we've talked about a lot of different subjects over the years and one of them was divorce in New York, it turned into discussions about places you could get divorces across the country. But I was fascinated by what was going on in New York at the time, because I always figured that, okay, if somebody was abusive, or they abandoned or committed adultery, that was the only way to get a divorce. But you're saying it was just one thing.

Judy: In New York, from colonial times, all the way into the 1970s, the only ground for divorce in New York was adultery.

Fisher: Wow. And this was the issue for me because I was researching an ancestor who had gotten his divorce in New York in 1874. And I had the statement of two different gentlemen who had claimed to be with my ancestor’s wife. Then 19 years later, he died in upstate New York cirrhosis of the liver. He was trying to get his health back, and who would sign the death certificate, but one of the same men who had claimed to have been with this man's wife back in 1874. So I'm thinking to myself, well, who stays friends with a guy who broke up the marriage? Unless of course, the whole thing was a setup to get the divorce.

Judy: And that was a cottage industry in New York for decades. It even led to a congressional investigation in the early 1900s.

Fisher: So, explain, as a cottage industry, are you meaning to say that there were individuals who would actually sell their services to make a claim that they committed adultery with your wife?

Judy: Well, mostly it was the other way around. The man usually took the fall. And the woman would be in the hotel room, with the sheets pulled up to her shoulders, and the man in his shorts would open the door, and the private photographer would take the picture, showing this adulterous relationship, and it was all paid for so that they could get the divorce on the only ground that New York would recognize.

Fisher: That is insane. So how would these companies then promote their services? Or was it just word of mouth?

Judy: It really was kind of word of mouth. But the lawyers all knew. And if you needed, okay, she did it for him. She'll do it for him. And these people were getting paid for doing this.

Fisher: That is absolutely nuts. So you say there was a congressional investigation about what time period, and what did they do?

Judy: In the early 1900s, now, there's not much the federal government can do because this is state law. But they documented these instances, you know, one woman being the correspondent in 55 divorces, it's not real likely. So there's an entire congressional record report on these divorce scams in New York.

Fisher: Wow, you would think they would change the law then because this is being abused in such a way. But you say this didn't happen till the 1970s.

Judy: Correct. Until no fault divorces came in, and that didn't start until the 1970s, New York stuck to the notion that you were stuck in your marriage if you couldn't prove adultery.

Fisher: This is why she is the Legal Genealogist. Now, Judy Russell, tell me about what's going on right now. We've got issues going on back in Washington about raising fees for materials we're trying to find, give me the details.

Judy: Okay. And this is a real problem for anybody who's got ancestors who are relatively recent immigrants to the United States, because the records that are at stake are the genealogy records of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. So we're talking about all of the immigration and naturalization records held by the federal government that are outside of the National Archives, and they're trying to raise the fees already $65 for a search.

Fisher: Wow.

Judy: And $65 for a record. They're trying to raise those fees by 300%.

Fisher: So this is pushing it up close to 200 bucks.

Judy: Over 200 in many instances. So, part of the problem is that these records should have been turned over to the National Archives, where we could get them for free. Part of the problem is that they have records they do have justification for keeping. They can't tell us how many, how much time they spend, so they pulled these numbers almost out of a hat. There's a comment period that's available for us to oppose this. But it's close of business on Monday, March 13.

Fisher: Oh, my gosh.

Judy: So we need all of us to go to the website, RecordsNotRevenue.com. So that's RecordsNotRevenue.com, all one. And you'll get total information about how to comment and oppose this fee hike.

Fisher: Right. And you want to do this right now because it's over in about 48 hours from the time we start getting this broadcast out for people to make their comments. And it can be done online I assume the comments?

Judy: Every bit of it online. It's not at all hard to do. I have an explanation of it on my website, LegalGenealogist.com that will walk people through the system. But we need every genealogist to speak out and say this is wrong. Don't hold our records ransom for your fee structure.

Fisher: Well, when you consider how few people can afford such a thing for a single document that may or may not tell them anything that they didn't know before. But I know there are photographs on many of these records, signatures that are just a joy to see and know that that was the moment your person became an American citizen, and I would imagine there's some information on immigration on there too potentially.

Judy: On that and things like the Alien Registration forms of 1940. We simply can't allow these critically important genealogical valuable records to be so expensive that most genealogists will not access.

Fisher: Right, just held hostage, essentially.

Judy: Absolutely.

Fisher: Yeah.

Judy: They still don't have a justification for the fees for the genealogy program. They say outright we have no idea how much it actually costs to produce these records. So we'll just put out this big number.

Fisher: Wow, unbelievable! She's Judy Russell. She's the Legal Genealogist go to LegalGenealogist.com learn more about that. Always fun to talk to you Judy. You’ve got great stories and great insight for all of us so thanks so much for your time.

Judy: It's always fun to be with you Scott.

Fisher: And coming up next, more incredible stories from RootsTech when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes.

Segment 4 Episode 452

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Amy Archibald

Fisher: All right back on Extreme Genes with our recap show for RootsTech this year with a great story from Blogger, Amy Archibald. Tell me, Amy, what you got?

Amy: I got a photo album that was from the late 1890s

Fisher: And how did you get that?

Amy: A lady followed my blog, and she had bought an album at an auction ten years before. And some of the names were similar to people I have been blogging about. And so, she sent me an email and said, “I think this photo album belongs to your family.” And she gave me a name. And I thought, “That's not my family name.” And then I said, but I had some people that lived in Goshen, Utah. And here's some of their names. And she said, “I'm pretty sure this belongs to your family.” And so, I met her at her home, walked into her house, she had it on the counter, opened it up. And the first page was a photo of my third great grandmother. And I thought, “Yeah, this is people that I'm related to!” And I had seen a similar image before. But here's an actual photo.

Fisher: This is a new picture for you then.

Amy: New picture for me, yeah. I was familiar with the face of the person, but it was a new photo to me. And turned the page and there were photos of my fourth great grandparents. And then there were pictures of my great grandparents on their wedding day.

Fisher: Had you seen any of these?

Amy: Never seen. Never seen pictures of my grandfather as an infant with his siblings as infants.

Fisher: Never seen?

Amy: Never seen. Hair from my second great grandmother and third great grandmother tucked underneath the pictures. Every picture either had news stories or things from the time tucked behind it. And then photos of a whole bunch of other people that lived in Goshen, Utah during the time. And as I turned one page, there was a loose photo. And it was of like four girls. And I thought I know that image of that person, but that girl doesn't belong to these other people. And I realized they were friends. And it was on a different family line of mine. And I turned it over and I said, “She's a Finch.” turned it over, sure enough, it was labeled, and then that's who that was. And the lady said, “Yes, this really is your album.” and handed it to me. And I got this free gift to my family. And I came home, started looking through it and thought, “My neighbor who lives up the street, these are her last names of her people.” I had looked at her family history before and how we were connected, and I called her on the phone and said, “I have something you've got to come and see.” “What is it?” “You just have to come and see.” She like put me off for days! And I'm like no, like seriously?

Fisher: Like now.

Amy: Like right now! You like live three houses away. Come to my house. And finally she came and sat down with me and I flipped open and she's like, “Oh my gosh! That is my great grandpa. That's this person.” And so, the connecting people of our third and fourth grade grandparents, we connected on fourth grade grandparents. But the other people that were in the book were some of her family. And so, we figured out, at some point in time, all the different family members passed away. It had gone up for auction. And then these random people bought it.

Fisher: And sent it to you because they saw your blog.

Amy: They saw my blog and my stories and said, “Come get this.” And we went and got it and.

Fisher: How many pictures total?

Amy: Oh, there’s probably like 16. There's some photos and people, we don't know who they are. And then there's photos of people that like when I looked him up in Family Search all the Family Search pictures of the people, whereas like an old guy, and I have pictures of them as little kids.

Fisher: Wow!

Amy: And so, we're adding to other people's histories, like people we don't even know, that are just friends of this family, because it was in the late 1890s, early 1910 area. And they had a lot of photos of their friends. Like they would share photos with each other.

Fisher: Sort of like a good thing.

Amy: It is. It's an amazing thing.

Fisher: Wow! And how did you feel that night that you came home with that treasure?

Amy: That years before I was directed to do certain things like it just felt like, unknown to me, I was put in a plan to help. And it’s just, there's days that when I look at the book, I just remember all those feelings, and that there's still miracles happening.

Fisher: And Amy is like my seventh cousin.

Amy: That's right!

Fisher: [Laughs]

Amy: We figured that out a few years ago. And we were like checking it again today to make sure we're still related.

Fisher: We're still there.

Amy: we’re still there, still there. Nothing's changed.

Fisher: What a great story. Thanks so much, Amy. And coming up next, another story from RootsTech about a man who got married seven times, back with that one in three minutes.

Segment 5 Episode 452

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Paul Howes

Fisher: And welcome back to our RootsTech recap for 2023. It is Fisher here on Extreme Genes. And one of the things I've always enjoyed doing at the big conference is finding some of the crazy stories that people have to share with us, like this one from Paul Howes. All right, I'm at roots Tech with Paul Howes from the One Name Project. And Paul, you got a great story that you found, but by doing someone else's lines. How did this work?

Paul: Oh yeah. Well, a typical One Name Study, Scott is all about the name. So, I reconstruct families for people named Howes wherever they are in the world. And currently, my database is 203,800 People in reconstructed families.

Fisher: Wow!

Paul: For 15 years work. And one of the most interesting characters in there is a Thomas George Leslie Howes, who married no fewer than seven times.

Fisher: Wow!

Paul: So how I came across this guy is he had three names in the index for marriages in the British index. He appears is Thomas G. L. Howes. And I happen to spot two of them fairly close together. And I thought, “Oh, that's interesting. Let's see if you've got any others.” So I counted six, between, from memory sometime around 1915 through to 1930 something. And so I thought, well, there's got to be a story here. I sent away for the certificate. And I was amazed. This same guy is in there six times. It's obviously the same guy. He gives his father's name and occupation. I think it was a railway station manager. And it's the same on every managed certificate. So I wrote this up, I send a monthly note to my 1700 subscribers, and wrote this story up and said, you know, “This is amazing! Does anybody know anything about this guy?” And within 48 hours, one of my other researchers in my team had come back and said, “I found marriage number seven. It was in Nova Scotia.”

Fisher: Oh, no! Wow!

Paul: So I actually got permission from the Nova Scotia authorities to reproduce his marriage certificate on my website together with the other six.

Fisher: But they were all listed, he was listed as single or widower or what was it?

Paul: He was a bachelor for the first six of them. And wife number seven, he married as a widower, because wife number six did actually pass away. And the amazing thing was, when you start looking at what this guy did for a living, he was a lady's hosiery salesman.

Fisher: In what town?

Paul: All over southern England. That was the thing he married in, I think, five different denominations. So a Catholic, a Methodist, a Church of England, I think there was a Baptist there, and he married a couple of times in the register office, like a courthouse over here in the US. So he spread himself around.

Fisher: Wow, I would say! [Laughs] Did he have any children is the question?

Paul: He had two children. And one of them did end up contacting me a couple of years later, because I'd written up their story. And he said, “Oh, we always wondered what happened to that guy. Because he just disappeared.” And very unfortunately, his ship, he joined the merchant navy in the end, and his ship was torpedoed by the Germans in 1940. All his secrets went down to Davy Jones locker with him.

Fisher: What a story! Thanks so much, Paul.

Paul: Oh, you're very welcome, Scott. It's a pleasure.

Fisher: Well, that is our RootsTech wrap up for 2023. And, David, of course, RootsTech goes on all year long now. And I know if people go to RootsTech.org, they can catch some of your lectures that you gave there. What were some of the topics you covered?

David: Well, I talked about the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, a lecture on gravestones and burial records called Raising the Dead. I gave a talk about early New England records and a brand new lecture on researching your ancestors in the Salem Witchcraft Trials.

Fisher: Ooh, that's a good one! All right, very good. Well, it's great to see you there. First time I'd actually seen you in person, like three years. So it was great stuff.

David: I know.

Fisher: It was quite the reunion. We'll talk to you again next week, my friend.

David: Look forward to it.

Fisher: All right. Thank you so much. And that is our show for this week. Thanks for joining us. Thanks of course, to all of our guests. There's Judy Russell, Amy Archibald, Paul Howes, and of course, Sean Astin, the actor for coming on. If you missed any of it, of course, catch the podcast on AppleMedia, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, Spotify and TuneIn Radio. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, or a nice normal family!



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